Fiction: Dirts Last Chance
By John McMahon
Patrick Mayonck came to the realization that he would never play pro hockey, at any level with a great sense of relief half way through his sophomore year. College life didn't agree with him. It wasn't the lecturers and reading assignments, he didn't pay attention to them, he played hockey and the system took care of his academics. It was the sense of being a no one, a very small fish in this big pond, was what bothered him.
In Poughkeepsie Patrick (the Dirty Canook ) Mayonck had been a hockey star. Dirt, to his friends and fans, was recognized wherever he went and from September to April his photograph appeared in the Poughkeepsie Star weekly as he set and reset local records. He was recognized from pee-wee league as a stand out player. In high school he was Central New York's leading scorer and top ranked defensive player for all four years he played, but in the last two his reputation rose to the level of local super star as he filled the role as his own goon, shedding his gloves on a whim. He danced on the ice, possessed a golden wrist and had terrific punching power.
Nobody was surprised when he was recruited by a division one school with the reputation of being a factory that created solid NHL players.
He was surprised, shocked even that right from early training he was no longer a stand out as he struggled to keep up with a training program stocked with recruits as talented as he was.
He played little during his freshman year, and though he managed to score a few goals in his limited minutes of play time the coach had ear marked him as an enforcer and sent him to gladiator training with the veterans. He might out dance them on the ice but he was outsized and out punched and had managed not much more than skating out for a minute or two before getting pummeled and sitting in the penalty box through his sophomore year.
With the realization that he wasn't going any further on the ice and the relief of knowing he could quit school and return to Poughkeepsie he set a plan to be thrown out honorably. The head coach was a grizzled old player from the pre helmet days of pro hockey whose face read like a cautionary tale about the savagery of the game and was deeply respected by his players. The team trainer though had never even played the game.
Dirt called him the exerciser, the aerobics instructor, and sometimes Jane Fonda. Jane Fonda was always riding him to condition, work out, pump iron. He wore tracksuits everywhere and was constantly in some kind of motion. He wanted the players to run between classes, eat well and go easy on the partying and he always singled out Patrick for his criticism.
Dirt egged him on at practice, pretending to be gassed early on and when predictably the trainer started to yell from the bench that he needed more cardio the Dirty Canook skated over to him and delivered the right cross that had made him such a star in his senior year. The beating he took subsequently from the veteran goons fractured his occipital bone which gave him a solid excuse to never follow up on a hockey career.
Back in Poughkeepsie Dirt settled in just where he knew he would. Working nights for his cousin's security firm put him in the perfect position to pick up his old weed dealing occupation since he had a regular route all through the night where his customers could meet him. He augmented his weed dealing with coke and pills and after a year moved out of his old man’s apartment and into a double wide on a piece of property that he bought cheap from the bank.
More importantly he started up playing for the local men's league and at 20 years old with his natural born skills as sharp as they would ever be, became a local phenom again ensuring him all the fresh pussy and free beer he could handle come Saturday night.
When he put on his uniform; the black windbreaker over dark blue military style shirt and addressed his 6’2” taught figure in the mirror staring into his own bright blue eyes, head of dark curls, and moustache achingly groomed, he knew why the women wanted to be with him.
In that first year the most exciting thing that happened was when the dispatcher radioed him to go around the Welcome Inn. It was a strip motel out by the throughway ramp where people held trysts, kids rented rooms to party in and local drunks and junkies held up for days at a time on binges when they hit a lucky streak.
This time though the manager complained that “gang bangers” were tearing up one of his rooms. It was the kind of place nobody wanted to see the cops so the manager called them. It was just the call Dirt had been hoping for after months of checking doors and chasing shadows in the dark. He hoped to be local PD within a few years or at least cracking skulls up at the honor farm and this was just the kind of shit he needed to get into.
As he pulled up to room 14 he slipped the nickel plated .38 he carried in case there was ever a situation when neither the company issue batton nor mace was going to do the trick and slipped it into his waistband at the small of his back. With his baton in hand he went to the door and knocked three times. Hearing the ruckus from within he tried the handle and swung the door in ready to draw down on gangsters.
Standing around the bed watching a full figured redhead writhe under one middle aged man pumping her ass and another filling her mouth were a half dozen more, naked but for their socks, masturbating furiously . One was his 8th grade math teacher Mr. Schimmel who turned to see him come through the door in full stroke and dropped to the floor.
Four days after the year 1990 Patrick was informed by dispatch that Jeeana had gone into labor and had been taken to the hospital by her mother and that he was to take the night off and go see his baby get born. Racing to the hospital Patrick began to feel the weight of parenthood stretched out before him and contemplated mentally reigning in the sketchier parts of his life.
Scrubbed and gowned he was led into the delivery room where Jeeana was laid out grunting surrounded by medical staff and sheeted in blue, papery fabric. Jeeana’s mother held one of her hands whispering to his wife but when he went to take her other she grunted at him.
“You did this to me!” Spit sprayed his face.
Her mother gave a shrug, “She’s medicated.”
After a tense interval of feeding his snapping wife ice chips as she grunted and gurgled through the pain the epidermal had only managed to stifle her eyes, got wide and she bolted upright.
“The baby’s crowning.” The Doctor said.
Dirt peered around the tent that enclosed his girl’s neither region for a perfect view of the purplish head pushing out of her cleanly shaven vagina now blown out of all proportion.
The nurse was urging Jeeana to bear down and give one more push, one big push she demanded. The baby’s shoulders passed and then in one easing, oozy slide it entered the world fully. Screaming and cocoa colored.
Jeeana's mother bit her lips and the nurse looked away. The doctor kept a poker face holding the child up in the air for the mother to see under the halogen lights and smiling said. “A big healthy boy - you did it.”
Fatigued as she was Jeeana saw nothing but bliss and simply smiled and shook her head crying. Dirt walked out the way he came in stripping away his hygienic gown with one swipe of his clawed hand and passed ashen face by friends and family on his way out to the parking lot.
He drove his Monte Carlo around town for a while before stopping at the gas and go. He filled the tank, bought a case of bud that he threw in the back seat and a bottle of jack that he cradled between his thighs as he aimed the car onto 87 wondering who the father might be.
He stayed on 87 through New Jersey to the tangle of highways and byways surrounding Newark where he veered onto 95 south and set his cruise control at 85 while he popped cans of bud and tuned and re-tuned the radio, never satisfied for more than a few minutes with what he found. He drove on through the night pounding the ale and backing it up with long slugs of Jack Danniels while he chain smoked from a carton of Marlboro reds he kept under the passenger's seat.
Sunlight came streaming through the rear window where Dirt found himself. He’d passed out in the back seat on the side of the road and woke up damp in his own urine. Still drunk, the information came to him through the fog. He was a father, no he was not a father, his son was black - half black- he was in Georgia on the way to his sisters. His sister would know what to do, she always did, which is why she had gotten the hell out of Poughkeepsie and moved to Florida the first chance she had.
After choking down the last remaining warm bud he drove to a rest stop where everything he needed was available. Fuel, a shower, fresh clothes, a full breakfast and a liquor store where he bought another case of beer and a liter of Jack surrounded by a fleet of idling monsterous trucks gasping diesel fumes across the immense deck of black top while tourists shuffled in and out of the complex feeding and buying.
Standing at the urinal in his convenience store clothes, a greasy redneck adorned in aviator glasses, muscle shirt and acid washed jeans eyed him hard.
“What the fuck you supposed to be?” The redneck asked.
Every cell in Dirt's body sang to him as he pissed to beat this man to the point where he would welcome death. To dance his dance and deliver that stunning jab until this long haired country boy spat blood and curled into a ball of defense dictated by an involuntary reaction for survival. He did not, he shook off, zipped up and walked out.
“Retard!” The red neck called after him.
In Jacksonville Dirt trolled a shambling neighborhood for coke and easily hooked up so by the time he found his sister's address in St. Augustine he was exhausted and wired and nearly horse from arguing with radio talk shows. Her name had been scratched off the buzzer column and no one answered her door. The complex looked desolate compared to when he had last been there three years before. The pool was empty and the lawn was overgrown.
He thought of the time when he asked his old man about buying an engagement ring. He’d met Jeeana at a party held in his own honor when he had led the Poughkeepsie Icemen to a 12 and 0 championship that everyone knew was his and his doing alone. She had been three years behind him in school and always had a crush on him. The norm was three months salary he told his father who laughed like a maniac and shook his head. Recalling the rock his mother had worn the old man answered by saying he bought that ring for $35 at the Sears and the stone was cubic zirconia.
With no destination Dirt steered the car through the city, blurry in his drink, and then sharpened by the blow he saw a place called the Penalty Box. The parking lot was locked but with the slim jim and three pound hammer from his trunk he found his way into the themed bar. Closed for the day but icy and well stocked.
He roamed through the backroom using his service mag light to find the fuse box. The place lit up in strobes and swirls. The quarter sized ice rink in the center of the club steamed in the tropical air he had let in.
Behind the bar Dirt found another bottle of jack, mindlessly poured himself a glass while dumping out the remainder of his white powder on the bar and snorting the entirety until he choked on the glom in the back of his throat.
In the rental bin he found a pair of eleven and a half Baurs and laced up. With the bottle of Jack he took to the ice and skated the length of the diminutive rink feeling the familiar scrape of his blades against the hard surface travel through his body. He shattered the bottle against the rink and broke into a foot over foot stride to the opposite goal, came by at speed and circled in a graceful arc to center ice where he slid the snub nosed .38 from his ankle holster and rushed the goalie. He could feel the stick in his hand guiding the puck effortlessly over the surface of the ice. Blue line, red line, goalies pocket and iced the net while he shoved the gun beneath his chin and pulled the trigger.
In his cocaine induced clarity he heard the hammer strike the firing pin, the red strobe lit up above the goal and the crowd went wild, wild, wild.
John McMahon is a painter and writer who has spent the last twenty years traveling and working. His work can be seen on platforms and in publications all across the English-speaking world.