It was the Saturday morning after the big hockey team party. Misty awoke in her bedroom in time to see the sun shining through the blinds. Misty gave herself a push and managed to make it to the kitchen. Right now her most immediate need was for strong coffee and a couple of aspirin. Misty proceeded to set up the coffee percolator. She filled a large glass with water. Her next step was the bathroom medicine cabinet to find a bottle of aspirin.
Misty definitely had a hangover. Although she felt uncomfortable with the hockey wives she had at least made peace with Linda Saunders. The problem was that this was not Misty’s type of party. This was not her crowd. She loved Rick, but this was not her scene. It was obvious that she hated being a hockey wife and was praying that Rick would retire from hockey after this season. The truth was that Misty missed California and the whole hippy scene. As much as she loved Rick, she dreamed about moving back to California in a year or two. Maybe she could talk her father into moving with her, or maybe Rick could be persuaded to come to California with her. After taking two aspirins, Misty’s coffee maker finished percolating. Misty made herself a Tim Horton’s coffee and added two packets of Sugar Twin and a shot of Southern Pecan coffee whitener to the mix. Although her head was still throbbing, Misty lit up a Sweet Caporal cigarette and propped herself upon Lloyd’s tattered, light blue coach. Misty was just starting to slump over onto the cushions at the end of the couch, when she heard loud pounding on her back door.
Getting off the couch slowly and painfully, Misty made it to the back door. When she opened the door she was shocked to see Gypsy smiling back at her. It was snowing and snowflakes were covering Gypsy’s long, burgundy coat. He was wearing a black Oakland Raiders toque and black leather gloves.
“Hey, beautiful. Long time no see,” were the first words out of Gypsy’s mouth.
“Gypsy? What are you doing here? I thought I’d never see you again,” Misty said.
“Why don’t you get dressed, put out your cigarette and come with me for breakfast at Perkins restaurant?” Gypsy asked.
“I’d love to, but my dad is still sleeping. When he wakes up, he won’t know where I am,” Misty answered.
“Just write Lloyd a note and leave it by the coffee percolator. Only don’t write that you’ve gone out for breakfast with me.”
“What should I say on the note?” Misty asked.
“Tell them that your boyfriend is taking you out for breakfast. You have a boyfriend, don’t you?”
“Yeah. His name is Rick Miller. You met him already. He was the guy with Sasha at the rock festival last summer,” Misty answered.
Gypsy started to laugh, “You stole your boyfriend from your sister?”
“Not so loud, Gypsy. You’ll wake up my dad,” Misty said as she reached into the clothes closet for her white down filled parka.
The Maplewood Cougars walked very slowly back to their dressing room. Many of the players could barely hold up their heads. When they arrived in their dressing room, the players sat down on the benches next to the equipment stalls No one said a word. It was as if the life had been drained right out of them.
After a few minutes of painful silence, Miles Myers entered the Maplewood Cougars’ dressing room. As he had removed his Norberry Knights jersey, his shoulder pads and chest protector were now visible. He looked cautiously around the room and said, “Sorry guys, Coach Keenan told me to play my best, so I did. Rick that last goal was not your fault. It was a real tough one, but you played it right all the way. Brian Williams just made a lucky shot.”
“Thanks Miles. You played great. Don’t apologize. You just did your job the way Coach told you to. I think that tonight was your best game all season. The team can rest assured during the off-season that next year they will have a great starting goalie,” Rick said as he unclasped the buckle on his left leg pad.
Coach Brad Keenan spoke next, “Thank you Rick. I couldn’t agree with you more. Miles was exceptionally good in goal tonight. Now I have a message for all you guys. I’m proud of each and everyone of you. No one expected you to play as well as you did this year. You worked hard and played your hearts out for me. We now know what it feels like to be a winning team. I can guarantee each and every one of you, that by this time next year, we will not only beat the Norberry Knights, we will also make the playoffs. And you can take that to the bank. You guys all gained invaluable experience this year and changed your attitudes from being a losing team to that of being a winning team,” Brian Keenan said. The Maplewood Cougars said in unison, “Thank you coach. You did a great job coaching us this year.” The team had all agreed to say this before the game started.
You could feel the heaviness leave the room and a steam of positivity come in. Their hockey season was over, but the Maplewood Cougars could leave the dressing room with their heads held high. The players were all expecting great things to happen t next season.
Rick felt badly about letting in the last goal of the season, but knew that this was not a bad way of going out. He had been one of the Maplewood Cougars bright lights for three years now and he was leaving knowing that he had done a great job for his team. He was leaving with only one regret, that his team did not win the city championship. When Rick left the dressing room for the final time Misty ran right up to him and jumped into his arms while wrapping her legs around him. This happened so fast that Rick dropped his heavy equipment bag on the ground.
Misty had tears running down her cheeks and just clung to Rick. “I’m so proud of you Rick and I love you so much.”
While still clutched in Misty’s embrace, Rick could see Miles and Linda Saunders walking up to them.
“You guys should get a room,” Miles joked.
Upon hearing this, Misty let go of Rick and turned around to see who was talking to them. “Hey,” she said still wiping the tears from her eyes.
“Now it’s time for me to give you some Kleenex, Misty,” Linda said.
“I just want to thank you Rick for all the help you gave me this season. I really appreciate it,” Miles said.
“You are very welcome Miles. With you as the new starting goalie for next year, I know that I’m leaving the team in good hands.”
The four young people then walked towards the arena parking lot, gave each other a long hug and got into their cars.
One of the Norberry’s defensemen Phil Regent skated over to Miles to have a brief chat,
“Look Myers. This is how it’s going to go. Me and the rest of the team are going to supply you with all of the protection you are going to need. We are going to keep the puck in Maplewood’s end for as much of the game as we can. When Maplewood does get possession we are going to really lay on the body and check them hard. We’ll ride them hard right along the boards. When your team does get a chance for a shot on goal, we’ll do our best to block it. Any shots that do get through us, I expect you to stop them. Any questions?”
“No, I want to win this game for you guys. I’ve got a lot on the line. I need to prove to myself, my coach and the rest of the Cougars that I’m a better goalie than Rick Miller is. The emotion of fear transformed into rage within Miles Myers. He was sick and tired of standing in the shadow of Rick Miller.
“That’s exactly what I want to hear!” Phil Regent said as he slapped Miles Myers on the pads and skated up the ice to await the upcoming face off.
The fourth line grinders had done their job, just not in the way coach Brad Keenan had expected. They changed the tempo of the game, not by roughing up the Norberry Knights, but by taking out their starting goaltender. Brad could now go back to his original game plan, to out skate and out score the Norberry Knights. If the fans and the Norberry Knights were surprised that Brad Keenan would agree to allowing his opposition to use his backup goalie, Brad thought it was a flash of brilliance. He was confident that Miles would not be able to handle the offensive onslaught of the Maplewood Cougars. After all, Miles’ own team knew Miles’ weaknesses better than the Norberry Knights. They could utilize the weaknesses in Miles’s playing style that they had observed during their countless practise sessions.
Norberrry’s coach, Jeff Hadley, likewise, had little confidence in Miles Myers’ goaltending skills and felt that his decision had been a good one even if the original idea came from his assistant coach, Bill White. He felt that borrowing a second string backup goalie was a much better situation, than being forced to make one of his players who had no experience playing goal, put on the pads. Jeff knew his players well.
They would step up their game to meet the new challenge in front of them. The Knights would love to show their fans that they could beat the Maplewood Cougars, even without their starting goalie.
Both teams put their scoring lines out after the brief intermission had ended. Brad Keenan strategy was to score three or four quick goals that would put the game away for them. The score clock now indicated there was thirteen minutes minutes and forty-five seconds left to go in the third period.
Both teams played to a level that they had not demonstrated so far this season. Once the game resumed, the Norberry Knights first line put great offensive pressure on Maplewood. The Knights passed the puck around with amazing accuracy and were able to get an array of dangerous shots at the Cougar’s net. Rick stopped every shot during a three -minute flurry of enemy attack. He made some stops that caused the crowd to gasp with amazement.
The rest of the Cougar players knew that Rick was the one player who was keeping them in the game. After the three- minute rally was over, Coach Keenan decided to send out his fourth line. Brad knew that he needed to give his two scoring lines a rest and after all, it was the fourth line that had scored the Cougars’ only goal. Norberry’s coach was hesitant to take his top scoring line off, but he knew that they needed a rest.
Just before the next face off, Brad Keenan called for a time out. He quickly signalled for his third line to get off the ice, while sending out his best scoring line. Maplewood’s coach took the gamble as his team just needed one goal to get the lead. By the time Jeff Hadley saw what Brad had done, it was too late for him to change his lines again.
Energized by Rick’s great goaltending, Maplewood won the face off and their center, Bill Woodward made a very accurate pass to left winger Joe Palec. Joe fired a hard snapshot that hit the crossbar of Norberry’s net. Miles Myers was shaken up by the shot but was just happy it wasn’t a goal. At that point Miles tapped into all his anger and frustration. He made some dazzling saves. No one had ever seen him play this well. One player suggested that he was playing way over his head. Cougar defenseman, Eric Coswell told a teammate sitting next to him on the players’ bench that if Miles could play for them like he was playing for the Knights they could have two strong goalies going into the play offs.
Jeff Hadley’s strategy was to keep his third line on the ice for about a minute and then returned to his scoring line.
The two respective grinder lines went at each other with a fury. Each team’s lines did not want to be responsible for costing their team the game. Both teams didn’t hesitate to lay on the body and it was very obvious they were both playing a defensive game. Just as the two teams were about to make a line change, Garry Means, Maplewood’s third line center, took a high slap shot that hit the screen behind Norberry’s net. The puck bounced right off the fencing and hit Miles Meyers in the back of his right shoulder. A startled Miles Myers quickly turned around to see the puck just behind his goal. While just trying to clear the puck for a line change, Garry Means had managed to score his second goal in the hockey game. The score was now tied at two goals apiece with just two minutes to go on the score clock.
The Maplewood Cougars just needed one more goal to win the game. Coach Keenan decided to leave his fourth line out on the ice for the last two minutes to try to hold on to the tie and force the game into overtime.
Once regulation time had ended, he would draw up a plan for his team to score the winning goal during the sudden-death overtime.
Coach Jeff Hadley saw what was happening and decided to send out his best scoring line.
He figured that his team could score a quick goal to end the game during regulation time.
The Cougars fourth line did their coach proud. During an offensive onslaught by the Norberry Knights, the Cougars grinder line kept the Knights forwards closely in check, shooting the puck over center ice to kill off some time. The Cougars defensemen also dropped to the ice the to block shots from the point on three occasions.
With thirty seconds left to go in the game the Cougars had a defensive breakdown, and Norberry center Brian Williams had a clear breakaway in front of him.
Rick Miller slowly moved out of his crease times until he was within a few feet of Brian Williams. Rick quickly dropped to the ice in an attempt to stop Brian’s wrist shot. Williams managed to shoot the puck through a small opening between Rick’s pads. Rick Miller turned his head in time to see the pick slowly dribble over the goal line. This turned out to be the game winning goal.
“Yeah, I heard something about that,” Rick answered.
“Well, it’s true, but the story has been greatly exaggerated. I spent about two weeks in a psychiatric rehabilitation facility in San Francisco. I was there basically for observation so that the doctors could make a diagnosis,” Misty explained.
“So, what did the doctors come up with?” Rick asked.
“At that time they told me it was manic depression. My psychiatrist in Winnipeg changed the diagnosis to schizo-affective disorder.”
“Yeah, I remember you telling me about that. Do you need to take medication?’
“Yes, lithium. For a long time, I wasn’t really taking it. I just lied to my doctor and my parents telling them that I was taking the lithium regularly. I got busted when they eventually took a blood test. The test showed that there was no trace of lithium in my body.”
“Why didn’t you take your medication?”
“Because it made me feel worse. To be more precise I didn’t feel any emotions at all when I first started taking it. Plus, it was making me gain weight.”
“So, do you take lithium now?” Rick asked.
“No. My new psychiatrist in Winnipeg put me on chlorpromazine after he changed my diagnosis to schizo-affective disorder,” Misty answered.
The restaurant was starting to get very smoky. It appeared that most of the customers were puffing hard on their cigarettes while they sucked back the strong Salisbury House coffee. The smoke in the air was starting to make Rick’s eyes water.”
“Let’s go back to Memorial Park. It’s getting too smoky in here for me,” said Rick.
Rick and Misty started walking back across the Osborne bridge. Misty thought she saw the shadowy figure of a man trying to climb up on the railings of the bridge.
Rick said, “It looks like that guy is going to try to jump over the bridge.”
Both Rick and Misty started yelling, “Hey man, stop! What are you trying to do?”
“Leave me alone. I’m going to jump,” the man answered.
“Let’s talk a bit first,” Misty said.
“Talk about what?” the man asked.
“About anything. Misty and I have been looking for someone interesting to talk to.” Rick answered.
“I’m not an interesting person and anyway you’ve got each other to talk to,” the man said.
“Let me be the judge of that. How about the three of us go to the Sals and get a cup of coffee? It’s starting to get chilly out here.” Rick said.
“I don’t even have enough money for a coffee, man, and I just smoked my last cigarette,”
“What’s your name?” Misty asked.
“Norman or just Norm.”
“Hi, I’m Misty and this is my boyfriend, Rick.”
“Like I said, I haven’t got enough money to go to the Sals and I’m kind of busy here.”
“Okay. I’ll tell you what. You come down from the railing and I’ll pay for your coffee and anything else you want to eat. Don’t worry about cigarettes. I just opened a new pack. How about it?” Rick asked.
“Well, I guess I could have my last coffee and cigarette before I leave this world.” Norm answered.
“That’s great. I’ll give you a smoke right now,” Rick said.
When they got back the Salisbury House, Norm ordered a Big Nip, and an order of fries and a coffee.
“Thanks guys. I haven’t had anything to eat yet today. My dad kicked me out at around ten this morning,” Norm said.
“So what have you been doing all day to keep warm?” Misty asked.
“I’ve been riding the bus. My dad bought me a monthly bus pass before I got the boot,” Norm said. “I don’t know what to do or where to go. Two months ago my mom kicked me out of her place.”
“Don’t worry we’ll figure something out,” Misty said.
Norman Robinson was only nineteen years old, but he was already starting to take on the appearance of a homeless person. He was tall and very thin. Misty noticed that Norman had a missing front tooth. He had a large hole in the front of his navy blue parka that made it look like he had vomited on his coat. The hole was actually a result of Norman helping his dad remove a defective battery from his car. In the process of completing this task, Norman had gotten some battery acid on his jacket. The acid had burned the hole in it.
Misty turned to Rick and said, “Let’s take Norm over to my place. I think my dad might like to talk to Norman.”
“What makes you say that?” Rick asked, looking somewhat befuddled.
“My dad has changed a lot since the summer. I’ll tell you about it later, but he now has a job working at a homeless center,” Misty answered.
“Wow. Lloyd has a steady job now,” Rick said.
“Look you guys have done enough for me already. After I finish my coffee and smoke I’ll just walk back to the bridge,” Norman said.
“I don’t think that’s such a great idea,” Rick said. “You don’t have a place to go tonight, do you?”
“That settles it. You’re coming with us,” Rick said firmly.
Rick, Misty and their new friend walked back to Rick’s car that was parked on a street next to Memorial Park. When Rick tried to start his car the engine wouldn’t turn over.
“Damn,” Rick said. “I just put a new battery in two weeks ago,”
“Open the hood Rick and let me have a look,” Norman said.
“In less than a minute Norman asked Rick to try starting the car again. This time the engine turned over immediately.
“How did you do that?” Rick asked.
“It was just a loose cable. I was training to be an auto technician so I knew what to check first.”
“Wow, thanks a lot man,” Rick said, feeling both surprised and grateful.
One morning, Misty’s mother, Sheila Roberts was doing her morning devotions. As a devout Christian, Sheila had long established a habit of having a quiet time with the Lord before she started her day. Her devotional time included reading from her Bible, praying for herself and others as well as remaining quiet and waiting for God to speak to her. Today, Sheila heard the Lord speak to her spirit, “Sheila, I’m going to do a great work in your husband, Lloyd, because I love him very much. I am asking you to include Lloyd in your prayers every day.”
Sheila did not hear an audible voice, but she knew in her heart that she had heard from God. After the incident at the rock concert during the summer, Sheila had been thinking about Lloyd. By this time, she had forgiven Lloyd for allowing his daughters to get involved in a dangerous situation. She had loved Lloyd at one time, but since she became a Christian and Lloyd didn’t, Sheila felt that her husband would have a negative influence on their children. She could not say that Rick was a bad person. In many ways he was a good man, but she could no longer tolerate his immaturity and his harmful addictions. What she really wanted was a godly husband and Lloyd certainly was not. Sheila decided to call her pastor Randy Neufeld to discuss with him what the Lord had told her.
Lloyd Roberts was just waking up from a short nap he had after supper. As be reached for his pack of cigarettes, Lloyd could still remember the dream he had. He was in that zone where he was just coming out of the dream state, but was not yet fully awake. Lloyd was used to having many dreams while he slept, but there was something different about the ones that he had been having lately. His most recent dreams all seemed to have some spiritual or religious theme to them.
A few minutes ago, Lloyd had seen Jesus in his dream holding a little lamb in his arms. The other night he dreamed that he was sitting in a quiet, peaceful location by a stream. When he turned his head he could see a man who looked like Jesus waving for him to walk over to where he was standing. Lloyd scratched hic head before putting on his baseball cap with the Ford logo on it. He had started to notice a bald spot near the top of his head and thought that if he covered it up he wouldn’t have to think about it. What he was now thinking about was the significance of his dreams. His daughter, Sasha had been a Christian for awhile now, but Lloyd was wondering what kind of influence her new boyfriend was having on her beliefs. Lloyd expected Sasha would be home in a little while. He would ask her what she made of his dreams.
Lloyd had recently attained employment as a residential care worker at The Main Street Mission. He found that of the many jobs that he had worked over the years this was probably one of the few that he actually enjoyed. Lloyd liked the street people that he got to know and was starting to feel that his life was finally starting to have some meaning.
Lloyd was beginning to mature as he entered his mid forties. The incident that happened at the rock festival had shaken Lloyd up. It now occurred to him that he had some serious responsibilities as a parent.
Lloyd’s dog, Pigpen started barking loudly while scratching the front door with his paws.
“Hang on. I’ll be right there.” Lloyd hoped that his voice was loud enough to be heard outside the door.
When Lloyd answered the door he was greeted by Misty and Rick and a young man that he did not recognize.
Lloyd moved closer to Rick to give him a hug. “Hey, man, I haven’t seen you in a dog’s age. Pardon the pun, Pigpen.”
“Hey, Dad. I’d like to introduce you to our new friend, Norm. Rick and I just met him tonight at The Sals on Osborne,” Misty said, while brushing some snow off her coat.
“Why don’t you guys park yourselves in the living room while I put on some coffee. I’d offer you guys a beer, but I’ve been on the wagon for awhile now.”
“Yeah, Dad’s been sober for six months now. He joined Alcoholics Anonymous,” Misty said proudly, just before she sat down on the couch.
“At the last AA meeting they gave me my sixth month pin,” Lloyd said proudly as he walked towards the kitchen.
After the coffee had perked Misty brought out a silver tray with the cups, coffee and creamer.
Lloyd sat down in his black recliner.
“I’m sorry I haven’t been around to see you Lloyd. I’ve been keeping a low profile since Sasha and I broke up,” Rick explained.
“That’s what I figured,” Lloyd said. “Well you don’t have to worry about that Rick. Sasha’s cool with it. She says she still likes you, but she has a new boyfriend now. In fact, they’ll probably be here soon. Lloyd then turned his attention to the new guest.
“So how did you get to talking with Rick and Misty?”
“Actually, I first met them on the Osborne Bridge. I was getting ready to jump in the river,” Norm answered.
One day in August Rick walked to the Canada Employment Center to see if he could get some help finding a job. He was two credits short from attaining his high school diploma and realized that with this small amount of course work he would need to at least, get a part time job. At this time, he did not think that he would return to playing hockey for another season. Last year had been much too stressful for him and now he would have a lot of free time on his hands. Rick felt that he would need to get a job to keep his parents happy.
As he entered the employment center Rick was nervous. He had worked one summer at his dad’s printing plant and had a very negative experience while working there. Rick did not yet realize that he lacked the manual dexterity, fine motor skills and spatial reasoning required for most factory jobs.
Rick walked up to the reception desk and was told to pull a number out of a machine. He was directed to take a seat in the waiting room and wait until his number was called.
Rick found an empty seat and took a look around the main floor of the employment center. It was a very drab place that rendered a rather depressing mood. After waiting approximately fifteen minutes Rick heard his name called and was greeted by a young attractive female who asked him to take a seat in her work area. The employment counsellor did not have a closed- in office. Her office space was separated from her co-workers by grey rectangular partitions. This arrangement didn’t give the client any feeling of privacy as one could hear what people in other sectioned off work areas were saying.
The employment counsellor shook hands with Rick and said, “Hello Richard, my name is Arlene Johnson. What can I do for you today?”
“You can just call me Rick. I’m here to find a job.”
“What kind of work are you looking for?”
“I’m not sure,” Rick answered. “I don’t know what kinds of work are available to me.”
“Well, that all depends upon your education and work experience.”
“I’ve got my grade 11 and I’m just two credits shy of my high school diploma. I worked at my dad’s printing plant one summer and I used to have a paper route.
“Do you like working with your hands Rick?”
“Not very much. I’m not very good with my hands.”
“I have to be honest with you. Most of the jobs you could apply for require a grade twelve education and manual dexterity or fine motor skills. We occasionally get referrals from employers for manual labor jobs, but I don’t have any referrals right now,” Arlene said.
Rick was now feeling very uncomfortable. “So I guess you really don’t have anything for me today?”
“Not really. What do you do in your spare time?”
“I play hockey, watch tv, listen to music and read.”
“But you don’t do much work with your hands?”
“No, not really, but I read a lot,” Rick said feeling insulted.
“Listen Rick. Can I be blunt?”
“Yeah,” Rick replied feeling annoyed.
“You need to get your high school diploma and you need to take up a hobby where you have to use your hands. After you do that come back and see me.”
“Thank you for your time,” Rick said as he got up to leave Arlene’s work area. When he got outside Rick lit up a smoke and said to himself, “So that’s that. I’ll go back to school to get my two credits and I’ll play hockey for one more year.”
Winter Dreams (the Continuing Adventures of Rick Miller)
A Sequel to Summer Dreams
Rick Miller was sitting alone in a booth at The Red Top Restaurant. The year was 1969 and it was a cold, windy December morning in the Canadian Prairies. He had just arrived as his geography class at Maplewood Collegiate ended. It only took him a few minutes to walk across the street from the high school to the restaurant. He lit up a Rothmans cigarette and began to daydream about Sasha, his former summer love. He had to admit that he missed her now that all was said and done, but he was beginning a new chapter of his life. Shirley, the waitress approached his booth.
“What will it be today Rick, the usual?”
“Yep, my favorite, hot chocolate,” Rick answered with a smile.
Rick figured that Shirley was in her mid-forties. She had gained a bit of weight over the years, but was still relatively attractive for someone her age. Rick noticed that Shirley had a short pinky finger on her right hand. The finger must have been amputated, but Rick didn’t allow his curiosity over-ride his impeccable good manners. He had never asked Shirley about what happened to her finger.
Rick’s high school was just across the street from The Red Top. Just as Shirley brought Rick his hot chocolate someone walked in the door of the restaurant. The new customer was a very thin young man roughly Rick’s age. He had long, dirty, unkempt strawberry blond hair. He stopped in front of Rick’s booth and asked if he could join him. Rick was a little surprised as had never seen this fellow before, but he motioned for him to sit down.
“Thanks for letting me join you, man. My name is Peyton Ramparts. I have a spare this period and felt like I needed a cup of java. I was up until two in the morning last night. My band had a really bitchin’ good practise.”
Peyton wore a long black coat with gold striping on the side. It looked like he could have stolen it from Jimi Hendrix.
“What’s your band’s name?” Rick asked.
“Winter Dreams,” Peyton answered. “Hey man, can I bum a smoke off you?”
“Yeah, no problem. I hope you like Rothmans. I smoke whatever brand my dad is smoking at the time.”
Peyton started to laugh as he pulled out a cigarette from Rick’s pack.
“How did you come up with the name Winter Dreams for your band?”
“I can’t remember for sure. A guy from my band came up with it during a break from practise. We were all passing around a joint at the time while looking out the living room window. All I remember is watching a heavy snowfall. Then Pick said, “This is sort of like a winter dream and Chevy said that it sounded like a great name for our band.”
Rick was just about ready to ask Peyton another question when both boys felt a sudden rush of cold air breeze through the restaurant. They both looked towards the door and saw a young attractive female come through the door.
“Sorry I’m late, Peyton. I had to ask Mr. Pierce for an extension on my research paper for history class. Who’s your friend?” the girl asked.
“I don’t know his name yet. We just met a few minutes ago. Peyton reached across the table to shake Rick’s hand. “Sorry I should have introduced myself. I’m Peyton Ramparts.”
“And I’m Rick Miller.”
“Let me introduce you to my girlfriend, Sabrina Davis,” Peyton said as Sabrina slid right next to him on the booth.
“I think I’ve seen you at school Rick. You’re in grade twelve aren’t you? I hear people talking about you in the halls all the time. You’re the Cougars star goalie,” Sabrina said brushing some snow off her navy blue coat.
“I don’t know if I’m a star, but I try to play my best for the team,” Rick responded with true humility.
Peyton was already starting to feel comfortable with Rick. He felt that he could trust Rick and be real with him. Rick was sensing the same thing about Peyton. They both had the feeling that they could be honest with one another.
“So how did your meeting with Mr. Pierce go? Is he going to give you an extension on your homework assignment?”
“Yeah, no problem. I told him about my grandmother moving into our house and that she needed me to do things for her. I told Mr. Pierce that my extra duties were causing me to get behind in my studies.”
“What did he say about that?” Rick asked as he put his cup of hot chocolate back on the table. He was starting to feel right at home with Peyton and Sabrina.
“Oh, he said that he understood and would give me an extra week to work on my paper. He said that there was a time in his life when his mother was very sick and he needed to help her out a lot. Of course, it also helps that I’m very cute. All the girls in my class have noticed the way that Mr. Pierce looks at us. He definitely has a thing going for young high school chicks,” Sabrina answered with a chuckle.
“You sure know how to play him,” Peyton said with a bit of admiration. He always felt that Sabrina was smarter than him. She certainly got much better grades in school than he did. Peyton had very little interest in school. He attended the minimum of his required courses basically to keep his parents off his case and to be with Sabrina.
“Rick, do you know that Peyton is in a band. He plays lead guitar as well as writing some original material for the band. His group is called Winter Dreams and one day they are going to make it big. Record a single and an album. The whole nine yards,” Sabrina said proudly.
“We’re not as great as Sabrina says, but we’re not bad for a group that’s only been together for three months. We’re playing a gig tonight at Maplewood Community Center. Why don’t you drop by and check us out, Rick?”
“I wouldn’t miss it for the world. It’s been a blast meeting you guys, but I have to get back to the school for my American history class.” Rick said as he put on his white down filled parka and got ready for a biting rush of cold winter air.
After his last class of the afternoon was over Rick headed home. It was about a three block walk from Maplewood Collegiate to his home. There was a light snowfall. While the snowflakes landed on the branches of the trees Rick revelled in the beauty of the winter scene. The sun was shining brightly and this added to Rick’s aesthetic joy. He loved the snow and he loved the winter season. He even liked the crunching sound that his boots made when they pressed down into the snow on the sidewalk.
As it was a Friday with the weekend to look forward to, Rick had a spontaneous idea. He would walk to the neighborhood library and look for something to read when he got some free time on the weekend. Very few people knew how much Rick loved books and libraries. It was just a few blocks out of his way to the local branch of The Winnipeg Public Library.
When Rick arrived at the library he stomped his feet on the red carpet at the entrance. He was careful not to bring any snow into the library. As soon as he stepped inside Rick was overtaken by the captivating scent of books. He had very acute sensory perceptions. These senses would either produce a positive or negative emotional response in Rick. The special odor that one encountered only in libraries always gave Rick’s spirits a lift.
He had developed am interest in a wide variety of topics. The subjects that Rick liked to explore included history, literature, politics and psychology. His pattern was to study a specific topic for about a month at a time. Over the summer months Rick had become engrossed in the topic of current political, social and cultural changes that were presently taking place in The United States. He devoured the pages of the new underground magazine, Rolling Stone. Rick not only found the stories to be fascinating. He loved the look and smell of Rolling Stone as it was a magazine that looked and smelled like a newspaper.
As Rick entered the main foray of the library he was greeted by Denise Carr, the librarian. Rick had been to this branch of the library so many times that Denise knew Rick by name.
“So what are we looking for today Rick?” the attractive thirty-five-year-old brunette asked.
Rick answered in a distracted manner, “I’m not sure yet. I’ll probably be checking out the new releases. I want to see if I can find anything on the cultural revolution happening in the United States.”
“You’re such an intellectual, Rick. I’ll have a look myself to see what I can come up with,” Denise said.
It didn’t take Rick long to find the cart that contained the new releases. Over the summer Rick had read a variety of books, both fiction and non-fiction. Although Rick was on the university entrance track at Maplewood Collegiate he would often be intrigued by what the students in the general course stream were reading as part of their prescribed curriculum. Rick discovered that he liked the novels in the general course better than he liked his university entrance novels. Classic novels like The Catcher in the Rye, 1984, Animal Farm and Brave New World intrigued him. As far as non fiction choices went, Rick was drawn to any books that dealt with the burgeoning nineteen-sixties counter culture.
As Rick checked out the new releases he found a book written by one of his favorite authors, Norman Mailer. He eagerly picked up Mailer’s new book, The Armies of the Night.
As Rick moved onto the regular book stacks he noticed that he had lost track of the time. He realized that he would be late for supper if he didn’t leave the library soon.
Rick looked up to check the time on the library’s clock. It read 5:03 PM. Rick put on his parka and black toque and headed out the front door of the library. The wind was strong and it felt to Rick that it must be at least twenty below zero. He pulled out a cigarette from the side pocket of his parka and attempted to light it with a pack of matches, As the wind was high Rick moved close to the wall of the library and tried cupping his hands around the cigarette and matches. It took Rick three tries to successfully light his Rothman’s cigarette.
It was already dark outside when Rick left the library. He knew that he would have to keep up a quick pace to keep warm on his five block walk to his parents’ house. The street lights were already turned on and Rick liked how they reflected off the snowbanks next to the sidewalk. He also enjoyed the crunching sound that his winter boots made as they pushed into the snow.
When Rick arrived at his house he saw his father sitting on his favorite sofa reading the paper. He heard his mother calling from the kitchen. “Supper’s ready. Let’s get moving to the dining room.”
Rick and his dad immediately walked towards the dining room. They both knew how frustrated Mrs. Miller could get if her family waited too long before they got up for their meals. Rick’s mother was in her early fifties and still retained an attractive figure. She continued to wear her dark brown hair long as that was what her husband wanted. Rick was the eldest of the Miller children. He had a younger brother named David and an even younger sister called Beth.
As the family passed the turkey, stuffing, potatoes and peas down the line, Rick was deep in thought. When he passed a bowl of peas over to his father he was reminded of the dreadful experience he had over the summer working at his dad’s printing plant. His father had tried to help Rick out by hiring him as summer help. Who knows? If things had worked out for Rick, he might still be working at the printing plant today.
Unfortunately, that’s not how things played out. Rick was just not cut out to be a blue collar, factory worker. He was not well coordinated and had great difficulty performing most manual labor tasks especially those that required fine motor skills or spatial reasoning. No matter what tasks his foreman assigned to him Rick could not get the hang of it and performed poorly on these jobs. Rick worked with a small crew of other young adults who laughed at Rick and berated him as he struggled with his assignments. They told him that they could train a monkey to do his job. After three frustrating and humiliating days on the job Rick told his father that he was quitting his job. He told his dad why he was resigning and apologized if he had embarrassed his father. His dad was very understanding and was not really surprised by Rick’s decision to leave his position.
“Why did you call Misty his slut girlfriend?” Cindy demanded.
“Because she is. I got that information from Rudy too. He told me that he saw Misty with some freak called Gypsy at The Lake Mariposa Rock Festival. Rudy says that Misty loves drugged out hippy guys. She’ll sleep with anyone she meets. Before Rick, Misty was dating this grease ball called Jim. Jim is such a slime ball that he used to beat up Misty regularly.”
Just then Miss Redding, the gym teacher, broke in on the discussion and ordered the girls to hurry and get on the gym floor before she started handing out detentions.
As soon as Miss Redding’s back was turned Misty escaped through the back exit door of the girls’ locker room. With tears streaming down her face, Misty ran to her favorite local park about three minutes from the school. She used one of her green gloves to wipe some snow from a park bench. Once a spot was cleared Misty sat on the bench lowered her head and began to cry. She was still very upset by the way Linda Saunders had been talking about her. When Misty looked up there was a bright sun out that enhanced the beauty of the snow covering the branches of the trees. Misty was startled when she felt two hands on her shoulders. She turned around to see Peyton Ramparts and Sabrina Davis.
“Are you skipping gym class too?” Sabrina asked.
“I tried to go to gym class but I’m very sorry that I did,” Misty said starting to weep again.
Peyton looked Misty on the eye and said, “So tell us what happened.” He started using one of his black gloves to clear enough room for he and Sabrina to sit down.
Episode 4 of Chaos
Although he was officially retired Roger had not stopped working completely. He continued to work three to four days per week as a substitute teacher. Roger enjoyed substitute teaching much more than full time teaching as he now didn’t have extra work to take home in the evenings. Substitute teaching also got him out of the house several times per week. This helped alleviate Roger’s loneliness as it gave him something of a social life as he had an opportunity to visit with other teachers.
Fortunately, Roger was rarely bored. He had developed several hobbies during his teaching career and he now had more time to devote to them. Roger also picked up a couple of new hobbies after he retired. He had always enjoyed learning new things and developing new skills whenever possible.
He had truly loved his late wife Beatrice and believed that he could never again love a woman as much as he had loved her. Even so, he missed having female companionship. During one of his church’s weekly bible studies Roger had an attractive lady in her mid forties named Roxanne. They both felt a mutual attraction to each other and were soon going out for coffee after the Bible study had ended.