Keith started to think about going for a bike ride. He looked at his beautiful, black, Giant mountain bike parked a few feet behind his large flat screen tv.
Keith decided to make himself go for a bike ride. He now had too many days when he had to ‘push himself’ to do anything. Was he getting old or was it just that he’s out of shape and not eating nutritious meals? Probably Keith’s chronic fatigue was due to a variety of factors.
There was beautiful weather outside and Keith enjoyed his morning bike rides. He more or less rated his physical stamina by his ability to still go for bike rides year after year.
When Keith returned from his ride, he climbed onto his old, broken down orange and yellow couch. Whether it was just psychological or not, Keith found that taking short power naps during the day allowed him to get more accomplished.
It was June 30 today and Keith was officially finished his substitute teaching assignments for the year. He was now officially on summer holidays.
One of Keith’s favorite avocations was writing fiction novels. He had self published three of his original works so far, but none of them had made him any money. Nevertheless, Keith enjoyed the writing process and he found it to be very therapeutic. He found it amazing how the act of writing dredged up memories from the past and old traumas that you thought you had forgotten.
Keith was presently working on a novel that he had temporarily given the title, Chaos. Keith had just started his first rough draft of chapter five after re-reading and self editing chapter four.
On Tuesday morning Rick got a surprise visit from Peyton Ramparts and his girlfriend, Sabrina Davis. They walked into Rick’s hospital room and threw their winter clothing onto a chair besides Rick’s bed. It was snowing outside and there were still snowflakes on Peyton and Sabrina’s parkas.
Rick had been up for a couple of hours already. He had a bad dream during the night in which his coach, Brad Keenan had told him that he couldn’t play for the Cougars anymore due to medical concerns.
Previous to Rick being hospitalized, he, Peyton, Sabrina and sometimes Misty went for coffee at The Red Top Restaurant every morning. Rick found out that Peyton used to play organized hockey in the past, but quit because he had more interest in forming his own rock band. Peyton told Rick that he used to play center for The Norberry Knights and that his coach and teammates told him that he was a really good player. Whenever his band, Winter Dreams had an evening off, Peyton and Sabrina would come to watch Rick’s hockey games.
“Hey Rick, how are you doing buddy?” Peyton asked while putting his hand on Rick’s shoulder.
“My head still feels kind of foggy. It’s like having cobwebs on your brain,” Rick answered. He groaned as he sat up in his bed as his muscles were still very sensitive.
“I’m sorry to hear that, but I kind of expected you would still be hurting after your injury. That dick, Davidson took a run at you on purpose. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that his coach put him up to it,” Peyton said, his face starting to redden with anger.
The league’s convener wrote a letter to both Maplewood’s coach, Brad Keenan and Norberry’s coach, Jeff Hadley. The letter was to inform the two coaches that the previous game that the two teams had played would be declared. ‘no contest’ and that a make up game would be scheduled. It also stated that extra security measures would be taken. Four security workers from the Garda Security Company and one Winnipeg Police Services constable would be hired for the rematch. It was agreed that the Garda Security guards would check every fan in attendance for concealed weapons prior to the start of the hockey game.
Coach Brad Keenan folded the letter up after he read it and placed it in its envelope. He put it in the right hand corner of the desk drawer in his office at the Maplewood Community Center. Brad got up from his well worn executive chair and walked towards a window. The weather looked sunny and bright, but Brad had a bad feeling about the rematch. He had kept a close eye on Miles Myers performance in goal during last night’s practice. The coach realized that Myers was struggling to make some of the more difficult saves that Rick Miller would easily have stopped. Brad wasn’t the only one to notice. The rest of the Cougar players had also observed the same weaknesses in Miles’s performance.
Misty arrived about ten minutes late for her afternoon gym class. She was finishing her cigarette at the smoking pod behind Maplewood Collegiate and was talking to a new girl who had just enrolled in the high school that day. While they were talking Misty lost track of the time. When Misty arrived at the lockers about five minutes late, the other girls were already in the locker room getting changed. Misty waited outside the entrance to the locker room and could hear the other girls talking. The girls’ voices were loud enough that Misty could overhear what they were saying. The dominant voice that drowned out the rest was that of Linda Saunders. Linda was a strong personality that attracted her own group of followers. At this very moment Linda was holding court with a group of four other girls. She had just overhead one of the other girls singing the praises of Rick Miller.
“Rick is such a great goalie. His play is the only reason that our hockey team is still competitive. I just hope that his injuries don’t keep him out of the line up too long. The Cougars have some key games scheduled for the next two weeks,” Sandra said.
“That’s for sure,” Tristan said. “I hate to say it, but I don’t have much confidence in Miles Meyers’ ability to lead the team.”
Sandra and Tristan were so busy talking that they hadn’t noticed that Linda Saunders had walked up right behind them.
“You two are full of crap,” Linda yelled. Her face was beet red. “Yes, I agree that Rick Miller has played well so far this year, but consider how much experience Rick has. This is his third year playing for the Maplewood Cougars. This is just Miles first year and he has been working very hard at improving his skills.”
‘That may be true Linda, but let’s face it. Right now, Rick Miller gives the team the best chance of winning,” Sandra said.
“That’s only so long as Rick and his slut girlfriend, Misty manage to stay away from drugs,” Linda said as she put on her red gym shorts.
The odor in the girl’s change room was bad enough, but it appeared to be getting worse due to the tension in the room.
“What drugs?” Tristan asked.
“Pretty well any drugs those two can get their hands on. Stuff like weed, hash, acid, peyote, downers and bennies just to name a few.” Linda answered.
“How do you know this for sure?” Michelle asked sceptically.
“How do I know? I got the scoop from my cousin Rudy. Rudy’s a real stoner who goes to all the Winter Dreams concerts. He also went to all the outdoor rock festivals this summer. Rudy told me that he’s seen Rick and Misty stoned out of their heads at these rock festivals. Further more both Rick and Misty are very tight with Peyton Ramparts, the lead guitarist for Winter Dreams. You can always see them having coffee at The Red Top Restaurant. Rick and Misty always attend Winter Dreams after concert who goes to those parties is a stoner,” Linda said.
“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 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.
“I’m really starting to hate the fact that my boyfriend is the Cougar’s star goalie.” Misty said.
“Why?” Sabrina asked.
“It’s those damn hockey wives. They are such a clique. The worst of the whole bunch is Linda Saunders. She’s been spreading horrible rumours about Rick and I.” She’s just jealous that Rick’s a much better goalie than her boyfriend Miles,” Misty replied.
“What kind of rumours?” Peyton asked. All three friends could now sit on the park bench as Peyton had cleared off enough snow.
“Linda’s been telling the other girls that Rick and I are heavy stoners and that I’m a slut,” Misty answered.
“That is bad,” Sabrina said.
“Now that Linda has told the other hockey wives the rumours are starting to spread through the whole school,” Misty said and continued to sob.
Peyton leaned over towards Misty. I’ve got an idea. Do you know Gordon Zender, our band’s security manager?”
“I don’t really know him, but I think I’ve seen him at band parties,” Misty answered stifling her sobs.
“So you’ve seen Gordon and know what he looks like. We call Gordon, Godzilla for a reason. He’s six foot four and weighs around two hundred seventy pounds. Most of it is muscle. He works out at the Iron Works gym three to four times a week. Before our band hired him, Gordon was a bouncer at the LaSalle Hotel. The LaSalle used to be a rough place with lots of fights, especially on the weekends. That all stopped a few days after they hired Godzilla as a bouncer.
The first night on the job two guys started heckling the LaSalle’s house band, Blind Rage. Godzilla didn’t waste any time. He grabbed both those idiots by the back of their collars and carried both of them out to the back parking lot. One of the hecklers turned to the other one and said, “We can take him. It’s two against one.”
As soon as one of them made a move toward him, Godzilla grabbed both of them and dropped them in a nearby parking lot dumpster. That’s how Godzilla likes to take care of business. As Winter Dreams were all there to watch Blind Rage that evening, we were very impressed with Godzilla’s ability to handle a dicey situation. That night the band called him over to our table and asked Gordon to be our road manager. The rest is history as they say,” Peyton said.
It was Wednesday afternoon and Rick decided to skip his economics class that afternoon. Over the summer he went to the library and got a copy of the slim, brown, grade twelve economics textbook and read it all the way through in a couple of sittings. As Rick had already read several books from the library on politics and modern history, he found the concepts in the economics textbook easy for him to understand. Rick thought that missing one economics class was not going to impede his learning. He had a big game tonight against the Norberry Knights and Rick felt that he needed the afternoon to get himself both mentally and physically prepared for the game.
Rick had read about how some very successful professional hockey players prepare for their games. Rick knew that a great deal of the preparation for a game was mental and this meant ‘psyching yourself up’. He lay down on his bed, closed his eyes and visualized making great saves in the upcoming game. Rick would do this for about twenty minute before he walked down to the basement to do some warm -up exercises.
His routine started with some light stretching movements. Rick would then climb up on his stationary exercise bike and pedal at a moderate speed for about twenty minutes. After his bike ride, Rick moved to the spot on the carpet where he kept his free weights. He would then do some light resistance training. After following this routine with a five- minute break, Rick picked up a light green tennis ball. He used his right hand to whack the tennis ball against the cement wall in his basement. As soon as the ball rebounded off the wall Rick would catch it with his left hand. He completed this exercise in two five minute intervals.
Rick used an old towel to wipe off the perspiration while he jogged upstairs to the kitchen to make himself a corned beef sandwich and a glass of milk. After his lunch Rick got into bed and took a forty-five-minute nap.
Upon arising from a restful nap, Rick started to think about the importance of tonight’s hockey game. Rick’s team, the Cougars had gotten off to a shaky start to the season. So far, they had played five games in which they won one, lost three and tied one. This was the worst season start for the Cougars during the last ten years. Rick was trying to figure out why this was happening.
One reason was that only a few players returned from last year’s team. Most of the veteran players were now ineligible to play due to their ages. The majority of this year’s team were younger and frankly, were not as talented as the veteran players the team had lost. Rick knew that he would really need to step up his game this year to make his team competitive. Once again as he had done the last few years, his coach was trying to split the workload between his two goalies by platooning them.
The other goalie was two years younger than Rick. His name was Miles Meyers. Miles was shorter and didn’t have the big build that Rick has, but he was a very acrobatic young goalie. While studying Miles’s play. Rick concluded that Miles would be a top notch goalie with a few more years of experience under his belt.
The Cougars were scheduled to play the Norberry Knights that evening. Before getting his gear ready for the game, Rick thought about giving Misty a call to see if she would like to come with him to watch the game.Tonight, Rick was scheduled to start in goal as it was an away game. It worked out that Rick would play most of the away games and Miles would work the majority of home games. For some reason, Rick liked this arrangement as he found that he preferred to play in different rinks. He seemed to get more pumped up when he knew that at least one side of the arena would ‘boo’ him. Like a professional wrestler, Rick enjoyed ‘drawing heat’ from the opposition’s fans.
As Rick did not know how Misty would respond to his invitation, he was more than a little nervous when he picked up the phone.
“Hi, Misty. It’s Rick,”
“You think that I don’t recognize my new boyfriend’s voice by now?” asked Misty.
“I love the sound of ‘my new boyfriend’,” Rick said.
“It sounds like you are falling in love.”
“I already have,” replied Rick.
“So what’s on your mind?” Misty asked.
“I’ve got a hockey game and I want to know if you would like to come with me.”
“That’s right. I’m dating a jock. I’ve never done that before. Sure, let’s go for it. I’ve never even been to a hockey game before.”
“You’ll love it. Good, fast paced action. Can you be ready by five-thirty?”
“I think I can manage that. I’m kind of looking forward to watching you play hockey,” Misty answered.
Rick picked Misty up precisely at five-thirty. Misty was dressed in a slightly faded red UCLA sweatshirt and was ready to go. When they arrived at the St. Vital Arena a few of Rick’s teammates and their girlfriends were just getting out of their cars. Eric Coswell, one of the Cougars defensemen was the first to greet Rick. Eric was wiry and a bit small for a defenseman, but he was very strong and was very effective in keeping opposing players out of Rick’s crease.
“Are you all ready for an epic battle tonight, Rick, my man? Hey, who’s the beautiful young lady beside you?” Eric asked.
“I just got out of my car and you’ve already fired two questions at me. Which one do you want me to answer first?” Rick replied while smiling at Eric.
Tonight Rick was feeling really good. He had often dreamed about a time when he would have a female to show off to his teammates. It had not been easy being the only player on his team not to have a girlfriend.
“Yes, I’m psyched for the game and this is my neighbour, Misty,” Rick said. He was positively beaming by this point.
“Actually we’re more than just neighbours, Eric. Rick’s my new boyfriend,” Misty said proudly.
“Yeah, sorry Misty. I should have said that you are my girlfriend,” Rick said sheepishly.
“You’re forgiven dear. I hear that Rick’s a really good goalie,” Misty said.
“You heard right. I would go so far as to say that Rick’s the best goalie in the league,” Eric said.
Rick blushed and said, “We better get in the arena. I need to find Misty a seat in the stands and you and I need to get dressed for the game.”
“Please excuse Eric’s poor manners,” said a shapely young female with sparkling green eyes and beautiful auburn hair that was impatiently standing by Eric’s side.
“Sorry, Rick’s already met Susan, but I don’t know if you two girls know each other,” Eric said.
“I know Misty from school. She’s in my biology class. Unfortunately, we’ve never really talked before today,” Susan said.
“Hi Susan. I’m sorry I haven’t talked to you yet. I’m a bit shy and I’m still new to Maplewood,” Misty said.
“Well, that’s all going to change tonight. Rick, you won’t have to take Misty to the stands. I got you covered. I’m going to get us a couple of coffees from the concession stand and then I’ll introduce her to the rest of the ‘hockey wives,’” Susan said.
As Rick and Eric entered the visitors dressing room all the talk was about the girl that Rick brought to the game. A few seconds later the Cougars coach Brad Kennan returned from the washroom.
“Listen up you guys. I know you’re curious, but don’t ask Rick any questions about his new female friend. Wait until the game is over. You guys all realize the importance of tonight’s game. I need Rick and the rest of you guys to place all your concentration on the game for the next ninety minutes and nothing else. Most of all, I don’t want Rick distracted by anything. I need him to be completely focused on the game.
As I’ve told you guys before, I’m not happy with the way we’ve started off this season. I also know that you’ve heard a lot of talk from some of our fans. They’ve been saying that this year’s team is too young and doesn’t have the talent that previous year’s teams had. Yes, we are probably the youngest team in a few years, but that doesn’t bother me. Our youngest players will pick up on experience as the season progresses. I want you players to forget about the naysayers and to start to think positively. I believe in you guys and believe that we will be a force to be reckoned with this season.”
The Cougars started getting dressed for the game. Every player followed a different routine in putting on their hockey gear. For Rick, the most important component of getting prepared had already been done at home. Rick was meticulous in making sure that every item of his goalie equipment was placed in his duffle bag before he left home. Rick would double check a few minutes later to make sure that he hadn’t missed anything while he was packing up his duffle bag.
One of the last pieces of equipment that Rick put on was his hockey sweater. When the Cougars played on the road they always wore their white sweaters with brown and gold trim. Rick always preferred the road jersey with his name and the number one on the back.
As he was tonight’s starting goalie for the Cougars, he was the first to lead his teammates from the visitor’s dressing room to the ice. Rick had placed two pucks in his trapper glove for the five- minute warm up. He always felt a tremendous rush of adrenaline surge through him as he led his team out to the ice.
Reading,Writing, Aging and Depression
After Roger finished his devotion time, he returned to his writing by checking out his recent chapter of Winter Dreams. He would look for anywhere that editing was needed and started to think where he would take the story’s plot from here. Roger had also made up a separate Word document where he would list his ideas for potential future scenes.
While Roger had just started his next chapter, He heard a lot of noise emanating from outside his house. He got up from his black office chair and looked out his living room window.
There was still snow on the ground and Roger could see a man pushing a young female out of white Ford 250 truck. The next thing to be tossed out of the truck was a large blue hockey duffle bag. It landed on the snow and ice covered ground with a loud thump.
Roger opened his front door when he heard the driver yelling obscenities at the girl. As the white truck pulled away Roger put on his Kodiak snow boots and stepped outside his house. He needed to see if the young woman needed any assistance. Roger helped the girl to her feet. She looked up at Roger, thanked him and began to cry. The young lady was wearing only a grey hoodie sweatshirt and a well worn pair of blue jeans. Her was black and scraggly and the tears pouring out of her eyes caused her mascara to run. She was shivering from the cold.
“Would you like to come inside to warm up and join me for coffee or hot chocolate?”
“Oh, thank you. That would be awesome sir,” the young lady.
“You don’t have to call me sir,” Roger said as he helped the girl through the door. The young lady was feeling sore from being pushed out of the truck and landing on the hard ice and snow covered street. She was still shivering as it was unusually cold today and the girl didn’t have a winter coat to put on. Roger brought her duffle bag in. The bag was quite heavy but despite being sixty-five years old Roger was still very strong. He noticed a slight hint of body odor emanating from the girl. What really struck was the thinness of the young lady’s face and her general emaciated presentation.
Episode 5 of Chaos:
Roger had a regular morning routine. On weekdays he would turn on his phone and wait for a call from the school division giving him a substitute teaching assignment for the day. Roger did not really want to accept an assignment today. He had just finished a three day assignment teaching English at Murdoch MacKay Collegiate. Roger had a good time teaching there as the class was reading and discussing F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, The Great Gatsby. Although Roger had thoroughly enjoyed his time at Murdoch MacKay, he was getting older and felt like he needed a day off.
He also felt guilty when he spent too many days away from his writing. Roger wrote fiction novels and found that the writing process was very therapeutic for him. He decided that he would decline any teaching assignments for today and would spend the day working on his current writing project, a novel titled Winter Dreams.
Roger’s morning routine seldom varied. He would get up and boil some water for his Valentus coffee. Roger would then fill up a large glass with water. The glass that he used to wash down his medications was actually a large holder for flowers that he had purchased at Dollarama.
As he got older Roger appeared to be taking more and more medications. He had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder when he was in his late teens. His psychiatrist prescribed a cocktail of antidepressants. While drinking his coffee and taking his meds Roger would listen to one of his many Holy Bible audiobooks.
Roger had been a Christian since his late twenties. When he first got saved he was really just buying fire insurance. Roger simply did not want to go to hell. For almost three decades he really didn’t have an intimate relationship with the Lord. When Roger was in his early fifties he was introduced to Charismatic and Pentecostal theology through a co-worker. Since then he had been baptised in the Holy Spirit and received some of the spiritual gifts notably prophetic visions and words of knowledge.
Canadian author and internet pastor Ken David Stewart talks about dealing with emotional pain and the role of the artist in society.