The Skating Rink
By Douglas Piccinnini
When the last player closed the door behind, the whole team was inside the locker room. They began undressing.
Bauman sat near the door and reaching over, he twisted the bolt to lock it. Bernard sat beside him. The room was rectangular with a single toilet and a shower stall with two water jets at the opposite side of the room. Near the toilet was a large trash bin full of emptied beer cans from the beer league.
Bauman stood up and pulled his jersey over his head, took off his elbow pads, his shoulder pads. A damp, yellowing t-shirt hugged his pudgy body. At 17, Bauman had all of his baby fat and small pubescent breasts. Clemente sat near the trash bin on the other side of the room where the smell of piss missing the toilet soaked the foam flooring.
“Alright,” said Bauman fastening his helmet and chinstrap. “Which one of you pussies is first?”
Clemente turned his head up just as Bernard raised his hand, stood up next to Bauman, nodding his head in agreement. A look of relief washed over Clemente’s face. He undressed quickly, removing the tape on his socks that kept his shin pads in place, balling it up, throwing it into the trash. Finally, slipping out of all his padding, standing in jock and garter belt, preparing his small white muscular body for shower.
Still clad in the lower half of their equipment, Bauman and Bernard moved into the center of the locker room.
Bernard volunteered so readily, so eagerly. Last weekend he made a fool of himself and promptly doubled-down, shattering his stick over the crossbar of the goal. Getting kicked out. Short-handing the team. Why would he do that? After the game, in the locker room Mr. George grabbed the wire grill of Bernard’s helmet so as to focus the abuse he shouted into Bernard’s face. Pearls of spittle formed in Mr. George’s mouth and his combover dangled over his eyes and nose like long willow branches.
The shower steamed and Clemente got in.
Bernard and Bauman squared off, tapping gloves. The other boys tucked their hockey bags beneath the benches to clear the ring.
Bauman lunged and swung at Bernard immediately knocking him backward. Haddad and Lepore caught Bernard, propped him up and pushed him back in.
Bauman looped around, swung again and missed. Bernard planted a clumsy shot into the cage of
Bauman’s helmet, dislodging a screw that went flying into the cinderblock wall.
A chorus of “Oooohh, SHIT!” erupted.
The two quickly dug into each other again. Cheers and swearing punctuated each blow. They locked in a kind of savage embrace, each trying to lift and slam the other. The swayed toward Lepore and Lepore shoved them back toward the center of the ring. They tumbled, overturning the garbage. Steam and piss and beer smell suddenly dislodged in the air.
Bauman held Bernard’s helmet face down into the piss foam floor. He screamed enough, something about his love of consuming the male sex organ. It was over.
Clemente grabbed his previously unreachable towel and started toward his seat on the bench. Bauman getting back onto his feet and standing over Bernard, whispered, “pussy.”
Incensed, Bernard kicked the blade of his skate out at Bauman but missed and instead cleanly sliced a gash into Clemente’s calf muscle. Clemente wobbled, fell back.
The flap of skin folded over on itself. The shock of panicked red muscle waited to bleed. “Help him!” Bauman roared into his face.
One of the mothers was knocking at the door, her blunted voice behind the metal door, asking “Is Matty C in there?”
Douglas Piccinnini's work has appeared or is forthcoming with Afternoon Visitor, Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, Dreginald, Fence, Hot Pink Magazine, Lana Turner, Maiden Magazine, Michigan Quarterly Review, and Prelude. A chapbook, The Grave Itself, is just out from The Ethel Press and A Western Sky is forthcoming with Greying Ghost. Previously, Douglas is the author of Victoria (Bloof Books), Blood Oboe (Omnidawn) and Story Book: a novella (The Cultural Society).