Tag Archives: ice

The Parking Space Saver Vigilante

The narrow city streets were choked off even thinner by the slick, craggy piles of snow browning at the edges, and he stalked along each cowpath like a jungle cat in heat. The streetlights shined down halos on each haphazard parking job that lined the one-way road, and he had trained his eyes to catch the absence of luster from an automobile carcass. And sure enough, he saw a vacant space amongst the parallels. A ten-foot-long box of dugout powder that revealed the slush-streaked pavement underneath. And in the middle of the space sat a wobbling chair with chipping white paint that exposed the weathered wood beneath it.

His eyes hadn’t always been so astute, of course. There was a time when he accepted such strange winter furnishings. But that age of innocence had long been ripped away, ever since that fateful evening when his father had used his mother’s antique rocking chair, the one that had been built by her grandfather as a gift when she was born, to mark his own shoveled-out space while he went off to gamble at the pub. The vigilante was eight years old then, and he had been at the neighbors’ house at the time while mother attended night class at the community college. By the time that father had returned from the bar, he had forgotten about the rocking chair waiting in his space, and he accidentally backed into it with his car. For the most part, the chair remained intact, but the wood had been irreparably warped by the extreme colds of the evening, cracking the grain. It was utterly ruined.

Mother was furious when she came home. She and father spent all night screaming at each other while the young not-yet-vigilante tried to sleep in the next room.

“I busted my god damn ass shoveling out that spot, and I deserve to use it!” father shouted. And mother screamed back “There’s not even any snow left on the ground! You can’t just save your spot indefinitely! And why the hell would you use an antique, handmade rocking chair?!”

It was then that the boy became the vigilante, for he understood that mother and father would have stayed together, if not for that parking space saver. He blamed that folksy practice on his shattered childhood, and committed himself to the cause: as long as he lived, no shoveled parking space would be saved by a furniture marker. He knew that it was too late for him to save his own youth, but he refused to allow that same pain to befall any others.

And so he slinked forward on the balls of his feet, circling around his wood-chair prey, waiting for the moment to strike. When the coast was clear, and all other cars and pedestrians had passed, he lunged forward and ripped the tattered furniture from its asphalt resting place. He gripped its back with both hands, and with a bellowing cry from deep within his gut, he whipped the chair into the nearest snowbank. He watched with satisfaction as its four legs sank into the sleet pile, as little chunks of ice were disturbed from their slumber and fell like boulders from the mount, exploding when they hit the pavement.

The wintery shrapnel littered the previously vacant space, twinkling underneath the streetlights, and the vigilante knew that justice had been served.

When I Skate

I step on the ice
And I’m free
My feet glide

I take three strides
And I glide
And I’m free

I can feel the ice
Beneath the skates
And it gives

It gives
An hour
Of freedom

And I glide
And I skate
And I’m free

The telephone
Can ring, and light
And shake

While I glide
While I skate
While I’m free

It’s not just
The callers
Who can’t catch me

Because I glide
When I skate
And I’m free

And I’d pay
Any price
For the privilege

Of ice where I glide
Where I skate
Where I’m free.

Thin Ice

You slipped on the ice and I grabbed your arm, found myself falling with you. You were tiny, always you-sized, and though your heel should have acted like an ice pick, gravity always pulls us back down. The Reflecting Pool at the Christian Science Center had become a perilous tundra; it was probably about 7 degrees out—with the wind chill, somewhere negative, just like Boston Januaries often are. Still I braved the cold, like I always would for you, and we fell.

“I’m lost!” you yelled inside the bar. I could barely hear you from the couch at my apartment where I’d been waiting for you for the last 4 hours.

“Well, it sounds like you’re in a bar…” I said into that Bluetooth headset that my mother bought me for Christmas and you hated so much.

“But I don’t know where the bar is!” Yep. You were wasted. We had a date that night—we were supposed to have a date that night, anyway. We’d watch Heroes and eat Chinese, curl up, find warmth in one another, and finally spend a night together, a night just like the one we’d both dreamed of but neither could admit. You would come over after your Holiday party at work—you were only going to go for a few hours—but with all that free Champagne you were quickly whisked away. But you called, because you always call, and I swooped in to find you wandering the Back Bay streets in those pointy-toed leopard print heels that matched the silky slip you hid for me beneath your dress.

“No! I’m sorryyy I ruined our date!” you cried as I helped you get your balance again.

“No, you didn’t. It’s fine, we—”

“Yes! I did! We were supposed to—”

“I know.”

“—have a date tonight and we were gonna watch Heroes and—”

“I know.”

“—and eat Foodwall and-and then I got drunk!”

“It’s fine. Really!”

“I don’t want to be drunk anymore!” you cried and I pulled you close to me, kissed your lips with a passion I’d held in check for far too long; I didn’t know what to expect once I gave myself over to it, but a kiss like that was one that I had never had before, never have again. I wrapped my Angel coat around you as we held that moment close, and when our lips finally parted whispered, “Someone’s got to keep you warm” and discovered just how deep those auburn eyes could go. They smiled first, your eyes, and the stretch of the skin around them lifted your mouth upward into a crooked crescent moon.

Listen,” you slurred—you start every sentence slurring, “Listen…” when you’re drunk. Something like tears welled up behind my teeth, a tidal wave of overwhelming elation, and I took my eyes off of yours for just a moment when the streetlight refracted off the ice below and made glimmer the Celtic Trinity that I bought you for Christmas (you know how I am with shiny things).

My pupils returned to settle in yours like a matching key, turning to unlock the thought you started eight heartbeats ago:

“I love you.”