Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Chalet (1988—Minnesota, downhill skiing)

Then, standing beside his father, and in front of a black diamond, in a thick great pessimism of the winter’s dying afternoon, he looked, Shawn looked, silently down at the roughness of it; in the wet and deep snow of it, and narrow pathway of it: ski-marks over it and around it, in the wet earth alongside of it, where rotted earth showed, and perhaps bodies had fallen prey to the sharp edges. Now he knew what he had to do, and told his father, “You’re making me do it, and if I break a leg, you’re responsible,” as if in a hounds’ voice, echoing in the woods; his father then peered over the jump, and said, “You can do it, it’s not that bad, stop procrastinating, get on with it, for god sake, stop thinking disaster, think positive.”
       “I can’t do it, I’ve never done it before,” said Shawn.
       “In what way do you mean,” asked his father, adding, “that hasn’t ever been a problem for you before. You just haven’t had time to find out whether you can or you can’t…”
       Shawn ceased talking again, staring at the black diamond. He said, fair heatedly, not even astonished, or forlorn, and it was his father now he was scrutinizing: “I don’t suppose I’ll ever know unless I try!” 
       It was in him to, but he didn’t want to. And he saw the eagerness, in his father that he wanted him to, and perhaps his passive, abjectness, of his own behavior: that is to say, a sense of his own brittleness bothered him; he had broken his elbow once, and this may have brought impotence against the timeless Black Diamonds of this ski area, or any ski area, or anything too dangerous; but his father knew without a doubt or any dread, he would do it, when pressured, he came out the stronger, he always did, as he had during his swimming test—with the Red Cross, when he was only seven years old, surprising everyone that he could swim, and actually out swam everyone in his class, because his father was there and that mattered.  And when he was five—
when he and his father and brother, Cody lived in Babenhausen, West Germany—his  father in the Military Service, Shawn had left the apartment to buy two ice-cream cones from the  dairy truck that rode around the military housing area, a seven year old boy tried to take one of the cones out of his hands, the one he said belonged to his brother; green with gloom, dissolution on his face, he looked up saw his father looking down, and he kicked the boy in the stomach (balancing the two cones, hand in hand), a karate kick he had learned from his father, the boy completely dappled  with dirt, he peacefully rushed backwards, to avoid another kick, and Cody got his cone too. And there was the time when both Shawn and his brother fought constantly, and as if without regret, and when they didn’t they taunted each other,  and in the backyard on Cayuga Street, the father took both the four-year old boys outside into the backyard, and told them to fight, get it out of their systems, and Shawn steadily got the better of Cody,  without even time to realize it, he was dominating Cody;   his father got close enough  to Shawn to stop him if need be, as Cody crashed into the undergrowth, and his father pulled Shawn back, Cody was hurting, but didn’t want to stop, and his father tried to even out the fight—but had to stop it himself: so no one would dominate in the future, kind of making them both relinquish either one was the winner, but when Shawn saw his father was watching, thus, an inviolable determination to win,  got over him, it never failed. So he knew he would do it, could do it, without a doubt, because his father was there, and that matter to Shawn, and now it was a summit of his self-determination!
       There was a hard piercing tightening, either in his mind or his stomach—I suppose it really doesn’t matter, but his father saw it: yes, now he knew, that Shawn now realized that that Black Diamond which had kind of run over him, loomed in his way, and he was going to conquer it—and that was that: to conquer it if only to show his father he was a mortal animal like him. Not unlike Saint George the slayer of the dragon; because in front of his father he could not be slain. And Shawn conquered it, with less than a fret.
       “We don’t have to do anymore, Black Diamonds do we?” questioned the thirteen year old boy to his father, with a grin of victory, after his victory.
       No, his father thought, it just took once; because the boy was smart, that’s how come he has lived this long (in a broken home, where the father was the visitor, not the proprietor); he never gets hemmed up over anything, he will prevail, he told himself. But he didn’t say that, he didn’t say a word to the boy, he didn’t have to, and just moved his head right to left, because the boy was smart, and they both smiled as they walked to the Chalet.

No: 1026/1-12-2014 (for Shawn)