Writer - Charles Musser
It was January 13, 2000. My buddy, Eddie Klomp, and I decided it was in our best interest to go midnight sledding. Fatboy Hill sat beckoning behind the old elementary school like a plump dollop of rocky road ice cream.
It was a perfect night, crisp and cold, no wind, a full moon squatting like Julia Espanoza’s butt on the Minneapolis skyline, quiet and peaceful, needing only the ear-piercing howls of fear from two teenage boys, risking life and limb in pursuit of the higher things in life: ass-gripping terror and scrotum-tightening thrills. We had no sled though.
We checked behind the school where they used to keep a pair of toboggans, but they were locked up. I was eyeing the lock with distaste when Eddie started yelling for me. I ran around the corner of the school dumpster, and saw Eddie standing next to Bob, who was stretched out on the icy pavement.
“He’s dead, dude!” Eddie moaned.
Bob Huckabee was the school janitor. He’d been janitor when we were in grade school. He hated all kids with a passion: the perfect janitor. Sure enough, he was frozen as solid as a popsicle. I had an idea.
“What about Bob?” I asked.
Eddie wrinkled his nose. “Ewwww… That’s sick!”
“True” I nodded.
“All right, I’m in,” he said.
Bob was lying on his back with his head propped up on a milk crate so that his chin was on his chest, just like the curve on the front of a toboggan.
“What about his wiener, though?” Eddie whined.
I looked down. It was, indeed, poking up at us like the rude finger.
“Put it back in?” I suggested, reasonably.
Eddie shook his head vigorously. “I ain’t touching it! Maybe we can, like, flip him over?”
We flipped him over, but his neck wouldn’t bend back the other way.
“It’s rigorous mortis,” Eddie informed me.
“I know!” I said, and we flipped Bob back over. I placed the milk-crate over his johnson and sat down on top, both my feet on his shoulders. “You can sit down behind, on his knees,” I suggested.
Eddie sat behind me, his feet in Bob’s armpits.
“So, how do we steer?” he asked.
I grabbed Bob’s arms by the wrists and pulled them up to my sides. There was a loud cracking noise. I pushed and then pulled as hard as I could. I got his shoulders to shift, just a little, first to the right, then to the left. The more I worked them, the easier it got.
“I think there’s enough play here to make this work!” I said, excited to have figured out the dynamics of Bob-sledding.
We tied down the crate with twine, wrapped a long rope around his neck, and headed up the hill with Bob gliding smoothly behind us.
Bob turned out to be the best god damned toboggan I ever rode. The only problem we encountered was when we got too close to an old elm stump, clipped it, and lost Bob’s left ear. Other than that, it was all glory and hell’s bells.
About 4am, we decided to call it quits. Eddie wanted to hide Bob and come back the next night.
“Naw, we should put him back. That’d be disrespectful, I think,” I pointed out.
We dragged him back and re-arranged him the way we found him, sans ear.
As we headed home in the winter dark, satiated and happy, I felt a brief twinge of brotherhood with ol’ Bob. After all, aren’t we all vehicles for other forces in our lives?
Which reminds me of the time I bicycled Mable McCartney, my old English school teacher…
Charles Musser lives and works in Lansing, Michigan for the American Red Cross. When not so engaged, he takes long walks with his golden retrievers, Sunny St. Patrick and Shenandoah, who whisper poems, short stories and screenplays into his ear for ghost writing, and which have appeared in numerous venues, both pixelated and inked. They've warned, however, that should their names appear in any bylines, they will lick the editor to within an inch of their lives.