T i m o t h y   G a g e r

A Modern Form of Disorderly Conduct 

The thirty-two-year-old hipster’s father got tired of him smelling and decomposing at their house so he hired him at the hockey rink. “I don’t need anyone to help me with the Zamboni, but if you could play music before face-offs and between periods, that would be fine.” 

Nick hadn’t left his parent’s house in weeks and his solid-band summer straw fedora now hung loose on his clumped alopecia areata head. Nick sat in the booth, high over rinkside, and began to test the console. During the suicide drills before the Newton-Waltham match, Nick hit a button, and the sound of a fog horn, used for goals, filled the rink. Nick rolled a slow shy grin and hit the button again for good measure. When the players pointed angrily and banged their sticks on the ice, Nick hit it again for a hat trick. 

“Do you know what you’re doing?” Dad said for the hundredth time this month. He pulled out a CD of more appropriate music, a disc full of Jock Jam hits. Nick found “Party Rock” on Track 7 before a lost face-off in the Newton, and almost immediately there was a goal. “Blah,” he thought, as his dad nodded approval from down below. 

After a few days, Nick thought it a good idea to bring his own music. It was sad and slow, which resulted in a lethargic game between two Girls B teams. One of the coaches complained to Nick’s dad, who couldn’t argue with him, nor could he have that argument with Nick, as the “what constitutes good music” debate was always purely circular. Nick closed with, “Aren’t the shouted 'heys' something to get psyched up with?” What can you say to that? his father thought, knowing the total cost of saving his son’s life. 

When the rink closed, Dad lost his house. Nick knew some people under a bridge and they managed to keep warm by wearing leftover hockey gear. Nick stood in goalie pads while his dad wound up and took some shots at him. “Ok, see if you can stop it,” he said to Nick, who had stopped trying years ago. “Just stop it,” his father pleaded.

Timothy Gager