Friday, November 19, 2010

The Hardass Goes Skiing (Part 1)

"Well, where do you think they go? You don't seriously buy into that 'flying south' nonsense, do you?" The Hardass growled.

He growled this to his girlfriend, delivering the requisite eye contact in sharp, grudging little daggers hurled from the corners of his flint-gray eyes. His forward attention was focused on keeping the M1 Abrams tank off the road. In pandering to the dismayingly large and vocal pansy community, the city had plowed its roadways free of the day's impressive snowfall. This allowed them to become clogged with morons, so The Hardass avoided them altogether.

The Hardass never much cared for paved surfaces anyway. Or ducks.

"Of course they fly south! They don't all die when winter comes! That's terrible!" Chastity said, her face distorted by womanly anguish.

The Abrams flattened some road signs. "Nature is terrible," The Hardass said. "And I didn't say they ALL died, dammit. Next spring, when the smart ones are coming out of hibernation, look real close at one and then tell me that a duck would be able to walk all the way to Florida. There's no way they'd make it. They're too soft."

"They don't walk, silly. They fly," Chastity said, her face distorted by womanly respect for ducks.

"Have you ever seen one flying?" The Hardass grunted, bracing himself as the Abrams ramped up over a snowbank, taking a brief flight of its own. Trailing a festive ribbon of uprooted chain-link fence, it landed in a parking lot with a pavement-shattering boom.

Chastity picked herself up off the floor and crawled back into her seat. "Yes, I have," she said, her face distorted by womanly smugness.

"No, you haven't," The Hardass said, forestalling any further backsass and flawed optimistic nonsense. "We're here. Let's go conquer this bastard." He punched open the hatch.

Imagine, if you will, that our narrative camera zooms out, widening our field of vision by perhaps a factor of ten. Moving, say, to the point of view of a startled family who had been happily piling out of their minivan twenty yards away. Startled out of their mittens by a ground-shaking crash, they snapped 'round to find a tank--an honest-to-God military tank!--in the middle of the parking lot. It was tilted at a jaunty angle, half in and half out of its impact crater, a steady plume of black smoke issuing from one end.

Suddenly, on the tank's turret where there had an instant before been a circular steel hatch, there was only a fist. Glancing quickly up, one might just be able to see the hatch lid spinning skyward, like a flipped coin. The fist lowered itself back into the tank's interior, and in its place rose a woman. She stepped gingerly from the hand that was raising her, and then down to the ground.

Then, silence, while the woman waited, tapping her foot impatiently, hands on hips.

There was a bout of muffled profanity, a sound like a very big cork popping out of a very big bottle, and a giant man with craggy features and a disregard for all things soft and sweet (unless those things had breasts) launched himself from the mangled hole in the turret. He somersaulted in midair and came to rest face-first on the asphalt beside the woman.

Taking the permanent marker the woman offered him, the giant man signed his name next to the imprint his face had made in the asphalt, ate the marker, and the two of them walked into the ski lodge.

"Hello!" Chastity greeted the teenager behind the ski rental counter. He looked up in time to see The Hardass eat the little sliver bell on the counter. He frowned, reached into a bag full of bells and put a new one on the counter. The Hardass ate that one too.

"Tanner," said the teenager.

"Dave," said The Hardass.

Chastity looked surprised. "Have you been here before?" she asked The Hardass. He and Dave both said "yes" at the same time. "When?"

"Few months ago, we got a call about some possible illegal drug use goin' on at this joint. A pack of hippies was holed up in here, free-lovin' and smokin' the wuss weed, and I had to break 'em up."

"You put three of my friends in the hospital," snapped Dave.

The Hardass ate another bell.

"That's what I said. So now I come down here every once in a while to make sure the place ain't infested with hippies again, and I get the stink-eye from this little shit."

"Well!" said Chastity hurriedly. "Um, Dave, we'd like to rent two sets of skis and get a lift ticket, if you'd be so kind!"