A DIFFERENT KIND OF SLED
by Douglas J. Ogurek
“Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did.” – John 4:29
I got no rabbits’ feet on today. But the sledders don’t know. Cuz I got my jacket on. There’s the whistle, and there goes Kinkly. Kinkly and the other racers. Right down the hill, right? Thoom. Kinkly’s the fastest. Those rabbits’ feet? They might be real. And Kinkly and the other Rabbits got them on. I got seventeen at home, but they might be real.
I’m all kinds of wrong. Like Bucket, right?
The Rabbits got rabbits’ feet. All these different colors. Yesterday Gushy turned around and said they’re real. But I don’t know how they got those colors. Gushy says they use dye. Gushy’s only got one thumb.
There’s red stuff in the snow. It says, “Gushy is fog.” That’s just silly.
Red’s one of the colors I got. My rabbits’ feet, right? So’s yellow, and orange. I got six reds, but they’re not on now.
Gushy’s standing on the bench up here. He’s holding his sled. Way over his head. That sled says something. Big letters: “HOO.org.” I ask him.
“It’s Help Our Oceans.” He points down at the road. “I want the people in cars to see.”
He’s missing a thumb, and he’s got a silver jacket on, and a silver hat. Shiny.
I say, “It says you’re fog. In the snow over there?”
“You need a better straw.”
I got a coffee straw. It’s Dad’s. My dad’s thermal’s shiny and silver like Gushy. Dad puts coffee in his thermal for work, right?
Capper’s over there. He’s got this tail thing. And ketchup. That’s just silly. And he’s got a magazine or something. He’s showing it to some Fire Skulls and some Clogs.
Kinkly’s at the bottom. He’s first again. Thoom. He’s on the Rabbits, and he’s got red and yellow and orange rabbits’ feet. I’ve got those, but I don’t got any on today.
Gushy holds his sled. HOO.org. He says, “Sammy, you got those rabbits feet on?”
“I got red and yellow and orange. At home.”
“It’s warm. You can take off your jacket.”
“And a whole bunch of other colors. Like the Rabbits.” Today four teams race. You got your Rabbits—Rabbits are the fastest—and you got your Fire Skulls. And you got your Clogs and your Sandstorms. Kinkly’s on the Rabbits.
Gushy keeps holding up the sled and he says maybe I should take off my jacket. But I don’t got any rabbits’ feet on and look at all those rabbits’ feet on the Rabbits. I turn around and pick up a bottle cap. “This is your dad, right?”
“No, Sammy. That’s not my dad.”
A football bangs into Gushy’s sled. He almost drops it, but he keeps it up. A couple Sandstorms and Fire Skulls got a football and they’re throwing it.
Capper’s here and he’s got some ketchup and that tail thing. He talks through it. “Thumbs up, Gushy.”
I ask Capper what is that thing. He makes a suck sound. “It’s a vacuum cleaner hose, cuz you suck. And your mom’s muffin . . .”
Gushy said they might be real. Those rabbits’ feet?
Capper says, “What’s with all the silver? He looks like a fuckin’ bullet.”
I say he looks like Dad’s thermal, right?
“Ah thermal. Blah blah blah thermal. What the fuck is thermal?”
“You put coffee in there, right? That’s just silly.”
“No a bullet. I said a fuckin’ bullet.” Capper whips the hose. Gushy blocks it. With his sled.
I turn around and sing that song Kinkly sings: “Come on, come on in the rain/Come on and dance in the rain.”
One of those Sandstorms laughs. “That’s not how it goes, Plugs. You need to get them earplugs fixed.”
I got gloves. Just like Kinkly’s Shroudex gloves. I turned around and drew the snake on there and thoom. They look just like Shroudex.
Capper puts the hose around me. “What’s with all them kissy sounds. You a kissy fag like Gushy or something?”
Here comes Kinkly. He sings, “Within me somethin’s due to sink.” You got to make it down there in ten seconds to be a Rabbit. I made it down in 29 seconds. Kinkly let me use his sled once and I got rabbits feet at home, right?
Capper turns around and takes out that magazine. He’s got ketchup, and there’s ladies in there. They got no clothes on. “That looks like your mom, Plugs. She got a muffin? A nice muffin like that?”
I got this feeling and I’m all kinds of wrong. I sing one of Kinkly’s songs. “I hear the streams of the sasasa calling me.”
Capper takes one of the Clogs kids’ pop bottles. “Sa sa sa blah blah your brain all dried up? It’s ‘sands of the Sahara,’ dummy.” He throws the bottle. He throws it at a real rabbit and it turns around and it runs away.
I tell Kinkly his rabbits’ feet are real. “Nah, they’re not real. You got yours on?”
Gushy says, “They’re real, Sammy.”
Kinkly touches his rabbits’ feet. “Ah caulk it, Gushy.” Kinkly tells me just leave my jacket on.
Capper looks at the magazine and holds the ketchup by his thing and squirts it. That’s just silly.
I tell Gushy my straw’s a coffee straw.
Kinkly talks to Capper, and they turn around and look at Gushy. Capper shows me that magazine. There’s a naked lady. He says, “Who’s that?”
Capper’s on the Fire Skulls. He points at Gushy.
I say, “That’s his mom, right?”
They all laugh. Gushy doesn’t laugh. He holds up that sled.
Capper laughs and holds the hose thing by his thing. “Hey Gushy, I got some pictures of your ma here. Want to buy some pictures of your mom? Nice and cheap.”
Gushy told me they might be real. Real rabbits’ feet. I said no way and he turned around and said yeah they’re probably real. I said I never seen a blue rabbit. He says that’s dye, this stuff to make it have color.
I got my suspenders on. Under my jacket. But I’m not wearing my rabbits’ feet on my suspenders today. I got seventeen of them, right? But I’m not wearing any.
The whistle blows. Kinkly and some others jump onto their sleds. There they go. Thoom.
Capper and another Fire Skull hold that hose. They run at Gushy and knock him over. Right off the bench. That’s not . . . I got orange and green and red and blue. I even got blue, right? And red like Kinkly. Blue’s like water, right?
Gushy’s back up on the bench. And he’s holding up that sled. HOO.org.
Kinkly’s winning. Kinkly’s got goggles.
One time he let me go down and thoom. That was so fast, right? It was too fast and I went right into the red bushes with thorns down there and I turned around and got a scratch on my face. I got down there in 29 seconds. Those Rabbits? They make it down there in ten seconds. That’s just silly.
Capper throws the football. Real hard. Right at Gushy, but he misses. “Bullet. Fucking bullet boy.”
I tell him Gushy looks like Dad’s thermal. He talks into the hose. “Blah blah blah thermal. Plugs goes to a special school. A special school for geniuses. Why you smiling, Plugs? You’re always smiling.”
“Kinkly won. He won again.”
Capper takes out this white thing. Like a little pillow? “You know what a period is, Plugs?”
Kinkly’s down there first. Thoom. “A dot thing, right?” They laugh.
Gushy says, “Thermos, Sammy? You mean thermos?”
“Yuh thermos. What the fuck is thermos? Blah blah blah thermos.” Capper shows that white period thing. “You guys got this in your head.” The Rabbits are the fastest team. They can turn around and make it down that hill so fast. Thoom.
Gushy says it’s warm. He asks me to take off my jacket.
“I’m all kinds of wrong.”
“What else does Bucket say?”
“Somebody put something in my water.”
“Doesn’t he say that when he helps somebody?”
Capper talks all funny. “Wellstead High, I watch Wellstead High.” He talks through the hose. “Ah Bucket. I’m sick of Bucket. Fuck it Bucket.”
Sometimes Bucket wears red and yellow and orange, right? And all kinds of colors like that? And sometimes he doesn’t.
Capper squirts ketchup on that white thing. “Maybe I need to add a little more red to them cheeks, smiley boy.”
I got six red rabbits’ feet, but they’re at home.
Kinkly’s back up, and he’s singing. “Come in, come out of the rain/Come in, and take away your pain.”
Capper puts the hose by my ear. “Why you smiling? Huh, Plugs? Why you always smiling?” He puts his thumb on my straw. “Hey Kinkly, I’m gonna make kissy sucky smiley boy’s cheeks all red. Like his straw.”
“No, no. Not him.” Kinkly squeezes his lips and points at Gushy. Kinkly’s got Shroudex gloves. Mine look just like that. Thoom.
Capper gets up on that bench. He rubs that white thing all over Gushy’s face. Gushy holds up the sled. There’s ketchup all over Gushy’s face, and you got to be fast to be a Rabbit. Cuz those guys, they’re just thoom, right?
Capper puts the period thing in Gushy’s mouth. Gushy spits it out. And he holds up the sled.
Kinkly says, “Something’s not right with your face, Gushy. You stick out like a sore thumb.”
They all laugh. Gushy’s face is all red and that’s not . . . and he’s still holding up that sled. HOO.org. I got six red rabbits’ feet. I’m all kinds of wrong.
A kid with the Clogs grabs my glove. “Them aren’t Shroudex, Plugs. You drew that snake. That snake’s fake. Plugs.”
He’s the one who put a sock in my mouth when it was hot out. “The Clogs are good, right?”
“Clogs? Clog? We’re not the Clogs, dumb shit.”
One time that Clog and Capper put a sock in my mouth. And they put their thumbs in mud and put it on my face. But Kinkly came and he said no and they stopped, right?
“Clogs blah blah Clogs.” Capper bounces the football on my head. “Ain’t you seen ‘River to Dovitam?’ Or your muffin mom won’t let you? It’s the Glogs. The bad guys. The Glogs.”
Gushy says, “The Glogs lose.”
The whistle blows. There goes a whole bunch of them. They run to their sleds. You got your Rabbits and Sandstorms they run and the Fire Skulls and the C-Glogs and there’s Kinkly. They jump on their sleds. Thoom.
There’s a yell. Gushy’s on the ground. He’s got his face in the snow and he makes a hurt sound. That’s not . . .
Capper yells, “Touchdown” and there’s the football by Gushy.
There goes Kinkly. He’s fast, right? He’s the fastest. Gushy’s holding his eye. Kinkly can turn around and make it down that hill so fast. Thoom. Gushy’s got ketchup all over his face. Kinkly’s got red, and he’s got yellow and orange.
I asked my mom if my rabbits’ feet were real. She turned around and said, “I don’t know. But look it. They’re pretty.” Right?
Gushy’s lying there and making a noise like it hurts. That’s not good. His eye’s all puffy, and I spit out the straw.
If you get down there in ten seconds, you get to be on the Rabbits and you get a rabbit’s foot. From Kinkly. I got all mine at Appleton’s. In the gumball machine in the front.
“Bucket . . . Bucket fuck it.” Capper’s got his foot on Gushy’s sled. He’s bending it. “Oops. Oh oh I can’t stop oh oh. Why can’t I . . .” The sled cracks. Capper throws the two pieces. They laugh.
Gushy gets up. His face is all red, and his eye’s puffy. He gets the two sled pieces.
Kinkly’s first. He’s all the way down there. He’s down there by those thorns.
Gushy gets up on the bench. He holds up the two pieces. HOO.org.
It is warm. I take off my gloves.
Douglas J. Ogurek’s fiction appears in Bards and Sages Quarterly, British Fantasy Society Journal, The Literary Review, Gone Lawn, The Milo Review, Morpheus Tales, Schlock Magazine, Wilderness House Literary Review, and several anthologies. Ogurek is the communications manager of a Chicago-based architecture firm and has written over one hundred articles about facility planning and design. He also reviews films at Theaker’s Quarterly Fiction. More at www.douglasjogurek.weebly.com.