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The action takes place in the announcer's booth of a hockey rink.

Dramatis Personae:
Color Man
Organ Music

[A buzzer buzzes.]

ANNOUNCER: Man, that kid did sure get hit hard! He is down, he really got creamed, this Canadian kid who has come so far, so far from home, from the stronger beer and the longer winter, this Canuck who worked so hard, coming like he did from nothing, and what's worse, from Canada. After all of all the years of cold morning runs, of wind sprints and stitches and drunk driving convictions, after the years of being younger, and finally growing older, to get hit like that, and so hard, and be lying there now, in the vitamin-rich blood and the figure-eighted-up ice, with the popular music playing and the fans stretching their legs, when all he ever wanted from tonight was to be covered in champagne on the locker room floor. It must be quite a shock—

COLOR MAN: Quite a shock, indeed. And you know that somewhere up in Canada, a dirty blonde woman, in a puffy down jacket, this fallen man's wife, is watching—much as the world watches, in horror, in a wild anxiety, at that sight of this broken Canuck going slowly into shock—and she is thinking to herself, Who will provide for us? and thinking also of the sweeter, less-injured times. The winter carnivals and new car smell, the cookouts and marriage counselor, the acid rain and so on. In general, the life when life was simpler, when her man, her good Canadian knight, was not writhing on the ice with practically bone sticking out of his skate, struggling to just be breathing. And you know she's up there somewhere—this angel of an athlete's wife—you know there she is and she has to be, she has to hurting, watching him lying without moving, and you know the tears are falling softly, they are falling from her, softly, like snow, onto the dark and bi-lingual Canadian soil.

ANNOUNCER: Hey, but we're a long way from Canada now. Long we are, and far, from the wheatfields and metric system, from the pricey cigarettes and the National Health, and I'm wondering whether this hurt player, this gorgeous trope of our infinite frailty, I'm wondering whether he isn't wondering whether he should have just stayed home, and, given that he didn't, I'm thinking that he's thinking that he just might as lief hang it up, throw it in, call it quits for good, this colossally hurt person, our neighbor from the North, who started out in roller rinks, with his changing body and poor skin, going around the outside, holding onto the wall, seeking not to fall. I bet he can't believe the change, as he stares up in to the spotlights, this object on the ice, this dark spot on the white, your chance to get a hot dog. The view from him must be breathtaking. And as the great exchange of heat takes place, as he burns his shape into the ice, what do you bet, how much do you wager, that he has never in his sporting life felt worse. This poor kid is just lying there—dislocated, all forlorn looking, all small—and he must be feeling, he has really got to be thinking, I bet he's lying down there saying, My God, O Canada, Why have you forsaken me?

COLOR MAN: I bet he's feeling pretty forsook, indeed, and you know, you yourself might find yourself forsaken, from time to time, from almost every direction, and you might find that your Savior is only an awful awful quiet. But, take heart, because we'll be right here, bringing you all the action, with all the latest scores, the latest lines, the latest latest. And if you're just joining us now, we've got an injured defenseman down there on the ice, an immigrant, a guy with the soul of poet, and we're at the moment trying to feel what life might be feeling like for his currently long-suffering wife: a dirty blonde woman, a probably slender build, who gets the games by satellite, who is thinking "Please just don't let him be dead", who is pacing, whose arms are folded, who loves him, who fellates him, who shovels when he is not home, whose heart is racing, whose heart is fairly pounding out of her freckled Canadian breast, because she does not know, because she is far away, because she cannot say, and she is helpless, and we are helpless, and she is weeping, and we weep, we are sobbing at the sadness of things, and all the world, the whole stadium, is racked and shaking in anguish. And the souvenir and program vendors weep, and the Plexiglas weeps, and the ushers, the puck and referees, the rafters, the exits and parking lot, all of it, the world, weeps, because tonight an angel was slashed, was the victim of a high-sticking, and is laid down to rest near the blue line.

ANNOUNCER: Yessirree! Yes, indeed! Nope. Listening to what you just said makes me wonder what, if anything, we are meant to be saying, faced with that with which we are now confronted. I know hockey, but this ain't that. This is something else. This Canadian, or Canuck. This injured injured man, whose body is starting to stop to sweat. Who is hemorrhaging life and heat. This sports figure. The drama of the ages. This person.

COLOR MAN: And his wife. This poor player's poor wife. Forget not her. His fellow citizen. The dirty blonde. Her wrung hands. Her wettened eyes. Her cracking voice and upset stomach. She is cramping. Mascara is everywhere and, Oh how she thought it all would be different.

ANNOUNCER: But it isn't, is it? It's like this and no different. And who could have told us that it would be so, and would we have heard if he had?

COLOR MAN: My God, this is no easy occupation. To have to be up here, watching. Calling all the shots and putting a name on all the violence. And to have to consider the families. The loved ones who are home. Those who make sure the dog is walked. The ones remembering birthdays, sorting cans and bottles. They are dusting trophies, and being families, despite this ugliness on the ice, and the children are studying piano. And all this while, down here in our democracy, in my own lovely nation, I grow weaker and my prospects further dim. There is no dirty blonde nowhere, biting her polished nails for me. And my own hands are old. And the gloves are off and there is a bench-clearing brawl in my heart. Help me. Forgive me. I don't know that I can go on, coloring this commentary. Calling it like I see it, or even seeing it at all. Speaking. Making the littlest sound. So sick, so sick. Life, life, life.

ANNOUNCER: (He pauses. He starts to put a hand on the Color Man's shoulder, but does not.) Tonight has been a long night, in fact and deed, and this world is a long season, for every single body involved. (He looks again toward the Color Man, pauses, and then returns to his microphone.) Everyone sometimes sometimes gets hit.

COLOR MAN: I have given up. I have shut mine eyes. But I still see something. Oh, lady; northerly neighbor. But I am sick of being wistful. Expatriate me! Deport me! The country that I love is home to no one who loves me back. Kick me out, I don't need to pack, nor need a souvenir. My nation, this nation. Country music, country stores. A flag. People, waving. Girls. My wife-to-be, who never was. The most beautiful most regularthings. The icing. All is lost or given to someone else. Pity. The game was not a game, and, either way, it's over.

ANNOUNCER: Hey, okay, all right. Certainly, our burden is unbearable. Certainly, hardship is our lot, stress. (He pauses.) And I'll tell you, it doesn't get any more arduous for anyone, than it does for our official organist of these thirty one years, Johnny Lispenard, our own Mr. Music. Why, he can soothe the savage beast and the drunk who drank too much, to boot. ( A herald of organ music is heard.)

COLOR MAN: I am not reached. I am finished listening, and almost done talking. I grew old, just now. Thank you, sir, our Announcer, for talking over the years with me. And thank you, Mr. Lispenard; you are the dog's bark, truly. And, thank you, there, in Radioland. For tuning in, for being out there: in your cars and dens, your cellar workshops, in easy chairs in living rooms. Oh, this listening area, this broadcast over field and stream, my last home, this America. Thank you and adieu, sweet fans. Lay me facing north. Woe. If you are just joining us now, I am leaving. Don't fear. Whatever you missed will come back over and over. I am not needed. Everyone can see for himself. I have nothing to add. Also—last words keep coming—be nice and not too violent. Honor everyone. Nothing beats this world. It beats everything. Hands down. Now—in sympathy, humility and thanks—I am going to hold my breath—in an effort to hasten the end of it—for the rest of my earthly life. (He inhales.)

ANNOUNCER: A little contest! To pass some time. Capital! (A brief pause.)Yes, sir. Doesn't it, just, beat everything? The world, that is. (A brief pause.) Meanwhile, now comes the crew out onto the ice. They're going to smooth out the chips and gouges out there. Up here, we are still waiting for some word from down below. It seems that someone has thrown a hat out onto the ice. Some kind of hat, it looks like. (The Announcer pauses. The Color Man is holding his breath. He is turning red.) What do you make of that? (The Color Man does not respond.) What sayeth ye to that? (Again, no response.) To them apples? (The Color Man leaves the table and stands nearby, his hands behind his back. He is not breathing.) A reasonable response. But, come on, now! (He covers the microphone with his hand, and addresses the Color Man.) As if anyone else's life is so filled with life! As if everyone else doesn't live through being dead of a broken heart! Live through life with his feelings on a stick! As if the world is not a problem, and everything in it, amuck. (He takes his hand away from the microphone.) We're back! I am. But, something is taking its toll on our number. The hemisphere is losing people left and right. North Americans, men of heart, players, people of feeling. All fallen, and felled silent, in this, our darkest season. That of hockey. Winter. A time of cocoa. (The American National Anthem begins playing quietly.) And suddenly plays some beloved music. My life's one love. It is the awning in the worst weather. Play on, John Lispenard. (The Color Man collapses to the floor. He begins to slowly slap out time on the floor, his breath still held.) To those listeners listening, this, a story for your ears: Dark and late one night I had a flat tire on my car, and don't doubt it for a second, there drops Mister Lispenard to his knees into the snow, blood on his knuckles, he's singing a summery song, the Marseillaise, he's changing my tire, and wearing a smile you could light your cigarettes off. A man like this man only comes along every once in the world. He is the hope of all of us. A do-gooder in the extreme, in the breach, in the crappy night of the soul. Cheerfully doing that which is uncheerful. "Oh, life," indeed. Smile, Radioland. Remember spring is coming. And then winter is coming. But then spring is coming. Seasons are coming, in a word. Change. Love, if you are lucky. What is coming to you, you will get. We break now— (The Color Man is silent.) We break now for station identification and a word from our sponsor, Bullfrog Travel. (He reads.) Whether national or international. Call Bullfrog. Ribbit, ribbit. When you're feeling froggy, it's time to jump. I will be back after this. (He rises quickly.)

(Lights to black. Curtain.)


a canadian lies dying on american ice