Kanone

Biathlon Skier
Back home it was a moderately warm winter, in fact Grant had recently washed his car outside in a short-sleeve shirt; in January.

It was now approaching March and the group bus was approaching the foothills after leaving the upper crust stoner town of Boulder to eat at the organizers favorite cash only, hipster restaurant. The food was good. The beer was better, and since he only had to endure the random, yet oddly pointed line of questioning from his seat neighbor, Grant figured indulging was a favorable concept.

“So, this is your first trip with the group, and you used to ski, you skied well. What made you decide, after all these years, to head back out here with a bunch of strangers?” Richard asked ending off in a snort of a laugh finding it clever to call himself a stranger.

“My dad used to take us skiing, it was a thing we did.” What the fuck? Being so frank with anyone, let alone Richard, was not a thing for Grant. How many beers did he have?

“Oh, like a family flash back deal. You should have brought everybody! Your brothers and, you said one sister right? No, it was three sisters and one brother. Right?”

“The second version, minus one sister.”

“So why aren’t you guys all headed out here together?” Richard said

Grant thought to himself how normally in this situation he would get defensive, change the subject, or maybe say that his brother was an asshole, one sister a hot mess the other a super mom, all emotionally removed from family obligation via geography. But, he felt something raw bubbling up inside of him, not just the hops, but something guttural a need to divulge to Richard.

“I guess it was more of a thing for my dad and I…” He paused, “…and my brother.”

Richard sat attentively, gentle eyes. “Is dad still skiing, or…”

“He passed.” A bit of silence. In the moment, Grant focused on the snow and the trees shuffling by and the shifting perspective as he stared at an old and dilapidated ranch built right into a nook where the ground suddenly shot up all around it, almost straight up. A curve in the road hid it from Grant.

“Our dad was a kanone. Our French grandparents called him that. A medalist.” The honesty expanded with the fermented grain in his belly.

“Like in the Olympics?” Richard asked.

“No. As close as you can get though. Expert. Downhill, Biathlon.”

“Wow…”

“Yeah, wow.” Said Grant a little sardonically raising his eyebrows. “And as some fathers do, he expected us to follow him in his ski tracks. My brother was better than me, until he tore his ACL and started snow boarding to disgruntle our dad, whom had suddenly shifted his attention to me as the more likely protege. I was an amazing shot with a rifle.” He closed his right eye as if staring down an iron site with the other and made a gun sound with his mouth.

“Dad wasn’t all that patient. I tried like hell to be what he expected, and be myself at the same time, but the two agendas never meshed.” A spontaneous information dump and suddenly he felt more vulnerable than he was comfortable with. He thought about what he had said to his father the last time they spoke.

“Sorry about your father. It must be tough going up without him.” Richard said after another brief, awkward silence.

Grant wasn’t planing on responding, but said in his head “I wish it was. Will it be?” His face was pressed snug against the cold bus window and the scenery just seemed like replica landscape repeating over and over. He sighed heavily, and let his jaw slack moving the lower left to right popping his ears against the pressure change. He was drunk, and more than drunk he was tired. His stomach was too full and he felt tight all over.

“How often do you think somebody would need to cross country ski and then shoot something in real life?” Richard pontificated.

Grant pulled his jacket up over his shoulder as a blanket while Richard tried convincing himself aloud in exactly what situations it could happen – something about zombie apocalypses, something about Siberia. The scenery seemed to flash by faster. He figured he could sleep and Richard could talk and everyone wins; his eyelids were heavy.

Grant drifted into a dream…

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