Harvey was born to be a hockey player. Snow and ice were to him what roses and red were to poets. Other kids would beg their dads to fill up little rubber pools in the summer, but Harvey would start nagging at Halloween for his dad to fill up their rink, though it would never freeze before mid December.
While his sisters plastered their walls with pictures of David Cassidy, Harvey had just one poster: Gerry Cheevers in his goalie mask. From his desk or his bed, Harvey could count the stitches drawn all over it, dreaming of the day he would bear his own NHL scars.
From the first white-edged freeze to the last slush-covered game of the season, the tough-assed kids fought over who would play goalie. Names were called and sticks were slapped on ponds all across town as pick-up games on quick-shoveled ice began.
Harvey knew he wasn’t supposed to go out on the ponds. That’s why his father made him the backyard rink, goddammit, so his mother wouldn’t have to worry about some dumb-assed townie taking a stick to his head, or pushing him onto thin ice and into freezing pond water. But Mark Conway had double-dared him at school, and the boys were all headed to Musquashcut. If Harvey was to be the town’s next star goalie, if he wanted to be in Gerry Cheevers’ league, there was no question of who would play that Sunday against the dickheads from Hingham.
When Harvey’s little brother Tommy came looking for him after church, there was no one left on the pond but Harvey. He sat holding snow to his mouth, sticking his tongue through the upside-down V in his front teeth.
‘Lemme see,’ said Tommy. Harvey took the bloody snow away and smiled.
“Wow,” breathed Tommy. “Mom’s gonna have a fit.” Harvey nodded. He motioned for Tommy to grab his skates and stick.
“Where’s your glove?” Tommy was kicking at the hardened snow. Harvey shrugged.
“Did we win?”
MASK (noun) 3a : a protective covering for the face; b : gas mask; c : a device covering the mouth and nose to facilitate inhalation; d : a comparable device to prevent exhalation of infective material; e : a cosmetic preparation for the skin of the face that produces a tightening effect as it dries