Chev felt like a truck ran over his chest and then shat on it, so he had little fight in him when Dakota and his buddies decided to take him out to play hockey.
“I’m American. We don’t even play hockey.”
“It’s okay,” said Dakota. “You’ll be on my team. I’ll show you the ropes.”
One of Dakota’s friends was a hawk-faced bastard named Dean. “You going to drag that Yank around, Dakota? I feel sorry for ya.”
Chev ground his teeth together. “How does it feel to be America’s hat? Thanks for keeping us warm.”
“Oh?” Dean had a shit-eating grin plastered to his face. He looked to his guys and they started smiling too. “I was under the impression that America was Canada’s bitch, eh? We’re bigger and on top.”
Their muffled mitten hands slapped together in celebration. Chev always thought that America was a bigger country than Canada, but he hated this guy either way.
Dakota nudged him in the ribs. “Just a little pre-game banter. No worries.”
Chev coughed from deep in his chest. He was exhausted.
“I haven’t skated since I was fourteen years old.”
Dakota smiled and shrugged. “Should be exciting, then!”
After some deliberation, Chev decided not to strangle Dakota. He was too tired, anyway.
* * *
The hockey game went splickety-splack. Stuff happened.
* * *
Chev passed out when they got home but woke up to the sound of drumbeats. Bump. Bump. Bump. It was monotone but consistent, like a heartbeat. He felt drawn to the rhythm just on the other side of his walls. He opened the door and a flood of light washed over his eyes. It felt like some tiny man was punching the back of his eyeballs. The drumming had stopped. Chev rubbed his eyes, blinked out the light, and saw Dakota and his buddies in a drum circle, getting high as kites to the point where they couldn’t even play right.
“You fucking hippies,” Chev grumbled. He pushed Dean out of the way. “Hand me the drums.” They stared at him. “All of them. Now, please!”
He patted one drum, tightened it up, patted another and loosened it. This went on for a good fifteen minutes. The Canadians simply watched this strange, strung-out American tooling around.
Then Chev paused, took a deep breath, and began hammering at the drums. He could feel his muscles protesting. They weren’t used to exertion, especially after getting owned out in the bitter cold in a game of hockey. Chev was in no condition to do anything much, but the music quickened with his heartbeat and he felt a rush of energy like he hadn’t felt since he was first getting high. The drums made a semi-circle around him and he beat on them all in a rapid progression. He started to breath heavily and leapt out of his sitting position. His hands came down like thunderclaps. His deep inhalations caught in his chest and he suddenly began coughing so hard he was heaving on the floor. Everyone came to help him, though the crowding only made him more nauseous.
Dakota tucked him back into bed. He had no dreams that night, but if he did, they would have been about music.