Hinky Chicago Book 5
I’m on my third lap in a power jam, skating nine second laps, I mean, I am in the zone, and Fist Kist of all people comes out of nowhere and sacks my skinny ass like a beer truck.
Fist is no ninety-pound supermodel, so it doesn’t matter what part of her hits me—booty, hip, shoulder, thigh? I go flying and hit the wall, which knocks the wind out of me and makes me see fireworks and drives my elbow pad against my floating ribs. I fall, gasping, unable even to spit out my mouth guard.
Everybody stops skating. Muldoon, the team’s chiropractor, appears at my side and feels me over lightly with his big hands, checking for breaks. He takes my mouth guard out for me.
All I can do is shake my head and wheeze.
You would think having vampire super-strength would make me immune to this kind of thing. In a perverted way, I’m really glad it doesn’t. That would compromise the integrity of roller derby as a sport. Still, my ribs are screaming. My pads have protected me from broken elbows, broken knees, and broken wrists, but right now I wish I could breathe.
Lucky for me the energy is good in the chilly former big-box store where we practice. I stop panicking and allow air to whistle into my lungs in a trickle. With the air comes more energy. The pain in my side eases. Then the healing flow of prana picks up, and my shoulders relax, and I feel my face flush.
Every woman here has been pumping out extra prana—life force—energy—for an hour and forty minutes, and that’s going to save me now.
Now they’re down on one knee, waiting to see how broken I am.
It doesn’t always pay to be an energy vampire, but during a roller derby scrimmage is one of those times.
In another eleven seconds the pain is gone, and I feel good as new. As I get to my skates under my own power, I hear the clicking of wrist guards all over the track. My league-mates are clapping, hey, she’s okay.
I roll off the track, handing off the star-marked hat panty to the bench coach.
“Nice one, Fist,” I say and high-five my recent assailant. “I did not see that coming.”
Fist Kist grins. “I can’t believe I sacked Hélan Vittle!” Fist is a new draft, only on the team a month. She’ll be a menace someday.
I pat her on the ass.
Sacker Tart, svelte and menacing, takes my place at the jam line, wearing the star. The blockers resume their positions. Rapture Snatch, the opposing jammer, tattooed with the entire Book of Revelations, is still on penalty, waiting out her minute in the sin bin, so Sacker has a power jam—a clear field to score in. Sacker is faster than I am, and more agile. I have to turn my back so Muldoon can finish checking me out, but I can hear my girls cheering. Good for Sacker.
Roller derby has saved my sanity.
I have a conscience about my carbon-footprint. It kills me to think that I’m some kind of life-force black hole, always sucking it in, never giving back. Until roller derby, I had concluded that prana is a nonrenewable resource, and therefore that, as an energy vampire, I am an obscene parasite on the planet’s soul.
So it’s been a boon to discover that, while we skate, jostling, racing, knocking each other ass-over-teakettle, even when it’s not in front of an audience, we generate extra prana.
I haven’t yet figured out exactly why derby should generate more life force than the sum of ten girls on the track. Most I can guess is that it’s like one of those Tibetan prayer wheels. Something so simple as, because we skate widdershins? Or is it because we’re women? Releasing all those pent-up aggressions?
All I know is, after two hours of this madness, there’s more life force in the room than there was when we started.
And I should know.
It’s how I get a square meal four times a week.
The bench coach comes by. “You okay?”
“Yup,” I say.
She jerks a thumb. “You’re up.”
Sacker tosses me the hat panty. I slip it over my helmet, pop in my mouth guard, roll back onto the track, and hop up on my toe stops at the jam line.
After practice, Bichon Frizzy and her lesbian derby wife Donna Draper invite me to join them at their favorite bar for Monday night pizza, as usual, and as usual I thank them and turn them down. It hurts. I want to go so badly.
Jennifer Stevenson fell in love with roller derby in the 1960s, when it was on TV, and had to wait forty-five years for it to come back. She skated with roller derby as Flash Hottie in her early fifties. Now she speed skates with Fleetwood Speed Team and makes up new uses for old sex demons.