Roller Derby is a rockin’ full contact sport played on an oval track —wooden, concrete, or some other game court surface— by two competing teams. (Track Inner circumference = 148.5’. Track Outer circumference = 236.5’.) Points are scored as the designated scoring players (jammers) of both teams lap members of the opposing team. Teams attempt to outscore their opponents by shoving, pushing, bumping, rough-housing and eventually lapping the most opposing team members on the track.
ASSIST: helping a teammate (usually the jammer) improve her position by pushing, pulling, redirecting or whipping her.
BLOCK:Blocking is any movement on the track designed to impede or dislocate an opponent. Blocking includes the possible counter-blocking motion initiated by the opponent to counteract the block; counter-blocking is treated as a block and held to the same standards and rules. Blocking need not include contact. Impeding the movement of an opposing skater by hitting her or positioning yourself in her path.
BLOCKING ZONE: The part of the body with which it is permissible to hit another skater. Blocking must be done to a legal target zone. Legal blocking zones include the arms from the shoulder to above the elbow; the torso; the hips; the butt; and the mid- and upper thigh. Illegal blocking zones include elbows; forearms; hands; head; and any part of the leg below the mid-thigh.
BOOTY BLOCK: A player, in a squatted position, uses his or her rear-end as a means to prevent an opponent from advancing in the pack.
“GOOD DAY!” said Monsieur El DeBarge, looking down at the white head that bent low over the skate-making.
The addled head raised for a moment, and a very faint voice responded to the salutation, as if it were at a distance:
“Is it day?”
“You are still hard at work, I see?”
After a long silence, the head was lifted for another moment, and the voice replied, “Yes- These skates. For her—” He slowly spun a wheel with a beleaguered finger. This time, a pair of haggard eyes had looked at the questioner, before the face had dropped again. The wheel slowed to a gritty halt.
The faintness of the voice was pitiable and dreadful and faint. It was not the faintness of physical weakness, though confinement and old twinkies no doubt had their part in it. Its deplorable peculiarity was, that it was the faintness of solitude and disuse and no internet. It was like the last feeble echo of a sound made long and long ago. So entirely had it lost the life and resonance of the human voice, that it affected the senses like a once beautiful colour faded away into a soup stain. So sunken and suppressed it was, that it was like a voice underground. So expressive it was, of a hopeless and lost creature, that a famished traveller, wearied out by lonely wandering in a wilderness, would have remembered home and friends in such a tone before lying down to die. It was crack-head bad.
Some minutes of silent wheel work passed: and the haggard eyes had looked up again: not with any interest or curiosity, but with a dull mechanical perception, beforehand, that the spot where the only visitor they were aware of had stood, was not yet empty.
“I want,” said DeBarge, who had not removed his gaze from the skatemaker, “to let in a little more light here. You can bear a little more?”
The skatemaker stopped his work; looked with a vacant air of listening, at the floor on one side of him; then similarly, at the floor on the other side of him; then, upward at the speaker.
“What the hell did you say?”
“You can bear a little more light?”
“Why a bear?”
“There is no bear.”
“But why would you let a bear in?”
“Light, man. Light! No bears!”
“I must bear the bear, if you let it in.” (Laying the palest shadow of a stress upon the first bear.)
The opened half-door was opened a little further, and secured at that angle for the time. A broad ray of light fell into the garret, and showed the workman with an unfinished roller derby skate upon his lap, pausing in his labour. His few common tools and various scraps of leather were at his feet and on his bench. He had a white beard, raggedly cut, but not very long, a hollow face, and exceedingly bright eyes, not unlike Burl Ives. The hollowness and thinness of his face would have caused them to look large, under his yet dark eyebrows and his confused white hair, though they had been really otherwise; but, they were naturally large, and looked unnaturally so. His yellow rags of shirt lay open at the throat, and showed his body to be withered and worn. He, and his old Superman t-shirt, and his loose relaxed fit corduroys, and all his poor tattered flippy boat shoes, had, in a long seclusion from direct light and air, faded down to such a dull uniformity of dirty-teeth-yellow, that it would have been hard to say which was which.
He had put up a hand between his eyes and the light, and the very bones of it seemed transparent. Okay, that’s a total exaggeration, but dude was skinny. So he sat, with a steadfastly vacant gaze, pausing in his stopper work. He never looked at the figure before him, without first looking down on this side of himself, then on that, as if he had misplaced a sandwich or beer (nor bear); he never spoke, without first wandering in this manner, and forgetting to speak.
“Are you going to finish that pair of skates to-day?” asked DeBarge, motioning to Mr. Darnay to come forward.
“Are you still talking?”
“Do-you-mean-to-fin-ish-that-pair-of-SKATES-to-day!!” Darnay said loudly, accenting each syllable as if talking to a deaf mute.
“I can’t say that I mean to. I suppose so. It’s a skate. I don’t know.”
But, the question reminded him of his work, and he bent over it again tightening a stopper.
Mr. Darnay came silently forward, leaving Annie by the door. When he had stood, for a minute or two, by the side of DeBarge, the skatemaker looked up. He showed no surprise at seeing another figure, writer though he was, but the unsteady fingers of one of his hands strayed to his lips as he looked at it (his lips and his nails were of the same pale lead-colour), and then the hand dropped to his work, and he once more bent over the skate. The look and the action had occupied but an instant.
“You have a visitor, you see,” said Monsieur DeBarge.
The skatemaker looked up as before, but without removing a hand from his work.
“Come! Stop this old ninny bit!” said DeBarge. “Here is Monsieur Darnay, who knows a well-made skate when he sees one. Thrown a few hip-checks in his time, he has, has he! Show him that skate you are working at. Take it, Monsieur.”
Mr. Darnay took the skate in his hand.
Tell Monsieur what kind of skate it is, and the maker’s name.”
There was a longer pause than usual, before the skatemaker replied:
“I do not know what kind of state I’m in. Nor what state I’m in. But…what did you say?”
“I said! Could-you-de-scribe-the-KIND-of-skate!”
“It is a lady’s skate. It is a young lady’s derby-shoe. It is in accordance with RDI specs. I made it on the bevel. I have had a canary in my hand.” He glanced at the imaginary canary with some little passing touch of pride.
“And the maker’s name?” said DeBarge.
Suddenly, he had no canary to hold, so he pulled his right ear lobe with the fingers of his left hand, then pulled the left ear lobe with the fingers of his right hand, and then passed a hand Madonna-like across his eyes, and so on in regular changes, without a moment’s intermission. The task of recalling him from the vagrancy into which he always sank when he had spoken, was like recalling some very weak person from a swoon, a skate swoon, a skwoon, or endeavouring, in the hope of some disclosure, to stay the spirit of a fast-dying man.
“Did somebody ask me for my name?”
“Assuredly I did.”
“I make a mean skate.”
“Is that all?”
“I make a mean mutha’ of a skate.”
With a weary sound that was not a sigh, nor a groan, nor a sound, he bent to work again, until the washed up 80’s Detroit funk artist interrupted again.
“You are not a skatemaker by trade?” said Mr. Darnay, looking steadfastly at him.
His haggard eyes turned to DeBarge as if he was hearing “Feel the beat of the rhythm of the night”: but as no lyric came from that quarter, they turned back on the questioner when they had sought the ground.
“I am not a skatemaker by trade? No, I was not a skatemaker by trade. I- I- I- I learnt it here. I taught myself. I asked leave to—”
He lapsed away, even for minutes, ringing those measured changes on his lobes the whole time. His eyes came slowly back, at last, to the face from which they had wandered; when they rested on it, he started, and resumed, in the manner of a drunkard that moment awake, reverting to a subject of last night.
“I used to have a canary, but since that cat I’ve gone to skate making, canary-less that is, and I have skate made ever since.”
As he held out his hand for the skate that had been taken from him, Mr. Darnay said, still looking steadfastly in his face:
“Monsieur Manfred, do you remember nothing of me?”
The skate dropped to the ground, its wheels spinning wildly, and he sat looking fixedly at the questioner (a writer by trade).
“Mon-sieur Man-fred!” yelled DeBarge. Mr. Darnay laid his hand upon DeBarge’s arm. “Do you remember nothing of this man? Look at him. Look at me. Is there no old memory, no old smell, no old sight, no old time, rising in your mind, Monsieur Manfred?”
As the captive of many weeks sat looking fixedly, by turns, at Mr. Darnay then at DeBarge then at the imaginary canary (which had reappeared, but blue this time), some long obliterated marks of an actively intent intelligence in the middle of the forehead, gradually forced themselves through the black mist that had fallen on him. They were overclouded again, they were fainter, they were gone; but they had been there. And so exactly was the expression repeated on the fair young face of the young derby girl who had crept along the wall to a point where she could see him, and where she now stood looking at him, with hands which at first had been only raised in frightened compassion, if not even to keep him off and shut out the sight of him, but which were now extending towards him, trembling with eagerness to lay the spectral face upon her warm young breast, the right one (and what a warm breast it was!!) and love it back to life and hope- so exactly was the expression repeated (though with hornier characteristics) on her fair young face, that it looked as though it had passed like a moving light, from him to the blue canary to her.
Like a bad crack dream, darkness had fallen on him in its place. He looked at the two, no three, no two, less and less attentively, and his eyes in gloomy abstraction sought the ground and looked about him in the old creepy way. Finally, with a deep long sigh, he took the skate up, and resumed his stopper work.
“Have you recognised him, Monsieur?” asked DeBarge in a falsetto whisper.
“Yes; for a moment. At first I thought it quite hopeless, but I have unquestionably seen, for a single moment, the face that I once knew so well. Shush! Let us draw further back. Here birdie-birdie! Shush!”
Annie had moved from the wall of the garret, very near to the bench on which he sat. There was something creeper-awful in his unconsciousness of the figure that could have put out its hand and touched him as he stooped over his labour.
Not a word was spoken, not a sound was made. The blue canary, it sang no tune. Annie stood, like a spirit with a star on its helmet, beside him, as he bent over his work.
It happened, at length, that he had occasion to change the instrument in his hand, for his skatemaker’s twistum-doo-hickey. It lay on that side of him which was not the side on which she stood. He had taken it up, and was stooping to work again, when his eyes caught the red-white stripes of her leggings. He raised them, (his eyes, not her leggings) and saw her face. The two men started forward, but she stayed them with a motion of her hand. She had no fear of his striking at her with the twistum-doo-hickey, though they had.
Manfred stared at her with a fearful, constipated look, and after a while his lips began to form some words —widget, bears, canary beak, popcorn. By degrees, in the pauses of his quick and laboured breathing, he was heard to say:
“What sweet tattoo-dappled sight is this?”
With the tears streaming down her face, she put her two hands to her lips, and kissed them to him; then clasped them on her breast, (her left one, less warm) as if she laid his ruined head there.
“You are not the DeBarge’s back up singer, are you?”
She sighed “No way.”
“You are also not the blue canary in tattoo-dappled girl form?”
“I don’t even know what that means.”
“Then…who are you?”
Not yet trusting the smoky tones of her voice, she sat down on the bench beside him. He recoiled, but she laid her hand upon his arm and he uncoiled. A strange thrill struck him when she did so, and visibly passed over his frame. He laid the doo-hickey down softly, covered his prodigious lap with the skate as he sat staring at her.
Her dishwater hair, which she wore piled up like a handful of dead autumn leaves, had been hurriedly attending to in the Subaru, and now it fell down over her bloodshot eyes. Advancing his hand by little and little, he touched her hair and looked at it. In the midst of the action he went astray, and, with another deep sigh, fell to fumbling at the skate in his lap.
But not for long. Releasing his arm, she laid her hand upon his shoulder. After looking doubtfully at it, two or three times, as if to be sure that it was really there, he laid down his work, put his hand to his neck, and took off a blackened string with a scrap of folded rag attached to it. He opened this, carefully, on his knee, and it contained a very little quantity of dishwater hair: not more than one or two long dishwatery hairs, which he had, in some old day, wound off upon his finger.
He took her hair into his hand again, and looked closely at it. “It is the same. And both oily! How can it be! When was it! How was it!”
As the concentrated expression returned to his forehead, he seemed to become conscious that it was in hers too. He turned her full to the light, and looked at her.
“She —the dishwater roller babe— had laid her head upon my shoulder, that night when I was twittered out- she had a fear of my going, though I had none- and when I was brought to this place, I found these upon my sleeve. ‘So young. So very young she is, so young to be losing her hair!’ Those were the words I said. I remember them very well.”
He formed this speech with his lips many times before he could utter it. It was annoying for everyone. But when he did find spoken words for it, they came to him coherently, though slowly, almost canary-like.
“How was this?- Was it you? Are you…Amish?”
Once more, the two men started, as he turned upon her with a frightful suddenness. But she sat perfectly still in his grasp, and only said, in a low voice, “Keep it parked, good gentlemen, don’t lose your shit now, for love of all things derby!”
“Hark!” he exclaimed. “Whose voice was that?”
His hands released her as he uttered this cry, and went up to his white hair, which they tore in a frenzy. A frenzy of white hair tearing! Ouch! Then this died out, as everything but his skatemaking did die out of him, and he refolded his little hair packet and tried to secure it in his breast (not at all warm), but he still looked at her, and gloomily shook his head.
“No, no, no; you are too young, too blooming.”
Darnay made to move, but Annie stuck her tongue at him.
“It can’t be. See what the prisoner is. These are not the hands she knew, this is not the face she knew, this is not a voice she ever heard. No, no. She was- and He was- before the slow weeks. What is your name, my gentle roller angel?”
Hailing his softened tone and manner, his Annie fell upon her knees before him, with her appealing hands upon his less-than-warm breast.
“O, sir, at another time you shall know my derby name, and who my blocker was, and who my jammer, and how we made hard hittin’ history. But I cannot tell you at this time, and I cannot tell you here. All that I may tell you, here and now, is, that I pray to you to touch me and to bless me. Kiss me, kiss me! O my dear, my dear!”
His cold white head mingled with her dishwater hair, which warmed and lighted it as though it were the light of the Internet shining on him.
“If you hear in my voice- I don’t know that it is so, but I hope it is- if you hear in my voice any resemblance to a voice that once was punk music in your ears, weep for it, weep for it! If you touch, in touching my greasy hair, anything that recalls a beloved greasy head that lay on your knee when you were young and free, weep for it, weep for it! If, when I hint to you of a twitter chat that is before us, where I will be true to you with all my duty and with all my faithful service, I bring back the remembrance of a twitter account long desolate, while your poor heart pined away, weep for it, weep for it!”
She held him closer round the neck, and rocked him on her prodigious left breast like a child.
“If, when I tell you, dearest dearer dear, that your offline agony is over, and that I have come here to take you from it, and that we go to Memphis to be at peace and at rest, I cause you to think of your useful life laid waste, weep for it, weep for it! And if, when I shall tell you of my name, my real name, not my twitter handle nor my derby-girl moniker, and of my jammer who is smokin’, and of my blocker who is BFF, you will learn that I have to kneel to my honoured Doc, and implore his pardon for having never for his sake striven all day and lain awake and wept all night, because stupid vampires hid his torture from me, weep for it, weep for it! Weep for her, then, and for me! Good gentlemen, thank Gandhi! I feel his sacred tears upon my face, and his sobs strike against my heart. O, see! Thank Gandhi for us, thank Gandhi!”
He had sunk in her arms, and his face dropped on her breast, then the other one, then back again (it was hard to choose): a sight so touching, a touching so touchable, yet so terrible in the tremendous wrong and suffering which had gone before it, that the two beholders covered their faces.
When the quiet of the garret had been long undisturbed, and her heaving breast and his shaken form had long yielded to the calm that must follow all storms- emblem to humanity, of the rest and silence into which the storm called Life must hush at last- whatever that means, they came forward to raise the Doc and derby-girl from the ground. He had gradually dropped to the floor, and lay there in a lethargy, worn out. She had nestled down with him, that his head might lie upon her arm; and her crappy hair drooping over him curtained him from the light.
“If, without disturbing him,” she said, raising her hand to Mr. Darnay as he stooped over them, after repeated blowings of her nose, and gargled sniffles, “all could be arranged for our leaving here at once, so that, from the very door, he could be taken away—”
“But, consider. Is he fit for the journey?” asked Mr. Darnay.
“More fit for that, I think, than to remain in this fuckin’ basement, so dreadful to him.”
“It is true,” said DeBarge, who was kneeling to look on and hear. “More than that; Monsieur Manfred is, for all reasons, best the hell outta here. Say, shall I hire a carriage and post-horses?”
“We’re not really Amish,” said she. “Get us a real cab.”
“I’m a writer,” said Mr. Darnay, resuming on the shortest notice his proud writerly manners; “and if words need spoken to a cabbie, I had better do it.”
“Then shut up and do it,” urged Annie, “words be damned. You see how composed he has become, and you cannot be afraid to leave him with me now. Why should you be? If you will lock the door to secure us from interruption, I do not doubt that you will find him, when you come back, as quiet as you leave him. In any case, I will take care of him until you return, and then we will remove him straight. Oh, and instead of a cab, just go get your Subaru wagon, dumbshit!”
Both Darnay and DeBarge were rather disinclined to this course, and in favour of one of them remaining. But, they played rock, paper, shears and both lost. And as time pressed, for the day was drawing to an end, it came at last to their hastily dividing the business that was necessary to be done, and hurrying away to do it.
Then, as the darkness closed in, the tough girl laid her head down on the hard ground close at the Doc’s side, and watched him. The darkness deepened and deepened, and they both lay quiet, until a light gleamed through the chinks in the wall.
Mr. Darnay and Monsieur DeBarge had made all ready for the journey, and had brought with them, besides travelling hoodies and funny hats, bread and meat, a couple of snickers, box-wine, and hot coffee. Monsieur DeBarge put this provender, and the lamp he carried, on the skatemaker’s bench (there was nothing else in the garret but a pallet bed), and he and Mr. Darnay roused the captive, and assisted him to his feet.
No human intelligence could have read the mysteries of his mind, in the scared blank wonder of his face. Whether he knew what had happened, whether he recollected what they had said to him, whether he knew that he was free, were questions which no sagacity could have solved. They tried speaking to him; but, he was so confused, and so very slow to answer, that they took fright at his bewilderment, and agreed for the time to tamper with him no more. He had a wild, lost manner of occasionally clasping his head in his hands, that had not been seen in him before; yet, he had some pleasure in the mere sound of Annie’s voice, and invariably turned to it when she spoke.
In the submissive way of one long accustomed to obey under vampire coercion, he ate and drank what they gave him to eat and drink, even the snickers, and put on the hoodie and funny hat, that they gave him to wear. He readily responded to his derby girl’s drawing her arm through his, and took- and kept- her hand in both his own.
They began to descend; Monsieur DeBarge going first with the lamp, Mr. Darnay closing the little procession. They had not traversed many steps of the long main staircase when he stopped, and stared at the roof and round at the walls.
“You remember the place, my Doc? You remember coming up here?”
“Did you hear a blue canary?”
But, before she could repeat the question, he murmured an answer as if she had repeated it.
“Canary? No, I remember no blue canary. Maybe it was a whale. It was so very long ago.”
That he had no recollection whatever of his having been brought from his house to this place, was apparent to them. They heard him mutter, “Sorry, twitter is over capacity. We apologize for the inconvenience,” and when he looked about him, he saw the Subaru waiting in the open street, he dropped Annie’s hand and clasped his head again.
No crowd was about the door; no vampires were discernible at any of the many desks; not even a chance passer-by was in the street. An unnatural silence and desertion reigned there. Only one skinny dog was to be seen, who trotted skinnily across the street and saw nothing.
The Doc had got into the Suabaru, and Annie had followed him, when Mr. Darnay’s feet were arrested on the step by Doc asking, miserably, for his skatemaking tools and the unfinished skates. DeBarge immediately called out that he would get them, and went away. He quickly brought them down and handed them in.
Darnay got in on the driver’s side, and cranked the old ignition till it fired with a cough. He adjusted his rear-view to better see both Doc and Annie in the back seat. Then with both smile and concern, he asked of the old man, “I hope you care to be recalled to virtual life?”
And the old man’s answer came coupled with a gesture for Darnay’s eyes peering in the rectangular mirror:
#10. Amish employ wooden stakes; Vamps disapprove
#9. Amish go to bed early; Vamps stay out late
#8. Amish look older than they are; Vamps look younger than they are
#7. Amish wish they could use vacuum cleaners, but don’t; Vamps often employ the use of a Wet Dry Vac
#6. Facial hair Amish asset; facial hair Vamp liability
#5. Vamps morph into bats; Amish rarely do
#4. Amish grow their own food; Vamps let you do that for them
#3. Amish big teeth brushers; Vampires lick and leave ‘em dirty
#2. Amish would not enjoy Oprah if they owned a television; Vamps would own a television if they enjoyed Oprah
And the #1 difference between Vamps and the Amish:
You could probably sleep just fine with an Amish person under the bed…
and optimistic roller derby girls everywhere…
“…though knowing during the very final hours…that six or eight hours later he would rouse from what had not been sleep at all, but instead a dreamless stupefaction…”
—-William Faulkner from The Golden Land
“It is my belief that some of the theories discussed by these characters may have merit…”
—-Dan Brown from danbrown.com
“When ascends the fire
From the glowing pyre,
To the gods of old we’ll hasten, blest.”
—-Goethe from The Bride of Corinth
#10. Dislike for religious iconography.
#9. Shared enjoyment of candle use.
#8. Liking on the black clothing.
#7. Both prefer meals fresh from scratch.
#6. Vest wearers.
#5. Mutual disregard for mirrors.
#4. Neither big garlic users.
#3. Partiality to 2nd person pronoun use of the King James variety.
#2. Difficulty getting credit cards.
And the #1 similarity between Vamps and the Amish: Won’t find either in a Toyota Prius…
FANTASY CAST: (for ToTT the movie)
As this is a Fantasy Cast, I am not bound by space-time restrictions. Therefore, I mark each performer with a “circa” note. Thank you…
Geoffrey Darnay (author)………………………………John Cusack (circa High Fidelity)
Annie Carton (Amish Annie/Rantin’ Annie)…Drew Barrymore (circa Boys on the Side)
Michael Callahan (Mookie/the Mookster)…..Casey Affleck (circa Good Will Hunting)
Dr. Alexander Manfred…………………………Peter Cushing (circa A Tale of Two Cities)
Carl Malden……………………………………………David Duchovny (circa mid-to-late X-Files)
Stitch Robinson……………………………………John Corbett (circa early Northern Exposure)
Dr. Peter Petrie……………………………………..Peter Lorre (circa The Maltese Falcon)*
Few…………………………………………..Samuel L. Jackson (anytime, he’s Samuel L. Jackson)
Editor……………………………………………….John Mahoney (circa The Hudsucker Proxy)
Count Boethius von Vandervozen……………..Max von Sydow (circa Minority Report)
Van von Vandervozen………………………………..John Turturro (circa The Big Lebowski)
Kitty O’ Shankya…………………………….Mary-Louise Parker (ah, those West Wing days…)
Roger (Trade Show TourGuide)………………Jim Parsons (circa now, Big Bang Theory)
And, of course, Direction/Production……………………….The Coen Brothers
*If he were in black-n-white and the rest of the movie is color, so much the better…