It was nearly a year ago to this day when it all happened. Sometimes, I wish I could forget, but turning a blind eye would be a treasonous stab in the back for the good of humanity. It was my duty to remember and protect, for aside from my desires, an event like that leaves a permanent scar in one’s mind, to the extent where every aspect of that infamous battle can be recalled so clearly, so vividly, as if it were only yesterday.
I’m not proud of many of the choices that were forced upon me during that weekend excursion to the winter wonderland village located in the Northern Idaho wilderness, but choices were made to defend the honor of my family name, to send a message… That we won’t be pushed around, that we will stand and defend what is rightfully ours. No matter the cost.
It began with myself and sir Coby of Sammamish crossing the treacherous Cascade Mountain Range, a route of which many had fallen before us. As for experienced riders in our native land however, the advanced trek was completed with relative ease. All the while, our warrior cry, a compilation of songs in the form of the Pink Floyd album “Animals,” echoed through the passing townships. We made our presence known to it’s dwellers loud and clear; that we mean no harm, and bring nothing but respect to their people, but any unnecessary inconvenience may result in calamitous consequence.
That night I reunited with my clan in the Dischman Micca Territories, just outside the borders of the Spokane Valley. They are proud decedents of the Scotts and Germans, and it had been more than a month since our last meeting, a month that seemed to last for ages. Although the reunion was joyful, it was short lived. Our journey was far from over, for we would soon venture north, close to the borders of the great wall that separates us from our Canadian brethren. A mountain village they call Schweitzer, located in the heart of the Bitterroot Mountain range.
Upon our arrival, we expected a modest cabin that would provide the basic necessities of shelter. I stepped out of our vehicle, jaw dropped, eyes widened. The shelter that was given to us for the weekend of the Presidents wasn’t a cabin at all; it was a royal palace. 3 stories carved out of the finest logs found in the Pacific Northwest consisting of limitless luxuries, easy access to the village’s amenities, and even a few secret passageways hidden within the structure. One of these was discovered as I inadvertently leaned on a false wall on the bottom level of the palace. “Is this a dungeon,” I thought to myself as I stumbled into the shallow opening. It had to be. But when I found a source of light, it was suddenly revealed that I was standing in a fully furnished liquor room stocked with the finest wines and spirits collected from many a great lands stretching from the vast corners of the world. It was a personal treasure cove, but one of which I could not plunder, no matter how much temptation urged me to do so. I would guard this fortune with all my might until its rightful owners returned.
I sealed the entrance to the secret liquor room and made my way up the wood polished staircase past the big screen TV equipped with a satellite dish. My mother was busy cooking us a Fazarri’s pizza dinner (half Shotsy, half Panther) in the state of the art kitchen located on the middle level, where you take a step and immediately feel a warm sensation underneath your toes from the heated flat-stoned floors. Although I have some culinary experience with select dishes, I calculated that my skills could be of use elsewhere by shoveling the outside walkway and upper decks. After a visit to the storage shed to grab the necessary equipment underneath the guest apartment, I set foot on the deck to begin work, but only I couldn’t find the strength to move a single muscle.
I looked outward at the setting sun over a dazzling view of the Bitterroots. I was able to see as far North as Canada, and west to the Montana border. But perhaps the greatest sight of all was that of Schweitzer Mountain itself, covered in a fresh blanket of snow; all for us it indulge in, to carve in the unsullied powder on our mountain equipment, as if we were creating our own personal masterpiece in nature’s backyard. An art that only the creator could truly appreciate… and would to its fullest extend. As the oldest male figure present in my family, I saw a mountain wanting to be ruled by a fearless leader, endless valleys looking to be discovered, and masses of land begging to be conquered. The mountain was mine, and mine for the taking. Nobody could stand in my way…
I’ll never forget the moment I saw his face. Just when I had my mind settled for a peaceful takeover, on the brink of a world finally at ease, that menacing figure appeared before my eyes. He stepped out of my sister’s car and delivered a disturbing smile, letting me know immediately that he meant to take over my standing as king of the mountain. He was nothing but trouble.
Thomas was his name, but it could’ve been easily mistaken for Lucifer, for this little 5 year old had all the signs of being the spawn of Satan. Hell, anything closer and he might as well had horns growing out of his head! We stared each other down until he dared to utter a sentence that sent chills down my spine. “Snowboarders are weird,” he said to me. How in the world did he know I was a snowboarder? And to speak to me first, let alone insult me, in my kingdom? This was setting the stage for a showdown of epic proportions, where I feared that no side would favor in the end, no matter the victor.
From the get go he wasted no time finding unique ways to push our buttons. Whether it be pranks, insults, or genuine bratty behavior, the boy had the energy of a Jackrabbit during hopped up on steroids and wasn’t showing any signs of slowing. He begged me to perform a number of wrestling moves on him, which I fervently resisted. He was relentless however with constant nags and physical abuse. I couldn’t give in… That’s exactly what he wanted me to do. But a wild swing a little too close to the family jewels- that crossed the line. He wasn’t getting away with that one.
I snatched him off the floor, flipping him up over my head so he could peer into my eyes with everlasting regret before I pulled off the finisher. I threw him down with debilitating force on his back and onto the bed. The Jack Knife Powerbomb, a move engineered to deliver a maximum amount of pain to one’s backside, made popular by wrestling legend’s Kevin Nash and Scott Hall. Thomas bounced a foot off the bed, busting his knee during the second landing. A soft cry was heard from the kitchen, causing my mother to intervene. And of course, I got slammed with a lecture about how I should be more careful, and no more roughhousing, yadi yadi yada. Thomas however had planned the whole thing out, and his little experiment had paid off. He had turned me into the bad guy within a matter seconds, and there was no way he was getting in trouble this weekend. Not from my mother, my sister, and certainly not from me, unless I was willing to accept a severe punishment. Another ugly grin grew across his face. This was far from over.
That was child’s play compared to his next discovery. Thomas had found his way into the palace’s arsenal, stocked plentiful with Nerf guns and ammo. Excitement grew on his face equivalent to that of 5 red bulls being shot gunned at once. His energy level became too high and powerful to control, even with the copious amounts of mead I consumed during the process. I couldn’t hold a conversation, relax, or watch Downton Abby with my mother without being pelted multiple times by a string of bullets. I couldn’t endure the attack much longer. It had to come to an end.
I retreated to the outer boundaries in shame, for the devil himself, Thomas, had overtaken my keep. It was a devastating blow, one of which I feared there was little recovery, but I was determined. The battle may have been lost, but the war was far from over. By weekend’s end, I would retain the throne that was rightfully mine. I just needed a plan…
I set up a secret meeting with my sister, Lady Emily and Sir Coby of Sammamish. The task I asked of them was arduous, but it had to be done. I knew they could perform it, even if it meant having to endure a night of suffrage. I instructed them to take Thomas back to their quarters where he could celebrate his victory with hours of playing the Nintendo Wii, all the while providing him an endless supply of candy and soda. They would keep him up as long as they could, for the following day would be the true testimony for all visiting the mountain resort if Thomas could handle the title of king for a day.
I met my comrades at the resort the next day, both deprived of much needed rest. I didn’t want to know the horrific details, but as time passed, I could tell they had completed their mission to task, draining Thomas of any stamina that had been built up prior to last night’s hooligans. It was barely our first run when the complaints about the cold set in, or how he just wanted to go back to the house to play with his Wii. It was going to be a very long day for our buddy Thomas.
“Skiers are better than snowboarders,” he would you say, and remind me with taunts of similar fashion. “Skiers better than snowboarders? We’ll put that statement to the test,” I told myself as we made our way towards the South Bowl Chutes, a double black diamond run consisting of steep terrain, sudden cliffs, and walls of trees that only the most experienced riders can maneuver successfully. “You think you’re so hot Thomas? Prove it.”
He looked down at the drop, quivering in fear. Pressure came from all fronts. “C’mon Thomas,” screamed Coby waiting behind him, growing frustrated as precious minutes of skiing and exploration were wasted away at Thomas’s hesitation. Maive, Thomas’s older sister by two years stood at the bottom of the run hurling insults to her brother shaking in his ski boots, as any good sister would do. “Nananan boo boo, Thomas is a scaredy cat,” she kept teasing. That was the final straw. There was no way he was going to let her bruise his ego like that. It was go time.
He took a step and descended upon the bowl. He gained speed; too much speed. In a panic, he turned his body to stop, hockey style, but his little legs couldn’t handle the initial velocity after the drop in. He caught an edge and flew, landing smack dab on his face. Down the mountain he went, screaming head first for help along the way, but with no way to stop. There was nothing anybody could, so we watched as he ate it down the double black diamond, all the while Thomas watched a tunnel of white light appear with a golden gate far in the distance. After a while, all that was visible was a dust cloud of snow descending down the mountain at an exponential rate, with the occasional ski accessory, whether it be a glove, pair of goggles, boot, or even the skis themselves fly through the air.
After it was all said and done, It had been a minute long wipe-out where he had slid on his face down ¾’s of the run, lost both of his skis, and was left in a pool of tears as if he had just broken every bone in his body (Which he didn’t. Kid’s always like to pull that bull crap, making their pain seem way worse than it actually is.). Lady Emily ran to his aide, for any injury to her employer’s children could prove to be costly. Maive stood at the bottom, laughing so hard that she could hardly control her bladder. Sir Coby gathered the equipment that had been scattered across the run, or at least what was left after the carnage, which was an amazing feat considering the tumble. I watched in the distance as Thomas sat in humiliation. We made eye contact, only for a second, for he quickly looked away in disgrace the second he realized my stare. But I continued to glare, gazing into the pathetic and disoriented figure. “Skiers better than snowboarders??? I put that statement to the test.”
Lunchtime had arrived, and we settled to a little dining table we had claimed. Snacks had been prepared to appease our appetites, for the traders at the mountain food market were known to swindle you for a few extra bucks when they could. In front of Thomas sat his lunch, a hot, fresh “cup of noodles.” He kept begging for candy, but my sister was much too wise to give in until he had finished lunch. So he sat, playing with his food, swirling it around in the cup, staring at it, doing everything he could with his lunch except for consuming it, delaying the inevitable, and complaining every step of the way.
This process continued for well over 10 minutes, and several times I watched as he nearly tipped the cup over the edge while sloppily playing around with the prepared dish. I stuck my hand out a time or two to catch it before it fell, warning Thomas of the disaster waiting to happen if he continued his careless ways. He didn’t listen, and continued to play with his meal, which was typical of any kid his age. No more warnings would be given. He was going to have to learn the hard way.
I watched the whole thing go down as if it were happening in slow motion. Could I have prevented it? Yea, sure, but nothing was going to convince me of saving him from the tragedy taking place. Not this time. He tipped his cup of noodles too far to the edge, and the hot, steaming, contents fell onto his lap, severely scolding his torso. Slowly, his mouth opened wide, eyes squinted, and two streams of tears dripped down his face, all before he took a deep breath and let out a putter of soft cries that crossed as a cough.
Many mothers gathered around to tend to his needs, but not me. He knew better, and he would receive no sympathy from me. In his head, he would hope that such an event would receive so much pity that he could go home and play Wii and eat candy without finishing his lunch. Not a fat chance. Not as long as I was around. We still had a long day of skiing ahead of us.
A backside run had brought us to the Stella, a 6 six-person high-speed chairlift that controlled the flow of patrons with horserace style gates that opened and closed when it was time for the next group to board. Little Thomas made his way to the front leaning forward on his poles, eyes barely level with the top of the gates. His eyes kept wandering, unaware of his surroundings. By the time he had arrived at the gates, he finally realized they were quickly approaching the vicinity of his face. He tried to react, but it was too late.
BOOM! The gate fully closed at a fierce speed, but not before striking Thomas right in the nose, an event none of us saw coming. A gush of blood left his nasal cavity and spilled onto the snow, leaving a trail behind for all to follow. The lift operators snickered at the sight, unable to contain themselves like the audience members of America’s Funniest Home Videos when a clip of an unsuspecting victim gets smacked in the balls; another black eye to Thomas’s ego. He shed tears of pain all the way back to the top of the mountain. I took it as a sign that the snow gods were working in my favor.
To add to his distress, a wrong turn left him and Sir Coby stranded past the lodge, leaving the only option of a hike. Sir Coby was furious, making Thomas carry his skis all he way back up the hill. By the time they had reached the top, Thomas had nearly collapsed, sending everyone the image of a Vietnam soldier who had just returned to base after an escape from the Hanoi Hilton, where he was brutally tortured for weeks on in. With a sudden change of luck however, the day was coming to a close, and we were set on retiring to our keeps. His fate for the rest of the night would be determined by his actions, and his actions alone.
Back at the palace, I had made a safe guard of all the Nerf guns in the house, placing them on high ground, where Thomas’s disadvantaged height left the weapons out of his reach. He was growing ancy, bored out of his mind and suffering from the withdrawals of not being able to play the Nintendo Wii for almost 12 hours. “Please, can I have the Nerf gun,” he pleaded, desperate for any type of sympathy. Over and over, I refused, but I had to hand it to him, he was persistent. He wanted that Nerf Gun, bad. He needed it, for his own sanity. Withholding a weapon of that magnitude from a five year old was unbearable torture, worse than any water boarding technique that the Taliban were ever forced to endure. Eventually, I gave in, for even the greatest of kings can show a hint of compassion from time to time.
“Do you give me your word that you will not shoot me, that you will not attack the innocent with this weapon, that you will wield it with honor and use it only when necessary?”
“I promise,” he answered. So I handed him the weapon. In our family, a promise is held above all else as the most sacred entities one came make with another soul. A broken promise would not be tolerated in my kingdom, and would result in an unspeakable curse that would plague him for years to come.
5 minutes later I was in my quarters rummaging through my goods, and I felt a sudden sting across my back. I turned and saw a short, devilish figure sending me a smile that screamed of pure evil. My eyes beamed towards his weak body, a terror released from my pores. The boy had broken a promise, a sacred bond of trust that we had shared. This would not let this stand. Not on my watch.
“You’re lucky that God forgives,” I said to him as I cocked my Nerf pistol, fully loaded for an intense battle. “Because I don’t.”
I emptied a full clip of bullets without any sense of mercy to his flailing body. This was war, and a blind anger possessed me to keep squeezing the trigger, nailing him with every shot. He fled across the bed, sending blind bullets back my way, but unable to connect, not even a single one. Both our clips were empty- not a problem for a veteran warrior like myself. I rapidly reloaded and ruthlessly pressed forward to release havoc on my enemy. Thomas just squatted in the corner, a small sense of joy still bound up inside of him, for he continued to spill sputters of laughter from his mouth. It was his only defense. I ended that real quick.
I unloaded another round to his head as the laughs gradually converted to screams the further the massacre dragged on. My second clip emptied, and my opponent lay, completely helpless. The lesson had been taught. He was ready for surrender.
“Stop… Please, Stop!” He continued to plead, but I could not feel any sense of pity at that moment, especially for somebody who had broken such a sacred promise that we had made mere minutes prior. I loaded up one more round and continuing to pummel his head at point blank range. He covered himself in the fetal position, assuming defeat. All of a sudden, the barrage of bullets had stopped.
He turned his head and opened an eyelid, a small peak with the mindset that this horrific battle was finally over, and I was gone. Instead, he set his sights down the barrel of a gun, one Nerf bullet left. We both waited for a moment, remaining completely still. Any false movement could result to be detrimental. He had surrendered, and was left to my mercy. “I’m sorry,” he uttered, the most sincere apology he had ever given in his entire lifetime, and probably among the most genuine I’ve ever witnessed from one of my opponents. He had finally realized the error of his ways and was ready to make a statement, for this day was the day that he would change his life for the better, to live with dignity and bring honor to his family name. I knew it, and he knew it. Peace could finally be achieved, once and for all…
I squeezed the trigger. POP! The Nerf bullet left my gun at a high velocity and struck him square in his open eye. He let out a cry so vicious, so horrendous, that it captured the pain of crashing down a double black diamond, spilling a hot cup of noodles on his lap, being smacked in the nose by a horse chute, and the struggle of a treacherous hike back to the lodge, combined. He let out screams that no man should ever hear, mimicking those of World War II vets who had nightmares after coming back from the Pacific front. But I just stood there, emotionless and immune to the pain he was suffering. I eventually walked away, leaving my rival cobbling in despair. I would make sure that he’d never forget this night for the rest of his life. That this is what happens when you mess with Grizzly Chadams; so that every time he saw my face, he would bow down to my reign, for he could not, and would not let any of his family or friends face an ounce of the devastation that he endured during the brutal battle of the Bitterroots.
That night, I descended upon the village with Sir Coby and Lady Emily to a vast celebration of our victory; a laser light show featuring a collaboration of selected music from Pink Floyd… Our battle cry… Our ancient ancestral song that we traveled with signaling our presence from township to township. It was a sign, and a tribute… This was our village. We ruled this land, even if it was only for one weekend out of the year. So we indulged in our victory with dance and drink, and would remember this day for years to come, a short stint of happiness until our next battle, which very well could be our last.
As President’s Day draws near, our enemies grow stronger in numbers, and now, a year wiser, come back to us, thirsty for revenge. It would be wise never to come back to the small village in the bitterroots, but yet, a sense of duty, of pride, of honor draws us back. Thomas will surely be edging for another shot at the throne, and I will be there, ready to deliver a deathblow much more stern than the year before. I do not wish the events to unfold the way they did a year prior, but am willing to do what is necessary for the good of my family, and to protect the people of Schweitzer, no matter the cost.
President’s Day is Coming…