I hoped that once the drug testing was done, I’d be banned from the California Games forever. Too many dark memories, scattered fragments riding a wave of victory that took me through the silver-lined gutters of stardom. Once you’ve won a California Game, the ultimate test is detoxing from the heady fallout of athletic recognition. Party people. Opiates fell like candy from the sky into my open mouth and I twitched slightly and pulled the hair of a supermodel. She screamed in outrage, but there were others waiting to take her place.
The Games. The California Games. Bronzed skin and white teeth and cement and pain. The Games. My phone rang and by miracle the test had been passed; I celebrated by vomiting in the kitchen. Stood nude in front of a mirror for 45 minutes and yelled at myself. I was going back to the California Games.
The first event I entered was hang gliding. I peered nervously over the lofty precipice and jumped. It wasn’t the first time I’ve leapt from a cliff, but the first time I had help flying. Started coughing and felt bile rising in the back of my throat as I spiraled towards the ground and crashed into the sea. An angry voice called me “lame and useless,” but I couldn’t see my father anywhere. Woke up in hospital and watched the IV trickle fluid into my veins.
Skateboarding. My limbs are all too breakable and the tunnel of concrete looks unyielding and hard. I play it safe and wheel slowly down the centre of the pipe until my impatience with consciousness gets the better of me and I start circling around the ceiling. I loop once, twice, three times. Narrowly I escape crashing headlong into a part of the tunnel. I am actually pretty good at skateboarding! Later as I’m leaving the arena I am arrested for “looking suspicious,” and my skateboard is confiscated. I write “FUCK U SGT. PETERSON” on a bus stop in Sharpie marker in retaliation.
I’m surprised they let me back on a jet ski after what happened at that hospital charity event. Maybe state police don’t share those records? I drive lazily around the course thinking about grilled cheese sandwiches and gin. Did I leave the sprinklers on at home? Is my lawn flooded? Is there a God? The race is over and I’ve won “BORED PLACE.” Why did we gather to do this?
Downhill snowboarding is the last event, and I already have a sponsorship deal with CONDOM DEPOT. I’m not even certain how this came to be, but I’ll try my best to represent CONDOM DEPOT in downhill snowboarding. Downhill snowboarding? Is that redundant? Do they have cross-country snowboarding? I feel as though I’m wearing a mask of cotton and chloroform. Nothing makes sense and the air is thin. Vertigo. Flash photography and the smell of fresh paint.
I am an athlete in the California Games. I don’t remember my name and my face is one tanned leather strip of many. History will be kind and forget I ever existed. Meanwhile, it will barely retain the memory of California Games II, and that is for the best. Silence and sleep.