The Bombardiers

by Rick Beck

Foreword

You might tell polite company that you never watched roller derby on T. V. as a kid, but I know better. I can remember those roller derby kings and queens taking the turns at breakneck speed on spinning wheels. It was a little bit redneck and a little bit cool, but I rarely missed the Saturday night roller derby show.

I've done my best to capture what I remember, adding a bit of dash and color. Throwing in a gay wedding for good measure, because you just know they'd have one if the roller derby still rolled.

Prologue

Big Buzz Barnard joins the Bellingham Bombardiers thinking he can skate there for as long as he likes. Bellingham, once champions, went into decline about the time Big Buzz left the States to skate in Barcelona.

Dan Fandango, entrepreneur and new owner of the Bombardiers, not to mention the Bombardiers number one fan for much of his life, promises Buzz he'll surround him with the best talent money can buy. The team will once again go to the top of the league.

Buzz, remembering the Village People, never imagined skating with them. Dan Fandango, man of his word, isn't confined to using typical roller derby regulars. With Buzz as the teachers Fandango intends to feature color and style, as Bellingham beats out the rest of the league by a mile.

Picking from the slickest athletes around, he'd put skates on an orangutan if he thought it would sell tickets. Fandango wanted to bring families back to roller derby and provide a show they all wanted to come back to see.

Big Buzz's eyebrows raise when the darling dashing Danny, who can skates circles around Buzz, brings his in-line skates, makeup kit, and glitter to the game. The sport will never be the same.

For Buzz, this kid skating roller derby is insane. He doesn't know if Danny realizes the brutes, who ruled, would make it their job to erase dear Danny's name from their game.

Danny, a colorful ice skater, was a rose in a bouquet. In the roller derby he'd bloom on his own. He'd be the orchid among the crab grass. Doing it differently made Danny dizzy with delight. He saw no reason for fright.

Danny's mastery of in-line skates, as if by fate, has Fandango salivating. This is change that'll make the game a favorite for the young. With roller skates falling out of favor the in-line fad could be part of Fandango's dream. He'd get them approved and use them on his team.

While Buzz is the foundation for good hard roller derby matches, Danny adds the color for Fandango's dream. It's a matter of time, the best talent he can find, and he'll build a team that will shine in a bleak league.

Good things take time, but Buzz has to skate with the has-beens in the meantime. He'll work for the team. He can't see Fandango's dreams, and Danny doesn't do it for Buzz, even though he'd love to keep him safe enough to skate.

Big Buzz doesn't believe, these flamboyant boys intend to skate in his league, while staying alive at the same time. Spending so much time away, Buzz was home to stay, but this isn't what he had on his mind upon his return.

Gathering boys more suited for a costume party, might not a good roller derby team make. The ins and outs of tough roller derby weren't compatible with a fancy Dan's show. Buzz worried that this was a truth the dancing dashing Danny and the rest of the crew didn't know.

It doesn't take long for Buzz to see, looks can be deceiving. Colorful men come in all sizes and persuasions. The "new Bombers" are becoming a wrecking crew. Looking good and putting other teams in their places, make many fans, friend and foe alike, scream. It's all part of Fandango's dream.

The Bombardiers

Big Buzz Barnard sat shirtless in front of his lopsided locker. His head bowed in defeat with his last bit of energy draining out through his feet that stayed wedged inside his size eleven skates.

These were not his glory days. The Bellingham Bombardiers were buried in the basement, which didn't leave any room to fall. Being positioned so low meant there was no further down to go, was no comfort for Buzz.

Buzz was badly beaten and bruised and feeling quite used up. His team, a mix and matched mess of misfits, looked lost and lackadaisical over their latest loss. They limped, wheezed, and sat listlessly next to their new leaning guru who had begun to fade.

Buzz skated his heart out in every match. The more they lost the more he wanted to turn things around. Becoming the league clown wasn't part of Buzz's plan. It was at the end of the game, when his oversized frame seriously sagged, he wondered just how much of a beating a body could take?

Each Bombardier waited for a burst of energy to move them out of the dank darkeness of the lopsided locker room and away for another day or two. It wasn't so much a lopsided room as everything inside leaned hither and yon. From the lockers to the benches the awkwardness of age ate at everything.

"Marconi, you're pathetic," Big Buzz bellowed.

"Me? You set up the jams, man. Better be looking at your pathetic self, Buzzo old boy."

"You're all pathetic," the one time skating hero from another day barked. "They forgot to tell me I was skating with a bunch of boys who don't know their skates from my butt, buddy boy," Buzz explained.

"In case you haven't noticed, Buzzo, you're one of the rest of us. We don't stink up the place all by ourselves," Louis, the Lip Lipski, said sharply to the sad sack leader.

"Welcome back to the Bigs, Buzz," Billy Bowlegs blurted. "Not like when you skated with champions, huh Buzz?"

Buzz knew it was true. It was hard to say what to do to revive a team that was on its last leg. There was so little to work with, Buzz was at a loss. After a week at home, skating had lost its luster. The once proud skater had lost his bluster. He just wanted to go home and spend the next day in bed.

It was no wonder he felt fifty. Skating for the Barcelona Barbarians, they'd triumphed throughout the European circuit. Buzz lived the life of a big time athlete for six successful seasons. There they had the talent to take the title three times in a row and they were second best twice.

Once he hit thirty, Big Buzz began thinking of home. The newer, faster, more agile skaters he'd once nursed, carried him for season seven. The high life was his to hang onto for two or three more seasons, but there was no reason for him to sit on the bench.

In the States, he was told, "You'll still be a star."

That and a six figure contract hadn't gotten Buzz very far.

Missing the States meant making up his mind to take what he could get back home. There was only one high dollar offer to be had, but the price was right. It took overnight for him to return the contract signed.

Dan Fandango was slick as they come. He didn't miss a trick, promising Big Buzz the moon, the sun, and a couple of stars to boot, but Buzz didn't hear the words, "In time."

Big Buzz was a Bombardier. They'd been champions a half dozen years, he recalled with stars in his eyes. He'd envisioned being at the top of the league, but Big Buzz was on top of his own misery at best. His heart felt as if it might pound out of his chest.

Big Buzz didn't realize that the Bombardiers had fallen on hard times. He'd been hired to guide them back to the top, but these skaters stopped him dead.

Dan Fandango said, "Buzz you're only the start. I'll give you a team that will make you proud."

Buzz held his heart and prayed he'd die after he got outside. He didn't want to get caught dead there. The pay had been right, but it wasn't enough to be humiliated each night. Big Buzz wanted to call it a day.

Buzz agreed to work with the Bombardier talent, except there was none. Fandango said, "Just give me time," but Buzz didn't know if there was that much time. His glory days had gotten lost in the agony of defeat. His last bit of energy had leaked out through his feet.

Big Buzz had signed on the dotted line. He'd be here for two years, if he lived that long. The Bellingham Bomber's new owner promised Buzz he'd chase top talent to take them to the title. It sounded good if Buzz could last that long.

Buzz was true blue, but owners rarely were, and in the second week as a Bomber, the name the new owner preferred, Buzz was already tired of waiting there. It wouldn't be so bad if he didn't have to hold on so he didn't fall off the bench. Maybe he'd bring in a chair.

The seats for the fans were no less challenging and the fans took it out on their team, while they leaned. This hurt Big Buzz, who'd always been loved by the fans. After years at the top, this was quite a drop, even for a pro like Buzz.

Each time he cornered Fandango, Big Buzz wanted to know, "Where the hell is my talent, Dan?"

Dan bragged, "I'm on the trail of skilled skaters. We'll talk later, as soon as I have the time to explain."

"That's a fine report. I need men who can skate in this sport. I want to win for you. I want your dream to come true. What is it you say you're going to do?"

"Buzz, leave it to Fandango. Let me build a good show. If we follow my plan, we'll have the right men to win and jazz it up for the fans. Roller Derby's dull and my plan will add a dash of pizzazz."

"I know the game and how it's played. Anything else is the stuff of your dreams. It doesn't mean they can be made to come true."

"Leave it to me, Buzz. You're going to love the skaters I bring to you to train. You have the tools to keep us from looking like fools. That's good enough for me. We'll be fine once they go to your school. You'll train them to be the best and Fandango will take care of the rest. Stick with me, Buzz, and you'll see."

Buzz said, "I pray to live long enough to see someone show up with a pair of skates he claims are his own. He doesn't need to say it in a convincing tone. I want to believe, but I'm too tired to dream."

Dan Fandango laughed at the doubtful Buzz.

"Top talent Fandango promised. Top talent you shall receive. They may not look like skaters, but skaters they shall be."

Buzz had skated six times for the Bombardiers but six seemed more like sixty-six. Leaving the championship Barcelona Barbarians for the broken down Bellingham Bombers made Buzz blue. If he had it to do all over again, he knew what he'd do.

Dan Fandango failed to mention that the Bombers had fallen on hard times. What he had in mind when he signed Buzz up, was a star to keep his new team in line. What Buzz saw was a sinking ship and he wanted to change his mind.

Fandango didn't think of how bad it might look to the best man he could find, but he trusted Buzz was a man of his word, and he'd see finding top talent takes time. Money was no object but just any man wouldn't do. Fandango wanted a very special crew.


Buzz was left to pick up the slack, until Dan's deals were done. Searching for the best talent around would take time. Fandango wished he didn't need to sign Buzz so fast, but when a skater like him was in the market, it was certain he wouldn't last.

Buzz couldn't change his mind. He couldn't unsign. He'd have to do his job and try not to loose his mind. While riding the wave, on top of the world, you think it'll never end, but Buzz received a shock, because the Bombers couldn't win.

Buzz knew he'd lost a step or two. His stamina had taken a hit. He could still control a jam as well as any man, but the Bombers' made him want to quit. Fandango said the talent was on the way, and Buzz wanted to wait for it.

While Fandango did his recruiters' dance, Big Buzz was being battered in Baltimore and Ithaca was itching to get their shot. The Bombers weren't up to the task. Who know knew how long a losing streak could last. Buzz took his lumps and did his best not to complain. No matter how hard he tried, the results were always the same.

Being a hero was a dream come true, until you were made the fool. Being a has been in roller derby lore, wasn't Buzz's goal. If he couldn't cut it in this league, he'd hang up his skates. He remembered how he started, and it had never been the same.

Ken Shelly and Joe-Joe Starbuck were once king and queen on ice. Buzz loved their grace and poise under pressure, but he couldn't keep his bulk up on ice. Someone handed Buzz a pair of roller skates, telling him, "these are nice too for someone the size of you, Buzz."

Roller derby had become a kind of World Wrestling Federation on wheels. Big bruisers bouncing off the broad bodied opposition. Having ongoing clashes, gone were the dashes, the flash of the talent fans once came to see.

It's where Buzz learned his trade, the brutality was made part of the deal. Buzz knew the brutal side of the game, but when he was young it was more like fun. When he sailed off to Europe, he had a contract in hand. His future was nailed down. Buzz was a made man in Barcelona and he'd come back to the States to play the clown.

In Europe the skaters were skilled and talented beyond brute force. It was the speed and poise these skaters enjoyed. The fans came from far and wide to see the show.

An all day circus of stars and celebrations in outdoor matches might have a dozen teams skating all day.

The circus atmosphere and fan fascination came with the derby European style. People came dressed in a rainbow of color combinations that couples coordinated with the colors their favorite skater favored.

Each skater took laps before the match to be introduced. The fans got to cheer their champion and show off their fashions to other fans. Contests were held for the most creative and colorful costume and prizes were awarded to those judged to be best.

Buzz had become the Barbarian bouncer who cleared the way for the big stars to shine. It was easy to have day dreams about a great team, but he skated for Bellingham these days. The beleaguered Bombers couldn't get out of their own way. Fandango's promise of relief hadn't brought one player there to stay.

With grappling grandmas, divorced divas, and the worn out warehouseman wandering in for a brew. The lower end of the lower-middleclass, having nowhere else to go to escape their lives. The roller derby was ideal, the price a steal, leaving more money for fifty-cent beer.

Dear Darling Danny

On Wednesday Big Buzz skated alone to get in better shape. His attempt to interest teammates in training together fell flat. He'd expected that. Once he was done, he stood in front of his leaning locker, leaning with it so he appeared to be part of the décor. The cockeyed world he'd entered looked more on the level if Buzz leaned its way.

"Big Buzz, Danny Dorchefski," Dan Fandango did say.

Coming from nowhere, the thoughtful naked Buzz was far away. When Danny reached out his hand, Buzz was alarmed, thinking his best part might be in the way. As he dragged his eyes up off the floor, he understood a little more was expected.

Where was his mind, and should he put on his underwear before shaking young Danny's hand?

Buzz's big hand swallowed Danny's hand, when they shook.

The last thing on Big Buzz's mind were reinforcements showing up at that precise moment. It was his third week as a Bomber, but it seemed like longer, for one little skater to arrive. In spite of the time it took perhaps he was bigger than he looked and it was Buzz'a eyes that had grown small.

"Give me a minute to get dressed. I'll make a better impression that way. Did someone say you were here to stay?"

"You don't need to worry," Danny revealed. "Your secret is safe with me. I thought the big meant size of the man, but being big all over cool too. If you skated that way we'd no doubt draw more fans."

"He's going to score the Bombers a ton of points, Buzz." Fandango changed the subject to hide his blush. "I've been busy in Buffalo. I remembered to keep my eyes open for talent too."

At this point Big Buzz would take one of the grappling grandmas if she knew how to throw a respectable forearm. What the hey, Danny Dorchefski was the answer to the jams that Buzz frequently set up before he was let down, and everyone looked small to Buzz at first.

"He's your new teammate and you can show him the ropes," Fandango ordered, as Danny looked at the low leaning lockers with the same disdain Big Buzz felt.

"Don't worry, Danny. The entire place is to be renovated, but you boys need to be patient with me. Fandango is a genius, but I'm no magician. The Bombers are going first class. You and Buzz will lead the team I've seen in my head, but have only now begun to build.

Give me a little time. By next season you'll have a reason to smile. When you come back to skate, this place will be improved by a mile. We'll get back to being respectable again. It'll be the Bombers I loved as a child."

Danny's disillusion didn't get by Big Buzz. For the first time he found out Fandango's bigger plan. After getting dressed he offered to take Danny out for a meal. He was there to help and to Buzz that was a good deal. So far he was carrying the old team alone and Danny sounded like he came looking for a skater's home.

Danny had been skating since he was ten, but he was skating on ice since then. Danny showed Big Buzz his in-line skates, recently approved for derby's derring do. Buzz wasn't the least bit impressed.

"How do you stop to take a rest between jams?"

"Same as ice skates," Danny did say. "Where there's a will there's a way."

"Speaking of skating on ice. Did you know Kenny Shelly and Joe-Joe Starbuck," Buzz quizzed, memories of his childhood heroes were his.

Danny was younger than Buzz by far, but his memories topped Buzz's boyhood dreams.

"I met Kenny at a show one time. He was charming and classy by design. He skated as if he were weightless, you see. A gorgeous man on us was he. All in purple and white, I waited for him after the show that night, and he asked me to dinner for three.

"When he came back for me, I was surprised. Black horn rimmed glasses were cov'ring his eyes. He was smaller than me off his skates, but a beautiful man I can honestly say. He's the reason I'm still skating today," Danny told Buzz. "After we ate, he called to make sure I got home okay. He was a very nice man in every way."

"I couldn't skate on ice, when I was ten. After watching Kenny and Joe-Joe, I wanted to be like them. I was big, even as a child, so I got a pair of roller skate, did I go wild, but he was the reason I'm skating now," Buzz remembered the ice skaters from TV.

"I've only been on in-lines for a year. I guess that change brought me here. Dan says you'll teach me the game. He says it's a game I'm destined to change. He has a vision I can't see but in that vision he says he sees me."

This was not what Buzz was dying to hear. He'd envisioned real skaters coming here. Roller Derby was a man's sport, if you din't count the women's league. Fancy pants weren't what Roller Derby needed. This was a change that might be fleeting.

Training each one, until the team was done, never crossed Buzz's mind, but if deals for good talent were made, he'd teach skaters tricks of the trade? Who could say where they'd put this gay blade.

Big Buzz and lean agile ice skater Danny became fast friends. For Buzz Danny was the scorer he'd dreamed about. He'd have no trouble controlling the jam. There would be blockers targeting him, waiting to do Danny harm.

Fandango needed big bruisers and more. So dancing Danny could be allowed to score, but getting him home safe and sound, required more big bodies be found. Buzz knew he wasn't enough to keep Danny alive.

Dapper Danny saw Buzz as the boss. He'd seen roller derby on TV, but he was otherwise lost. Skating amongst flailing arms and loose elbows, wasn't where he'd imagined he'd be, even when Buzz and Fandango spoke of him with glee.

Danny did all with in his power to learn his lessons well. He knew he wasn't expected to fly, at least not right away. He'd need experience, and after that, only time would tell. Buzz said he was ready to give it a try, and Danny came dressed to the nines. A single mouth that managed to stay closed was certainly hard to find.

"Color is one word for it, Danny. Color you have from head to toe. You understand creative endeavors aren't why these folks come to this show. Don't get me wrong, darling Danny, you're the answer to my prayers, except for your dashing do. Folks who come to see you score, won't know what to make of your adorable self."

The rest of the Bombers laughed, nodding to give Buzz their support. They'd all been here before Fandango arrived and weren't convinced color was the answer to anyone's prayers, but what the hell, it couldn't hurt the spirit of the players.

"Don't dapper Danny dazzle?" Billy Bowlegs said. "Can he learn enough to be on his skates at the end of our match?"

Dazzling Danny had the name he'd use as a Bomber. It wasn't meant to be complimentary, but don't tell Danny. He loved dazzling anyone he could.

Danny didn't mind being at the center of a jest. In school boys laughed at him for always looking his best. Being picked on crated his determined to outshine the rest. Color became Dazzling Danny's hallmark, and even tough boys would say, "Nice outfit Danny," which made Danny's day.

There was a secret Danny knew, and it took the fear out of his plight. It was the toughest boy in school, who asked him for a date late at night. Then Danny began to understand, life isn't what it seems. While he'd never dare ask a tough boy out, they all wanted to be his favorite guy.

When other boys began to laugh, as Dany went passing their way, they grew silent pretty damn fast, when Danny heard a tough boy say, "You got something to say about him, you go ahead and say it to me. I don't like it when boys laugh at my friend, so say to me what you have to say to him."

Some boys thought Danny dressed like a girl, and some liked him because he did. Not everyone likes the same thing, and that's just a fact. Few boys are willing to get knocked flat over that, and so Danny's life became better by far.

Once he found out it was fear that had them picking on him, Danny stopped taking it to heart. What they said made a difference to him, and ignoring them was smart. Danny got more dazzling by the day and by graduation almost all the boys were glad Danny brought some color their way.

Could roller derby be tougher than school? He could walk away now if he pleased, but being the best scorer around was his goal, and he was willing to take his lumps. By the time he was done, the naysayers would look like chumps.

Fandango said, "Danny, put on a show. Fans will love you if you do. There will be insults at first, until they realize they are in love with you. Then they'll all want to be your friend. Listen to Fandango, and he'll tell you true, I know what's best, dear Danny, for you."

Dazzling Danny figured color would do the trick. Ice skater's costumes were the highlight of every show. It's the kind of thing Danny would know. The Bombers fell flat, when it came to that, and Danny would show them how it was done.

Dazzling Danny Dorchefski colorful display, was met with boos that first day. The Aurora crowd didn't approve of his Technicolor shoes.

Big Buzz deflected flying debris to protect his scorer from the mean. Danny took a victory lap, just so he could be seen. Color must not be this crowds cup of tea. Colorful Danny wouldn't apologize, he just sang, "I got to be me."

That got a laugh, maybe two, but bringing color to this bleak humorless bunch, wasn't meant to be. Danny wouldn't quit trying, but even he knew when to leave well enough alone. That time had come when the crowd began to groan.

"In Europe color is part of the show. The families come dressed to kill," Buzz said. "These folks must not be related to those. In the States it's just not the same. I like a little color with my roller derby, it brightens up the game."

In spite of throwing whatever was handy, they all got a good laugh out of Danny the dandy. It wasn't necessarily Danny that made them laugh. It could have been the colors in his hair. Then again it could have been the outrageous outfit this skater did wear. They'd never seen anything like it before, but Danny had only begun. He didn't want to stop until everyone was having fun.

Whatever it was, people talked to whoever was next to them. They came to scowl and yell and throw whatever was handy, and that in itself was just dandy. Danny gave them another place for their rage, a novice though he was. Danny's flamboyant bait, everyone could love.

"He ain't that bad," a burly fan yelled. "He looks better than my wife."

"You don't look that hot," Granny put him in his place. "You wouldn't be half bad, if you covered up your face."

The plan to give Danny skating time, ended with him bouncing on his rump. Dazzling Danny was benched to make sure he could skate again. He'd gotten his feet wet, along with the clothes he wore, but his appetite was wet with wonder, and maybe the next time he'd score.

Dan Fandango hugged Danny dearly, happy to see him last. The lack of scoring wasn't a big concern, but that was a skill he'd learn. There were better days a coming, and then it would be Danny's turn to shine.

Dan Fandango was nobody's fool. He was searching for talent, while Danny went to school. By next season there would be plenty of help, and Danny'd know what to do.

"This place is a dump," Big Buzz reminded Fandango, after the Bombers lost another match.

"You'll be away for two weeks, Buzz, my friend," Dan Fandango said. "I've got a contractor waiting for my call, and renovations will begin. He'll put the locker room on the level and furnish the arena extra lights. It won't be as scary for fans to come in here at night."

"Starting with dynamite I'm hoping," Buzz grinned. "Every time I see that locker room, I'm not sure I want to go in. Once I can shower after a match, I might feel better then."

"Buzz, 'trust me' are famous last words, but leave it up to me. By next season your name will be in lights on the Bomber Arena marquee. Once this season is over, major changes you'll see.

"I'm still talking to top talent, we'll need for the best team money can buy. There's no price Fandango won't pay. I didn't say I'd do it overnight, but by next season's start, you'll have your dream team, Buzz old boy. We'll be knee deep in talent, just wait and see. The Bombers will have everything it takes to make them as good as they can be."

"I signed a contract and I'll keep my word, but try to hurry it up if you can, Dan. I'm not getting any younger and I want to see the new team before I'm an old man."

"That's enough of a reason to make some moves. I'm searching for skaters each time I go away. I have a great football player, who can't quite stay up on his skates. There are two snow boarders, who are good on in-lines too. I also have a championship skateboarder for you."

"Can you at least get me one skater, who knows roller derby is a real sport. I'm not sure you can make these guys real skaters, just because they can report to the Bombers' door."

"These are athletes, every one, and they want to win as much as you. Once they put on their skates, they'll do what you tell them to do. You and dear Danny are the foundation of the new Bomber team. The other boys will make the Bombers your dream team."

It was Friday night in Farmington, where they found the next team to play. Dazzling Danny appeared in colorful gear. It brought laughter, then applause, once the jeers died away.

Farmington's grannies got the word, Danny was about to arrive. They'd heard of the colorful skater, and a desire for entertainment they weren't going to hide. Once he came onto the track, the grannies knew this was no ordinary skater, and they were glad he was there. It was the only time all year, the opposition got a cheer.

Danny waved his hand no matter the reaction he got. Having cheering grannies to him meant a lot. He skated in to the stands, shaking each and every grannies hand. He knew how to make the most of the people who loved the show. Once he went into the crowd, they wouldn't let him go.

Danny remembered adoring ice skating fans. They were a bit more refined and polite, but these new fans he'd gathered, made him want to skate his best tonight.

"The queer bar's just down the street on the left, Bombardier," a Farmington skater smirked, just before Big Buzz knocked him off his skates and onto his ass.

"Now you've got time to to go over there for a beer," Buzz barked, sneering at the bouncing blocker's slump.

Danny wasn't as easily accepted by the teams the Bombers faced, but he'd prove his worth to them, by setting a torrid pace. It didn't always end with Danny scoring points, but not for lack of trying, as he kept his skates flying.

Big Buzz was buoyed by Danny's freestyle skating ways. It was easy to see, this boy had come to stay. Buzz skated far and wide, and Danny was the best young talent he'd seen in some time. He possessed a speed that couldn't be denied.

This reinforcement was but the beginning. He gave spirit to the game. Dan Fandango would guarantee each new face just the same. Buzz wanted to see each one skate before he learned their names. Dan was good as his word, and Buzz nodded approval to each new skater who came.

It was Danny who brought Bug Buzz the brochure with the Mighty Mohawk pictured on the cover. His four inch high Mohawk topped a weightlifters body and Danny was sure this wild Indian could clear the way for him to score.

"Fandango's got us football boys and a snow boarder or two, why not a weightlifter, we can train him too, but you do the talking, because I wouldn't know what to say. Tell him our boss says, 'the Bombers are on the way.'

"I have a feeling about this Mighty man," Danny did swoon. "Don't be surprised if he's skating with us real soon."

Big Buzz didn't understand the dazzle in dashing Danny's eyes, when he said, "This is the guy." It never occurred to Buzz to ask him the reason why.

"Because he's big doesn't mean he can clear the way for you to score."

"Leave it to me, Big Buzz. You have my guarantee. He'll block his ass off if he's doing it for me. Mighty Mohawk is my man, he'll set me up to score, once you start the jam."

Beside the muscleman's bike and bulging biceps, there were a pair of inline skates in the picture, like the ones Danny wore. Around the top of Mighty Mohawks right skate were tiny blue tasseled pompoms. Danny knew his man when he spotted him.

Big Buzz was left to wonder why he assumed that the pompom topping told Danny something. He watched Dan Fandango scrutinize the photo. A big smile covered his face.

"You go get this guy, and I'll make him your ace."

"He's never skated roller derby I bet," Dan Fandango observed. "Big Buzz can train him. I know that's not the biggest surprise you've heard."

"Danny's biggest difficulty are the blockers wanting to make mincemeat out of him. If Mighty Mohawk leads the way, Danny won't need to worry about blockers again. He can score as much as he wants," Big Buzz said.

"I think you're right. Danny needs to make the pitch. If this weightlifter wants to play ball, I'll make him rich," Dan Fandango revealed as the three of them agreed.

Dan Fandango couldn't help but smile. He recognized the glint on dear Danny's face. He was one step ahead of Buzz, and what better protection for Danny to have, than the apple of his eye. If only Mohawk felt the same, they'd have a couple of roads to go down for them to get to the prize.

"Dear Danny, you go dazzle this Mohawk man. Go to this gym where he trains. If he's agreeable to your plan, give me a call, and I'll have a number handy for your man. He won't turn his back on the fact, we'll make him a star all over again.

"If you two can train him to tangle on skates with the bruisers who'll want to knock Danny down, he'll be worth his wait in gold, and someone we'll want to keep around."

The following day Danny led the Mighty Mohawk into Fandango's makeshift office to talk terms. Hanging over Mohawk's shoulders were a pair of in-line skates from the photograph. It took Fandango a little time to get used to the man's size.

"Do you think you can protect Danny, and set him up to score? That's the purpose I have in mind for you, and for that a sizable paycheck would go to you. I assume Danny explained the nature of the game and it's something you'd be willing to do."

"I'm more than able to protect Danny from any man who would do my friend harm. Mighty Mohawk will keep him safe and discourage those who might get in his way. Anything else you've got in mind suits me just fine. I'd protect Danny without asking for a fee."

"You do the job, Mohawk, and you'll be well rewarded. Keeping Danny safe might be your hearts desire, but in this profession it earns you big pay, and I've got more skaters that are on the way."

Mad Max Miller was a wrestling fool, until Big Buzz put him on wheels. Wrestling the competition out of the way was right up Miller's alley. Big Buzz couldn't believe the size of his new Bombers. One by one the boys that dallied, when Buzz first arrived, left the arena for the last time.

Lanky Lanny ice skated for speed and he won a medal or two. His in-line skates were his mode of transportation, but that was always done fast. Making a living with them was okay too. Lanny never ran out of gas. Even with the big bodies, like Mohawk and Max, not to mention his own, Lanny's speed and agility assured he'd found a home.


It was a losing season all in all, but some talented men had heard the call. Marconi and Bowlegs couldn't keep up and several others weren't made of the stern stuff required by Fandango's new needs, and the new men now took the lead.

This was Big Buzz's idea of fun. As the new season began the Bellingham Bombardiers left no doubt who they were as they won. Each man knew his job and did it well. Even the road crowds greeted them well.

Dan Fandango was true to his word, and the entire arena was remodeled to suit the fan, but even the locker room pleased every man. There was a new attitude and they were winners all, with Big Buzz sounding the call.

The fan friendly new wider seats, greeted hard workers as a roomy treat. There was a beer garden for pleasure and a band just for fun, and each man had his own music when the Bombardiers started a run. It was a brand new atmosphere with everyone having fun.

It was in mid-season when Bellingham started to roll. The team came together taking its toll on teams far and wide. While skating at home Dazzling Danny followed Mighty Mohawk around the other team's men, one by one, scoring and waving it was nice to see.

On one jam with Big Buzz blocking and Mad Max took up the slack, it was Dazzling Danny and the Mohawk coming from the back. As they closed in on all the points Danny could score, his colorful skates came off the skating floor.

Moving too fast to avoid the rail, Dazzling Danny lifted up his skates and began to sail. That daring dancing skater who wasn't aware of gravity, flew into the crowd at the end of turn three.

Being an astute scorer, he called off the jam, as he seemed to float on the air. Before he came down he was halfway up the aisle, and then skated to the top of the arena in style. As he got to the top of the arena's seats, he turned and waved, thinking what he had done was pretty neat.

The fans sat silent and a few of the drinking men booed, but before anyone could worry, the family seats led the cheers. Dazzling Danny was the darling of men and women from all around and the bright colored families came to root for their favorite man, but by far it was Danny, dressed to the nines, he skated just good enough to win every time.

With the band playing a John Phillip Sousa march, Danny turned in every direction to salute the new fans, and even the drinkers cheered and applauded his stand.

He rejoined the team as the clock wound down and there was little doubt the other team would leave town losers after the Bombardiers were done.

By the end of the season all the seats were filled, and there the championship was to be held. With the Bombardiers at the top of their game, every man, woman, child, came to celebrate their fame.

It was Big Buzz at the helm, happy as he'd ever been. He knew at the head of the jam, Danny would dazzle while passing each man. With Mighty Mohawk leading the way, they'd do whatever it took to put the match away. Once the scoreboard said they had won, Danny and Mohawk took a victory lap together as if they were one.

Even in the sparkling clean new home our heroes enjoyed, the fans grew silent, making no noise. They didn't know what to make of these two wonderful men, they'd helped the Bombardiers to make their stand at the top of the league all comers they'd beat, but being too friendly left the crowd not making a peep.

Once they returned to the team, who all would wave, the crowd roared non-stop for the Bellingham club, who now stood at the top. Winning was everything to most of the fans. They got behind a team who started to shine, but for Danny and Mohawk it was their time, and they announced to Dan Fandango, "We're just fine. We want to be married, if you don't mind."

Fandago look wide eyed at the skaters he loved, but how would it be received by the fans and other clubs. Love will out in most cases he knew, but in major league sport other ideas were true.

Love was often hard to find, but expecting most people not to mind, Danny and Mohawk were a different breed and marrying each other is what they needed.

The Bombardiers skated to wins in each town, always happy when their homecoming came around. The facility they had was second to none, but rumors were flowing as the championships neared, what would become of the Bombardiers the fans once cheered.

Dan Fandango had everything under control. He'd talked to the fans and taken a poll. Danny and Mohawk might be okay, as long as the fans were told they had to stay for the party Fandango planned, win or lose, he'd stand by his men.

The seats were filled an hour before the championship match began. The crowd came dressed in the colors that represented their man. By far Dazzling Danny had the most fans by far, but Mighty Mohawk had teepee seats with tom toms to boot, for even the visitors it was all quite a treat.

The championship match started slow. The Bombardiers focus took some time to grow. Once the Bombardiers started to score, there was little to do but listen to the crowds roar. They were happy and content to see the other team lose, and Danny Dazzled and the Might Mohawk cruised.

It was a great match but by the end the Bombardiers were flying high and so were there fans. They cheered Big Buzz and Mad Max too, there was nothing wrong the Bombardiers could do. When Mighty Mohawk whipped Danny pass the final jam, he headed for the rail on the third turn and he had a plan, suggested by Dan Fandango, who had become Danny's biggest fan.

Raising his skates he flew over the rail, landing so soft the crowd couldn't believe, skating to the arena top the fans stayed in their seats. A little bit silent, a little bit wise, Danny waved his arm and tried to figure out where he'd gone wrong, but he didn't know the arrangements for the happy throng.

As Danny stood worried he'd overplayed his hand, the Mighty Mohawk skated to his side to stand, as the arena lights were dimmed, and the spotlight was shinned directly on them.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, the Champion Bombardiers wish to announce the pending marriage of Dazzling Danny Dorchefski to the Mighty Mohawk," Dan Fandango's voice sang.

The silence was scary as the two skaters were in the dark, until the band struck up, Here Comes the Bride, and the fans let loose of carnations they did hide. From every direction the flowers came, red ones, white ones, and sequined ones too, courtesy of Dan Fandango and the fans all the time knew, they would salute two of their best, what their plans were didn't bother in the least. Love and a wedding would let the fans feast on the happiness of championship bliss, it wasn't a deal any true fan would miss.

The Bellingham Bombardiers went to the top, and Dan Fandango was a man of his word, and from Big Buzz Barnard was never heard another complaint as his career was winding down with the Bombardiers being kings in their small town.

No one was absent on the wedding day, and the vows were given on the track where the roller games were played. The arena was packed and the food began to flow, there was champagne and toasts, as the fans got the most out of the day, and no one noticed that Danny and Mohawk had slipped away.

It was the honeymoon, all expenses paid, Dan Fandango knew how to send the happy couple on their way. The next season would come all too soon, but first the lovebirds would kiss for a time by the light of the moon.

This little production is meant to say, love can be had in all different ways. What we shouldn't do is let true love slip away by worrying about which way other people sway.

There is nothing like it. Nothing compares to true love in the end, but remember, it's always best when it's shared.

You too can find love if you dare.
There is no better ending this writer can write.
They lived happily ever after, and you can bet,
Danny and Mohawk are rolling tonight. Goodnight and,
The End

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