We had the incredible honor of publishing Zana Previti’s “The Sticking Place” in our first anthology, judged by Lauren Groff in 2012. Zana has since gone on to publish in many distinguished journals, showcasing her talents again and again. When she offered us the chance to read “Instruments” we immediately fell in love with it. This story follows a stalker trying to connect with a hockey player who is full of so much self loathing, he is willing to go to horrifying extremes. We are so pleased to share and support the work of this talented writer. Enjoy!
by Zana Previti
Gosso drives the Zamboni and sells surgical instruments from a JanSport backpack. He’s been working at the rink since before I started coming there; it has become a ritual with the hockey players, to buy scalpels and suction tubes and anoscopes after losses. They buy more from him when they’ve played badly, as penance. They shoulder their bags, file out of the locker room, hand over wads of cash and receive their gleaming tool or sterile packet. “Gimme some splinter forceps, Gosso,” they’ll say, “and one of the little amputating knives.” Then Gosso will unshoulder the knapsack and kneel on the floor to unzip it and scrounge until he comes up with two antiseptically wrapped packages, hold them up, and take their money. He keeps the bills on his person, in a lime-green fanny pack, so as not to infect the surgical tools.
I asked him once where he got all those hospital-grade instruments. He squinted at me and stepped backward so that the backpack was squashed between his back and the cold wall of the rink lobby. “Not sure I should tell you,” he said.
The backpack, on any given day, can have a variety of different instruments. On days when someone has made a specific request, the number of scalpels and syringes and all the normal stuff is reduced to whatever fits in the front pocket of the JanSport, and the main bag is filled with, I don’t know, nine-inch gallstone scoops. Hemorrhoid ligators. Blunt-pointed retractors with six prongs. These, the retractors, I’ve seen a few times. I couldn’t imagine what possible medical use those things could have. Last week I heard a rumor that Gosso sold a skull drill to Pete Brandt (#50, forward, London Ontario, University of Minnesota Duluth, two years with the San Antonio Rampage, first year with Wilkes-Barre). Pete takes wild shots and swears in French, throws off his helmet at any provocation. He excels on the power play. I don’t like to watch him on the ice, though. Sometimes, though the game is going on and I should be watching the puck, I get mesmerized by the movement of one man. What he does, when he is in the play, is just as interesting as what he does when he is not . . . His entire body is alive to the game. He is never still, never lost, never unsure. Certain players have this grace about them, which is why I watch Bobby.
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