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Randy Carlyle sure hopes you like his drawing: a short story

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Toronto Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle has drawn something he's quite proud of. But can Randy muster up the confidence to show it to others?

"Hon? You're makin' the spaceship noises again." Randy Carlyle's wife smiled at him from across the table. The happiest hours of Randy's life tended to fall during breakfast. With one eye shut, and with careful precision, he poured a drop of syrup into each square. "I'm, um, I'm playin' space bombers!" He wasn't. Within himself, he had decided it was a humanitarian aid mission. Syrup supplies for all the poor folks in the waffle kingdom, he thought. These were the things Randy Carlyle did not speak out loud.

Randy sat still for a moment as he purged himself of this daydream, which was necessary if he were to eat this waffle without feeling rotten about it. His wife caught him eyeing the whiteboard, sitting on the breakfast nook under a stack of recipe books and junk mail. "You know, Randy," his wife said, "maybe today you could show the fellas the paintin' you made."

Randy's voice took on a sudden gruffness. "Nope. Nope. S'ain't a good paintin'."

"I think it's wonderful. I know how hard you worked on it. Remember how proud you were when you finished it?"

"S'just a dumb paintin'."

"Randy! If I was judgin' at a fair, I'd give ya the blue ribbon!"

Randy couldn't keep himself from beaming. He was a man of considerable abilities, but concealing his feelings was not among them. "Heh. I just was drawin' up a play one day, thought I might could do a paintin' instead."

"You oughta take it to the game today, honey. Today's the day the world meets Randy Carlyle, paintin' expert."

Randy grinned. Paintin' expert. He imagined his name on a marquee above the theater. Come see a movie 'bout Randy Carlyle, paintin' expert. "Okeydoke," he said. "Gonna show the fellas m'paintin'."

★ ★ ★

The trouble with whiteboards is that they don't fold up, roll up, or fit in one's pocket, and so it was difficult for Randy to hide. He did his best to wedge it behind the bench. At one point, Phil Kessel sat down and bumped against it. "F*** is this? Hey coach, is this your--"

"It's nothin'! It's m'personal belongin's."

"Uh, all right." Randy knew -- reckoned, at least -- the cardinal rule of artists: a paintin' expert never reveals his paintin's until it's the right time and you're ready to show your paintin' to the fellas on your hockey team, and your name is Randy and you are a coach of hockey. The second period passed, and his Leafs led, 3-2. We're winnin'. Everyone's happy. Time to show everyone yer paintin'.

Randy abruptly bolted to his feet. "GUYS!"


"I GOT HAVE MADE A PAINTIN'. I -- PAINTIN'!" Randy was a man of considerable abilities; remaining nimble with his words while excited was not among them.


Randy trembled. He unhooked the marker from the whiteboard, fumbling with it in desperation. "It's not done. M'paintin's not done yet. That's why it's crummy for. Ain't done with m'paintin."

Nikolai Kulemin grimaced. "Coach, that's ... not a painting. If you use a marker, it's just a drawing."

Randy's face lit up. "DRAWIN'! It's a drawin'!"

"It really just looks like a bunch of scribbles."

Mike Brown elbowed a teammate and scoffed. "Christ. Postmodernism, man, it's f***in' Kudzu. I swear to God, I wish we could all go back to painting 'duck flies over a pond' in watercolor." He turned to Randy. "What you've done here exalts kitsch to high art. Do you ... " Brown raised a palm. "Do you understand what I just said?"

Randy bit his lip and stared at his shoes. "N ... nope. Guess I might shoulda drew a hockey play instead."

Mark Fraser grinned and said, "OK. Somewhere? Swear to God. Somewhere, there's our next play, drawn in crayon on the blank side of a f***in' Denny's placemat." The bench erupted in laughter.

Randy laughed with them. He was a man of considerable abilities; resisting contagious laughter, even as his soul crumbled, was not among them.

The chorus of cackles was broken only by the ringing of Randy's telephone. He picked up. It was his wife. Randy's house had burned to the ground.

(GIF via @GoldAndOrSmith.)