by David Tandet

“See ya,” Ziggy Void hopped off the ski lift chair he was sharing with Marcia Tomberlin as he continued blabbing away, “at the bottom, slowpoke.”

Ziggy veered to the left and began skiing down the trail without waiting for his partner. Even for Void, it seemed like obnoxiousness to the nth degree.

Was this guy for real? Maybe it was because Void was still ticked-off about not being able to one-up those environmentalists last week the way viewers of his intergalactic broadcast expected him to regularly one-up guests. They’d simply shown in a straightforward manner how much progress nonprofits around the universe were able to make when they applied the techniques outlined in the classic Jonathan O’Brien’s Advanced Storytelling for Advancing Nonprofits.

Then again, Marcia had to ask herself, was she for real? No one had forced her to come to Colorado for the weekend. In fact no one was still making her go out with the guy. Was she really scared that if she stopped she’d lose her job? Maybe she was the joke.

Marcia got off the lift, paused a second, pressed her right edge and skied downhill. She followed Zig through champagne powder to the flat. Even for a sunny winter’s day in the Rockies it felt spectacular. The beauty, and the exhilaration of carving turns through snow, momentarily distracted her from any lunacy.

Ziggy, in his red body suit, recklessly zipped across the mountain. He cut in front of kids and other nobodies. The attention he attracted, good or bad, was all fame. Besides, he was certain that when these mortals found out who’d nearly killed them, they’d feel honored. Any remaining hurt feelings could be handled with airfare to L.A. and backstage passes.

“Right place at the right time, dude,” Mitch called to Daryl as they sat on their surfboards. They waited for a last wave. There was nothing a week off from training camp a week of surfing on the Central California coast couldn’t repair. Some publicity appearances thrown in to satisfy the front office – he’d be back in a few days training clearer-headed than ever.

“Mega-unreal,” Daryl called back as the pike started forming. He gave Mitch the thumbs up and caught it. Now he horsed around the nose of his board a bit. The total Zone took over and he felt like he couldn’t fall if he wanted to. It was a no limit half-minute and it was special.

“Who’s the jerk?” Richie couldn’t believe the destructo unit dressed like Santa Claus. Big Red cut off anyone¬† skiing on the same trail he was bulldozing down.

“I don’t know Rich,” Elgin said. “And where’s the fashion police when you need’em?”

“Mr. Stupid better not get within 20 yards of my tips.”

“Big Red’s not worth it. Best thing is to stay clear of a butthead like that. Altitude’s probably gotten to him.”

Just then they noticed Marcia coming down.

“Don’t tell me this one’s with Santa.” Richie shook his head in disbelief.

“No accounting for tastes,” Elgin said.

Now Daryl did begin to lose balance. But as his board started slipping Daryl knew falling in the Zone was no problem. He started imagining what the water must have been like one hundred years before. They said it could make surfers sick. That was long before Sun – Surfers for an Unpolluted Nationbegan to clean things up – starting with seed money from a Weingart Foundation grant.

Daryl had read their first long-ago letter of inquiry – written after grandmother Rhonda Brideswell had incorporated the best storytelling elements she’d learned in Jonathan O’Brien’s Advanced Storytelling for Advancing Nonprofits class. The LOI predicted SUN would grow into the most productive cleanup project of the century. It had in fact become a shining jewel of Weingart’s ever-increasing portfolio of success stories.

Marcia, skiing like a normal person, watched Ziggy’s lead grow. Not that she’d hopped off the lift to race him. But he could at least let her keep up. She watched him charge through another pass before he stopped beyond the other side of the turn.

“Great outfit,” a young woman with blonde hair that fell to just above the neckline of her white ski jacket complimented Ziggy. Of course it was difficult to ignore the man in the red suit. He’d skidded right in front and almost knocked her over. That was always a good conversation starter.

Marcia came around 10 seconds later. She saw Ziggy chat it up, so she kept going two hundred yards to the other side of the flat. She stopped next to a dozen motionless skiers. Their eyes were locked on a hang glider in takeoff position by the mountain’s edge. He was about to leap. Steady air currents would sweep him into flight.

It was the first time Marcia had seen a live hang glider. She was fascinated. In a moment the man she was looking at would fly like a bird.

Marcia turned away for a moment to survey the trail that would take her the rest of the way down the mountain. Just then Ziggy skied up beside her. He did not have his blonde friend with him. Marcia knew he was waiting for some reaction, but she stayed silent and continued to assess the expert run.

“Second thoughts?” Ziggy said.

Great. The loser asks her to join him on the run, leaves her behind, now comes back and begins to needle her.

“Nah. Just deciding on the best line down,” Marcia said. Lying.

“I’ll call Ski Patrol and they can carry you.”

“What’s the matter Ziggy?” Marcia said. “I’m only on this run because you practically begged me to try. Now I’m coming one run closer to all the ways down the mountain you’ve been. Your male ego scared that might actually happen?”

Ziggy pretended not to pay attention. He turned his head toward the hang glider. He was interested in any person who generated more stares than he did.

Daryl heard Marcia Tomberlin’s voice beside him call his name. He hadn’t thought of her in years. He knew he was imagining it but he couldn’t help turning.

For no apparent reason the hang glider looked back. Directly into Marcia’s eyes. The sun caught his mirrored goggles. The burning image filled her vision and her world, and she knew her life story would now be joined with the stories of the thousand nonprofits she was going to help. Suddenly, storytelling was key. In her mind’s eye, the cover of Advanced Storytelling for Advancing Nonprofits by Jonathan O’Brien appeared before her.

A surge from behind straightened Daryl’s board. The last thing he could remember before gliding into the Zone was almost losing balance. He changed his stance and reminded himself not to force anything as he began to take the wave all the way in.

Before Daryl started to carry his board he looked back. The sun was a gigantic ball of fire level with the horizon. He turned back around and continued up the beach with Mitch. He looked toward Pacific Coast Highway where a bit of a passing car’s side view mirror caught the fiery remains. Sunset meant another sunrise.

Just then he thought about his upcoming interview with Ziggy Void. The front office arranged it for next week. And Daryl gave in to an overwhelming urge to laugh.

“What’s up dude?” Mitch said.

For some reason Daryl was imagining Marcia Tomberlin, the girl from his past, shoving a shaving cream pie squarely into Ziggy Void’s face.

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