THE VAGABOND

Vag swung his crutches over the puddle, lifting his cast and its wooly sock carefully so it wouldn't splash in the slush. The crutch tips banged solidly against the sidewalk; Vag raised them again, and then plunged them into the crust of melting snow at the end of a driveway.

This was four weeks, Vag thought. The practice slope had been gradual and smooth, with the sun melting a glaze on the snow. Vag had snapped his brand-new bindings shut, listening to the satisfactory double click as they went into place. Then he had squared his shoulders, hunched forward, adjusted his special plastic goggles, and pushed off down the hill. He had been near the bottom snow-plowing when something gave. Then he was lying on his side with his left ski pointing the wrong way.

Four weeks, muttered Vag, to the thud of his crutches. This was for the birds. Aubody who wanted to freeze to death on a pair of boards had rocks in his head. He turned a corner, splashing into a puddle as he went, and brushed into somebody with horn-rimmed glasses and a furry-collared cost who Vag thought lived across the hall.

"Skiing?" said the boy in the furry collar, solicitously.

"Yes," said Vag, "Suicide Six," as he quietly wiggled his toes beneath the sock.