You lucky sons of bitches! You can thank insomnia for this post. Although, some of you may think, I simply don’t work enough. Two days in a row with posts. Don’t get used to it.
I wrote this bit last night, in the comfortable confines of my dimly lit attic abode. Toundra -II provided the soundtrack, with their delicious post rock/metal instrumental songs.
We were hosting South St. Paul tonight. They have a reputation of playing a very physical style of game. Always finishing their checks, and trying intimidation, or dirty play, to gain advantage. They’ve even made the news in the past, from rowdy parents starting shit up with the competition. One parent was arrested for jumping a referee in the parking lot after a game. Sounds like fun, huh? Hopefully, this team will be different than the typical SSP mold.
Before the game even started, they were taunting us and throwing threats. Nasty shit too. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I was a bit nervous. This being my first ever Bantam game, and god these guys were huge!
As expected, the first couple of shifts, they tried to run down my side of the ice. It’s only natural to look for a weak spot, and an undersized defenseman, is a good place to explore. I held my ground, and soon they were running up the other side, to see if they’d have better luck over there.
They lived up to their reputation as first class douche bags. They played dirty, and talked a lot of trash. We did a pretty good job of staying disciplined, and started to pull away with a 4-1 lead, halfway through the game.
Early in the third period, one of the SSP wingers was skating down my wing at top speed, with the puck. He made the mistake of skating with his head down, and I popped him hard, sending him ass over tea kettle. The puck squirted free and one of his teammates broke for it, but I sent him flying as well. I could hear the SSP parents screaming at the ref, looking for a penalty, but both my hits were clean. In my other ear, I could hear the cat calls from my bench. “You got owned. Take a seat jr. How’s that feel?”
Like in many sports, there is an unwritten code in hockey. It covers a lot of finer nuances of the game. One of the codes is; if you nail an opponent good, you will probably have to answer to the biggest goon from the other team. To be honest, you don’t often think of those things, when you’re lost in the emotion of the game, and when a chance for a perfect hit comes up, you’re gonna take it. It wasn’t until I got to the bench at the end of my shift, that I realized the game for me had taken on a new dimension. I’d need to keep my head on a swivel for the last twelve minutes of the game.
With about seven minutes left in the game, and our lead now up to 6-1, it happened. Some a-hole skated past me, screaming a bunch of bullshit about kicking my ass, and how I was a pussy. I didn’t pay him no mind, and continued up the ice, following the play into the attack zone. As I stopped at the blue line, I was cross-checked in the center of my back, where there is about a one inch gap, between my shoulder pads, and breezers (hockey pants). He hit me with everything he had, and it hurt like a bitch. I let out a painful grunt, as I slammed onto the ice, face first. As much as I wanted to just lay there, curled up in a ball, my anger outweighed the pain, and I scrambled to my feet. When I turned to look back at my assailant, I saw a teammate of mine, flying through the air, parallel to the ice, head high. He crashed two fists into the side of the head, of the goon who smashed me. The goon flew about ten feet, until the boards met the other side of his head. My teammate, Mark, bounced off the goon, and flew another direction, crashing to the ice. Another SSP player, was streaking toward Mark, who had yet to get back up, and had no idea what was coming his way. I raced to my feet to stop the other kid from hammering Mark. I literally made it just in time, as I smashed my gloved hand into the side of the kids helmet. He turned his attention to me, right as I delivered another blow, right on his unsuspecting chin, causing him to collapse to the ice.
I was waiting to get mobbed, as I rotated and spun around. Sound had returned to my ears, and it was total mayhem, coming from all angles. Luckily, the next person to get to me, was one of the referees, who wrapped me up from behind.
The three referees quickly regained order of the situation, directing all the players back to their benches. All, except the four of us who were involved in the fracas. We were escorted off the ice, to a gallery of screams and taunts from the crowd. Classy stuff, I know. We were all issued misconduct penalties, and our night was over. Had helmets and gloves been removed, we’d have been looking at multiple game suspensions.
High on adrenaline, Mark and I were totally geeked out, and laughing hysterically in the empty locker room. Both retelling the event that took place, from our own perspectives. As we mindlessly stripped down, and the adrenaline wore off, a tired silence swept over us. For me, it was a stupid reminder, of where our friendship was just over an hour ago.
I’d had enough, and I decided to take the first step. I was tired of this childish game we were rotating in. It needed to end.
“Thanks. I mean, I would have been a dead man if you didn’t jump in. Seriously, that was super cool.”
“You would have done it for me, I hope.”
“In a heartbeat.”
We sat silent again, for a little while, but I wasn’t satisfied.
“Hey Mark. Umm…this shit lately…hasn’t been cool at all. I don’t like it, you know?”
“Yeah…I know. It sucks and…I don’t even know why…we’ve been like…I don’t know.”
“Do you want to, like forget all that shit. Just start over or something?”
Mark smiled into my eyes, thankful for my offer. “Definitely.”
“Yeah…umm. Adam will be happy too. He’s been on my shit about this. Hard.”
“Ah ha. Yeah. Funny.”
“He asked my mom if HE could invite you over for a sleepover. Can you believe that?”
“Actually, I can. Haha. Oh! Before I forget. Here” I said, as I walked over to him, to pass on the love-letter from school.
Mark bugged his eyes out, but didn’t say a word. He just stood there frozen, with the folded up paper in his hand.
“What? Oh! It’s not from me. Haha! Some chic at school, during lunch. She wanted me to deliver it to you.”
“Oh. I was gonna say…damn Danny. Hahaha! Is she hot?”
“Don’t know. Her friend delivered it. She was hiding her face from me.”
“Figures. I wonder if she puts out?”
“Don’t know. Why don’t you go to her house dressed like you are now, and see what she does.”
Mark was standing in nothing but his jockstrap, which was very difficult for me to deal with. My attraction to him was still very strong.
“Ha. She’d probably run for her life.”
The rest of the team filtered into the room, and we received many fist bumps and high fives. When the coach walked in, he did not look happy, at all. He spotted me and called me into the hallway, for a word.
“Danny. You seem like a good kid, but this hothead shit has got to stop.”
“I saw what happened. I get it, but you’re smarter than this. Don’t get in the cage with the lions. They got exactly what they wanted. They got out best defenseman off the ice, for the rest of the game. What if they tried this in the first period? The outcome could have been completely different. We could have lost. Look, like it or not, you are a team leader. These kids look up to you. They try to learn from you. How you move and react. How you see the game, and even, how you keep your cool. Even the older players look at you like some enigma. You are a rare player Danny, but I need a little more. I need you to keep your cool. I’m not trying to blow smoke up your ass here. You are an important part of this team. I’d like to keep you around. Got it? Reel in your emotions. Nice game.”
I was more than a little stunned by his speech, so all I could manage, was a “yes sir. Thank you.”
“Ok, let’s get back in there” he said, as he set his comforting hand on my shoulder, and steered me back into the locker room.
Mark and I walked back out to the lobby together, which for me, was the highlight of the night. My mom, Kayla, and Mark’s mom were all standing together talking, when we walked up. Kayla spotted us, and said sarcastically, “you’re not like, going to beat us up, are you guys?”
“Maybe” I said, through my best attempt at a mean face.
My mom, finally catching on to our arrival, reached over to me, and with real concern, asked “are you ok? I saw that bully hit you. Did he hurt you?”
“Ahh! Mom! It’s fine. I’ll be okay. Maybe a little sore tomorrow.”
Then, from out of nowhere, I felt somebody crash into me, full blast, wrapping their arms around my waist, from the side.
Next, I heard “Ddaaannnyyy!”, shouted, in a very distinctive, high-pitched, yet raspy voice.
“Hey Adam. Where did you come from?” I said, half laughing.
“Oh dear. Daniel’s number one fan is here” said his mother.
“Who’s this?” My mom asked.
“Adam. My youngest.”
“Oh my. He was just a baby when you guys moved away.”
“He’s quite enamored with your boy. He thinks the world of him.”
“Oh. That’s very cute.”
It’s funny how adults will talk as if you’re not there, to hear them. They’ll say embarrassing things, and think nothing of it. I kind of dragged Adam away. Mark and Kayla followed. I wanted to get out of earshot, before the moms started to get into the real incriminating stuff.
“You kicked that dudes ass Danny” gushed Adam.
“Nah. Mark is the real killer. He saved my life. But Adam, none of that should have happened. It was stupid. Not part of the game.”
“Oh, well it was still cool. I want to start hockey, and knock people down.” He made a show of smashing his hips out, and throwing punches into imaginary enemies. We all kind of smiled, and rolled out eyes.
I reached over and locked Adam into a headlock, causing him to struggle, in a fury of uncontrollable laughter.
I released him, and he looked up at me and asked, “when are you gonna come stay over again?”
I looked over at Mark, and replied “I don’t know. I guess when your brother invites me.”
Adam jumped in, with “I invite you. Whenever you want.”
Just then our moms came over, and we all made our way to the cars in the parking lot. We said our goodbyes, and parted ways.
As I was throwing my bag in the back, Kayla stepped up beside me, and asked “will you sit in back, with me?”
We hopped in, and started the journey home.
“To the castle chauffeur” I instructed, in my best British voice.
“Don’t push it. I can make you walk” my mom countered.
“Mark’s little brother is too cute, and his crush on you is adorable” Kayla stated, as a conversation started.
“He’s a cool kid.”
“In a few years, he’s gonna be a ladykiller.”
Kayla next offered, “you are a very good hockey player. I was impressed.”
I felt the compliment darkening my cheeks. “Thanks Kayla. I don’t know, I just love to play.”
“And you do it well.”
The car fell silent. I didn’t really know how to add to her last comment. A few minutes later, I felt my phone buzz in my pocket. I dug it out, and slid it open.
“I can smell your sweat lol.”
“It’s ok. It’s kind of sexy. Your sweat smells sweet. Like candy.”
“Seriously. I’m getting turned on.”
“Do you want me to…umm…do you think you’re mom would notice…”
“OMG!!! Seriously. FREAK!!!”
“Umm NO! You’re crazy!”
“Too bad. Your loss lol. Btw didn’t u say sex sex sex?”
“Yes, but not in a car with my MOM”
She slid over a bit on the seat, causing me to nearly push myself out of the door. I was scared of what she was planning to do. Nothing she does surprises me. She giggled, and grabbed my hand, and laced our fingers together. She brought my hand up to her face, and sniffed. She let out a low moan, and lowered our hands back down, to rest between us. It was a good decision by her. That’s about as far as I was willing to go.