Authors: Matt Christopher
He was sure they were sincere, though. The expression on their faces when they had first told him about the real game was
plenty of proof.
He was sure, too, that they wouldn’t pull a mean trick on him about such matters. Magic to them was a real, wonderful thing,
and they loved it. You don’t pull practical jokes about something you love.
“Can I come over before our next hockey
game?” Pie asked. “I’d like to see if it’ll work like the first time.”
“Sure, you can,” replied Jody.
“Maybe it won’t work if you play it,” Joliette said, her blue eyes looking at him avidly.
“Then I’ll watch you guys play,” Pie said.
n Friday Pie went next door to the Byrds’ house and knocked on the door. No one answered, and he knocked again. Still no one
“Hi, Pie,” said a voice behind him. “Aren’t your little friends home?”
Pie turned and saw that it was Terry “the terrible” Mason. A calico cat was at his feet, sitting on its haunches and looking
at Pie with large, yellow eyes.
“I guess they aren’t,” Pie said, and started off the porch.
“I heard that you and the twins are really
crazy about magic,” Terry said, an amused glint in his eyes. “That right?”
“That’s right,” agreed Pie.
Terry chuckled. “Why don’t you use magic when you’re on the rink? You could be the greatest.”
Pie forced a smile. “Maybe I don’t want to be the greatest,” he said. “But I suppose
Terry shrugged. “Why not? What’s wrong with being the greatest?”
Pie considered. “Nothing, if you don’t let it go to your head.”
The cat at Terry’s feet suddenly rose on all four paws and looked across the street. Its tail swished back and forth, and
Pie looked up. What had caught the cat’s attention was another cat.
Two cars were coming down the street, one behind the other, and for a moment Pie
held his breath.
Does Terry see what could happen, or should I warn him?
Too late! The cat leaped off the curb and started to run across the street!
“Tipper!” Terry yelled.
There was a loud screech of tires on asphalt as the first car tried to come to a sudden stop. Then,
The second car rammed into it.
By now Terry was running after the cat, Pie behind him. They saw it limping off the street on the other side, favoring its
right hind leg. It reached the curb, lay on its side, and began licking the wounded limb.
Terry knelt beside it. “You dumb cat!” he scolded. “You want to get killed?”
Pie watched Terry take hold of the leg and stroke it gently and tenderly, and he suddenly saw a part of Terry that surprised
him. Sarcastic and humiliating though Terry was
at times, he was kind and merciful to an animal.
He looked up as the two drivers came running from their cars. “How’s the cat?” the first man asked anxiously.
“His leg was hit,” said Terry.
“Want me to take him to a vet?”
“No, thanks. I’ll take care of him. He’ll be all right.”
Terry nodded. “I’m sure.”
“Okay. But watch him, will you? He might not be so lucky the next time.”
They left, stopped to look at the rear of the first car, carried on a brief discussion, then got into their vehicles and drove
away, waving as they went by.
“Guess neither car got damaged,” Pie said.
“Glad about that,” Terry replied, then turned his attention back to his cat. “You
dumb cat, if I have to get a leash for you I will,” he said gruffly.
He picked it up, held it close in his arms, and walked away. Pie watched. You’d think that Terry wasn’t even aware that he
s usual, Pie arrived at the rink the next morning with one minute to spare. And, as usual, Terry “the terrible” Mason had
a remark for him.
“Hi, early bird. Why’d you get here so soon?”
Pie ignored the sarcasm, believing that it was the best way to handle Terry. “How’s your dumb cat?” he asked.
Terry shrugged. “He’ll be okay. No broken bones or anything.”
Pie put on his skates and got on the rink
with the rest of the team. He wondered if the twins had played with their toy hockey game last night. He looked up at the
stands but didn’t see them.
He was lost in thought until the sound of the referee’s whistle brought him back to reality. The ice was cleared. A second
blast of the whistle brought on the first lines. The Penguins were playing the Hawks, a team wearing white helmets and green
uniforms with yellow trim. Crouched opposite Terry Mason at the face-off position was the Hawks’ tall center, Phil Adams.
The whistle shrilled again. The puck was dropped. Both centers sprang into action, pounding at the small black disk with short,
vicious swipes. Up on the scoreboard the seconds began ticking away. 11:59 … 11:58 … 11:57 …
The puck turned on end and rolled into Hawk territory. Pie, the closest to it, sprinted
after it. The loose fit of his skates made him glance down at the laces. They were tight, but when he looked up again a Hawk
defenseman was swooping in after the puck, stick extended far forward.
They crashed into each other, their sticks striking the puck at the same time. They fought for control of it; then Pie’s skate
hooked the Hawk’s. He lost his balance and fell.
He looked for the puck and saw it again in the Hawks’ possession. He heard his name yelled and saw Terry Mason speeding by
him, his eyes smoldering.
Quickly, Pie clambered to his feet and sprinted down center ice, trying to ignore Terry’s flaming look. He knew what Terry
was mad about. A pass to him might have meant a score. Except for the Hawks’ goalie, the space between Terry and the goal
had been wide open.
A pass to a Hawk at the right of the Penguins’ goal was deflected by left defenseman Frog Alexander. Frog flipped it to Chuck
Billings, and a wild scramble followed as the two Hawk wingmen tried to pokecheck it away from him.
“Ice it! Ice it!” yelled Coach Joe Hayes.
The Penguins weren’t able to get a clear shot at the puck, and at 10:51 the Hawks scored.
They threatened again during the next minute and almost knocked in their second goal except for a great save made by goalie
“All right, first line! Off!” yelled Coach Hayes. “Get going, second line!”
Sweat beaded Pie’s forehead as he skated toward the bench. He was warm but not tired, and he wished that the coach hadn’t
called the line off the ice so soon.
At 7:28 Brad Krupa, right forward on the
Penguins’ third line, sank in a fifteen-footer to tie up the score.
The first period ended with the score still knotted, 1 to 1.
It wasn’t till then that Pie thought about the twins again. He looked behind him and saw several faces he recognized, including
his father’s and mother’s. They saw him and waved, and he waved back.
He kept searching for the other pair of familiar faces — faces that looked exactly alike — but didn’t see them. Something
important must have happened to keep Jody and Joliette Byrd from attending the game. Had they gone somewhere last night and
not returned yet? More important, had they been home long enough to have played a game on their toy ice hockey rink?
During the second period the Hawks’ Phil Adams knocked in two goals, both times assisted by one of his wingmen. The Hawks
had possession of the puck most of the time, and it was only because of Ed Courtney’s great saves that they were not able
to drive the puck into the net more often.
With the score 3 to 1 in favor of the Hawks as the teams went into the third period, Pie Pennelli was determined to make every
move count, oversize skates or not. Line 1 wasn’t doing as well as the other lines up to now, and that was another reason
why Terry Mason was getting hot under the collar.
Terry hadn’t been doing so well himself, and Pie figured it was because the irritable center had been trying to dribble the
puck to the goal and shoot it in without any help. “The terrible” Mason was disgusted with his wingmen and was trying to win
the game by himself. Coach Hayes warned him about it, but after exercising caution for a minute or two, Terry started playing
again as if he
couldn’t trust his wingmen down at their end of the rink.
It was while Line 1 was on the ice for the second time during the third period that Pie struck a Hawk’s leg accidentally with
his stick as he tried to pokecheck the puck and was given a minute’s sentence in the penalty box for tripping. He sat there,
his brows heavy with sweat, helplessly watching his teammates fight to keep the Hawks from shooting in a score. But even Ed
Courtney s fantastic moves couldn’t stop them this time. It was Phil Adams again who swished the puck past him. The score
was Phil’s third, a hat trick. Hawks 4, Penguins 1.
Pie reentered the game, eager to make up for lost time.
A Hawk got the pass on the face-off, passed it to a teammate, and Pie was after him as swiftly as his oversize skates would
allow. Just past the blue line, heading into
Hawk territory, he jolted the Hawk with a neat bodycheck and stole the puck. Dribbling the black pellet with care, he swung
around in a semicircle and started back across the blue line, then across the neutral zone into Penguin territory.
Two Hawks charged after him, and he flipped the puck to Bud. The puck rose off the ice and flopped through the air between
the two Hawks, bouncing in front of Bud. Bud stopped it with his skate, then snapped it back to Pie.
Pie, heading for the right-hand side of the net, caught the puck and with one sweeping motion shoved it hard toward the narrow
opening between the Hawk goalie’s padded leg and the goal.
“Nice shot, Pie!” Bud cried as the wingman skated up beside him.
He looked for Terry and saw the center sweeping around the net, totally ignoring him.
I scored, didn’t I? He can’t be mad at me for that!
“All right, third line!” Coach Joe Hayes yelled from the bench. “Off the ice!”
“I just get going and then I have to get off,” Pie grunted as he headed for the sideline.
“That’s your problem,” said a voice at his elbow. “You always get started too late, if you ever get started at all.”
Pie glanced over his shoulder at Terry. The blue eyes met his and held unflinchingly.
“Why do you keep riding me, Mason?” Pie asked. “What have I done to you?”.
“Nothing to me! It’s what you’re doing to the team! I don’t know about you, but I’d like to get on a winning team once in
So that was it,
Pie thought. Terry was blaming him for the poor direction the team was going.
But why me?
I’m not the only one who isn’t playing like a big leaguer.
He was sure there was something else bothering Terry. Something else that made the center pick on Pie more often than he did
Line 2 failed to score. With fifty seconds to go in the game, Line 3 banged in a twenty-footer, and the game ended with the
Hawks winning, 4 to 3.
The teams skated off the ice, the Hawks triumphantly loud over their victory, the Penguins quiet and cheerless. They had learned
to accept losses without crying over them. There would be other games, other chances for victory.
But one man did feel differently about losing. Terry “the terrible” Mason, who
slammed his skates into his gym bag and sourly left the rink.
Pie was met with a surprise greeting at the gate. The twins! He quickly forgot about Terry.
“Got a minute?” Jody whispered.
Pie stepped toward the wall with them, out of the way of the people leaving the rink.
“Didn’t think you guys were here,” he said. “What is it?”
Both twins looked at him as if they had something on their minds that couldn’t wait another minute.
“We played a game last night, and it was exactly like this one, Pie!” Jody said excitedly. “Exactly!”
“Even to my getting penalized?”
“Right! Even to that!” Joliette exclaimed.
ie sat down in the locker room to take off his skates and saw Coach Hayes and Terry Mason talking together near the far wall.
Terry looked at him, and something flashed in his eyes that made Pie suspect that they were talking about him.
He blushed and with nervous fingers began to unlace his skates. What was Terry up to now?
A few minutes later Pie left the locker room. Outside, in the bright sunshine, Bud Rooney caught up with him.
“Bud,” Pie said, “what were the coach and Terry talking about?”
“You,” said Bud directly.
Pie’s heart skipped a beat. “That’s what I figured. Did you hear what they said?”
“Not all of it,” Bud replied. “But I think Terry asked to play on another line.”
“What did Coach say?”
“I don’t know. He didn’t talk as loud as Terry did.”
the great Terry “the terrible” Mason doesn’t want to play on the same line with me anymore. Suits me fine, I don’t exactly
enjoy playing with him either. Not with him on my back all the time.
He couldn’t guess, though, just what the coach proposed to do. He would have to wait till the next game.
That afternoon he went over to the twins’ house and found them downstairs in the
recreation room, busy as beavers, drawing pollution posters.
“Our class is conducting a contest,” Joliette explained enthusiastically. “The best poster on pollution wins two free tickets
to a movie.”
SHOW YOU CARE BY CLEARING THE AIR, read the bold heading of her poster. Underneath she had started to sketch tall smokestacks
of a factory.
KILLING FISH AT SEA IS THEIR CUP OF TEA was the title of Jody’s poster. Jody was sketching a weird-looking monster holding
a huge cup supposedly representing an ocean. On the surface of the cup were several fish lying flat on their side, presumably
dead. POLLUTION was scrawled on the monster’s headdress.