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Authors: Matt Christopher

Ice Magic (6 page)

BOOK: Ice Magic
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“Of course,” Joliette replied. “But she doesn’t know a thing about it.”

Pie sighed. “I wonder how that’ll affect tomorrow’s game.”

“Why should it?” Joliette asked.

“It always did before,” said Pie. A thought occurred to him. “I wonder what would happen if Terry has taken it,” he said.
“Up till
now he isn’t sure whether it has magical powers or not. He’s just been guessing. Maybe he wants to experiment with it.”

“Think it’ll work for him?” Jody said.

“Why not? It’s magic. The power is in the game, isn’t it? Not in the people who play it.”

He went out and paused on the curb of the sun-drenched street. There, beside the tree where Pie had seen him once before,
stood Terry Mason. Smiling. At his feet was his favorite companion, Tipper.

Pie braced himself.

“Terry,” he said, “have you got the twins’ hockey game?”

Terry stared at him. “The twins’ hockey game?” he echoed. The smile vanished. “What would I want with their old hockey game?”

“It’s missing,” Pie said.

Terry’s fists clenched as he came at Pie.
“Are you accusing me of stealing it, Pie-face?”

Pie stood his ground. “We saw you looking through the window the other night,” he said defiantly.

“That doesn’t mean I stole it!” Terry snapped. “Maybe it disappeared by itself. It
was
magic, wasn’t it?” A laugh of mockery tore from his lips.

Pie matched his glaring eyes, not certain whether to believe him or not. “See you at the rink,” he said.

He felt a rubbing against his leg, looked down, and saw Tipper looking up at him, eyes like large yellow marbles.

“Hi, Tipper,” Pie said, smiling.

“Meow!”
Tipper said.

Terry picked the cat up. “C’mon, Tip,” he said, walking away, “before he starts asking
you
questions about that dumb hockey game.”

Pie lay in bed that night thinking about the missing game. What could have happened to it, anyway? Had someone really stolen
it from the basement, or had Mr. Byrd put it somewhere where the twins were unable to find it? Or, as Terry had suggested,
had it disappeared? Did the game really possess such magical powers that it
could
disappear by itself?

It was a long time before sleep finally overtook him.

The next morning, as he was putting on his uniform to prepare for the game against the Bears, he heard the distant ring of
the telephone and a few moments later his mother’s voice, “Pie! Never mind getting dressed!”

He froze and stared at the door. Then he went to it and shouted down the hall, “Mom! What did you say?”

“Coach Hayes just called,” she said from
the bottom of the stairs. “He said that the game’s called off.”

He stared, shivers rippling up his spine. “Did he say why, Mom?”

“The electric power’s off,” she explained. “The game is postponed till some future date.”

11

A
fter breakfast Pie went over to the Byrds’ house and told the twins the sad news. Their eyes popped. Their mouths sagged open.

“Isn’t that something?” Jody whispered tensely.

“That toy hockey game has more magical powers than I realized!” Joliette exclaimed in the same breathless whisper. “It’s fan-tastic!”

“Fantastic is right,” replied Pie, keeping his voice down too so as not to let Mrs. Byrd hear. No telling what she might say
if she heard them discussing magical powers. “I’ve
talked with Terry Mason about it. I practically accused him of stealing the game.”

“What did he say?” Joliette asked.

“He said he didn’t steal it. And was he mad!”

“Do you think he did?” Jody inquired.

“I don’t think so. He wouldn’t have gotten so sore if he had. I was sorry afterwards that I accused him. It was a dumb thing
to do, since I was only guessing, anyway.”

“Yeah, that’s right,” said Jody. “Well, it’s going to be a dull day now that the hockey game was called off. Wonder what will
happen if we never find our hockey game?”

“Good question,” said Pie.

Joliette shivered. “We’ve got to find it,” she said. “I won’t ever sleep again if we don’t.”

It wasn’t a dull day for Pie. His father started to build a partition in the basement
to make a carpentry shop for himself, and Pie helped him. Working got his mind off the missing toy hockey game. But when they
finished for the day his thoughts reverted back to it.

What effect would there be on the real hockey rink if the toy hockey game could never be found again?

It was something to worry about.

At five minutes of eight that night Jody called. His voice was bubbling with excitement.

“We’ve found the hockey game, Pie!” he cried.

Pie’s heart skipped a beat. “Where was it?”

“Dad had put it on a shelf in the basement and then covered it with an old rug! Unintentionally!”

A wave of relief swept over Pie. “That’s
the best news I’ve heard in years, Jody,” he said. “Well, there’s something I must do now, for sure.”

“What?” Jody asked.

“Apologize to Terry,” Pie replied. “And I can think of a million things I’d rather do than that!”

“I know what you mean,” Jody said. “But I suppose it’s best. It’ll rest on your conscience if you don’t.”

“Right,” said Pie. “Well, thanks for the good news, Jody. See you.”

“How about coming over next Friday night and playing a game?”

“Okay! See you then.”

It was after church on Sunday morning when Pie met Terry and considered apologizing to him. But their parents were around,
and Pie couldn’t gather up enough nerve.

Later that day, when he was returning from the gorge after a look at the ice-caked
falls, he met Terry again. Terry had his cat with him, trailing at his heels.

“Terry, I — I want to see you a minute,” Pie said. His heart was thumping. He’d rather jump into ice-cold water than apologize
to Terry Mason. But, as Jody Byrd had said, the guilt would rest on his conscience if he didn’t.

“That’s a switch,” Terry said.

“I owe you an apology,” Pie said. “I accused you of stealing that hockey game from the Byrd twins, and I’m sorry.”

“Why? Did they find it?”

“Yes. Mr. Byrd had stuck it up on a shelf, then covered it with an old rug.” The thumping began to disappear. “Well, that’s
all I wanted to say.”

Terry looked at him a long minute. “Okay,” he said at last.

They passed by each other and continued on their way. Suddenly Terry yelled, “Pie?”

Pie looked around. “Yes?”

Terry was holding his cat. “Thanks!”

“Sure,” said Pie.

There was an item in the
Deep Gorge News
Monday evening about the repair of the electric power system at Davis Rink; it said that the game between the Penguins and
the Hawks would be played as scheduled. The Penguins-Bears game, which had been called off last Saturday morning due to the
power outage, would be played sometime in January.

On Friday night Pie went over to the twins’ house again. After visiting for a while with Mr. and Mrs. Byrd, he and the twins
descended to the basement, sat at the table in front of the toy hockey game, chose their teams, and started to play. Since
tomorrow’s game was with the Hawks, Jody called his team the Hawks and Pie called his the Penguins. Joliette kept time and
the score.

The game started with the usual face-off at center. Jody’s man grabbed the puck, zipped down the rink, and
swish!
A shot that missed the goal by a hair.

The puck bounced off the corner and into the rink, and Pie raced after it with a defensive player. The player brought the
puck up the ice, shot it across the blue line, and a Penguin wingman stopped it.

“That’s you, Pie!” Joliette cried excitedly

So it was, Pie realized. He moved the man up the ice, and
snap!
The man spun and the puck shot off the edge of his stick. Missed!

The puck whipped around the corner. Jody’s man intercepted it, shot, and again Pie caught it.

Slap!
A close one! But again a miss.

One of Jody’s men grabbed the puck, carried it up the ice, and shot. Goal!

“Sorry about that,” Jody said, grinning.

In the second period Pie tried his best to
tie up the score, but his shots kept missing by slim margins. Then he tried a new tack. He passed to another player, not realizing
who it was until the player scored and Joliette shouted, “That man’s Terry, Pie!”

The fast action continued, and Pie found himself sweating. He blamed it on the excitement and the action, but he knew that
the real reason for it was knowing that the game was a preview of tomorrow’s real game.

Almost halfway through the second period the man who represented him passed to the man representing Terry, and again the man
scored.

“You’re ahead, Pie!” Joliette shouted.

Pie smiled. Perhaps that was the smart thing to do — keep passing to Terry, regardless of how they felt toward each other.
Playing the best together was the way to play the game.

Then, about a minute later, Pie’s right wing failed to budge when Pie twisted the control lever. He twisted it this way and
that, but the figure remained almost stationary.

That’s me again,
he realized, staring.
Would that mean disaster in the real game?
A chill ran down his spine.

12

T
ime!” Pie called, and Joliette wrote down the time on a notepad.

Pie tried to lift the hockey figure off the metal rod that projected straight up out of the slot about an inch, and it slid
off easily.

“It’s gotten loose,” Jody observed.

“Twisting it so many times must’ve loosened it,” Pie reasoned. “Those little staples in the wood came out just enough to lose
their hold on the rod.”

There were two such staples driven into the hockey figure, square ones to fit over the square rods. He put the hockey figure
back
in place, fitted the staples over the rod, then tried to force the staples further into the wood with his thumb. He couldn’t.

“Get me something to tap them with,” he said.

Jody produced a hammer from a wall laden with tools and handed it to him. A light tap on each staple made the hockey figure
secure again. Pie twisted the controls back and forth, and the figure whipped this way and that like new.

“Well, I’m in shape again,” he said happily. “But it’s funny why that happened to
me.
The man representing me, I mean.”

“I thought of that,” said Jody. “Think it really means something, Pie?”

“I don’t know. I won’t know till we play tomorrow.”

“In my opinion it definitely means something,” Joliette said with conviction. “I don’t know what and I don’t think it’s serious,
because you’re back in the game. But I bet it means
something.”

“But those staples coming loose could be just an accident,” Pie said.

“No accident,” Jody said, as he jiggled the other figures on their rods. “Look. Every one of them is tight. Why should the
staples only on yours come loose?”

Pie inhaled deeply and emptied his lungs with a long, drawn-out sigh. “That’s right,” he said. “Why?”

“Let’s finish the game,” Jody suggested. “Let’s see what else is going to happen tomorrow.”

“You two finish it,” Pie said, feeling a tension mounting inside him. “I don’t think I’d care to know what else is going to
happen to me tomorrow.”

He left the table.

“Maybe that’s what it meant!” Joliette cried. “You’ll be leaving the game!”

“For good?” Her brother wrinkled his nose. “Nuts, Jolie. That’s only the second period. What
might
happen is that Pie will go out for a while for some reason
other
than a normal one, and then go back in again.”

“You could’ve let me finish,” Joliette said, glaring at him.

“Sorry. Sure you don’t want to finish the game, Pie?”

“I’m sure,” said Pie. “See you tomorrow — after the game.”

The rest of the evening — from the time he left the twins till he went to bed — dragged like a snail crossing the Mojave Desert.
So did the morning — from the time he got up till the time he went to the game. What
did
that accident in the toy hockey game mean, anyway?

The buzzer sounded for the start of the game and the Line 1 players of both the
Hawks and the Penguins skated to their positions. The whistle shrilled.

Face-off!

Phil Adams, the Hawks’ center, knocked the puck to his left wingman. The man scooted down the length of the ice close to the
boards, then cut in sharply toward the Penguins’ net. Just as Frog Alexander swooped toward him, his stick outstretched to
pokecheck the puck, the Hawk shot. Like a missile the black pellet flew through the air toward the net — and missed by inches!

The puck bounced off the wall behind the net, Pie after it. The defensive Hawk beside him reached the puck first, and Pie
bumped into him. He tried to hold his balance as he scrambled to pokecheck the puck, but his oversize skates prevented him
from shifting around as quickly as he wanted to. In a second he found himself sprawled on the ice
while the Hawk defenseman dribbled the puck toward Penguin territory.

“Come on, Pie!” yelled a familiar voice. “On your feet!”

He scrambled up, ignoring Terry Mason’s commanding yell. Apparently apologizing to Terry for accusing him of stealing the
Byrd twins’ toy hockey game hadn’t changed his attitude a bit.

Pie saw the Hawk defenseman glancing at a wing, and sprinted up the ice. Just as Frog and Terry met the oncoming Hawk, the
man snapped a pass to the wing.

Anticipating the play, Pie bolted forward, stretched out his stick, and intercepted the pass. He sprinted for the net. Ten
feet from it, he shot. The puck sailed through the air. Up went the Hawk goalie’s hand. A save!

A minute later Pie accepted a pass from Frog, shot, and again the Hawk goalie’s
gloved hand picked it out of the air like a frog’s quick tongue catching a fly.

Oh, man!
Pie thought disappointedly.
I can’t get one through him!

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