Read There's a Shark in My Hockey Pool Online

Authors: Dave Belisle

Tags: #comedy, #hockey, #humour, #sports comedy, #hockey pool

There's a Shark in My Hockey Pool (10 page)

BOOK: There's a Shark in My Hockey Pool
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"Names, I need names, Aunt Rita. Amateurs ...
juniors ... whatever. Get the phones ringing. Everybody has a
relative playing in the NHL. I'll settle for friends of friends.
Oh, and would you mind taking a few of them in? How many? Twelve.
Thanks. Say hello to Uncle Roger for me. Bye."

Derek punched the "END" button on the phone.
Helen rolled over and propped herself up on one arm. She rubbed the
sleep from her eyes.

"Aunt Rita? What were you calling her for? Is
something wrong?"

"Go back to bed. Everything's alright." Derek
hated how Helen appeared to be helpful even while half asleep. He
was having second thoughts about the night before. He steeled those
thoughts to remain blissful, not blasphemous.

He stood up and finished buttoning his

"I never heard you come in," Helen said. "You
and Artie have a good time last night?"

"S'okay. Leafs pulled it out late, 5-4." At
least that's what he heard on the radio when he was driving back
from Sylvie's. He knew Helen wasn't going to pursue the game
summary any further than the final score. Sometimes he made a game
of it. He'd make up nicknames of opposing teams to see how far he
could string her along. She could have busted him a couple of times
... with the Charlotte Charlatans and the Kalamazoo Kazoos ... but
neglected to follow it up with a sports page confirmation.

Helen got up and put on her housecoat. Derek
watched her move across the room. He wished she wasn't so shy about
her body. It was too bad. Her one-time hour glass figure was slowly
counting down. He hadn't really expected her to go from co-ed to
cover girl in the eight years they'd been together. She draped
herself in sweat shirts, bulky sweaters and loose-fitting slacks.
She'd unwittingly started the grunge fad.

"Can I fix you something?"

"Nah. No time. I'll grab a bite on the

Derek paused in the doorway. He went back to
her, cupped her high cheekbones in his hands and kissed her on the


... 5 ...


Ominous-looking, dark-coloured, non-descript
flags flew from the top floor of the Yonge Street skyscraper.
Gargoyles wouldn't have been out of place. Toronto needed more
gargoyles on its buildings. If only to wipe the golden, gaping
grins off the ludicrous louses hanging from the corners of
SkyDome's exterior. The Herculean building meanwhile, cast a
menacing presence amidst the adjacent structures.

Inside, a half dozen Herculean employees,
including Hal Henderson and Jim MacIlroy, cowered over their
keyboards. They worked feverishly, hoping one more keystroke would
spring the magic solution onto the screen. There wasn't a screen
saver in sight. Victor Erskine entered the room.

"Alright everyone! Stop whatever you're doing
and listen up."

Screens froze and faces turned as one.

"Sure, sniffing through the latest player
database is one way to put together a team. Or some ten-dollar tout
sheet." Erskine picked a hockey magazine off a desktop and held it

"The fox is afoot, gentlemen, and we're
chained to the doghouse." He threw the magazine at a wastebasket
fifteen feet away. The magazine battered the inside of the can,
almost knocking it over. The can skidded three feet, but decided to
stand up and fight. The young secretary beside the can wanted to
have Erskine's children. Two men quickly hid hockey magazines that
had been on their desks.

Erskine reached into his pocket and pulled
out a handful of tickets.

"These tickets are for first class.
Henderson, you're off to the west coast. MacIlroy, pack your bags
for the Maritimes. And remember ... no cod fishing!"

Henderson, MacIlroy and others soon followed,
picking up their marching orders to begin scouting trips for the
Erskine empire.

The glass doors of the Loyal Bank featured a
logo with a smiling lion. The lion had a bandaged foot. He was
patting a small mouse on the head with one hand -- and giving money
with the other. Herculean had won the bank's marketing campaign and
turned heads with an Aesopic approach. Any investor who thought the
lion was kindhearted only had to miss one mortgage payment to hear
it roar.

Derek sat across the desk from the
bespectacled loan officer, Mr. Dolby. Marcotte managed to keep his
twiddling fingers in low gear while Dolby alternated glances
between the form in front of him and Derek. This paradoxical
peeping took place every other line. While Dolby was giving
Marcotte's well-sculptured jaw line and cracked credit rating the
once over, the loan officer was also mulling over whether he should
opt for Andrea from Mississauga or Megan from York. Theirs were the
personal classified ads he'd scored during his 20-minute coffee

Dolby looked up from the form. Andrea was the
lucky winner. She hadn't specifically requested a male with a sense
of humor.

Derek brightened. He couldn't know of course
that Dolby's decision on Marcotte's loan application had less to do
with Derek's credit rating than the fact that Dolby's parents
didn't have a well-sculptured jaw line gene between them.

"You want a $50,000 line of credit ... for a
hockey game?" Dolby asked, visibly perplexed.

"But it's a ... a ... special game."

"For $50,000 it had better be ...

Dolby pronounced "special" in the
sarcastically sweet tone as Dana Carvey's Church Lady character
from Sunday Morning Live. Derek bemoaned the fact he was reduced to
dignified begging. He wouldn't have to get down on his knees, but
he might have to say please. Dolby had dealt with Marcotte's sort
before. The loan officer reached into his desk drawer and pulled
out a nasal spray.

"No, no," Derek said. "I have a chance ...
uh, the opportunity ... to recover this investment many times

Dolby massaged his chin, mulling it over. He
then fired a round of mist into each nostril. Marcotte hoped Dolby
had double pneumonia.

"I'm afraid our company policy has a certain
rigidness regarding loans for gambling, Mr. Marcotte." Dolby paused
to look from side to side. He leaned forward. His arms rested in
front of him on the desk. There was almost a frankness to his

"Nevertheless, uh ... exactly how much is
that in dollars and cents?" he asked Marcotte.


"I see. And may I ask how you are going to
manage that?"

"Simple. We beat Herculean in the game and a
very large advertising contract is ours."

Derek looked hopefully at Dolby. Dolby stood
up. He didn't have a pulpit and his tablets were slightly thinner
than Moses', but the judgement had the same negative overtones. The
pit wallowing in Derek's stomach was growing hair. He hated

"I'm sorry, Mr. Marcotte. This has gone far
enough. We simply can't follow through with this. I'm afraid you'll
have to look elsewhere."

"But ..."

Dolby wasn't listening. He was already
gathering up papers from his desk, trying to look busy. Derek
wished a hundred paper cuts on the mealy-mouthed money manager.
Dolby looked up again, feigning surprise that Derek was still

"That will be all, Mr. Marcotte. Good day,

Derek left. He wasn't going to say

Dolby paused to take off his glasses and wipe
them with his handkerchief.

"Beating Herculean. Hmmph. Imagine that."

Derek tried other banks but the outcome was
the same. Nobody was going to help finance his hockey team. They
wanted solid collateral when he didn't even have a good colander.
He tried several scams but none survived long enough to see any
names scrawled on dotted lines. He came close to floating a loan on
a two-week waiver through the Bank of Newfoundland ... until the
bank manager asked for proof that he was the long lost son of
Stompin' Tom Connors. Mangled versions of "The Hockey Song" and an
encore of "Bud the Spud" brought a few grins, but no


... 6 ...


Dennis Tortellini tucked one of Marcotte's
flyers promoting the hockey game under the German-made Raudi 300's
windshield wiper. The bold print leapt off the leaflet: "WORLD
All of them were.

The car's owner, a yuppy stock broker in a
Steve St. Laurent polo shirt, was facing the other way. He was
engaged on his cellular phone with another young urban putz. The
line of conversation was futures investments.

"The price is right. We've got to jump in
with both feet," said the broker.

"I'm not sure," the investor said. "My
portfolio is spread all over hell's half acre right now." One of
those portfolio moves had been another tip from the Raudi 300
broker, which saw him move $200 a week from the Jaymes Bond Fund
into the Benign Growth Fund. It was down a cancerous 23 percent on
the year.

"So get something that will stay in one place
... pork bellies."

"Pork bellies? Please ... I just ate."

Tortellini reached inside the tow truck's cab
and pressed a button. The German import slowly lifted into the

"Look, I gave you Grandalf when it was eighty
cents," the broker said. "You made a killing at eight bucks. Well
this month, we're wallowin' in pork bellies. Are you in or

"I don't know. You've seen one pork belly,
you've seen'em all. Can't you find something fashionable? Something
I can brag about at the golf club?"

A white stretch limo pulled out of the
parking lot. Dennis turned to watch. Admiring the lines of the
pseudo-ocean liner, his gaze finished upon the vanity plate
"ERSKINE." Tortellini quickly reached inside the cab and hit a
switch. The Raudi dropped unceremoniously to the ground

"All right, all right," the broker said. He
turned around to see his car bouncing without a trampoline. "Let me
get back ... Hey!" Car insurance rates instantly replaced Omaha

"Jesus H. Christ! What the hell are you
doing?" he yelled. The Raudi finished its pogo stick

. "If you're still here when I get back,"
Tortellini said, " ... I'll tow you in."

Dennis unhooked the chains from the Raudi and
threw them in the back of the tow truck. He yanked himself into the
truck's cab and started the engine. The broker ran over to the
driver's side of the truck and looked up at Tortellini.

Human emotion is tougher to read than the
board at the stock exchange. There, the three-letter symbols run
right to left, non-stop ... painlessly bleeding into one another.
The corresponding plus or minus sign triggers joy or sorrow. The
tow truck driver's smile simply didn't compute.

"But I'm going to miss my meeting!"

"Well then, I guess you'll have plenty to say
at the next one."

Dennis Tortellini pulled out into traffic and
followed the white limo. It was a block ahead, stopped at a light.
He reached for the mike on the CB radio.

"Breaker, breaker, one-nine. This is the
Chain Man. Come in, Missing Links."

Donnie drove the other Tortellini tow truck
through early afternoon traffic on the #401. Dino rode shotgun, his
head stuck in the Toronto Sun. The message from Dennis had just
crackled through.

"Why does he say that?" asked Donnie.

"Dunno. I checked the chains last week.
Everything's hunky-dory."

Donnie reached for the CB mike.

"What's up?

"Our friend, Erskine, is heading onto the
#401 on the Anderson ramp, goin' west in a white limo. What donut
shop are you guys at anyway?"

"Donuts? We're just leaving the titty bar,"
Donnie said, winking to Dino. Dino leaned over to the mike. "Venus
de Dildo was asking for you."

Dennis had dragged them out of a strip club
on more than one occasion. A week before, Dennis found Donnie
outside Le Boot, one of the city's sleazier joints, fixing a flat
tire. Meanwhile, Dino was inside, fixing to go home with one of the
flat-chested peelers.

"We're heading west on Granville," Donnie
said. "We just passed Tremont."

"Okay. You guys go over to the Fairmont
overpass and show him a little Scarborough hospitality."

Donnie hung up the CB and hung a quick left
on Steward. They were half a mile from the Fairmont Street

Minutes later, they parked their truck in the
break-down lane atop the Fairmont overpass, overlooking the #401. A
middle-aged man in a windbreaker walked his Rottweiler a short
distance away. A slight easterly breeze set sail a discarded Globe
and Pail third page story on drunk driving and promptly wrapped it
around a telephone pole. Donnie and Dino were standing in front of
the tow truck. They were fighting over a 15" steel-belted radial
tire as if it were some stripper who had fallen off the stage at Le

"Leggo, it's my turn," said Donnie.

"No way, man. It's mine," shot back Dino.

"Whaddaya talkin' about? You had that
Japanese job last week on Dunnigan."

"Yeah." Dino said. "But I missed it."

"Shit. I'm not waitin' until you get lucky
and hit one," Donnie said.

The two continued struggling over the tire.
It was Donnie who saw the approaching limo first.

Most people remember their first car. Fewer
remember what size engine was under the hood. Donnie however,
prided himself on having intimate knowledge of the illuminating
91-year history of automotive headlights. Spotting a limo from 1200
yards was child's play.

Donnie nodded toward the oncoming traffic
below. At the same time half a block away, George Ackerman cycled
toward them.

Ackerman was concentrating on his pacing and
rhythm. He sneaked a peek down to admire his pumping thighs. He was
in the cyclist's zone ... a zone with a current speed limit of 45
kilometres per hour. The wind whipped through his purple turtle
shell helmet. He had a bad habit of glancing sideways at large
store windows to admire the reflection of the helmet's flashy
fluorescent racing stripes.

BOOK: There's a Shark in My Hockey Pool
11.36Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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