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 (20 page)

BOOK: There's a Shark in My Hockey Pool
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"I'm seeing a married man, Mama."

"St. Anne!" Madame crossed herself.

"Mama! It's common law and there's no

"Oh. So you're writing your own Bible now?
What have we taught you that you forget so quickly when you travel
one province away?"

"Mama. Listen. He's trying to leave her."

"And he's trying to lose ten pounds," her
mother said.

Sylvie paused. "I love him, Mama."

Madame looked longingly at her daughter.
Sylvie had only been gone for six weeks, but English Canada had
done something to her little girl. Good or bad, Madame wasn't sure.
She watched married men and their mistresses grab stolen moments
every afternoon on TV, but she wasn't about to play the role of the
Blubbering Mother-In-Law.

Growing up, Sylvie had always been headstrong
and very alert. A girl in Quebec had to be ... to combat the
Frenchmen -- whose hands were busy doing something else if they
weren't directing the conversation. Madame was glad that Gilbert,
her husband, had skipped down to his favorite watering hole, Rires
et Bieres to watch the Expos game. It would give her the time
needed to build her daughter back up and remind her she was of
hardy Desjardins stock. Desjardins was French for 'a dirty backyard
hobby', but Sylvie wasn't just another gardener.

"Surely you can you cook better than her?"
Madame asked.

"Her toast tastes better than my

Madame took her daughter in her arms again.
It had been too long since their last hug. Hello and goodbye hugs
didn't count. Those were automatic, like flicking the light switch
on or off when you entered or left a room. Madame liked hugging her
children even better than extra gravy on her poutine.

Sylvie wasn't crying ... although she felt
she should be. At the sound of the first sob, she knew her mother
would coo like a pigeon high on pumpernickel. But a major flap
might follow, with her mother setting off on a Toronto-be-damned
tangent. This would culminate with the guilt-ridden request that
she return home immediately while she could still qualify for a
full Separatist pension.

"You must find another way to his heart, said
Mrs. Desjardins. "He's already shown you the map. You can't miss
it, Sylvie ... or all is lost."

Sylvie had said too much, but not enough. Her
mother wouldn't understand. Madame would chastise and criticize.
Then she would advise ... with one eye on the Bible and the other
on the corner coffee table -- still absent of any five-by-seven
frames of freckled grandchildren.

Father knew best ... but mother knew the
rest. Madame was right as usual, but Sylvie didn't drive six hours
for a lecture. Her mother picked up on this and the rest of their
conversation was sprinkled with lighter subject matter. How was her
job coming along? What did her apartment look like? What was the
price of La Vache Qui Rit Trop Fort, Voila Du Lait (The Cow That
Sneezes Milk) cheese at the corner deli?

"Where's Marcel?" asked Sylvie.

"Your brother is where he always is these
days ... and where I'm going to start sending his mail -- the
hockey rink."


... 4 ...


The puck wound around the boards and out the
north end of St. Claude Arena. The players barely outnumbered the
spectators. Sylvie stood behind the Charbonneau Charbon de Bois
(Charcoal) bench. A plexiglass partition separated her from her
brother, who didn't know she was there yet.

Marcel, 17, followed the action on the ice.
He didn't take his eyes off teammate Stephan Rochefort, who was
cruising at center ice. That was his man. As soon as Rochefort
signaled to the bench or during the next stoppage in play, Marcel
would bounce over the boards to take his place on the ice.

Sylvie rapped her knuckles hard against the
glass partition.

Marcel didn't hear. He was too focused on the
game. He wasn't about to turn his attention away from the ice or he
might miss Rochefort coming to the bench. It was hard enough
getting ice time in this league what with all the ice hogs.
Rochefort was a big fat ice hog.

"Marcel!" Sylvie hollered.

Marcel heard his name being called. It
sounded like the voice was coming from behind in the stands. That
was impossible. Nobody ever came to watch him play. His father was
too busy and his worry-wart mother had only come once. She left
during the pre-game skate.

He imagined the voice behind him was that
cute blonde from his Biology class who, when he told her he'd
scored a hat trick in his last game, raised her eyebrows higher
than his. He was lying. He hadn't scored three goals in a game
since he was eight ... playing on a line with Herve Langoureux's
kid brother. The older Langoureux had a short stint, a cup of
coffee -- or "Joe Phooey'n Peppy" -- as Herve liked to call it,
with Hartford in the mid-80s.

Rochefort or no Rochefort, Marcel decided
he'd turn around and flash two fingers -- for two goals -- at the
blonde from Biology. He hadn't scored today, but he didn't want to
appear too smug. For a split second, he wondered if she'd been
there since the start of the game ... in which case he'd scold her
for not saying hello sooner -- before she could question his
scoring sheet status. Marcel put on his best Matt Dillon sneer,
turned with his two-finger notice ... and looked into the face of
his sister.

Marcel's Dillon sneer snapped into the
"surprised kid brother" look. He quickly popped up the remaining
two fingers and thumb of his right hand to complete a "hello"
gesture ... or severe muscle spasm. Embarrassed, but still hungry
for ice time, Marcel took a quick peek at Rochefort. The player was
in the far corner waiting for the puck to pop free from a pile-up
along the boards. Rochefort was no closer to a shift-change than he
was a sex-change.

Marcel stood up on the bench so his head was
above the glass with hers. They kissed hello on both cheeks.

"When did you get back into town?" he

"Just now. Are you winning?"

"No. Tabernacle."

Marcel pointed to a player on the ice, Gaston
LaBonneglace, weaving through Marcel's teammates.

"That guy, LaBonneglace, is going through our
team like Ex-Flax."

LaBonneglace sidestepped a player and skated
backwards, controlling the puck, just inside the Poisson des Voisin
blue line. Teeing up the puck, he hit the brakes and blasted the
puck over the stunned goalie's shoulder.

"See you back home," said Sylvie.

She kissed him on the cheek and tapped him on
the helmet. Marcel's gaze followed her as she exited the building.
He shook his head.

"Merde. My own sister doesn't want to watch
me play."


At a service station pay phone, somewhere
between Montreal and Toronto, Sylvie dialed the last few digits of
the number. The phone rang twice at the other end before being
picked up.

"Hello," said Sylvie. "Victor Erskine,








Aunt Rita and Stoned Fans




... 1 ...


Georgia sat on Aunt Rita's veranda, soaking
up the morning sun. Comatose was a more apt description for the
obese Siamese. Georgia didn't care. The recently-devoured mouse was
doing slow cartwheels in her stomach. She tried taking her mind off
the rotating rodent by watching the wispy-branched willow next
door. In the slight breeze it extended endless waves of adoration
Georgia's way. It seemed like only yesterday she'd climbed that
tree like a juiced-up jaguar. That was before N-Day ... the day she
was neutered.

Nowadays she only put on her safari attitude
when Aunt Rita bought her the same brand of bland, dry cat food for
two weeks running.

Rather than digest one more hideous morsel,
Georgia would lumber up onto the porch swing and out onto the
veranda's railing ... which seemed to get skinnier by the week.
Once there she would half-pounce, half-fall on any beady-eyed mouse
who might wander out from Stuart Little's Shady Saloon under the
porch, looking for an outside seat.

Aunt Rita had Alan as a tenant downstairs. He
worked for Arkin Pest Control and could never be accused of
bringing his work home with him. Thus, there were plenty of
meandering mice. Happy hour at the Shady Saloon was 11 a.m. to 1
p.m., as the petite patrons scampered in to escape the noonday sun.
Last call was usually 4 p.m. The mice had to get home to their
wives, who were forever worrying their men would meet their
untimely ends beneath some crazed housewife falling off a

Inside Aunt Rita's kitchen, Tuckapuk, Short
Hand, Starsikov, Hutchny and six other Leaf players were at the
breakfast table satisfying their own appetites. With her back to
them, Aunt Rita, a large, imposing woman in her forties, made
pancakes at the stove.

At last count, Aunt Rita had had 287
different young men sleeping in her house at one time or another.
She remained a respected member of the community, for "Rita's
Rooming House" was known from Kenora to Cornwall. She had blown the
noses of two-hundred pound goons when tears of homesickness had
gotten the better of them. Rita could also boast that half a dozen
future millionaires had taken out her garbage.

She smiled as she checked a blue willow
saucer for a crack. The sound of gobbling mouths was music to her
ears. This new bunch seemed hungrier than the last. It was always
that way with her cooking. She only had four cookbooks and a pair
of deathbed recipes, but she knew them by heart. Her blueberry
grunt had convinced one lad to drop the gloves and pick up the oven
mitts instead, pursuing a career as a chef. Two years earlier, her
famous Sinful Cinnamon Flapjacks were the subject of a 60-second
commercial as part of the National Videography Board's Famous
Canadian Carbohydrates historical promotion. Local health officials
had recently cracked down on her however, threatening to shut her
down if they caught her doubling the amount of butter in her
recipes. Georgia's whiskers stirred at the thought of such
gluttony, but she was unfortunately lactose intolerant.

Tuckapuk wasn't. He was eating with his
hands. Short Hand paused to admire the browned sausage before
grunting for the pepper. He wiped his mouth with a quick swipe of
his red-and-blue-checkered shirt sleeve. Joey Girardelli, a short,
scrappy left winger from the Sault, ate with both elbows rooted to
the table like Douglas firs. Starsikov and Hutchny stabbed the last
flapjack on the serving plate with their forks at the same time.
The clash of sterling silver rang out. They glared at one another.
Bowie Hackett, a defenseman from Upper Musquodoboit, Nova Scotia,

Bowie, who's real name was Cornelius, had a
rough upbringing. The young maritimer was allergic to shellfish and
he couldn't swim. As a child he had a pair of flourescent orange
swim trunks. He would stand knee deep in the surf, rooted to the
spot. Neighboring mothers used him as a marker for their own tots.
The comparisons to a buoy weren't far behind ... and the nickname

Fortunately, hockey was Bowie's ticket out of
' Scotia. When he was 17, his father had pointed a wavering finger
westward and bade him the stock phrase for which the small village
was named, "Must go, no doubt about it." As was often the case, the
words trailed off, slurred by one too many glasses of screech.

Hackett proceeded to carve out of the
flapjack a territory for each of the Russians, before taking a thin
slice for himself as a peacekeeper's percentage.

Aunt Rita turned to them with another plate
of flapjacks.

"Boys! Stop that! Right now!"

They all froze, caught in the middle of their
table etiquette faux pas.

Ten minutes later Derek poked his head around
the corner and looked into the kitchen. He'd let himself in through
the back door. Aunt Rita was sweeping the kitchen floor with short,
sharp strokes of the broom.

She ran a tight ship. Rats were free to leave
... as her third husband, Orville, had ... buying a one-way ticket
on a 747 shortly after the birth of their second daughter. Rita had
not fared well in the shell game called love. Her first stab at
playing house was with a used snow mobile dealer from Minnesota. He
subscribed to National Yodel-Graphic just for the mountain peak
shots. He was crawling the walls by August. When his visitor's visa
was about to expire, Rita put the notice on the telephone memo
board. She walked past it a number of times ... and the deadline
passed before she finally decided not to renew it. She worried for
the next couple of weeks she might receive another snowmobile
salesman in the mail.

Number two was a Fuller Brush salesman,
Jasper. She'd heard stories about their kind ... but she dived in
nevertheless. She didn't think it would matter that he had more
combs than her. It did. Her hair never looked better, but he kept
bringing up old dandruff stories. He would buy her curlers. She
felt stifled. Finally, the last straw came one evening as they were
watching an old Rick Van Pike rerun. Van Pike's secretary was
sporting an over-sized bee-hive hairdo that bordered on beer keg
capacity. Jasper cast a raised eyebrow Rita's way. The glance said
it perfectly. How about it? That could be you, hon.

In between mountain peaks and Van Pike
reruns, Rita and her mini-men bore two daughters, Fern, 15, and
LaVerne, 13. Rita had sent them to boarding school a couple of
years back. They'd be turning boys' heads soon, if they weren't
already ... and Rita's track record in Cupid's court factored
heavily in her decision.

There was also the safe sex dilemma. For
Rita, the only answer would be to split the genders with the
equator. The area between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn could
be the Conjugal Zone ... for couples with the proper paperwork.

BOOK: There's a Shark in My Hockey Pool
4.91Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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