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 (8 page)

BOOK: There's a Shark in My Hockey Pool
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Derek smiled at the recollection of Bruiser.
Kids didn't toy with alliteration or witty sayings when arriving at
nicknames. They simply called them as they saw them ... or felt
them.

Dennis leapt over the boards and came to the
rescue. He skated pell-mell into Bruiser ... and bounced back,
falling down. Dennis jumped to his feet and whacked "Bruiser"
across the shin pads with his hockey stick. The shaft snapped in
two. Dennis looked at what was left in his hands and meekly threw
it aside. The earth suddenly stood still. If you listened hard
enough, you'd swear you could hear Foster Hewitt mumbling an
out-of-town score from some heavenly arena. Combatants,
non-combatants and the nine spectators in the stands held their
collective breath.

Finally, Dennis took a deep breath of his own
and flung his arms down, sending his gloves to the ice. He took two
quick steps forward, bringing his balled fists up into what he
hoped would pass for the defensive position he'd seen in one of
Donnie's boxing magazines. He promptly tripped over one of his
gloves on the ice. He fell forward, his Pugilist Pictorial fists
grasping for air. Instead, they latched onto Reynolds' jersey on
the way down.

The large rearguard was caught by surprise.
He'd been laughing with his teammates beside him after Dennis had
broken his stick. Bruiser had only begun contemplating which of
Dennis' limbs he'd detach first. The next thing Bruiser knew he was
waking up in the west wing at Childrens Hospital for the Sufferin'
on Dufferin Street ... with a bad head ache and a broken nose. The
doctor told him it could have been worse ... if his face-first
landing hadn't been broken by Dennis' other glove.

"Poor Bruiser was never the same after that,"
said Derek.

"You got it, Pontiaque," said Donnie. "Every
time he went anywhere near the corner, he was walking on egg
shells."

"No, no, no," said Dino. "Carryin' eggs in
his pocket is the way you say it. He went into the corner like he
was carryin' eggs in his pocket. For cryin' out loud. Get yer
metamorphosis straight, eh?"

"Easy there, Dino," said Dennis. "The word
you're looking for is metaphor ... and what you're talking about is
actually an example of a simile."

Donnie slammed his mug down on the table.

"You see what we have to put up with all day
long? We can't say boo on the CB without Mr. Goddamn Ferret Student
Encyclopedia here, giving us the what for and here-to-for crapola.
All day long. Blah, blah, blah."

"If ignorance was bliss you'd be pissed to
the gills," said Dennis, poking Donnie good naturedly.

Donnie, the middle Tortellini brother, chewed
on this and looked to the youngest Tortellini for support. Dino had
departed the conversation however, opting instead to make faces at
a nearby statuesque blonde.

"You should've been a teacher," Derek said to
Dennis.

"Shit, there's five million teachers in this
province already," said Dennis. "I'm just glad half of 'em don't
know how to drive."

"Well, while you're busy hauling them away
... perhaps you could lend me a hand."

Derek reached into his pocket and pulled out
a fistful of flyers.

"I'm planning a little hockey game. Well, not
so little ..."

 

... 2 ...

 

Derek filled in the co-owners of Tortellini
Towing Inc. on his venture-turned-vendetta with Herculean. He
warned them Erskine might poke his nose around the neighborhood. As
Derek told them about some of the western regions he'd snagged,
they moved to the shuffleboard table. Derek and Dennis formed one
team, against Donnie and Dino. Donnie and Dennis matched up against
one another at one end of the table, Derek and Dino at the
other.

Donnie stepped up and released his disk down
the board. It slid lazily down the wooden runway, finally easing to
a stop, inches from the end.

"I win ... I'm on easy street," said
Derek.

Dennis stretched out over the table, his body
language coaxing the disk down the table. It stopped beside the
other one. He eyed Derek.

"You don't and you'll be on the street."

Donnie took his position at the firing
line.

"The way I see it ... whatcha gotta do is to
tell the other team you gotta guy who's an epileptic or a psycho
... an' if they lay a hand on'im he'll go apeshit. That's good for
a goal. Two -- if you get a team that's really spooked."

"Or a bunch of P.C.U. polly-annas," said
Dino.

They looked at Dino, then one another for a
clue as to what he was talking about.

"Politically Correct Undergraduates,"
answered Dino. "Sheesh, you guys don't get out much. Haven't you
seen the movie?"

Den mother Dennis rolled up his sleeves. He
enjoyed these frank family discussions. More often than not he
wound up as the mediator ... when a moratorium was suddenly
declared on moral values. Having someone pretend they had epilepsy
presented yet another chance to test the Tortellini ethics.

"Hmm. Political correctness and passion.
Friends or foes?"

"Wait a second," Dino said. He stopped
scrounging around in a bowl of pretzels. "Are we talking about
chasing pucks or women?"

"Either one," said Dennis. "Passion is as
passion does. So where does political correctness end and passion
begin?"

"It depends," said Derek.

"On what?," asked Dennis.

"On how bad you want to win. Look at the
movie Slapshot, Paul Newman called the goalie's wife a dyke. The
guy went ballistic and the Chiefs won."

"Don't encourage these hoodlums," Dennis said
to Derek.

"Donnie?" Dennis looked to his brother.

"It's kind of like the smoking hassle,"
Donnie said, lighting up a cigarette. "Where does the concern for
your health begin and my right to smoke end?"

"About two seconds ago, buster," Dennis said.
He playfully reached out to snuff out Donnie's smoke. Donnie pulled
away, nicotine intact.

"Sorry," Dennis said. "Passion wins that one.
When you kick the bucket from cancer, the human compassion factor
kicks in. When you die -- believe it or not -- even I will feel
sorry for you."

"Okay, Teach," said Derek. "Try this one on
for size. Passion is a sixty-minute hockey game, no holds barred.
Political correctness is playing the national anthem before the
game, playing by the rules, no yelling at the ref ... and the guy
on the bench closest to the gate makes sure it's closed so no one
gets killed. A game-winning goal? Now that's passion. If however,
the game ends in a tie, political correctness has won because it's
just a sister-kisser."

"Nice try, Ken Dryden," said Dennis.
"Alright, then. We know that passion can take a back seat to
political correctness. How soon?"

"Well," Donnie began. "We know that if Dino
goes to put the moves on that blonde he's been oglin', he won't
make it to first base before she puts up the P.C. road block."

"Sez who," challenged Dino.

"Easy, Dino," said Dennis, reaching out to
calm him down. "It's just an analogy."

"No, I wuz --" Donnie began, but a stern look
from Dennis quieted him.

"Given that the world's population is pretty
damn close to a 50-50 male-female split," said Derek, "we agree
that it's politically correct for them to have a relationship."

"I'd say that her P.C. rule book says she has
to give him one line of repartee," said Derek. "That's why she's
here, right?" The others nod matter-of-factly.

"Now first impressions are tough," Derek
continued. "This is human compassion cut to the quick. We're
assuming here of course, that she will feel sorry for him. Dino's
walking the tight rope, standing precariously with that oh-so
important politically correct first line. One false slip of the
tongue and human compassion -- and Dino -- fall off the wire. Be
careful, Dino. We're going without the net today."

Donnie slammed a five-dollar bill onto the
bar in front of Dino. "Blondes aren't your lucky color, bro. My
money's on Dino taking a dive."

"We'll show you who can walk the P.C. walk
and talk the P.C talk," said Dino. He jumped to his feet.

"Phone number, Dino," said Donnie, clarifying
the rules. "And remember ... we'll be watching you -- in case you
try and grab one off the wall in the john."

Dino steadied himself. He paused for effect
... then walked nonchalantly, fairly sauntering over to the
unsuspecting blonde at the table across the bar.

From across the room, Derek, Dennis and
Donnie watched Dino wage war between political correctness and
passion on the curvy plains -- and intellect -- of the
innocent-looking, flaxen-haired, 32-year-old woman.

Dino settled into a chair beside the woman
and to Dennis and Derek's surprise, and Donnie's chagrin, was
allowed to remain in it. Seconds became minutes, before Dino
finally bid adieu and returned to their table, with almost a skip
in his step. He reached into his shirt pocket and pulled out a
crumpled piece of paper. He whipped it onto the table and scooped
up the five-dollar bill in the process.

"Lucky bastard," said Donnie.

"What happened?" asked Dennis.

"I figured I'd fight fire with fire," said
Dino.

"How so?"

"We talked politics."

 

... 3 ...

 

Two hours later at Chez Sam's Sports Bar,
Marcotte continued celebrating his good fortune the past two days
at the draft table. But now the surroundings reflecting off the
Mulesin Dry in front of him were slightly more appealing than the
finger food fare found at Mac's. Here were more exotic entrees ...
like the football player-sized, appetite-of-the-'90s answer to the
Surf & Turf: the Grid & Squid. The sports memorabilia that
adorned the walls of Chez Sam's was also from a higher playing
field. The cast from Bobby Baun's broken ankle was in a glass
display case. A framed Frank Mahovlich sweater took up an entire
wall. In a strange Darwinian display, there were the helmets of
Dave Dunn, Paul Henderson and Borje Salming. Numerous TV monitors
and a pair of large video projection screens kept tugging at
Derek's attention. For the moment, his eyes fixated on the person
across from him, Sylvie.

"How's this for ambience?"

She smiled and looked over his head at the
far wall where a Blue Jays cap rested atop a stuffed nine-foot
marlin. Somehow she knew this restaurant's inventory didn't include
candle-holders. The closest thing to a trio of violin serenaders
was a linesman on the screen breaking up a fight.

"Ah," she nodded. "A locker room without the
smell."

Derek glanced at the menu promising
all-you-can-eat bullpen buffalo wings. The fine print read, "Tastes
like chicken!" He stole a glance at the monitor as the Leafs
defenseman crossed center ice and pounded the puck into the
Vancouver zone. He was only into the second day of his assault on
Mount Everest, but he felt on top of the world, nevertheless.

Marcotte raised his arms, holding court in
their small secluded booth.

"I feel like celebrating. You should have
been there. It was great. I grabbed my old stomping grounds with
the first pick and never looked back."

Sylvie took a slow sip from her gin and
seven. His phone call back to the office hadn't included details
beyond an invitation to the bar tonight. She'd been waiting for him
to hit on her. A lot of women might fret and wade knee deep into
the nearest container of Hog-in-a-Daze ice cream. She knew better
than to check with her perfume girl at Suzie Chic. It wasn't her.
Some men just needed a hand ... others a hand grenade. But Derek
had been busy with the marketing pitch.

"It sounds like you and Artie must have done
okay."

He leaned closer to her.

"You mean, Artie, me ... and you."

Sylvie blushed slightly. Hold the Leafs,
nine-foot marlins and candle-holders. Reality check. She paused to
look at Bobby Baun's ankle cast.

"With our proposal complete, I thought you
wouldn't be needing me any longer."

"On the contrary, my dear. I can keep you
busy."

Their eyes measured one another for a few
spacious seconds ... a subtle but tantalizing confrontation in the
ball game of love. Sylvie, the pitcher -- or person being hit upon
-- wasn't sure what to go with. Derek, the designated hitter, had
already decided what she was going to throw at him. A curve? No.
You always had to keep your eyes open for one ... but it might mess
things up here. A fastball? Not likely. This could easily leave him
flailing and embarrassed. No, if his mental notebook gave him any
indication, she'd go with the ol' female pay-off pitch -- the
change-up. Keep him off guard. He'd take a big, fat swing at it,
alright. If he connected, he'd be running home ... with her.

"Oh?" she said.

Derek's forearms twitched. She was coming in
right over the plate.

"Well, Artie and I'll be on the road," he
said. "It'll be quiet at the office. I'd like to have you there to
keep an eye on things. Let's face it. You're a good luck
charm."

"And I'll be getting paid for this?" She
smirked. She had a ballpark idea of what the firm's operating
budget was. May-Ja-Look was a maple lost in a forest of Douglas
firs. But it was a maple with heart.

"You make it sound so ... professional," said
Derek.

The word "professional" and the alluring look
she gave him in return triggered a chain reaction between them. It
made the toes of Derek's woolen socks curl. He had been working too
hard lately. He'd forgotten the finer things in life. A Leaf goal
overhead went unnoticed.

"Did I just fall prey to some invisible
pick-up line?" she asked.

"I don't know. It's been so long since I've
used one."

 

Sylvie opened the door to her Lakeshore
Boulevard high-rise apartment and poked her nose in. She crossed
her fingers that her roommate had gone out for the evening.

BOOK: There's a Shark in My Hockey Pool
8.8Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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