We played the Wolverines in the Square three days after we killed the Flyers. I had just walked into the locker room when the usual pre-game banter sparked.
“Who you gonna piss off tonight man?” 58 asked.
“I heard Carmen was pretty irritable. I bet I can shake a fucker up,” I told him.
“Dude you really know how to sell tickets,” he said.
“What do you think pays the bills?” I asked.
“Well shit, with all the women who come in this place wearing number 27 maybe your dick could pay the rent.”
“No man. Maybe in my Kings’ days — the twenties. Not when I’m 34.”
The younger teammates always got a kick out of the women in the crowd. Most of the guys my age were married. They’d been through the routine. It was all part of it. Sometimes it was fun and other times, it was tiring. Of course it was flattering, but the women couldn’t handle anything past a decent fuck. I could see the next “Star” cover now: “Black rapes fan; now she’s pregnant” — not a shot in hell. I suited up and got onto the ice.
I spent the same time in the box as I did on the ice. I had found Carmen two minutes into the first period and asked him about his sister — how was she in bed? Apparently, it didn’t settle well and he tried to sever my skull with his stick. I handed him a black eye and we both ended up with a couple of roughing penalties. From the box, I could see the puck bunnies — the team wives, sitting in their usual spot. There were younger children surrounding them, all screaming for cotton candy or a t-shirt probably. I wondered what Kate was doing. Two sections above the wives were the p-fucks. They were loud and exposed.
I took a long shower in the locker room; it was quiet when I got out. I walked home that night. It was almost December in New York. I’d been in town two months, but hadn’t met many people. My social circle didn’t extend beyond my doorman or the team. I didn’t miss L.A. though. Getting signed to the Rangers came at a good time; sometimes the West proved itself a little too crazy for me.
When I reached my floor, I stopped in front of Kate’s place. I reached my hand up to knock on the door, but stopped when the door opened. She had a puzzled look on her face.
“What were you doing?” she asked.
“Oh… I… well I was just getting home from th-“
“The game?” she asked. “Yeah, I saw it was over on TV.”
“You watched it?”
“Well, no, a friend came over and she’s a sports fan. I saw it was on.”
“Oh, I see,” I said, not knowing where to go next.
“Well I was actually heading to your apartment just now,” she said.
“Really?” I asked. I didn’t know her well, but I wasn’t opposed to having a woman around the apartment. She was cute.
“Yeah. The Fed Ex man dropped a painting off here the other day. I opened it thinking it was a dress I’m waiting on, but it definitely isn’t,” she said. “She pulled a giant canvas toward the door. It was painted black with the white Chanel symbol in the middle, joined by a blue-haired woman who was topless.”
“Wow. I’m somewhat embarrassed,” I said, although it cost a fortune and was an amazing piece of work. It was too early to be talking over tits.
“Don’t be,” she said. “I just wouldn’t place you as someone to have this in their apartment, but to each his own I guess.”
“What makes you say that? You think I’m some kind of hard-ass?”
“Don’t flatter yourself,” she said. I didn’t think athletes had a creative side.”
“Ouch,” I said. “Well I do. Would you like to come over and help me decide where to hang it?”
“Are you going to give me a black eye if I say no?” she asked, smiling.
“No…I’m not like-“
“I’ll think about it Mr. Creative,” she said, pushing the canvas toward the door. “Have a good night.”
Shit. I couldn’t remember the last time I heard those words from a woman. I mouthed them with my lips. “I’ll think about it.” I grunted to myself as I picked up the painting with on hand and reached into my pocket for my keys with the other. I leaned the Chanel piece against my living room wall and decided I’d hang it another night. I crawled into my Icy/Hot sheets and wondered if Kate was sleeping with someone.
Read part three of “Black & Blue” next Friday, October 9. Need a Bitter Lemon fix over the weekend? Follow me on SnapChat @OrangeJulius7 to see what I’m up to — I’ll be shaking things up in Kansas City! Care to throw some dollars at the cause? Click “donate” in the upper right corner to buy me a shot.