We practiced in a smaller rink right outside the city. Practice began at nine and after warm-ups, drills, and weights; I was out by one and ready for food. I headed back to the apartment after I picked up lunch. I did my usual drill as I walked by Kate’s door, but I didn’t see or hear anything resembling life inside. I hung the Chanel piece over my couch and stepped back to admire it. I was still mouthing Kate’s last words, “I’ll…think…about…it.” Obviously a “no” since I’d just finished hanging the thought in question. She presented a challenge.
I didn’t think she’d ever been to a hockey game. A puck fuck would wait outside the locker room like it was a Barney’s sale. She said she’d seen the game on TV… but only because her friend was over. I doubted she was impressed with my 98 fights or whatever Sports Center said it was. She couldn’t possibly think I was abusive, could she? My curent approach wasn’t working.
That night, I showed up at Kate’s door with a cheesecake I’d gotten a few blocks over. She gave me a weird once-over when she opened the door.
“Well hello again,” she said.
“Hi there,” I replied. “I brought you something.”
“Oh no, Fed Ex really has us mixed up. Great,”she said.
“Well, no. I brought… it’s from me,” I said, pointing at the white box. I handed it to her. “Here.”
She opened its lid slowly. “An entire cheesecake?” she asked.
“I was thinking we could share it,” I said. “You know, eat some of it together.”
She laughed. “Alright. Now?”
“Sure, if you’d like,” I said.
She opened the door wider, inviting me inside. Her apartment was bright and colorful. There were clothes everywhere, but they were neatly stacked and it looked like they were organized somehow.
“Yeah, I bring my work home,” she said. “I know it looks overwhelming.”
“No, don’t worry about it,” I said. “It’s kind of cool.”
I followed her through the entry that opened up into a wide space, a living room shared with a giant dining table under an old chandelier. She put the box down and moved into the kitchen. She was quiet.
“I didn’t mean to impose on you,” I said. “I can just leave this here for you.”
“No, really, it’s fine,” she said, digging for forks.
“You sure?” I asked. “I just wanted to thank you for keeping my painting.”
“It was no problem,” she said. “Would you like something to drink?”
“Absolutely. Wine, if you’ve got it, please,” I said.
She walked back to the table carrying a bottle of sauvingnon blanc and two glasses. Relief. She was tiny; but her blond hair was rich and full looking. She had tan skin and short, dark nails like they were painted with tar.
“So what do you do all day?” I asked. “I know you told me you were a stylist, but…”
“Well, I work at YM, which is almost a very young Cosmo-type of magazine, you know?” she looked up from pouring the wine. “Anyway, I pick and style the clothes before they take pictures for the fashion spreads.”
“That’s cool,” I said. “Is it the same thing every day or what?”
“Well, it depends on what week we’re in as far as deadlines. I travel to different sets around the city and sometimes I’ll go to events or parties for the magazine. It’s alright.”
“That sounds neat,” I said. She smiled and sat down, pushing a plate toward me.
“So…hockey?” she asked.
I laughed. I hated talking about work. Then I hated myself for asking her about being a stylist. Shit.
“Yes, I play hockey,” I said. “What about it?”
“Well how’d that start?” she asked.
“I played when I was younger and through high school. I went to UCLA, kept playing, and got signed with the Kings when I was 26. I just got traded and moved to New York in September.”
“How do you like it here?” she asked. She took a tiny bite.
I shrugged. “It’s what I thought it would be. I love playing in Madison Square; really neat place. You ever been to a game in there?”
She shook her head. “I’ve been to some concerts there, but no sports.”
“Aw, that’s too bad,” I said. You should think about it. You might have a good time.”
“Maybe. I don’t know if I’d fit in with those wild fans over there,” she said.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
She shrugged. “I don’t know. I’ll think about it.”
* * *
I left ttwo tickets with Kate for my next home game. She acted excited when I gave them to her, but I couldn’t tell if it was real. I told her she should bring her friend and I hoped to see her there. For the first time in Madison Square, I was nervous. If Kate hadn’t already heard about my penalty box habit, she was about to see it for herself. After the progress I made with the cheesecake, I wasn’t sure how it would go over for her. I didn’t know if she would even show.
I looked for her after my first few spats on the ice that landed myself in the box, like always. Her tickets were for section 94; right behind the goal. They were the best seats in the house — better than the ones for the p-fucks. I didn’t see her, but I hoped she was watching. After the game, I showered quickly. Maybe she’d be waiting outside the locker room. I hurried to the doorway.
Read part IV of “Black & Blue” right here, next Friday, October 16. In the meantime, catch up with me on SnapChat, Instagram, and Twitter @OrangeJulius7