“Bro, damn, where you going?” 12 asked.
“Out there…you know,” I said.
“Haven’t seen you head that way in… Well, ever,” he said.
When I raced through the door, my eyes scanned the mob of women. No Kate. I kept walking just to make sure. Someone pulled my sweatshirt from behind. I turned around. It was the sign-holding blonde from a few games before.
“Hey Black,” she said. She was grinning. Her lipstick was smeared and her eyes looked droopy. She was drunk.
“Hi. Do I know you?”
“Well maybe not yet,” she said. She swayed back and forth.
“Oh right,” I said. I looked past her face and behind her, still looking for Kate. “Do you know my first name?”
She put a finger to her lips and furrowed her brow. I kept looking while she mumbled different names aloud.
“No,” I said. “Keep guessing.”
Someone tapped my shoulder. I spun around to see a brunette wearing a jersey.
“Wade?” she asked.
“Yes, hi,” I said.
“Wade!” the blonde shrieked. “See, I knew it.”
“Um, yeah. I’m Amanda,” the brunette said. “I came to the game with Kate.”
Amanda pointed a finger behind her. Kate was standing there, cradling a styrofoam cup.
“Cool. It’s nice to meet you,” I said. “How did you like the game?”
“I loved it. I’m a big fan,” she said. She was eyeing the blonde.
“Good,” I said. “Really glad you guys came out. Is Kate alright?” I wondered why I was talking to Amanda and no Kate.
The blonde interjected. “Wade gave you tickets?” she asked.
Amanda nodded. Great.
The p-fuck tugged on my shirt. “I want tickets.”
“You already have tickets,” I said. “You come to all the games.”
“So you have seen me!” she said.
“Well, it was really nice meeting you,” Amanda said. “And thanks again for the tickets.”
“Hey…wait…er…you’re welcome. Maybe I’ll see you later.”
“Look, it’s time for me to go,” I told the blonde. “Have a nice night.”
I turned my back and walked out of the Square and into the cold night. I really fucked it up. I shouldn’t have even talked to the blonde. But I did and Kate saw and she probably thought I was an abusive asshole. I didn’t know how I was going to get myself out of that one. I didn’t know Kate that well. Maybe she didn’t care; maybe she didn’t like me more than just a neighbor so she wouldn’t be upset. No chance in hell. I’d heard the guys in the locker room talk about their wives to know women get pissed over everything. When I got upstairs, I didn’t look at Kate’s door.
The next day, I got a call from The New York Times. The sports section wanted to do an interview with me in light of the Kings’ game that weekend. I was less than thrilled. They wrote a short piece about me when I got signed to the Rangers. The writer made me look like a dick. It was the same story every journalist wanted to cover: “Black Really is the Bad Guy.” Everything I said was going to be taken out of context. But I couldn’t say no. I agreed to meet the writer in the coffee shop downstairs.
The reporter, Ed, was waiting with a mug of coffee and a yellow Steno pad shortly after we’d spoken on the phone. I’d guessed he was running under a tight deadline. Mostly, we talked about the upcoming game. I told him it wasn’t a rival like everyone made it out to be. Hockey was my job and it just happened to be competitive. This, of course, brought up the anger issue and the number of fights I’d been in, which was now in the hundreds. I tried to keep it short, knowing he was going to blow it out of proportion. He asked me about money and politics. He asked me about women, blushing a little when he brought up the girls that danced on the zambony during halftime.
After the interview, I was done for the day. Ed told me to expect the story Friday — the day I would kill the Kings. I went upstairs and threw something frozen into a pot for dinner. While it simmered, I thought of ways to approach Kate again. I was going to have to go back over there and apologize. Shit. I ate and went next door. Kate answered the door, but didn’t say much. She gestured me in, but I didn’t feel like she really wanted me there. She followed me in the house but went to work on a stack of clothes. She was putting shirts with pants and then taking pictures of them.
…Stay tuned for part X of “Black & Blue” right here, next Friday, October 23! In the meantime, follow me on SnapChat, Twitter, and Instagram @OrangeJulius7.