Page 81 of The Keeper

Font Size:  

I do my drills and go to the training room for a workout, the whole time imagining I’m playing the notes of her song on my guitar.

I learn every chord and every word of the lyrics silently in my head, going over it again and again and again.

…But then I saw

Something inside you

Something inside your beating heart

Something for keeping close…

Darin, my goalie coach, stops by to let me know I’ve been cleared for team training and should be able to hit the ice right after the holiday break.

He also lets me know a decision’s been handed down regarding Bryce Barrymore, who’llmostdefinitelynotbe hitting any ice after the holiday break. Not NHL ice for sure. Being hockey royalty doesn’t change the fact that nobody can trust him now. Not willing to risk another incident, New York released him from his contract before the NHL Player Safety review was even complete. Given the maximum fines for “intent to injure” and “illegal check to the head” among his many sins, they dumped him down to WHL junior hockey, skipping over the AHL minors altogether. On the record? It’s for the purpose of “further growth and development.” Pretty sure they meanemotionalgrowth and the development of someanger-managementskills. Barrymore won’t be back to the NHL for a long time, if ever. Coach said there’s a rumor he’s leaving North America to play somewhere in the KHL. The Russian league has a long history of welcoming players like Barrymore, who’ve had their asses canceled by the NHL.

Hopefully, he gets some help with his problems, but he probably won’t. I guess he could write a book:How I Blew-Up My NHL Career in One Dirty Game, by Bryce Barrymore.I wouldn’t read it though. He’s dead to me and, I won’t waste any more thoughts on him or time dwelling on what’s over and done with. I’m just grateful the fucker didn’t endmyNHL career along with his. My eye has healed perfectly. Thank God.

What has amazed me though? The extraordinary and unmitigated support from the team, Max Terry included. I didn’t exactly impress him with my loyalty on our first meet, but he surprised me with his visits and messages of support when I was in hospital and then during rehab. Impressive. I felt a part of the Crush family, something unexpected and welcome.

In the locker room, I shower and dress quickly, eager to get home to my guitar so I can start learning Billie’s song for real, not just in my head—

Evan catches me before I can get out the door.

“Hey, Cal, you doing okay lately? You don’t seem like yourself.”

“Sorry, man.” I lean against the wall of lockers with a sigh. “I’ll be fine when I get back on the ice. Coach just talked to me. Said I’ve been cleared for right after the break.”

“Not talking about your injury, my guy. You’re just a little out of it.”

Chewing on my bottom lip, Billie’s face comes to mind. I’m not into spilling my feelings, especially not to my captain, but I’ve heard from Dale during one of his gossip-slash-therapy sessions how Evan and his wife, Holly, had a pretty bumpy road to what seems like a happy relationship now.

“I—I made a mistake…with someone I love.” Once I start, the words do come. Evan has always been easy to talk to. “It’s been hard to concentrate.”

“Your girlfriend?”

“Billie, yeah. The woman I met doing that PR thing at the Crush Foundation Music Workshop. We’ve been…well, things were good. But she’s in a band and so crazy talented. They’ve been in LA doing music for a movie and now an album and I’m just not comfortable with change. So, I got scared and pushed her away. Told her if she left, we were done. But I think—”

“It was a bonehead thing to do?”

“Yeah.”Iknowit was.

“Yeah,” he agrees. “It probably was.”

“She sent me a long email and a song she wrote, and it’s amazing. And I can’t get her out of my head.”

“That’s how you know it’s right, mate,” he says, clapping me on the shoulder and giving it a squeeze with his big mitt. “Believe me. I have been there.”

“I just don’t know what I’m supposed to do next. I need to tell her how I feel, but I am not good at sharing feelings. Not at all, yeah?”

“Yeeeaaah.” Evan lets out a chuckle and then a slow shake of his head. “Well, here’s the thing, a lot of the guys—and that’s most of them in this locker room—who have any kind of relationship worth something has had his head up his arse at one point or another. And to add to that, there’s a fun tradition around here of making sloppy, grand gestures once we get our heads right. Maybe you can think of something that would tell her, with no hesitation, that she is the one for you.”

I thank him and head out, walking home with Billie’s song still on constant repeat in my head.

And wracking my brain for what “grand gesture” I could possibly come up with that would be something worthy enough for the woman I love.

* * *

Studyingthe words in Billie’s song more intensely, I realize these lyrics are all about me. I did get that vibe the very first time I heard the song, but I just thought the lyrics moreapplied to me,not that the songwas written specifically about me.

Articles you may like