Monday, September 12, 2011

chapter eighteen

She didn’t say no.

That is the only shred of hope I have left at the moment, because Kristen didn’t say there was no chance.  Maybe not now, but I can wait.  Hell, I’d rather wait for her that have anything else right now.  All afternoon and evening I imagine grand gestures to win her back - money is literally no object.  Sky writer?  Jewelry?  But all those things are wrong.  Kristen  doesn’t want me to get her something, she’s not in this for the big ticket items.  It’s gotta be something I can do.  Something that says more than ‘I’m sorry.’

And I think about the things that don’t have to do with Kristen, specifically.  Every little while a wave of shame and self-loathing washes over me and I have to stop, stand still, and wait for it to pass.  More than once there are tears.  I am surprised too - for all the times I’ve behaved like this and worse, I was so blissfully unaware.  I thought I was doing so well, as if becoming a better person were something you say and it magically happens.  Wow, a whole month without getting black-out drunk and banging a waitress.  I’m a fucking hero.  I thought the game seven overtime loss to Vancouver was rock bottom, the death of a dream.  It wasn’t even close.

At dusk I pull on my sneakers and go for a run.  The city streets calm me - always requiring attention, providing distraction.  My body aches from the abuse; drinking, vomiting, hating.  I push harder, sweating alcohol, trying to drive it from my body like an infection.  My chest heaves for breath and my muscles burn but I still run.  There’s so much to get rid of.

On some random corner, there’s a flower shop brightly lit.  I trot right in.  Even a sweaty mess, the lady recognizes me or at least my Hawks hat.  She is no doubt disappointed when I order a tiny bouquet of three lilies for delivery to an office tomorrow.  Good thing I’m a pro at letting people down.  After drying my hands and paying, I write out the card and seal it up good.


Jane hauls ten pounds of Thai food toward the couch.  I’m wearing the same clothes as all day, sitting in the same place.  My brain has run itself ragged chasing circles.

“He came here twice today.”

She gasps.  Food stops opening in mid-air.  “You didn’t let him in, right?”

“I went outside the first time.  Second time I was already out there.”


“And he said exactly what I thought he would say - he’s sorry, he didn’t sleep with her, he was really drunk.  I could have written the speech for him.”  

“What did you tell him?”

I had told Patrick nothing.  But that was a silent lie - it had told him something.  What exactly I didn’t know.  Even to myself, my reaction was still open to interpretation.

“Nothing.  I just listened.”

“Wow.  So what happens now?”

Jane was impossible to read.  She was so fiery and took no shit from anyone, but could be surprisingly delicate when handling other people.  Provided they did not outlast her patience, as I clearly had with my post-Tyler funk.

“I don’t know.  I just... I feel stupid.  Like I should want to walk away.  Like I should know bad news when I see it and I certainly don’t want to go back to that place.  If I didn’t learn anything from Tyler then I really am a fool.”

“Do you think Patrick is different?” Jane asks.

“Do you?  Knowing what you knew about him before this week, what you’ve seen in the papers and online, what about Patrick says anything other than ‘self destruct’?”

I close my eyes because I fear her answer.  I fear that she sees nothing redeeming in him and that I shouldn’t either.  He had his chance, wasted it and does not get another.  But I need her validation for even asking this question.

“At Aston’s party.”


She takes a long minute to serve herself some food and chew a bite.  “He was so ‘on.’  He worked that crowd so perfectly, making sure everyone loved him and at the same time thought he was no big deal.  Just another guy.”  She takes another bite.  “He did that for you.”

I stuff a bite of curried rice into my mouth.  Her reaction is surprising and I don’t want to interrupt this rare bout of sensitivity.

“I think Patrick Kane thinks that Patrick Kane is a big fucking deal.  Or at least he used to.  But at that party, he just wanted to be with you.”

I barely get the food down before tears come.  That was just two days ago.

Jane hugs me and lets me cry - this is a position we’re used to after the last four months.  She used to say soothing things like ‘forget about him’ or ‘he was never good enough for you.’  Strangely this time she doesn’t say anything.

“What should I do?”

“You should destroy him.  I mean, not so he can’t play, but tell everyone he has a small dick and chlamydia or rabies or something.  Sell your story to the Tribune.  And you should absolutely fuck Jonathan Toews.  Sex tape.”

I laugh, and it makes me stop crying.  If only she were serious then at least I’d have a game plan.  But Jane just sits back and reaches for her plate.

“I don’t know, Kristen.  I really don’t know.”

I should be listening to the doctor.  He’s been talking for five minute about my wrist and surgery, about the cast they’re going to remove.  This is important stuff and all I can think is that now I could sit on either side of Kristen, that I would have to be so mindful of keeping her on my right.  With two hands I could do a lot of things.

“Got all that?” he asks.

I nod and smile, knowing they’ll give me some detailed post-op training manual and I’ve already done enough PT to get a job here.  They start cutting and unwrapping; the bindings fall to the floor beneath my feet.  I flex my hand, bend my wrist: good as new.

Our head trainer is there with me, and confirms to someone on the phone that I’m finally cast-free.  

“One o’clock tomorrow,” he tells me.  Time for a press conference to show the world that I’m ready to hit the ice when camp starts with everyone else.  Inside I’m relieved, because I need something positive to think about.

Kristen didn’t pick up when I called last night.  I didn’t expect her to.  Nor did I leave a message - there was simply nothing left to say.

I head to the gym, where it’s nearly impossible to concentrate on anything but counting and breathing.  Even after my run last night the exertion is brutal.  I think my body is holding on to the physical effects of my behavior as if there were a way my heart could forget.

In the car, my phone rings.  I pick it up instantly, hoping for the best but it’s Dennis, the head of our communications department.


Uh oh.

“Why am I looking at a photo of you asleep next to some girl on the internet?”

“Oh for fuck’s sake.”  That bitch.  I’m going to let Kristen kill her, then kill whatever is left.  “You’ve got to be kidding.”

“This one’s got 2,372 notes on Tumblr.  You don’t want to know what that is, but it’s as good as a fucking billboard as far as you’re concerned.  So, what is it?”

“Some girl I...,” but I don’t get to finish.

“Where is the girl from the baseball game?  From the paper?”

“She’s, uh... she’s mad.”

I hear Dennis swear under his breath like he’s had enough of me.  There are so many people who feel that way.  If only they knew I agreed.

“Patrick.  You know the drill.  If you go public with a girl then you can’t go public with another girl a week later.  There can’t be news like this every week.”

I definitely know. “This girl had it out for me.  I met her last year and....”

“Is this picture from last year?”

“No,” I tell him because there’s no point in lying.  He’s quiet for a minute.

“Could it be?”

“Uh, I guess.”  As I say it, I believe it.  Maybe my hair is shorter, but I don’t have any scars or anything that clearly mark the time.  Even my cast is not visible.  “Yeah, it could be from last season.”

“Okay, that’s what we’re going with for tomorrow.”

“What?  Tomorrow?”

This man must think I am really slow.  “The press conference tomorrow to talk about your wrist.  We can’t keep them from asking about this.”

Jesus, there’s always something.  I resist the urge to put my forehead to the steering wheel, as I am still driving.  Crashing into someone would only make this worse.

“The girl from the ball game - any chance she’d back you up?”

It hurts to admit.  “Probably not.”

He digests that. “Well that would be a million times better.  Any chance she’ll say you’re lying?”

I don’t think Kristen would do that, not vindictively.  She gains nothing but revenge and I dearly hope she is not that person.  Though she could do that and worse and I would not blame her.  

“I hope not.”

Dennis signs.  “Me too.  Try to get her to come, okay?  Bribe her or something.  You don’t need this shit, Patrick, not before you’re even back on the ice.”

I get the email first thing in the morning.  Of course it’s from Jane.

The picture is online.  

I expected as much.  Two days is a lifetime in this world and Allison would be evil enough to make sure this picture continues to haunt me and Patrick long after the death of whatever we had.  I bet it’s on Tumblr, but I don’t look for myself. Instead I spend the day trying to be invisible at work and hoping to God no one from my office is on that site.

No such luck.  An instant message pops up.  

Arianna: Is this picture of Patrick and another girl old? From last season?

I nearly throw up on cue at the sight of the little window on my screen.  This will go liKe wildfire.  Everyone will know.  They’ll all be too polite to ask but talk about it behind my back until I’m like Easy A except with a scarlet 88 on my chest.

Me: Old?  What do you mean?

Arianna: There’s a picture going around of Patrick and some girl in bed.  She says it’s new.  I say she’s full of shit.

Well there’s a scenario I never considered.  People would believe that.  It may well save my ass around here.  But then I’m protecting Patrick.  I’m covering for him when really I want him to bleed.  But who would I tell anyway, except the people I know?  

In the end, self-preservation wins out.  

Me: Must be old.  

Arianna: Phew.  You looked so happy with him, didn’t want him to have to die.

I spend the rest of the morning alternating between working and resisting the urge to look up that picture and read the comments.  I can only imagine what people will say from behind the safety of their keyboards.  Someday, in a week or a month when I’m over all this, I’ll check it then.

As soon as I can detach myself from the desk, I go out to lunch.  Alone.  I try to think about other things; I window shop, pet a dog tied to a meter outside a deli.  An hour goes by way too quickly and I end up carrying my sandwich back to the office.

Where there are flowers waiting on my desk.

A tiny vase, with three heartbreakingly perfect lilies in full bloom.  They could not be more beautiful in a photograph.  The petals are velvety smooth, the fragrance delicate.  It’s all at once the grandest and most unassuming thing I’ve ever seen.

The envelope has no name on the front.  I slip my finger beneath the seal and tug out the tiny, plain white card.  The elementary school-style handwriting is all boy.

One for every time I made you run away.


  1. Such a great update. And an interesting approach to handling this debacle. Seriously though. Can we all kill Allison? What a spiteful hack! :) Keep up the great work!

  2. That card was seriously the sweetest thing!