Jason Midnight #2: Voodoo, Love and Hockey

Reads: 238  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 0

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic
Someone is fixing local sports events ... But is it in the name of Voodoo? Love? Or Hockey? Will Jason Midnight determine who has the fix in and why in time.

Submitted: March 26, 2012

A A A | A A A

Submitted: March 26, 2012

A A A

A A A


Voodoo, Love and Hockey

 

 

 

 

 

Shortly after she turned seventeen, Ruby Skipstone awoke one morning and understood everything.

"Voodoo, Love, and Hockey!"

She sat straight up in bed, thrilled to her core. She finally had it!

It's a revelation, she thought, swinging her legs out of bed. She announced to the world, "These are the forces that drive the Universe. Voodoo, Love, and Hockey."

Her father called to her from down the hall to hurry up or she'd miss the bus for school. She ignored him. She'd been doing that a lot, since Mum left home and life lost its anchor. But she'd always been creative. She'd known the answer would come to her some day.

"I wish I could remember what I was dreaming. What gave me the key ... But now that I've got it, all I have to do is use it!"

 

***

 

Fat Eddy Hawkshaw, coach of the Weighthouse Hawks Hockey Team, sits me down across the desk from him in his "office". The tiny room stinks of sweat socks and stale jockstraps. I note he uses a bronzed beer bottle as a paperweight. The Weighthouse is an old North End landmark previously owned by the railway, just south of the train yards. Now the City owns it, and has converted it into a range of offices for community groups. Somehow, Fat Eddy found a way to weasel a spot for himself as well. Try’n keep him out …

Fat Eddy tells me, dead serious, "Someone's been bribing my kids to throw games."

"Last time I checked, no one could have bribed your kids enough to win a game."

"That was before I discovered HULCOPRO Integrated Training," he announces smugly.

"You got your kids on steroids?"

His grin disappears. "That's none of your damn business! I'm telling you they're good enough to win any game now in this league, any time, any night of the week, if they want to. When they don't win, they don't want to. We're in the divisional finals now, y'know. Best of seven. We were up three games to one, but now we've lost two in a row. The next game, tomorrow night, says it all. But I tell ya – somebody's paying these kids to take a dive. We're the odds on favorites to win – and I know we can win, if everything's legit."

"Who do you think's paying off the kids? For that matter, who's taking it? What kind of a player on a team you coach could possibly be considered pivotal?" I'm still having trouble grasping the concept of Fat Eddy's Hawks being winners.

"From the goalie on up, they're all pivotal. But as for taking bribes, I'd check the Frenchies first."

"Ahhhh. You always were a Leafs fan, you're prejudiced against natural talent."

"Hey! It's got nothin' to do – "

"Don't make that noise with me!"

"You're such a red hot Habs fan, you can leave Canada with 'em!"

"You never knew a great defenceman when you saw one!"

"Savard was a turkey! A turkey, I tell ya!"

"He was an all star from day one!"

Woo! Just like being back in Grade Eleven again. The fights in the schoolyard after the Wednesday night Canadiens-Maple Leafs NHL games on TV – I loved it.

Fat Eddy's face grows more pained than usual. "For the love of the Game, Jason ... for the Love of Hockey, you gotta take the case!"

Fat Eddy pleading is a disgusting sight. "All right ... But I have a feeling we're missing one of the key elements here."

 

***

 

One a.m., Friday. The championship game between the Hawks and the Woodchucks was scheduled for ten pm, Friday evening. Because of the important nature of the game, it was down for an early start, and the Hawks were being allowed to practice on the Woodchucks’ turf to get the feel of the ice. Practice times for both teams were scheduled as normal, however.

The game, and the practices, were held in the Eddie Coy Arena in suburban Churchwood. Churchwood was an eclectic mix of higher class river lot residential property developed for doctors and other professionals, butting onto land that was still actually farmed by a distinctly lower income type of citizen. Unlike the Weighthouse team however, ninety-nine percent of the Churchwood players came from rich families. For reasons of class alone, they had been expected to sweep the series against Fat Eddy’s Hawks. Fat Eddy’s team was on the ice, practicing. Their Churchwood opponents wouldn't take the ice until two a.m., but the 'Chucks already had two supporters in the stands, Stacey Klimkiw and Wanda Balon. "We're outta our minds," Stacy kept telling Wanda.

"Oh chill out. Where else you gonna see truly gorgeous guys at three in the morning?"

"But they're all sweaty!"

"Ewwww! Look who else is here ...”

Wanda pointed out Ruby Skipstone walking down the row of seats four up from theirs. Stacey shrugged.

"Yuk! She's so Goth. What's she doing here? Is she going out with one of the team?"

"Ruby? Get serious. She's too scary. Plus, you know, like, she reads."

"Yuk."

Ruby ignored her critics. She made her way down to the end of the ice where Brian Fielding was minding the nets for the red practice team of the Hawks. She felt so confident, she was positively buoyant. It was all coming together so nicely. The number one goalie of the Hawks, the middle of the night. Hockey and Voodoo.

Love came into the picture too, of course, aimed at Dean Stillwell, dashing center and leading scorer on the Churchwood Woodchucks. Ruby's vision compelled her to choose an object to love, and Stillwell was so obviously the right object – so simple, so uncomplicated, so Hockey. Such – an object. She would let him know about the spell she'd placed on him after the final playoff game ended. After Stillwell scored the winning goal, in the dying seconds of the game ... on Brian. That was what she was here to arrange, tonight.

She sat in the stands directly across from Brian. Just far enough up so she was closest to him of all the players on the ice, just far enough forward so eventually he would have to notice her there.

She took off her parka, and sat down, revealing nothing but black underneath.

She didn't notice the man sitting in a row high above her, wearing a trenchcoat, smoking a cigarette, even though he wasn't allowed to in the arena, watching her intently.

He took in the colour of her clothes. He noted her interest in Brian.

He nodded ...

 

***

 

Things had to be done in a certain sequence at the end of practice by Fat Eddy's Hawks, certain gestures had to be made at certain times, a well-defined order of events had to be followed every moment to keep the Hawks precisely on their game.

Most important of all the rituals was the final butt-slap routine that had to follow a strict order of defense-center-right wing-defense-left wing-goalie, with the goalie getting an extra whack on the back of the head. Violation of this ritual meant certain disaster come game-time, and was guaranteed to raise Coach Fat Eddy's substantial wrath.

As the goalie, Brian Fielding was the most superstitious player on the Hawks. Part of his personal ritual insisted he always be the last player in the showers, alone. After the practice, Brian waited in his sweaty uniform, not even taking off his pads until the last of the other players entered the showers ahead of him. When he finally undressed and took up his soap and towel, over half the team had already left the building. The rest were long gone before he'd lathered his hair with shampoo.

Brian didn't mind being left alone. Especially tonight. Brian was having a good night.

Not many of the hockey foxes came down to watch the goalies practice, that was for sure. Brian hadn't been certain at first what that weird looking girl had been doing in the stands close by him, but he soon realized she had to be there for him. She groaned, loudly, every time he was scored on. She cheered when he made a spectacular save. It was usually the other way around. The girls came down for the glory guys, the big scorers. They usually yelled when the puck got past Brian, not when he kept it out. When he realized she was there for him, Brian's saves became more and more spectacular, even when they didn't need to be. He got to feeling pretty buoyant – quite the man.

He let his imagination go a little further, alone in the shower. Sure, she was a bit gaunt and ghastly looking, but he could flesh her out a bit in his mind. Suppose she was still waiting for him now, just outside the arena. Suppose she called to him, just as he came out of the building. Suppose they struck up a conversation, and then went back to her place to –

The fantasy suddenly took on an unexpected physical dimension.

"Brian."

He opened his eyes and shrieked, frantically trying to conceal what remained of his modesty. The girl was there with him! In the shower! Fully dressed and wearing her parka with the hood up, to keep her head dry for Chrissake! And she – she was dangling his goalie mask from one finger!

"Bri-ann," she repeated in an enticing voice. "Why don't you come ho-ome with me ...”

 

***

 

The dark figure in the trenchcoat waited expectantly outside the bungalow the girl led the goalie to not far from the arena. He was listening – hard – for a particular sound.

Finally, it came. A familiar sound-system sort of noise, the bass side of the scale turned up full and the treble turned right down. He could feel the throbbing through the walls. The throbbing, pulsating, beating rhythms of the bass, and – the drums.

The figure nodded once grimly, then melted away, a dark shadow lost in the deeper darkness of the night.

 

***

 

Ruby turned away from the stereo controls and smiled. Everything was going just right.

Without questioning, Brian had drunk the drugged glass of wine she'd given him. He immediately fell into a trancelike stupor – still awake, but hardly capable of conscious action. Then she'd stripped him again, and tied him to a chair so he wouldn't fall over.

She had been waiting to conduct this ritual since she'd first conceived it. But obviously it was necessary for her Dad not to be home, because of the noise. It was all really just too, too perfect that Father was called away on a business trip the weekend of the seventh and deciding game in the hockey finals ... Proof again of the truth of her vision.

She cranked up the volume. Drums and the heavy bass rumbled through the house.

She returned to Brian and quickly undressed. Underneath her black clothes, her body was painted in wild colours – but only the team colours of the pre-1967 expansion National Hockey League. She began to draw wild emblems and spiraling arabesques over Brian's chest, arms, and legs – focussing especially on his glove hand.

Ruby hoped the magic marker on her own body would wash off, especially before she got Dean Stillwell back here after the big game. However, it was a risk she was willing to take.

After she finished her drawing, she put her pens away. Then she took up Brian's goalie mask.

It was Jacques Plante style, full cover plastic, not the European cage that was currently popular. She was pleased Brian was a traditionalist goalie. Jacques Plante, after all, was the second most important of the Goalie Gods. She held out the mask in both hands, offering it to Brian. His eyes rolled in his head, following her movements dumbly.  She began to dance, in a strange display, part sexual aggression, part stick-handling. She constantly waved the goalie mask before Brian, now turning it to face him, empty eyehole to empty eyehole.

She began to chant, quietly at first, then increasingly louder, in eerie, undulating rhythm, following the beat of the drum behind her.

"Giac - oh - min ... Driiiii-den! Giac - oh - min ... Driiii-den! ... GerryCheevers ... GerryCheevers ... Esposeeeeeee - toe! Esposeeeeeeee - toe! ... ParentParentParent ...” Her voice sank to an absolute whisper. She held the mask motionless. "Jacques ... Plante ... Jacques ... Plante ...” Suddenly she thrust savagely with her hips and slid the mask triumphantly over her own face. She screamed "VEZINA!" and collapsed, in a sweaty heap.

Slowly, she raised her masked head. The spirit of the Mask had taken her. The rhythm of the drum beat on. Her body rose again, but not under her own control. Again, she danced – now part extreme sexual agitation, part goalie-making-extravagant-saves.

Brian watched. Meek. Silent. Motionless.

The Spirit had been invoked.

Now it must be appeased.

 

***

 

"As if I don't have enough troubles," Fat Eddy complains to me half an hour before game-time. "My number one goalie shows up tonight with a hangover, a hard on and the stupidest looking painted mask you ever seen!"

"Don't worry, don't worry," I calm him. "He's got another mask, if he needs it?"

"Yeah. But what – "

"Don't worry. I got it all figured out."

I light a cigarette.

"There's no smoking in the arena," Fat Eddy growls. "Light me one too."

 

***

 

The Eddie Coy Arena was packed with cheering fans. Churchwood had come out in force to cheer on its Woodchucks to victory. But Fat Eddy Hawkshaw's Weighthouse Hawks did not give an inch in the first period. Brian Fielding skated out onto the ice and was met with jeers and catcalls at the sight of his wildly colored day-glo goalie mask. But tonight, Brian Fielding was a stone wall. He was more than a hot goalie. He was cool. He was unflappable. Unemotional. Unbeatable. A Zombie.

No matter how many surprisingly good chances the Woodchucks had to put one by him early, Brian was always there, invincible, like a wooden post in the middle of every open scoring door.

Ruby Skipstone sat quietly in the stands, clutching a strangely shaped doll in her lap. Unnoticed, the man in the trenchcoat sat directly behind her. As long as the goalie stayed hot, he would not interfere.

Ten minutes into the second period, the home team Woodchuck fan furor began to fade. The Hawks scored once, then again.

Still, Ruby made no move with her doll. Two-nothing was still close, this early in the game.

 

***

 

The Woodchucks could not get the puck past Brian. Then, with a minute and a half left in the second period, the Hawks scored again. That was it. Three-nothing, with only a period to go. The crowd heaved a huge collective sigh.

Ruby sat up, suddenly alert. A last minute-of-the-period goal by the Woodchucks to change the momentum of the game would only be correct ...

She gripped her doll tightly. The man in the trenchcoat sitting behind her straightened in his seat, watching.

Play began again, but before the Woodchucks could make it down to the Hawks' end of the ice, the leading scorer on the Hawks inexplicably charged the leading enforcer on the Woodchucks. The enforcer replied in time-honored fashion, flattening the top Hawk with one punch. Seeing their top player threatened by the goon, all the other Hawks on the ice dashed to the rescue, gloves flying in all directions.

Perplexed, Ruby and the man in the trenchcoat watched the melee. Behind the Hawks' bench, Fat Eddy flew into a profane frenzy. Behind the Woodchucks' bench, their coach practically rubbed his hands in glee.

When the battlers were sorted out, the referee ejected the entire number one line and the number two defenceman from Fat Eddy's Hawks, along with the rightwinger and the center of the Woodchucks' checking line, and their number five defenceman. Fat Eddy was insensate with rage. Fat Eddy let this be known. Fat Eddy was given a warning by the referee.

Fat Eddy had 500 bucks riding on this game. And his team was still winning. Fat Eddy shut up.

Brian – the amazing Brian – would have to see them through.

Play resumed. The still angry Hawks would not let the Woodchucks out of their own end. With five seconds left, a defenceman made a clearing shot from behind his own redline. The puck flipped lazily, long and slow, down the ice, over everyone's head, right at Brian. Brian skated mechanically out from his crease to block the clear.

Ruby yanked the feet out from under the doll. Down went Brian, ingloriously on his butt. Into the net went the puck.

The cheer that went up in the arena rang deafening from the rafters.

The man in the trenchcoat frowned. The second period ended.

Ruby smiled, imagining the atmosphere the two coaches would create in the dressing rooms during the intermission. The death threats from Fat Eddy. The exhortation, the we-can-do-it! good cheer from Sam Mathews, the Woodchucks' coach. Inspiring her love, Dean Stillwell, to achieve that heroic level of performance. Only to be surpassed by his performance with her, in bed later on in the evening. She shivered. It was epic. It was all going to be just so perfect.

She stroked the doll in her lap, giggling, imagining the sensations this would provoke in the Hawks' goalie. He'd be hot indeed, at the beginning of the third period. But by the end ...

The man in the trenchcoat eyed her appraisingly. Then he slipped out of his seat and purchased a styrofoam cup of coffee at the canteen. Along with the coffee, he took five plastic stirsticks and a small container of cream. He emptied the coffee and the cream container into a garbage receptacle. He went back to his seat, taking a pen from a pocket in his trenchcoat as he sat down. Reaching out very cautiously with the pen, he lifted Ruby's short woolen scarf from the hood of her black parka draped over the back of her seat. The teenagers on either side of him watched curiously. He ignored them.

He began to fiddle with the styrofoam cup and the other objects in his lap. The third period began.

Brian was hot again. With their main line out, Fat Eddy's Hawks were no longer an offensive factor in the game. The Woodchucks swarmed the Hawks' end of the ice, firing shot after shot, but the post was back in place. Brian, despite his incredible gaff in the dying seconds of the previous period, was unbeatable once more. The Woodchucks poured on the pressure, but Brian withstood all, barely breaking a sweat.

Time began to tick away. Despite dominating the play, the Woodchucks began to look desperate. They had to score!

Ruby sat quietly in the stands, waiting it out. Not a single line of concern marked her face. With the amount of shots on the net the Woodchucks were getting, it wouldn't require a great deal of time to tie the score, then win it. And she had to work it correctly so Dean Stillwell scored the deciding goals. The goals that would give her possession of Dean.

With five minutes left in the game, she acted. A Woodchuck defenceman took a long shot from the center line. Ruby yanked the doll's left foot slightly. The puck slid by Brian as he jerked in the wrong direction.

The crowd went wild. Three-two, with time running out. The players lined up again. Ruby grinned a mile wide. It was all so right.

The trenchcoated man leaned forward and tapped her on the shoulder. Surprised, she looked around.

"The doll," the man nodded towards her lap. "Give me the doll."

"Eh?" She was stunned – too shocked to take in what he was asking. How could he –

"The doll," the man repeated. "Give me the doll."

She weighed the situation. But play had started! She was losing control of the game. "No!" she snapped, starting to turn away. But then she caught sight of what the man was holding.

Ruby recognized the scarf. The styrofoam fetish was of her.

The crowd around her groaned as the Woodchucks missed scoring opportunity after scoring opportunity. Brian was stonewalling them dead again. Ruby was running out of time. She stared intently at the fetish, thinking desperately. The man held out his free hand. "The doll. Give me the doll. Or else." He held up the styrofoam figure threateningly.

Ruby rose from her chair slowly, standing to face the man.

The rest of the crowd were suddenly also on their feet, yelling! The Hawks had moved out of their own zone for a second, but then Dean Stillwell stole the puck at his own blueline and dashed loose on a breakaway, bearing down on Brian Fielding in the Hawks' goal. The tieing goal was on Ruby’s Hero's stick!

Ruby took this in from the corner of her eye. Slowly, she held out her Brian doll ...

The man rose to accept it.

"A trade," she demanded.

He held out the styrofoam figure.

Stillwell was within 25 feet of Brian. The crowd's roar rose in anticipation ...

Ruby and the man reached out for each other's dolls –

The crowd whined in anticipation of Stillwell's shot – or Brian's save.

Ruby slammed the Brian doll down on the back of her chair, knocking its head off. The man in the trenchcoat dropped his doll in surprise. Ruby fell over backwards, almost taking out two people in the row ahead of hers.

Clutching at his head, Brian toppled helpless to the ice, his mask shattering into a thousand plastic shards. Stillwell shot! At the empty net – !

... And missed it by an outhouse mile.

 

***

 

"What happened, Eddy?"

"I had 500 bucks riding on this game ... ! Jesus! Jee-sus!"

"All ri – you bet on your own game?"

"Hey! It's a tough league – "

"I don't want to hear about it."

"Fat lotta good you are! I hadda catch the kids taking the bribes!"

"What do you mean?"

"Pulver and the rest! My leading scorer! My top line! I got them all to confess between the second and third periods. That bastard Mathews, the Woodchuck's coach, he bribed them to throw the game – start that fight that got ‘em all kicked out! I beat it out of 'em!"

Hmp. That hadn't occurred to me. "But I – hold it. If you had proof the game was rigged before it was over, why didn't you call it?"

"Two goals up with a hot goalie? Fer-git it! If they went ahead there, at the end, I mighta said something, but in the circumstances – "

"Yer a slime, Fat Eddy."

"And proud of it. How'd you know Brian would need a second mask though? That was eerie.  Especially the way his first one just exploded like that. I never seen a goalie mask explode before."

"How is the kid?"

"He finished the game, eh? Said he had a headache, but he took us all the way, WOOH!"

Yeah, a hot goalie saved the day ... But why was he so hot? Oh well. His doll was broken, and he made the last five saves wearing a normal mask. I suppose we should chalk something in this game up to natural talent.

... Still.

"How much did you pay Stillwell, Eddy?"

"None of yer business."

 

***

 

Ruby waited in the shadows outside the arena. Dean Stillwell, the Hero ... What a jerk, what a, what a ... dumb puck. The entire cosmic perfection of the evening was ruined. The moment, gone. The power – not obtained. The Love – lost.

Still. She was young. She was resilient. She'd bounce back.

She watched the last two Hawks leave, slapping each other on the butts and whooping with joy at their win.

Good, she thought. She sauntered into the building, towards the Hawks' dressing room.

Brian would be alone in the shower by now ...


© Copyright 2020 urbansundog. All rights reserved.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Add Your Comments:

More Thrillers Short Stories