I never thought my head could hurt this badly in my life. Mental note to self, never EVER drink a ton of vodka right after you have a concussion. Stupidest idea on the planet earth. I rolled over in bed with absolutely no idea how I got there. The last thing I remember was bringing Geno a drink. What happened after that? I got up, stumbled to the bathroom and looked in the mirror. Red eyes, hair a mess, and make-up smudged. I looked like the hangover poster child. I splashed some water on my face, put my hair in a pony tail and walked back into the bedroom. I sat down on the bed as I tried to gather my thoughts, but then I heard noise from down in the kitchen. Thank God Max was here. I really needed some answers. As I rounded the corner into the kitchen and saw Kris sitting at the table, I knew something was definitely wrong. He was hovered over the newspaper and didn’t even hear me enter the room.
“Uh, hi Kris,” I said from the entryway. He jumped, shoved the paper in his lap and turned around.
“Good morning, Riley. I tried to cook for you, but I’m not too good,” he said, blushing. I looked over at the burnt bacon in the frying pan and immediately felt sick to my stomach.
“Aw, thanks. I don’t think I could eat anything anyway.” I walked over to the table and sat down opposite from him, bracing myself for whatever bad news he had to give. This was it, wasn’t it? I made a complete fool of myself at the club last night and Max finally decided that he didn’t want to be with me anymore. We were officially over before we even began and he hated me so much that he sent Kris over here to break up with me for him. “Where’s Max?”
“Oh Max? He’s at the…” The last few words of his sentence were inaudible.
“Oh just the…” Another inaudible sentence.
“Come on Kris, where is he?”
“Thepolicestation.” He said it so quickly that I wasn’t sure I heard him right.
“The police station?!” I got up from my chair and walked to the counter and back. “What do you mean the police station?!”
“It’s no big deal really,” Kris said quickly. “There was a tiny little altercation last night. But really, no big deal.”
“Oh good God! Let me see that paper.” I extended my hand towards the newspaper in his lap.
“It’s nothing to see really it’s just---”
“Give me the paper now, Kris.” He handed it over and I flipped it to the sports section. Staring me right in the face was that hideous picture of Geno kissing me in the locker room yesterday. The caption underneath it read ‘True love at last?’. I shuddered and scanned the rest of the paper. At the very bottom in huge bold letters there read a headline. ‘Penguin Brawl’. My breath caught in my throat as I read the rest of the article.
‘Last night at popular Penguin hangout, Club Diesel, dancing and drinking weren’t the only entertainment of the night. After a little too much to drink, two players began exchanging some words and much to everyone’s surprise, an actual physical fight erupted. Sources say that at first the fight was strictly between the two men, but soon other players jumped in and it became an all out brawl. We have received word that some of the players were even brought down to the station. As of now, no charges were pressed.’
I let the paper fall from my hands and flutter to the floor. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. This was not happening. No way. Going down to the police station?! Alright, time to wake up from this nightmare.
“What happened last night, Kris?”
“Well, you got really drunk and Max wanted to take you home, so he told Geno that he didn’t care what his opinion was, he was taking you home no matter what. Then Geno got in his face and said that if Max wanted to take you home, he’d have to go through him first and then Max hauled off and punched Geno in the face. And then Geno got pissed and punched back and he was beating Max up pretty bad. You know how big Geno is. It was really tough to watch. So then Jordan jumped in and started defending Max and he was beating up on Geno, telling him to leave Max alone and that Max only had your best interests in mind and that Geno was too much of a moron to see that. And, well, Jordan’s a pretty big guy too so the fight was a little more equal. And then from out of nowhere Ryan, jumps in, taking Geno’s side. I have absolutely no idea why. So then it was two against two. But you know how Sid hates fighting? So he stepped in to try and stop it, but a stray fist caught him in the side of the face and his nose started bleeding. Then he got pissed and asked Ryan what he did that for. And Ryan didn’t even care, he was just like ‘well, you were in the way’ so then everyone was just like punching randomly and then Tyler goes over there to give it another go at breaking things up, but it was no use. He just got sucked into the fighting too. And I’m thinking this is all crazy because they’re all teammates. Like what are they doing, you know? But then from somewhere in the middle of all of that, Max yells at me to take you home. And I grab you and as I’m leaving, everyone’s standing around staring and then I call Flower and tell him what happened and he said he was coming over there to try and talk some sense into them. And when we got back here, I put you in bed and I decided to stay, you know, just in case you got sick or something. And then I got a text from Dan, saying that practice was cancelled. And I knew something really bad had to have happened for practice to be cancelled. And then I got another text from Flower, saying that they all went down to the police station. And yeah that’s it.”
I honestly couldn’t believe what I was hearing. This was absolute, ABSOLUTE insanity. I was coming between a team. This was just…wow. I sat down on the floor and put my head in my hands.
“Oh my God, Kris. Oh my God. I can’t believe it. This is all my fault. I bet they never wanna see me again. Any of them. I wouldn’t blame them either. I mean, who wants someone who causes this much trouble hanging around. I’m poison. I’m poisoning their team. I’m awful. I’m ruining everything.” Kris sat down next to me and put his arms around me. I let my head rest on his shoulder.
“Shh. You’re not ruining anything. It’ll be okay. Honestly. You’re not coming in between anybody.”
“OH MY GOD! I’m the Yoko Ono!”
“Will you stop? You’re not the Yoko Ono. Just relax. Everyone’s going to be fine. Nobody hates you, I promise.”
Max’s Point of View
“What the fuck is this?!” Dan yelled at all of us once he got down to the station. When no one answered, he repeated the question. “Are you all deaf?! I said, what the fuck is this?” I had never seen coach this angry…ever. “I have to come down to cancel practice because half of my players are in the station?! Oh, someone better have a good ass explanation for this and someone better have it now!” His gaze sat heavily on Sid and I felt extremely bad for him. He just tried to break it up. “Crosby? Got an answer for your team?”
“It’s not his fault! I started this,” I said, standing up.
“Talbot? Is that you? Jesus Christ look at your face!” He covered his face with both his hands, rubbed his temples and looked back at me. “Start talking.” How in fuck’s sake was I going to explain this? I didn’t want to get Riley in trouble. Think fast.
“Alright well, we were drinking and then I saw Geno and he was…uh, kissing Riley and then I got jealous, because, I liked her or whatever. So then I punched him.” Skepticism spread like wildfire over everyone’s faces and Dan wasn’t buying any of this.
“Sit down Talbot. Anyone care to give me the truth? Or so help me, I will bench all of you! Don’t give me that look Kennedy. I can do it and I will.” Jordan immediately stood up, gave me a shrug, and began telling the whole story. After he was finished, coach sat down and looked at all of us.
“Listen to me, right now. All of you. I don’t care what the hell is going on in your private lives. You leave that shit at home. Everyone get out of here except for Talbot and Malkin.” The guys scrambled for the door and I was left alone with Dan and Geno. “This story is far too complicated for me to even follow, but hear me now. I will not tolerate you two acting out like this, ever again. Just keep up whatever little deal you have where Riley is seen with Geno in public or whatever. I think it’s ridiculous, but that’s just me.” He took a breath, and then looked at us in an almost fatherly way. “I know this sounds odd coming from your coach, but just hear me out. Geno, I think it’s in everyone’s best interests if you just let Riley date whoever she wants to date. Making her be with you in public isn’t going to make her fall in love with you. It’s just not. I have no idea why you chose to bring the media into this though. That was highly uncalled for, but what’s done is done. Now on the other hand, Max, if Geno does indeed want this little scheme, it’s best to respect that, alright? I know you care about her, but if you want to make it easier for everyone involved, you’ll learn to live with it. This is all just too much for me. The shit you guys get into.” He almost laughed a little. “Anyway, I’ll tell this to the rest of the team later, but you guys are walking on eggshells now. I don’t know who called the cops, but God help them when I find out. This is a media buffet. As of now, you are to avoid all press questions having to do with this situation. When we finally release some sort of statement, it will boil down to the fact that you guys just had too much to drink and harmless teasing turned into something more. Jesus, I have no idea how to make this sound remotely good.”
“But what happens when people who were there that night start speaking out?” I asked.
“It’s our word against theirs.”
“Yeah, but what if they all band together or something.”
“Can you shut up for like three seconds?! We’ll worry about that when the time comes. I’m more concerned with whether or not you’ll be able to play. You’re going straight to the arena after this so a trainer can look at you. Seems like you got the worst end of the fight.” I looked to my right into some cheesy mirror that said ‘You could be the hero’. I had two black eyes and my right cheek was swollen. My nose felt tender, I hoped to God it wasn’t broken, and my lip was busted. “Alright, let’s go.” Geno walked out ahead of us and Dan caught my arm. “I’m sorry about everything that happened. But I think that now that the media’s involved, you might want to just go along with this Geno scheme. It’s obvious he introduced her to the press to get back at you for cheating with her, but maybe it’s a good idea to humor it, at least until this whole thing blows over. I know it won’t be easy, but I think it’s what’s best. I can’t tell you how to live your life, Max, but think about it.”
Chapter Six - Tied Together
7 years ago