Not the Only One
DISCLAIMER: Yada yada yada. This story is pure fiction, all names and characters are made up and any similarity to real persons is not only a coincidence, it's damn eerie! Of course, I make no claims about the sexuality or opinions of the real athletes who are mentioned in this story. You'd have to ask them yourself.
Durham, North Carolina - January 20th, 2001
It was the middle of January and I was wearing only a pair of jeans and a grey long-sleeve tee-shirt. Not too bad for winter! I wasn't used to it being this warm in the winter. I shuffled down Franklin street looking for anything that seemed promising. We had lost to the Devils this afternoon in front of another record home crowd. It had been my first loss with the Hurricanes. None of us were too worried because we had played a decent game. In the end, Jersey had just wanted it more. You can't win them all. It was around 8 o'clock on a Saturday night and I was looking to check out the "triangle." I hadn't been around for a Saturday yet. I heard the strains of live music coming from an alleyway. I peaked down it and saw a sign. "The Cave." Well, I was here to check things out so I figured I'd give it a shot. I made my way down the stairs and into the front door. It was smoky and dimly lit but my eyes were already adjusted to the night sky. The bar was pretty packed, and from what I could tell, it was a college bar. All I saw were young people. A live band was in the corner on a small stage beside the bar. I stepped into the pub and headed over to the bar. One bartender seemed to recognize me and cheerfully yelled. "Hey, Nick! What'll it be?" I was taken aback a minute. I guess he recognized me. It was a pretty cool feeling. I ordered a beer.
"Sure man, let me just see some ID." I froze for a moment not knowing what to do. He started to laugh. "Just kidding man, ignorance is bliss, right? I grabbed a cold bottle of Amstel and leaned up against the bar to take in the atmosphere. Groups of guys and girls huddled here and there around the bar, taking in the music, smoke and suds without a care in the world. I was on my second beer and realizing that my tolerance wasn't what it used to be. The band had just started the opening chords from "My Own Worst Enemy" when a group of guys approached me. To my left was a really cute guy with two of his friends. He was your typical all american boy with blond hair and blue eyes. His hair was a little shaggy and his side burns came down over his ears a bit. His smooth and chiseled chin showed no sign of facial hair. He was with two of his friends who looked about the same age as him. I assumed they were in college.
The cute guy approached me. "Hey do I have class with you?" I shrugged my shoulders. "You look really familiar..." he continued.
I decided to play around with him, you know, just for kicks. "Could be," I mumbled.
His brow furrowed as he thought. "Are you in my Psych 20 lecture?" I shook my head. "English lit?" Again I shook my head. "Hmm, well you're not in my other classes, they're too small."
"Maybe I ran into you before," I offered.
"Could be," he said. "Well, sorry for interrupting."
"You didn't interrupt anything," I sheepishly grinned. I was going to say something else but he turned back towards his friends. Shit. I kind of wanted to talk to him. It might have been the beer but he was cute as hell. And something seemed... right with him. Was this this gaydar I'd heard about? Cause mine sure as hell never worked before.
The band was playing and the beers flowing and I had a pretty good buzz. This was the first time I had been out in a while and I was enjoying myself. I looked back towards my right and noticed the cute guy and his friends were no longer in sight. "Too bad," I thought to myself. I really wanted to talk to him again. I had a good enough buzz to go back up to him but I wondered if he hadn't slipped out while I wasn't looking. I grabbed my half-full beer and made my way towards the bathroom to pee, for the second time that night. Just as I was about to reach the door it swung open hard and knocked the beer out of my hand. It spilled all over the front of my shirt and jeans. As I stood their dripping I looked to see who the culprit was. It was none other than the really cute blond guy, who was looking up at my hulking six foot frame, with a terrified expression. He started to apologize profusely.
"I'm so sorry, man. Really, I'm so sorry!," the cute guy said.
"Dude, its cool. Don't worry about it. It was an accident."
"Here let me help you dry off," he said, pulling me into the bathroom. Before I could protest he was dragging me by the arm back into the men's room. But I probably wouldn't have protested. He grabbed a bunch of towels and wetted them down to hand them to me. I started wiping up the sticky beer. It was all over my arms and shirt, and even down the front of my pants. I guess it must have looked like I peed myself.
As I was doing this some other guy came in to use the john. He stopped in his mid-tracks and I looked up at him.
"Holy shit! Dude, you play for the Hurricanes! Can I get an autograph?" I started to blush but nodded my head. "Hold on, I'll get a pen." He dashed off to the bar. The cute guy was standing there with his jaw open.
He asked me, "The Hurricanes? Aren't they a hockey team?" I nodded. "And you play..." His eyes popped wide open. "Hold on, you're a pro hockey player?!"
I bit my lip to keep from laughing. "Yup," I nodded.
"And I spilled beer all over you!"
I laughed. "Don't worry. I don't fight that much. I still got all my teeth," and I curled back my lips to show him.
He rolled his eyes. "I can't believe this. I'm sorry I didn't recognize you. I'm not too much of a hockey fan."
"Nobody's perfect," I said, smiling, and looking down at the mess he'd made of me. "I don't believe I got your name?" I asked extending my hand.
He grasped it and shook it warmly. "Shane."
"Nice to meet you, Shane."
After I got cleaned up and signed an autograph for that other guy, we headed out of the bathroom. Shane walked me over to the bar, he insisted on buying me a beer.
"Cheers," he said.
"Cheers," I said. We clinked.
"So I'm going to be honest with you, I don't know a thing about hockey. Basketball is more my game."
"Then I'll be brutally honest with you, I don't know jackshit about basketball."
He laughed. "We'll get along fine then." He took a sip of his drink. "What position do you play?"
"I'm a winger. Offense."
He nodded. "You try and score goals?"
"Try? Come on, you got more faith in me than that, right?" I winked and he laughed. "Do you play basketball?" I asked him.
"Yeah," he said nodding. "Not professionally, of course! Not even for UNC," he joked, "but I play in some rec leagues. Gotta do something other in study."
He had a really cute accent, southern, but not too much of a drawl. I thought he was adorable. "What else do you do besides play basketball?" I asked. "And study..."
He shrugged his shoulders. "Whatever. Anything that's a good time." He thought for a moment. "I like to travel, I like roadtrips. Hanging out with friends, too, you know."
I nodded. "I used to like travelling," I said. "Until I started being on the road 50-60 days a year."
"Really? That much? You get to go to some cool cities, right? You ever been to New Orleans? I love that place."
I shook my head. "They don't have a hockey team in New Orleans, so no."
He laughed. "I told you I didn't know much about hockey."
"Its all right. I'm surprised you recognized me at all. You ever been to a game?"
"Nope. I wouldn't mind going though."
I figured this was a perfect opportunity to give him my number without being too suspicious. "If you ever want to go I can get you great seats... for free."
"You know what," he said. "That would be a pretty sweet deal."
"You want my number?" I asked.
He pulled out a cell phone. "Sure. Shoot."
I gave him my number and he plugged it into his phone. I continued, "We've got a stretch of road games but next Friday night we're in town against the Capitols. They're our main rival. Should be a great game."
"Listen, I"ll call you Thursday night. I'd love to come."
"Sounds good. I can get you four tickets so bring 3 friends."
"Will do," he said. "Listen," he added, glancing at his watch. "I've got to run. I promised my girlfriend I'd meet up with her tonight. It was great meeting you. Sorry about the beer."
My heart sank. Girlfriend? And I was so sure he was gay. There was just something about him. Oh well, I told you my gaydar doesn't work at all. "Shane, pleasure meeting you and definitely call me Thursday night. And don't worry about the beer. They make plenty of it."
Even though he wasn't gay I still felt pretty good about tonight. Shane was more than enough eye candy for one night so I finished my beer and caught a taxi home. And that night, for the first time in a while, it wasn't Verde that was dancing through my head as I stroked my way to sleep...
TO BE CONTINUED...
Well we lost the gold to the Canucks. I guess if we had to lose, I'm glad it was Canada, eh? Kudos and enjoy it, you guys definitely deserve it.
How time flies, eh? Its been sort of a while since I got a chapter out. But its a new year, the sun is shining and the birds are singing... well not really, I think they've gone south for the winter. But with this weather they'll be back in no time. For those loyal fans who have kept on reading I apologize this is taking me so long to write. If any of you are listening. You all might have got sick of waiting and moved on to other things. But if you'd like, email me and put yourself on a mailing list and I'll email you and tell you when a new chapter is out. Its the least I can do for you keeping up with this saga...