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Nothing Gets Through Ch. 01

A hockey player goes into a coffee shop...
Nothing Gets Through Ch 1

© 2009 All rights reserved.

Thonk. Pahk. Clack.

Dom moved smoothly from shot to shot, deflecting pucks with his blocker pad, his glove, his leg pads, his stick—whatever was in the right place. He ignored the ones that got through. He just gritted his teeth and tried harder to stop the rest. The bars of his facemask disappeared, and his teammates were blurs out by the blue line.

The pucks were sharp black circles that came ripping towards him at all angles and heights. His body dipped and turned, his legs shot out to the sides—he was a wall.

At last the whistle cut through his thoughts and he realized no more pucks were flying at him. He stripped off his catching glove, flipped up his mask, and guzzled the water from one of the bottles on top of the net. When that was empty, he picked up the next one and squirted the water on his face, savoring the coolness. Some of it dripped into his brown hair, turning it black.

Karl came over and tapped his stick against Dom's leg pads. "Nice job," Karl said. "You were really in the zone." His English was perfect, and his faint Swedish accent was the only hint that he wasn't from the U.S. or Canada.

"Thanks. Let's hope I stay that way through tomorrow night." He grabbed his glove and began skating to the bench.

"Just relax," said Karl. Dom rolled his eyes. "Just relax" was Karl's advice for pretty much any situation. Then Karl got a teasing glint in his eye. "Of course, Coach could always pull you and put Steward in."

"Thanks for the vote of confidence." Dom squirted the rest of his water over Karl's head. He succeeded only in making Karl laugh harder.

x-x-x-x

Lani sipped at her chai and pulled up yet another spreadsheet. The little chair wasn’t very comfortable, but then neither was her apartment at the moment. When her roommate, Cherie, had a guy over, it could be very crowded. Cherie was . . . affectionate, Lani mused, and sometimes didn't think to, say, go to her own room before things got interesting. So Lani had slipped out to the nearest coffee shop with wifi capability.

It was quiet for a Saturday morning, just as she'd hoped. A couple sat on one of the couches reading the newspaper. A couple of guys—cute guys, she noted—were deep in discussion about something. They were both animated, gesturing and illustrating points with their hands; one had straight brown hair, the other wavy blond. They made an interesting contrast. There were one or two more people like her, hunched over laptops. Unconsciously she straightened her posture.

She eyed the scone she'd bought. It held its place, daring her to take a bite. Is it really food? she wondered. Or is it merely Styrofoam with flavor? Not much flavor, if she remembered from the last time she'd eaten here. The drinks were decent, but the food was erratic.

Deciding to postpone the battle with the breakfast food, she turned back to her screen. She was busy with schedules and costs when the door banged open and an argument rolled in. She tried to ignore it, but the participants were having none of that.

"I don't care!" shrieked the woman. She waved her hands in the air, inches from the man's face. "I've had it! I told you to leave me alone. I don’t want to be with you anymore. I found someone else!"

"Someone with more money!" the man yelled back. "You're nothing but a gold-digger."

"Someone with a bigger dick!" The woman put her hands on her hips. "The money's just a plus!"

"Excuse me," said the manager, an older man, as he approached the warring couple. "Perhaps I could ask you to keep your voices down. Surely there's no need for . . . "

"Back off, gramps." The man glared at him.

"Please, let's have a seat," the manager suggested, trying once more for calm. Lani felt bad for him; she could see both the man and woman were high or drunk on something. Neither would be amenable to the soft approach.

"I said, 'back off!'" the man yelled, and pushed the older man back. The manager stumbled a few steps and caught himself on the counter, but then slipped and hit his head. Lani watched as one of the staff behind the counter grabbed a cell phone. Someone had some common sense, she was relieved to see. Lani was tempted to go see if the man was all right, but wasn’t sure it was a wise move to get past the attacker.

"See? See!" The woman's voice hit a pitch that made Lani wince. "Someone call the police!" The woman waved her hands frantically. "He assaulted that man! He's a menace! Call the police!"

"Go ahead!" The man turned on the woman. Despite his having at least eight inches on her, she stood her ground. Lani would have been impressed if they weren't both acting like assholes. "Call the police!" the man continued, his arms now flailing as well. "Do you think I care? Do you think they scare me?"

"You're too stupid to be scared!"

"At least I'm not a money-hungry whore!" The man's was bright red now, as was the woman's.

Lord , Lani thought, can't I just work in peace? Suddenly the apartment didn’t seem like such a bad idea. She could always lock herself in her room. And play loud music. And wear headphones. A quick scan of the other customers convinced her they felt much the same.

"You don't have any money and you never will!" The woman, caught up in the drama, was working her way up to hysteria. "My mother was right, you're never going to be anything. You're a stupid, idiotic . . . " words failed her and Lani was relieved. Then the woman's eyes gleamed. "You're an idiot, and your dick doesn't make up for it."

Lani couldn’t stand it any more and walked over to them. "Excuse me, but can you take this somewhere else?" The two looked at her in surprise. "I'm sorry you're having problems, but this isn't the place to fix them, okay? We're just not interested in who wants money or the size of anyone's . . . anything."

"Stay out of this," the man ordered in a gruff voice.

"I'd love to, but that can only happen if you leave." Lani met his glare.

"Don't tell me what to do." The man's tone was threatening, and he outweighed Lani by at least a hundred pounds, but she didn't back down.

"Look," she said, trying one last time for patience, "they've already called the police. Why don't you just go?"

This time it was the woman who turned on Lani. "Who called the police?" she screamed. "You? Who did that!? No one asked for the police! Why can't anyone mind their own damn business in this freakin' town?" She continued in her shrill voice, and Lani tuned her out.

Lani rolled her eyes and shook her head, then turned to go back to her table. She hadn't taken one step before someone jerked her arm and she stumbled back.

"She was talking to you," the man growled at her.

Lani yanked her arm back. "Don’t touch me."

x-x-x-x

Dom and Karl let their debate about the new rules on hits to the head lapse as they watched the screaming match in front of them.

"Wow, she's a lively one," Karl commented.

Dom snorted. "If you like harpies." Conversation was impossible while the argument was in session. "Come on, let's go."

"I'll wait it out," Karl said. "I'm not wearing my visor and I'd rather not have that woman accidentally scratch my eyes out."

Dom sighed and took a swig of his coffee. When the man pushed the manager, he made to jump up but Karl restrained him.

"Don't," said his teammate. He nodded in the direction of the counter. "Someone's already called the police, and they're helping him now."

Dom glared but sat down. Karl was right, it wouldn't help anyone if he got into a fight and hurt his hands. It was hard, though; he itched to belt the guy. Listening to the yelling, he decided the woman deserved a slap, too. Her voice was going through his brain like shards of ice.

After the woman made her comment on the man's anatomy, Dom sighed and lowered his head on the table, using his arms as pillows. Never insult a guy's size, he thought. It never helps. He was about to close his eyes when Karl nudged him. He raised his head and blinked when the petite woman with the dark hair walked over to the combatants.

"She's brave," Karl said.

"She's nuts," Dom replied. The man was huge, and even the harpy must have had forty pounds on her. He gave her points for trying. She kept her cool and was reasonable; Dom figured she must have known it was useless, but liked her style. When the man grabbed her arm, Dom felt his control slip and stood up, striding over before Karl could stop him.

"Dom—wait—you—oh, hell." Karl sighed and stood, ready to follow and keep his friend out of trouble.

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