Thursday, December 3, 2009

1.) The Way the World Works

Note: This story is being written independently of the plot lines of the others, although it will also begin at the start of the 2009-10 season. It's short, I know. I'm taking a chance with this one, so I hope you enjoy it. Here goes nothing....

Soundtrack Song - Jason Mraz, The Boy's Gone

It's a funny thing, how the world works. It's filled with so many people, going about their daily lives. You'd never think about it. You never stop and wonder where the person in the car in front of you on the highway is going. Is he going home? Going shopping? Going to work? Where does he work? Does he like his job?

What about that pedestrian that crossed the street while you idled impatiently at the red light? Where is she going? Meeting her boyfriend for coffee at the café on the corner? Running errands? You don't know. I don't know. But that's how the world works: billions of people living their lives independently of each other, essentially making the world go 'round.

And you have no idea. If you don't see it or hear about it—if it doesn't happen in your little world, you don't know what goes on in the rest of the real world. I'm not saying that you have to have some grand awareness; however, I am saying that you should at least be aware that this is the case.

Any one individual of the billions of people on this Earth can affect a chain of events that can change your life forever. Someone, somewhere, can make a decision that will begin a string of occurrences that may eventually filter down until your life, you, the core of your being is rocked and ultimately altered. The way you live. The way you see the world around you. Your perspective about life and how precious it is and how you have to cherish it, because you never know when it may end.

What if the workers at the factory had gone on strike, and no parts had been made? What if the salesman at the bike shop had called in sick that day? And what if Luc hadn't decided to hop on his brand new bike on May 29, 2008? Or what if he had driven down a different path to somewhere else?

If anything had happened any differently, would the outcome still have been identical?

Would he still have died that day, somehow? Or would he be alive, playing the game he was so good at? Would we have trained together this summer before the start of the season?

I thought about all these things as I watched the motorcycle zip into the parking lot and come to a jerking stop a few spots down from where I stood, at the entrance to the Mellon. Does this biker know the dangers of riding motorcycles? Does he know the risk he takes when he straddles that death machine and drives so recklessly?

He rushed past me as he fumbled with the chin strap holding his full-face helmet in place. At least he wears a helmet, I guess. So many people don't bother, or opt for lesser protection. But still, it's not enough to save lives when the accident is too severe. And he's a tiny guy; no where near a big enough size to handle any kind of wreck. He's scrawny, dressed in ripped jeans and a worn leather jacket—also not enough to protect him in case something happened. Thin and frail, this guy would snap like a twig. You don't get a second chance on those things. But yet, he chose (and chooses) to ride.

After he ran by, I heard a voice echo from inside. "Joe! You're late! Again. I swear to God, you make me wonder every day why the hell I hired you...."

I stopped paying attention and focused back on the bike. I was supposed to buy one, too. Luc and I were going to go on a cross-Canada road trip that summer, after we won the Cup. That's another thing that just didn't go as planned. A twisted part of me wonders if we would have been able to win that damn silver trophy that year if he hadn't've died. If I hadn't've been so devastated with the loss of my best friend, would I have scored a goal? Made an assist to the game-winner? Made a pass that would have changed the outcome of the game, if only I had been thinking clearly and concentrating?

What if is a dangerous game to play. I try not to play it, because you can lose yourself in the possibilities. Life certainly hasn't happened to me the way I had planned it, so I make careful, calculated decisions that will reward me with the best probable outcomes. Some say I play it safe, but I don't think so; I call it being smart.

Maybe, in a way, Luc's death saved my life. After all, once he told me about his purchase, I couldn't wait to get my own. We talked about taking that cross-country trip right after the Finals were over. Two weeks, just us, the open road, and our bikes. We knew it was dangerous, but I'd never imagined.... What if we had taken that journey as planned? What if something had happened, and I would have wrecked that summer? There I go again, playing what if....

I was thankful when the guys started to walk through the entrance and join me. With them around to distract me, I couldn't think those thoughts any longer. It's not like those types of thoughts consume me; not any longer. That summer had been extremely hard. All my strength and motivation had left me. It just didn't make sense. Why Luc? He was so young, so talented. And beyond that, such a good person. I know, I know—life isn't fair. It's not that I expect it to be, either, but still: why him?

I don't have the answers. No one does. It's just the way the world works. It continues to spin, no matter how much you wish it would stop to observe the tragedies of life. Luc's death was Earth-shattering to me, but the Earth does not stop for the death of one man, or hundreds of people. It will always rotate and always revolve until something truly Earth-shattering happens, like the Sun exploding or the Milky Way colliding with another galaxy. And we will all continue to live on until our time comes. You never know exactly when that will be, but with the right choices, you can postpone impending death for as long as possible. Like never riding a motorcycle.

"Hey, man. You all right?" Staal asked, stepping beside me.

I looked up at him and nodded, but not before he caught what I was staring at: the bike. He knew what I was thinking; of course he knew. They all did when they gathered around us in the parking lot, waiting for the bus to whisk us off to the airport. One win down, eighty-one to go.

"Geez, at this rate, we could all grab a beer and be back before anyone even notices we're gone," TK laughed. "Whadya say, guys?"

Everyone chuckled and agreed. Even Crosby, who drank but rarely. He was too all-consumed with more than just winning the Cup again this year. There was a spark in his eyes that belied the fire in his belly. He wanted to win the scoring title this year and the Cup. Once he accomplished something, he set the stakes for the next year even higher.

I was the only one that didn't throw in my two cents. No, I don't drink. It all goes back to the same idea: make wise decisions, and your life will be better for it. No mood altering substances that are going to affect my mind and my body in adverse ways. People don't usually consider the consequences, but anything can happen to you at any time. Do you know what you risk when you drink? It's just like driving a motorcycle—sometimes, it's safe. It only takes one bad circumstance for life to turn on you. No, it's best to stay away from that stuff.

The guys continued to joke about it, talking about where they would go, but no one honestly made a move to jump in their respective vehicles to get that drink. We were going to start this season the right way, and we were heading to New York to tally another notch in the win column. That meant discipline and focus and waiting for the damn bus. Why was it so late? So inconsiderate. It's not like the plane was going anywhere without us, but still....

"You drive, right, Tanger?" Geno asked with his shit-eating, lopsided grin. I was always designated driver, so that no one would have to sacrifice their good time by not drinking. I didn't go to college, but I imagine that this is just like a fraternity. Do what you need to do to get by, and drink up and be merry when at all possible. Not that they were that bad, though; they do all realize that they're professional athletes and make a living off what their bodies are capable of doing.

When the shuttle finally pulled into the parking lot, everyone groaned as if their plans to hit up the bar were suddenly ruined. I shook my head. No one ever needs to drink to have a good time. That was one string of logic I could never understand. Most of the time, drinking turned them into asses who couldn't remember portions of the night when they woke up in the morning. I don't need to participate in that to enjoy myself.

We loaded ourselves onto the bus and headed for the airport. We did the usual thing: flew, ate on the plane, went to the hotel for the night, and hoped that Saturday's game would go just as well as Friday's. The team had a lot to prove this season; me especially. If I wanted to get resigned, then I needed to show the team and management that I was worth it.


  1. I don't even know where to start with this one...

    You know me... I can quote 6 billion things and still have more to say... but short of copying/pasting the entire update... I don't think I could explain to you how amazing this was.

    The effort, the flow, the wording, the feel... this was one of the most wonderful things that I have ever read, and not just on blogger. Ever.

    The beginning had me completely consumed. My emotions shifting from intrigued, to thoughtful, contemplative to worried, sad to devistated.

    I feel like I just moved through the thought process of someone who was truly suffering from a lost - not a character in a story.
    Your ability to capture the emotional pain and mental transformation caused by the death of a loved one, is second to none.

    I am so excited for this story... not just because it's Kris Letang (who deserves more stories written about him), or even because it's you who's writing it (and that could sell just about anyone!); but because I have never read any single piece of writing that has given me so much to think about.

    I didn't want to pick things out of this post because I didn't want to alternate it or break the flow in anyway... but let me just say that every word spoke to me, deeply.

    Fantastic. Wonderful. Phenomenal. They don't come close, but they're all I've got =)

  2. I completely agree. Cant wait for the next one

  3. omg. I don't even know how to start. I was in tears, because I know that thought process. I've gone through the thought process, sometimes I still do. It hurts my heart. that was so beautifully written. You have me really excited for this!!!

  4. Amazing, absolutely amazing. From personal experiences, you nailed the grief perfect. It never really goes away and the "what if" game is the only thing going on in your head. Another fabulous beginning to another (soon to be) fabulous story.

  5. You have me completely sucked in, and I am so excited it is about Letang. Thank you for that. I can't wait for you to continue this.

    @Kristyyy - I'm with you, the grief and the "what ifs" were perfect! I think we have all experienced something akin to a loss like that.

  6. OMFG Jay! I loved the chapter and so happy you are doing one about Tanger! Can't wait to read more

  7. I loved how thoughtful he was and analytical, because that's really how is seems in real life. Wonderfully written!

  8. Yes, Jay, yes! I absolutely love this one so much! The realness of everything you talked about was incredibly moving and I'm so excited to see where this is headed.

    Also! Love love love Tanger, so it was pretty much a no brainer that I'd absolutely adore this. <3

  9. Amazing, greatly written! There should be more stories like this one :) simply breath taking. Cant wait to read more ^^