Nothing Gets Through Ch. 11
(C) 2009 All rights reserved
"So how was it?" Dee asked. Lani sighed.
"Great, so long as Jason and I weren't in the same room."
"Are you serious?" Dee asked. She shook her head as she cut up some cheese. The game would start soon, and she and Lani were prepping their snacks. The ice cream would stay in the freezer until it was necessary. Somehow, it was always necessary. "It's been how many years now?"
"Oh, eight or something." Eight years since Jason had blamed her for the loss of his game and his potential career. Lani sighed again.
"You know, I've been finding out about all of these superstitions and stuff," Dee told her, "and I know it's that sort-of-serious, sort-of-not thing, but I honestly can't believe that Jason blames you for that. He didn't even know you were coming to that game!" They'd had the conversation before, but she knew Lani needed to get it out of her system somehow.
"I think that made it worse," Lani said. "It was like I sucker punched him or something."
"That's ridiculous." Dee was firm.
"I know," said Lani. "I just . . . oh, God, I just don't know what to say. I've tried apologizing, I've tried acting as though nothing's wrong, I've tried to talk to him . . . he's just . . . immovable. He won't let me in. It's like he wants to be that angry at me."
"It'll come back and bite him," Dee said. "I hate to say it, but it will. Stuff like that always does."
"You're probably right," Lani agreed. "Sometimes I hope it's not a big bite, other times I hope karma takes a big chunk out of ass." Dee laughed. If Lani could joke like that, she was coming out of it a bit.
"The party at Greg's was nice," Dee told her as the pre-game chatter continued. It was a home game, but hadn't been on their plan. Just as well, Lani thought, since the roads were icy and she hadn't wanted to drive. "It's too bad you couldn't come."
"Mmm-hmmm," Lani said absently, nibbling a cracker.
"What is it?" Dee muted the television.
"Something else is on your mind," Dee said. "So out with it."
"Well, it was just something I thought of while I was gone," Lani said. Dee gestured for her to continue. "Okay, I'm going to sound like some stupid article out of Cosmo or something, but I realized that I don't know that much about Dom."
Lani shrugged. "Like anything. I mean, I know what he likes in movies and music and stuff like that. But I don't know much about him that isn't in the team guide. He never talks about his family, or tells me if anything's bothering him. I'm not looking for a big weepy session of talking, but well, it's like he won't let me in that far."
"So tell him," Dee advised.
"I don't know how." Lani rubbed her hands over her face. "It always seems like the wrong time. I'm busy, he's busy; he has a game or a road trip or practice or something."
"There's never a 'right' time," Dee said. "You just have to pick a quiet time and tell him. He cares about you a lot, Lani. I can see it. I don't think you're out of line to tell him this. You're serious, or getting serious, aren't you?"
"It feels like it," Lani said.
"Then tell him," Dee said again, reassuringly. "I don't think he scares easy."
"So tell me," said Lani, her voice light, "how serious are we?" She was curled against Dom as they lay in his bed. She'd come over the night before when she had returned from a late day at work to find Cherie entertaining the balding guy, the one in leopard-print briefs, and a woman. Lani wondered if she'd left a wake in her haste to leave.
Dom narrowed his eyes and looked at her. "Uh-oh."
Lani smiled and brushed his hair back. "It's been a couple of months. I was just wondering."
He rolled onto his side. "Well, I'm pretty serious. That's what everyone on the team says. It's always in the write-ups: 'Dominic Baddano, the serious-minded goaltender, was unavailable for comment.'" He grinned. "If it's in the paper, it must be true."
She smiled but didn't say anything, just absently stroked his hair and stared up at the wall. He propped himself up on an elbow. "Hey, I was just kidding. I don't want you to be upset."
"I'm not," she assured him. "It just occurred to me a while ago that I don't . . . I like you a lot, but I feel like I don't know you very well. You know how I'm scared of rats, how I insist on organizing my shoes and how I can't sleep with a closet door open. You know about my brother. But I don't even know how many siblings you have. You were so upset by that call you got before I left for Christmas, but you never said why."
Dom laid back down and stared at the ceiling. "My family history isn't good," he said after a few minutes. "I don't generally talk about it; I don't find it helps much, me or anyone else. I'm not ashamed of it; I just don't like to talk about it."
"Okay," said Lani. "You just . . . you know you can tell me if you want." She laid her head on his chest and he held her tightly, inhaling the soft scent of coconut that he always associated with her.
The phone call had been from his father. The father that had wanted nothing to do with him while he grew up, but had suddenly had an urge to reconcile once Dom had hit the NHL--and a lucrative contract. He barely knew his half-siblings, wasn't sure he could pick them out of a crowd without pictures. There was no animosity, just ignorance. Mostly, he didn't think about any of that. He'd left it behind and was better off without it.
He wouldn't pretend that it hadn't hurt at one point. That had it not been for his maternal grandparents, he might be playing goal in the penal league and not the NHL. But he didn't see the point of dragging Lani into it. He didn't want her feeling sorry for him. He'd succeeded in spite of it, and that was all that mattered.
"Did you get today's paper?" Dee asked over the phone. Lani rubbed her eyes.
"What time is it?" she asked groggily.
"Oh, come on!" Dee said excitedly. "There was going to be a profile of Dom today, remember?"
"Right," said Lani. She sat up and started to think more clearly. Dom had been speaking to a reporter from the local paper for the last couple of weeks.
"Just a little profile," he'd told Lani. "Trying to build up some hype before the playoffs. They're going to hit just about all of us, I think."
"Come on over," said Dee. "I'll get a couple of copies."
"I don't want to leave my room," Lani said. "Cherie had mattresses set up in the living room last night, and I'm afraid to look."
"So close your eyes," said Dee. "Feel your way along the wall."
"Oh, God! I will not! I'm afraid it wouldn't be the wall I'd feel."
"Just come over." Dee hung up.
Lani dragged herself out of bed and took advantage of the empty bathroom. After getting dressed, she took a deep breath and headed to the front door. Mercifully, the only thing people were doing in the living room was sleeping. She snuck out without anyone waking.
Her mood improved as she walked along, so much so that she stopped and picked up some donuts and coffee to take to Dee's. She was curious to see Dom's profile. It had been fun to read the ones on Greg, Bobby, Karl, and a few of other guys. Dee was waiting and made appropriately appreciative noises over the food.
"Here." Dee handed Lani a newspaper. "I got an extra from Mrs. Crawford down the hall. She said nothing's worth reading except the comics."
"Thanks," said Lani. "Here's your coffee. No sugar."
"Wonderful." Dee and curled up on the couch with a contented sigh. Lani settled into the overstuffed chair she usually took and opened the paper.
Little profile? she scoffed mentally. I'd hate to see a big one. The article covered parts of two facing pages in the sports section. The writing itself might have covered three-quarters or more of a single-page, but there were plenty of pictures and the requisite advertisements. There was Dom during a game, covering a shot; talking with the coach at practice, his mask pushed up on his head; even a couple at a hospital, where the team had gone to visit the pediatric ward. Lani smiled at the pictures of the star-struck kids; she'd felt much the same when she'd discovered who "Dom from the coffee shop" really was.
The article started off innocuously enough, describing a typical day in a goalie's life, much of which Lani knew of from both Dom and her brother. There were comments from his coach, his teammates, even a few players from other teams who swore Dom was the toughest goalie they had to face. Then the writing went back and started to chronicle Dom's childhood and Lani felt something twist inside.
Here, in black and white, for anyone and everyone to see, was the story of Dominic Baddano from Edmonton. The story he hadn't told her. He'd never mentioned the erratic relationship between his parents, which resulted in a shaky marriage and venomous divorce. After being used as a ping-pong ball during the proceedings, Dom had been sent to foster care for several years until his grandparents had managed to get him out. The article laid out his ascension through the junior and minor hockey leagues, detailing fights, suspensions, two episodes of depression, and his success in dealing with all of it.
Somehow the author had contacted Dom's mother, whose disinterest came across loud and clear. His father had been more eager to talk, and discussed his desire--no, need--for an improved relationship with his son. She read with trembling hands:
Baddano, Sr., tried contacting his son just prior to this past Christmas. "I tried," he said, "but Dom, he's a hard one. Didn't want to talk. Can't blame him, I guess. I'll just have to keep trying."
Where were you when your son was being tossed around like a potato? Lani wondered angrily, although her anger was in part directed towards Dom. How could he not tell her any of this, then sit with a stranger and tell them everything?
"Oh, my gosh," said Dee, shaking her head. "Wow. It's amazing he was able to get past all that, isn't it?"
"Yeah," Lani said tonelessly. She stared at the paper in her hands, dumbfounded.
"Lani, what's wrong?"
"He didn't tell me any of this," Lani said slowly. "I didn't know any of it, not at all." Dee stared, not exactly sure what to think or say. "How could he not tell me?" Lani said softly. Dee shrugged helplessly; she had no answer.
To be continued...