Derek wound up, raising the stick over his head before snapping it down at the beer can, sending it like a bullet through the air and into the upper corner of the makeshift net. With the tip of the stick, he dragged another can over and slapped it into the goal. Each shot got harder and heavier. His therapy for dealing with the Kelly incident was doing him just fine but he was sure eventually someone would wonder why it sounded like someone was punching a garage at twelve o’clock.
Derek went to take another shot but as he came down his shoe slid on loose gravel, sending the can flying into the neighbor’s yard.
“Nice shot,” said a soft voice from under the porch light. Derek whirled around.
“Oh-er-hi,” he said, unsure who he was talking to. It sounded like a girl but because of the light behind her, he couldn’t see her face. “Who are you?”
The shadowy figure stepped down from the porch. Derek could now see her golden blonde hair, green eyes, and athletic figure. She wore a red Illinois State crewneck with the University seal on the front, a scarf, and yoga pants that showed off her assets. “I’m Jamie,” she said. “I’m friends with Michaela, she told me you were out here.”
“Oh,” said Derek, still unsure as to why this beautiful girl was talking to him. “Uh, nice to meet you,” he said, reaching out his hand as he leaned over the hockey stick. Jamie shook it and smiled.
“So, out here shooting beer cans, eh?” said Jamie, glancing around at the remaining cans and the dents in the garage. “How come you’re not inside?”
Derek shrugged. “Sometimes I need to step away from it a bit,” he said. “Gotta step away so you can mentally recharge before going back at it.”
Jamie smiled and looked down at the beer cans. “Can you show me how you do that?”
“Y-yeah, sure,” Derek said. He grabbed another stick from the bench and handed it to Jamie.
He showed her how to hold it, how to raise it up, and how to torque your hips as you bring the stick down, keeping your eyes on the puck, or in this case, beer can.
Jamie attempted a shot and it looked like she was tomahawking the beer can. “I don’t feel like I’m doing it right,” said Jamie. She stepped towards him and put her back to his chest. “Show me how it’s supposed to go.”
Derek wasn’t sure what to do. This felt like one of those creepy guys you see trying to teach a girl how to golf while all he’s really trying to do is cop a feel. But then again, she was the one who initiated this so maybe it wasn’t all too weird.
He gently put his hands on hers. As they held the hockey stick, their fingers started to intertwine and he was holding her close. He smelled her perfume and thought “she even smells pretty,” but quickly had to regain his composure and try not to make this awkward. They raised the stick up and completed a follow-through of a shot. In the end, Derek thought he could feel her sink into him.
“Okay, I think I got it,” said Jamie, lightly brushing Derek back. He stood across from her as she scooped a beer can over and set up for her shot. Jamie set her feet, bent her knees, and held the handle of the stick tucked in on her left hip while the blade was set next to the can. She wound up and with perfect mechanics and power, fired a slapshot into the upper left corner of the net. Derek’s jaw dropped.
Jamie walked over to grab the spent beer can which was now shredded in two.
“How’d yo-” Derek started, pointing at the can.
“Three brothers,” she smiled, lifting her sweatshirt up to show the worn Chicago Blackhawks Winter Classic t-shirt she had on. “And when I’m not studying or doing clinicals, I play in a league back home.”
Derek wasn’t sure what to think. “So, why did you act like you didn’t know how to shoot?”
Jamie pulled a marker from her pants and began writing on the stick before handing it to Derek. She walked to the base of the stairs and turned. The porch light was shining on her golden blonde hair like a halo.
“It was nice to meet you, Derek,” said Jamie, smiling ear to ear. She walked up and went back to the party.
Derek, still unsure of what just happened, glanced down at the hockey stick. Jamie’s phone number was written on the stick tape.