Welcome to My Mid-Life Crisis Ch. 02byxxistential©
Frank breathed deep, taking in the smell of the ice. He loved it, so crisp and clean, freshly zambonied ice had a smell all its own. Frank hadn't been on the ice in nearly 15 years, until Ron had found out that he used to play goalie for St. Martin's. Like most people in Minnesota, Ron and Frank both played hockey as kids. Ron had never stopped playing, but Frank had quit after college, mainly due to his ex wife. The next thing Frank new, Ron was insisting that he start playing with his over 35 group. Frank had protested but had lost the battle. He even went so far as to insist that he use his alimony check to buy Frank new gear. The goalie pads he wore were certainly lighter than he remembered from college, but they were brand new and stiff.
Now three weeks later, Frank was glad he had given in. He had his confidence back and was playing pretty well, though still rusty. He'd known Ron for 6 weeks, and already his life had changed. Ron, who had been married briefly to Frank's ex-wife, had dragged him kicking and screaming along right into the throes of a midlife crisis disguised as a celebration of freedom. They shared one thing in common, the same ex-wife. So whether the trips to the strip clubs, the late night parties and trips to the dance clubs, or just hitting the bars trying to pick up women, Ron had forced Frank back into the open and out of the depression that had held him captive for the last 3 years after his divorce. It was like a never ending party for Ron, and hockey was just Ron's latest attempt to bring Frank along.
Frank surveyed the ice and noticed six young men who he didn't recognize, all obviously too young to be with the over 35 group. Frank skated over to the bench where a trio of the regulars was talking. "What's up?" he asked.
"Oh they double booked the ice," said Ron disgustedly. "One of college teams was supposed to practice today. Angelo told them they could join us if they wanted."
It was obvious that not everyone was pleased with this idea, and for good reason Frank thought. This was a no check league with an average age of 45. These were young pups that were used to mixing it up in the rough and tumble world of Div. 3 hockey. There was a potential for things to go very wrong. One of the kids broke away and skated over to join the gathering at the bench.
"Look guys," he said, "it's your ice. You have this time every week, and we're not gonna try and muscle in. We'd love to join you, but if you're not cool with that, just let us know."
Ron looked at the guys gathered around. They all nodded. He looked at Frank who shrugged? "Ok son," said Ron as if he were some ancient geriatric hockey god from a by gone era, "but make sure your boys know that this isn't the bar league. We're a bunch of old men with surgically repaired knees and hip replacements on layaway."
"Yes sir," said the young man, grinning," we'll behave." He skated back to his mates. When the teams split up, 3 of them went to each bench, evening things up.
Ron skated over to Frank. "Well," Frank said, "this should be interesting."
"Hey don't bitch," said Ron. "At least the scenery has improved." Frank looked over to see the group of girls sitting together in the stands.
"Great, Puck Bunnies."
"Well Frank," said Ron with a chuckle, "looks like you got a cheering section of your own."
Frank looked over to where Ron pointed, and saw Tara sitting with a blonde girl he didn't recognize. She waved and blew him a kiss. He could feel himself turn.
"What's she doing here?" Frank asked accusatorially.
"Hey don't look at me," said Ron defensively. "I haven't talked to her. Speaking of which, have you lately?"
"We had lunch a couple of times, but nothing like those first couple nights. Then she's had clinicals up in Rochester for a few weeks, and then finals. Now, well, we just can't seem to get together. We were supposed to go out this weekend and see a show. I talked to her a couple times, but I never told her I was playing hockey."
"So, she's not stalking you then? Not trying to get the ring out of you yet?" asked Ron teasingly.
"Hey Ron," said Frank testily, "do us a favor and go fuck yourself."
"Damn, temper temper. Goalies have to maintain an even keel and all that."
"Blow me Ron."
"Hey bud," said Ron seriously, "I'm just glad to see you're not fawning all over the first chick you banged after getting back in the saddle. I mean, she's a great girl, really smart, and hot as hell. I would understand if you had fallen for her. It's just easier on me this way."
"Easier on you?" asked Frank.
"Yeah," said Ron smiling, "because now I don't have to counsel you through another depression when she tells you how she needs her space and can't get tied down, etc. You know girls at that age."
Frank chuckled. He and Tara had talked all this out the day after that incredible night a few months ago. It was what it was, and both were worried the other would read too much into it. But facts were facts. Frank was a 39 year old man rebounding from a divorce that had almost crushed him. As great as Tara was, he couldn't rush back into a commitment, not this way. He was still too scared to get hurt again. Tara, for her part, was a 26 year old co-ed. She had a brilliant future ahead of her and wasn't ready to tie herself down by any stretch of the imagination. Being a psychology student, she also saw the same dangers that Frank saw in himself. He needed to recover before he became too emotionally invested again. It was an awkward conversation to say the least, neither wanting to hurt the other, that ended with a wealth of relief on both sides.
Of course, it also ended with one of the best weekends that Frank had ever had. He had gone to work on Monday completely exhausted. If it weren't for the fact that Tara had to head to Rochester that day, he no doubt would have called out sick to work to stay with her another day. As he stood there on the ice, he could still remember the feeling of her skin against his. The hot feeling of her tongue, swirling around the head of his cock. The delicious sensation of sliding into her wet almost too tight pussy.
"Earth to goalie," said Ron.
"Huh?" asked Frank startled. "Oh sorry."
Ron laughed. "Come on man lets go, and good luck playing with a hard on."
Frank instinctively looked down at the massive gear he wore. "How the hell can you tell through all this gear?" Suddenly he turned redder realizing he had just walked into the trap.
Ron laughed, and Frank promptly crosschecked him to the ice. He heard a pair of girlish giggles from the stands and turned even redder. This was gonna be a long night, thought Frank as he pulled on his mask.
The game started and it was readily apparent that the balance of power had shifted. Whenever the youngsters were on the ice, the speed of the game picked up, and they were skating circles around the older guys. Defense went right out the window and it became a shooting gallery. Frank's instincts told him that he had to play smarter to stop the assault. He noticed that one of the kids was a puck hog. If he had the puck, he wasn't going to pass it. His two linemates, as if embarrassed by his conduct, wouldn't shoot without making a pass first. He started playing the pass against them, and the shot against the puck hog. It worked.
He could see the frustration building when the puck hog broke a stick over the boards on his way back to the bench after Frank has stoned him for the fourth time in a row. The next shift on the ice, the kid came down on a break away and lifted a shot into the upper left corner. Frank's glove hand shot up and over as he stretched out into a split and snagged the puck out of the air. Frank felt exhilaration as he closed the glove around the puck and tucked it away. It was one of those saves that make every kid want to play goalie. Frank suddenly remembered all the old memories, the glory days so to speak, and the feeling was nearly orgasmic. That was until he got hit.
The kid barreled into Frank, sending him sprawling across the crease. He felt his groin cry out in protest as his legs were stretched apart and his balls held on for dear life to keep from being torn in two. Frank lay there a moment, waiting for his inner thighs to stop spasming when he saw a shadow pass over him.
"Sorry about that pops," said a sneering youthful face, "lost an edge there."
"Whatever," said Frank rolling over and jumping up. "Never even noticed it."
The sneer left the kid's face to be replaced by a haughty expression.
"Here," said Frank flipping the puck free of his glove and landing it at the kid's feet, "take this back with ya."
The puck hog scowled at Frank, who stared him down, then finally turned and skated back to center ice, leaving the puck behind. Ron came over and picked up the puck. "You ok dude?"
"Not really," said Frank wincing, "but I'm not letting him know that."
"I think we should resurface, don't you?"
Frank smiled. This was just what he needed, a break to recover from the hit. Ron skated over and told the benches, then ran off to get the rink manager to break out the Zamboni. Frank skated to the door and left the ice, heading to the lobby to fill his water bottle. As he bent at the water fountain, he heard a familiar voice behind him.
"And you find this smell appealing?" asked Tara.
"What can I say?" said another voice he didn't recognize. "It gets me wet."
"See I prefer a man who doesn't smell like he just crawled out the ass end of a rhinoceros," replied Tara.
"You should smell it from in here!" said Frank, turning around to face the girls. Tara smiled and wrinkled her nose at him. "How you been kid?"
"Busy!" said Tara. "Finals sucked. I feel like I haven't left my apartment for weeks."
"Try a month," said the blonde rolling her eyes. "She spends all night long glued to her computer. She hasn't even been on a date in the last month." The blonde gave Frank a sly look that told him she had heard the tale of him and Tara's weekend. He could feel himself starting to redden again and was glad he still wore the face mask.
Tara, looking suddenly embarrassed herself, cleared her throat. "Um, Frank, this is Denae. Her boyfriend is one of the young ones out there playing with you guys and she plays for the girls' team."
"So," said Frank, "you decided to come out and see how the old farts play huh?"
"Actually we thought the boys were practicing," said Denae. "I've been trying to set Tara up with Ricki, but she keeps using the finals dodge. She's out of excuses now."
"Ah," said Frank feigning hurt feelings, "and here I thought you came out just so see me."
"I didn't even know you played hockey," said Tara a little unsure if he was kidding or not.
"I hadn't played in 15 years until a month ago. This is all Ronnie's idea of recapturing my youth and celebrating life."
"Sounds like a mid-life crisis to me," said Denae sarcastically.
"That's what I said," replied Frank in an I-told-you-so manner, "but he just told me to shut up and put my mask on. I have to admit though, I'm having a blast."
"Well," said Denae giggling, "as long as that's not your Porsche parked outside we'll let it slide."
Frank busted out laughing, causing the girls to stare at him.
"Let me guess," said Tara smiling, "that's Ron's Porsche isn't it."
"Give the future psychologist an A," said Frank.
"Well," said Denae looking over her shoulder, "I had better go talk to Joe. He'll get all huffy if I don't pay him any attention. Nice to meet you Frank." She shot him a coy look and he saw her eyes drop briefly to his crotch. Either she was wondering how bad his groin was injured, or Tara had gone into detail about their encounter.
"So," he said to Tara teasingly, "which one is Ricki?"
"The cute one," she replied a bit defensively. Frank arched an eyebrow at her and she laughed. "OK, I'll tell you as long as you promise not to get jealous and do anything stupid out there."
"I'll try to control myself," he teased. He was genuinely trying to put her at ease. They'd talked about this, and he wanted her to know that everything was fine.
"I think that's him over there, in the red." He saw Tara gesture to the young man who had approached the gathering at the start to ask permission to join the group. He had been polite enough, and had played nice out on the ice. He was one of the passers. Frank was thankfully he wasn't the puck hog.
He also saw Denae talking to the puck hog, and could see they were quietly arguing about something. Tara followed his gaze and sighed. "She really needs to dump his ass. He's a real piece of work. He's the jealous type."
"So why's she stay with him?" asked Frank.
"Because he's the top scorer on the team, cute, blah blah blah. It's quite pathetic really." Tara smiled indulgently. "But you know how college girls can be."
"Babe," said Frank with a laugh, "you're about ten minutes older than she is, remember?"
"Sometimes, I am," she replied with a giggle, "but other times I like to act my age."
Ron let out a shrill whistle, and Frank turned to see him motioning them back on to the ice. The puck hog pushed roughly past, turning to send an angry scowl at Frank as he passed. Frank sighed. Great, he thought, this is gonna be a long evening.
"Well kid," he said, "back to the grind."
"I'd give you a kiss for luck," said Tara, "if you didn't look like Freddy Kruger and smell like ass."
Frank laughed and smacked her on the butt playfully with his stick.
As he turned she stopped him. "Frank, I don't want you to think I was avoiding you, I really was busy. Now that finals are over I'd really like to get together for dinner or something. If you still want to, that is."
"What about Ricki?" he asked with a grin.
"I have no intention of going out with him. I'm not one of these puck bunnies."
"He seems like a nice kid. Respects his elders," joked Frank. "You should go out with him."
"Why?" she asked.
"Why not?" he shot back grinning.
"Uh-hum," said Ronnie, appearing behind Frank and clearing his voice. "If the Lone Ranger is ready, we'd like to start the game now."
Frank shoved his catch glove in Ron's face and walked past him to the ice. He skated over to the crease with a glance back at Tara. One of his defensemen, Tom, a mailman in his late forties skated up with a broad grin.
"Must be your daughter right?" he said.
"Exactly how old do you think I am?" shot Frank back.
"Sister then?" Tom replied. "Can't be a girlfriend. I mean, come on. Forget the fact that she a hot college girl and you're a broken down member of the Geritol farm team. You're a goalie."
"Oh, piss off," said Frank testily, squirting Tom with his water bottle.
"Yeah," said Ronnie skating up and coming to Frank's defense. "Don't hate the player, hate the game."
"Oh for the love of... can we just drop the damned puck?" said Frank testily. Both Ron and Tom skated off laughing loudly.
Play commenced and Frank noticed that the puck hog, he now knew the kid's name was Joe, seemed to be playing a lot chippier than he had in the first half. Frank's guess was that he was pissed off at Denae about something, probably for not giving him her undivided attention between halves. Joe brought the puck into the zone, cut left, then tried to thread the puck in between Frank's legs. Even slowed by a sore groin, he wasn't falling for that move. Frank made the stop and covered the puck, only to have Joe's stick clip him in the side of the head as he skated through the crease.
"What the fuck was that?" yelled Frank.
Joe threw a grin over his shoulder. "Shit happens, gramps," he said.
Frank could see him laughing with one of the passers, and saw Ricki skate up to him with a frown on his face. Joe shrugged, and Ricki shook his head. Ronnie skated up again.
"You alright Frank?"
"I'm fine," said Frank, "but watch him. That punk is pissy about his girlfriend right now. Don't let him hurt someone."
"I got it," said Ronnie.
Two minutes later, Frank's prediction turned into reality, but not how he expected. Joe stole the puck at center ice and broke in clear on a breakaway. Frank came out to meet him, cutting down the angle perfectly. He knew the little punk had no where to shoot, he had him. Joe wound up and fired a shot. Frank butterflied to takeaway all possible angles and the puck jumped up, ricocheting off his mask. Frank blinked and looked over his head for the puck. As he reached up to grab it with his glove, Joe lowered his shoulder and drove it right into the middle of Frank's chest. Frank was flung back and his head slammed off the ice. Consciousness left him.
His eyes snapped open 20 seconds later to see Ronnie and another man kneeling beside him. He should know that other face, but it was too young to be one of the guys he played with. Why was he laying here? Why did his head hurt so fucking bad?
"Frank! Frank!" screamed Ronnie urgently, slapping his hands together. "Look at me!"
"Huh?" was all the reply Frank could muster.
"Relax man, relax," said Ricki. "Just lay there."
"Lay where. What's the score?"
"Look Frank you took a bad hit. Just lay there and let Ricki check your neck."
"Ricki? Ricki who?" asked Frank groggily.
"Ricki's one of the kids from the college team who was playing with us. He's a pre-med student and has first aid certification, so let him check you out."
He felt hands feeling along his neck. Ricki? Ricki? That name had some meaning. "Can you move your hands? Wiggle you feet?" Asked Ricki urgently, obviously a little flustered.
Frank did so. Suddenly a thought filtered back in. "Ricki? You're the one Denae is try to set up with Tara, right?"
Ricki looked flustered again. "Um..." was all Ricki could think to say.
"Don't worry about that Frank," said Ronnie. "Ricki, no stress, there's nothing there to worry about just take care of him."
"Look," Ricki said. "I'm no EMT and this could be serious. I think his neck is ok, but I'm not sure. I think we should just wait for the ambulance."
"Oh for the love of Pete," said Frank, "I'm fine. Just a bump on the head." With that he sat up. And just a promptly came too lying on his side, lying next to a pool of his own vomit.
"Damn it dude," said Ricki, "don't move. I'd say its pretty obvious you've got a major concussion. Just lay there and don't fuck around. That's not just a bump on the head." He put a hand on Frank's chest to restrain him, in case he was stupid enough to try that again.
Shortly there after the ambulance arrived. They stripped him of his leg pads and gloves, and then strapped him to a back board, still wearing his chest protector and mask and skates. They rolled him from the ice, with Ronnie and Ricki as escort.
As they stepped off the ice, Ricki leaned over and said, "Look Frank. I'm really sorry this happened. Joe's, well I wish I could say he's a great guy once you get to know him, but he's not. He's really just a great player with a bad attitude."
"Not your fault Ricki, not your fault," said Frank feebly. He saw the kid smile with relief and a thought struck him. "Look, Denae is supposed to introduce you to Tara tonight. I was supposed to take her out to dinner this week for finishing her finals, but I don't think I'm gonna be up to it. Do me a favor and take her out somewhere nice for me."
Ricki looked a little surprised. "Sure, I guess I can do that," he stammered.
With that he was loaded into the ambulance. He heard the scrape of metal on metal and heard Ronnie curse.
"Ronnie stop," he heard Tara say from somewhere outside the ambulance, "you're going to break your ankle trying that. Just take off the skates and we'll drive you."
Three days later, Frank still lay in the hospital. His head still hurt, and he was still nauseous half the time. It seemed like all he could do was sleep. The doctors said that was good, even though they'd kept him up for the first 20 of those hours. He'd never had a concussion this bad before.