I just wanted to take a moment to express my shock and sadness at Michael Mantenuto's death. Of course I didn't know him personally but he was always my favorite character in Miracle and had such obvious talent and personality. It's been over a month and I still can't believe that he's gone. Since his passing people who knew have spoken out about him and he just seemed like an amazing and incredibly kind guy, and I know he just wasn't "that guy from Miracle." I honestly don't know when I'll be able to re watch the movie since seeing him in it will be so painful. And as someone who's also struggled with mental illness it really hit me hard. But I know his memory will live on in this fandom forever. I'd like to dedicate this story to his memory and even if it's an incredibly small gesture, know that it means a lot to me.
"I can't believe you did that," Julie shrieked in my ear.
I pushed her a good foot away. That evening after practice, the team showed up at Smith's Tavern like clockwork. Julie and Lynn somehow roped me into going after guilt-tripping me for leaving them at the rink earlier. I'd much rather be in my apartment drawing the inner workings of my soul or something.
"This isn't fun. Can we go home now?"
"Come on, stop sulking," Lynn said.
Jack was ignoring me. I knew I shouldn't have yelled like that but I couldn't help it. I wasn't thinking, it just happened. I saw Jack across the bar and tried to draw his attention. Nothing. He wouldn't even make eye contact. I just wanted him to forgive me. I felt bad enough already. At least I knew he wouldn't be mad at me forever. We'd been in countless fights over the years and over more serious things than this. Maybe if I went outside he would follow me. Sometimes you needed to let Jack confront you.
I was about to head out when I heard someone call out my name. I knew that voice, I definitely knew it. I didn't quite believe it, but when I looked around I saw Bah waving to me. Maybe if I pretended not to hear…
"Come on, I know you can hear me."
Guess that wasn't going to work. I slowly walked over, Lynn and Julie too busy laughing hysterically at a joke I wasn't in on to notice my departure. I hoped that I might twist my ankle or pass out before I reached him. No such luck.
"Hi, how are you?"
"Do you have a second?"
"I want to talk to you." He paused before speaking again. "God, you must think I'm a dick. Cal, I like you. You know, as a person, and I want us to be friends. I think I fucked up before."
I intervened before he could go on. "No, Bah, I think I should take the blame."
He waved his hand. "I should have stopped it."
"And I could have stopped it, too, but I didn't."
He smiled a little. "Okay, maybe we're both at fault. I'd like to be your friend. Can things just be normal between us? I want to move on."
"That would be great," I said truthfully. "And I don't think you're a dick."
"No, not at all."
"Good. So are we friends?"
"Yeah, we're friends."
"Good. You should really take care of yourself, Cal. Not all guys are as nice as me."
I blinked. I had no idea what that was supposed to mean.
"You know, if you ever need anything, just give me a call, okay? Really. It's not a problem."
I nodded slowly. "Yeah, all right."
"I mean it. I'll see you later?"
"See you." That was the end of our conversation. Why were people always telling me that they weren't hard to reach, or that I could call them anytime? Was it because I was from out of town? I mean, it was easy to tell, what with the accent and lack of Midwestern polite mannerisms.
Now I was getting outside if it killed me. Mac and Eric Strobel were standing right by the door talking. I was not stopping for conversation. Smith's was an old bar; it had a creaky wooden floor that was best not to walk quickly over. That was my first mistake. I was just about to squeeze past them when the toe of my shoe hit a loose nail sticking out of a floor board. I was heading face-first towards the floor when Mac stepped in front of me and I crashed into him instead.
"Jesus," his soft voice truckled into my ear. "Watch yourself, Cal."
I inhaled sharply right into the hollow of his neck, where my face had ended up. My heart had skipped a beat when I started to fall.
"Be careful," he murmured, dropping his arms from my waist now that my feet were planted firmly on the ground.
"You really are clumsy," Eric laughed, slapping my back a little too forcefully, causing me to lose my balance once again.
Mac firmly grabbed my arm this time to steady. "You okay?" he asked quietly, ducking his head a little since I wasn't making eye contact.
I nodded, not wanting to speak for fear of what my voice sounded like.
"That's a good way to knock out your front teeth, Cal," Eric crowed.
"Yeah," I chuckled shakily, gently pulling my arm out of Mac's grip. I was too embarrassed to look at him. I kept my graze straight ahead as I walked past them, and finally through the front door. I sighed in relief. Then the door opened behind me. I spun around to see who it was. Mac. "What?"
"Um, I just wanted to say that what you did today at practice? It wasn't a big deal. Actually, I thought it was pretty cool."
I tried to identify any trace of sarcasm. As far as I could tell he was being genuine. "You did?"
"Yes. Herb can be a real jack ass sometimes. I've wanted to speak up in the past, but I never have. So if anyone is giving you a hard time about it, I think you should ignore it."
"Right, ok. I will." I said, still trying to figure him out.
"Yep. I'm going to head back inside now." With that, he turned on his heel and went back into the bar.
I stood there for a few long seconds, staring at the spot where he'd stood. I didn't think that if anyone was going to make me feel better about my outburst, it was going to be Mac.
Oh God. I had a really bad neck ache. Really bad. I groaned as I tried to move. Wait a minute, this was not my bed. This was not my apartment. Where the hell was I? I sat up so fast my vision swam and I had to blink several times before I could take in my surroundings. I was on a couch in a normal-enough looking living room, but it was no place I recognized. I rubbed my eyes with my fists. Okay, don't panic. There has to be a logical explanation. I kept seeing images of the Bates Motel from Psycho. The guys and I had seen it in a drive in last summer, a decision I was seriously regretting now.
I pulled a knitted blanket off me and stood on shaky legs. There was a door that lead to what I assumed was the kitchen. It sounded as if someone was moving around in there. Please don't be a psychotic serial killer. I guessed I had to do something. I cleared my throat then coughed, loudly.
Mark Johnson poked his head into the room. Oh, thank God.
"Oh, hey, you're up," he said, much too chipper.
Before I could speak, another horrible thought occurred to me. I had spent another drunken night with one of my brother's teammates. Something told me that wasn't the best way to get him to forgive me.
"Where are we?" I asked as if maybe he had no memory of the past 8 hours as well.
"This is my apartment. Bob lives here, too."
"You know, Suter? You've met him right?"
"Right, yeah." I felt like a jerk. A hungover jerk that was crashing on someone's couch without asking. "What happened last night?"
"You sort of passed out at the bar. I mean, you were conscious but not really coherent. It was last call; almost everybody had left already, all your boys."
I could barely believe it. Whenever I went out with the guys, at least one of them always stayed with me and made sure I got home. Jimmy and Rizzo had left early, Silky was occupied with Lynn, so that left Jack. Was he really that mad at me that he abandoned me?
"So I took you here," Mark went on. "I hope that's okay. I don't know where you place is."
"Yeah, it's okay," I said when I could speak. "Thanks, Mark, honestly. You're a life saver." I possibly meant that literally.
"No problem. I just called your brother. He's coming to pick you up."
So now he decided to take care of me? I was surprised he was even willing to do that.
After I showered, Suter let me borrow a bright red Badgers t-shirt and I put the jeans I was wearing last night back on. After I had breakfast, Jack showed up.
"Rough night, huh, Calster?" he said, nudging me.
He was acting like nothing happened, like he hadn't completely let me down. I couldn't remember the last time he'd done anything like it.
"Thanks Magic. She can be a real handful sometimes, right?" Everything about him was forced, from his smile to the conversation.
"Yeah, don't mention it," Mark said awkwardly.
We left shortly after that and I saw my car pulled up at the curb. He must have picked it up at the bar this morning, or, I thought furiously, drove it home when he left me at the bar. I wanted to tell him how fucked up that was, but I couldn't quite bring myself to.
We were unnaturally silent as he drove me home. Jack was really tense. He gripped the steering wheel so hard his knuckles were bleached white, and he almost ran several stoplights, cursing and slamming on the brakes at the lest second. I was waiting for him to bring up the thing about me at the rink. He never did, and I sure wasn't about to. Maybe last night was payback for that, and now we were even. That was fine with me. He also was avoiding looking me in the face, another big clue he was still mad. I wondered when he was going to get over it, or if he was going to continue to do shitty things to me indefinitely. I supposed it was my fault for getting so shit-faced. I didn't want him to handle all that alcohol, or that I couldn't take care of myself. He was driving me home, though. I guessed that counted for something.
He walked with me to my apartment. Silky was nowhere to be found.
"Shouldn't you be at school?" Jack asked.
His lip curled up slightly and not in a good war. He didn't say anything.
I began absentmindedly tidying up the kitchen, putting plates from the sink into the dishwasher and straightening up my spice rack, just for something to do, waiting for him to leave. I didn't look at him, but I could he wasn't budging. He was just standing there.
"Jack?" I said. "I'm okay now."
"I know," he said because he wanted me to be. "I know you are."
I wasn't sure who he was trying to convince.
I did manage to go to school that afternoon since I had my art class with Mr. Scott that I didn't want to miss. It wasn't until I was on the way home did I realize that I didn't have my wallet. It was the icing on a cake for a horrible day. I needed to invest in a new purse, one with a zipper that closed all the way and didn't spew out my personal belongings wherever I went. I had most likely left it at the bar the night before. I didn't want to go back there. For a few moments I entertained the idea I could live a few days without money, my credit card, student ID or driver's license. No, I needed to be an adult about this. I went to the bar but had no luck there. The second most likely place was the rink. They didn't have a lost and found box, furthering my torture and making me walk around the damned place. I decided to start with the locker room since I did go in there a lot. The team was having practice currently, which meant I had some time to search the locker room before they came in. If Brooks saw he might kick me out and ban me for life. I also wasn't in the mood to run into anyone on the team, even though none of them seemed to care that I had yelled at their coach. At least, no one had told me as much at the bar last night. Jack was the only one who seemed genuinely angry. We hadn't even fought about it, not really, if you didn't counted that uncomfortable as hell conversation in the car that morning. I didn't count it as we usually had to have a shouting match before we resolved anything. In this case it just fizzled out.
I still sensed as if I'd violated my rights or worn out my welcome, and I felt a little like a burglar as I slipped into the quiet locker room. It wasn't empty. There was one person in it, and do I even have to say who? Was this some sort of cruel joke? Why did we always end up alone together? I wasn't sure I had the emotional or mental capacity to deal with him today, but last night he wasn't being awful. Quite the opposite, in fact.
"What are you doing in here? Where's everybody else?"
"Herb let me go early."
"What do you care?" he snapped.
I gave my head a shake, reminding myself to stay on topic and not get mad. "Look, have you seen my wallet?"
Did I hear a tone? I tried to think if I'd done anything to piss him off lately, but there was nothing. The last I checked, we weren't trying to kill each other. "What's your problem?"
"Right now you are."
I felt all my breath leave me at once. "Stop it."
He finally looked me in the eyes, briefly surprised at the crack in my voice. He quickly covered it up. "Maybe you should just—"
"No!" I cut him off, and that was when I lost it a little bit. "Obviously you have a problem. What did I do?"
He stared at the floor and didn't say anything.
"I think we're friends and then you act like an ass. It's driving me crazy. I know I've said shit to you, but come on."
He opened his mouth to speak but I kept going.
"So which is it, Mac? Do you like me or do you hate me?"
He stood up. "Cal, I'm—"
"Just shut up and listen to me! I want this to end. I mean, I want us to get along. I'm going to have to see you for the next couple of months and I don't want to feel like this every time I do."
He started walking towards me.
"Why do you do this?" He was so close I had to look up to stare him in the face. "Stop toying with me." He started at me intently. I was too angry to wonder what he was doing, I just kept going on. "I don't know who you think you are—"
"I know," he said, putting his hands on my shoulder and surprising me so much I shut up. "This is why." He dipped his head very slowly towards mine, making it clear what he was doing and giving me plenty of time to pull away. I didn't. My heart immediately started pounding, and I was frozen with a mixture of excitement and fear. I tipped my chin up just a little, a tiny fraction, and he took the invitation. One hand came up to the side of my face as he pressed his lips to mine. I kissed him back without thinking, I didn't need to think; it was instinctual. I brought my hands up and fisted them in the front of his shirt. The hand on my shoulder moved down my back, keeping me in place. My brain hiccupped and jumped as if suddenly turning on again and I realized what was happening.
After a full five seconds, I came to my senses and withdrew. I pushed against his chest and he immediately pulled back. "I can't do this," I breathed. Because I couldn't. I couldn't kiss Rob McClanahan.
"I'm sorry," he whispered.
I couldn't meet his eyes. I took a step back, feeling like I'd been hit over the head with a blunt object. I turned toward the door, then stopped. I needed to leave, get away from him, but my legs wouldn't work.
"Callie, please. Don't go," he said softly, earnestly, grabbing my arm right above the elbow.
His touch gave me a jolt and I snapped back to life. "No, I—I shouldn't be here." For so many reasons, most of all this. I began to walk away and he didn't let go of my arm, it slid through his loose fist, his palm skimming down my forearm, my wrist, the palm of my hand and the flat of my fingers, until I was completely out of his reach, like he never wanted to let me go. It made me shiver.
"Cal, wait!" He raised his voice as I rushed toward the door, as fast I could without breaking into a run.
I didn't stop.