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The Hunter's Burden

THE HUNTER’S BURDEN

 

A Comedy/Drama Play

 

by

 

Jamie McKinven

 

 

 

Copyright © JAMIE MCKINVEN 2014

 

 

 

CHARACTERS

 

CHARLIE MAGILL

Male, 35. Team leader. Charismatic. Likeable.

 

JACK NORTON

Male, 55 – 65. Head Coach. Well-travelled. Level-headed.

 

STICKSY MCGAVIN

Male, 65 – 75. Team Trainer. Cantankerous. Witty.

 

MOOSE MATHERS

Male, 30 – 35. Team Tough Guy. Burly. Playful. Loyal.

 

TRENT HUXLEY

Male, 25. Team clown. Fun-loving, playful, energetic.

 

LANCE MICHAELS

Male, 26. Womanizer. Prankster. Fun-loving and carefree.

 

DRAKE CARMODY

Male, 19. Rookie call up. Naïve, timid, well-mannered.

 

MIKKO KOISTINEN

Male, 23. Finnish Goalie. Stylish. Eccentric. Quiet.

 

VERONICA STEVENS

Female, 25 – 30. Local radio station reporter. Attractive. Ambitious.

 

GERRY HAMLIN

Male, 65. Local newspaper reporter. Shifty. Manipulative. Untrustworthy.

 

GLORIA STURDIVANT

Female, 52. Team Owner. Strong-willed. Ambitious. Heartless.

 

 

TIME – The present.

 

SETTING – A minor league hockey team dressing room / coach’s office.

 

 

 

 

THE HUNTER’S BURDEN

 

 

 

ACT 1

 

 

SCENE 1

 

The curtain rises and we see a dark, empty dressing room. A spotlight is trained on CHARLIE MAGILL’s stall in the centre of the room. To the right side of the stage is Coach Jack Norton’s office. The office is blacked out and two men can be seen sitting in the room (Jack Norton and team trainer Sticksy McGavin).

 

CHARLIE enters from STAGE LEFT

 

Charlie walks into the dressing room wearing a tailored suit and looking dapper. He walks over to his stall, puts a can of Red Bull on the top shelf and sits down. Facing the audience, Charlie begins his monologue. Throughout the monologue, Charlie is changing out of his suit and into his under gear.

 

CHARLIE

There is something about the musty smell of a dressing room that gives me goose bumps. It’s the anticipation of greatness. In hockey there are rules, referees and penalties for those who break the law, but, it’s what’s beneath the surface that defines the culture of hockey. You see, hockey maintains a set of unwritten rules: The Code, as it is. Those who break these sacred and treasured rules will face a different judge, jury and executioner. Hockey is the only sport where you can’t run out of bounds. It’s the fastest game on two feet and combines grace, honour and aggression. Hockey represents the simulation of war in the most deadliest of conditions. Spawned on a tundra landscape amid conditions that claimed many of frontier immigrants, hockey represents prosperity from poverty; a rise from the ashes. It’s the sport for the average-sized human being that values intelligence as equally as brawn. It lifts spirits and harvests lifelong dreams. Where an undersized, blonde-haired kid from a small farming community can rise up to international fame and riches beyond belief. It’s a unifying constant that brings people from all walks of life and from different beliefs and backgrounds together over a beer or a hot cup of coffee. In front of the TV on a Saturday night, a Conservative and a Liberal can join together in unison, screaming expletives at a striped-shirted man named Von Hellamond. People always ask me what I love about hockey and this is it. It’s all the subtleties of the sport. The smells, the pain, the nervousness before every game and the exhilaration you experience when you score a big goal or deliver a breathtaking hit. It’s a rush of life through your body that reminds you why you put up with all the heartache along the way. There’s nothing better than the feeling you get from the unbelievable highs in this sport. All the blood, sweat and tears are happily sacrificed for those moments of blissful perfection. Hockey is the best thing in the world. I love it. For 60 minutes you can be whoever you want. You can escape the harshness of the real world and hide behind a mask. At the rink you can forget all your troubles. Fighting with your girlfriend? I doesn’t matter in here. Bills are piling up and you can’t make the rent? At the rink there is no currency and you always have a place to hang your hat. When you walk through that door you can take on the form of any role that you can imagine. You can be a gunslinger, a pest, a grinder or a thief. You can be a surgeon, a sniper, an enforcer or a magician. Every day at the rink is another day to clean the slate and reinvent yourself. Every clean sheet of ice is like a fresh sheet of paper to pen your next adventure. Each game is a new beginning and a chance at something magical.

 

The lights begin to rise on the entire set and STICKSY MCGAVIN enters the dressing through the door to Coach Norton’s office.

 

STICKSY

Well look who it is. They must have told ya the game was at 6:30, eh.

 

CHARLIE

If I had a nice couch to live on like you Sticksy I’d probably never leave this place either.

 

STICKSY

You wouldn’t last a day trying to do my job, kid.

 

CHARLIE

Well, if you can do it Sticksy, I’m sure I’d be a natural at it.

 

Charlie sprawls out in the middle of the dressing room and begins stretching. Sticksy is preparing some items on the trainer’s table: trainers tape, skin spray, pre-tape and some lotions.

 

STICKSY

How’s the knee today kid?

 

CHARLIE

You know, it’s not that bad. The ankle has been aching a bit and the shoulder is angry again.

 

STICKSY

I don’t know what’s wrong with your shoulder. I’ve never seen a player hurt his shoulder shying away from traffic and the corners the way you do. Skating around out there like you’ve got eggs in your pockets.

 

CHARLIE

You know I just make up injuries to spend time with you.

 

Amid the playful banter between Sticksy and Charlie, MOOSE MATHERS enters the dressing Stage Left.

 

CHARLIE

Moosey! What’s up brother?

 

MOOSE

Rattled Mags! Rattled!

 

Moose heads over to his stall beside Charlie’s and begins changing out of his suit and into his under gear.

 

STICKSY

No banana with your lunch today down at the zoo?

 

MOOSE

You know Sticksy, one of these days you’re gonna catch one in the trap. You’re lucky I don’t hit seniors. Sadie wouldn’t go down for a nap today and screamed for about 3 hours straight. I completely missed my pre-game nap.

 

CHARLIE

Where was Cassie?

 

MOOSE

She was working the lunch shift at Appleby’s. Prick manager made her go in because some high school pothead called in sick.

 

STICKSY

I don’t blame the poor little girl. If I were left at home with a big ugly gorilla all day, I’d be screaming too.

 

MOOSE

Not today Sticksy. I swear I’ll beat you to death with your walker.

 

LANCE MICHAELS and TRENT HUXLEY enter Stage Left. Lance is laughing hysterically about a funny prank he just pulled on Trent. Trent is shaking his head.

 

CHARLIE

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Starsky and Hutch.

 

STICKSY

More like Cagney and Lacey.

 

Moose laughs and nods at Sticksy who is proud of himself, nodding back at Moose.

 

CHARLIE

What’s going on fellas?

 

LANCE

Oh man, you guys missed a good one. You know how Sleeping Beauty here loves his pre-game naps. Well, I waited until I knew he was out and I snuck into his room and forwarded his clock by two hours and turned off his alarm.

 

Moose giggles excitedly.

 

LANCE (CON’T)

So at 4 o’clock, I called his cell phone and woke him up, which is when he usually gets up, but the best part is, his alarm clock read 6 o’clock.

 

CHARLIE

Oh man, you’re such a dick. I love it!

 

LANCE

I know, I know. Save the applause to the end. It gets better. So I call Sleeping Beauty and with the right amount of panic in my voice, I say, “Hey Idiot! Where are you? It’s 6 o’clock and we’re on for warm-up in half an hour. Coach is losing his marbles!” He starts screaming, “Oh, shit. Oh, shit! I must have set the alarm for AM instead of PM. Crap!” I said, “I had to leave early for treatment so I got a ride with Mags. I left the keys on the kitchen table. You can take my car. Hurry! I’ll try and make something up for you and tell Coach.” So I’m sitting out on the front porch and I can hear him crashing into things and scrambling around. Then he flings open the front door and nearly falls down the steps. I started laughing hysterically and he just turned around and started snapping. He chased me into the house and I ran and locked myself in the bathroom. I even audio recorded it. Listen!

 

Lance plays the audio on his cell phone of Trent yelling at Lance. Everyone is laughing.

 

TRENT

Ya, ya. Laugh it up you meatheads. I’ll get you back. It’s a long-season and I have nothing but time.

 

LANCE

Ahhh, quit your whining you baby. Remember the time you told that girl I was trying to get a date with that I was a meth addict and then put itching powder in the collar of my shirt?

 

MOOSE

Ya, that was a good one.

 

LANCE

I figure I owe you three more doozies to make up for that one.

 

TRENT

What about the time you put hair dye in my shampoo bottle? I looked like Ryan Seacrest for the next six weeks.

 

CHARLIE

Ya, that was pretty bad Lancey.

 

LANCE

It was actually a good look for you. And you didn’t seem to mind when we told that aspiring singer at that bar in Nashville that you could get her on the show to meet Simon Cowell.

 

TRENT

Whatever, man. Just be ready. You’ll get it when you least expect it.

 

DRAKE CARMODY enters Stage Left. The rooms suddenly quiets down and faces become a bit more serious. The players eye Drake up as he walks in.

 

DRAKE

I’m supposed to report in to Mr. McGavin.

 

LANCE

Hey Sticksy, that mail-order concubine you’ve been waiting for finally arrived.

 

Everyone laughs.

 

STICKSY

Don’t mind these idiots, kid. Come with me and I’ll get you set up.

 

Sticksy grabs the rookie’s bag and shows him over to an empty stall. Drake Carmody starts unpacking the gear and setting the stall up.

 

CHARLIE

How you doing, kid? I’m Charlie Magill.

 

DRAKE

Nice to meet you Charlie, I’m Drake Carmody.

 

Charlie takes Drake around the room to introduce him to the other players. The players take a brief moment out of what they are doing to quickly shake Drake’s hand and quickly revert back to what they were doing.

 

CHARLIE

Drake, this is Moose Mathers. He’s our finesse guy.

 

DRAKE

Hi Moose, nice to meet you.

 

MOOSE

Hey kid.

 

CHARLIE

This is Trent Huxley and Lance Michaels. You ever need any advice on how to obtain a good defence lawyer, they’re your guys.

 

DRAKE

Hi Trent. Hi Lance.

 

LANCE

Nice meet you Rook.

 

TRENT

Shmeltie.

 

CHARLIE

Where are you coming up from?

 

DRAKE

I was in Lethbridge, in the WHL. We just got beat out.

 

MOOSE

Is Lefty Scales still coaching there?

 

DRAKE

Ya! He’s the head coach.

 

MOOSE

Jeez. He was coaching when I played there a million years ago. Figured he’d be dead by now.

 

DRAKE

He’s still kicking.

 

Sticksy calls Drake over to pick out some sticks.

 

STICKSY

Hey kid. Come over here and we’ll get you setup for sticks.

 

The lights dim down on the main dressing room and the lights come up on Coach JACK’s office.

 

 

SCENE 2

 

Jack Norton sits behind a desk covered in papers, a laptop, and an old touch key phone. His office is decorated in relics from his past glory. A couple of championship trophies collect dust on a shelf. A framed jersey, a few old pictures, and a large rink board hang on the surrounding walls. Jack Norton is stressed and overworked. As he sits at his desk, talking to himself about strategies and line combinations, the phone rings.

 

JACK

Birmingham Brahmas, Jack Norton.

 

Jack rolls his eyes and slumps in his chair. He is clearly annoyed with the caller, who is a fan. We don’t hear the caller’s voice through the conversation, just Jack’s.

 

JACK (CON’T)

Yes. Yes you can get tickets either by going online and ordering them through our website or by…

(Pause)

Yes, that’s right.

(Pause)

No, you need to open up the browser

(Pause)

No, it’s the icon picture with the “E” on it. Yep.

(Pause)

OK, It’s WWW dot Birmingham Brahmas dot…

(Pause)

No. Birmingham…

(Pause)

Yes, then Brahmas, no dot before Brahmas. Yes…

(Pause)

Yes, then dot com. That’s right. Once you’re on there you will see a tab that says “Tickets”.

(Pause)

It’s up at the top of the screen.

(Pause)

No below that.

(Pause)

Ya, it says Tickets. Click on that.

(Pause)

OK now you can select where you want to sit and then go…

(Pause)

Ya, just select the seat and section.

(Pause)

OK. Now select “Proceed with payment.”

You don’t have a credit card? Do you have a PayPal account?

(Pause)

No, you won’t be able to book them now and then pay for them at the gate. You can go to the box office and buy a ticket there if you like.

(Pause)

Well I’m sorry you feel that way.

(Pause)

Yes I know we have been losing lately but hopefully we’ll turn that around tonight.

(Pause)

Well I don’t think that’s fair.

(Pause)

OK, you listen here now, you…

 

The caller hangs up on Jack. Jack is agitated and thinks about slamming the phone receiver but thinks better of it and places it back on the console.

 

As Jack hangs up the phone there is a KNOCK at the door.

 

JACK

Come in!

 

The door opens and DRAKE CARMODY pokes his head in.

 

DRAKE

Hi Mr. Norton, I’m Drake Carmody.

 

JACK

Ah, yes Drake. Come on in and have a seat.

 

Drake walks in and sits in the chair beside Jack Norton’s desk.

 

JACK (CON’T)

How was the trip down?

 

DRAKE

It was good.

 

JACK

You got checked into the hotel OK?

 

DRAKE

Yes I just came from there. Nice place.

 

JACK

Did you meet Sticksy? He’ll get you sorted out with gear and whatever else you need.

 

DRAKE

Yes, Mr. McGavin already got me set up.

 

JACK

That’s good. Well we’re happy to have you up here with us Drake. It’s been tough sledding lately. We’ve had a few guys banged up and the schedule has been tough down the stretch. I’m going to probably start you out on the 3rd line tonight and see how it goes from there.

 

DRAKE

Sounds good coach. I’m really happy to be here. It’s been my dream all my life to play pro hockey.

 

Jack opens up his top drawer and pulls out a contract and a pen for Drake to sign.

 

JACK

I almost forgot you’ll need to sign this in order to get paid. Now this is just the standard PTO contract. It’s different than the one you signed with the big club.

 

Drake stands up, leans over and signs the contract. Jack stands up and shakes Drake’s hand and dismisses him.

 

JACK (CON’T)

Alright. Welcome aboard Drake. I’ll let you get back to the team to get acclimated.

 

DRAKE

Thanks Mr. Norton.

 

Drake walks out of the office, closing the door behind him.

 

As Drake leaves the office, Jack gets out of his chair and starts talking to himself while writing, erasing and re-writing names on his depth chart on the wall. Amid his strategizing, the phone rings again. Jack begrudgingly sits back down in his chair and answers the phone.

 

JACK

Birmingham Brahmas.

(Pause. Jack slumps his shoulders and rolls his eyes)

Oh, hi Lorna.

(Pause)

Ya.

(Pause)

Ya, I sent it out last week.

(Pause)

It should be in your account.

(Pause)

No.

(Pause)

No that was the amount agreed upon.

(Pause)

Yes, once he turned 18 that was what was agreed upon.

(Pause)

Look at the agreement!

(Pause)

I don’t care. Call your lawyer. I hope you do.

(Pause)

Better yet, just get that rich husband of yours to read it to you.

(Pause)

You’re lucky you get anything. The only reason I even still send the cheques is to pay for his schooling. Lord even knows if that’s where it’s going. Maybe I’ll just start sending the cheques straight to him. You know what? That’s exactly what’s gonna start happening.

(Pause)

Oh, ya.

(Pause)

Ya, you call him.

(Pause)

Good.

 

Jack slams the receiver down. He is clearly flustered.

 

Jack returns to the white board where he gets back to changing line combinations and muttering to himself.

 

Soon after, the phone rings again and Jack sits back down and answers the call.

 

JACK

Birmingham Brahmas.

(Pause)

How are you doing?

(Pause)

No, we’re still playing tonight.

(Pause)

No, I haven’t heard of any severe weather warnings.

(Pause)

Yes.

(Pause)

Yes, the game will definitely start at 7:30.

(Pause)

Well if we had to cancel, which we won’t, we would issue refunds or free tickets to a makeup game for all ticket holders. But I can assure you that that won’t be necessary.

(Pause)

No, you will still be able to park in the lot.

(Pause)

Yes, it’s been a tough stretch but we’re getting guys back from the Injured Reserve and I’m confident we’ll get things turned around.

(Pause)

Yes, that’s definitely an idea.

(Pause)

Yes, he’s a good player and that’s maybe something we’ll be considering.

(Pause)

Yes.

(Pause)

I appreciate the advice.

(Pause)

Well, he’s been struggling a bit but we believe in him and he’s a professional.

(Pause)

Thanks, we’ll take that into consideration.

(Pause)

Alright well enjoy the game tonight. We look forward to your continued support.

(Pause)

Alright. Take care. Bye

 

Jack exhaustedly puts down the phone and shakes his head. He lets out a big sigh and then returns to the white board to continue strategizing.

 

The lights begin to fade out on Jack Norton’s office and the lights rise on the main dressing room.

 

SCENE 3

 

In the dressing room, the players are getting into their pre-game routines. CHARLIE MAGILL is on the trainer’s table getting his shoulder wrapped by STICKSY. TRENT and LANCE are warming up on two stationary bikes. DRAKE is unpacking his gear and arranging his stall. MOOSE is helping DRAKE with protocol and a few tips about how to stay out of the fine book.

 

TRENT

Hey, Rook. Where do you get a pair of gloves like that?

 

DRAKE

These are the gloves we used this year in Lethbridge.

 

TRENT

Yikes. I think Buzz Lightyear might have an APB out on those.

 

DRAKE

Ya, I guess they’re a bit loud, eh.

 

TRENT

Loud? I’ll say. Those gloves would get you kicked out of a Metallica concert for disturbing the peace.

 

LANCE

White skates eh? Really?

 

DRAKE

Ya. The new Grafs. They feel unreal!

 

LANCE

You gotta get rid of those. I hope you can fight kid, or else Moose is gonna wear out his meat hooks sticking up for you parading around in those.

 

TRENT

Hey Chuckie. Take a look at shmeltie’s skates!

 

Charlie looks over at the skates and winces.

 

CHARLIE

Ugghh… Don’t worry kid, I think Coach has you playing with Moose. Better get a good stretch in Moosey. I gotta feeling you’re gonna earn it tonight.

 

MOOSE

One of these days I’m gonna teach you all to fight so I can try and get my modeling career back on track.

 

LANCE

Jeez Moose, I didn’t know you used to be a model.

 

TRENT

Don’t you remember him from those commercials? He even starred in a movie once. You remember. Harry and the Hendersons.

 

Everyone laughs and Moose grunts and waves a fist at Trent.

 

CHARLIE

Great flick!

 

LANCE

No, no. That wasn’t it. It was the one where the kids go hunting for treasure and that old lady and her sons go chasing after them.

 

CHARLIE

The Goonies?

 

LANCE

Ya, that’s it!

 

TRENT

Hey you guyyyyyyyyyyssss!

(Mimicking the character “Sloth” from “The Goonies”)

 

LANCE

Didn’t you know? We’ve got a team full of former movie stars. Sticksy got his big break staring in Grumpy Old Men.

 

Everyone laughs. Sticksy turns and jabs back at Lance and Trent.

 

STICKSY

At least I got to make out with Sophia Loren. I gotta admit though. You two monkeys were pretty funny in “Night at the Roxbury.”

 

Everyone erupts in laughter.

 

Amid the laughter, team goalie MIKKO KOISTINEN walks in looking very European. Immediately the players start into razzing tactics.

 

CHARLIE

Mikko! Looking sharp, buddy.

 

MIKKO

(Removes his headphones)

What you say Charlie?

 

CHARLIE

I like the suit, pal.

 

MIKKO

Ya, it’s tight, man. Armani, brother. Custom-made.

 

LANCE

Hey Koisto. Does that suit come in men’s?

 

Lance and Trent share a laugh

 

MIKKO

This is style, brother. You North Americans have no sense of style.

 

MOOSE

I agree with you Koisto. These hyenas don’t know how to dress for success.

 

TRENT

Really Moose? You buy your suits from a guy named Digger who works at a mortuary.

 

STICKSY

Back in the day when hockey players were real hockey players…

 

LANCE

(Interupting Sticksy)

Here we go.

 

STICKSY (CON’T)

They dressed like professionals. Guys like Toe Blake, Maurice Richard. That’s what a real pro looked and acted like. You guys walk around like punks with your hair long and messy. Wearing toques and sloppy ties. No respect.

 

TRENT

Sticksy. Are you really going to stand there and lecture me about dressing like a pro while wearing those crusty pajamas? With how tight those things are, you aren’t leaving much to the imagination.

 

Everyone starts laughing.

 

STICKSY

Ya, laugh it up you mutts. I have forgotten more about this game than you’ll ever know.

 

LANCE

Sticksy, that’s called dementia. Whatever you do, don’t go towards the bright, white light.

 

CHARLIE

Sticksy has a point. I remember how embarrassed I was when I got called up and all I had was a JC Penny special with a wrinkled tie and a dirty white shirt.

 

DRAKE

You played in the show?

 

MIKKO

I didn’t know you played in the NHL, Mags.

 

Everybody is suddenly glued to every word Charlie says. The group gravitates in to hear his tales of glory.

 

CHARLIE

It was the best month of my life. I’ll never forget it.

 

MOOSE

The ultimate dream.

 

CHARLIE

I got the call on a Thursday after a game like every other one. I didn’t even play well. I was on for the winning goal against late in the third. After the game, coach called me into his office. To be honest I thought I was getting traded. He looked up shook my hand and said, “Congratulations kid. You’re playing for the Leafs tomorrow night in Chicago.”

 

LANCE

Unreal.

 

CHARLIE

I was 24 years-old and in my fourth year as a pro. I was pumped and thought, “I’ve made it.” I headed straight for the airport and boarded a flight to Chicago to meet the team. When I exited the terminal in Chicago, a man holding a sign picked me up from the airport and drove me to the hotel. It was a palace.

 

TRENT

Was it a Marriott?

 

CHARLIE

Even better. A Westin.

 

LANCE

No way! I stayed at one of those when I was in college. They give you a robe to wear and even put mints on your pillow.

 

CHARLIE

After I checked in, about an hour later, the rest of the Toronto Maple Leafs checked into the hotel. I heard a key card in the door and in walked my roommate for the trip, Darcy Tucker.

 

DRAKE

No way! Darcy Tucker?

 

CHARLIE

Yep. He had a huge gash down the side of his face from a fight earlier that night against Cam Janssen. He glared right at me and I froze. He said, “You Magill?” I choked out an answer. Then he said, “Get the hell outta my bed!”

 

MOOSE

(To Drake)

You see rook, it’s nothing personal.

 

CHARLIE

The next day, I go down for breakfast and there is a buffet the length of a school bus in a private room just for us. There were egg-white omelets, French toast, waffles, steaks, eggs benedict, smoked salmon and anything you can name. Matt Stajan always ate cream of wheat with pomegranate so they had special orders brought in. It was like eating breakfast at the pearly gates.

 

LANCE

Sure beats the silver plate special at the Waffle House.

 

TRENT

Where does a one-legged waitress work?

 

Everyone shrugs

 

TRENT (CON’T)

IHOP.

 

Moose moans and throws an empty paper cup at Trent.

 

CHARLIE

After breakfast, we hopped on a bus and headed to the rink for pregame skate. We pulled up to Chicago Stadium and I started to get goose bumps. That place is a cathedral. I walked through the concourse past massive murals of Bobby Hull, Stan Makita and Michael Jordan. I made my way up one of the tunnels to the rink. As I stepped out into the open arena, the smell of the big time hit me like a punch in the face. I could still smell the popcorn from the night before and almost hear the roar of 20,000 screaming fans. The ice looked like a tranquil pond. Clear and glistening in the darkness. It was cathartic.

 

TRENT

My dad took me to a game there once when I was a kid. Jeremy Roenick got a hat trick. You could feel the vibrations of energy through the seats.

 

MIKKO

You cry a little bit?

 

TRENT

(Making a sniffing noise)

Ya… Maybe a little.

 

CHARLIE

Pregame skate was terrifying. Everyone was so fast and crisp. I felt like I was trying a new sport. It was so overwhelming. Right when I was almost ready to break down and quit, Bryan McCabe grabbed me by arm and said, “Relax kid. You earned the right to be here.” After that, everything came back to me.

 

LANCE

McCabe. Pure savage.

 

TRENT

Oh, I’ve heard the stories. Ultimate beauty.

 

CHARLIE

That night, they put me on a line with Chad Kilger and Tie Domi. Before the game, Domi pulled me aside and said, “Hit everything that moves and don’t worry about consequences. I’ve got you covered.”

 

MOOSE

Domi. Now that was a hockey player.

 

CHARLIE

Ya he is a lot better than people give him credit for. He could skate like the wind. He ended up hitting everything that moved because I was too slow to get there first.

 

LANCE

Domi! Classic beauty.

 

TRENT

Ya, I heard he hooked up with Cassandra from Wayne’s

World.

 

MOOSE

She’s so hot.

 

LANCE

And that politician chick too.

 

TRENT

Pays to have friends in high places.

 

LANCE

Ya, it’s called alimony. And it’s his wife that gets that.

 

CHARLIE

After the game, we hit up this classy restaurant in downtown Chicago. I mean it was 15 bucks for a domestic beer.

 

TRENT

15 bucks!?

 

CHARLIE

Ya, they had a waterfall behind the bar. Even Koisto would look underdressed in this place. So I sit down at a table with Domi, McCabe, Andrew Raycroft, Darcy Tucker and Tomas Kaberle. About 5 minutes in, Raycroft bumps me on the shoulder and points over to the bar area. One by one, girls who look like they were taken out of the pages of Maxim magazine start saddling up to the bar and smiling over at our table. Raycroft leans in and says, “They’ll wait there for 3 hours if we make them.” After a long, expensive dinner, the waitress brings over a bill. McCabe points over at me and says, “He’s gonna pick up the tab tonight.” I look down and the bill reads, “$1,434”. Immediately I start sweating. I fumble around trying to see if I even brought my credit card when Tucker punches me on the shoulder and snatches the bill away from me and says, “How about I pick up this one and you get the next one, rook.” After paying the tab, we head over to the bar area and immediately get swarmed by 12 models all looking to get a piece of a Leaf.

 

LANCE

Unreal Mags. And here I thought I had it made when I walk into Buffalo Wild Wings and the ugly drunk girl in the corner winks at me.

 

CHARLIE

I was riding the high wave. I never thought it would end.

 

DRAKE

What happened?

 

CHARLIE

That season ended and I went back home. In the off-season the Leafs non-tendered me and I ended up signing with Washington. Another year went by in the American league and then I signed with Tampa. After another year it was Carolina and then the following year Washington again. I never made it back up to the NHL, always got stuck behind some younger, faster prospects.

 

MOOSE

(To Drake)

That’s the nature of the game kid. Don’t ever take it for granted.

 

TRENT

Just when you think you’ve made it, the carpet gets pulled out from underneath you.

 

LANCE

Hockey’s a love/hate industry.

 

CHARLIE

It sure is.

 

Sticksy heads into Jack Norton’s office.

 

LANCE

So kid. You said you played in Lethbridge?

 

DRAKE

Ya.

 

LANCE

Who is the coach there now?

 

DRAKE

Lefty Scales.

 

TRENT

Scales? Oh man I heard that guy is a real ball buster.

 

DRAKE

Ya, he can be pretty tough on guys.

 

LANCE

You heard anything about Jack Norton?

 

DRAKE

Not really. I just met him when I went in to introduce myself. He seems like a really nice guy.

 

Trent, Moose and Charlie all share a subtle and quick smirk.

 

MOOSE

He puts on a good show.

 

TRENT

Ya, especially with the new guys. He wants you to feel safe in the beginning.

 

MOOSE

But, be careful kid. He can lose it at the drop of a hat.

 

LANCE

Ya, remember Hutchinson?

 

CHARLIE

Shit. Don’t talk about Hutchinson.

 

DRAKE

Who is Hutchinson? What happened?

 

MOOSE

It’s OK, we can talk about it now. Enough time has passed.

 

LANCE

Well, Chris Hutchinson was a player who got called up two years ago from Roanoke. He made the mistake, one game, of going lazy on the back check and it resulted in the winning goal. We got back in the room and everything was silent.

 

TRENT

You could literally hear a pin drop.

 

MOOSE

Everyone knew something bad was going to happen.

 

CHARLIE

We just didn’t expect what happened next.

 

LANCE

So, the next thing we know, Norton comes in and says one word. “Hutchinson”. Then he motions with his hand and then walks out into the hallway.

 

TRENT

Hutchinson got up and nearly fainted on the walk out to the hallway. His knees were shaking like crazy.

 

MOOSE

It was like watching a man take his last walk towards the electric chair.

 

TRENT

So Hutchinson disappears into the hallway and then nothing. There was no screaming.

 

CHARLIE

We all expected to hear Norton dress him down. But there was nothing.

 

TRENT

Until that dreadful noise.

 

CHARLIE

It was like a muffled cry.

 

MOOSE

Almost like a squeaky gurgle.

 

TRENT

We all sat there silent. It seemed like hours passed. Then Norton came back into the room and walked past everyone into his office and closed the door.

 

CHARLIE

No one ever heard or saw Hutchinson again.

 

LANCE

There are rumors that Norton buried him in the fields out behind the rink.

 

DRAKE

Jesus! That’s crazy! That can’t be true.

 

MOOSE

It is kid.

 

LANCE

Ya, just be careful. Don’t piss him off.

 

TRENT

Back check hard and don’t lose your man in our end. And salute him during his pre or post-game speeches if he mentions your name.

 

CHARLIE

Ya, he’s ex-military. He really values that shit.

 

LANCE

He served in Nam. I think that’s why he’s all messed up.

 

MOOSE

(Slapping Drake on the back.)

Keep all that in mind kid and you’ll be fine.

 

Drake nods nervously.

 

Sticksy emerges from Jack Norton’s office.

 

STICKSY

Any of you wimps need anything else taped or wrapped?

 

LANCE

Ya, can I get a few Sudies?

 

MOOSE

Ya, me too.

 

STICKSY

What’s wrong with you guys. Getting all hopped up on that crap. You should be born ready to play.

 

LANCE

This is coming from a guy who needs to take four blue pills to have a good time.

 

JACK enters the room and walks over to a whiteboard and starts writing. The players begin to get settled in for the pre-game speech. When he finishes writing on the board, Jack turns and addresses the players.

 

JACK

Charlie. What is the saying written on the board?

 

CHARLIE

The Hunter’s Burden.

 

JACK

The Hunter’s Burden. Any of you know what that means?

 

MOOSE

If aren’t successful, you don’t eat?

 

JACK

That’s right. If you aren’t successful, you don’t eat. If you don’t eat, you can’t survive. That’s where we are at as a team right now. We need to eat, but lately our aim hasn’t been very good. There are plenty of deer and wild boar available. We’ve had plenty of opportunity, but we haven’t been making the kills. We haven’t been seizing the opportunities presented to us. We have the skills to get the job done and we have the manpower to make it happen. But what we are lacking is the hunger and urgency to put food on our table. Well, I’m here to tell you right now that the pangs of defeat are starting to dig deep into us. I don’t want to start making people feel uncomfortable but the bottom line is that hockey is a business, boys. If we don’t start executing, we’re going to starve. We’ve got to start realizing that results puts food on the table and roofs over your kids’ heads. Moose how many kids do you have?

 

MOOSE

Three kids, Coach.

 

JACK

What would you be doing if you weren’t making a living playing a game that you love?

 

MOOSE

I’d probably be driving a truck or bouncing at a bar.

 

JACK

What would you rather be doing? That, or playing hockey?

 

MOOSE

Hockey. It’s all I know. I love it.

 

JACK

I don’t want to put him on the spot here but all of you have had a chance to meet Drake.

 

Drake salutes Jack, who does a double take and gives a strange look. All the rest of the players snicker quietly.

 

JACK (CON’T)

All of you were in Drake’s shoes at one point in time. He’s one of many to follow. The new breed of pros that arrive in the game every season. If you want to keep the roofs over your family’s heads and keep eating, you have to take it upon yourselves to secure your future. You’ve got to start executing. It’s a cold-hearted business. Trust me. No one knows it better than me. Don’t let it slip away from you without putting up your best fight. You don’t ever want to look back and say, “If.” If I only worked harder. If I only sacrificed more. Those are questions that haunt me every single day of my life. And I can tell you that they’ve caused more grief in my life than any pain you could ever imagine. So I want you to think about what you want the rest of your life to be as you go out there tonight. Think about your families and the ones who depend on you. Empty the tank tonight and walk away after 60 hard minutes with no regrets.

 

Jack pauses and the looks down at his lineup card.

 

JACK (CON’T)

Koisto’s shutting the door tonight. Hux and Lance on the backend. Mags, Moose and Carmody up front.

 

Drake salutes Jack after hearing his name. Jack shakes his head and laughs.

 

JACK (CON’T)

Let’s go bring home dinner boys!

 

Jack heads out the door STAGE LEFT after his final comment.

 

Everyone gets ramped up, hooting and hollering and they all filter out the door STAGE LEFT, led by Mikko, hitting a dented tin sign on the way out that is emblazoned with the motto “Heart and Desire”. Charlie stands at the door, tapping gloves with everyone as they head out and then follows up the group of players.

 

 

END OF ACT 1

 

 

ACT 2

 

SCENE 1

 

The players begin filtering into the dressing room from the door at STAGE LEFT. The mood is a mix of emotions: Sadness, disappointment and anger. The Brahmas just lost again and many of the members of the team are at wit’s end.

 

TRENT and LANCE enter first SLAMMING their equipment into their stalls and removing their upper gear.

 

TRENT

You’ve got to be kidding me!

 

LANCE

I’m sick of this.

 

MIKKO enters the room after Trent and Lance and is cursing in Finnish while KICKING his stall and SLAMMING his trapper and blocker down.

 

DRAKE enters just behind MIKKO and is uncertain how to act. He is attentively mimicking the actions of those around him as to fit in and not look out of place. He doesn’t carry the emotions felt by the others as he hasn’t been through the season that they have been through together.

 

After Drake, MOOSE enters in a fit of rage with STICKSY and CHARLIE trying to restrain him. Moose is being dragged into the room by Sticksy and Charlie as he screams at the referees in the hallway. His face is covered in blood, which has coated most of his jersey as well.

 

MOOSE

You’re gutless, you pricks! That’s why you are refs. Couldn’t play the game so you find other ways to get involved and mess it up. I’ll be waiting by your cars after we get out of here you gutless pricks!

 

CHARLIE

Relax Moose. Come on man. Don’t give them the option.

 

Moose begins to calm down after Charlie talks to him.

 

MOOSE

Mags, can you believe that?

 

CHARLIE

I know Moosey, it’s garbage. Don’t give them any more satisfaction by giving them a reason to suspend you.

 

Sticksy gives Moose a towel to put over his face.

 

JACK enters the room and kicks over the table holding the Gatorade container in the middle of the room, spilling its contents everywhere.

 

JACK

Everybody sit down!

 

The players all scurry to their stalls and sit quietly.

 

JACK (CON’T)

What the hell was that? Huh? Can anyone tell me what just happened? You know what, don’t even bother. I’ll tell you what that was. It was a good old fashioned mail in. Pure and simple. You guys just packed it up and mailed it in. Makes me sick.

 

Jack Norton turns to Trent.

 

JACK (CON’T)

Huxley. I’ve never seen a guy who spends more time trying to avoid getting hit. If you spent as much time getting involved in the game as you do in front of the mirror, you’d be quarterbacking an NHL powerplay. All that talent wasted, worrying about getting hurt.

 

Jack turns to Lance.

 

JACK (CON’T)

And his partner in crime, Lance Romance. Michaels, if you weren’t so worried about Holly Hotpants in the third row and chasing the tail, you might actually be serviceable. You guys just don’t get that you’re letting the best career in the world slip through your fingers. How many dates do you think you’re going to fetch when you’re working at Denny’s?

 

Jack turns to Charlie.

 

JACK (CON’T)

Mags. You’re supposed to be the leader of this team and you take a undisciplined slashing penalty like that late in the third? Like you haven’t been around long enough to know that type of stuff kills teams in big games. Maybe that’s why you’re still down here counting small bills.

 

Jack turns to Mikko.

 

JACK (CON’T)

Mikko, you’re not in the Finnish Elite league anymore. Over here you’re going to get bumped. Get used to it. There’s a reason you’re the only first round pick playing at this level right now. The more you flop and cry to refs and get off your game, the longer you’re going to be here in Birmingham, sleeping on buses and eating pulled pork sandwiches for pre-game meals.

 

Jack turns to Moose who has his face buried in a blood soaked towel.

 

JACK (CON’T)

Moose. Let me see your face.

 

Moose removes the towel to reveal his wounds.

 

JACK (CON’T)

You see fellas, this is what laying it on the line means. This is the difference. I don’t mean that you have to fight. It’s about going into every situation, even if you know you can’t win, and laying it all on the line. Walking away with no regrets.

 

Jack looks around and shakes his head.

 

JACK (CON’T)

Come ready to work tomorrow morning.

 

Jack heads into his office and SLAMS the door.

 

After Jack’s post-game speech, everyone sits quietly for a few moments letting it sink in.

 

After a stretch of awkward silence and moping, Charlie speaks up.

 

CHARLIE

Well boys. We’ve been here before. We know what to do. Learn from tonight and we’ll get to work tomorrow. Coach is right. We have to start playing with more urgency. Playing like we have more to lose than just a game. We’ve got 3 weeks left in the season and plenty of time to make a good run at it. We’re all capable in here. We’ve got the team to make it happen. Let’s put this debacle behind us and start a new season right now. We’ve got 3 weeks to make up the distance between us and . We’ll chip away one game at a time. We’ve mourned that loss, now let’s pick up our heads up and get focused for the next one.

 

Charlie gets up and throws a ball of tape into a garbage can, sits back down and starts to get undressed. The others start following suit.

 

Moose heads over to Sticksy’s trainers table and lays down. Sticksy starts administering stitches.

 

TRENT

Chuckie’s right boys. We’ve got lots of time to get it going. We just have to commit fully, starting now.

 

LANCE

Let’s turn the tide boys!

 

Mikko gets up, goes over and gives Moose a pat.

 

MIKKO

Thanks, Moosey.

 

Charlie goes over to DRAKE who seems unsure of how to act, not having been with the team long enough to know when it’s OK to show that you’re over a loss.

 

CHARLIE

Hey kid. Good job tonight. You played a great game. Don’t let the losses get to you. You gotta have a short memory as a pro. Learn and get better. That’s what it’s all about.

 

DRAKE

Thanks Charlie.

 

Charlie pats Drake on the back and heads back to his stall and begins to untie his skates.

 

TRENT

How did it feel tonight kid?

 

DRAKE

Good. Different for sure. A lot faster and more physical.

 

LANCE

The first game is always the biggest eye opener. It gets a lot easier once you adjust.

 

TRENT

I thought you were going to be done after getting cannonballed by Jenner.

 

DRAKE

That guy hits like a truck! I didn’t even see him coming.

 

LANCE

Ya, he’s a pest for sure.

 

TRENT

Built like a running back. I played with him in Fort Worth a couple years back. The guy’s an absolute animal.

 

CHARLIE

The worst part is that he runs around like that knowing that he has Iron Head to back it all up.

 

DRAKE

That Iron Head guy is crazy. Is it true that he spent time in jail for manslaughter?

 

TRENT

No, he went to court but they decided it was inconclusive as to what actually caused the brain hemorrhage. Because he died a few weeks later they said it could have been because of a number of hits to the head.

 

LANCE

He is banned from playing games in Russia though. While he was playing in the KHL over there, he made extra money working as muscle for the mob guy who owned the team. I guess he crippled some guy at a nightclub and had to flee the country.

 

DRAKE

He’s the scariest guy I’ve ever seen.

 

TRENT

Easily the toughest guy in hockey.

 

DRAKE

Why isn’t he in the NHL?

 

LANCE

Insurance issues. The league insurance policy has him deemed as too much of a risk.

 

DRAKE

That’s insane.

 

CHARLIE

That’s why you gotta tip your cap to Moosey for going toe to toe with an animal like that.

 

TRENT

Ya Moose. Good job.

 

Trent heads back into the shower area.

 

LANCE

Good job Moosey. Just one tip for next time. You are allowed to duck every once in a while, you know.

 

Everyone laughs.

 

MOOSE

You’re such a pansy Lance. Never been in a scrap in your life, giving me tips.

 

LANCE

I’m just saying Moosey. You know. A little bob and weave maybe?

 

Everyone laughs.

 

MOOSE

Sticksy you about done? I need to go lay a beating on Lance.

 

STICKSY

Hold still ya big buffoon.

 

LANCE

By the time Sticksy’s done zipping your face back together, you won’t be able to see me.

 

MOOSE

I can still smell your cheap cologne.

 

Everyone laughs.

 

Just then, LANCE (Who is standing in front of a vanity mirror in the corner of the room) goes to turn on a hair dryer pointed at his head. When he turns on the hair dryer, baby powder blasts out all over his wet hair and head, making him look like one big powdered donut.

 

Everyone laughs.

 

STICKSY

Hey Moose. Squeeze his head and see if raspberry jelly comes out.

 

LANCE

Huxley!

 

Lance goes running back into the shower area looking for Trent. As Lance runs in, Trent pops out from the shower area looking sneaky.

 

TRENT

Did it work?

 

CHARLIE

Oh ya, it was classic.

 

Trent reaches for another towel from the pile of neatly folded towel to wipe his head with. As he wipes his head and shoulders, he is caked in shaving cream.

 

Everyone laughs.

 

STICKSY

Anybody got a cherry?

 

More laughter.

 

TRENT

Lance!

 

Trent goes running back into the shower area, looking for Lance.

 

There is a distinct KNOCK at the door. Sticksy walks over to the door and disappears STAGE LEFT.

 

TRENT

Here come the vultures.

 

LANCE

God I hate them.

 

CHARLIE

Goddamn parasites. Hey kid, have you had to deal with the media much?

 

DRAKE

A little bit back in junior. It was mainly local news.

 

CHARLIE

Let me give you a few pointers about dealing with the media as a professional. When you’re in junior, they almost have a conscience. Well at least a bit more when they know they are dealing with sixteen to twenty year olds. Up here, they will sell their newborn infant to get some dirt on you to write a slander piece.

 

MOOSE

You gotta watch everything you say. And keep your emotions in check.

 

CHARLIE

Here are a few examples. Moose, I’ll be the weasel reporter and you be the player.

 

Moose chuckles giddily.

 

CHARLIE (CON’T)

Hi Moose, great game. You played phenomenal tonight but your team just couldn’t get the win. Why is that?

 

MOOSE

It was a hard fought game. Sometimes the bounces just don’t go your way. We’ll be back to work tomorrow night, looking for a win.

 

TRENT

Good answer. Never throw the boys under the bus.

 

CHARLIE

Moose, Trent Huxley just got called up. You have more points than him and didn’t get the call. How do you feel about this?

 

MOOSE

I’m very happy for Trent. He’s worked hard and earned the promotion. If I keep working hard good things will happen for me.

 

LANCE

Very diplomatic. Classy.

 

CHARLIE

Here’s another one kid. Moose, you’re usually one of the key penalty killers. At the end of the game, Coach didn’t put you on the ice and they scored the winner. How do you feel about that?

 

MOOSE

Coach made the right decision. We just had a bad bounce end up in our net. Coach has been a pro longer than anyone I know and we all believe in his plan.

 

TRENT

Always preach the positive.

 

CHARLIE

It makes for boring answers, but ultimately, boring keeps you off the blacklists and out of the doghouses.

 

MOOSE

When you’re trying to get a foothold in this game kid, you gotta make sure you tread lightly around the vultures.

 

DRAKE

Sounds good. Thanks guys.

 

CHARLIE

And whatever you do, no matter how hot they are…

 

Moose cuts Charlie off.

 

MOOSE

… Never date a vulture. Eh Lance?

 

LANCE

OK, OK, I don’t need to relive that do I?

 

DRAKE

What happened?

 

CHARLIE

Last year, Lance Romance ended up dating a new reporter for the Gazette. She got clingy and Lance did what Lance does.

 

MOOSE

Break hearts and make enemies.

 

CHARLIE

Ya, she was none too pleased. Took to social media the next day and plastered a hate letter about him all over facebook and twitter.

 

TRENT

It was messy.

 

Sticksy emerges through the STAGE LEFT door.

 

STICKSY

Alright fellas. Cover up, and make nice, the flock is swooping in.

 

Sticksy walks back to the trainer’s table and starts working on Charlie’s shoulder as he lies face down.

 

Gerry Hamlin, senior sports editor for the Birmingham Gazette, walks in and casually greets players as he walks by. The players icily greet Gerry. Gerry knocks on Jack Norton’s office door and enters after being summoned from beyond the door.

 

Behind Gerry Hamlin, Veronica Stevens, a reporter for CBLC Birmingham, enters the dressing room to a chorus of cat calls from Trent and Lance.

 

TRENT

Ronny! Why don’t you ever return my calls?

 

VERONICA

Because you are an egotistical child.

 

MOOSE

She’s got a good point there, Hux.

 

Veronica walks past the gawking infantile maniacs and approaches Charlie who is laying on his stomach, grunting through a shoulder treatment session by Sticksy.

 

DRAKE

(To Trent)

Did you hook up with her?

 

Trent shrugs his shoulders and grimaces.

 

LANCE

No, but it hasn’t been for a lack of trying.

 

TRENT

She’s just playing hard to get. She digs me big time. You can tell, eh.

 

LANCE

Ya, she’s just about to cave in.

 

DRAKE

She’s so hot.

 

TRENT

Ya, I guess. If you like those types of girls.

 

Lance chuckles and walks away.

 

VERONICA

Hi Charlie. Do you mind answering a few questions for me?

 

CHARLIE

Hi Veronica. No problem, fire away.

 

Veronica readies her microphone and begins the interview.

 

VERONICA

I’m here with Birmingham Brahmas captain Charlie Magill. Charlie, it was another tough loss tonight for the Brahmas. What do you think is the cause of this recent, yet seemingly endless tailspin?

 

CHARLIE

There are a number of reasons that come to mind right now, Veronica. Not that I am making excuses for us. We just came off a long, gruelling road trip and we’ve had a bad stretch of injuries. Also, it hurt when Johnny got called up. That definitely took some wind out of our sails. But, we’re a good team and we’ve been through this before. We’ll refocus now and get things back on track.

 

VERONICA

Is there any truth to the rumours going around about owner Gloria Sturdivant looking to sell the team and clean house in the process?

 

CHARLIE

To be honest, I don’t listen to the rumours and can’t comment on that topic.

 

VERONICA

One last question. Is this going to be your last season?

 

CHARLIE

I’d like to play a couple more. I still have fire in my belly and I feel I have a lot left in the tank.

 

VERONICA

Thank you, Charlie. Always a pleasure.

 

TRENT

(While riding a stationary bike)

Hey Veronica. If you can hang on for a couple extra minutes, I’ll finish up here and shower up quick and meet you out back for our date.

 

Veronica shakes her head while stifling back a smile.

 

TRENT (CON’T)

Or we could just meet down at the Velvet Duck for drinks. Whatever works better for you, my love.

 

The players are laughing while shaking their heads.

 

Veronica walks over to Drake who is standing nervously at his stall in a towel.

 

VERONICA

Drake. Can I get a few comments from you on your pro debut?

 

LANCE

(To Moose)

Oh boy, this is going to be hilarious.

 

DRAKE

Um… Sure.

 

VERONICA

Great.

(Readies her microphone)

I’m here with rookie Drake Carmody who dazzled in his professional debut tonight, scoring the game’s opening goal. Drake tell us about the rush of scoring your first professional goal in your first professional game.

 

DRAKE

Um… It is a great feeling. Um… I just wanted to make sure I took a good shot and, um… I was fortunate that it went in.

 

Lance and Moose are snickering at Drake’s bumbling responses.

 

VERONICA

That’s great Drake. Tell me, is it a bit disappointing coming into a situation where the team is struggling? After winning a Memorial Cup last season, this must be a bit of a letdown.

LANCE

(To Moose)

Oh boy, here we go.

 

Drake’s eyes widen and he looks to Charlie who smiles and nods at him.

 

DRAKE

It was a hard fought game. Sometimes the bounces just don’t go your way. We’ll be back to work tomorrow night, looking for a win.

 

Veronica’s expression turns to annoyed disappointment.

 

VERONICA

OK, thanks Drake.

 

Moose goes over to Drake and slaps him on the back.

 

MOOSE

Atta boy! That was perfect for your first pro interview.

 

Veronica is packing her equipment away, shaking her head.

 

VERONICA

You guys are pathetic. Honestly.

 

Veronica begins walking out of the dressing room.

 

TRENT

So, I’ll pick you up at your place in 30 minutes?

 

Veronica huffs at Trent and heads out of the room to a chorus of laughter by the rest of the players.

 

MIKKO

Do you even know where she lives?

 

TRENT

Ya. She’s got a great big oak tree right near her bedroom window.

 

Everyone starts laughing.

 

Gerry Hamlin walks out of Jack Norton’s office and the room momentarily becomes silent. Some of the players nod awkwardly at Gerry as he walks through the room and out of the dressing room. After Gerry leaves, the buzz in the room returns.

 

Charlie groans and winces as Sticksy massages his banged up shoulder.

 

CHARLIE

Ahhhhh! Jesus, Sticksy!

 

STICKSY

Ahhh, quit your whining.

 

CHARLIE

What are ya? Edward Scissorhands? Take it easy.

 

STICKSY

Such a baby.

 

LANCE

Last time I let Sticksy work on a bad shoulder, I ended up with a herniated disc and a pulled groin.

 

TRENT

Letting Sticksy give you treatment is like throwing yourself down the stairs.

 

STICKSY

You guys are a bunch of pansies. I’ll tell ya, when I was over in Beijing, we used to get deep tissue massages by these girls who would jump around on your back.

 

LANCE

Sticksy, first off, it was Bangkok, not Beijing. Secondly, they were hookers, not therapists.

 

Everyone starts laughing.

 

GLORIA STURDIVANT, the owner of the Birmingham Brahmas walks into the room, entering from STAGE LEFT. The players immediately adjust their behavior.

 

TRENT

Mrs. Sturdivant, lovely to see you.

 

Gloria nods and smiles at Trent.

 

She smiles and waves at Charlie who half winces, half smiles as Sticksy works on his shoulder. She then knocks on Jack Norton’s door who informs her to come in.

 

TRENT

What the hell is she doing here?

 

Everyone looks worried. There is a long pause where everyone is deep in thought.

 

DRAKE

What’s the matter? She’s the owner isn’t she?

 

TRENT

Ya and the owner never comes down to the room. Especially not after games.

 

MOOSE

He’s right. Something’s got to be up. What do you think it is Mags?

 

CHARLIE

I don’t know.

 

The lights fade out on the dressing room part of the stage.

 

SCENE 2

 

The lights come up on Jack’s office, where Jack sits at his desk with Gloria pacing back and forth in front of his desk.

 

GLORIA

That was one of the worst displays of mediocrity I have ever seen.

 

 

JACK

Bad games happen Gloria. We’ve been here before.

 

GLORIA

Well I’ve never, in my life been so embarrassed.

 

JACK

That’s the nature of the game. Sometimes you win big and sometimes you take one on the chin. Tonight was just a bad one.

 

GLORIA

Well we’ve been taking way too many on the chin lately. Tonight’s little lolly gag makes it five losses in a row. Each one worse than the next and 13 losses in our last 20 games. In the span of a month we went from home ice advantage to three games out of a playoff spot.

 

JACK

OK, I admit that we haven’t been very good lately, but we’ve got a few guys banged up and we’ve been playing a lot of back to back nights on the road. This upcoming week we’ve got a lighter schedule at home and we’ll have some time to get guys back to 100%. It’s only a matter of time before we get this turned back around.

 

GLORIA

Well Jack, we’re running out of time and I’m not going to sit back and watch the attendance numbers tumble into oblivion anymore.

 

JACK

Now wait just a minute. Your husband, God rest his soul, used to trust my judgement and never interfered when it came to matters about hockey.

 

GLORIA

Ya, well look what that got him. High blood pressure and a heart attack.

 

JACK

With all due respect, I’m the coach of this team. Have been for a lot of years now.

 

GLORIA

Ya, well things change Jack. This is going to be your last year coaching the Brahmas. We won’t make the announcement until after the season. I want to let you finish what you started with this group.

 

Jack nods his head and looks toward the door leading to the dressing room.

 

GLORIA

I’ve been in contact with the big club and they are going to be sending us some young prospects to groom before the end of the season. In turn, our affiliation agreement is renewed for the next three years coupled with additional budget funding. It’s what’s right for the organization.

 

JACK

Ya.

 

GLORIA

There’s one more thing Jack.

 

JACK

Ya, what’s that?

 

GLORIA

We’ll be releasing Charlie Magill. He takes up too much room on the cap and we’ve got to make room for the kids coming up.

 

Jack shakes his head.

 

JACK

Jesus Gloria, you can’t do that. He’s the leader of this team.

 

GLORIA

It’s already done. I filed the waiver papers with the league an hour ago. I can be the one to tell him if you want.

 

JACK

No, I’ll do it. It’s got to come from me.

 

Gloria nods.

 

GLORIA

Listen Jack, I didn’t want to see it come to this, but I have to do what’s right for the team. It’s not personal. It’s just business, you see?

 

Jack sits emotionless. Gloria opens the door and heads back into the dressing room.

 

The lights go down on Jack’s office.

 

SCENE 3

 

The lights come up on the dressing room.

 

Gloria walks through the dressing room, immediately appearing cheerful.

 

GLORIA

Great effort tonight guys! We’ll get them next time!

 

Gloria exits STAGE LEFT.

 

The collective fake cheer, put on by the team quickly turns quiet again.

 

LANCE

Something doesn’t feel right.

 

TRENT

Ya, something’s definitely up.

 

MOOSE

Did you see how cheerful she was?

 

LANCE

Ya, she had the fake smile plastered all over her face.

 

As Lance, Trent, Moose and Drake chat amongst themselves, Charlie puts on a shirt and makes his way over to Jack Norton’s office door. He hesitates at the door and the opens up the door and walks in.

 

The lights go down on the main dressing room area.

 

 

 

SCENE 4

 

The lights come up on Jack Norton’s office.

 

Charlie walks into the office, closing the door behind him. He walks over and sits down in the chair beside Jack’s desk. Jack looks sad. He looks at Charlie and smirks exasperatedly. Both of the men know what is happening.

 

Charlie looks up at the dusty championship trophy sitting on a shelf near his head and removes it. He dusts off the name plate and smiles.

 

CHARLIE

Do you remember the night we won this?

 

Jack smiles and nods.

 

JACK

Ya. What an incredible night.

 

CHARLIE

That was my best moment, sitting in my gear after that game, bleeding and sweating, so tired that I could barely untie my skates. The beer never tasted so good. We were kings, if only for a small moment in time. And boy did we celebrate that night. Man did we get hammered.

 

JACK

Remember Sticksy at that bar we went to in Virginia Beach?

 

CHARLIE

Ya, what was the name of that place?

 

JACK

Gerry McGraw’s.

 

CHARLIE

Ya. That was the place. We paid that swimsuit model to hit on Sticksy and tell him he reminded her of her uncle.

 

JACK

Jesus, is that what you told her to say? You guys really are all going to hell.

 

CHARLIE

Ya, maybe that one was a wee bit offside. Moose got so drunk he passed out on top of the jukebox and Ricky got arrested for streaking the boardwalk with the trophy.

 

JACK

When we bailed him out, they tried to keep the trophy as collateral, the bastards!

 

CHARLIE

They were still pissed off about the goal that got called back in game six. Those were the best days of my life.

 

JACK

Ya, those were some good times.

 

CHARLIE

It was 7 years ago and it feels like yesterday. If only I knew then what I know now, things might have been different. Back then, I thought we would win one of these every year. I guess it’s easier to look ahead in life than look back.

 

Charlie dusts the trophy off with his forearm and blows on the nameplate. He then puts the trophy back on the shelf and sits down in the chair beside Jack’s desk.

 

JACK

I can call George Grant over in Shreveport. See if they’d be interested. They’re in the hunt. There might be a chance to win there.

 

CHARLIE

I don’t know anyone who would want a banged up has-been at this point in the season. What are you going to do?

 

JACK

I don’t know. Maybe it’s time to move on. Eventually, this game passes us all by.

 

Charlie gets up and walks over to Jack and extends his hand. Jack grabs Charlie’s hand and they smile.

 

CHARLIE

Well Jack. It’s been quite a ride, hasn’t it?

 

JACK

It sure has been, kid.

 

Charlie walks over to the door. Just before he turns the handle, he looks back at Jack.

 

CHARLIE

Take care Jack. I’ll see you around, I’m sure.

 

JACK

I’m sure you will.

 

Charlie opens the door to Jack’s office and walks back into the dressing room.

 

There is a long, silent moment where Jack sits alone in his office, staring up at the dusty trophy.

 

The lights fade down on Jack’s office.

 

SCENE 5

 

The lights rise on the dressing room.

 

The dressing room is empty except for Drake Carmody and Charlie Magill. Drake is finishing up mopping the floor and picking up wayward tape balls. Charlie is at his stall. Drake finishes mopping and puts the mob in the corner of the room and goes to his stall to retrieve his jacket.

 

CHARLIE

Hey kid.

 

DRAKE

Ya?

 

CHARLIE

Whatever you do from now on, remember one thing. However good or bad it gets, savour every moment and make every chance count.

 

DRAKE

OK. I’ll definitely do that.

 

Drake puts on his jacket and makes a confused face. Charlie turns back to his stall.

 

DRAKE (CON’T)

I’ll see you tomorrow.

 

Charlie turns and smiles as Drake exits stage left.

 

Charlie pulls a bag out from under his stall and starts packing up his gear. As he’s packing the gear, he starts into a final monologue.

 

CHARLIE

It’s funny, you know. I should have seen this coming. It’s not like I’m a spring chicken anymore. My knees are shot. So is the back and shoulder. I’m not as fast as I once was. Numbers are down. But, until they take the jersey off your back, the dream is still alive. And the day they do, well, it’s like having your heart ripped out of your chest. The worst part is the unknown that lies ahead. It’s not that exciting kind of uncertainty, like when you are a free agent or when you’re waiting to get drafted. It’s like being lost on a dark, deserted highway with no gas station or hotel in sight. When you’ve played hockey your whole life, it’s hard to imagine doing anything else. I guess this is the point in life when the switch flips from “I can’t wait” to “What if.” Once this bag is packed and I walk through that door, I’ll be carrying 25 years of memories with me, both good and bad. No matter what you accomplish, it’s always the ghosts of failure that haunt you during the quiet times. The stuff I’m going to miss the most is the camaraderie. The boys, the laughs, the beers. Those are what make this game great. It’s the lifelong bond between brothers. There will always be reunions and charity golf tournaments, but it won’t be the same. There’s nothing quite like going to battle together, night in and night out. Those are the times that you can’t relive. The memories just don’t justify the moments.

 

As Charlie puts the last of his gear into the raggedy old bag, he zips it up and tosses it over his shoulder. Just before he reaches the door, he turns and takes a deep breath.

 

CHARLIE (CON’T)

That smell still gives me goose bumps.

 

Charlie taps the dented sign that says “Heart and Desire” one more time before he exits through the door stage left.

 

After Charlie leaves, the lights fade down on the entire set.

 

THE END

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

 

JAMIE MCKINVEN, author of So You Want Your Kid to Play Pro Hockey? and Tales from the Bus Leagues. This is the first play written by the former minor league hockey player who works as a Senior Project Coordinator with the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

 

[* Follow me on Twitter: @McKinvenJ44 *]

https://twitter.com/McKinvenJ44

 

 

OTHER BOOKS BY THIS AUTHOR

So You Want Your Kid to Play Pro Hockey”

 

 

An uncensored peek behind the scenes of hockey’s unique culture. Find out how politics unfold at the various levels of hockey. Discover the real issues that are plaguing the game, and what needs to be done now to protect the next generation of up-and-coming hockey hopefuls. Discover what happens on the road, as a team bonds together, and what hockey is like in the Southern U.S. and Eastern Europe. Hockey has its own set of rules, defined within a unique culture. Experience the game of hockey from a new perspective. Strap on the gear and get beneath the helmet.

 

Tales from the Bus Leagues”

 

 

A collection of short stories from a former minor leaguer about life running the roads and playing for peanuts, with the small glimmer of hope of someday suiting up in the NHL. From shaking hands with Gary Player on the first tee at the Masters, to off-seasons living in his grandmother’s basement, Jamie McKinven – author of So You Want Your Kid to Play Pro Hockey – talks freely about life as a struggling pro. Learn about how to kill deadly spiders in Louisiana with a 7-iron, the day he was a jerk to Novak Djokovic and why goalies really are the weirdest bunch of dudes on the planet. The not-so glamorous lifestyle of a minor league hockey player is unveiled in this light-hearted exposé.

 

Available in paperback and e-book via www.glassandout.com or through most online bookstores

 

 

AUTHOR’S BLOG

 

When in Doubt, Glass and Out”

Hockey and Everything in Between”

 

 

Jamie McKinven maintains a blog site for hockey fans, parents, players, and critics to get information on everything from tips on mental preparation to hilarious stories about what goes on behind the scenes in the hockey world. If you want to read an interesting article about hockey’s unique culture or debate about the newest rule change, chime in and let yourself be heard.

 

Learn more at:

 

www.glassandout.com

 


The Hunter's Burden

The Hunter's Burden, a two act play written by Jamie McKinven (author of "Tales from the Bus Leagues" and "So You Want Your Kid to Play Pro Hockey?"), follows the Birmingham Brahmas, a minor league hockey team starving for relevance in the midst of an economic downturn. Led by their grizzled captain, Charlie Magill, and well-travelled coach, Jack Norton, the Brahmas walk a fine line between budding promise and swift demise in the dog-eat-dog world of minor league sports. An endless string of pranks, grumpy trainers and eccentric goalies highlight this hilarious ride through hockey’s unique culture.

  • ISBN: 9781370592739
  • Author: Jamie McKinven
  • Published: 2017-05-30 21:20:13
  • Words: 11401
The Hunter's Burden The Hunter's Burden