Characters: Charlie Conway
Length: <1k words
Inferior by Alley
Why don’t they just make Banks captain and be done with it?
The thought made me feel dizzy, a physical pain, a contraction in my chest that seemed to squeeze all the air out of my lungs. But I couldn’t help but think it sometimes.
If Banks was the star, the team savior, why not just make him captain? If Banks knows better then why not just make him captain?
Hell everyone had something going for them it seemed. Adam was the proclaimed star, Guy had a scoring statistic second only to Banks’, Fulton and Portman were the enforcers, Russ had his knucklepuck, Luis his speed, Ken the figure skating moves, Dwaine his puck handling abilities, Julie and Greg were goalies, and as for Connie, hell, he’d like to see the girl who could play with the guys like Connie does. There’s Averman of course. But Averman has told us already that he’d much rather do something else than hockey. And for now he keeps us laughing. Basically everyone has something going for them.
What do I have?
Some might think that it was stupid for me to care about some letter. How would they understand… It may just be a letter to anyone else but to me it has become my identity. That’s all I’m holding on to now. Because if I don’t have my C… who am I then? At least where the team is concerned.
I’ll give you and myself an honest answer to that. Nobody. Nobody… just a god damn kid who loves hockey and was naïve enough to think that he could make it for way to long. I’m not that naïve anymore. If Adam obsesses over scouts and scholarships then I’ve honestly stopped caring.
Some might say, “Way to go, Conway. Just give up.” But what do they know?
I’m not Banks. As much as I wish I was I’m not. I’m not a rich boy with a neat haircut, a big house, two parents, straight As, and a hockey talent. I’m a downtown kid with messy curls, a small apartment, a single mother, straight Bs, and a childhood dream of playing hockey that I’ve clung to pathetically.
It’s not that I’m trying to feel sorry for myself. I’m just frustrated. Frustrated because I’m not anywhere close to where I would like to be. Of course no one knows that. I smile and go out on the ice with a “positive attitude” that befits the captain. And I chatter aimlessly with Banks so that most who didn’t know us would think that we’re best friends.
What a joke.
I think I must have known this all along anyways. Somewhere deep inside I understood. That’s why I lived for the C and for the team. The team always comes first. It has been a rule and hell sometimes I think it pays off. At least then something good comes of my being there. At least then I do something really worthwhile.
I might not be able to score five goals per game like Banks. But at least I’m always there to be the one to put the team first. To step aside or step up when it’s needed.
I’ve heard the rumors. That they’re gonna make Banks captain. I’ve fought for this C. I’ve worked for it. And God knows I’ve fought to keep it.
Now that the moment is here and they’re giving Adam the C, now that it resides on his jersey and not mine, part of me wants to ask “why?” Part of me wants to protest. But the rule is still there.
Put the team first.
So I take off my gear quickly and quietly not to attract attention and then after getting dressed in the same manner I stand and walk over to Adam.
“Good luck, Captain,” I say with a genuine smile and head for the door.
Charlie where are you going? They don’t say it but it’s in their eyes. I turn to look at them one final time. I have outlived my purpose for this team. I’m not sure where I’m headed but hopefully it’s somewhere where I can be of use to someone. They don’t say anything but I know they understand. In their own ways but they understand.
I walk out of the locker room and start down the long hall. Behind me the locker room door closes with a final, resounding bang.