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Grace on Ice, up-dated

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Lisa M

Joined: 08 Jul 2004
Posts: 1844
Location: Rhode Island
Grace on Ice, up-dated  Reply with quote  

Warning: punctuation issues.

Chapter Three

Ginger was seriously annoyed. She had arrived at the rink early to meet Todd, only to find the place swarming with police, other skaters and stupid people just gawking. She stood at the edge of the parking lot for a couple minutes, then started back home, her tight braids glossy in the morning sunshine.

She had not gone far when she heard Todd calling. “Ginger, wait! Todd ran to catch up, his backpack and hockey stick making the short journey awkward. He came to a stop next to his friend and took a deep breath.

“You’ll never guess –”

“What on earth happened –”

Both stopped with a laugh.

“You first, Todd. Tell me everything! ”

“Well, I got to the rink at about 5:30, put on my skates and –”

“Todd! Get to the point!”

“I am! I got there at 5:30, put on my skates, turned on the rink lights, and there she was. Grace Robertson. Dead. Frozen to the ice. Even the blood was frozen.”

“Omigod! Grace stared at Todd. “How did she die?”

“I don’t know. I called my mom and then the cops. They asked a lot of questions, but they didn’t explain much.”

“Come on back to my house. I’ll tell you all about it.”

The two young hockey players walked the four blocks to Todd’s house. It was just 9:30 in the morning. On a normal Saturday they would have been having hockey practice, either a quick warm warm-up-skills work-out if it were a game day, or a longer, more grueling session if not. This particular Saturday it would have been the latter.

Todd and Ginger put their backpacks in the mud room and went into the kitchen. “You want anything to drink, Ging?”

“Yeah, okay. Do you have a soda? ”

Todd took two Cokes from the fridge and handed one to the slim, pretty girl beside him. ”Come on upstairs.”

”Todd!” His sister Jessie shouted from the living room. ”What is going on?” She came into the kitchen, holding the phone. ”This thing hasn’t stopped ringing. Your coach, everyone on the team, their mothers . . . it has been a real pain! ” The teenager set the phone in the charger. As if on cue, it rang again.

Todd picked up the handset. ”Hello, Yates residence, this is Todd.” He listened for a second, grimaced, then handed the phone to his sister. ”It’s for you.”

Jessie grabbed the phone. ”Monica? Thank god!” Her voice faded as she went back to the living room and flopped in front of the television.

Todd shook his head. Sisters. ”Come on, Ging. Let’s go upstairs.”

Once in Todd’s room, Ginger sank into the bright green beanbag chair and kicked off her shoes. “It really sucks, Todd. Grace was an awesome skater.”

“Yeah. She was awfully nice to me. She’d practice with me for hours. Todd paced between his bed and the window. Who would want to kill her? ”

Ginger looked up. “She was murdered? From what you said I thought she must have taken a really bad fall! ”

Todd turned to his friend. “No way Grace would fall that hard. Anyhow, her helmet was off and her stick was broken. It just doesn’t make sense. ”

Ginger sipped her drink, thinking. Her dark brown eyes gazed thoughtfully at Todd. “But if she was killed,” she asked, who on earth would do it? ”

“Well, yeah, that’s the question,” Todd said. Before he could continue, a fist began pounding on his door. “Todd! ” Jessie hollered. “Coach Loebick is here!”

“Jeez, can’t she do anything in a normal tone of voice? he muttered. Todd opened the door. Okay, okay. You don’t need to yell. He turned to Ginger. Come on. I guess I need to talk to coach. Come with me?”

“Sure. Ginger slipped her track shoes back on and heaved herself out of the green chair. “Are you allowed to talk about it?”

Todd shrugged. “I dunno. No one told me not to. ”

* * *

Nicole Loebick was a senior at the university and coached the youth hockey team in exchange for free ice time. “Hi, kids,” she said as Todd and Ginger entered the kitchen.

“Hi, coach. Did my sister make you wait here? How rude. How predictable. ”

“It’s okay, Todd. I don’t mind. How are you doing? ”

“K, I guess. It’s pretty weird. ”

“How are you, Ginger?”


“You guys want to talk about it?’”

Todd looked at Ginger for approval, but his friend had knelt down to re-tie her shoe. He looked back at his coach. “I’m not sure I’m allowed to talk about it.

Nicole looked fondly at her favorite teammates. “Well, that’s cool. I just wanted to let you know I was thinking about you.

“It’s a horrible situation, Todd, Ginger. Please feel free to call me if I can help.

“Thanks, coach. Really, though, there’s not much to tell. I found Grace when I went onto the ice. She was frozen in blood. It was pretty awful.”

“Grace?” Nicole gasped. “Grace Robertson?”

Todd’s face went white. “You didn’t know? I saw you talking to the cops.” His stomach lurched. “I shouldn’t have said anything. ”

“No, Todd, it’s okay. I knew someone had been killed, but just not who.”

Nicole looked at her young friends, uneasy with their discomfort and uneasy herself with her role in it. She was also stunned that Grace was dead.

* * *

Back in Todd’s room, Ginger flopped onto the bed. Todd. She paused. “I’m thinking you’d better not talk about this. If the cops didn’t tell coach, then maybe you shouldn’t, either.”

“Yeah, I guess. Todd sat at his desk, cradling his head in his hands. I don’t know how to feel.”

“Neither do I, Todd. If my mom were hear, shed know what to say. Moms are good at that.”

“Maybe I should go back to the rink. What do you think?”

Ginger thought for a moment. “I just don’t know. If it was me, I”d go back to bed.”

Todd gave a short laugh. “Then I”d probably have nightmares.”

* * *

Todd did have nightmares. His parents had finally come home in the afternoon, filling him in on what the detectives had asked and done.

“We really don’t know much, Todd,” Rob said. “The detectives asked a whole lot of questions, but it seems to come down to a few essential things: When did Grace get to the rink, whether or not she left and came back, and if anyone else was there.

“They are going to want to talk to you again, tomorrow.”

“So, do they think she was killed? Or, maybe she fell? Todd wasn’t sure which idea was worse.

After that conversation, Todd spent the afternoon in his room, cruising the net and reading his e-mails. He sent a message to certain friends, giving them an up-date on what he knew and indicating he didn’t want to talk about it. “Don’t reply, don’t call,” he insisted.

Of course, that imperative didn’t work. With a sigh he shut down his ’pooter and tumbled into bed.

* * *

Todd woke, screaming. Becky was holding him, her soothing voice repeating his name. “Todd, Toddy, it’s okay. Come on, kid, wake up.”

Todd opened his eyes, a final guttural sound dying in his throat. He clung to his mother, not quite sobbing. “Someone hit her, he hiccupped. “Someone hit Grace.”

“Todd, honey, shhh, Becky soothed. “It was only a dream.” She looked up to see Rob in the doorway, a cup of cocoa in his hands. Have some cocoa, sweetie.”

Todd let go of his grip on Becky, scootched up in the bed to lean against the headboard. He took the mug of cocoa from his dad, but did not drink from it. Jessie appeared in the doorway, yawning. “Is that hot cocoa? Can I have some?”

Rule 2/Teams
Section 4 g. Should a team start with fewer players than allowed and the officials err in detecting this situation, any subsequently entering players shall not be eligible to play the puck coming from the players defensive zone until that player has returned to the defensive zone or until possession and control of the puck has been gained by another player in the neutral zone or in the players attacking zone.

Chapter Four

After checking on Todd, Nicole Loebick had reluctantly returned to her apartment. She put water on to boil for tea and slumped onto the bench in the breakfast nook. Not knowing that it was Grace who had died allowed her to be focused on Todd and her team. But now, the knowledge that her friend, teammate and roommate was dead was more than she could assimilate.

Nicole had noticed that Grace had not come home the night before, but had assumed that she had kissed and made up with Ben. Which really made her mad, the fucktard. Hell of a skater, though. Now, it didn’t matter anyhow.

The whistle blew on the tea kettle and Nicole walked over to the stove to turn off the burner. She poured the boiling water into her mug, and carrier her tea into the living room. Just as she set the mug on the end table, the doorbell rang. Nicole sighed and took three steps to look through the security peep hole. “Shit, ” she muttered under her breath as she opened the door.

“Hello, coach.”

“May I come in?”

Nicole nodded and stepped aside and Ben La Rossa walked through the door. Before Nicole could say anything, her coach raised his hand. “No, Nicole, me first. ”

“I know you disapproved of my relationship with Grace -- which we kept very discreet, by the way – but you have to know that I cared very much for her. We had not parted on good terms, but Id like to believe we had a mutual respect for each other. ”

“I am devastated that she is gone.”

“So am I,” Nicole replied. She was my best friend. ”

“I know. Look, of course I will cancel practice today, but”

“No. Don’t cancel, ” Nicole interrupted. “Grace was our pride and joy, but the rest of us are not chopped meat. Let the team come together. Whether we skate or not doesn’t really matter. Besides, not everyone may know yet. ”

* * *

By the time Nicole’s college team was suited up and warming up on the ice, everyone knew. The women were skating in twos and threes, talking rather than the usual puck-passing theatrics of a normal warm-up. Ben watched them for a while, not sure just what to say to them. Finally, he blew his whistle, calling them to the center of the rink. They skated up, a spray if ice announcing their arrival.

Ben didn’t know how to begin. He opened and shut his mouth a couple of times, looking, Nicole thought, like a fish. “Coach? ” She removed her helmet. Let me. ”She turned to her teammates, taking time to search each face. I think you all know, now, about Grace. She was found dead this morning at the Yates’ rink. Todd Yates found her. ”.

There was a collective gasp. Everyone knew and liked the young skater.

“I don’t know any other details, and I suspect the only people who do are the police.

“Grace was my best friend, and I hardly know what to think or feel. I do know, absolutely, that Grace’s spirit is still with us. We have a pretty big game tomorrow against URI. I would like to suggest that we continue with today’s practice and focus on the game. ”

The women exchanged glances, nodding in agreement. “Coach La Rossa? ” Nicole put her helmet on and skated the few feet to join her team.

Ben cleared his throat. “Thank you, Nicole.”

“We do have a big game tomorrow. Let’s skate for a while, then talk about our strategy.

“Okay. Passing drills, then shots on goal. Go! ”

The women glided into the familiar pattern of passing the hard-rubber puck, skating faster and faster. By the time the practice had ended they were breathless, drenched in sweat and ready for their URI match. After a short meeting at center ice -- all were agreed that Jennifer would take Grace’s position as center forward – they moved to the benches to take off their skates. Only Nicole seemed to see the man and woman standing in the aisle a few rows up. Glancing curiously at them, she rather thought they had badges on their belts. Something shiny just showed under their navy blue blazers.

“Nicole? ” A young voice caught her attention. She turned to find Ginger on the bench beside her. Hey, Ginger. What are you doing here? ”

“Well, I wanted to skate for a while, but the Yates’ rink is closed for the rest of the day, and anyways, it would have creeped me out, and then I got tot thinking that Grace was your friend and roommate and stuff, so I came over to say how sad I am for you. ”

Tears welled in Nicole’s eyes. “Oh, thank you, sweetie. I’m sad, too.” She leaned over to Ginger to give her a hug. Look, I’m really skanky right now, so let me go take a shower. I’ll only be a couple of minutes. If you will stow my gear, when I come out I’ll take you for a hot chocolate. ”

“’K. That’ll be cool. ” Ginger hopped up and started organizing Nicolevs skates and pads. “Oh, and Nicole? You are an awesome goalie.”

“Why, thank you, Ginger. You aren’t so bad yourself. ”

When Nicole emerged from the locker room, however, her still-wet hair tied back with a scrunchie, she was just in time to see Ginger being escorted to the door by one of the assistant coaches. Then her view was blocked. She re-focused to see Ben in front of her.

“The police want to speak to you, Nicole. Today. Now. ”

* * *

Detective Gibson indicated Nicole should sit down. After introducing himself he stated, “I understand you were co-captain of your team with Ms. Robertson.”

“Yes. She was my best friend. We shared an apartment.”

The homicide detective proceeded to question the college student intensively. Why Grace was at the Yates’ rink; whom she might have been with; probing for details on other teammates and acquaintances. Nicole answered as honestly as she could, but finally she had to stop.

“Look, detective Gibson. I am shattered by grief, fatigue and pain. Please let me go home. I would be glad to talk with you on Monday. All day. But I am all out of fuel right now. ”

Gibson evaluated the young woman across the table. Her clear blue eyes were surprising, given her pitch-black hair, but they held his gaze with no guile. Her pale skin had lost what little color it had held after her shower.

“Okay, Ms. Loebick, ” he replied, closing his notebook. Please come to the 9th precinct at 10 Monday morning. Here is my card with the address. Oh, and feel free to call me before then, if anything comes up. ”

“Like what?”

“Anything at all.”

RULE 2: Teams
Section 1.a. A team shall have not more than six players on the ice at any one time while play is in progress. These six players shall be designated as follows: goalkeeper, right defense, left defense, center, right wing and left wing.

Chapter Five

Nicole was nearly finished with her morning yoga routine when her doorbell rang.
With a groan she relaxed her position and called out, just a second. She stretched out and slowly got to her feet, draping a towel around her neck. She opened the door without looking out first and thought no one was there. She blinked, and Ginger and Todd stepped into view. Ginger hefted a jug of orange juice, and Todd showcased a bag of bagels and a tub of cream cheese. Each had figure skates hanging from their shoulders.

“Oh, welcome, my friends! Come in. What a nice surprise, guys.”

Todd and Ginger walked in, parking their skates and jackets by the door.

“Mum dropped us off, Todd announced. She thought you might need some company.”

“And food, Ginger added. “We can’t stay too long. Mr. Yates Zambonied the rink and Todd’s Mom has insisted we keep to our schedule.

Nicole smiled. “I know it’s your favorite practice of the week.

“Yeah, whatever, Todd mumbled. “At least we’re on the ice. Tuesday and Thursday dance classes are just plain embarrassing. He stepped around his hockey coach to go to the kitchen for glasses and plates. “It’s like nasty-tasting medicine, he said over his shoulder. I know it’s good for me, but yuck.

“No offense, Ging. You are so much better at it than I am. I just suck.

Nicole chuckled, helping Ginger set out the bagels and cream cheese. “Should we toast these?

“Nah, not for me. They’re still warm.

The three munched companionably for several seconds.

“So, coach, are you going to win today? You have the home rink advantage.

“We’ll see, Todd. Will you be there?”

“You bet. Dad scored us some tickets on Friday.”

“Who is playing center,” Ginger asked.



“Why hrumph, Ginger?” Nicole sipped her juice.

“She’s mean. She skates dirty.

“How so?”

“I’ve watched her. She’s snaky. She hooks skates.”

Nicole absorbed this thoughtfully. Well, yes, maybe it was true.

* * *

The university arena, fondly known as the Frank ’n Jane in honor of the family who had helped pay for it, was packed. The team was enjoying its first season in the sparkling facility, and the fans were loving it.

There were a surprising number of URI supporters who had traveled down from New England. Nonetheless, the Snapper’s red and silver were the dominant colors in the stands. The pep band was sounding good, and many in the student section sported red and silver face paint. Even during the warm-up they were loud and enthusiastic.

After the warm-up the two teams flowed off the ice into the bench areas on opposite sides of the rink. Snapper, the home team mascot, charged into the rink in front of the Zamboni, delighting the crowd with skating antics. The school was perennially the brunt of jokes about the skating lobster, but many suspected a deeply-rooted envy. Snapper could skate. Spins, jumps and fancy footwork entertained and awed the crowd, no easy fee for someone dressed in a hot, padded lobster costume. On cue, at Snappy’s entrance, thousands donned foam Snappy hats.

* * *

As Snapper led the Zamboni around the rink, Nicole sat in the locker room with her team. As Coach La Rossa gave his usual pre-game speech, she zoned, watching the faces of her team mates and noticing small details of emotion. She expanded her view to the room, idly admiring the symmetry of the hockey sticks in the rack along the wall. Every player had an almost superstitious thing about taping their sticks. Most wrapped them carefully in plain friction tape to help with puck control. The one Nicole was looking at was different. It was a piece of art.

Wrapped in red tape, the stick also had a horizontal silver strip running its length, with lobsters seemingly stencilled evenly the entire way.

’Neat. Maybe we should all do that, ’ Nicole thought. It’s a nice touch. I wonder whose stick it is?


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