Dan doesn't start talking to Abby until she's been in Saskatchewan for six months.
"Tell me the one about Casey," she'd said in her office in New York.
There are a hundred about Casey, a thousand about Casey, and whenever she asked Dan to tell one of them, he couldn't remember a thing.
But one day, years later, he picks up a pen. He hunts through his apartment for paper, eventually finding an ancient Hilroy three-subject notebook. The cover is green.
He fills three pages with near-nonsense about her lack of appreciation for the minor tragedies and triumphs of sport. He writes that he stopped seeing her because it took her forever to get what he was telling her about Katarina Witt's bandaged ankle making perfect circles on the ice in 1988. He writes that he stopped seeing her because it took her forever, and then she misunderstood him completely.
He writes the first sentence of an anecdote about the 1972 Summit Series. Something about Phil Esposito and Paul Henderson. He crosses it out and writes, "Casey once told me a terrible joke about a rabbi and an Irish terrorist. I stayed friends with him for a while after that just so it wouldn't be the last thing he said to me."
He rips the pages out of the notebook and folds them into a triptych. As he's sealing the envelope, he thinks that he never talked to Abby about Katarina Witt at all. Mostly probably because that story never happened. The whole thing was about Kerri Strug.
"You dumped your therapist for Kerri Strug?" Casey had said, giving Dan an opportunity to tell him, again, the story of the 1996 Olympic women's vault final.
"Ah," Casey had said. "She dumped you because you kept talking about Kerri Strug."
"Well," Dan had said. "Kerri Strug is infinitely more interesting than anybody else I could be talking about with my therapist."
Casey had laughed, because this conversation happened five weeks after Draft Day and they were trying. Or, rather, Dan was trying to fix things, and Casey was letting him. Like Casey had nothing to do with--what happened.
If Dan had still been seeing Abby, he might have told her about some matched pair of hockey players who'd lost their spark. He wouldn't have wanted to tell her how he was still achingly angry with Casey, and how little that seemed to matter to everyone, including him, in the face of losing Sports Night all together.
He wants to tell her now, though. Enough has happened around him, to him, in recent years that he feels justified in sending a letter to Abby at her new office in Regina.
At the end of his letter is a postscript: "How does your Virgin Islands certification hold up in Canadia?"
Abby's reply opens with, "It's doing just fine. Regulations are pretty lax up here."
Actually, it opens with, "Dear Dan, at least you're not barging into other people's sessions anymore."
There is some stuff in the middle about how she can see he's making an effort, but isn't six years a little late, and she doesn't really do mail-order therapy.
And she closes with, "I know what happened with Casey. Tell me anyway. Sincerely, Abby Jacobs." The crack about regulations is a postscript.
He opens his notebook and writes, "Hey Abby, he told me that abysmal joke in 1997. I think I actually stayed friends with him so I could teach him about comedy."
Casey denied learning how to tell a joke from Dana.
"It's the only explanation," Dan said.
"Is she really that bad?" Casey asked.
Dan snorted. "She telegraphs her jokes, Casey. With this demonic grin. You haven't noticed?"
Casey shook his head and Dan could see him making a mental note: Dana is bad at telling jokes.
"Let me tell you the one about the bishop and the fullback," Dan said.
Walking past their office, Natalie said, "Halfback, Dan! The bishop and the halfback."
Dan writes, "You know what happened with Casey? That's great. Would you mind telling me? Because I honestly don't. One day we're doing plays of the year and he's writing off Roberto Luongo as a flash in the pan. The next day he's on ESPN, wearing a six hundred dollar suit and a helmet of dyed hair. I don't know, Abby."
Because Dan doesn't believe in the serendipity of stamps, he keeps a book of them in his junk drawer. He peels three off and sticks them in the corner of the envelope. Thirty-seven cents, Arthur Ashe.
"Arthur Ashe," Abby's reply begins, "was one of my brother's heroes in high school."
Dan nods, even though he'd only been four when Ashe won Wimbledon in 1975 and David had preferred John McEnroe anyway.
"Casey left you," Abby writes. "You never asked him why, because you thought you should know, because it had to be your fault. Because when people leave you, it's always your fault. Sam died because you were irresponsible. Rebecca went back to her husband because you didn't try hard enough. I asked you to seek another therapist because you couldn't take the work seriously. Casey left you because--why do you think he left you, Dan? Give me a real reason."
"You should take it," Dan said.
Casey looked at Dan across their darkened office. "Yeah, Danny?"
Dan nodded, not even trying to smile. "You should. You definitely should."
Dan flips open his Hilroy. "It's funny," he writes, "how wrong you always are. I told Sam to go have fun with his friends. I told Rebecca she should do what her heart wanted. I told you where you could shove your misapplied psychoanalysis. I told Casey to leave. I wanted him to. I was glad I didn't have to carry Jerry Lewis around on my back anymore."
Abby's letter sits beside him on the kitchen table, formally typed and spellchecked. Dan's pen is wobbly and the ink doesn't flow evenly. Dan rips the page he's been writing on out of his notebook.
"Dear Abby," he writes at the top of a blank page, "Let me tell you the one about the bishop and the fullback. It's a good one. It's way better than the one about Casey."