Three hours after game seven -- after a humiliating loss to the fucking Habs -- and all Jordan wants to do is have another shower, scrub the humiliation from his pores, maybe call in a sympathy blowjob and sleep for a week. He wants to but he can’t because there’s a rusted-riddled F-250 pickup parked diagonally across his driveway. Even if he drove over his neighbour’s stupidly expensive over-tended flowerbeds he wouldn’t be able to get his baby into the garage without taking off a mirror or scratching the bumper all to hell. It’d be a perfectly miserable end to his day, except every time he sees that fucking truck Jordan knows his night is far from over.
He parks his car against the curb and settles for smacking his palm against the dash because he doesn’t have the energy to beat his head against the steering wheel like he really wants to. In a fit of passive aggression he waits until the truck flashes its high beams against the front of his house before he turns off the ignition and limps over, swearing with every step.
“You’re late,” Marc says when Jordan yanks the passenger door open. Marc’s twisted sideways to prop his feet up on the passenger side dash, sort of slouched against his door like tormenting his brother relaxes him. His stupid boots, a twelve-pack of Pepsi and the pile of assorted magazines, puzzle books and bags of gummi worms that he deems Road Trip Necessities take up the bulk of the cab, making it seem even smaller than it already is.
“Fuck you,” Jordan replies, too tired and sore for false pleasantries. Also, it’s his asshole of a brother. “What, you just couldn’t wait to see me tomorrow so you camped out in my driveway? And brilliant park job, dumbass.”
“Thanks, man. I’ve been practicing.”
“Yeah?” Jordan says. “You wanna practice a little bit more, maybe go to hell and come bother me tomorrow? Only I haven’t exactly had the best night and--“
“Yeah, I saw. Riveting performance.” Marc swaps the magazine in his lap for a copy of National Geographic from the dash. “Anyway, we’ve got places to be that aren’t your driveway, so if you’re done your little tantrum you can throw your bag in the back and we can get going.”
“After midnight? The fuck we will. This can wait, I’ve got shit to do.”
“Like your girl?” Marc asks. “Yeah, she left two hours ago.”
“What? Tell me you didn’t--“ Marc shrugs, face impassive, and Jordan knows that means he’s cackling on the inside. “What the fuck.”
Marc rolls his eyes and turns a page in his magazine aside for effect. “Dude, if she couldn’t tell that I wasn’t you when I told her to scram she’s definitely not the one for you.”
“Seriously?” Jordan says, only whining a little bit. “Are you really that bitter? I can’t believe you’re doing this.”
“Believe it,” Marc replies. “You. Truck. Get in.”
Jordan balks. “Just us?”
“Just you and me. Fun times,” Marc says, making a hurrying motion with his hands.
“Why just us?”
“Jared’s playing happy family with Eric in Carolina right now. Mom and Dad hate you. Or maybe they’re mad at me so they’re sticking me with you. Take your pick.”
Somewhere in the bowels of the Igloo Sidney Crosby is trying to drown himself in the shower and the really hilarious thing is Sid has no idea how much worse his summer could actually be. Jordan watches as Marc finishes what looks to be his fourth Pepsi and asks, “Why are you so eager to do this?”
Marc half-crumples the empty can in his left hand and chucks it out onto the lawn. “Sooner we get started sooner this is over with,” he says impatiently. It’s a little rich, Jordan thinks, considering how up to this point Marc had never met a household chore he couldn’t put off. He’s probably still bitter about the way his season ended and looking for a chance to shoot something. Jordan will probably be able to relate tomorrow, just not right now.
“See?” Jordan says. “You don’t want to do this, I don’t want to do this, so why are we standing here in the middle of the night when we could be doing something we actually--”
“Okay, listen up, asshole,” Marc interrupts, “your team lost. That means it’s the off-season. Now I know you’re a little slow and you got to take last year off to channel Freddie Mercury and pal around with the Cup or whatever but vacation’s over. You and me have to uphold the family business until training camp starts and then we can get back to our normal lives. And as you’ve pointed out it’s kind of late so if you would quit acting like a moron and remember your obligations as a Staal I’d appreciate it.”
All it takes is judicious use of the words Staal and family and, just like that, Jordan folds like they both knew he would. In fairness, Marc would have done the same. It’s just that Jordan doesn’t want fair, he wants to lick his wounds in private before facing another summer of family-related purgatory.
Jordan scrubs his hands over his face, equally exhausted and resigned. “Five minutes,” he says. “Just let me grab my stuff and leave a note for the neighbours and I’ll be ready to go.”
“You know I wouldn’t if it wasn’t important,” Marc says, slightly apologetic. “You can sleep in the back.”
Jordan glances behind him and sees a makeshift bed in the backseat, with his favourite pillow and an old blanket from their mom must have sent down from Thunder Bay.
“Not sure how well I’ll sleep with your shitty music haunting my dreams but I’ll try,” he replies. Then, as a show of good will he tosses his keys towards Marc and doesn’t aim for his head. “Here, move my car into the garage while I’m inside. I’ll be right back.”
He pauses at the front stoop when he hears the door slam and the garage door start up, mentally preparing himself for another summer of witches and demons and his brother’s awful snoring. Marc helps the process by hollering, “Move it, Twinkle-toes, I want to be in Orangeville by breakfast,” as he puts Jordan’s car into gear.
Jordan flips him off out of habit. He drops his day bag at the door and heads straight for his bedroom closet and the hidden floor-safe where he keeps his guns and holy water.