“Tell me about the Staal brothers gambit,” Kitty asked her dining companion, as they savoured their wine, and awaited their meals. “Why them?”

Stephen put his wine glass down and answered. “We were gonna be here. They are from here. Not very often you get a three brothers act in a major sport, so that’s always of interest. Jordan and Eric have both won a Cup, and Eric won Olympic gold in Vancouver, so they are genuine stars. And Marc may be the best pure hockey talent of the three.

“Thunder Bay is a hockey factory. Pound for pound, it’s the best hockey town in the world. Even in the Tarasov and Tikhonov era, the Soviets couldn’t create an organic hockey academy that could rival this place. There may or may not be something in the water here, but when it freezes, it comes to life, and magic is made. The hockey Gods summon the kids to the ponds to play, all day, every day, and the ghosts of Pentti Lund, Edgar Laprade, and Smokey Harris teach them the joys of dipsy doodle, backhand peanut butter, and the open ice, low bridge, freight train hip check into the cheap seats.”

Kitty marveled at the scene King painted in his last paragraph. “Wow! It’s criminal that this pandemic didn’t hit us in the dead of winter. I’d pay money to see what you just described.”

King smiled, “I think you’d make a great little puck bunny.”

Kitty smiled a coy smile, and her eyes twinkled at the thought. “Okay, I get all that. But what’s the bigger play? How does this ploy fit into the master plan.”

“It was never part of any master plan. There really isn’t a master plan. It’s gonna be a lot of run and gun. I just came up worth the idea when I decided we were coming here, where we have to be. Happenstance. I came up with the idea, and ran it past Madge. She loved it, so I tracked down Eric, and asked to meet. There was nothing to lose, so we just put it in front of them.”

“You said they didn’t buy in rigt away?”

“It all happened at the first meeting. I proposed the idea. They looked interested. Madonna did the rest.”

Kitty wasn’t gonna pussyfoot around it, so she came rigt out and asked, “Did she fuck them?”

King laughed his ass off for thirty seconds, before finally saying, “Do you seriously think she has to fuck a guy, or three of them, to get them to do what she wants them to do?  Look, guys are hard wired, through millions of years of evolution, to want to fuck beautiful girls. It comes with the dick. And let’s not get sidetracked by the queer thing, please. All you have to do is exist to have power of guys. The hope of fucking you is all the inspiration they need to do what you want.”

“Oh, c’mon, I understand that. But as well maintained as she is, she’s not what she used to be.”

“She’s still Madonna, kid .”

“Fair point. I’d still fuck Keith Richards.”

“Would you?”

“Oh, yeah, in a heartbeat. But you know what I would not want to hear him say while we are thrashing each other?”


“I’m not Keith Richards.”

Stephen doubled over in hysterical laughter. When he composed himself, he assured Kitty, “I really am Stephen King!”

Kitty doubled over in hysterical laughter. When she composed herself she said, “Oh, daddy, you’re so funny! But you didn’t answer my question. Did she, or didn’t she?”

“Why don’t you ask her yourself? Better yet, ask them, when they come for lunch tomorrow?

“Maybe I will. What are they gonna do with the fifteen million they are gonna give up? Where’s the money going?”

“That’s what they’re coming to talk about. They’re bringing their spiritual adviser with them.”

“And who might that be?”

“I don’t know her name. They call her Thunder Babe. And you’ll like this; she’s a vegan.”

Kitty loved it. “Leave it to a pack of puckheads to call their spiritual guru Thunder Babe!”

“Welcome to Thunder Fuckin’ Bay, babe.”

59 – GOTCHA!



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