I sighed as I watched the game on the screen behind the bar. Penguins – Rangers. Neither were my favorite team, but then again, when you play for a professional team you could really only let one into your heart.
There was a girl sitting next to me mindlessly tapping a pack of cigarettes against the bar. She scoffed as the Penguins made an attempt at the goal and missed by a good few meters. She sipped her draft beer and opened her pack, then shut it again.
“Rangers fan?” I asked her.
“Me? No.” she said, glancing over at me. “I like Montreal.”
I wondered if she recognized me.
“Well, why do you want the Rangers to win?”
“I was raised with the rule that if you’re going to like a hockey team, it better be one of the original six.”
I nodded and turned back to the screen.
The bar tender came over and asked the girl, “Vous voulez à fumer?”
She nodded and he gave her a sympathetic look. He pushed an ash tray onto the bar. “Ne dites personne.”
She smiled and glanced around the bar. “You mind?” she asked me.
I shook my head.
She lit up and offered a cigarette to the bar tender. He smiled and took one, tucked it behind his ear, and walked away. I looked around the bar, but I knew what I would find. It was practically empty. That’s why I liked coming here. No one to yell at me when the team wasn’t doing well.
We watched the game, pausing to make comments to one another. When she lit her sixth cigarette, I had to ask, “Do you normally smoke this much? I mean, you know it’s not good for you.”
She gave me a small smile. “No. I’m stressed out.”
“I start a new job tomorrow.”
I nodded and finished my beer. The bar tender put a new one in front of me, and soon after the game ended. The girl threw a few bills onto the bar. “Merci, Jean.”
The bartender, Jean, nodded at her as she pulled on her coat.
She slid off her stool and smiled at me. I realized how tiny she was. She might not have even been five-four. “It was nice meeting you, Carey Price.”
I stared at her in shock. “You know my name?”
She scoffed. “Sweetie, you’d be hard pressed to find someone in this city who doesn’t know your name.”
“Why didn’t you say anything then?”
“I figured you needed someone to pretend that they didn’t know you.” She patted me on the arm. “Take care of yourself.”
She left, and through the window I could see her pulling her jacket tighter around her as she faced the bitter cold of Montreal.
“Comment elle s’appelle?” I asked Jean. We both winced at my accent.
“Sarah.” He said, then switched to English for me. “She is from here, but she lives elsewhere. I think she is a manager for a hockey team.”
I frowned at my beer. Not only was she a fan, but also directly involved in the sport. Of course she knew who I was. I finished my beer, paid, and left, starting towards my apartment. I’d have to be up for the morning skate tomorrow.
Maybe I’d see Sarah at a game in the future, now that I had a face to look for.