Bear with me guys. The week before Thanksgiving is monstrously busy for college students and I've been writing papers like crazy. Tonight I decided to translate some of my typing prowess into my stories but I sort of lost inspiration along the way. It's not my best chapter but hey, it's at least something right?
As always, thanks for reading and for commenting ;)
This time I was prepared. After being assaulted by the smell of the locker room the first time that morning, there was no way that I was making the mistake of breathing in again the second time around. The room seemed smaller now with all of the guys inside wearing their hockey padding and celebrating their win. I didn't have time to feel out of place before David materialized at my side and briefed me on what was about to happen.
"Now, Geno's always a hot commodity when it comes to post-game interviews. Everyone wants him to say something for their article but after this morning, it's probably best if he doesn't give an interview. If you could just do what you did this morning, that would be great."
Oh no. I didn't like where David was going with this. It seemed like he wanted to lock this guy away and never have him give an interview which he was going to have to do eventually. Besides, I was not going to babysit this guy and protect him from the big bad local news all of the time- I wasn't his stupid puppet master.
"With respect David, it's best if he does give an interview tonight after this morning's disaster. You can't just hide him away." For a second I thought that maybe I had overstepped my boundaries by interrupting him and basically telling him the opposite of what he had told me to do. But still, what good was it to hide the guy away like he was a fugitive? He was a hockey player, a popular one at that.
"Just give me 10 minutes with him, I'll brief him on something general to say, he can say it, and they they'll leave him alone and hopefully he'll have more confidence for the next time."
He looked at me for another minute before sighing and shooing me along. "Okay. You handled it this morning so I'm going to let you do it again."
I nodded and started to turn to find my client when David stopped me again. But Ava, keep it general" he ordered before walking off to handle something else.
I let out the breath I hadn't realized I had been holding and scanned the room looking for the big russian. He wasn't hard to miss considering he was one of the taller ones in the room and also already staring at me. What did those dark eyes of his see that he felt the need to keep looking at me so much? It was starting to get creepy. I lifted a hand and motioned for him to follow me out of the locker room and into an adjoining room with medical type tables in it.
A moment later he appeared taking up almost all of the space in the doorway with his body. He had stripped out of his jersey and put a different, plain t-shirt on leaving only his lower body still dressed in hockey padding.
"Sit" I instructed gesturing to one of the many tables. Maybe if he sat he wouldn't tower over me so much. It was bad enough that there was this language barrier between us but it was going to be even harder for me to communicate to him if I had to crane my neck back to even look at him. He crossed the room to sit down and I realized that it still didn't make him any shorter. Damn it.
"We're going to have you give another brief interview in a few minutes so we need to practice what you're going to say" I instructed sliding back into work mode.
"You going to help me?" he asked looking at me with an expression I couldn't decipher. I blinked almost surprised that what he had said came out in intelligible english. Maybe he wasn't really that bad with his english.
"Yes" I said nodding. "I'm going to help you." He smiled at me and I felt like I had missed something important here. Not to be paranoid, but his grinning was making me paranoid. He was sitting on the table looking at me expectantly like a child waiting for a command from his mother. How could one incredibly large man look that innocent?
I ignored his smile and propped myself up on the table facing him and pulled out the notebook that I always kept in my purse. I should have prepared basic statements just in case a situation like this happened so that we would already have something prepared to say.
"Okay" I said pulling my dress farther down on my legs and getting comfortable. "I think that you should say something very- what are you doing?" I asked noticing that he was now standing in front of me and trying to read what I had scribbled down on the pad.
"How I remember if you don't show it?" He asked trying to pull the pad away from me.
What the hell? This guy was starting to really piss me off just by not sitting and doing as he was told. And trying to pull my pad away from me!
"What are you doing?" I snapped pulling the pad out of his big hands. Was nothing about this man normal? He was weird, huge and imposing. And apparently stole things. He grinned down at me again like I was making a joke and I didn't like that he was the one looking down on me. I had made him sit for a reason.
"Sit" I ordered again needing him to step off and give me space to think. I didn't like having to order him around like he was a dog but if he wasn't going to cooperate and take this serious, as all of his stupid grin were indicating, then I was going to have to be stern.
He sighed muttering something in russian and the man working across the room from us laughed at what he had said and shouted something back, also in russian. I glared at him and he gave me an innocent expression as if to say "what?"
"Can you sit? Please?" I asked a little nicer this time hoping that would get him to step off. I couldn't concentrate with someone reading over my shoulder. He backed off and sat chatting with the other guy in the room while I scribbled down something for him to say.
"Okay, let's practice this" I said adding a period to what I had just written. He leaned next to me against the table I was sitting on and peered over my shoulder again, his eyebrows furrowed in thought.
I didn't know how to start. Did I have him repeat after me and that was how we rehearsed? Normally my clients just parrotted what I wrote down and then remembered to say it correctly- should I do that with him too?
"How you say this?" he asked gesturing to my notebook and looking frustrated. Frustrated was definitely not going to get either of us anywhere.
"Okay well, let's practice. If someone asks you how you think the game went tonight, you say this" I said tapping my pen on the page to where I had written down what he should say.
He shifted uncomfortably and glanced back down at the page then back at me in confusion. Now that I was realizing just how much of a lost cause this was turning out to be, I was also starting to feel bad. He really didn't have a good grasp on his english and I was probably making him more self-conscious about it by not helping him out.
"Okay, well what would you say to the reporter?" I asked trying out a different approach. It seemed like he could muddle his way through english somewhat so maybe he just got nervous. Plus, itt was obvious that he wasn't going to be able to read what I had written.
He shrugged again, his eyes focused intently on mine and I took that as my cue to continue. "Come on, Geno" I said pressing him for some kind of a response. "What do you think about tonight's game?"
"Game was good." He said looking down at his hands. "Guys played good, guys skated good. I happy we win against other good team."
I nodded thinking about how we could make this work for us. When he relaxed a little bit like he was now, his english wasn't as bad as I had orignally thought. Sure, he misplaced and eliminated some articles here and there but you could understand him. Plus, like it or not, there was a certain level of charm to how his thick accent made words sound. It was almost like a gimick for him and if I had learned anything while working in PR, it was that people loved gimicks.
"Okay, see that wasn't so bad was it?" I asked trying my best to be encouraging. I didn't have to normally be this patient with clients but he seemed to be responding to my encouragement. We practiced what he had said two more times before I made him go back out into the locker room. I didn't want to hover too much so I walked back over to the outskirts of the room where I could still observe but not be in the way too much.
It didn't take long for a reporter to find him and I watched as he calmly spoke to the reporter. While it looked like everything was going well, they were talking for a little bit longer than I was comfortable with. I held myself back from going over to make sure that he still had the situation under control when my view was obstructed by a butt.
A very naked butt. I cursed under my breath snapping my eyes shut in case the owner of the butt turned and showed me something else I didn't want to see. How could I have forgotten that this was a locker room? While I stood there berating myself but too afraid to open my eyes so that I could actually move, I heard the deep rumble of a chuckle in front of me.
"You safe now" the owner of the chuckle spoke and I recognized it as Geno's voice. When I opened my eyes, he was right in front of me and smiling down at me like before. "I tell him to put clothes on."
He yelled something out in russian to the player that I recognized as the same guy from the other room.
"Feds say sorry" he added still laughing down at me. I blushed partly feeling embarrassed and annoyed at the same time because of how I had reacted. If I was going to be around these guys, I had to get used to the locker room environment and that would partly involve maybe seeing a naked butt or two. I took a deep breath willing the blush to go away on my cheeks. As a rule, I did not blush.
"How did it go?" I asked trying to divert his attention. He was getting entirely too much enjoyment out of my embarrassing moment for me to not feel at least a little bit defensive.
"Good" he said, his grin widening even more. What was so funny to him? Behind him, I spotted David giving me an enthusiastic thumbs up and I took that as my cue that tonight really had gone well. Glancing down at my watch, I realized that it was close to midnight making me feel like the whole day had spanned out over a week rather than less than 12 hours. Was every day going to be like this at this job? I was utterly exhausted and ready to get away from this locker room and the giant standing before me.
"Do you have free time later this week? We need to set a time to practice your english" I asked him pulling out my Blackberry to pencil in a time. We agreed on a time for Thursday, another home game day, after his morning skate and I reminded him not to be late.
Whether he understood the directions I gave him on how to find my office or not, I separated myself from Geno and his stupid grin and signalled to David to tell him that I was leaving.
Later as my head hit the pillow, I realized that one perk of this job was going to be that it would tire me to the point of exhaustion and dreamless sleep. At least then I wouldn't have to think about anything else.