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Collect $200 when you Pass Go
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Previously on the Chronicles of Knox Booth:
First Article
Chapter 2 - The SMJHL Draft Approaches
Chapter 3 - The Losses Mount
Chapter 4 - Draft Day

Chapter 5 
Collect $200 when you Pass Go


A six ounce vulcanized rubber disc hurls through the air, fired by such a force that the disk itself appears to bend as it reaches its target, and as the glove of Knox Booth’s right hand closes over it- he can feel every ounce of the disc crash against his palm. The burning sensation that spreads across his hand leaves just as fast as Knox drops the puck to the ice and passes it out to his nearest teammate, Derek Bohne, who carries it back toward the opposite end of the ice.

“OOOOOOOHHHHHH YEEEEAAAAAHHHH!!!!”

Knox hears a man scream in triumph from behind him and instantly recognizes the voice, but Knox is reluctant to turn and look at the man he knows to be his father. “Atta boy Knox!” His Dad yells at him from over the glass, he has a clear slur to his voice, “Atta boy!”

The Raptors are at home tonight and playing against the Outlaws, and Knox never expected his Dad to actually come to a game in Colorado. The furthest his father ever typically traveled from his home was to the  closest pub, so the very fact that his Dad had made it this far was a surprise in of itself. Even still, it wasn’t enough of a surprise to warrant an acknowledgement from Knox, it wasn’t going to be that easy for his Dad to get back into his life, not after the years of neglect and abuse he had witnessed at the hands of his Dad against his Mom.  

“Knox!” His Dad yells out at him and then yells out again, “Knox!” Knox steadies his eyes, keeping them forward and focusing on the game, he doesn’t want the distraction and furthermore, he isn’t ready to even look at his Dad again. Right now, Knox has a game to play, and he doesn’t intend to lose his concentration now.  

“HEY!” His Dad’s voice increases in volume from behind him and Knox can sense that his father is picking up on Knox’s blatant disregard of him, “KNOX!!!” His father’s yell is so loud this time that it would be impossible not to hear it, and it is in this moment that Knox understands that he has to acknowledge his father, or else the behaviour will only get worse.

Knox turns one hundred and eighty degrees in his crease to grab his bottle water and looks up at his Dad, he’s five rows up, directly behind the net and staring down at him. His Dad has lost some weight since he last saw him, he’s gaunt and thick shadows linger under his eyes. His Dad is wearing a Blue Jays ball cap that’s so old and stained you can hardly recognize the logo, and his shirt is torn with dried mud crusted all over it. His Dad literally looks like he crawled out of a ditch and the fact that Knox ignored him for several minutes has made his father visibly angry. At first this is a terrifying sight for Knox, his stomach practically falls out of his body. However, when the two of them lock eyes, his father’s anger subsides enough to prompt his Dad to wave at him, and this kind gesture throws Knox off and releases a pinch of his anxiety.

Not knowing what else to do, Knox waves back.

“How are you!?” His Dad yells out the question, almost in an attempt to start a regular conversation and blissfully unaware that there is a crowd of people staring at them.

“Good,” Knox mouths back, he doesn’t want to send signals to anyone in the crowd watching that this is an uncomfortable situation for him.

“I’ll talk to you after the game!” His Dad yells down what Knox already knows and is dreading, but so be it, it had to happen eventually- this is a reunion that Knox couldn’t avoid forever.

***

The puck sails under Knox’s arm and into the net, immediately giving the Outlaws the overtime win. Raptors teammates tap Knox’s pads as he exits to the dressing room and before Knox leaves the ice he turns back to look for his Dad and can’t find him. There’s enough of a crowd left that it’s hard enough to find anyone in the sea of moving people so Knox disregards waiting and heads off ice, removing his gear as he goes. 
“You can’t come in here sir,” the voice is stern and belongs to the head of Raptors security, Brock Benser, a short bulldog of a man and an individual not to be messed with. Benser is an ex marine and well acquainted with the art of Brazilian jujitsu.

“My kid’s in there,” replies Knox’s Dad, his voice has returned to the regular drunken slur Knox has grown to know.

“You’ll have to wait,” Benser tells him, “You can see him when he comes out-“

Knox’s Dad takes a swing at Benser and the security officer easily redirects the punch and uses a basic armbar on Knox’s Dad to take him to the ground and restrain him. Knox hurries over to the two men just as Benser is calling in back up on his radio. “Brock, please,” Knox pleads, not even understanding in that moment why he would want to help a man who has been so helpless for most of his life, “He’s harmless.”

“I wouldn’t say that,” Benser tells him as he maintains his hold on Knox’s Dad in the perfectly executed armbar, “He took a swing at me,” Benser tightens his grip on the armbar and Knox’s Dad cries out in pain. “I don’t take kindly to acts of aggression!” Benser tightens once more just so he can hear Knox’s Dad cry out again and he has to resist from smiling when the old drunken man begs for Benser to let him go.

“Brock, he’s sorry, honest,” Knox tells him in an effort to get Benser to let his Dad go, “I’ll get him out of here, and he won’t come back. Just let him go.”

Benser releases the armbar and is up on his feet before Knox can utter another word. Benser looks over at Knox, “I don’t want to see him around here again.”

“Understood,” Knox tells him before he helps his Dad get to his feet and can immediately smell the liquor coming off his breath.

“Fuck you!” Knox’s Dad yells out at Benser as he stumbles away from him. The drunken man is about to take another swing at Benser when Knox grabs his Dad’s hand and pulls it back down.

“Dad,” Knox speaks directly into his Dad’s face, forcing his Dad to look at him, “It’s me.”

“That was a bullshit game tonight Knox, you shoulda had that last one but your team let you down,” it all comes out of Knox’s Dad’s mouth in a jumbled mess but Knox is able to follow along just fine, he’s used to listening to his Dad speak in a drunken slur and has been for most of his life, “What kind of shit league is this?” Knox’s Dad asks him, “You should quit this shit league Knox, you can do better and you can find better-“ His Dad stops suddenly and Knox is unable to step back before his Dad bends over and vomits all over the floor with some of it landing on Knox’s pads.

“Get him out of here,” Benser tells Knox and doesn’t offer to help as Knox begins to drag his Dad away, with his arm over Knox’s shoulder.

“You can’t be coming around here like this,” Knox tells his Dad as he helps to hold him up and walk, “And now you can’t come back.”

“Fuck this place,” his Dad says in response, “Bullshit game and bullshit league-“ his Dad is about to vomit again but Knox is able to pull him into a nearby bathroom, just barely getting him to a toilet before his father lets loose another round of projectile vomit, splashing it all over the toilet and surrounding floor. “It’s the food,” his Dad yells out at Knox through gasping breaths, “IT’S THOSE GOD DAMN HOT DOGS!” His Dad screams out as he throws up three more times before collapsing against the vomit soaked toilet, he’s empty and reeling, and he doesn’t have anything left inside of him to purge.

***

Two hours later they sit across from each other at the diner near Knox’s apartment, his Dad stirs his coffee repeatedly and stares down at the hot drink, but he makes no effort to pick it up. Knox on the other hand has finished coffee number three and he’s reluctant to pour another, he’ll have to sleep at some point tonight and at this rate he doesn’t know if he’s going to be able to. 
“Sorry about what I said about the game,” Knox’s Dad finally says aloud, breaking the quiet tension that had been building for the past several minutes, “I didn’t mean to say you played a bullshit game.”

Knox nods ever so slightly, he is about to thank is Dad for the apology, “Th-“

“It’s still a bullshit league,” his Dad cuts him off before he can even say the word, “You see the merch they’re selling out there by the beer garden? It’s garbage Knoxy. You outta be making something out of yourself, instead of playing make believe in this nobody league.”

Knox’s eyebrows furrow but he maintains composure, “It’s not a nobody league.”

“You know what I’m saying,” his Dad tells him and it’s true, he does know what his Dad is implying. But on the other hand his Dad hasn’t seen or talked to Knox for the last eighteen months, so Knox’s Dad doesn’t know a thing about the SMJHL or SHL, only what he can read about online or watch on television.
 
“You going to drink that coffee or what?” Knox asks him, trying to change the subject, he doesn’t want to talk shop if he doesn’t have to.

“It don’t taste right,” his Dad is quick to reply.

“How would you know if you haven’t tried it?” Knox asks him, knowing full well that the reason his father hasn’t taken a sip is because the drink lacks one main ingredient – alcohol.

“Listen,” his Dad switches back to the previous train of thought, he’s building toward something and this is the reason why he’s really shown up for a visit. The hard truth about Knox’s Dad is that everything he involves himself in has a price, even his time. Love isn’t something Knox had learned from his Dad and it wasn’t something that he was about to learn from him now, “I was talking to Jimmy-“

It is Knox’s turn to interrupt, “Jimmy’s not my agent anymore Dad.”

“Just listen-“

“No,” Knox continues, “He fired me just before I got drafted. I got drafted by the way, did you know that?”

“Oh come on Knox,” his Dad’s tone is that of a father to child, “You think I didn’t know that? And how long have you known Jimmy for? We all make our mistakes.”

“He’s not my agent anymore,” Knox repeats it to him, he’s unwilling to listen to whatever his father’s proposal is and is insulted that his Dad would even attempt this pitch with him, knowing all too well how their last encounter went.

“Careers are short,” his Dad continues, ignoring what Knox has requested and doing what he always tries to do- take control. But he’s sloppy at it and has been for a long time. “You need to make as much money as you can and you’re not going to make enough here,” his Dad tries to be as convincing as possible, “Jimmy and I got a deal for you, playing for a team in Prague-“

“He’s not my agent anymore!” Knox looses composure for a moment and slams his hands down on the table between them, “And you have no right to talk to him about my career, you haven’t been around since-“

“Watch your mouth when you talk to me,” Knox’s Dad is intense in his eyes as he looks back at his son, his fist clenches. He isn’t afraid to discipline his son if need be, and it doesn’t matter how old his boy is, Knox will always be a child in his eyes.

“I thought you came here to see me, just to visit and maybe say sorry,” Knox’s Dad appears surprised but it’s a forced expression, “Yeah, sorry, you know for everything? For nothing? But you know what Dad? I don’t want your sorry, I don’t want you to say anything. Because this isn’t about seeing me, this isn’t about spending time and making up for what’s been lost. This is about money, isn’t it?” Knox waits for his Dad to answer but being that his old man’s reaction is to drop his eyes and look away from him Knox knows immediately that he’s guessed right. The fact that his father has traveled this far to convince Knox to take a job means that his Dad is beyond hard up, he’s desperate. “How much do you need?” Knox asks him.

“Don’t insult me,” his Dad tries to be defiant when confronted but his tone and demeanor is nothing but a a façade, and it is one that Knox sees right through.

“How much?’ Knox asks again, “Tell me. I’ll give it to you. I’ll give you everything you want. But the moment I do, you can’t ever come back and see me. Do you understand?”

“Knox, I,” his Dad is caught off guard by Knox’s demand and isn’t used to his son being so forward, Knox has gained a confidence in their time apart and shines through now in this moment like a spotlight.

“How much did Jimmy promise you?” Knox asks him again, “Tell me right now, how much do you need?”

“Knox, really, I,” his Dad tries to pass it off, but Knox isn’t willing to bend from his course.

“Tell me,” Knox is insistent, his Dad doesn’t know how much Knox signed for with the Raptors and how much money he has in his bank account right now, Knox is sure he has enough to pay him whatever he demands, and if his Dad will take the money it means Knox will be buying off the cheapest goodbye he could have ever hope for, “How much do you want?”

“Twenty thousand,” his Dad blurts out, his eyes still down and away
.
“Twenty?” Knox asks for confirmation and does a quick count in his mind.

“Thirty,” his Dad is quick to correct himself as his eyes bounce back up from the floor and look into those of his son, reading Knox’s expression and sensing that his son has more.

Knox’s eyebrows raise at his Dad’s increased amount but he allows it, “You sure?”

“Thirty thousand,” his Dad repeats, “I’m sure.”

Knox leans into the table toward his father while keeping his voice firm and his shoulders steady, “This is it Dad, this is it between you and me,” Knox tells him as his father says nothing, “By the end of today a bank transfer will be ready for you, in your name. You cash that transfer and you and me are done, do you understand me? I don’t want to see you back here again in six months, or in one year. I don’t ever want to see you again.”

“Knox,” his Dad is soft in his response, he doesn’t want to lose his son, he just needs the money, “Please. I can-“

“I can’t control whether or not you see Mom or whether or not she lets you back into her home,” Knox continues, disregarding his father’s plea, “But as far as you and me go, we’re over. Do you understand?”

“Knox, please, just let me explain-“

“Do you understand?” Knox asks him again.

His Dad takes a moment to look him in the eyes and he can see that Knox is being sincere, and without feeling as though he has a choice, he agrees, “Yes.”

“Good,” Knox immediately stands up his seat, “Union Bank, downtown on Main and 4th, the transfer will be ready by 3pm, no earlier than that, do you understand?”

“Knox,” his Dad remains seated, “Don’t leave.”

“Do you understand?”

His Dad nods, “Yes.”

“Where’s the transfer going to be?” Knox asks him.

“Union bank, Main and 4th, 3 pm,” his Dad repeats.

“Bye Dad,” Knox tells him, “Good luck,” he says before he turns and walks away, leaving the diner without looking back.
 
His father watches him leave and looks out at Knox through the glass window beside him, following Knox as he crosses through the diner parking lot and disappears off into the distance. When Knox’s father is sure that Knox is at a safe enough distance away he pulls a flask from his pants pocket and pours some whiskey into the now cold cup of coffee in front of him, stirring the liquor into his drink.
 
2841 words

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#2

You've got a real knack for writing. Keep up the excellent work!


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#3

I think I'll second the notion that this is pretty good because... holy hell, it is.

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Ireland Platoon - Player Page - Player Update - Platoon Ireland
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#4

I'm crying. Damn you @Tate , you beautiful bastard.

Great job!

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Thank you @karey the god, @tweedledunn, @Benson and @sköldpaddor  for sigs! 
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