**This is our gift to you, our readers. If you find a small error here and there be gentle… let firstname.lastname@example.org know and we can fix. **
There are many enjoyable ways to spend your day. Sitting in a police station, being questioned by detectives for over twenty hours is not one of them. The police had somany questions. I answered them all as honestly as I could while trying not to make Sacha’s involvement look worse than it was. Which was nearly impossible once names of oligarchs began to litter the conversation. I asked about Sacha many times but was told nothing of where he was or what he was facing.
Finally, after much enquiry and so many cups of coffee I thought I might die, I was released but my passport was requested to be turned over. A request which my attorney, one that the Rush had provided for me, argued over with great veracity.
Eventually, I said it was fine for them to have it for a bit. I planned to go nowhere but home, sleep, and try to erase the past forty-eight or so hours. They told me that I was not being charged, that I had acted in self-defense, but if any additional charges were filed against others who were involved, I would be called to testify. They also said they may call me back for more in-depth questioning should new evidence present itself. I gaped at the lean detective in the cheap suit who looked as tired as I felt.
“You cannot charge Sacha. They acted against us. He had no choice but to defend himself as well as me!” I barked, my lawyer whispering to me to say nothing more.
“You’re free to go but do not leave the state,” I was told. Thinking to bicker I began mouthing off but the lawyer, a round man with an expensive suit, lead me from the interrogation room with a firm hand on my arm.
“Alfred, this is not the time to be difficult,” he snapped, leading me out of the small brick building that housed the Coudersport Police Department. The town was your typical and lovely tiny rural town with ski slopes, creameries, log cabins and farmland. Now it also had several corpses, ties to Russian drug runners and sex traffickers, and a bleary-eyed goalie who had somehow fallen in love with a stoic redheaded fixer. “We’re taking you home and you are to resume your normal activities within the parameters that law enforcement has dictated. The team has placed you on injured reserve temporarily so that you can access the team therapist to aid you in any post-traumatic stress disorder you may be feeling.”
“Wait, what? No, no, I need the ice,” I argued but as soon as the words fell feebly from me I knew them to be lies. My thoughts were mush. When I looked down at my hands, I saw they were shaking and speckled with blood even though I had washed them vigorously before the questioning had begun. The moon was bright, the noise on the street loud. Everything seemed too much right now.
“Let’s get you home and you can rest then we’ll see how you’re feeling and go from there, how does that sound?” I knew the old white man was placating me but I nodded along and climbed into his luxury car, my head craning as we pulled away from the building where Sacha was still being held, or so I assumed. I kept my sight on it until we turned and it disappeared from view. “There’s a blanket in the backseat if you’d like to cover up. You’re trembling.” I was? I felt the shudders then, quaking out of my core and running to my fingertips and toes. Ah yes, seemed I was shaking after all. “You must be hungry. Would you like to stop and eat?”
My stomach lurched at the idea of food. I reached back, found the neatly folded throw, and covered myself with it, the seat belt snug across my chest.
“Please no food. I’m just so tired…”
“We’ll be in Carlisle in about three and a half hours or so. Try to get some sleep,” Jim said. Was his name Jim? John? Jean? I couldn’t think right. I let my eyes shut as hot air blew in my face. Soon I was drifting, caught between wakefulness and sleep. The images in this mental purgatory were unsettling and grisly one second then soothing and soft the next. Blood and bullets, love and longing, all of this was wrapped up with Sacha. It felt as if I had run face first into a man-sized spider web of lies and lust. The silken strands were cold then hot, dripping blood one moment then humming with the cries of our passion the next. The more I flailed the stickier the trap became. Was I truly trapped though, or was I a willing offering to the man who held all the answers as well as my heart?
“I think I would rather not sleep just now,” I told Jim/John/Jean and stared out the window to watch the wintery Pennsylvania landscape roll past in shades of black and white.
Exhaustion had set in fully by the time we had arrived at my little brick rowhouse. Jerry, that was his name, I knew it had a J at the start, delivered me safely home. I had no phone, no keys, nothing but the bloody clothes on my back. Thankfully Jerry had thought ahead. He had gotten me a new phone, just a cheap one but it would suffice until I could replace it with a new one, and he had called out a locksmith. Now I had a phone with no service and two shiny keys.
“Take a few days to recover,” he said as we stood on my stoop, my front door open, my skin clammy and cold. “I suggest you stay away from social media. The Coudersport police are having a press conference at nine this morning.”
“Will they charge Sacha?” I asked, I had to know. His already thin lips flattened out like a papercut. “I would go talk to them again. Tell them that he is an innocent in all of this!”
“Alfred, there are many things that Sacha Ivanov is, innocent is not one of them. I assume what will happen is that his citizenship will be revoked and he will be extradited back to Russia. American and Russian relations are…delicate to say the least. I’m sure his country would take great umbrage to having one of their native sons linger in a US prison.”
“Russia,” I whispered sadly. “But that is so far…”
Jerry patted my shoulder. “The best thing for you to do is put this love affair behind you. Focus on getting healthy mentally and returning to hockey. I’ll be in touch.”
I nodded joylessly and went inside, closing the door on the outside world. Then I locked all the deadbolts and shuffled into the living room.
“My poor friends,” I said when my gaze fell on my fish tank. I drug myself over to the tank and sprinkled food into the water. My beautiful fish raced upward and ate hungrily. I flopped down on the sofa, feeling dirty and dank but unable to find the energy needed to get to the shower. So I slept curled up on the sofa, the gurgle of the air bubbles the only thing that seemed to ease me now that Sacha was no longer pressed up beside me.
*a new episode appears each Sunday, check the master list for updates.