Even the Score(5)

By: Beth Ehemann

Another hour passed and I looked around my desk, feeling like I was forgetting something. Suddenly I remembered that my cell phone was still down in my car. I was ready for a break anyway, so I slipped out to grab it, taking my time on the way back up. As I leaned against the wall of the elevator, I glanced down at the screen.

Five missed calls.

Three text messages.

Thirty-seven new e-mails.

Three of the missed calls were from Ellie. The other two, and all three texts, were from Brody Murphy, my best friend since college and star goalie of the Minnesota Wild. Brody was actually the reason I’d decided to go into sports management in the first place.

It was pledge week, or hell week as some called it, and I was a skinny, virgin freshman, weighing 160 pounds on a good day. Like most freshmen, I wanted to make new friends and find hot girls, so I did what every freshman did . . . put on half a bottle of cologne and headed straight to fraternity row. The first week was typically spent going from house to house, meeting as many guys, and girls, as you could while trying to decide which frat to pledge your college life away to.

The first night, the first house I walked into, I knew I had to do the cool thing and get a beer as fast as I could. I grabbed a red Solo cup from the table and stood in line for the keg. Another guy walked up as it was my turn for beer. Just before I was about to hold my cup under the silver faucet-looking thing, I pulled my cup back and told him to go ahead.

“No, that’s okay, you go,” he insisted, taking a small step back.

“No, really. It’s fine.”

He looked around to see if anyone was within earshot, then leaned in close. “First of all, I don’t know how to work this fucking thing, and second, I hate beer.”

I laughed and felt relieved. “I don’t know how to work it, either.”

We put our cups back and decided to go to check out the next house together, and the house after that. By the end of the week, we’d visited every single house together and come to the same decision: frats were stupid and we had no interest. As Brody and I became better friends, he shared his dream of playing in the NHL with me, and I told him that my mom was making me major in accounting like my father. I was an uptight, nervous kid, and Brody was the exact opposite, a carefree guy who constantly pushed me out of my comfort zone while nearly getting me arrested at least half a dozen times. By our junior year we shared an apartment, a dog, and a car . . . and to my mother’s disappointment, I’d changed my major to sports management.

Nearly fifteen years later, even though our chaotic lives kept us from talking as often as we would like, we were still best friends.

I got back to my office, and no sooner had I sat down than my phone buzzed in my pocket. Swiping at the picture of Logan and Becca on the screen, I opened my text messages. Another one from Brody . . .

B: Yo. What’s new?

B: Hey. I’m talking to you.

B: Stop ignoring me, ass breath.

B: Seriously. Take your dick out of your hand and answer a text, would ya?

I laughed to myself and dialed his number, figuring that way I could keep working while we talked. His phone rang two times before I heard that familiar voice answer. “Jesus, finally. What took you so long?”

“Sorry,” I said sarcastically. “Some of us have to work for a living. We don’t all get to lay around on the couch all summer watching Seinfeld reruns.”

“Hey! Get it right. I don’t watch Seinfeld,” he defended. “On the other hand, I have watched three episodes of Bubble Guppies already this morning.”

“Sounds thrilling,” I teased drily.

“Anyway, the reason I called your ass over and over . . . I’m heading into the city for a workout this afternoon, and I haven’t seen your ugly face in a while. Take a break and meet me at The Penalty Box for lunch.”

My mouth watered at his mention of The Penalty Box, the pub that Brody and Viper, our other friend, owned together.

I closed my eyes and rested my forehead on my palm. “I wish I could, man, but I’m completely swamped here.”

“Come on! Don’t be such a pussy. We both know you have an hour to spare.” His voice trailed off, sounding like he turned away from the phone. “Grace, put that down. No hitting your sister unless she really deserves it.”

“Great parenting, Murphy.”

“Hey, these girls can be vicious. Sometimes they do deserve it. Now, get your ass up and meet me for lunch.”

“Seriously . . . I can’t,” I argued back. “You’re the one with time to spare. Why don’t you come here instead? You can talk while I work.”

“Time to spare?” He chuckled. “I have four daughters and you think I have time to spare? Do you know how exhausting that is? I hide in the bathroom for an hour sometimes just so I can hear myself think.”