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The following was written from a writing prompt of my own, as part of an offer I made on Jan 17, 2014. This story is for Andy Cowan.

State of Affairs

“The law of unintended consequences is just one of those truths that we ought to hold to be self-evident, but about which we are in serious denial.”

This was the thought Frank had as he stared across the hotel lobby and considered the situation.

About 5 months ago, Frank had made the trip over to Philadelphia to watch the Bruins and Flyers. For all that he lived in New Jersey, he was a big fan of the Boston team and this was the closest they got to him each year. It was an indulgence, but not too expensive. He’d arranged to stay with a friend the night before the game, before heading back in the evening. It looked likely to be a good game as both teams had had pretty good seasons so far, and especially good since the Bruins had won the first game they'd played that season, in Boston.

His seat was pretty good, an aisle seat a few rows up behind the penalty box, and he got there in plenty of time to get settled before the game started. Just before the puck dropped, somebody slid past him and into the next chair. He was surprised to notice it was another Bruins fan and even more surprised to discover it was a woman. Not a lot of women went solo to hockey games, to his experience, let alone fans of the visitors.

They exchanged names and had the usual sort of casual conversation one has with a random stranger. Her name was Pam. No, she’s not from around here – she’s from Everett, Mass, just a bit north of Boston. He was an electrician from Sea Bright, NJ, on the shore. She taught junior high English. Just chit chat as they watched what felt to them like a pretty sluggish game. He got the first round of beer between periods, she the next half way through the second period, and he the third during the next intermission.

They shared their love of the Bruins and of hockey, itself. She’d been a frustrated wanna-be hockey player, excluded because she was a girl. He’d played in high school until he’d hurt a knee. Bobby Orr and Espo. Rules that annoyed them – particularly pertinent because as the clock ticked away, it looked increasingly like it was going to be a tie at the end of regulation and that’s all there was in the regular season. Sure enough, the game came to the end with a 3-3 score, leaving Pam and Frank feeling moderately annoyed – the Bruins had not managed to beat the Broad Street Bullies.

They wandered over to Doobie’s – a bit further from the Spectrum and so a bit quieter. While Frank had enjoyed talking with her, he had not realized how attractive she was until she had shed her coat and bulky sweater. Not that it mattered – Frank was married, even if Pam was not. After a light meal, they wandered over to the train station and after an exchange of phone numbers, she headed back to Boston. He smiled as he retrieved his car and reflected on the game and his afternoon on his drive back to the Shore.

They talked a few times over the next couple months. Neither of them could make the next game, in late March, and that was the last time the two teams were scheduled to meet for the season. Unless...

Plans were a bit rushed, because the Rangers took the Flyers to a game 7 in the semi-finals, only two days before the start of the Stanley Cup. Until then they didn’t know if there would be a chance to get together. Optimistically, Frank had picked up a pair of conditional tickets for game 3 of the Cup, which would be a Sunday afternoon game in Philly. When the game finished, Pam made her hotel reservation and bought train tickets. His wife had plans, as well; the Friends of the Museum were having the opening of their 10th anniversary exhibit that afternoon.

As before, Frank went into the city the night before the game, this time for a late dinner with Pam. During dinner, they complained anew about the refusal of the NHL to have overtime in the regular season. During after dinner drinks and desserts, the theme shifted to federal and state laws. Pam oh so casually mentioned that Pennsylvania had repealed its adultery laws the previous year.

They retired to her room at the Ritz-Carlton.

The next morning they had breakfast delivered by room service, but time passed quickly and Pam had to check out before they could make their way over to the Spectrum for lunch and the game. Frank grabbed a chair in the lobby to wait, looking around at the opulence of the hotel.

There, across the lobby from him, was his wife, also waiting for somebody to check out.

Looking at him.


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