Disclaimers see part 1

Part 6

New Yorkers go crazy when the Knick’s play at home. Words can't describe the frenzy of enthusiastic fans waving pennants and banners as they waited to get into Madison Square Garden. Their excitement was infectious and soon Ann found herself chiming in with the chant.

"We love the Knicks!" It only took a few more times for Danni to follow along with her. Each time she said Knicks, she plucked at the waistband of her knickerbockers styled pants.

"I can't believe you're wearing your great-grandfather's clothes," Ann snickered.

“These pants are my juju. When it comes to the Knicks, I’m very superstitious.” Danni shot back defensively.

“And I see that superstition goes all the way back to your ancestors.” Ann teased.

“You're just jealous that you don't have a pair.”

“Yeah, right. Let’s just hope there aren’t any fashion police in attendance tonight.”

 "You're in a good mood today, my friend. I’m glad you decided to come.” Danni stopped a vendor and bought beer for them. “Hey, weren’t you planning to spend the weekend with dull boy?”

Ann cleared the turnstile and headed toward the seating area.  “Yeah, I changed my mind.”

“Why? What did he have planned?” Danni pressed curiously trying to keep up with Ann’s determined stride.

“Ballet.” Ann answered hesitantly, bracing herself for the teasing to come.

“Ballet?” Danni released a throaty laugh.  “Oh my god, he is such a nerd.”

“Danni, you promised.” Ann cautioned as they moved to their seats.

“Right, no trashing Joe…” Danni smirked hiding her lips behind the cup as she sipped her beer. “Tonight”

Ann shook her head at her incorrigible friend.  “Why do you hate him so much?”

“I don’t hate him.” Danni’s head snapped indignantly “I just don’t think he’s the right person for you.”

“Based on what?”

“Based on the fact that you two don’t match.”

Ann looked at her friend questioningly.

“Let’s see if I can make myself clear.” Danni scratched her head searching for the right words. “I have this feeling that Joe is looking for some sort of a trophy wife. Someone he can show off at company parties, a woman that stays home and takes care of his children.” She looked at Ann. “Beautiful children I might add.”  Catching the glint of a twinkle coming to Ann’s eyes, she continued on.  “Face it Ann, he’s the kind of man who goes to a Ballet presentation on a Knicks game night.”

“He’s sophisticated,” Ann rebuked.

“Boring!” Danni rolled her eyes and sighed exasperatedly. “So…if that’s the life style you want, why are you here with me instead of there with him?”

Ann opened her mouth to speak but nothing came out.

“Because you wanted to have fun, that’s why. Joe is not gonna make you happy. You don’t have any friends in common and he doesn’t like the same things you do. Come on Ann, open your eyes and find someone that stirs your emotions.” Danni put her arm around Ann’s shoulders and spoke with a teasing grin. “You need to find someone who wouldn’t miss a Knicks’ game without a very good reason.”

Wide-eyed and innocently Ann blinked.  “And who would that be?  Someone like you perhaps?”

“Could be but you’ll never know if you don’t start looking around you.”  Danni released her friend and slowly surveyed the crowd of spectators and fans filling the sports venue before taking her seat.  “It could very well be someone with a ticket for the game tonight.”  Danni plopped down into her seat and smirked.  “At least none of them will be wearing a tutu.”

Startled at the thought, Ann was left standing in the dark as all eyes turned toward the spotlighted court and the arrival of their beloved Knick’s.

***

For the average basketball fan, there’s nothing wrong about watching a game on TV. For avid fans like Sam and Leo however, it’s another story.

“Come on, Sis.  You know you can’t get that same thrill just by sitting in front of a TV set.  The whole atmosphere of the Garden just isn’t there.  Here you can feel the anticipation and the sweat in the air. Especially from the guy next to me who hasn't had a bath recently,” Leo glanced to his side making a disgusting face. “Listen to the fans, Sam. They can’t wait for the second half to start.” He held his phone up and slowly turned around. 

“KNICKS!  KNICKS!”  Small areas of the Garden broke out in a murmured chant that steadily rose to a fervent cry.  “KNICKS!”

He brought the phone back to his ear.  “Now that’s what gets you pumped to the maximum.” 

 “Come on Leo, you know I’d never miss a Knicks game without a good reason. Now, agree with me that getting shot definitely qualifies as a good reason.

“Nice move sis, you know I can’t trump the getting shot card. Either way, I still don’t like being here without you.”

“It’s ok, bro, mom has a big TV and the sound is amazing.”

“It isn’t the same as being here. There’s this energy that you simply don’t get by watching it on TV. Even the beer tastes better here. Not to mention that you’re missing out on all the sights off the court.” 

“True. How’s the audience?”

“You know,” Leo tried to sound nonchalant as he winked at a woman with a svelte waist and a sultry smile. “The usual”

“You mean lots of hot chicks wearing tight, skimpy tank tops?”

“Exactly!  And by the looks of it,” he scanned over the crowd. “I think I can honestly say my neck will be sore by the end of the game.”  At the sound of his sister’s laughter, he joined in.

“Wait, I thought you were using my ticket to take a date?”

Leo shrugged as he turned and juggled his cell phone to his other ear.  “Yeah, so?” He waved to a cute brunette sitting on the fifth row. “I can’t touch but it doesn’t mean that I can’t look.”

“Sounds fair to me.”

“Hey, I gotta go. The second half is about to start.” His eyes followed the players returning to the court.

“Me too!  The halftime recap is just signing off.”

“Take care, sis.” He terminated his call and blindly spun around.  Before Leo could stop, he slammed into another fan, sending a cupful of beer flying.

“Jesus, I’m sorry!” Leo made a hasty attempt at drying the woman’s shirt with his hands.

“Hey, watch it there.” Ann swatted his hand away from her chest.

“I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to.  I was talking to my sister and…”

“Like I really believe that,” Ann tried to distance herself but couldn’t.

“Look, I didn’t mean to...” Leo shifted his gaze upward to acknowledge the blonde in front of him. “Damn!” he grinned, “but I’m not that sorry.”

Ann shot her flirting assailant an annoyed look until they made eye contact.  There, staring back at her were the similar pair of familiar blue eyes that had been haunting her. Her anger suddenly melted as she stared mindlessly at them.

“Is everything alright?”  Danni glanced toward her companion.

“I don’t know. I think I broke her.” Leo joked referring to the nearly catatonic woman opposite him.

“Ann, are you ok?” Danni touched her friend’s shoulder.

Somewhat dazed, Ann finally came around.  “What? Yeah, I’m fine.” She smiled slightly embarrassed. “Sorry, I spaced out there.” She shook her head trying to regain some of her dignity back. “What did you say?”

“Can I replace your beer?” Leo’s gaze shifted between the two women.

“No. It’s ok,” Ann declined.

“Are you sure?”  Leo asked skeptically.

Ann quickly averted her gaze to Danni.  “Yeah, I’m fine.”

“Alright then,” Leo lifted an intrigued eyebrow as he caught Danni checking out his butt. “Once again, I’m sorry.” He proceeded to turn and then vanished into the crowd.

“Do you know him?” Danni asked watching the retreating man.

“You mean other than by a little gentle petting, no.  Although…” Ann paused.  “I’m pretty sure I’ve seen those eyes before.”

“Gee, why didn’t you introduce me?”

Ann snapped out of her daze.  “I don’t know him.  But he does remind me of someone.” She looked into the crowd where she’d last seen the stranger disappear.

“I think he was kind of cute.” Danni giggled.  “He has a nice tooshie.”

“Really?  I didn’t notice.” 

“I sure did,” Danni declared.  “But again, I bet you didn’t even notice that you’re without a beer in your hand.”  She waved at a passing vendor and held up a five dollar bill.  “I got this round.  You’re paying for the next.”

Ann pulled herself out from under the nagging feeling that had descended on her. It was the same feeling that had been accelerating her heartbeat ever since those blue eyes had first appeared.  “Yeah, what’s a Knick’s game without a beer?”

***

“Ann, wake up” Danni snapped her fingers trying to get her friend’s attention without disturbing the rest of the after game crowd that packed their local pizzeria.

“Oh! Sorry.” Ann smiled self-consciously.

“What’s happening to you?” Danni asked concernedly.

Ann took a bite of her pizza and spoke around a mouthful.  “What do you mean?”

“What do you mean what I mean?” Danni widened her eyes dramatically. “You have been spacing out since that guy crashed into you. By the way you’ve been acting I think you might have a concussion.”

“I have not.”

 “Oh, really?  What was the final score to the game?”

Ann smiled sheepishly as Danni rolled her eyes. “Uh…the Knicks won.” 

“Ann, please, I practically spent the entire second half just elbowing you so you could pay attention to what was happening on the court.” Danni narrowed her eyes suspiciously. “What’s the matter, Doc got a crush on cute tooshie boy?”

“What? No, it’s not that.” Ann looked around the restaurant as if searching for a subject changing. When she found none, she decided to cut to the chase. “The problem is that…I’ve been haunted.”

“Haunted?  Like in ‘Boo!  I’m scared’ haunted?” 

Ann thought for a moment then slowly nodded. 

Danni leaned forward and used her index finger and thumb to make a small gesture. “Ann, I’m this close to slapping you on the forehead, so I suggest you start making some sense.”

Ann covered her face with both hands and took in a deep breath. Once she’d exhaled, she lowered her hands and stared blankly at the half eaten pizza on her plate. “I’ve been having this dream for a week now.”

“What dream?”  Danni reclined back on her seat and took a bite of her pizza.

“I always dream that I’m sitting on the top of a small hill. I’m watching this beautiful sunset when all of a sudden, this pair of blue eyes gradually appears in the clouds. They’re looking straight through me and right into my soul.  Then as the sun finally sets, the eyes fade away.”

“Granted, it is a little spooky, but not enough to really scare me.”  Danni studied her friend more closely.  “So, why is it scaring you?”

Ann stared off into space, her voice somewhat detached. “I wake up feeling…abandoned.”

“That’s crazy.  You don’t even know who those eyes belong to…” Danni’s voiced took on a skeptical note, “or do you?”

“That’s the weird part.” Ann smiled sheepishly.

“Why?”  Danni’s brows rose ever so slightly.

“The guy from the game…”

“The one that gave you the beer shower just to get all touchy-feely?”

Ann smirked.  “Yeah.  His eyes were almost the same…”

“Almost?”

“Yeah, almost but not the same.  Something was missing.”

“It’s a dream, Ann. Did you expect a perfect match?”

Ann simply shrugged.  “Maybe.  I don’t know.”  She looked away doubting her own abilities to make any sense of the details.

Sensing her friend’s inner debate, Danni laid her hand on Ann’s arm.  “You know what I think? I think you want to fall in love and these eyes that are haunting you just might be it.  I say you go for it.”

“Danni!”

Ann’s beleaguered eyes spoke more than she could ever say and Danni hastened into her explanation.  “No I’m serious. I think you want to find someone that sweeps you off your feet just by looking into your eyes.”  Danni stared point blank into Ann’s eyes, then hurriedly crossed her own sending a ripple of gentle laughter washing over them both.

“You’re impossible” Ann chuckled at her friend’s antics. “Are you sure you’re not the one who wants that?”

“Sure I do.”  Danni relaxed back into her chair sipping her beer.  “And if the eyes come with a nice butt, I’d be a very happy woman.”

To be continued…

Back to the Academy