The Hockey Sweater and Other Stories

The Hockey Sweater and Other Stories by Roch Carrier Read Free Book Online

Book: The Hockey Sweater and Other Stories by Roch Carrier Read Free Book Online
Authors: Roch Carrier
Tags: FIC029000
father answered him curtly:
    â€˜A man that takes other people’s money is a thief. I’m going to put the roof on my house with money I earn from my own work, by the sweat of my brow. Thanks very much.’
    â€˜I didn’t want to hurt you. Even the good Lord borrowed. He borrowed a mother…’
    â€˜Not from your bank.’
    My father got into his car.
    Through the windows of our rooms without ceilings, without a roof, we gazed at the Ford as it raised a cloud of dust on the gravel road which appeared, then disappeared, depending on the hills and trees. My father had said:
    â€˜I’ll be back with the roof.’
    â€˜What if it rains?’ my mother asked. ‘The children …’
    â€˜A little rain never hurt anything that’s growing!’
    That night, lying under the roof of the vast night, I didn’t dream that I was flying like a bird. A great anxiety threw my child’s heart into turmoil. Was it the anxiety of all who question the night, yet know nothing of it, understand nothing?

The Hockey Sweater

    T HE WINTERS of my childhood were long, long seasons. We lived in three places - the school, the church and the skating-rink — but our real life was on the skating-rink. Real battles were won on the skating-rink. Real strength appeared on the skating-rink. The real leaders showed themselves on the skating-rink. School was a sort of punishment. Parents always want to punish children and school is their most natural way of punishing us. However, school was also a quiet place where we could prepare for the next hockey game, lay out our next strategies. As for church, we found there the tranquillity of God: there we forgot school and dreamed about the next hockey game. Through our daydreams it might happen that we would recite a prayer: we would ask God to help us play as well as Maurice Richard.
    We all wore the same uniform as he, the red white and blue uniform of the Montreal Canadiens, the best hockey team in the world; we all combed our hair in the same styleas Maurice Richard, and to keep it in place we used a sort of glue — a great deal of glue. We laced our skates like Maurice Richard, we taped our sticks like Maurice Richard. We cut all his pictures out of the papers. Truly, we knew everything about him.
    On the ice, when the referee blew his whistle the two teams would rush at the puck; we were five Maurice Richards taking it away from five other Maurice Richards; we were ten players, all of us wearing with the same blazing enthusiasm the uniform of the Montreal Canadiens. On our backs, we all wore the famous number 9.
    One day, my Montreal Canadiens sweater had become too small; then it got torn and had holes in it. My mother said: ‘If you wear that old sweater people are going to think we’re poor!’ Then she did what she did whenever we needed new clothes. She started to leaf through the catalogue the Eaton company sent us in the mail every year. My mother was proud. She didn’t want to buy our clothes at the general store; the only things that were good enough for us were the latest styles from Eaton’s catalogue. My mother didn’t like the order forms included with the catalogue; they were written in English and she didn’t understand a word of it. To order my hockey sweater, she did as she usually did; she took out her writing paper and wrote in her gentle schoolteacher’s hand: ‘Cher Monsieur Eaton, Would you be kind enough to send me a Canadiens’ sweater for my son who is ten years old and a little too tall for his age and Docteur Robitaille thinks he’s a little too thin? I’m sending you three dollars and please send me what’s left if there’s anything left. I hope your wrapping will be better than last time.’
    Monsieur Eaton was quick to answer my mother’s letter. Two weeks later we received the sweater. That day I had one of the greatest disappointments of my life! I would

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