Trevor leaned against the railing of his balcony with his arms, his hands folded. Justin stood beside him with his arms crossed. The sun was setting, but it was not visible to the hockey players because of the trees. They seemed oblivious to the cold air. Trevor wore a Wild sweatshirt and a scarf. Justin had on a jacket.
“We play two southern teams in a row,” Justin murmured. “What do you think our odds are of beating both?”
“Who cares?” Trevor muttered. “There are more important things than hockey.” He paused. “I wished I had realized that sooner.” He leaned his head down; long strands of dark hair fell onto his face.
“I’m sorry about Liam,” Justin said. “Are you sure there’s nothing we can do?”
Trevor sighed. “Not that I can think of. There’s no point. We can’t change the minds of many ignorant, idiotic people.”
“But just one would help,” Justin said. “We can take it in front of a judge. They’re supposed to uphold justice.”
Trevor pulled away from the balcony and turned to face his friend. “Yes, but what judge would have the guts to go against public opinion? You know how people view sex offenders.”
“But do they know Liam’s offense or that he was a kid?”
“Probably not. I didn’t know kids could be arrested for doing what comes naturally to them.”
“It could happen to anyone’s family member,” Justin said thoughtfully. “The people don’t know. They need to be warned. They need to be stirred to take action.”
Trevor blinked. “And how are we supposed to do that? In case you didn’t know, Texans are a very independent group of people. They wouldn’t listen to a couple of Northerners. They would say we’re trying to get them to adopt our ‘Yankee ways.’” He rolled his eyes.
Justin frowned. “I’m not a Yankee. But I see your point.” He shook his head. “Why do Minnesota and Texas have to fight? Are they really that different? I mean, they’re connected by a highway.”
“And more than that,” Trevor said. “They have hockey in common, though many Texans don’t even know where the Stars came from.”
“Too bad we can’t use the North Stars to get their attention,” Justin said.
Something suddenly hit Trevor, and he looked at his friend in amazement. “That’s it!” It would work, wouldn’t it?
Justin looked at him skeptically. “What are you thinking?”
“I have an idea,” Trevor said with growing excitement. “I don’t know if it will work, but it’s worth a go. I’ve got to call Heather.” He turned and dashed inside.
Trevor stood outside of the Days’ house with Heather and Justin on either side. The house was small and white without too many furnishings. The air was warm and dry. Trevor took a deep breath and let it out slowly. Heather had suggested he talk to the family as soon as he arrived in Dallas. He was against the idea of giving them false hope, but then he figured that Janet would be expecting him. He just hoped he could get through this without breaking down.
Heather placed a hand on his arm and looked at him sympathetically. “It’s going to be alright,” she said softly.
Trevor did not respond. He hoped she was right. He lifted his fist and knocked on the door. Then he waited with bated breath.
A man with blond hair and thick-brimmed glances opened the door. He looked over the three people suspiciously. “What you want?” he asked gruffly.
“I’m Trevor Clifton,” Trevor said.
“Trevor!” Janet’s voice said before the woman appeared behind her husband. She glanced at the man. “It’s ok, Michael. He’s the one who’s been taking care of Liam.”
“Oh! I’m sorry,” the man said. He held out his hand to Trevor. “I’m Michael Day, Liam’s father.”
“Nice to meet you,” Trevor said. “This is my friend, Heather, and my teammate, Justin.” Everyone went around exchanging greetings.
As they walked inside, Trevor noticed a teenage girl come into view. She had blond hair and blue eyes, and she looked at them curiously. Trevor’s eyes met hers.
“This is our daughter, Margaret,” said Janet. “Margaret, this is Trevor, Liam’s caretaker, and his friends, Justin and Heather.
Margaret walked up to Trevor and looked up at him with big eyes. “You were watching over Liam?”
Trevor nodded slowly. “Yes, I was.”
“Then how could you let him go to jail?”
Trevor lifted his head to look at the girl’s mother. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I never meant for this to happen.” He was being honest, but he would not dwell in self-pity. It was time to take responsibility for his actions.
“It’s not his fault, dear,” the mother said. “None of us knew this would happen. We all thought Liam would be left alone once he was in Minnesota.”
“But we’ll get him back there,” Trevor said, looking at the girl with new determination. “I have a plan.” He had to do something to try to help; he felt it as his duty.
“What is it?” Margaret asked.
Trevor looked at Justin. “To do something crazy.”
“Will it work?” Michael asked, crossing his arms.
Trevor took in a deep breath. “Do you believe in the power of people? Do you think that if enough people are inspired to action, real change can be produced? If everyone just knew the truth, most would be as outraged as us. It doesn’t take much to know this is unjust.”
“And how are you going to reach enough people?”
Trevor took another breath. “Through hockey.” It really was crazy, but they had to give it a try for Liam’s sake.
Michael raised his eyebrows. “Hockey? Texans don’t care about hockey.”
“Liam does,” Justin said with a smile.
“We’ve got it worked out,” Heather said.
Michael let out a heavy sigh. “All right. We’ll leave it to you. Anything we can do?”
“Yes,” Trevor said. “Watch the game tonight.”
The halls of the American Airlines Center were familiar to Trevor as he traveled down them. He knew exactly where to turn to get where he needed to go. He was grateful that no one stopped him along the way. He reached Coach Burns’ office and knocked on the door. He was relieved when a voice let him know that the coach was in.
Trevor’s heart beat in trepidation as he walked into the office, closing the door behind him. He wondered what he was doing. Coach Burns had sent him to another team. Why would he want to help him? But Trevor had to try. For Liam.
The coach looked at the hockey player in surprise. “Trevor Clifton. What are you doing here? In my office, I mean. I know you’re here for the game.” He gave him a small smile.
Trevor walked up to the desk, and then he glanced at the floor. “I need to ask you a huge favor.” He lifted his head and winced slightly. “It’s going to sound kind of crazy.”
Burns crossed his arms and looked at him with raised eyebrows. “What is it, Trevor?”
Trevor faltered. For some reason, the words would not come. He swallowed. He had to just say it. He could explain after; the objections would prompt him. “I need to speak to the crowd before the game.”
Burns’ mouth fell open in shock. A second later, he knitted his eyebrows together in confusion. “Why in the world would you need to do that?” He let out a heavy sigh and shook his head. “I know you never liked Texas or the Stars, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to let you yell at everyone.”
“That’s not what I want to do at all,” Trevor said quickly. He hesitated. How was he supposed to explain Liam to him?
“Well? We haven’t got all night.”
“Have you heard about that kid I’ve been taking care of?” Trevor said. “His mother had me take him from Dallas to the Twin Cities.”
Burns frowned. “I think I heard something about that, yes. I have no idea why a mother would send her son with you, no offense.”
“It’s because he can live a better life in Minnesota. The justice system in Texas is messed up, and if he stays here he’ll have to live the rest of his life stigmatized by something that should have never seemed like a crime.” His words were coming out rapidly. He needed to make his old coach understand. He was running out of time. “But the cops in Minnesota just took him away from me. He’s in jail in Texas because he was with me. They think it’s illegal. This is madness. I need a chance to explain to everyone. They deserve to know the laws that could affect their kids. It is their duty to take action. They just need to know the truth, and I am going to tell it to them.”
Trevor stopped short and stared at the coach. His heart was breathing rapidly, and his breath was shallow. He did not have a backup plan. He needed this to work. Coach Burns was staring at him incredulously.
“Unbelievable,” Burns finally said, shaking his head. “I don’t see how you believe this is going to work. They’re hockey fans. They’re not going to rise up.”
“But they could,” Trevor said. “I have to try. They have a right to know what is happening in their state. This is a republic.” He clenched and relaxed his fists repeatedly. “And the Minnesotans should know too. They should be wary so that the same idiotic laws won’t be passed in their state.” He paused. “In my state.”
Burns started. “Your state? I thought you hated Minnesota.”
Trevor pursed his lips. Then he said, “I’ve changed my mind. Minnesota is a great state; I was just too blind to see it. I was too blind to see a lot of things.” His expression softened. “I should thank you for sending me to the Wild. It is exactly the team I needed. I’m going to work hard for them.”
“I’m glad to hear it,” Burns said, seeming amazed.
Trevor hesitated before speaking. “I know you don’t owe me anything, but please let me do this. It could mean the difference between a kid I care about living a great life or living a miserable one. I don’t want his future to be over before it’s hardly begun.” He looked at him pleadingly. “Please. I just need a chance to try. If anyone gets mad, I’ll take responsibility. I just can’t give up on this kid before I know I’ve done everything I could.”
Coach Burns grew silent. Trevor stared at him calmly, his eyes sorrowful. He thought about Liam scared and alone in jail. He did not deserve that; he had not harmed anyone. He had done more for Trevor than he could repay him for. He had to get him out. He could not give up on him.
Burns let out a heavy sigh and ran his hand through his hair. “I hope I’m not going to regret this,” he muttered. He looked up at Trevor warily. “I’ll let you speak before the game. Is there anything else you need?”
“Just one thing,” Trevor said, thinking of something. “The Wild doesn’t have the rights to anything in your store, so I need to ask permission.”
“Anything,” Burns said, waving his hand. “Just go. It’s almost game time.”
Trevor nodded. “Thank you.” He turned and began to dash out of the room.
“Oh, and Trevor?”
The hockey player stopped, the doorknob in his hand, and turned to look at him. “Yes?”
A smile crossed Trevor’s face. “Thank you coach.” Then he was out of there.
Trevor zipped through the halls. A few people gave him strange looks, but they did not stop him. His mind was focused on one thing. He skidded to a stop in front of the team’s official store. The stadium was shared with Dallas’ NBA team, the Mavericks. He ignored how this team dominated the store ahead of the Stars merchandise.
“May I help you?” a woman worker said.
She did not recognize him. Trevor did not care. “No, I can find it,” he said.
The woman blinked. “Ok. Let me know when you’re ready.” She walked back the register.
Trevor moved through the store, his eyes dashing around frantically. All he could see were Stars and Mavericks stuff. Where was it? He knew it had to be there. The transplant Minnesotans had to get them from somewhere.
Alas, there! Trevor let out a breath of relief and grabbed the jersey. This really was a crazy plan, but he was out of options. He just hoped the truth would be enough for him to get through the next few hours and come up on top. And he was not referring to winning the hockey game.