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We Play The Game – 03 – It’s a Sport

“And who might I be interviewing?” the dwarf asked her as they rose from street level on the escalator in the general direction of food.

“Tina Ruttledge,” she replied. “And who’s my prospective employer?”

“Devon,” he told her. “Son of Olaf. Olafson.”

“And are you new to Toronto?” she asked.

There was nothing that unusual about her interviewer than his height, really, but Tina did get the impression he was somehow out of place. Perhaps it was the way he wore his suit, seeming like it hung a bit awkwardly on his short frame as though it was uncomfortable being there.

“Relatively,” he admitted as they stepped off the escalator. “But most of us are from somewhere else, are we not.”

Tina nodded. Here family had move to T.O. from Belleville way back. Though most of her friends these days were Torontonians now, many came from elsewhere too.  That was kind of what being a Torontonian was.

The Matheson Mall Food court had seen better days, like, maybe the eighties. Sure there were still a decent collection of fast food places spread around the south end of the mall, but, like the rest of the place, there were closed stretches that used to house joints that once were popular. Tina found it kind of sad. Malls still hadn’t quite figured out how to survive the 21st century yet, from what she read online. From what she heard, there were ghost malls all around the country now. Haunted, probably, by the ghosts of retailer’s past. Eaton’s, Zeller’s, Target. Chi-Chi’s. She still remembered Chi-Chi’s. It had been her favorite place to go as a child. Ah… the Mexican Fried Ice-Cream. How old had she been then? Six? Eight? Had it been the E. coli in the salad bar that had done them in? Or was it Hepatitis? Tina couldn’t remember.

Salsafication, he he. That she did remember.

Back to the present. Devon, Son of Olaf (giggle), her potential employer, didn’t seem to notice her brief moment of childhood nostalgia, and somehow, his old school GPS lead them directly to one of her favorites, Thai Express. Not only did it serve great Asian fast food, but unlike the other places, there was rarely a line up. Tina couldn’t imagine they made much money these days. Maybe it was a front for the Siamese mob.

Guess this one wouldn’t be here long either, she decided as she pointed out what she wanted. Nothing lasts, she knew. That thought ensured she enjoyed her General Thai’s Chicken all the more.

They both sat down, enjoyed their meals, adding some small talk, the weather, the Jays youth drive, summer movies. And once they were done, Devon started the interview.

So… the interview started out a lot like most of her job interviews. Discussions about her Education (linguistics degree) previous jobs and experience (varied but not really worth the time spent talking about it), why she left her last job (not the actual truth, that she’d wanted to beat her boss over the head with his accounting binders until he cried uncle), and what she was looking for in general. Tina could help but offer some stock responses at that. She still wasn’t sure what she wanted to be or where she wanted to go with her life, what a career meant other than steady direct deposits in her account. God, almost twenty four and still drifting. What the hell was wrong with her? Most of her friends had actual careers or were starting ones.

Crap. What was her mother’s voice doing in her head? Out damned spot!

The dwarf was the consummate interviewer, giving away absolutely nothing. He moved on to interests and activities, There Devon showed a particular interest in the subject of her continuing, post-high school and university of playing competitive dodgeball, or more specifically, the variant known as murderball that she had been drawn to.

“It’s a sport,” she told him a bit defensively by practice. It was one of those sports that people made fun of often enough, like synchronized swimming or javelin tossing, “And good exercise and a bit of self-defense in there too!”

“I agree,” the dwarf replied nodding. He took a sip from his large Dr. Pepper. “But there are more popular sports, aren’t there? Hockey, basketball, hammer throw?”

She almost laughed as she sipped on her pop. Luckily she didn’t. Soda up your nose was the worst.

“Hammer throw?” she asked frowning in condescension. “How many people do that?”

“It is kind of an Olympic sport after all. You’d be surprised how popular that could be in certain quarters,” he offered.

“I would be,” she replied. “Very.”

He shrugged.

“Back to this… murderball,” he replied. “What is it about the sport that you have found so compelling, I mean, to keep doing it into your mid… twenties.”

Tina thought for a moment. She had been at it a long time, Since she was fourteen, at least seriously.”

“Because it’s not just about winning like other sports, I guess,” she told him. “It’s about survival. It’s about whether you have it in you or not. There’s not many other sports where the goal is to knock other people out. It’s a bit like team MMA, you know, maybe, if people got to throw things in MMA.”

Then she tapped her right temple.

“Without quite so many blows to the head, of course,” she added with a smirk of pride. “I mean, if you’re any good at it. Which I am.”

Go to Chapter 02

Go to Chapter 04