The Game Unravels

Jul 19, 2009, 11:53 PM |

One of my favorite posts from KnightSkewer.


The game unravels

Two of us walked in from the crisp fall wind. Leaves kicked up on the sidewalk outside. The cafe was almost too bright. The Node it was called. I knew the place. We went way back to before it even existed. Their was a place where all the kids used to hang out. A grassy area outside the forest. We gave it a name, The Node. We all grew up, went our separate ways. Some of us learned to hate each other. Some of us deserved it. The guy who ran the joint was a douche. Daddy bought him three businesses to run. One by one he sank them. At the time the shop wasn't too bad. Big windows, good coffee and a dozen computers to pretend we were kids again. Women, betrayal, cops. I didn't know it yet but they were all around the corner waiting to ambush me like hyenas in the night. But the unforgiving light of the future hadn't blinded me yet. I was just their to get some games in.

We sidled up to the counter and ordered. Rob got coffee and I got a hot chocolate. Perfect for onsetting Wisconsin winters. Homeless Charlie was no where to be found. The two pictures he sold me hung proud on my apartment wall. I worried about him. We settled into our game. Banter back and forth. I caught shifting eyes from the high school pricks escaping the confines of suburbia. Headlights from passing cars scanned the room again and again. The game dragged on. The only clock was picturing our girlfriends sitting on the couch or the patio, waiting. Rob was in poor form and the endgame had started sneaking in. The bells on the door jingled and half the place looked up, part scared. Two spooks walked in nonchalant. Dressed to the nines and highlighted by the traffic rays in the night. This doesn't happen in Milwaukee. Its the most segregated city in the nation for a reason. The hippie government divied up the place for fair representation. AKA cheesed in politicians and corruption. The whole city is an almost perfect grid, rivers and highways included. Ideal for separating everyone by class and race. Everyone keeps to their own neighborhoods and the cops keep it that way. So when two black guys in slick suits with hats to match strolled in, the cafe got a little nervous. One man rolled into the back for the restroom. The other stood next to our table. "are you a chess player?" I asked. "From time to time." the man said in a confident mid forties voice. Robs mind wandered to tacos and snuggling on the couch in front of the television. Our game was ending fast, revealing an awkward silence between the three of us. Rob cut out. "I gotta go." he said while he gathered up his pride. "Why don't you two get a game in?" he rattled it off half heading for the door. I opened my hand over the board as an offering to take a seat. He sat down mellow and we both breathed easy. We opened up dialogue while setting up the pieces. I don't play that often, good luck, that sort of thing. Cordial and respectful. We came from different worlds and we both knew it. We set a leisurely pace in the opening. Both a little hesitant, but confident. It didnt take long to recognize this was going to be a feirce battle. I knew he saw my plans and he knew I saw his. Time ticked on. Patrons came and went to the sound of the jingling door. The middle game closed in on us. Plans within plans within plans. Shifting chairs and eyeballing the same bishop for five minutes so as not to give a psychological inch. His friend emerged from the back expecting to book pronto. He hovered a while and bolted, irritated. "Ill be in the car." "ok. Ill be out in a few minutes." my opponent half mumbled, not breaking his focus. I wondered where they came from and where they were headed. The board opened up to an end game filled with ambushes and promotions. It was nobodys game. Candidates made breaks for the edge of the board and kings swiftly blocked their path. In the end I caught him in the quicksand and it was all over. We eagerly reenacted the game trying to keep our cool. Revealing our precious traps and long thought strategies. "You are a good chessplayer!" I complimented. "No, you are a very good chessplayer!" he shot back. We looked up from the board and shook hands firmly. That, my friends, was the best game Ive ever played for one reason that cant be faked or contrived. Respect.