A queen’s head laid on the board. Its bottom rested on the dark tile.
The pieces had gone away. Taken. Blundered. Cast off and traded for
Everything is different from when it started. Making up moves to pass
the time. No initial plan, just keep moving, wait for Aaron to fuck up
before I can. If I study long enough I’ll break through.
In the midst of global catastrophe coinciding with suicidal patterns a
boy sits and waits next to his father for the train to arrive.
Leeching off the player’s lack of training. Stay up all night. Study.
Hours. Skip work, appointments. On the phone Mom asked what’s wrong.
They sound worried. Make an appointment, then change it. Lavender
spilled on the table.
After two drinks my hand tells the stewardess where she needs to be.
I’d be able to read more if I stopped bringing 12 books everywhere I go.
I spend more time trying to decide what to read than actually reading.
Normal moves, play boring, get things going.
I wish I could participate more in our relationship.
I’ve seen this before.
It’s a nearly empty train. Out of the 500 seats only a little over a
quarter were sold. Nearly all in the coupe. Two men playing chess in the
scheme. Nobody needs to sit next to anyone, most of them will be asleep.
People moving around completely unperturbed. Some are trying to sleep in
their berth. This thing’s on autopilot, and before long we’ll be where
Spilled coffee and the pieces. Wet and brown. On a train going 250 km/h
through the mountains towards steeper mountains around the mountains and
hopefully to a town I don’t remember going. When I was young. The
mountains border an area that had not been touched, not in the way that
everything’s been touched, to look at us for us to look at while Aaron
and I play chess and our pieces are set up efficiently enough for a
proper long game. No traps or tricks. Stained white pawn moving around
the board until it’s taken away.
What the fuck did that bitch do to my child?
Two friends, perhaps, or strangers. Not looking away.
I can’t clean this up without getting up. The player, Aaron, will make a
move or think of a move or decide on a plan, make a plan destroy my plan
look for weakness look for possible mistakes, gambit away a pawn improve
their position, minor pieces minor pieces castle castle. In the world
non-chess players call life like a game of chess, an obnoxious
comparison that cannot get to the stomach. In reality, of the world,
there is no life within chess, that is, nothing exists beyond the
square. It is a cold, calculating, and objective moment by moment
experience. It’s also not a game in which a player can casually play.
The reason why people like Bobby Fischer won so much is because he was
always on. He didn’t win every game. Sometimes he fell asleep, had to be
woken up. My grandfather played Bobby Fischer. They were both awake. The
game led to a draw. As great as a player Bobby was, and my grandfather
was able to draw him.
Making illegal moves to save myself from losing too early. Aaron has his
eyes fixed on my hand. I hit the clock and I’m out the game until Aaron
shoots his shot.
There’s a gun somewhere on this train if I knew how to get to it.
Aaron has no breath. His sweatshirt can’t save him. It’s plugging a hole
I had put into him.
In the corner a cold pizza. Flys festering it to pieces.
This is a giant piece of pizza. We can’t eat it all.
Bathroom door closing keys clanking no drinks please we’re busy. Aaron
needs to concentrate, make a move, make a move.
A train going 250 km/hr from St. Petersburg to Tokyo I think or
somewhere else with a similar sounding name. I forgot once the game had
started which was immediately when I sat down across from this stranger,
whose name is Aaron, who hadn’t been studying like he said when we
started. I could tell he doesn’t study, not like I study, because of how
long he takes studying my opening. I made no strange moves. Why would I
so early? I'm not ready to yet, but soon I’ll be going for the throat.
Will he accept this? Does he accept my gambit? Will he crush it when can
I crush him no no thank you we’re fine am I his mark his clock runs out
he needs to make a move I already know which he’s going to make before
he’s made it three moves ago I can see that far ahead either he’s a
chump or so am I.
I’d like to get off this train going 250 km/hr from St. Petersburg to
somewhere that sounds like Tokyo. Perhaps I’ll meet someone near the
Don’t let me forget to unbutton my shirt that’s been on too tight and to
close the blinds in the cart so that I might fall asleep with sun out of
my eye and my shirt. Thank you.
A train. A train I’m sitting in but don’t remember getting on I do not
remember getting on let alone sitting across from Aaron who I’ve come to
find out is an excellent chess player. Going through a neighborhood my
grandfather raised me, where I stayed until he was too old to care for.
He told me he never wanted to live past 40, when he turned 60 he told he
didn’t want to live past 80. He gave me a gun and told me to shoot him
in his sleep because he didn’t want to live anymore. Proficient and
obviously studied the opening principles.
In the shape of the sun. Now. Inside its flares. Phantom rays casting.
Ice in my mouth. Ice. Bend in my knees staring at Aaron to make a move.
His arms stiff and his legs stiff and his hands raised over the kingside
knight. A miracle if we ever finish.
Pulled out from underneath and crashed my hands on his hands and made
the moves before he got anything developed. We’re in the middle game
now. I can’t wait long enough to be patient.
Aaron squinting concentrating frozen. After he moved I realized I’m too
tired to take another shot. He’s in his head and in the game and
somewhere else entirely. Outside the plexi glass window a little girl in
a green striped dress watches from a bench outside next to a gneiss
metamorphic boulder. As the train goes by she sees our game and our
heads facedown. Her eyes catch every window going past her while she
sits at the bench in a green striped dress with nobody else around and
nobody to say where she had been or where she had gone and what’ll
happen to her.
We’re all going to die, but especially her. When she wakes up and her
eyes, blinking back and forth to time, realizes it’s still me she’s
decided to spend the rest of her life with, so unfortunately, she’ll not
only be unsurprised, but will be glad it’s finally about to be over.
Drinks don’t get passed around before the game is over.
The rain on the hills flies towards us. In the town known for its large
concentration of medieval castles we’re passing a young man who is being
put to death for crimes against humanity but which crime and what
humanity was never made clear to anyone besides the young man an hour
before being put to death. Just like that one.
The plexi glass window with red velvet lining shakes shut and buries me
into my leather couch seat. The wind shifted my king off its square and
for a moment thought I was lost but then I put him back and we continued
on and Aaron didn’t seem to notice what was happening or that the window
was now closed and that we were alone.
Laughing from across the hall. Two men playing chess one of them shifts
his weight around in his seat. He seems to be studying the pieces, but
he’s laughing at something.
I’m not sure why. The other man is just sitting there not paying
attention to anything besides his watch and the board. Curious players.
They don’t realize how long it’s been since I started watching.
Losing count of what I’ve done up until now. Before I got on the train I
was driving towards the station from the park where I played curious
players known for shifty styles and before that eating a sandwich. I had
gotten on the train because it was available. There was a seat that
hadn’t been claimed, and I jumped on it because I needed to get out of
town but I also needed to busy myself with anything else but what I had
been doing up until now which was fatally slipping away.
The stewardess hasn’t poked her head in moves. I’d like to see her and
ask about the gun I believe I left on the train before Aaron jumped into
the bench across from me. To shoot Aaron’s pieces and the board and him
and be done with the whole game before I spend another minute not
We put the game on pause and I walk to the lounge past the cab where a
man in a beige winter suit has his hands around a woman’s neck and is
squeezing tightly and her eyes are open and her hands are on top of his
squeezing just as tight. In the next cab two children are playing with
spelling blocks while their mother is asleep.
I walk down the steps past the lounge compartment. At the bottom is a
puddle with a single fly floating on the top, its legs twitching,
swimming in a figure eight.
I sit back down and he checks his watch as if he were late for something
he checks it again to affirm this and the third time he checks. He tells
himself Focus and I wait for him to make his move.
If I ever see him again.
I reach for the pistol between my legs and cock the hammer back.
Slowly as the train arrives I’ll let myself have a coffee while the air
is clear. I’m thankful for the mountains that surround me, looking up
from its pocket.
If he’s fucking me around I’ll let him so long as my shot is clear.