—Did you bring the chess set?
Why would I ask that? It was like his objet fétiche, always with him, everywhere he went, like some kind of obsession to this game of pieces at service to their king. To me, it’s like a mental war, a race with the sole objective of destroying your enemy. And it feels like a meeting long overdue, the type that cost the people hundreds of dollars when a ton of bureaucrats are invited to those fancy banquets, but it’s even more painful for the pocket of one who fights to pay bills on time. And then the bills of the government.
And there, in front of me, he was.
With his disgusting flaxen outfit. He was wearing the same shirt as when he made me mad for the first time. A couple just stood up. For this time only, we looked at each other with complicity. Another poor lady, she was too concentrated on a pickle. It was a table for couples, face to face, at a corner. The table that everyone wanted, the perfect location for lovers, would be unavailable for the next hours. I still didn’t know how many.
—You got the clock?
It was going to be eternal without a clock. I had a job interview, but this was personal. We could never coincide our schedules—he was in front of me, he could have stolen my girlfriend, but not the championship.
He pulled out the chessboard—the table complained—the pieces too. He played whites. I arranged the blacks, putting the queen on last. A pendulum clock divided our table from the next.
—Did you notice that it creaks every 10 seconds?
—There you have it-
*Tick* Pawn E2 to E4. Classic one. He always played safe. His defense was good, but his attack slow; he only attacked when he was sure to win… *tock* Knight from B8 to C6. I was more incisive, I always looked for the attack, the surprise, the encirclement of the enemy. *Tick* Knight G1 to F3, I cut the movement, my pawn is delayed. *tock* my other knight comes out, *tick* he opens the line, overtaking with his pawn—and I get lost in the movements of my memory. That wretch that was in front of me had invited her out and had bewitched her. Amada was no longer the same, she ignored me, she ran away, I played fool, but I knew everything.
That bastard not only won my girlfriend, but also a championship.
His bishop points dangerously to my rook, the other is on the way. I do not like that strategy.
The waiter interrupts us. We must order something if we want to continue here. Yes, a couple of coffees would be fine. I had to continue. He won a championship, I won the next, but the last one got out of control when he described how passionate my ex-girlfriend was in one of his encounters.
His bishop trap is working, my defenses do not resist much. I made a mistake, the queen was exchanged in vain, I cannot lose…
What? The first check… the second, he ate my last tower, he must not beat me. I cannot lose my honour too. He turned in his queen, bad move, we’re neck to neck. He is chasing my lone king and… a draw?
Dammit! I’m going to have to see this guy again.
There was still time for my interview.
Kevin Vélez Guerrero is an exchange student from Ecuador. Journalism and photography are his passions. He likes to tell stories, but he writes his own ones from time to time. Motto: “I hate to do plans, I prefer to take the chances.”