s

...

"And all those little white lies you held inside? They sprout like weeds from the unfiltered dust that remains...."

end game
fiction by john richen


A lot of things go through a guy's head when he's flying. Like, I wonder about my pants. If there's an insurance card in my wallet. If my deodorant is still on guard against offensive scents. I wonder if they'll pick up nicotine in my blood test seeing as I've got 'non-smoker' on my life insurance policy.

That's the thing about the end -- if you don't expect it it's a surprise. You don't have time to tidy up loose threads, put those affairs in order, get your act together. And all those little white lies you held inside? They sprout like weeds from the unfiltered dust that remains.

Still, maybe it's better that way. Maybe that's just fine. Because why worry about who's going to inherit the old alto sax while you're still playing it? Earmark the fishing rods while you're still catching dinner with them? Toss the skin mags stashed in the crawl space while you've still not read all the articles. I don't know, but I've never given that sort of business much thought at all.

Who's gonna feed the cat? There's an ant problem developing in the kitchen. What about the MasterCard bill? Cemetery, mausoleum, or funeral pyre?

There's some people that would call that irresponsible, I suppose, but it's never really struck me that way. I look at it more as a lack of focus on the endgame. For example: I blow at chess. I'm fascinated by how the pieces move and capture things, the pattern on the board and the weight of the tokens in my hand. But the word 'checkmate' holds no sway over me. Just can't think three moves ahead.

Or maybe, like the counselor said, it's a chemical thing. ADD. BPD. OCD. There's a nifty letter combo for every bio-chemical eruption these days.

...................................BFD.

(Boredom?)

My girlfriend takes the offensive and tells me I'm not happy with myself, which is news to me. She informs me I'm depressed. Very matter-of-factly. Which also strikes me as odd. I don't feel depressed. Depressed is sad. I'm not sad.

Am I?

The funny thing about it all is that I could see that next move coming, in a roundabout way that is. I knew I should have replaced that cable instead of torquing it down until the hex nut stripped out. I thought it would hold another day at least. But I was pretty sure it wouldn't.

Poor positional defense. Calculated, nonetheless.

I've knocked through the railing. I guess this is what flying feels like. It's actually kind of cool, this flying. And the funny thing is that I'm not worried about so much my pants, but my underwear. What's this? A move in front! Are they clean enough? Is this what they mean by pounding a cliche into the ground?

The flight doesn't look like it's going to end neatly. But I am not sad.

Am I?

Check-

................. ....I'm out of moves...

..............................................................and -

...............................................................................mate.

(illustration: kurt eisenlohr)


archive index | current issue


©2004 John Richen • Smokebox
Smokebox is a non-commercial, volunteer driven e-zine
uncredited images used are for journalistic purposes only