Well, you were never a saint, that’s true. No one’s questioning you on that. When you put it that way, ha, yes, of course, you never did make the list of the 10 most faithful husbands (Oh that incorrigible glint in your eye, no way you’re as pure as driven snow!), but that’s what makes this funny, comical, eh, lighthearted at least. Like this game you’re playing now, playing chess against kids, just a bit of fun. You got married to get out of the house, David*, married to get yourself out of Texas, East Texas, appendix of the world (ha!). You got married so that you could go find something else, something meaningful. But you settled after a while, after a long while, true, but you settled eventually (oh, you meshuggeneh, crazy, funny man, you know what I mean, give up on sex, now, why should you?). And here you are, out of the house, now, but you never came here before your wife died (look, don’t get mad when someone tells it like it is). But no sense in thinking about that now, nothing you can do about it, you should concentrate.
Your move again. Your opponent, a thoughtful six-year-old boy, is quick. Not like your last match, with the kid who was truly terrible (I mean, seriously, the kid must have been half-retarded), when checkmate came so quickly. It’s a fading hope now. You’ve taken a lot of time off from the game. You played a lot when you were younger, just to pass the time, but life got in the way and chess was never really a big thing. But then your wife died (Forty-five years together, can you believe that?), and now you’ve got all this time on your hands. But focus. Look. Your queen is being threatened. She’s helpless, David. Not like your wife was all those years ago, the wife who was engaged to someone else, the wife who took you by the throat, slammed you against the wall (and, you’ll admit, you definitely liked that) and told you to ask her parents for permission to marry her. And you did — but not before that pre-marital nuptial honeymoon with the Mexican Airlines stewardess, but, come on now, that was something no warm-blooded man could turn down. When the end comes for this queen, and it will come, there is nothing you can do about it if you still hope to win (smart move by the boy), at least it will be quick. Not like it was for your wife, my how she suffered, wilting slowly, diabetes, kidney failure, everything really, everything but cancer (funny how that works out, the thing you’re most afraid of is the one that never ends up killing you). But you never really loved her. You believe in screwing around but you don’t believe in divorce. But you’re lonely now, that’s odd. But focus.
You look down at the board now, David, your hands mashed against your cheeks, smoothing out deep furrows, your sunken eyes suddenly reappearing. You don’t know when this all happened, when you got old, so quickly, but you’re not worried, no sense in worrying, nothing you can do about it, no sense in making yourself mad. Yeah. Why dwell? No sense in dwelling because, you realize, searching for an answer is just silly. Look at you. Successful smart man, millionaire several times over, but you know what you are. You’re nothing to write home about, but look, you’re here, perfect health and endless money and you didn’t even love your wife all that much. And you always had mistresses, and you still do. You have two pictures in your wallet of mistresses, a 35-year-old Puerto Rican and a 23-year-old Dominican. What’s the harm in that? They call you Big Daddy and The World’s Greatest Teacher (and another one, that 21-year-old, she called you the Energizer Bunny, now how many old men can say they heard that?) and you help them out, what’s a little money? And look, your wife suffered, what a decent woman she was, and you, well, you’re still here. Yes, the Germans have a saying. Weeds don’t perish (ha!). So true, sadly. Well, not sadly really. You’re not sure if you even cried when your wife went through all that. You know, they really should make a TV show about the world’s great meshuggenehs, wouldn’t that be fantastic?
You see now that things don’t always turn out as you planned. You are 77, David, and you are backing into a corner slowly, the boy chipping away at what you have. You touch the king. Your all-powerful king, he depends entirely on others, silly way to live. You’d do something drastic now, but you can’t. Rules of the game, only so much you can do. Well, no sense in dwelling on what you can’t change. It’ll only make you mad. Well. You know it isn’t always like that, David, you know that, it’s why you’re alive at all. You’re an Austrian Jew, David; you know what these situations are like. You see something that seems so right, and some schmuck just wants to take it away, what does it matter if he’s six. You dealt with a whole nation against you, David, and you were eight then. Well. Your mother did too. They arrested your uncle in Vienna, the Nazis, the German Nazi bastards. And you saw your mother leave the house one day, you saw her go. Your mother went to go see Eichmann (that big time son of a bitch was in charge, yes, the Eichmann), she just walked in. Your mother was a Jew, David, an Austrian Jew and she just walked up and talked to Eichmann and it was 1940 and she walked up and talked to Eichmann, but you don’t know what she could have said. And the son of a bitch let your uncle go. You don’t know. You’re crying now, David. The son of a bitch let him go. You’re crying.
But focus. You see an opening, you might win. You place your hand on the knight, and move it slowly. You put it down, and smile. You see the six-year-old lower his head in defeat. And you’re happy now. Tenth place in a cross-generational chess tournament. When you were a younger man, a businessman working in Europe, you had a plaque on the wall. You had a plaque made that said, “Today Germany, tomorrow the world.” And here you are, David. You’ve got it all. You’ve got two pictures in your wallet, and your women call you Daddy and Bunny, and you’re rich now, David, but the son of a bitch, that son of a bitch with all the power let your uncle go. And you’re crying. And your family was ruined, and your mother was paranoid and never admitted that the war was over. And you’re lonely, David, but you don’t see why, and that’s why you’re playing chess here all day. You used to watch the Lone Ranger, David, you said so yourself, and you remember that one scene and you laugh and laugh. There was a scene, this was way back, where the Lone Ranger and his sidekick, Tonto (an Indian guy), the two of them ride into a valley. And all of the sudden Indians emerge in the hills above the Lone Ranger. And the Lone Ranger turns to Tonto and he says, “What are we going to do, Tonto?” And Tonto looks at him, and then looks at the hills full of Indians, and then steps back, and says, “What do you mean ‘we,’ white man?”
Ha, well. Huh.
You’re alone now, David. n