Check Mate

By Jon Moray

This story was first published in an online market called Story Shack Magazine in June, 2014. This piece focuses on two games, Chess and life. In one game there is one winner, the other, none. Enjoy!

“How about a game of Chess?“ asked Susan, with bouncing eyebrows, while wiping away chicken dinner scraps with a damp sponge from the ceramic-top dining room table.

Hal looked at her puzzled, with the thought that they had never played Chess on a weekday, let alone right after dinner. He rubbed his grizzled chin into a scratch and reluctantly accepted her challenge.

Susan made a quick shuttle to and from the living room and returned with a Golden Rosewood wooden chess set with drawers that housed the Staunton designed pieces. She sat opposite him and went to work assembling the board, setting up the tan wood pieces on her side, leaving him the black pieces.

“Ready,” she announced, as Hal turned away from perusing stocks on his tablet.

“Ladies first, Hon,” he said, listlessly.

Her lips pursed and her nose crinkled, revealing her “deep in strategy expression,” only to move the pawn in front of the king, two spaces up; it was always her first move of the game. Hal quickly countered, moving his pawn in front of his queen one space forward; it was always his first move of the game. She picked up the knight on her right, rubbed its billiard cloth base, and slowly positioned it two spaces up and one space to the far right of the board. They went back and forth several turns until Susan managed to capture one of his rooks and a bishop. Hal managed to remove two of her pawns.

While massaging the coronet of her queen, she blurted out, “We need to talk,” staring purposely at his round freckled face. Hal looked up, caught her intent gaze and quickly returned his focus back on the board.

He cleared his throat, swallowed hard and finally asked, “What about, Babe?”

“Who is Jill?” she asked coldly, suddenly changing the complexion of the game.

The name “Jill” brought shivers to his spine, as he cocked his shoulders to combat the sudden involuntary reaction. She positioned her queen diagonally across the board and in direct striking distance of his king.

“Check,” she said, in a little over a mumble, with glossed marble blue eyes, which reminded Hal of the first time they had met. Her game-face stare was defined by her pursed lips that crinkled the space between her eyebrows. Her eyes volleyed back and forth on his tired brown eyes and dry mouth, searching for answers.

“I don’t know. Who’s Jill anyway?“ he offered, as he wiped away the emerging sweat from his forehead and recovered by moving his knight, blocking her queen’s momentum to victory.

“Don’t play dumb. I know about your tryst with her.”

The back and forth accusations and denials rendered him distracted, while she methodically stripped him of valuable pieces from the board. She dominated the game and was moving in for the kill.

“Why don’t you just admit it? I deserve the truth, dammit!”

“I don’t know a Jill, in fact, I don’t even think I have ever met anyone named Jill in my life,” he stammered, curling his fingers under his palms. His eyes shifted back and forth across the board, flustered, and hoping the agonizing interrogation would end. He moved his knight away from his king in attempt to set up her rook.

She gawked at the contrast between the wood-tone and dark brown colored squares on the chess board, mentally compared it to their relationship and snickered at the irony. She exhaled deeply and gently guided his chin up and he caught a glimpse of her welled eyes. She grabbed a manila folder from the seat beside her, opened it slowly and revealed two 8×10 provocative photos of him and Jill that she printed from Jill’s Facebook page. One picture showed them locked in an eyes closed French kiss and the other of him cupping her breast over her black satin night dress while her hand rested over his crotch area.

Deflated and defeated, he studied the overwhelming damaging evidence, as she positioned her Queen two spaces in front of his King.

“Check mate,” she whispered, sniffing back tears.


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