sitting on a barstool, looking down into a drink.
i was the only person in the bar, besides the bartender.
then another guy came in.
he looked familiar.
not familiar like i actually knew him from somewhere, but familiar like he looked like some actor.
he sat down at the end of the bar, four or five stools down from me.
he ordered a drink.
we just sat there.
there was a jukebox, but neither of us played it.
finally he looked at me.
"hey," he said.
"what?" i answered.
"can i ask you a question?"
"do you play chess?"
"a little bit."
"want a game?"
i looked around. "you got a board with you?"
"it's almost closing time here anyway," he said.
he had a point. he didn't look crazy, or violent, or like a fag. maybe he would offer me a drink.
"sure, why not?"
we finished our drinks and went outside.
he lived around the corner in an sro hotel. i'd been in it before. a dump, but not a total dump.
we went inside. there was a front desk, but there was nobody behind it.
we took the stairs to his room on the second floor.
"i'd offer you a drink, but i don't have anything." that took care of that.
he got the board out. the room had one little table, and a ratty wicker chair. he sat on the bed and i sat in the chair with the table between us.
i was white. i played the ruy lopez, the only thing i know, the only thing i know by name, really.
he beat me very easily.
he didn't seem too happy about it. "man, that wasn't very good."
"let's play another."
this time he was white. he totally crushed me. i felt embarrassed , even though i didn't really give a shit.
"man, you suck. you can't play at all."
"sorry. you didn't ask me if i was bobby fischer, just if i wanted to play."
"i know, i know. i'm sorry, that was rude. i'm just disappointed, that's all." he pushed the table aside and stood up. "i thought you might give me a game."
he went over to the window and looked out . "i thought you might give me a good game."
there didn't seem to be anything more to say. we had already established that he wasn't going to give me a drink.
it didn't look like he was going to offer me anything else, a cigarette maybe, or some dope, or to watch the little old tv with a rabbit ear antenna.
i got up and left. he didn't say anything more and neither did i.
i started down the stairs. i could hear a dog start to bark.
when i got to the bottom of the stairs, there was the dog. some kind of nasty little bulldog thing - i'm not really up on dogs. and really barking now.
i tried to go past it and it bit me on the leg - hard. really clamped down.
"sarah! bad girl! bad girl!" i heard an old lady yelling at the dog.
i got sick from it. it wasn't rabies, but some other shit. i was in the hospital for months.
i almost died.