Mom and Dad

Barb Phillips

Lila Ashby

Arlyn Fisk

Stan Fisk

Mike Preslar

Debbie Tarr

Randy Ashby

Jerry Ashby

Danny Ashby

Jack Ashby

Dale Fisk

Dana Kellerman

Venus Zook

Mandy Miller

Sweet Evie

Luna Belle

Onion Soup

Poetry

Odds & Ends

Trivial Stuff

He opened the door to his third floor apartment and saw his brother seated on the sofa, drink in hand.

"Oh, hello Phil", he said, somewhat taken aback as he removed his shoes and placed them on a mat near the door.

Phil nodded his head in Rogerís direction as he raised his glass and took a sip of his Manhattan. Jo Ann was seated on the arm of the couch, wearing the green skirt Phil had given her for her birthday. Her legs were crossed.

"I asked Phil over for dinner tonight. I was making chicken casserole and I know itís his favorite, so I thought it would be nice if he enjoyed it, too."

Roger nodded silently and went into the kitchen. He detested chicken casserole. He put his lunch box on the counter then turned into the bathroom to wash up. He was tired after a day at the factory and wanted only to eat and relax with a good book. With Phil here again that would be impossible.

"Dinnerís ready, Rog," his wife called. "Weíve only been waiting for you."

Roger studied himself in the mirror. His thought turned to the day he met Jo Ann. It was the first week of college. He saw her sitting alone on a bench under a shade tree reading a book. He gazed long at her flowing blond hair trying to summon the courage to approach her. He finally did.

"Excuse me," he said somewhat awkwardly. "Arenít you in My English class, professor Holcombe, nine oíclock?"

She lifted her head slowly from the book and fixed her blue eyes directly on his. Rogerís knees trembled.

"Why, yes, I am," she replied and broke into a full smile.

From that crude beginning Rogerís dismal life took a turn for the better. He found someone to love and he would walk through Mordor itself if it took that to make Jo Ann happy.

Just then the bathroom door opened and Jo Ann popped her head in. "Roger, come on. The food is on the table. Stop daydreaming and get in here." He noticed a touch of irritation that was common in her voice lately. She is always in a hurry, he thought.

Dinner went slowly. Phil and Jo Ann kkept up the conversation. Roger was silent except to reply to Philís challenge to a chess game after the meal. They had played chess together somewhat regularly since high school. Phil always displayed a mastery of the game and took real pleasure in showing it.

Jo Ann was singing as she tidied up the kitchen and Roger set up the chess board. It irritated Roger. Phil laughed. Roger moved first,

  1. P-K4 followed by Phil 1. P-QB4.
  2. Quickly came the next pair of moves,

  3. N-KB3 P-Q3.

The Sicilian Defense. Roger recognized it immediately. Phil seemed to always follow this opening maneuver, Roger thought. He looked hard at his brotherís facae. Taut lines of concentration were apparent. To Phil this was not merely a game. It was a battle of mental prowess; of power. He loved this game and he loved his display of superiority on the chess board. He hated losing. At anything.

Roger moved, 3. P-Q4 and Phil quite promptly swiped the meat that was fed up to him, 3. PxP. 4. NxP came Rogerís counter-attack and Phil settled into thought. He rubbed his clean-shaven face, then leaned back in his chair and lit a cigarette.

"Like one, Roger," he asked, knowing full well his brother didnít smoke.

"Of course not," came the reply. He clenched his fists in hopeless fury.

Phil used the momentery break in concentration to size up his opponent. He took a long drag of his cigarette and looked through the opening into the kitchen Jo Ann smiled at him. Roger coughed nervously. "Your turn, Phil."

4. N-KB3 came Philís move. An attempt to swoop in on an unprotected pawn. Roger covered it with, 5. N-QB3. He now held rather modest control of the center, Phil, undaunted, took Roger by surprise with 5. P-QR3. 6. B-KN5 P-K3 7. P-B4 Q-N3.

Roger advanced his position while Phil was using his queen to prepare an attack from the weak side. Roger noticed the poisoned-pawn variation that Phil was employing. It is a dominant game but can easily backfire without carefully planned tactics.

Roger studied the board. Phil snuffed out his cigarette then in his own matter-of-fact manner he said, "Roger, Jo Ann doesnít love you anymore."

An alarm sounded inside Rogerís head which obliterated all his sense. He tried puttin his hands over his ears. It didnít work.

"All this time Iíve been spending here, you didnít believe it was to see you, do you, dear brother?" This remark was so casual and so sarcastic that it put Roger completely out of sorts He had suspected foul play for nearly four months but he never let his thought known, not even completely to himself. How could he? This was his brother and his wife, for Godís sake! The sound of his brother saying to his face so blatantly was too much for him to digest at once. There was so much he wanted to say; so many things he was going to throw at him that he found himself completely helpless and speechless. No sound would emerge from his trembling lips.

Phil clearly enjoyed the advantage he held over his older brother. Their father was a fighter. Philís first fight came on his first day in the first grade. He had won. Roger had tried to stop him. His father praised Phil and ignored Roger. His mother ignored them both. Phil taunted Roger endlessly from then on. "Scaredy cat, scaredy cat, afraid of a little rat," he used to say. It would drive Roger to tears. His father only laughed and patted Phil on his head.

The initial shock had departed. After all, I have suspected for a long time. Why should I cave in now, he thought? He covered Philís advanced queen with, 9. N-N3 putting a stopper on his hopes for early conquest. Phil backed off 9. Q-R6.

Roger advanced suddenly in an exchange of pieces. 10. BxN. This move startled Phil who scrutinized the board in an attempt to uncover a secret plot.

"Is she in love with you?" Roger asked.

Phil nodde. Roger thought about the bicycle his uncle Irving gave him in seventh grade. His parents took it away from him and gave it to Phil. Said Roger was older now and could ride the bus to school. Phil wanted a bike and they couldnít afford another one, so Rogerís was sacrificed. Then later, when Phil had loaned his bike to a friend, something they expressly forbade Roger to do, and the friend wrecked it, his father bought Phil a new one. When Roger found out he ran to the basement and cried.

10. PxB. Phil laughed. 11. B-K2 P-KR4. Roger was preparing for his next move, 12. O-O. He castled to protect his king. This game he was in time.

Jo Ann glided through the room. She ws still singing. She turned towards Phil and said, "Donít beat him too badly, Phil. After all, he is your brother." The irony of her remark struck Roger full force. He tried to ignore it. Jo Ann went to the closet by the door and took out her coat. Rogerís blank eyes followed her as she waltzed back into the bedroom. Phil continued to study his next move.

12. N-B3. 13. K-R1 completing the protection of his king. "You are taking her away with her tonight, huh Phil?" Roger appealed.

Phil blundered, 13. B-Q2. No response.

14. N-N1 in a dramatic move to trap hi queen, Philís piece de resistance, met feebly with 14. Q-N5.

"Roger," Phil began, "Do you still love that wretch?"

15. Q-K3 P-Q4 16. PxP N-K2

"I do", Roger murmured weakly.

Then youíre a bigger fool than I thought," Phil replied.

17. P-B4 N-B4. Phil was putting pressure on Rogerís queen. He would have to move it. 18. Q-Q3.

Phil had noticed an increase in the tempo of the game. He deliberately slowed it down. He lit another cigarette then decided to have a drink. He went over to the bar and mixed another Manhattan. "Fix you one, Rog?" he asked. No response. Roger didnít like to drink during the week.

He heard the sound of a drawer opening from the bedroom. He used to love to hear that sound in the evening. Then he knew she was readying herself for bed and Roger would soon follow. Tonight the drawers echoed loudly in his ears. His temples were pulsating rapidly. Phil returned to his seat. "Ah," he sighed as he sipped a mouthful of the liquid. "Where were we?"

The tempo returned as before when Phil finally made his move. Roger had studied carefully and he resolved exactly what to do.

18. P-R5 19. B-N4 N-Q3 20. N/1-Q-2 P-B4 21. P-QR3 Roger ignored the danger to his bishop and renewed his attack on Philís queen. This time he felt there could be no escape.

"So sheís leaving me for you brother," Roger muttered matter-of-factly. "Well, I only care about her happiness. If she really wants you, then I will reluctantly give her up."

21. Q-N3 Philretreated. His face was stern but somewhat shaken. "You give her up," he said, "So easily?" 22. P-B5 Q-N4 He maneuvered forth and back 23. Q-QB3 PxB Phil smiledgrimly as he lifted the bishop from the board. He felt he held the overall game advantage now. But Roger was looking several moves ahead.

"I give her up," Roger said, "Because I care about her. I love her and I care about her. More than I care about myself." 24. P-QR4 P-R6 25. PxQ Roger had just captured the most powerful piece on the board. Phil stormed in anger 25. PxP "Check," he stated. A futile effort at the onset. 26. KxP.

"Then why do you not fight for her?" Phil demanded. 26. R-R6.

"I am fighting for her. But I donít expect you to understand," Roger said. "I give in. I love her, yes. But I will not keep her against her will. If she has decided that you are to care for her and not me, even though it grieves me, well, well, I will accept it." 27. Q-B6 NxP 28. N-K4 RxN 29. P-B6 QNPxP.

Phil remained strangely silent. He seemed to hold a certain dominion over the situation that Roger didnít like. Roger shifted nervously in his seat. 30. N-N6 Jo Ann was in the bathroom now. Probably applying the finishing touches to her makeup Roger thought. A glint of sunshine reflected off her hair in his memory and he smiled. 30. N-B2 in a commanding move. 31. Q-R8 after which Phil followed with a feeble attack on Rogerís knight. 31. P-KB3. To which Roger responded with, 32. N-R7.

Roger was watching his arrogant brother study the chess board. Several years ago he abandoned his career quest for lack of money after only one semester of college. Phil went to college, however. When Philís turn came his parents had the money. Roger had reasoned it all out for the best. After all, Phil was the smart one and Roger had wanted to marry Jo Ann anyway. He was resoning for the best again.

Phil groped for a way out. The game was against him now. He flew at Rogerís king in a barren attempt to save himself. 32. R-N7 check. 33. K-R1 Roger backed away masterfully. 33. NxP Phil knew the game was lost but he would not resign. He liked to make his opponent fight to the bitter finish. He would settle for nothing less than checkmate.

And then it came, 24. QxB checkmate!

The outcome of the game once and for all decided, Phil bluntly spoke. "I am through with Jo Ann, Roger. I had no intentions of leaving with her. She means nothing to me. Nothing at all. Now if youíll excuse me, I have to be going."

Phil finished his drink, stood up, put his coat on and walked across the room. Roger watched him. He opened the door of the apartment and left.

Just then Jo Ann entered the room, smelling sweet and looking pretty. "What did he do, Roger? Beat you again?"

Roger winced, then stared vacantly at the chess board.