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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Son's Gambit


DAD- A forty-something male

SON- A twenty-something male

TIME: The present.

At Rise: Lights rise. SON and DAD are sitting at a table CS playing chess with a game clock. SON is playing white. Behind them is a screen on which a close-up of the chess game is projected.

SON (plays d4): I haven't seen you much lately. (Presses game clock button)

DAD: Yeah. (Plays d5; presses game clock button)

(SON pauses, looks at DAD, then plays c4; presses game clock button.)

DAD: Queen's Gambit, huh?

SON: There's something I've been wanting to talk to you about.

DAD (smiles): A bold move, but I think I'll decline. (Plays e6; presses game clock button)

SON: Can't we have a real conversation for once?

DAD (looks SON in the eyes): OK. When am I gonna see you in church?

SON (sighs): Dad, I...uh...You know I can't go back to that life.

DAD: That's what I thought. Your mother has wept and prayed for you and lost sleep for countless nights.

SON: It's not as if I don't believe in Jesus anymore. (Plays Nf3; presses game clock button) I just don't like your particular interpretation of Him.

DAD: Why are you upset? (Plays Bb4) You're the one who wanted a real conversation. (Hits game clock button)

SON: That's not what I'm talking about. (plays Qd2; slams game clock button) You always do this. You've always done this! You turn everything around the wrong way.

DAD: And you've always blamed me for everything! (Plays Nc6; slams game clock button hard) Why don't you accept responsibility?

SON: I'm not trying to blame anyone. (Plays a3; presses game clock button) I just want to understand--

DAD: You'll never get me. (Plays Bxd2; presses game clock button) (Chuckling) Got your queen.

(SON plays Nfxd2; presses game clock button. DAD is concentrating on board.)

SON: Dad, I...What was your father like? I mean, how did he treat you?

DAD: Seriously? (Plays Nxd4) Don't even bother. (Presses game clock button)

SON: Huh? (Plays e3; presses game clock button)

DAD: I told you, (Plays Nc2+) you'll never get me. (Presses game clock button) Check.

SON (plays Kd1): You never really talk about him. (Presses game clock button)

DAD (plays Nxa1): How's that? (Presses game clock button)

SON: Did he ever treat you with love... (Plays cxd5) ...or affection? (Presses game clock button) I mean--

DAD: I never lacked anything! (Plays exd5) I always had food enough and clothes and shelter. (Slams game clock button)

SON: There's more to life than food and shelter! (Plays Bb5; slams game clock button)

DAD: Just what are you getting at? (Plays c6; hits game clock button)
SON: I just want to understand why you are the way you are. (Plays Ba4; hits game clock button)

DAD (plays Qg5): What does that mean? (Slams game clock button hard)

SON: I...Um... (Plays f4; presses game clock button)

DAD (plays Qg4+): Check. (Slams game clock button) What do you want from me?

SON (plays Ke1; slams game clock button hard) (Anguished): I just want peace!

DAD: Well, you'll never have peace acting this way! (Plays Qh4+) Check. (Slams game clock button hard) Get a hold of yourself, son!

SON: What have I done wrong that you treat me like this? (Plays Kd1; slams game clock button) Why have you always treated me like this?

DAD (Plays Bg4+): Check. (Slams game clock button)

SON (plays Nf3): Why do you act so aloof? (Slams game clock button)

(DAD sighs and plays Qg1; hits game clock button.)

SON (plays Re1): Answer me, damnit! (Slams game clock button hard)

DAD: Don't talk to me that way!

Son: Look...I'm sorry, I'm just tired of you treating me this way!

DAD: There you go blaming me again! Why do you have these outbursts? You need to control yourself and stop acting like this! And what kind of language is that anyway? (Plays Bxf3+) Check. You sure didn't learn that from your mother and me, did you?! (Slams game clock button hard) And how have I ever treated you wrong?

SON (furrows eyebrow; plays Re2; hits game clock button) (Softly): Can't you just be nice and stop hurting me?

DAD (plays Qxe2#): Checkmate. (Presses game clock button)

SON (after pause): You know, I used to get so upset when you'd beaten me, but now, I don't care. I cried myself to sleep countless nights. I felt so destroyed by you for so long. I don't even care anymore.

DAD: Well, being composed is an important skill in chess. If you can't control yourself you'll never be a good player. That's why I'm so good. I'm always under control; I don't let my emotions run away.

SON: I'm not talking about the game, Dad. (Walks off-stage L)

(DAD looks puzzled. Lights down.)

Copyright © 2011 David S. Robinson. Any part of this work may be transmitted, preformed or otherwise used in any form, so long as 1) I am clearly identified as the author, 2) a link or URL to this site is included, and 3) no changes are made without my prior written consent.

p.s. Feel free to comment on anything you liked or didn't like. :)

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