Park Ave Chapter 4: A Charles Splints Case
By Dan Leicht
At the bar I tried to figure out what could have been taken from my apartment before the arsonist burnt it down. With the TV on someone had been in there and deliberately turned it to the foggy channel. Sometimes Glenn and I would put that one on during a match to drown out the other’s muttering. Had Hardrow been in my apartment and turned it on out of habit? I asked the barkeep for a double, down it, and head out towards the hospital.
The nurse at the front desk was blonde with thick black rimmed glasses warn out on the sides. Throughout our two minute conversation she took them off four times to rub her eyes, probably working the longest shift of her life. Welcome to adulthood, you’ll sleep better in your sixties…so they tell me. She let me know the room of Hardrow after a bit of explaining our relationship. “We play chess a couple times a week, more his idea than mine. He hasn’t beaten me yet, but always thinks ‘today’s the day’. He drinks vodka on the rocks, supplies it himself of course.”
I knocked on room thirty-two before creaking the door open. Hardrow had the TV on the foggy channel at a low volume. I sat by his bedside and grabbed his unopened pudding cup. Between mouthfuls of butterscotch I asked him how his night went.
“Crazy thing, wanting to listen to the white noise like that. Guess you grew used to it during our matches all those times.” Without a vocal response he looked over at me, a dead glare in his eyes. He looked as if he’d been beaten by an ex-wife at Monopoly. I prodded him for a few more questions but he wasn’t biting. I pressed the call button by his fingertips to signal the nurse.
“Is there something wrong?” she asked as she stood by the door, in one hand on a container of piss, the other holding a crumbled up light green gown.
“Do you guys have chess here at all? My buddy here could use a game to get his mind off the night’s events.”
“Sure thing. I’ll be back in a few minutes.”
Once the match was set up on the platter they had placed on his lap I took the first pawn out to pasture. He stared down at his options. He always played his first pawn like a mirror version to my own, but this time he moved a knight out into the open.
Check out Chapters 1-3
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