The Strategy Game


I'm a boy in the basement of the house where I grew up.

I'm in the room that used to be my older brother's bedroom but he's since moved out. It's a spare room now, seldom used. The room has fake oak wood paneling and blue carpet.

There is a wall in this room that my father designed to open so that he could access the furnace that was hidden behind it. I'd always liked this wall because it reminded me of the secret doors you'd expect find in a haunted castle.

I open the wall. Inside the wall, tucked at the foot of the furnace are five or six board games all with military-strategy themes. The game boxes are well decorated with colorful illustrations of medieval knights engaged in battle.

I open one of the boxes and find several game pieces shaped like knights. I pick one up in my hand--a knight, taller than the other figures, and gangly, wearing full armor. I hold him by the helmet from the tip of my fingers. He begins to move comically, swinging his his spindly arms and loping his legs as if trying to walk on air.

My father appears in the room, he's crouched down next to me, just outside the hidden compartment, so that he is facing me and our faces are level.

He smiles at me and seems proud of me for finding the games. He tells me the game I am holding was invented by a former classmate of his at Cal Tech. He tells me that this former classmate later committed suicide. He starts to tell the story of how this man committed suicide, and suddenly I am in the story, and I am the man that my father is talking about.

In this story, I am in the parking lot of the Pizza Hut near where my parents live. I am backing a compact sport truck out of a parking space when I accidentally back into another car, smashing it's front end. It's a mid 80's VW Scirroco (sp?) that is painted black and has black tinted windows. The impact of the crash has somehow caused a cinder block to smash into the hood of the car where it rests.

I can't see the driver of the black car, but I know the driver is at the wheel and angry at me for hitting the car. I drive away quickly but the black car with the cinder block pursues me.

I wake up.

9/99