You can’t go home right now.
Go to that pizza place that’s always open. Order the buffalo chicken. You have some cash on you from the other day when Uncle Greg slipped you a twenty. That’s enough for two slices. You can have some pizza and check your phone. Play some chess. You need to play more chess. You’re good, but you could be better. You always give up your bishops right off the bat. That’s no way to play. You gotta protect your pieces. I don’t care if the other guy is willing to give up his good pieces; that doesn’t mean you have to.
Sit and play chess and keep your head down and take slow bites to let a little time go by. They’re open until two, and they stay open even if there’s nobody in there, so it’s not like you have to rush. Two is when they close, so there’s no reason for you to be heading back home until at least two fifteen. Park closer to the Marriott so you can give yourself a walk back to the car. That’ll kill some time too. It’s warm out tonight so, if you wanted, you could walk all over town until the sun comes up. You could head home at dawn, or you could wait until 7am when that diner opens up and get yourself a nice breakfast. They take cards there. Not like the pizza place. The pizza place is probably laundering money. Never trust a cash business. I wouldn’t even be sending you in there, but they’re the only ones open late in this town.
It’s safe though. It’s safe and it’s warm out, and those are things you should be taking advantage of, right? When it gets colder, it’s trickier. Then you have to come home. You don’t really have a choice. Remember when you tried to sleep in your car? That didn’t go so well, did it? You also picked a bad spot for it. I never would have told you to park in front of that Walmart, but you weren’t listening to me that night, were you? Tonight, you’re going to listen, right? You’re a much better listener now than you used to be. I’ll give you that.
You’re lucky it’s staying warm later on in the year. That means the world is screwed in the long-term, but for you, it’s good news, isn’t it? It means it might be November or December before you need to start heading home right when the clock strikes two. You better just pray that the pizza place never goes out of business, because then you’ll have to start hanging out in the city again at some of the sketchier spots. You know you can’t be going home any earlier than you already are. You know what’ll happen if you do that, don’t you?
Do you remember that one time you came home right after midnight? Do you remember what a bad idea that was? I mean, right after midnight? What were you thinking? Sleeping in your car was bad, but compared to coming home at 12:15? My god, 12:15? I’m surprised you’re still walking around coming home at a time like that. You should be ashamed of yourself, you really should. You know better. You do know better, don’t you?
Well, I guess we all make mistakes. I know it was raining that night, and you’d been working all day at the Dairy Queen. I know you were exhausted, and you just wanted to go to sleep, but we can’t help the cards that we’re dealt, can we? We’d all like aces, wouldn’t we? We’d all like another queen on the board. That would help, wouldn’t it? But why do you think you’re so unique that you get to have special treatment? Why do you think you deserve another queen on the board and not the guy next to you, huh? You know the girl who works every night until 2am at the pizza place? You think she doesn’t want another queen on the board? Forget about whether or not she plays chess, the point is, if she did, she’d want as many queens as possible. A queen on every square even. But that’s not how life works, is it? Is it?
I hate when you don’t answer me, you know, I really hate it.
Why don’t you go sleep in the bathroom at the Marriott? You’ve done it before, right? It’s not like anyone’s checking. You go in the stall all the way to the end. The handicapped stall. You can stay there until the janitor comes in the morning. Do you know how happy everybody will be at home if you stay out all night? Do you know how excited they’ll be? When you finally do come home, they’ll probably smile at you. Wouldn’t that be nice? Wouldn’t you like to be smiled at for a change? And what’ll it cost you? One night in a bathroom stall in a nice hotel. You think you’re too good to sleep in a bathroom stall? If you ask me, what you need is a little humility. Maybe sleeping on that dank floor while all that muzak plays around you will do you some good. Build character. You know about building character?
I wish you wouldn’t make me talk to you this way. I really do despise it. I’m just here to give you instructions. I’m here to give you good counsel. Go here, go there. Do this, do that. Sneak behind that dumpster and see if there’s any food laying around. Check the back door on that house, and see if it’s open. This whole street is lined with vacation houses on either end. You could stay in some of these for months if you had to. They even leave the electricity on, these rich bastards, do you believe that? Do you believe wasting all that money? You’d never waste money like that if you had it, would you? No, I know you wouldn’t.
Go get your pizza. Order the buffalo chicken. Take small bites. Don’t draw attention to yourself. Don’t take your hat off, leave it on. Play chess on your phone. See if you can figure out how to keep all the good pieces. I know it’s hard. Eventually, you have to give them up. Just hang onto them for as long as you can. Once you give up your first good piece, it all starts to go so fast. The next thing you know, your queen is in trouble.
Once your queen is gone, there’s not much you can do.
It’s a shame they don’t give you another one, huh?
It’s a shame one is all you get.