The Seer (Chapter 09) - Poem by Kim Barney
Charlie was worried, I could tell.
I knew Charlie better than anyone.
When I asked him what was wrong,
He hesitated a long time before answering.
We may be moving away, said Charlie.
Those words hit me like a kick in the
chest by a horse's hoof. That had happened
to me once, and this felt the same.
Why would you me moving? I asked
when I finally found my voice.
My dad just lost a huge sum of money,
and I don't think he can pay what he owes.
Even worse, it may be just my dad who
is leaving. He may be leaving me and
my mom behind. I dreamed last night
that he was in a U-Haul truck, all alone.
That's because you and your mom
would follow in the car, Charlie.
Logical, except in my dream I could
see the car being towed behind
the truck, and it was empty!
How did he lose the money, Charlie?
He bet a huge some of money, and it must
have been to some loan sharks in Las Vegas,
that I would beat Bobby Fischer in that
simultaneous exhibition up in Ogden.
Why would he do that? You had never
even played before! How could he
expect you to win?
My dad thinks I'm a genius, he said.
And I should have beat him, too.
I had a forced mate in seven, but I
pretended not to see it and offered
the draw. Bobby snapped it up!
Why on earth didn't you just
beat him when you had the chance?
Because Bobby's ego couldn't take it.
I could see it in his face. I knew he
was losing one other game, and I
just couldn't do that to him! He could
never take losing to a fourteen-year-old.
He was only fourteen when a lot of
other people lost to him, I said drily.
That's different, said Charlie, but I
really couldn't see how.
Anyway, he continued, I didn't know
about the bet until afterward, and
my dad was really furious with me
when I didn't win the game.
But you didn't lose, either, I said.
Shouldn't that mean that the bet is
canceled and that neither side pays?
That's not how it works, he said.
The bet was that I would win, and
I didn't, so Dad still has to pay.
The next day I went to Charlie's house
before sunup because we were going
to walk up to Water Canyon and go
fishing. He wasn't outside waiting.
I gently tapped on his window,
thinking he must have overslept.
There was no response. I looked in
the driveway and the family car was gone.
I didn't feel like going fishing alone. I
walked back home and put my fishing
pole away. A few hours later I noticed
a U-Haul truck in front of Charlie's house.
To be continued...
Poet's Notes about The Poem
Just find chapter 01, read it and then click the 'next poem' button, which will get you the next chapter.
This is a work of fiction, although some of the people and places (and events) are real. Charlie is a fictional character, totally made up. I have never known anyone like the person he is described as being.
I have never been kicked in the chest by a horse.
Bobby Fischer was a real person, and he really did hate to lose, and not just at chess. He hated to lose at anything. When he played that simultaneous exhibition in Ogden, Utah, in 1964, he stayed at the home of my friend, Carl Thorstensen. I was not there. I had not yet met Carl. I met him later. We became good friends, and he told me the story.
Carl had a table tennis (ping pong) table in the basement of his house. He invited Bobby to play a game, and Bobby agreed. Bobby won quite easily, something like 21 to 14. They played another game and Carl did much better, almost winning several times before Bobby finally managed to win something like 26 to 24. Bobby refused to play any more games.
Someone once asked Bobby what he most liked about playing chess, and his reply was something like this: 'I like to watch my opponent's ego crumble.'
He could dish it out, but he couldn't take it. My fictional Charlie knew that.
(written in Recife, Brazil)
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