AS YET UNTITLED
Prologue: My Opening Move
LIFE IS A GAMBIT, and the outcome is uncertain. That's what I've learned over the past thirty-two years. There are always two givens: birth and death, but the rest? The rest is up to you, and the moves that you make or don't make. Some of your decisions give you a definite advantage, while others cause you to suffer devastating loss. Then there's the element of unpredictability: you never know what life holds in store. The future is always hidden, no matter what the psychics on 1-900 hotlines say. It is this unpredictability, this uncertainty, that has gotten me into my present predicament. Once upon a time, I had my life all planned out, and every single one of those plans has come to naught. Such is life, I suppose.
Right now I'm at a bus station--or, should I say a motel with one room set aside as a waiting room. The compartment is rather small, with four orange plastic chairs melded to a long iron bar. I've never understood why some people think that's an efficient seating arrangement, unless they don't want others to steal or damage the chairs. Also, these seats can only be described as "chairs" in a very primitive sense. They don't have a real "back" or legs. They're more like four smooth plastic contours that are supposed to be molded to the shape of one's body (but really aren't). There are no other furnishings in the room except a poster advertising the bus company and a TV (on) bolted to the wall in the far upper-right-hand corner. I watch.
The sound is off, but I can hear the bells of Christmas jingling far and wide--or is that the ringing of cash registers? No matter. The holiday season is all about giving, and if I had money to spare, I'd buy my family the coolest and most expensive gifts I could. I like seeing the surprise and delight on their faces when they unwrap something epically awesome from me. This year? I'll be lucky if I can afford to give them what they actually want instead of some plastic trinket from a dollar store that falls apart as soon as they try to use it! I know that Christmas isn't about presents, or at least it's not supposed to be, but I view gifts as a reflection of love. If I had a million dollars, I'd give it all to them and tell them to split it equally. Alas! I've only got about $500.
Unemployment sucks, but you know what sucks more? Unemployment money running out. I haven't been able to find a job in my neck of the woods, even with (read: especially with) my disability. Waitressing and food service are out, because I'm so accident-prone that I'd spill food all over the customers on the first day! That leaves administrative-assistant jobs, which I want but are few and far between. Many more people apply for those positions than actually acquire them. Still, I've tried and tried. All I can do now is try...
You might ask: if I'm so broke, and my unemployment insurance is coming to an end, why am I at a bus station with only $500 in my pocket? Whither do I wander, you wonder? The answer: I'm off to Las Vegas, Nevada, for a grand event called the U.S. Ultimate Chess Tournament. The top prize? A ten-million dollar payout, which in this economy equals financial security for the rest of your life! I'm very good at chess, especially when I'm practicing with the two men who have meant the most in it--my uncle, who first taught me how to play, and my coach, a man named Price Pierce. Got to love that name! He and I play almost every Tuesday night at our local chess club. His advice? "You lost? That's how you learn--by getting beat." I've learned well...
There's another reason I'm headed to sunny Las Vegas: I've heard the casino that's hosting the U.S. Ultimate is hiring people. Goodness knows I haven't been able to find anything yet around here! The casino's brand new, a top-of-the-line luxury hall intending to rival those like the Bellagio and MGM Grand. Donald Trump is even getting a run for his money, I've heard. Surprisingly, it's called La Vie.
I guess the people who run the casino think that life is not only a gambit,
but a gamble.
I guess they're right on both counts. Sure, you can try to make all the right choices, as I have, but when everything falls apart so suddenly...Ah! Enough complaining. That's life.
Another traveler ambled into the motel-room-cum-bus-station: a black woman, tall and hefty, pulling a suitcase on wheels held together with duct tape. The bag was full to bursting, as was mine, but mine's a duffel bag that used to belong to my dad. He no longer used it, as he is retired from the company advertised on it: "The World's Best Educators Work at Techlan Learning Center." He used to be a tutor for what are now called "at-risk children and youth". It's funny, because I used to be deemed one of them. I wasn't a troublemaker or anything like that, but kids with disabilities are almost automatically "at risk" no matter what condition they may have. I was lucky. Most kids (and my dad would say most kids who didn't use Techlan) wound up on the "wrong side of the tracks" and the losers' side of the board.
Ha! Now look at me. I've never seen a better definition of the word "irony"...
The black lady glanced at me. "What time is it?" She didn't have a watch.
"It's just about 9:40." The bus left at 10:00 AM, and we were both waiting.
"Is Stuntastic on?" That's the latest, greatest, and most dangerous new reality show. Luckily, no one's been hurt or killed--yet. It's a huge hit.
I shook my head. "Naw. That show doesn't come on 'till 7:00 PM."
The lady shook hers in return. "Man! I must have my days
I completely understood. When you have no schedule, time becomes a blur...
Suddenly, we heard a loud screech outside and the sudden hiss of brakes being relased. I hoisted my heavy black duffel bag into my lap, stood up, and headed out toward the waiting bus. My fellow passenger followed behind me.
Destiny awaited. Who knew what turn the game of our lives would take?