Day 1 – The Final Move

Word Count: 1102.



A puff of smoke rose from his cigar and spiralled its way up to the ceiling. He inhaled the tobacco through his dry lips and stared dead ahead at the peeling wallpaper, marred yellow by the years of suffocating smoke and the stench of alcohol.


Ford was in some dive of a hotel, somewhere just out of the centre of town and off the radar for anyone hoping to track him down. It was one of those old hotels, perhaps a haven forty years ago. It had a bar downstairs so old and decaying that the scratches in the glasses could tell many, many tales. The bell boy at reception seemed to crawl out of the woodwork when Ford had stepped through the door. A quick signature in a dusty old black book and he was walking passed ancient, peeling wall paper and ascending into the dizzy heights of marijuana infested floor five.


He was in the best suite of the hotel. Stealthiness aside, he still wanted at least some form of decorum. It had been about four minutes before he’d needed his first cigar. Ford was now on his fourth.



Every third or fourth minute he checked his watch. Rolex, white gold. Yates was late. But for a man he’d only met twice before, he was not sure if this was something to be concerned about. Ford checked his watch again. A knock at the door.


Ford looked up. From the crack underneath the door he could see a silhouette of two feet. Ford got up from the sofa and made his way to the door, readying himself. Tonight was going to be one of the last nights of calm he would have for a long time.


He opened the door just a crack and saw the man that he was meant to meet. His face was a little older than when they’d last met. There were more wrinkles and lines; perhaps a couple of pounds of weight had been gained. But it was still the same man; older, heavier and a little balder.


“Hi,” he said, quite calmly, as if meeting a close friend.


“Come in,” Ford opened the door wide and let Yates in. “Drink?”


“Yes,” Yates replied, clearing his throat, “Yes. I’m sorry I was late. I thought someone was following me.”


“Following you?” Ford looked concerned and checked the corridor before closing the door. There was no one outside.


“It’s alright. I lost them regardless. No one would follow us down here, “ Yates began taking off his coat, “You really couldn’t have picked a better place.”


Yates perused the room a little. Ford could tell he was absorbing its former quaintness and almost appreciating how surprisingly comfortable it was.


“That drink?” Yates suggested.


“Oh yes, sorry.” Ford walked over to the small bar that consisted of a few bottles of port and whiskey. “What do you prefer?”

“Right now, anything with alcohol.”


Ford poured him a glass and gave it to him, “The strongest I’ve got. I think we’re going to need it.”


Yates took a gulp of his drink and sat down. “This time tomorrow we can’t be seen together.”


Ford took the seat opposite, “I know. I don’t want it to happen.”


“I can’t stop it. It’s what the people want.”


“Can’t you try?”


Yates looked Ford right in the eye, “Only if you stop it first.”


Ford lost eye contact there, remembering all those people he stood for, whom he represented. A few memories of burning buildings flashed through his mind. He couldn’t…. not after that.


Yates was staring around the room now. His legs were crossed over each other, his back perpendicularly straight.


“You seem on edge?” Ford asked.


Yates took another sip of his drink. “Aren’t you?”


Ford reached around for his drink and saw a chequered board lying beside a vase on the side table.




Yates looked up from his drink, “Sure.”


They set up the board on the table. Each of them took a seat on the opposite side. They both looked nervously serious. Their drinks refilled; the game was set.


Yates looked over at Ford, “White. How very righteous.”


Ford smirked. For a second he found himself thinking about tomorrow, thinking about how justified it all was. But it was soon swiped away from him.


“You make the first move… you always do,” Yates jived.


“Now, Yates… this might be the last night of peace we’ll have in years…”


“It’s all up to you, Ford.”


“I think we both know by now that nothing is ever up to us… we’ve been in government too long to be that naïve.”


Ford moved his king pawn forward two squares.


Yates did the same.


Ford moved his king bishop to attack Yates’ king bishop pawn.


“Ah, that old trick,” Yates stripped Ford of all his forward thinking wit with a few slashes of his tongue.


Ford’s face fell, but he tried not to let it show. He was good at chess. He was very good. But the way Yates was sitting, the look in his eye; Ford could tell that he had maybe finally met his match.


It was a few drinks later. Just a single spark could have set the whole building on fire there was so much alcohol in the air. Yates was now slumped backwards in his seat, cupping yet another glass of whisky in his hand. Ford was leaning forward, intensely following each piece’s prospective moves and motives like a general over a battlefield.


“I’m sorry for what my country’s about to do to yours,” Yates piped up from over his glass, taking a further swig as he did so.


“I won’t let mine be beaten into submission over someone else’s sick ideals.”


Ford swiped Yates’ bishop from the board with his only remaining knight.


Yates leant in and, with lightening quick fingers, had his queen knocking out Ford’s corner castle.


There were now only six pieces on the board between them. Beside the board was a graveyard of dead pawns and bishops, brave knights and crumbled castles.


“What I wouldn’t do for this to never have happened….”


“If you’d have only listened…”


Knight lands on black square.


“If you’d have only just accepted…”


Queen falls to castle.


“Then maybe….”


“This wouldn’t be happening….”


They both looked up at each other, silently struck with poignancy of it all.


“Check Mate.”

~ by S.G. Mark on October 8, 2011.

2 Responses to “Day 1 – The Final Move”

  1. You might want to re-evaluate how your descriptive over-kill slightly stymies the narrative flow.

    e.g: Every third or fourth minute he checked his watch. Rolex, white gold.

    Could be better to simply say: Frequently he glanced at his white-gold Rolex.

  2. thanks for the heads up! i don’t usually have time to edit/look at what i write, but the more advice i get, the better i’ll be hopefully!

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