I close my eyes. And all I see is a board. Granite. Maybe steel. I can’t tell for sure. It’s dark. And it gleams beckoningly in the dark. An invitation that is solemn and foreboding. An invitation that I know I will not be able to resist. An invitation that I may resist. Resist will all my might. But in the end, it is my might that will undo me. One of the items in the Hare PCL-R checklist is ‘Need for stimulation/proneness to boredom’. This twenty-point list is used to ferret out psychopaths. People who score higher on this list are more likely to be psychopaths. And I might resist. I will resist the temptation. But the board will draw me in. As it always does. Perhaps I will get bored of resisting. I do exhibit psychopathy. But I keep it under check.
The board. It gleams. It is sensuous. Cold. Smells of blood and gravel; of wars fought and battles lost. I step out of my shoes and step up onto the board. It feels smooth and like home. Like the carpet you grew up playing on. The soft, plushy carpet. That when you put your bare feet on, you immediately knew you were safe. You knew you were home. The board is my siren. My lovely mistress. It fulfills my needs; my appetites; I devour all that I can from the board. Or is it the other way around?
I inhale in through my nostrils; a remnant from my stress relieving days. Stomach doesn’t expand. I'm still breathing in through my lungs. I try again making a conscious effort to breathe in through my stomach. A stomach has the capacity to hold thrice as much air as the lungs do. And thrice as much air means thrice as much oxygen. As Brad Pitt mentioned in Fight Club, “…oxygen makes you high.” It makes you more relaxed. Which is why breathing is focused on so much in yoga. Most people are walking around breathing the wrong way, can you believe it?
I inhale in through my nostrils. Dust fills them. Not so much that I break out coughing. But enough that I can tell that it is dust. The board is rusty. It hasn’t been brought out in a while. Sometimes, I feel like I am the only one who recognizes it and plays it. But I know deep in my heart, an empty space only good for intuition that there are high-powered psychopaths out there who use the board only they don’t think of it as the board. Each of them has their own term for it.
As I step onto it, it hums. Reminds me of something I once read about how cats humming and purring has the ability to heal your bones. Nature does work wonders. I wonder if we are all pawns in Nature’s game. Or maybe pawns in the game Allah plays with Shaitan. Definitely pawns in that. I would like to be promoted. But I don’t think I have empathy enough. Then again, this lack of empathy would also make me worthy of promotion. Depends on whose piece I am.
It hums. As it recognizes me. It does obviously. I'm such a frequent player. I kneel to the ground, in this case the board, and stroke it to remind it that I'm back. Of course that doesn’t make sense because it hummed in recognition of my presence. But then some attachments don’t make sense.
I need to play. It is in my blood. Not by inheritance. By injection. I have injected so many doses of this heady drug into my system that I am addicted. It is in my blood. And no amount of stomach pumping can take it out. It is in my blood. And it runs through my veins making the crimson liquid more crimson than the darkest shade of crimson created.
I need to play. I need to beat this new opponent who has dared venture into my territory. Who has dared to think that he can slight me and get as far as two feet away from me. This is my board. This is my game.
And it shall always be my game. It has been my game since the beginning. Since I learned to pick up the pieces. And it shall be my game till the end. It was my game when I lost countless times. When I lost to a singular opponent. It was not my plan. I did my best to win every time. But my first opponent; the man who had opened the doors to the heady granite floor of this majestic battlefield; that man beat me every time. I lost countless battles. I suffered from numerous injuries. But I learned what he was trying to teach me. It is ok to lose. And since I learned that, I have lost battles to win wars. Since I realized that, I beat my opponent. And learned the feeling of soaring in the clouds. The feeling of being ‘on top of the world’ as Imagine Dragons put it in the succinct name of their song. Soaring with the birds. Riding on the winds. Being on a magic carpet ride. I was addicted to the feeling. And I still am. But it tastes so much sweeter when you can an unsuspecting opponent. Like a spider that catches a fly in the invisible strands of its web. And the fly knows before it is devoured that it has lost the game of life.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t try to kill people. I merely make their lives so that they remember not to play around with the wrong kind of people. Play around being a loose term to represent mostly as gangsters would say, ‘mess with’. I make their lives miserable. I'm very meticulous that way. After all, what is a man without morals?
At the same time though, I have little to no scruples with this latest opponent. Yes, I sometimes wonder if he will take his life if he loses this game. And I imagine what will happen if I try to be careful. A little while later, I am back to planning along my original lines.
This opponent has many weaknesses that can be exploited. He has a crush on my friend. She is living on my floor next year. That’s one piece he thinks is his but will easily be manipulated to work towards my ends. Well, not easily. This is one very interesting piece with her own little quirks. She cannot be easily manipulated. But she can be manipulated. Or nudged towards where I want her to go. His little bishop is nothing.
His precious little bishop. In the gleaming board, I can see a reflection of what I used to be. It mocks me. The board mocks me. When I lost my sister, my sunshine, was around the time when I was moving to college. It was around the time I was writing my story on Abdul. It was around the time of tragedy. I was drowning in the greenish blue seas of my own suffering without really dying. And I met his bishop. At the time, she was an innocent observer in this game. At the time, the game hadn’t started. But the stone had started rolling down to the starting line. The gun was being loaded with gunpowder.
His precious little bishop. When I met her, I was losing my mind and yet in it more than ever. I was losing, had lost that most human of things, empathy. I made her my sister, at the time unbeknownst to me, a stand-in for the one I had lost. I put her up on a pedestal. Expected her to be someone she was not. And that was my error-des-fatale. She let me down time and again, not because of her but because of the image I had built up of her. When I finally realized that she was not who the pedestal was for, it was too late. Late for what? I'm not sure. I cant express properly in words.
His precious little bishop. When he first met her, he became infatuated. Or he thought she had a crush on him. That’s one of the things that will be his downfall. His arrogance. It blinds him to what the little pieces are doing. And he becomes naught but focused on the stronger ones so to speak. A pawn being led down a path that would lead to its future promotion would escape his notice. He became infatuated. Or thought she was. And tried to convince me to arrange a meeting that would appear to her coincidental. I didn’t want my ‘sister’ to be entrapped in his charms. I gave her less credit than was due to her. I didn’t let that happen. By the time our game had started, he had already befriended her.
His precious little bishop. She will cause him a lot of pain. I only hope that she doesn’t get hurt in the process. Because of the few people I would avoid trying to hurt if I can without ruining the plans in motion, she would be one.
His precious little bishop. She will be living on the same floor as I next year. She will serve as a distraction. On the board, it will seem that my entire focus is on her and so, he shall rush to protect his piece and make sure it is his own. In that, he will lose sight of the rest of the game. And he will come crumbling down. Like the tower of Pisa would in an earthquake. In a flurry of stone and earth.
His precious little bishop. She will be a very useful tool for his downfall.
The board seems even more sinister now, as if it approves of the cruel and emotionless way in which I am using a human as a piece. But then, it was always critical when I was hesitant while using someone like that. And always approved when the hesitation drowned in the endless darkness of its surface.