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**PRINT: A GAME I ONCE ENJOYED, by Chicago's Patrick Somerville, is THE2NDHANDís 32nd broadsheet. Somerville's work previously appeared in No.24 in 2007, and this Somervilleís second broadsheet since the release of his short-story collection, Trouble, in 2006 marks the first since his novel, The Cradle, launched into the cultural imagination with coverage in the form of reviews in places as high as the New York Times Book Review. Donít let that turn you off, though; Somervilleís work is viscerally humorous and elegantly dramatic as the best out there, as evidenced in this epic story, about a chess game whose stakes might well be higher than its players know. Also in this issue: a short from Ohio scribe Daniel Gallik.

**WEB: WAY AS THE WIND Joel Van Noord
WHEEL Paul Lask

Joel Van Noord

For more from Van Noord, visit him here or check out his page at Thieves Jargon.

The fluorescent bags of chips and chocolates flared like the cone from a lighthouse. Was the 7-11 foggy or was that just him? Muscles ached, he was mentally fatigued. He bought a 22 oz. of dark Oregon brew and picked a few cheap lottery tickets, then one of the randomized-number, big-sum tickets. Outside, the air was clear and cool. It moved against his face and pushed his beard. The long hairs tangled and urged each other; he felt this.


In a way, that was how he met Sonya. Marylou was her Christian name. In the dark anonymity her thighs would rub his unmanaged beard in the same way as the wind. She too was tickled by this.

It was November and he was on land for a week, it was indefinite. He'd been with the boat for three seasons and... They had to take a look at the books. Their contracts, a year in advance, had been cut in half. Which didn't seem to make much sense to him -- recession or not, people had to eat.

"There's not many fish out there anyway kid, maybe it's time you found something else to do." His captain tried to encourage him as he shook his hand with an envelope of cash. He wasn't too worried about it. There was plenty to do. And there was always nothing to do; he was pretty good at that. There were vegetables to grow and women to tend. Life was fertile and cheap under chaotic skies.

The sky was rich with a range of color. The blues were intensified by the collision between a low dark ceiling and fluffy white walls, stalled and building over the coastal range.

The beer cap flicked off easily with a jerk under his hefty belt buckle. He listened to it fall, then picked it up and rotated it between his fingers. He drank and paused. It was cold. The taste was good. He drank a good deal and then sat on the small grimy step behind a boarded-up Italian restaurant.

Time was completely his. This was something he always wanted.

From the dark alley he stared into the bright street. With the sharp, undulating tip of the bent cap he rubbed silver flakes from the bright-green golf-themed, ticket. He unearthed a hole and looked at the number, then read the directions.

He scratched off a few more and looked from the shadow again. A small child ran past and stopped, a woman, a big yellow dog pulling on a leash; all three disappeared.

One thousand dollars, he said to himself. He looked at the ticket again, read the instructions once more and chuckled to himself: it could have been ten thousand.

He blended in and watched her, waiting to be identified. Eventually she sat with him, crossing her legs high, her skin flattening in the vinyl seats of the corner booth. She welcomed him back. He thanked her. She asked if it was good, if they caught a lot of fish. He said some, enough, but no more. He asked about her daughter. She made a giraffe in daycare. They finger-painted and she made him something from clay. How was the house? Fine, she bought a rose bush and planted the strawberries and daises and some other vine to attract hummingbirds. This was all positive.

The place was empty and she sat with him in the dark, moody room. The lights, to him, seemed somehow sloppy. As if they had seeped beyond their logical extent. His body was still in rhythm with the North Pacific.

Soon she was done and they left. She dressed and they were on the street, his hand hanging from her shoulder. He didn't smell men's desperation on her. He didn't think about it. She was dressed in black and white stockings and a short floppy black skirt. A dash of perfume rose.

"You were in the paper." She said and he looked over dubiously. "You were." She smiled. "'Local man wrecks boat, requires Native rescue.' Is it all gone?"

"All what?"

"The boat you've been working on for the past year and a half -- has it all sunk?" she said, then adding "And you never even told me about that, weren't you going to? Or just let me hear about it in the paper? Hearing about you being dragged from the river mouth by some Klamath Indians."

"I like the thought of me to proceed me." He smiled.

They walked a few more blocks. The small main-street trees rising from ornate metal guides gave way to ancient oaks and giant firs with thick canopies.

"I wish I could take piano lessons from a crazy old widow in an old cottage across town," she said.

He put his hand in his pocket and it seemed to surprise him. He rolled it between his thumb and forefinger and slipped it around the tip, where it pushed against his fingernail. It had been his friend's on the boat. The friend stole it before his divorce. Not for sentimental reasons, for spite. The friend sold it cheap. The ring fell against the ticket and he thought about that. Where could he cash it?

"You could." He took his hand from his pocket and with it was the ticket. He slipped it into his chest pocket behind a stamped envelope he'd received. It was a gesture aimed at a comment. The brisk air cooled his moist hand.

The old trees had uprooted the sidewalk squares, and they walked up one incline and down the other, pausing briefly to observe the massive and knotted root that moved underneath the slab and off under a front yard.

"I can't take piano lessons," she said. "I used to take lessons. Look at these fingers. Long and strong." He pulled her hand down toward his opposite hip, so that she was forced to hug him. They stopped and stared at each other, he into her eyes as they darted all about his face. She looked into his dark beard and around the side of his face. They kissed and continued walking.

As they neared the old cottage they began to hear the octave exchange between the old widow and young Annabelle, the pupil. The bass was strong and declarative, straight to the point, while the higher echo was faltering and unsure. Ray could draw a metaphor for each.

They knocked on the screen door and it stopped. Ms. Lowell answered. She was hunched over and strained to glare up and out the door into the faces looking in. She was able to smile as she relaxed her back and stepped away from the door.

"Sure, sure, sure, come in," she said. Her curly hair was sparse and brightly white, sitting atop of her head like a perched and watching animal. "I remember you," she went on, the strain visible in her face. She pushed her large brown glasses up and noticed a letter sticking out of his pocket. "Raymond?" she asked. "See," she relaxed her arched back and the strain left her face. "Still got it." She tapped her head.

She reached for the white envelope in his pocket. "Is this for me?" He let her liver-spotted hand take it and observed both women's curiosity. Ms. Lowell frowned and turned the envelope upside down. It was addressed to Ray Kandel and wore a stamp.

Marylou gave him an inquisitive look, but before they could dissect the issue little Annabelle hopped off the bench and came screeching toward the entry way and her mother.

"Sorry to be grabby, no one likes that," Mrs. Lowell said. She lifted her hands in defense and stepped back as the small blonde child clamored near her mother's waist.

"Oh hello there darling," said Marylou.

Ray put his hands in his pockets and moved the contents about. He wondered where he could cash the ticket. He could rebuild his small wooden sailboat. He could take a vacation. In the three years since he'd moved to this rural outpost he hadn't ventured out of the county, when he wasn't out to sea.

"It's just... Mrs. Lowell needs her money." Mrs. Lowell sang this. Marylou looked over and shared an awkward glance with Ray. "Now that Mr. Lowell is out in the garden with the daises and the spiders." She laughed strangely.

"Well, Mrs. Lowell, we have your money right here." Marylou said. She made an exaggerated search of her pockets. "Were you a good girl for Mrs. Lowell, Annie-Bell? Did you learn some songs?"

Annabelle nodded her head vigorously.

"Don't suck your thumb, honey." Marylou slapped the small hand from the girl's mouth. She then began to unroll a five and a thick series of weathered ones for the old woman.

Annabelle walked in the middle. She held hands on both sides. Raymond had his other hand deep in his pocket.

"Did you have fun today Annie-Bell? Was Mrs. Lowell nice?"

Annabelle shook her head vigorously again, she did this as she took the weight from her legs and swung forward. Ray leaned out to adjust for this. He smiled and his heavy mustache straightened. He thought he could smell fish on himself.

"What's in the letter?"

"I don't know, haven't opened it." He took his hand from his jeans pocket and reached into the thick red flannel he was wearing. He handed her the envelope.

"Who is Omar Sidaaki?"

"An old, old friend."

"Huh. You never said anything about him before."

Instead of speaking he nodded for her to open the letter. She did. Something fell out and she released Annabelle's hand and, in turn, Annabelle released Ray's hand.

Marylou bent and rose, saying, "It's a plane ticket."

Ray didn't act surprised. "To where?"

"San Francisco." She answered and waited. Ray said nothing. "Why would he send you this?"

"I guess he wants me to visit," Ray said.

"It's for the 18th. Will you go?"

"No... No, no."

"Why not?"

"Do you want to go? When I first met you, you were dreaming of going down there, making it big," he teased her.

"It says your name."

He shrugged.

"Who is Omar Sidaaki?" she asked.

"Who is Sonya?" he said.

She gave him a look and he smirked again through the thick beard. "Who is Raymond Kandel, for that matter?"

"Who is Barack Obama?"

"That's an easy one," he smiled.

"I think we're all that easy." She looked at him. Annabelle had run off and was bent over, interested in some capricious flower by the side of the walk.

"So, who is Omar Sidaaki and why is he sending you airline tickets to your hometown?"

Raymond sighed. "He's a smart kid who wasn't smart enough to pull back a little." She gave him a look that said, try again. "He's the guy who was reading the same book you were at the same impressionable stage of life, he was the kid you were looking for when you talked to yourself, the kid you tried dope with, the one you plotted things with, the one you had intellectual insight with, the one who made you think you'd do great things." Ray said to her.

This time she was silent. Annabelle was in front of them; she'd left the flower and went skipping ahead. Raymond watched her, ready for her mom to yell out for her to stay close. But Marylou was watching the cracks in the sidewalk.

"Do women have that relationship with anyone?" he said. "I bet Hillary Clinton did, does."

"Maybe, most girls just talk about puppies and ponies and stuff." She tilted her head. She wasn't mad. He looked at her. She didn't get mad. That's why he liked her. She liked to pretend she was mad when she knew she had a right to be.

"I wonder how he found me?" Ray said to himself.

"Where's Annabelle? Annabelle!" Marylou yelled out.

A quarter block ahead of them there was a duck -- a normal mallard with a green head out strolling the pavement looking for a mate, thinking about heading south for the winter, peacefully minding its business. Annabelle had found this duck. She moved after it and it gave a small quack of annoyance. The duck waddled away at a leisurely pace, as if saying to Annabelle, come on, pet me, then changing its mind at the last second.

So Annabelle strode after it and the duck quacked and turned a corner and headed around a tree. It quacked again and looked behind it and waddled a trot and quacked again. It came to a road and quacked and stretched its wings as it descended a curb, stepping forward like a fully suited scuba diver.

With that slight hesitation Annabelle thought she had it. The mallard sensed danger and lurched out with a quick step, gliding off a few paces.

But just at that moment a speedy little Mini Cooper came rushing over a hill in the road like the wind. Marylou heard the screeching tires, "Annabelle!" she yelled and began to race. Raymond stared after her and then began to jog behind.

Marylou stopped at the side of the road and put a hand to her head. Her heart was beating full throttle and she was out of breath. There in front of her was a mini cooper parked at an angle to the curb and with rubber streaked for five yards behind. There was a woman standing there beside the car with her hand to her head, clearly spooked.

Ray dug a hole. Marylou was in the kitchen brewing coffee. Ray didn't need to dig it very deep. There had been a few rains a week for most of the fall and the ground was not hard. The soil was rich and dark. He piled it near Annabelle's swing-set under a tree and rested against the weathered wood as Marylou came out.

She handed him an old chipped mug and said, "Well, do you want to say a few words?"

He looked up at her and brushed his hand against his forehead. "Let's see. It didn't have to happen. It was unnecessary. But--"

"Wait, Annabelle, come here," Marylou said. Annabelle looked down from the platform, sighed and moved down the wooden steps.

"Go ahead Ray."

"I don't think any of us really knew the duck. But we can tell that if it was friendly with our little angel, then it was a good duck. And so tragic for it to have died under the tires of a silly Mini Cooper. But it happened. And, perhaps, we can find a reason and, perhaps, we can not let this beautiful mallard die in vain."

"Thank you, Ray."

He wasn't sure if he was done but he nodded and they bowed their heads. Annabelle looked up and mimicked her elders. They sipped black coffee in quiet, looking down at the hole.

"Looks like rain, maybe," Ray said. Marylou sighed and looked up.

"I guess." They stood and Ray set his mug on a shoulder-level rung of the ladder. He began to fill the hole with dirt, covering the duck.

A few drops began to fall and the sun fell behind a cloud. Marylou walked inside.

Ray padded the earth and leaned the shovel against the fence. He walked inside. Next season he'd plant a flower garden here.

"Look," he said to Marylou. She was washing a dish and staring out the back window. Annabelle was on the swing. "Got a little money today."

She turned and looked at him. Then looked at the ticket and smiled. "Wonder if that's our luck? Or -- if there's more?" She turned back. Clouds moved and the sun came through the window. Just as quick it was gone again. Ray looked out the window; Annabelle kicked her feet and swung high.

"This one, too," he said and took the ring from his pocket. She turned again and he held it between his thumb and forefinger. She stood there and he was silent. She looked from the ring to his face. He set it on the table and moved back. It sat there for a moment next to the lottery ticket. She looked at it and picked it up and studied it before slipping it on her finger. It seemed to fit.

Marylou turned back to the sink and Ray looked out the window once more before leaving for the adjacent room and the couch therein. He lay down. It was late afternoon and the sun couldn't light the room enough to read. He easily fell asleep.

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