You Had to Be There by Brandon Scott

For Lerone, who never ceases to entertain.

You want to hear a funny story. That’s how all mine start.

And then, less so. Comedy and tragedy go together, you know. Two sides of the same coin. I had a coin in my hands, and it’s where this story gets going.

“Flip it,” he said, and so I did. “Tails,” he added as the metal spun in the air. I snatched it up and laid it on the back of my palm.

“Are you sure you want to do this game?” I said.

“Oh yeah dude.”

I peeled off my hand and showed the coin. Tails.

“Well, okay,” I said, “then you go first, dude.”

“Sweet,” he said and moved the red piece a few spots forward, positioning the plastic square on the grid next to a cluster of triangles. I doubt he knew what that caused.

Around us, the air filled with a humming sound, and the walls shifted to reveal an open field. Standing among the grass was a trio of strange looking men with battle axes.

“Still sure you want to play?” I said, looking at the snorting guys with bronze skin and arms the size of my head.

“Oh hell yes,” he said marveling. “It’s your turn.”

I chuckled and picked up a blue piece from the bag next to us. I put it down, and, on cue, a wall appeared there, making a box with us and the three dudes in it.

“It feels like you want them to attack, so…this one looks like a barrier” he said and placed a wall (green, vertically standing piece) in between our gameboard avatars and the triangles. “Not that I have a problem with that, if it’s just you.”

“Hey, why else would you put yourself in this sort of situation? If not for the sake of a little violence?”

He shrugged. “I don’t know, memories maybe? How many get to do this sort of thing on one of the big boards?”

“Just the richest ones,” I said. “You’re welcome by the way.”

“Thanks.”

After a few more moves, we both had placed enough pieces to make the board look like a sloppy mosaic. But with a trick I had not considered, he picked up the green piece, palmed it, and shoved the triangles into our zone.

My shoulders dropped.

“Ha, changed my mind, you wanted us to have a little fun, well, here we go,” he said, and gestured to the running at us group of three, axes raised over their heads.

My hand wrapped around the gun hanging on my back. I could have mowed them down, the poor actors, but I had a better idea.

“Hey dude, want to see something funny?” I said.

“I think this is already pretty funny. Shooty shoot.”

“Yeah, I know, poor people, right? But no. This is better.”

Scooping a few into my hands, I held one gray square in my fingers. And waited for a second until I could hear them screaming up close in attack anger. I slammed down the piece and the entire area in front of us flattened under a huge block. A puff of air moved over us. I added two more to give the death sound some rhythm.

“Ha!” my friend said. “That’s great.”

“I know,” I said, and a giggle moved through my stomach. I clutched my gut, and another piece fell out of my fingers.

My pupils grew wide as soon as the gray landed haphazard on the board.

“What did you—” my friend said and looked up as the block dropped above him.

“Wait!” I yelled.

My hand pulled back at the last second as the block smashed. The tall surface a few feet from my nose. A red liquid leaked out from the bottom of the cube.

“Dammit,” I said. “That’s kind of fucked.”

I looked around, waiting to see if anyone came running. But I guess only my butler was watching, and he only cared about me.

I frowned. “That really sucks.”

A few emotions went through me, but I just sighed and turned toward the game room’s exit. I had to try and find someone else who felt like playing with me. Because, well, Jimmy would not have any more moves.

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