Written by –M. Taggart
Paranoia’s Self Doubt is Truth
A short story: Fiction
“You don’t need to sit in here, you know. You can move the game outside.” Sandy said. “There’s that little table just on the other side of the window.”
The beer looked like it always did. She slid it to him on the bar. A light streak of whitish foam trailed the bottom of the pint glass.
“Do you want us to move outside?”
“I’m just saying you don’t need to stay in here.”
“I think I’m fine.”
A few of the men sitting at the bar were listening. They didn’t look at him directly, but he knew they were. He turned from the bar and walked to the chess game. Sunny was waiting for him. Ed sat at the end of the table acting as a referee of sorts. “He hasn’t moved a thing. I made sure of it.”
“I wouldn’t move a thing even if you weren’t here. You know I wouldn’t. I’m not a cheater. Are you saying I’m a cheat?” Sunny’s brow made sure Ed understood.
“I didn’t say that. I said you didn’t move a thing. Calm down.”
“I am calm. Maybe keep your nose out of this game.”
As Andi sat he thought he caught two men at the bar watching him. The men leaned in close to one another and shared a secret then glanced in their direction. “Go ahead and move.”
Sunny moved his knight into position to take his rook. “Think you’ll care about that being gone?”
“I’m not sure. Give me a minute and we’ll see. Do you know the two guys sitting at the right of the bar?”
“I know one of them.” Said Ed. “Comes in once and a while. Knows that guy you said you helped strip his roof.”
Andi squinted while looking down at the chess board. Knowing his next move, he waited, purposefully while the memory of the roof project streamed. It hadn’t gone well and ended badly.
“You gonna move?”
“Do you know him too?” Andi asked Sunny.
“Yea, I know him. You gonna move?”
Andi moved his queen into position to take Sunny’s knight if Sunny decided to take his rook.
“Why you worried about him? He’s not doing anything to you.”
“I didn’t say I was worried about him. Why’d you bother with that? I asked if you knew him.” The bar seemed to pull its walls closer to him. He looked at Sandy, she was looking directly at him. There was no missing it. She had been waiting for him to look. She nodded slightly toward the door. The two men had been watching Sandy and now turned to look at Andi and the chess game. One of the men slapped the bar and let out a cackle of laughter, “who fucking plays chess at a bar?”
“Your move.” Andi told Sunny. “You hear what one of them just said?”
“Hear what? A man laugh. So what. You think that’s something odd, Ed?”
“Nope. I don’t. I don’t see much in that at all.”
Sunny moved to take the rook. Andi immediately moved his queen to take the knight. “Your move.”
“I see that. Don’t you think I see that?”
“Maybe I don’t care.” Andi’s face was flat.
“What the hells a matter with you?”
“You know that job didn’t go well.”
“Well, he ain’t here, is he?”
“Paranoia’s self doubt is truth.”
“What the fuck does that mean.” Sunny pushed the chess board at Andi, a few of the pieces fell over.” The men at the bar turned in their bar stools. One of them stood.
“You’re a bunch of fucking assholes.” Andi stood and flung his beer into Sunny’s face as the men rushed him.
Published Work: https://mtaggartwriter.wordpress.com/my-book/