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Checkmate

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He was quite a man. We used to play chess together. It was the time before his disease spread through his whole body, before it ate him alive. When I visited him in the last stage he could hardly move. He was just lying there, breathing heavily like a stranded fish. He always wanted to play chess. It was almost an addiction. The first words which came out of his mouth when I crossed the doorsill of room 26 had always to do with the game. They were endless strings of bad puns like “Here comes my checkmate again” but we both still laughed about them. A game could last hours or even days. We made little pauses so he could get all his injections and that bullshit. All the time he was connected to some sort of lifeless equipment which seemed to absorb his energy. Like parasites use to inhabit a tree and suck out the most important nutrient. They failed all down the line. Even when he was in the worst condition one can possibly imagine, he still could rant about pawns, kings and queens. Slowly but with the most concentration he moved them across the checked border. I followed every move carefully, not to be prepared for my reaction but just to show that I was really interested in the game. It’s so ridiculous. I never was into chess. I didn’t even know the basics before he got sick. I had to learn it just to communicate in some way with him. Amongst all of us only I had the privilege to be in his room. He was very grumpy when I came late to our daily sessions. I guess it was the last straw which kept him from sinking in total depression. The disease totally disfigured his character. Old friends could barely recognize him or what was left of him, a man who formerly was filled with passion and lust for life. I don’t know when the idea came up to turn off the machines. It certainly was not a majority decision. We argued day and night trying to postpone it, trying to fool ourselves. “In his rotten state he’s just a vegetable”. I almost slapped her for saying this. The doctors with all their medicalese jargon were no help at all. They buzzed around him like white coyotes who catched a sniff of blood. I hope in his tragic condition he missed all this fuss. In the end it could only have been a decision of the family members. I felt like I’ve been trampled all over but what’s a friend in front of the medical law, right? I remember the day when they came and just pulled the plug. It was so easy. The lights went off by and by and the apparatus became silent. His chest stopped moving. The same happened to the station-like clock besides his bed. We met together, maybe the last time, at his feet and watched the whole process, sobbing, crying. His death was an abortion to me. Loosing him put me in a state of comatose apathy. I fell into a valley of agony and pure anger. It was the first time of my life when I felt loneliness at all. Not that I never was lonely before but I always knew that somewhere someone keeps a place in his heart for me. Now this heart stopped beating right in front of us till the end of time. They say we all lose 21 grams at the exact moment of our death. In that room I lost something too. Not only my soul mate but my faith slipped from my hands. I guess that’s the connection between the dead and the living. I get dizzy when I think about that moment today. After his death I never played chess again. It just didn’t feel right to enjoy a game which was so strongly connected to the only person I cared in the world. I actually smashed the board and threw all the pieces away. I didn’t need any stuff which reminded me of him. No, thanks. At the end he couldn’t even move the little figures so we only talked about the game. About moves, time control, different openings. Stuff like this. Other things in life didn’t matter. It was just me and him. We used to play chess together.

 

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