Grand Masters

Hits: 194
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                  Grand Masters                            
                                                                           
                                       By                                  
                                                                           
                                Nikola Stojkovic                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                    AT RISE: Two old men, Sloba and Franjo sit on a        
                    park bench. A foldout chessboard sits in the empty     
                    space between them. They stoop over it to see          
                    better. They are already mid-game.                     
                                                                           
          SLOBA                                                            
               My bladder.                                                 
                                                                           
          FRANJO                                                           
               Your bladder?                                               
                                                                           
          SLOBA                                                            
               My bladder. They’re gonna stick a thing up my dick.         
                                                                           
          FRANJO                                                           
               What, like in the hole?                                     
                                                                           
          SLOBA                                                            
               You know of anywhere else it could go?                      
                                                                           
          FRANJO                                                           
               The wonders of modern medicine. Is it gonna hurt?           
                                                                           
          SLOBA                                                            
               Ah I don’t care. These days I take whatever action I        
               can get down there.                                         
                                                                           
          FRANJO                                                           
               Better dust off the cobwebs then.                           
                                                                           
          SLOBA                                                            
               Webs? Wool’s more like it. I’m thinking of pulling the      
               old sheep shears outta Ratko’s barn to take care of         
               this.                                                       
                                                                           
                    He gestures downward with his chin. An extended        
                    silence prevails. Franjo regards Sloba who has         
                    turned his attention back to the game.                 
                                                                           
          FRANJO                                                           
               I’m sorry, what?                                            
                                                                           
                    Sloba looks up at him.                                 
                                                                           
          SLOBA                                                            
               What, what?                                                 
                                                                           
          FRANJO                                                           
               Sheep shears?                                               
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                  2.       
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
          SLOBA                                                            
               Yeah.                                                       
                                                                           
          FRANJO                                                           
               Are you...                                                  
                                                                           
          SLOBA                                                            
               Am I what?                                                  
                                                                           
          FRANJO                                                           
               Are you talking about...                                    
                                                                           
          SLOBA                                                            
               I’m not talking, I’m focusing. So shut up and let me.       
                                                                           
                    Franjo falls silent again, and Sloba looks back at     
                    the board. He raises his hand to a piece, then         
                    lowers it several times, mumbling to himself.          
                    Franjo fidgets in his seat.                            
                                                                           
          FRANJO                                                           
               I’m sorry, but aren’t sheep shears a little overboard?      
                                                                           
                    Sloba sits up suddenly.                                
                                                                           
          SLOBA                                                            
               You dirty son of a bitch!                                   
                                                                           
          FRANJO                                                           
               What, it just seems like overkill, even for a metaphor!     
                                                                           
          SLOBA                                                            
               You dirty, cheating son of a bitch!                         
                                                                           
          FRANJO                                                           
               Cheating!? Who’s cheating?                                  
                                                                           
          SLOBA                                                            
               You’re cheating!                                            
                                                                           
          FRANJO                                                           
               I’m cheating!?                                              
                                                                           
          SLOBA                                                            
                         (Sarcastic)                                       
               No, I’m calling myself out because I feel bad for           
               taking advantage of you. Of course you!                     
                                                                           
          FRANJO                                                           
               You’re a damn liar.                                         
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                  3.       
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
          SLOBA                                                            
               No, two turns ago that knight was at A3. Last turn you      
               moved, very stupidly I might add, that rook to H4. So       
               when did the knight move, huh?                              
                                                                           
          FRANJO                                                           
               I think your Alzheimer’s is really kicking in today.        
                                                                           
          SLOBA                                                            
               And I think your sudden distractionary interest in          
               sheep shears stems from purely devious motivations.         
                                                                           
          FRANJO                                                           
               That knight was there!                                      
                                                                           
          SLOBA                                                            
               No it wasn’t!                                               
                                                                           
          FRANJO                                                           
               Yes it was! I placed the knight there to put you in         
               check. Then I said, check!                                  
                                                                           
          SLOBA                                                            
               You never said check.                                       
                                                                           
          FRANJO                                                           
               Is your hearing aid switched on?                            
                                                                           
          SLOBA                                                            
               Apparently it’s not working right, because all I’m          
               hearing is bullshit.                                        
                                                                           
          FRANJO                                                           
               I specifically put the knight there so you’d have to        
               lose your bishop to save your king!                         
                                                                           
                    Franjo points to an empty space on the board, and      
                    then notices there is no piece there. He sits up       
                    suddenly.                                              
                                                                           
          FRANJO                                                           
               You dirty son of a bitch!                                   
                                                                           
          SLOBA                                                            
               What, are you a parrot now?                                 
                                                                           
          FRANJO                                                           
               You dirty, cheating son of a bitch!                         
                                                                           
          SLOBA                                                            
               Me? Don’t you dare turn this around!                        
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                  4.       
                                                                           
                                                                           
          FRANJO                                                           
               You moved that bishop up! It was your sacrificial           
               piece, and now it’s up at A6!                               
                                                                           
          SLOBA                                                            
               How advanced did you say your cataracts were?               
                                                                           
          FRANJO                                                           
               Oh I still have an eye for foul play. That bishop was       
               in its starting position. You moved it while                
               over-dramatizing about sheep shears!                        
                                                                           
          SLOBA                                                            
               I cannot believe that you can look me in the face and       
               accuse me of such a thing. The sheep shears were your       
               plan!                                                       
                                                                           
          FRANJO                                                           
               You moved that bishop up!                                   
                                                                           
          SLOBA                                                            
               You moved the knight!                                       
                                                                           
          FRANJO                                                           
               That’s so typical.                                          
                                                                           
          SLOBA                                                            
               What’s typical?                                             
                                                                           
          FRANJO                                                           
               Typical Serb. Always trying to spread the blame when it     
               falls nowhere but at your feet.                             
                                                                           
          SLOBA                                                            
               Oh now THAT is typical.                                     
                                                                           
          FRANJO                                                           
               What?                                                       
                                                                           
          SLOBA                                                            
               The Croat talks about who’s at fault, conveniently          
               washing his hands of the whole thing.                       
                                                                           
          FRANJO                                                           
               You cheated first!                                          
                                                                           
          SLOBA                                                            
               No, you cheated first!                                      
                                                                           
          FRANJO                                                           
               Oh I should know better. Chess is a gentleman’s game.       
               It requires honor and class. Of all the people, I sat       
               down to play with you.                                      
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                  5.       
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
          SLOBA                                                            
               And what exactly is wrong with me?                          
                                                                           
          FRANJO                                                           
               My friend, I scarcely know where to begin. A Serb, by       
               definition, is a savage. I should have known better.        
                                                                           
          SLOBA                                                            
               You watch your damn mouth.                                  
                                                                           
          FRANJO                                                           
               Just look at history:                                       
                                                                           
                    He holds up his hand and begins to rattle off a        
                    well-rehearsed list.                                   
               The Turks tried to civilize you, and you usurped them.      
               Franz Ferdinand came for a visit, and you killed him,       
               dragging the entire world into war. In World War II you     
               gave us Chetniks and Communists. You dominated Yugoslav     
               government and passed Serb-centric laws in pursuit of a     
               Greater Serbia. In the 90’s, you murdered thousands of      
               Croats, under the pretext of quashing civil war and         
               keeping Yugoslavia together. And in 2013, you cheat at      
               chess!                                                      
                                                                           
          SLOBA                                                            
               And the hypocritical fascist speaks his true feelings.      
               Allow me to enlighten you on some of the glaring points     
               you missed.                                                 
                                                                           
                    Sloba launches into a similarly practiced series       
                    of events.                                             
               I remember the Austro-Hungarian stooge that was your        
               country, firmly on the losing side of the first World       
               War. Then you had 25 years to learn, and what did you       
               do? You became Ustashas, welcomed Hitler, embraced          
               fascism, and exterminated Serbs in homemade                 
               concentration camps. In the 90’s, you hid behind            
               Germany as they illegally shipped you weapons and war       
               machines to kill Serbs with. You even managed to force      
               every Serb out of Croatia and got the world to blame us     
               for it. And now YOU cheat at chess and blame me!            
                                                                           
          FRANJO                                                           
               Your conduct is unacceptable. I will not be subjected       
               to this perverted version of history!                       
                                                                           
                    Franjo moves one of his pieces and slams it down       
                    on the board.                                          
                                                                           
          SLOBA                                                            
               Get off Germany’s shoulders and say that!                   
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                  6.       
                                                                           
                                                                           
                    Sloba knocks the piece away with one of his own.       
                    They both begin systematically capturing one           
                    another’s pieces as they argue.                        
                                                                           
          FRANJO                                                           
               Serbs razed Vukovar to the ground!                          
                                                                           
          SLOBA                                                            
               Croats burned the whole of Gospic!                          
                                                                           
          FRANJO                                                           
               Your president was a war criminal!                          
                                                                           
          SLOBA                                                            
               Your president was a war criminal!                          
                                                                           
          FRANJO                                                           
               Eastern imbecile!                                           
                                                                           
          SLOBA                                                            
               Western puppet!                                             
                                                                           
          FRANJO                                                           
               Chetnik!                                                    
                                                                           
          SLOBA                                                            
               Ustasha!                                                    
                                                                           
                    Out of breath, they both look down at the board        
                    and realize that both of them have only a king         
                    left in play. It is a stalemate. No winners.           
                                                                           
          SLOBA                                                            
               How...                                                      
                                                                           
          FRANJO                                                           
               But...                                                      
                                                                           
                    They look at one another, the anger has ebbed.         
                                                                           
          SLOBA                                                            
               Did you cheat?                                              
                                                                           
          FRANJO                                                           
               Did you?                                                    
                                                                           
          SLOBA                                                            
               What does it matter?                                        
                                                                           
          FRANJO                                                           
               It doesn’t.                                                 
                                                                           
                    They sit in silence for a few beats.                   
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                  7.       
                                                                           
                                                                           
                                                                           
          SLOBA                                                            
               You wanna get a beer?                                       
                                                                           
          FRANJO                                                           
               Yea, let’s get out of here.                                 
                                                                           
                    They stand and leave the board on the bench.           
                    Together, they walk off down the street.               
                                                                           
          FRANJO                                                           
               So, sheep shears, huh?                                      
                                                                           
          SLOBA                                                            
               You have no idea.                                           
                                                                           
                    CURTAIN