So you wanna play checkers?
I guess so. Where’s the board?
Inside. I’ll get it- hold on.
Solomon sat on the front porch and watched the bats dance in the dusk. A beer appeared to his left.
Red or black?
Red. He looked down and rubbed a callous on his index finger. You know, I was driving home from work yesterday and saw the damndest thing.
What’s that, Carl asked, arranging his checkers on the board.
I pass this cemetery everyday, right? And most of the time I don’t notice- just a blur of gray on my left as I roll up to the stop sign to take my right.
Was the cemetery fenced or not?
You gonna let me tell the story?
Sorry, sorry- go on.
A quick twist and the beer sighed in his hands. Thank you. So anyway, I’m pulling up to this cemetery and I see a vulture-
Vulture or a buzzard?
Solomon put down his beer. What in the hell is the difference between those two anyway? I never could figure it out.
How should I know?
Then why did you ask?
I don’t know- just making conversation, I guess.
You’re killin’ me, you know that?
Fine. You gonna line up your pieces?
After the story. So anyway, there’s this vulture or buzzard or some kinda big damn bird just sittin’ right outside the fence, right? And it’s just starin’ at God knows what through the chain links. Another drink from the bottle- this time deeper. He starts arranging his pieces on the board.
Carl leans back in his seat and crosses his arms. That the whole story?
Looking up, Solomon says Well, yeah, you want the buzzard to start talkin’ or something?
That’s not a story.
Look, I know it’s not like a story story, it was just something weird I saw.
Carl grabbed his now empty bottle and stood up. So it was just starin’?
Yeah. Crazy, huh?
The bats had disappeared in the night. Just like before, a full bottle appeared, as if by magic, on the table before him.
You get a picture of this thing?
Nah. I always say I’m going to carry my camera around with me, but I always forget. Probably never see that again.
Carl glanced at the neatly aligned pieces but didn’t move.
Anybody been buried there recently?
How would I know that?
You know, they put those blue tents up and stuff…
Looking down, Solomon said Uh-huh. Nothing like that.
Huh. I was just wondering if they could like smell the body or…
Yeah, yeah, I get it. Thanks for the image. Solomon turned and looked back toward where the bats had been. What I couldn’t get is why not sit inside the fence and watch whatever in the hell he was watching? Why stay outside?
You know that’s odd? I don’t make it my business to spend a lot of time in graveyards, but I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a bird in one. I can’t even recall seeing a squirrel, now that I think about it.
I think I have, Solomon said as he slid his first piece across the board, but now I’m not so sure. Your move.