Travel Plans

Three weeks later, and I’m having my weekly chess game with Murph. The numbers that will open his garage door, his home, and whatever secrets he’s been hiding, have lain scribbled on a sticky note in my apartment, like a miniature treasure map. Next week is Thanksgiving, the time he’d arranged for Angelina to house-sit for him. I need to confirm that plan is still in play.

I take a pawn of his with a knight. “We playing next week?”

Murph picks up a bishop, placing it in line to threaten the knight. “No, I’m out. Visiting Steph’s family in Colorado for the week.”

I move the knight out of harm’s way. “Cool. Leaving what, Sunday?”

My fingers have barely lifted from the knight, when he sends his bishop down the board, taking my knight’s pawn. Dammit, I forgot to look at the board again — I moved the bishop but not the knight on this side, so now he’s got my rook pinned. Only way I can come back from this is for Murph to make a mistake, which he almost never does.

I notice the silence between us, then look up at him, face as placid as ever; he’s been waiting for my attention. “Saturday. Our flight is Saturday, early morning. And we return the following Saturday evening.”

All I can do is blink, as I wonder why he’s providing me this information. Does he somehow suspect … no that’s crazy, he didn’t even know I was in the conference room with Angelina when he gave her the garage code. So why — 

“Your move.” Murph then glances down at my doomed rook.

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