Playing Chess with an Angel

by Marius Surleac (Romania)

edited by Robert Fenhagen

pentru versiunea română click aici


Last night, just before drifting off into sleep—that twilight time, I witnessed a most incredible thing:  twinkling, sparkling light began coming through my bedroom wall!

It was so real, that I knew that it couldn’t be dream, so I lay there wondering what would happen.  I finally panicked, fumbled around for something to swat the sparkling spot with, and fell back suddenly exhausted.

Suddenly, the twinkling, sparkling lights disappeared and there stood an angel–I fell out of bed, or, I should have because I understood instinctively that this was my guardian angel—that sometimes hidden, often unnoticed presence in my life ever since my childhood. 

“What the…!”  I yelled.

As if to make sure that I understood that he was very real and, apparently, very powerful, he turned the stick that I had found to poke the sparkling, twinkling light on my wall into ashes, which floated to my blue rug.  I’d received that tiny rug from ____ (mother, girlfriend, foreign dignitary, etc.), and I gazed at the pile of ashes that were going to be a mess to clean up.

“Would you get up?”  He smiled pleasantly, motioning toward a sofa.

I did,–shakily, and we moved across the room to my white corduroy sofa, which I had recently purchased.

Noticing that it already had a small smudge on it, I sat and he remained standing in the middle of my bedroom.

“Ok” I said, a bit less nervously, but still on guard–it’s not every day that you get a visit from an angel.

“I have some bad news for you.”  He said, adjusting and pulling at his angel garments, which were robes, but obviously inexpensive ones; I know thrift-store clothes when I see them.

“I can’t be your guardian angel anymore; your contract has expired—you’ve proven over time that you are quite able to fend for yourself. Presently, there is a shortage of competent angels, and God has been forced to cut back on all but emergency cases. You are no longer an emergency case, so my news is bad, but, then, when you think about it, it’s really good news!”  My angel in the slightly used robes said.  I looked at him as if he were a lunatic.

“I don’t understand any of this.  Why are you here?”  I asked him, not nervous now, but, rather, a bit peeved. He doused my mounting impatience with what he said next.

“You need to sign a new contract, because, of course, you died.”  He again smiled; as if verbally slugging me in the gut was great fun, and he was enjoying the fact that he had shut me up so efficiently.

I died?”  I stammered.

“Yes, and because of a mix-up, you are no longer covered, but luckily for you, you can play a game of chess to decide whether you are proceeding to Heaven or Hell, and, between you and me, I would think carefully as to where you choose to spend eternity. You do play chess, don’t you?”

“I do, but I’m not all that good.  Am I alright

“Oh, certainly; you’re fine, and are in good hands.  If I do honk my own horn, I am the all around chess champion of both Heaven and Hell, so I will make sure that your moves are first rate—appropriate so to speak.”

  Again, he smiled, this time rubbing his bald head, which I noticed had bumps.  If he were wearing second-hand robes, then, theoretically,  might be homeless from time to time, so could he have gotten mugged or something?  Can angels get mugged?

I dismissed the thought, but did notice that, perhaps it was only my imagination, but it seemed that his warm smile had become less so.  Waking up with an angel in my room had obviously effected my perceptions, because anyone who played chess so competently must be a refined person– shouldn’t they?

Again, he smiled.

“Now, let’s say that you’re playing me.  Would you like to be white or…black?”

Suddenly a card table with a chess board appeared.  There wasn’t anything special about it, except that the white squares looked as if they were quicksand and the dark squares looked as if they might be made of rhinoceros hyde.

We played and played.  He was quite good, naturally, but made a few surprisingly silly mistakes.  He gave up his queen in the second move one time!  Amazing.

Finally, he jumped up in disgust.

“I am unfit to play today!  I do not know where my mind is.”

He looked at me, and declared:

“Let’s call it a draw.  No one wins, but, luckily, nothing is decided. Now, back to business….

Have you thought of where you might like to go?”  He smiled yet again, but this time, I noticed that he simply must be homeless from time to time, because his teeth were filthy-all yellowed and, my Heavens, long.  Obviously, poor dental care there.

“Do I need to decide so quickly?”  I looked at my guardian angel, who, began making as if he heard something.  He closed his eyes briefly as if listening.

I cocked my ear, because there was a sound—far off, but, no, no, it was getting closer.  It was voices; that’s what the sound was—voices.

“Get me the paddles; he’s crashing.  Give me adrenalin, push everything.  We’re loosing him.  Come on, people!”

I looked at him, but all I remember was that he was smiling.  His teeth were really long and his eyes were red. 

With guardian angels  like him, who needed enemies?

Playing Chess with an Angel

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