“Wow, deep stuff there, Mike.”
“Sorry about that,” he blushed. “This thing always gets me carried away. You know, I always thought a song sounded better if the piece ends on a sad note. Anyway, come on, let me fix you some breakfast.” He shut the piano and quickly paced out of the room. Jack stood for a moment starring at the piano and then followed.
“So what shall we do today now that all the snow has melted into the ground?” Mike said as he started piling groceries out of the refrigerator.
Jack started, “Well—”
“Ahh, I got it! We will feast, then partake in multiple games: chess—surely you play chess, and then we will drink—I know you specialize in those sorts, and we will feast some more, and, finally, I will show you something of great importance that I am sure you will want to see.”
“Something of great importance?” Jack responded, almost hesitantly.
“Yes, something of great importance, but it is a surprise for now. Trust me you’re going to want to hear all about it. Let’s just say… it is… life changing. At least when I first saw it, my initial reaction—well—maybe I shouldn’t tell you my initial reaction. HAHAHAAA!”
Jack sighed and thought, please let me make it out of here alive.
An outburst of song spewed out of Mike’s mouth. It was Fly Me to the Moon by Frank Sinatra, a classic. “Fly me to the moon. Let me play among the stars. Let me see what spring is like on Jupiter and Mars…” and continued on and on. He danced around the tiled floor dropping eggs onto a pan that roasted over the stove. He repeated the first set of lyrics over and over again—he seemed unfamiliar of the rest of the song. But, the whole time he couldn’t stop shining his teeth with that crazed smile. He spun around dashing salt and pepper over his cookery.
“You know Frank, right?” Mike asked.
Jack tilted his head, half confused and half dumbfounded.
“UGH! Who raised you? HA! You missed out, my man. It’s all right because today you have all the time in the world to be as astonished as you look right now. Don’t worry I will harm your ears no more with my foul mouth. Let the legend, Frank Sinatra take you to a much different world then what we were born into.” He snapped his fingers and stepped over to a record player that rested close to the fire place.
“Hmm. Which album should I play first?” Mike’s hand glided over a stack of vinyl records. “Ah! That’s the one.” He placed the vinyl onto the gramophone and started the turn.
“We’ll kick off the show with a little Frank and Basie. Ready yourself for a fine feast with a side of sweet, sweet song.”
Jack walked over the Mike’s collection of records. He took out each and every vinyl. “You know, I’ve never seen one of these things before” he shouted over Learnin’ the Blues. “I like this. It’s relaxing. What happened to this type of music? I feel like there are hardly any artists that you hear of anymore. It’s all bad news, business, and politics.”
“Yup. Art is fading. There’s no money in it anymore.” Mike yelled as he was skipping around the kitchen preparing the meal. “Cooking is an art. The only reason people still pay for fine cookery is because people don’t always have the time to do it themselves. And, well, because they know they need to eat. But, people don’t know that they need song until, well, they’re in the blues themselves. And if you ask me, politics and business rely on much the same art as cookery… But, that’s a story best saved for another day.”
“You said the blues?” Jack asked.
“Yeah, the blues! God, you don’t know what the blues is either?! Listen to the damn song for heaven’s sake.” Mike said shaking his head, disappointed. “If only I were around in your younger years, maybe we would have both made it to Mars already.”
They stayed quiet until breakfast was ready.
“Ah! And the song I have been waiting for: Fly Me to the Moon.” Mike said as he rushed out of the kitchen with a massive, silver platter holding several steaming plates. “Yes! Today we feast, my friend. Come. Eat.”
Jack stepped over to the table, his face lit up with joy. “Wow. Last time I saw a platter like this was back in the 50’s when my Mom was still around piping up turkey on Thanksgiving. What a while it’s been.”
Mike stayed quiet for a second, then, said, “Well, uh, yeah grab some food and let’s begin. You’re going to need some brain-food for the long day ahead. You will especially need it to battle the master of chess, himself, Michael Kodiak.”
“Ohhh, the master is he?” Jack gloated, “I guess he hasn’t met John Ursidae of the Bronx. Has he?”
“Not until recently, no. Why? How long has he partaken in the wonders of chess for?”
“Well, my grandfather introduced me at a rather young age.”
“Oh, yeah?” Mike said, surprised. “I would have to say the same, actually.”
“Four years young, the same?”
Mike laughed. “Well, then. Looks like you’ve got a couple years on me, but don’t begin to think that with time comes skill. No, only with practice comes skill.”
“Ugh! I assume that you assume that I haven’t had my fair share of practice? We will see who has practiced more when the games begin. Eat your food!”
“And you take some food, why don’t you?! God, the manners are just not there.” Mike nodded.
Jack nodded back and started on the platter. Mike had made everything from the spectrum of breakfast: a stack of syrup glazed pancakes, eggs benedict made with brioche and topped with a hollandaise sauce, Hole-in-one also made with brioche (the egg: cooked to perfection every time), and finally a holy rack of Canadian bacon that could drive any man into a drooling food coma. And that’s what the fate of these two will surely come to.
A full hour passed by before they were even close to finishing their plates. DING! DONG! The clock tower just behind where Jack was sitting rang loud in his ear.
“What is the best thing in life, Jack?” asked Mike.
“Food,” said Jack while bacon hung out of his mouth like a dog.
“Yes! HAHAHAAA! And good time spent with friends and family,” said Mike. “Come on let’s play some chess, shall we? You can take the bacon with you. The chess table is in another room.”
Mike made his way up a spiral staircase that stood in his bedroom, Jack followed with a trey of bacon in one hand and a few strips in the other. The staircase led into a massive layer. Each wall was covered with columns of connected bookshelves. A library-style ladder rested on the shelves that could slide back and forth between each column. In the middle of the room stood one small circular table with two chairs, on the table: a chessboard.
To Be Continued…