An Ode To Alex

                The two of them loved playing. In fact, whenever they got together they made a point of doing it. It had gotten to the point where it was an unspoken mutual understanding that the game would be played; and fiercely, the casual observer might add. Whether it was at the office of their community college’s newspaper, in between articles of the upmost importance of course, or at one of their parent’s houses, holed up in their bedrooms, no matter what the occasion they still found time to test their intelligence.

            In a way the game provided the duo with a way out of the daily difficulties of making small talk that seemed to flow so seamlessly between their peers. It was a bond, one that, to them, appeared to be perpetual and in spite of their many differences was the one thing that would, and did, keep them together as friends.

            Some thought them weird and far too intellectual to want to spend a weekend night in their presence but they didn’t see the big deal with flexing their scholarly muscles. They too found others peculiar because despite being in college they didn’t want to learn any more than the requisite knowledge they pursued in class.

            It all started with Mr. Trebeck. His spiffy clothes and well combed hair staying perfectly in place since the nineties, Alex stood over his well read minions like an informational God. He was the face of the show, giving geeks worldwide the hope that they too could one day meet him and be on the receiving end of one of his famous witty quips. But that was just a dream to the two friends and for the time being they found their solace in being the fourth and fifth contestants, a term they referred to themselves when playing.

            The one who took the game more serious was Keith, for he had been playing much longer than Paul. He was the one who introduced Paul to the game in the first place. In fact, before he met Keith, Paul didn’t give Jeopardy much thought at all and associated it with his now dead grandmother’s nightly ritual of watching the game show after eating her supper. Keith was skeptical, as he always was with any newly acquired friend, to introduce his passion to Paul. Eventually he got up the courage to suggest a game, in passing, and anxiously waited for Paul’s response.

            They were hanging out in Keith’s room watching a baseball game when the weather changed for the worse. Within a cigarette's time the game had been postponed indefinitely leaving the pair with nothing to do. For a while the common silence seemed to engulf their surroundings and brought about a stranglehold on both.

            “Hey, you want to play a game?”

            “Sure, what did you have in mind?” Paul looked over as if surprised that Keith was the one that broke the quiet spell.

            “I don’t know. I mean my parents just got TIVO and they record all these game shows so we could play one of them; maybe Jeopardy?” Keith tried his best to make it look as though he had just come up with the idea.

            “Sounds good.”

            They played that first game casually and didn’t keep score although Keith was tallying up the points in his head as they went. He figured that he was at least playing with him and he didn’t want to push it for now. Paul, unlike some of his prior friends from school, didn’t give him a quizzical look at his game proposal and, after a while, seemed to be enjoying himself. Keith exhaled and thought to himself that he might have just found a brand new best friend.

© Patrick Trotti

Bio:  Patrick is a 24-year-old college student studying Creative Writing.  His work has appeared at Glass Cases and Six Sentences.