The moment the timer began Ramon reached for one of his white horses. His opponent, Lucas, burst into laughter. His deep guffaws echoed around the quiet gym while the spectators looked at each other with confused looks. Undisturbed Ramon lifted the horsehead and counted out the squares to place it in front of one of the small white ones. He hit the timer to start Lucas’ turn. The portly man leaned over the table and whispered.
“Do you even know how to play?” he asked. Lucas gave a sharp smile and moved a black pawn forward without breaking eye contact. Ramon returned a broad smile and shook his head.
“A little bit,” he chuckled. Lucas hit the timer to start Ramon’s turn. The second he did, his face turned serious. He watched Ramon’s hand hover over the white army, moving from piece to piece as if trying to pick the one that looked the prettiest. Finally he settled on a pawn and moved it forward. Once Ramon hit the stop-clock it only lasted for a second before Lucas completed his move and hit it again.
“That was a better move, but it was predictable,” Lucas said with smug self-conceit dripping on every syllable. His ability to read the future kept him undefeated, and the thought that a simpleton with no clue how play would even challenge him rubbed him a particularly wrong way. He decided to humiliate the loser.
Ramon stared at his collection of white pieces and hummed to himself while the clock ticked away. He smiled like he remembered something funny. Finally, he lifted his hand to pick the next piece lucky enough to move; but, even that seemed to take too long for Lucas.
“Get your head out of your ass and move.” He hissed over the board. Ramon decided on a piece and moved it. Lucas’ eyes narrowed when Ramon hit the clock. He looked up at Lucas and moved the piece he already planned. In less than two seconds it was Ramon’s turn again. This time he moved much faster. In less than five seconds he hit the clock and Lucas stared at him.
“I know you can read minds,” Lucas thought as hard as he good while maintaining eye contact with Ramon. The thin man with a dark goatee smiled at him and winked an eye without saying another word. He glanced at the board, then at the clock to remind Lucas it was still his turn.
“You’re cheating! Let me win or I’ll turn you in!” Lucas glared at Ramon’s dark brown eyes.
“Uh. Pause? Time-out?” Ramon suddenly asked out loud. He looked at the official and waved him over. A young man walked to their table.
“Yes, Sir?” the referee asked.
“Can I get a pen and some paper?” Ramon asked, then glanced at Lucas. “Or is that not allowed?” Lucas smiled and waved a hand at the young man.
“Give ‘em whatever he wants, I don’t care.” The official shrugged. If neither opponent had a problem with it he didn’t either. He rushed to the judges table, then returned with a small notepad and a pen.
“Thank you!” Ramon smiled. He turned his attention back to Lucas. “Time in!” he said and nodded at Lucas. “Still your turn,” he added. Lucas stared at him, but Ramon shrugged and wrote something down on the notepad. Lucas tried to see, but Ramon finished and flipped it over before Lucas could make anything out. “Are you gonna make a move?” Lucas sighed, grabbed whatever piece felt right and moved it to shift the clock back to Ramon.
“Are you going to quit?” Lucas thought the question at Ramon. Ramon shook his head, and tapped the face down notepad.
“What? What did you write?” He stared at Ramon, no longer glaring. Ramon smiled, leaned forward and whispered just loud enough for Lucas to hear.
“I’ll show you later,” he said. Lucas focused on the sheet of paper and peeked at the future. In his mind he saw Ramon approaching him in the parking lot after the game with the notepad. He handed it over and future Lucas read it.
“I know you can see the future,” was scribbled on the notepad. Lucas’ face must have given him away because Ramon spoke again.
“So who’s really cheating, eh?” He smiled. Ramon hovered a hand over the pieces until he found one and took a move.
“How did you learn how to play so fast?” Lucas asked Ramon with a thought, then he switched the clock to Ramon.
“I’ll show you on your next turn,” Ramon replied while his hand glided over his pieces looking for just the right one. Finally he made a choice and took his turn. The moment Lucas’ turn started again he locked eyes with Ramon.
“Show me,” he thought.
“Okay. Make your move, but do it slowly,” Ramon said. The two men were both leaning over the board, their faces barely a foot apart. Lucas decided on a move and lifted his hand. As he reached over his black army he heard a noise coming from Ramon’s mouth.
“Notthatonenotthatonenotthatonenotthatonenotthatone..” he repeated in a whisper over and over. Lucas ignored it and finally touched the piece he wanted to move. “Nonononononononotthatone,” Ramon mumbled, but Lucas smiled and made his move. “Noooooooooo.” Ramon whined up until the very last second before Lucas let go of the piece and cemented his move.
“You don’t even know what you’re talking about. Are you going to tell me how you’re playing so well?” Lucas asked mentally. Ramon laughed. He picked hovered his hand over the white pieces again and smiled at Lucas.
“I did tell you,” he whispered over the board. “I wasn’t complaining, I was doing an impression of you.” His hand stopped over the white castle.
“Wait, what’d you say?” Lucas asked.