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The gym stank of sweat, disinfectant, bloodstain. Vlademort shook his head; thought: stuffy stupid place for a chess tournament. Which I will win. “A silly game; a silly name,” it sang and rang inside his brain. 

Others might resign, down a piece to a stronger player; that was the “sensible” thing to do; the “honorable” thing to do, he knew.

Vlad sang instead these lines as lyrics deep inside his outsized head: 

“Check and Slay;

There has to be a Winning Way!

I am Me 

And meant to win!

I am He

So cheating isn’t sin!”

Aloud, he called in his strong, authoritative voice, “Sir, we have a problem. My opponent cheated. We must rectify the situation for the good of the Noble Game. And the honor of our School and our Party.” 

For a moment, Vlademort worried that a glimmer of smile might betray him. He bit his tongue down on his lower teeth. That usually worked, just as it did this time. As the Assistant Headmaster strode over to the boys, the man asked what the trouble was.

Vlademort’s foe, Dmitri, didn’t know what Vlad meant about “cheating.” Vlad had stepped right into a discovered check by a knight’s move that also attacked Vlad’s unprotected King’s Bishop. Vlad hadn’t seen the consequence so now he would pay the price. Very nice! But discovered check wasn’t cheating! While Dmitri pondered this silently, Vlad struck.

“Sir, as you can no doubt quickly surmise from the board, Dmitri just moved his knight here so he would check my King and attack my Bishop. A double attack. The problem is, his knight was here and we can all agree he cannot move a knight up two and over two.” Vlad locked eyes with the Assistant Headmaster and painted his face with confident innocence.

Dmitry frowned. “What? That’s the most absurd poo I’ve ever heard! My knight was here!” 

No, Sir, with all due respect, I clearly remember asking myself why he would move the same knight so many times to get in this position when, as you can clearly see, his bishops are completely undeveloped. It seemed strange at the time. I guess…I hate to say it, but maybe that’s what he … I don’t know. What does it show, Headmaster? I’m at a loss.”

“Vlad, I’m not the boss; I’m the Assistant Headmaster. You boys are going to have to work this out for yourselves. I don’t get paid enough to settle all your petty disputes.”

Dmitry’s face reddened with fury. He clenched his teeth. 

Meanwhile, Vlademort nodded and said in an even tone. “Yes, I’m sure we can work it out. Dmitri? Do you want to move your knight back to where it really was, resign, or just play again? Tell you what. You can have white this time. Deal?” From the outside, Vlad seemed serene but the inside scene was a scream of joy. He had used them both as toy. He felt no wrong; he sang instead another song inside his head:

“I am Me! 


I’ll show mom and daddy too

What I can do.
You killed my puppy;

You evil two!

You will see:

Everything belongs to me!”

He sang it as he lied. As he sang, dissidents died. He sang it as he bombed and killed. “I am me and so strong-willed. You will see! It all belongs — belongs to me!” After being deposed, tried & condemned, Vlad’s song of wrong and might — still felt right.

The song so strong it rang and sang; inside his bullet-riddled head the last thing it said:

“I’m me 

And all will see

It’s all a victory!

For me!”

His blood about him lay.

He’d no more lies to say.


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