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The Game of Life

By Steve Ashton

For The Enlightened Award

For The Unenlightened Collection

You’re bored and need a thrill.

So what you do is this: you leave your shitty apartment and walk out into the bleached Californian afternoon. You live in a poor neighbourhood so you gotta shove through a tide of lethargic black folk – skinny men with nervous eyes and waddling fat women who block half the sidewalk. You could rob some of these dumb fucks, but they’re mostly broke. Worse still, they fight back. And you don’t need that shit when you’re headed uptown, or maybe the beach, where the rich white bitches hang out.

Your crappy hardtop awaits, the fender bent since when, drunk and irritable, you rammed into a hydrant. Fuck that. Instead, you linger at the intersection till the lights turn red then jack the first convertible that rolls up. The guy in the striped shirt and beige slacks protests but you flash your knife – did I mention the knife? – and he backs away, palms raised. Easy as pie.

At this point, you remember leaving home without your wallet. But this ain’t Dragsville, so you hang a left and drive by the bridge where the daytime hookers lurk. You wouldn’t want to poke your dick in any of those well-frequented holes, but that’s cool because you need money, not sex, and those whores have got busy snatches.

A sassy bitch sidles over with her tits half out and her skirt riding high. When she leans in, you open the door and knock her off balance. Then before her pimp scents a ruckus, you jab her twice in the jaw. She looks kinda inviting lying on the sidewalk, legs splayed. But as I said, you ain’t here for that. So you stomp on her chest – once, twice, three times – till she spills blood and cash. Now hightail it outta there because pimps and cops, temporarily joined in unholy alliance, are after your ass. The cops you can bribe, but those pimps pack shooters and will not be reasoned with.

My advice? Drive down a side alley and hide up behind a warehouse till the wail of sirens fades and all is forgotten or forgiven. Then – where was it you was headed? – oh yeah, the beach.

The sun shines every day in LA, so you’ll find numerous bikini-clad gals tanning their white asses on the sands. It’s been a while since you jacked off and you could sure use a blowjob right now, but no matter how much you plead or threaten, them bitches will not do the right thing. You could pull a shooter – did I mention the gun? – but it would be like popping ducks at the fairground gallery. And where’s the challenge in that?

So you drive along the boulevard till you see some gay jogger dude, all sweaty and oblivious, his head full of Justin Bieber or whatever shit is dribbling through his earphones instead of listening for the sounds of nefarious footsteps behind.

You duck into a doorway till he goes by then sprint past, spin round, and flash the blade. He stops, a petulant look on his face. What is it you want? You don’t know. Do you need a reason? You’re doing this because you can.

Several people pass by but, truth is, they don’t give a crap and no one intervenes. So what you gonna do, tough guy – knife him in the guts then stomp on his face with that tinny music burbling away? Yeah, you could do that. But let me tell you, that shit gets real old real quick. Where’s the jeopardy? Worst-case scenario: the cops bust you and then after, oh, a half minute of your life, they shove you out on the street in some unfamiliar neighbourhood – admittedly sans gun, knife and cash so you gotta work your back up to invincibility with wits and fists – and ain’t that a drag.

So you say no, I’ve had it with this shit. Instead, you stand aside and say, “Jog on, fella.” Because the time has come, my friend, to do something that will truly blow your mind.

So you draw fifty bills from the ATM and ride the bus into town – that’s right, the bus – and buy a bunch of purdy red roses from the florist. Then you take up station on the sidewalk opposite the video game store. And as each hyperventilating kid emerges with a copy of Grand Theft Auto clutched in his sweaty, pubescent hands, you present him with a flower and kiss him on the cheek.

He may cry or spit or laugh, but you won’t know which till you make that lunge. And that’s the beauty of this game of life – the unknown reaction, the unexpected turn of events. Sure, the cops will come sooner or later. You could try winning them over with a hug and a rose, but chances are you’ll end up in the slammer or the mental institute. But it’ll be worth it. Because for one crazy afternoon, you said no to robbing and killing and chose instead to embrace your fellow man.