After Hours

"It's your move."

"No it's not; I just went."

"You did?  Where?"

"Knight to E4. See, there."

"Oh, so you did.  It's my turn then."

"Yes, it's your turn."  The curator agreed, leaning back in his chair once again.

His name was Archibald Leech, the curator of his very own, rather significant, art museum.  He was getting on in years; in fact, he would be seventy-one just next month.  His beard was scruffy and white, along with the little hair he had left on top of his spotted head.  He was the sort of man that had always worn crisp, ironed khaki pants and the sort of man that always would.  He carried a cane also; once upon a time it had been a fashion accessory but now it was a life necessity.  His life's passion was to walk among the walls of art in his museum; gaze upon their beauty, restore them to near perfection, and above all, contemplate the mysteries that lay within them. 

"It's your turn."  King Baxter said.

"Is it?  I thought it was yours?"  Archibald inquired.

"I've just gone; Bishop to F6.  Its your turn."

"Oh yes, indeed you did."

Archibald contemplated his next move while the portrait of King Baxter made small talk.

"How is Our Lady Madonna, by the way?"

Archibald looked up from the board.  "Oh, quite wonderful.  She says the back pain is nearly gone now." He directed his attention back to the game.  As an afterthought, he added, "I'll tell her you asked about her; she'll be so pleased."

"Oh please do."  King Baxter said, delighted. "It's a shame we don't get to see eachother more often.  Once a year for our annual retouching simply isn't enough." 

"Mmm."  Archibald concurred.

Our Lady Madonna hung on a wall just a couple of hallways down.

King Baxter waited patiently for his next turn.  He was very good at being patient, being a painting and all.  He had hung on the wall in Archibald's museum for the last twenty-three years and quite enjoyed it.  Before that he had lived many places.  He had been created in 1782 and since then had hung on several different castle walls.  For quite a while, he was being stored in an old basement until he was discovered by Archie.  King Baxter was completely fictional, in that, he never really existed as a person; someone just thought him up one day and put him on canvas. 

Archie made his move and patiently waited for Baxter to make his.

"Check."  Baxter finally said.

"Check?  Are you sure?"

"Quite.  See, there.  Check."

"Oh dear."  Archie studied the board.

Archie was just about to make his move when Baxter spoke up.

"Did you hear that?"

"Hmm? Hear what?"

"I heard a tap, tap."

"A tap, tap?" Archie looked up at Baxter.  The brush strokes of his face were quite familiar.

"Yes, I think I heard something."

Archie looked down the deserted hallway.  There was nothing there but for the darkness surrounding the marble floors and high ceilings of the museum. "What do you suppose it is?"

"I don't know."  Baxter responded. "Did you remember to lock up?"

"Lock up!  Why, I'm the curator, Baxter; of course I remembered to lock up my own museum."

"Did you check the cameras?  Perhaps someone is hiding in the gents room."

"The gents room!  Absurd.  I checked them, to be sure."

"Then what do you suppose it is?"

"I haven't the slightest." They were both silent for a moment before Archie went on. "Do you suppose I should check it out?"

"Perhaps you should."

Archie slowly pushed himself out of his chair across from Baxter and scuffled down the great hallway.  He made his way around the corner and went out of sight.  Minutes later, he returned, scuffling back up the hall to his chair.  After he slowly settled himself back into it, he spoke.

"I didn't see anything."


"No, nothing at all.  Are you sure you heard a tap, tap?"

"Perhaps I imagined it."

"Mmm, perhaps you did." 

They were both silent.

"Who's turn is it?" Baxter asked.

"I haven't the slightest."  Archie sighed.

"I think it was your turn."

"Was it? Yes, perhaps it was."  Archie looked over the board.

The End

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