The Game by William Quincy Belle

Stanley eschews all interruptions to watch a game on TV in William Quincy Belle's commentary on male self-absorption.

"Marge! Let's watch the final period." Stanley fiddled with the remote control. "Marge!" He glanced at the television set and pressed another button. "Jesus." He got out of his seat and looked behind the unit.

Marge walked in holding two cans of beer. "What's wrong?" She set one can beside the easy chair.

"Beats me. I'm not getting a signal."

"Is it still on DVR? We watched a movie last night."

Stanley stared at the remote then pressed a button. The voice of an announcer boomed out of the twin speaker system with a deafening roar. "Jesus." He repeatedly stabbed at the control until the volume diminished to a normal level. "Ha. I forgot about that." He sat down and gave a triumphant look at the TV. "Gunna watch the game with me?"

Marge stood in the middle of the living room looking out the large window onto the street. Two police cars crept from either end of the street and stopped beside one another.

Stanley picked up the beer can and pulled the tab. There was a pop followed by a fizzy noise. "Damn." He grabbed some tissues and dabbed at his pant leg. He glanced at his wife. "Aren't you going to sit down?"

She stared at the police cars. "Yeah, sure." They slowly pulled away from one another and disappeared out of view. She bent first one way then the other trying to see.

Stanley grinned at the television. "All right. This is going to be a good one. I've been dying for this all week."

Marge slowly sat down but continued to look out the window.

"Boston is the favorite, but I made a bet in the office pool for Toronto. Call me crazy, but I think they're going to do it this time."

A blue Cadillac came into view and pulled into the driveway of the house across the street. A man and a woman got out and walked up to the house.

"Nonis had his work cut out for him when he put Orr and McLaren on waivers at the beginning of the season, but he had to do something. The team needed to be turned around."

The man pressed the doorbell. The front door opened and the couple spoke with a man. He moved out of the way and ushered them in. The door remained open.

"That's why I think this is a better team and they have a chance."

The three people come into view in the large window to the right of the front door. The two men were gesturing at one another.

Stanley took a sip of his beer. "The Leafs are 40 games in right now and standing at 21-16-3." He took another sip. "Oh!" He pointed at the TV as he yelled.

The owner of the house raised a fist and swung at the visitor. The man moved out of the way and the owner stumbled out of sight.

"Did you see that?" Stanley slapped his forehead. "Ah, come on ref. That was a penalty."

The owner came back into view and tried to punch the other man two more times. Each time, the man ducked out of the way. The owner spun as the second punch missed and the other man moved in. His first punch hit the owner in the stomach and a quick second slammed into his cheek. The owner fell over and disappeared from view.

"Boo," Stanley said. "Don't let those bozos get away with that, ref. Give him five."

The man and the woman talked to each other as the man gestured to the floor. He took the arm of the woman and turned her to the door. The man visibly shook, staggered a couple of steps then collapsed. The woman turned back and seemed to scream.

"I hope you know what you're doing, Nonis." Stanley took a sip of his beer. "I've got ten bucks riding on this."

The owner of the house stood up. He held a gun at the woman.

"Stanley..." Marge stared wide-eyed.

"Yeah, yeah. I know. I shouldn't bet. But what's ten bucks? It's only for fun among the guys."

The owner took a couple of steps then bent forward to examine something. The woman raised her purse and slammed it down on his head. She turned and ran.


"Not now, Marge. The game. It's the final period and this is critical."

Marge leaned forward as the woman burst out of the front door and ran toward the Cadillac. As she reached the car, the owner appeared and there was a dull bang. The woman half fell to the driveway clutching her leg. Marge gasped and stood up.

"Whoa!" Stanley yelled. "Did you see that, Marge? What a slap shot from center ice. That Bernier can stop anything."

The owner rushed across the lawn, bodily picked the woman up and threw her over his shoulder. He went back toward the house. The woman pounded his back with her hands while her legs kicked around.

Marge gestured toward the window.

When the owner got to the front door, the woman grabbed the doorjamb with both hands. There was a struggle until the owner turned and slapped her hands away. The two of them disappeared into the house.

"All right," Stanley said. "Things are really heating up now." He glanced at his wife. "You better sit down. This is going to go on for a while."

She slowly sat back down as a police cruiser came in from one side and screeched to a stop in front of the house. The owner appeared at the door and waved his arm at the car. He stood for a moment then raised a gun and Marge heard several shots in a row. The front door slammed shut. The passenger side of police cruiser opened and a cop crawled out. He peered over the hood at the house.

"Come on. Come on. Quit fooling around you guys. Go for it. Go in for the kill." Stanley held onto his beer can and waved it at the television set. Some of his drink spilled onto his hand. "Oh damn." He passed the can to his other hand then wiped his hand on his pants.

The owner stood in the middle of the living room window and shook his fist at the police car. The policeman pulled out his service revolver and aimed it over the hood. He fired and there was a crash as part of the window pane shattered. The owner ducked out of sight.

"Shhhh. Keep it down, Marge. I want to hear the play by play."

A second police car came in from the opposite side and pulled up to the first one. The cop scrambled out of the car and positioned himself by the hood. The front door opened. As Marge watched, both cops stuck their guns over the hoods and fired. A barrel appeared in at one side of the door opening and there was the bang, bang, bang of a semi-automatic rifle. Both policemen hid themselves behind their respective cars.

"Damn it, Marge. I can't hear a bloody thing." Stanley got up from his chair and backed up to the front door keeping his eyes fixed on the TV. He kicked backwards and the front door slammed shut with a loud thud. "Watch, Marge. Watch. This is going to win it." Stanley moved back to his chair and sat down.

She cocked her head. Was that a siren? The two policemen glanced up from behind their cars. The owner briefly stood in the open doorway before closing the door. Marge looked to one side. There definitely was a siren.

"Go! Go! Go!" Stanley jumped in his seat.

A van pulled up to the left. It had SWAT marked on the side. Marge saw four men dressed in military gear come out the back and crouch down as they came up to the two police cars. A barrel appeared through a side window of the house and there were more shots. One the SWAT team aimed a large gun over the hood and fired. Marge heard a muffled thunk and saw something go through the broken window. Immediately, the room filled with smoke.

"Oh my God. Are you crazy?" Stanley shook his finger at the screen. "That wasn't a check; that was a kill. Ref! Ref! Get on that guy."

Another series of shots came from the house. The SWAT team fired two more rounds of what Marge figured was tear gas. One of them got out a bullhorn. "Give up. We've got you surrounded." The voice was muffled, but Marge could make out what was being said.

Stanley held the remote up toward the television set and raised the volume. "Shhhh, Marge."

The cops peered over the cars at the house. It was quiet. Gas was billowing out the broken living room window. Marge saw something move off at the far end of the house. There was a flash in a window followed by a dull pop. The entire window blew out and flames curled out of the house and licked up the side. Puffs of smoke poured out of the window.

"I think Nonis has done a fine job with this line-up. These guys are great."

The cops stuck their heads up to look more closely at this latest development. The fire was getting more intense. The front door opened and all the cops ducked down. The woman appeared. She staggered forward, limping on the one leg. Two members of the SWAT team rushed up to help her as the others moved forward, weapons pointed at the house. Smoke was now coming out of several spots on the roof.

"Okay, this is it. Come on you guys. You can do it."

The two cops got the woman to the end of the driveway where they stopped. The woman turned back and pointed to the house.

Stanley leaned forward in his chair. "This is it. This is it."

Marge twisted in her chair and saw a fire truck pull up to one side. Several fire fighters pulled out a hose and moved closer to the house.

The television speakers issued a deafening roar of stadium cheers and clapping. Stanley threw his arms up in the air. "Yea! That's it. Way to go Toronto. I knew you could do it. Yahoo!"

The end of the house erupted in a fireball. Shingles, wood, and various unidentified pieces flew everywhere. The firemen, policemen and the SWAT team ducked for cover. Flames engulfed the one end of the house. Marge visibly jerked in her seat and held her hands up to either side of her head. "Jesus."

Stanley stood up and danced in one spot. "I'm win-ner. I'm a win-ner."

An ambulance pulled up on the opposite side. The police led the woman to the vehicle. The other cops stood staring at the house as the firemen directed several hoses at the fire. Smoke billowed from the front windows.

Stanley turned to his wife. Marge sat saucer-eyed, her mouth agape. Stanley grinned. "Yeah, I know. Wasn't it a great game?" He rubbed his hands together. "Boy, I'm starving. What's for dinner?" Stanley pulled his wife up from her chair and kissed her on the cheek. "My sweetie. Aren't you glad you watched the game with me?" He put his arm around her shoulders and led her toward the kitchen. "Let's eat! All that excitement has left me famished."


  1. Very fast paced, very astute and very funny. A great illustration of parallel realities and the solipsistic behaviour of chauvinist people (of whichever sex - though sadly often men). Thank you,

  2. Stanley is an amazing character :-)

  3. Funny, clever, and although we are clearly firmly in Madge's point of view, some of the happenings over the road are described in omniscient voice. But that gives it cinematic strength, as if we're floating above the room and can see everything. It just goes to show that sometimes it's good to tell as well as show!

  4. Very cleverly done, so many layers to this. One being the message that we are so distracted by media/TV we miss what's going on under our own noses in our relationships and in our communities. I can just imagine Stanley watching the drama over the road on TV later that night!

  5. very good indeed!
    yes, this story works on different levels, as well as those mentioned above, Stanley really doesn´t pay a great deal of attention to Madge, but needs to know she is there, a spoilt child!

    Mike McC