Holding Asia

By Paul LeDuc Pretzer

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We knew what was going to happen, we saw it coming. We had seen it before. I told Fitz there was no way he could hold Asia, that’s why they give you seven armies every turn if you can control it. But he doesn’t want to just win, he wants to be king shit. I’m already dead, wiped out, but I’ve got over three hours invested in the game, and it’s always fun watching Fitz explode when his empire crumbles after four hours of taunting and tyranny. I had been doing a good job holding North America, fighting off the challenges from South America, where most of my black army was engaged, when Fitz violated our border treaty and came through Alaska from Kamchatka in a red wave of plastic tokens, blind siding me and mowing down my black marauders before I could recover. It was my fault. I knew better than to trust him or his treaties.

But I didn’t go without my pound of flesh. I left him vulnerable to Boxcar’s forgotten stockpile in Australia. Green armies soon flooded north into Siam bringing a wave of plastic death. With every roll of the dice Fitz’s anger grew. He kept rolling, losing, removing red pieces, and then scrambling to move pieces to his Southern borders as China and Mongolia fell to the green invasion. To make things worse, Mort was making progress from South America into Central and Western America with his yellow troops and pushed his way through the Northwest Territory and Alaska.

Fitz was only hanging out with us tonight because Mort didn’t have the twenty-five bucks he owed him, so Fitz didn’t have any drinking money. Boxcar taking him out of the game was one thing, but there was no way Fitz was going to sit there and let Mort kill him off after all of his hard work in holding Asia for most of the game. No way was he going to let Mort win, not when Mort owed him fifty bucks. If Fitz was killed off, he knew Mort would beat Boxcar. Fitz said Boxcar played like a pussy, because he just sat there in Australia, round after round, built up his troops and never risked anything or battled anyone. He just waited it out to the end and snuck up on you after you quit paying attention to him. On top of that, Fitz was pissed that Boxcar had violated their peace treaty that was in effect while Fitz was wiping me out in North America. Boxcar and Mort were squeezing Fitz out. Green moving in from the South, Afghanistan, India, and the Middle East and Yellow from the East, through Yakutsk, Siberia, and Ural, until Fitz’s red force was reduced to a useless few. Fitz couldn’t stand it. We couldn’t help but laugh.

“Fuck you guys,” Fitz said. “This is stupid, I’m done!”

Fitz stood up, grabbed both sides of the board, and threw it up in the air. The board flopped back on the table, folded in half, and red, yellow and green plastic tokens landed all over the table and onto the floor. Nobody said anything, we didn’t ask why.

I came over a couple of nights later and Mort, Boxcar, and Fitz were playing Scrabble. I was walking down the basement steps when I heard Fitz arguing with Mort, “Mollycoddle is too a real word.”

“No it isn’t,” Mort insisted.

“Yes, it is,” Fitz bullied, folding his arms, “if you don’t like it, challenge it; look it up and lose a turn.”

A good game of scrabble doesn’t take nearly as long as a good game of Risk, and Fitz is pretty good at Scrabble.

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Paul is a writer, editor, and musician who lives, works, and plays in West Michigan.