General Fiction posted January 30, 2023

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A 20th century Ohmie story

Games People Play

by Wayne Fowler

“Hey, May. Glad I saw you. I haven’t seen Ohmie in a while. Has he been sick, or still under his struggle buggy?” Blado juggled his grocery purchases, having elected not to use a basket since he was only after baking powder.

“Oh, hey, Blado. No, he’s been busy. You wouldn’t believe it. I think he’s lost his marbles.”

“I heard that’s goin’ around,” Blado replied. “That new dance, what is it…?”

“The jitterbug. No, he won’t even try that. How’ve you and Daisy been?”

“Oh, we’re Jake. Daisy. She’s the best, hotsy-totsy.”

May blushed at the vision of plain Daisy being hotsy-totsy to Blado. “I’m, so relieved!” May physically relaxed herself, sighing heavily as her eyes closed, head and shoulders settling.

Before May could say anything about the circling gossip, Blado volunteered, “All bunk, hokum, started by that screwy sob sister. We’re swell. You know, now that things have settled down after we all got back from the war. I got pinched for smackin’ some louse around, but long as I don’t tip more’n a few…”

“Yeah, the war to end all wars. I figured something like that.” May let Blado’s battle stress issue pass. “Hey! Why don’t you two come over this Saturday. We’ll have a little shindig like we used to. It’ll be a hoot!”

“Daisy will be keen on it. Might be a bit late, though. The jalopy’s been high-hattin’ me lately.”

After their so longs, May left to pay for her sack of grits while Blado struggled with his armload, turning back to get a sack of sugar, knowing that Daisy would want to bake a cake for Saturday.

“Hey Ohmie,” Blado said, greeting Ohmie that next Saturday. “’Cha up to?”

“Here, I’ll show ya.” Ohmie led Blado into his den where he had a mess strewn all over a table. Anticipating Blado’s shock, Ohmie proceeded. “It’s an Ansel Adams tin type. I cut it up into a thousand pieces. This’s just the bees knees!”

Blado began to interrupt, but was cut short by Ohmie’s answer. “So May and I could put it back together. Made it a puzzle.”

“Why?” Blado interjected, his eyes wide before he squinted, bending over the table to study the tiny bits. “Seems you coulda just left it whole, save yerself hours an’ hours.”

Ohmie picked up a piece and fit it into a hole in a mountainside. “There! I’ve been lookin’ for that one!”

Blado’s eyes resumed their mostly whites condition as before, staring at his little friend who used to be so smart. “You know, Ohmie, this sort of puts me in mind of that game you invented where everybody tries to bankrupt each other.”

“Yeah, Monopolizin’.” Haven’t had much luck getting’ that to catch on.” Ohmie pinched one eye in a small grimace and then perked up. “I’m workin’ on a new one! A new game. No math. I promise.” After a moment’s thought, Ohmie qualified his remark. “Well, except for the scorekeeper, no math. And well… anyway. It’s a word game. Kinda based on crosswords. May calls it the cat’s meow. You do crossword puzzles, Blado?”

“I can’t never get those things. Before I’m good’n started, I got the paper all tore to smithereens with erasin’.”

“Well there’s no pencils in Scramblin’. See, you get seven tiles. You draw tiles with letters on them from a bag and take turns makin’ words on a blank crossword board. There’s bonus squares, and…”

“Whoa, Ohmie. I ain’t much on makin’ words. You gotta know how ta spell in that game?”

Ohmie paused, crossing his eyes in thought. “Well maybe this other idea would suit ‘cha better. I’m thinkin’ about callin’ it Proof, or Evidence, or Clue, maybe. You have to figure out who killed…”

Noticing that he was losing Blado fast, Ohmie offered another game, animating play with hand movements. “This one’s the berries!”

“Reminds me!” Blado belched. “You remember those two sisters, What were their names?”

Ohmie was pretty sure where Blado was going and tried to steer him back. “Sorry! I…”

“Ellie and Ollie, I think. Remember Ohmie. We played five-card-stud back in my dad’s tool shed. Hah! Strip poker.  And they neither one had on nothin’ but those rabbit pajamas. You know, the ones with booties?”

Again, Ohmie failed to corral Blado.

“You were a sport, I’ll say. Tossed your underdrawers on the table an ran like you were chased by hornets! We laughed at that all night, me an’ Ellie and Ollie.” Blado guffawed, holding his guts in both arms.

“Yeah. I remember,” Ohmie said. “Don’t think May would care much to hear it, though.”

“Aw. I wouldn’t never tell her, little buddy. ‘Sides. We were just kids. What were we fifteen, sixteen?” Blado laughed again.

“Fourteen. Sorry!” Ohmie repeated a little more forcefully.

Blado settled, giving Ohmie his full attention, expecting something good, remembering the berries remark.

“I call it Sorry! See there’s a board. You roll dice and move your pieces around the board. And the first one to get all their men to Home wins!”

“Doesn’t sound all that excitin’, Ohmie.”

“Oh. I forgot to tell you, when you land on somebody, you send them back to the start and yell ‘Sorry!’. And there’s squares that if you land on them, well, they’re like hurdles.”

“You have to jump ‘em?” Blado asked. “I don’t think I’d like that. And what if all mine got sent back to the start all the time, Ohmie? I think I might get the heebie-jeebies on that one.”

“Oh, hey! I got one,” Blado nearly yelled. “Saw somethin’ at Ol’ Smithy’s.”

Ol’ Smithy’s was the blacksmith shop at the edge of town, what used to be the edge of town, anyway.

“Smithy was shapin’ a horseshoe. Sumpin’ about it he didn’t like an’ he pitched it off. That thing did a half spin in the air an’ landed around a steel pin that was leaned up against his barn, ringin’ it. Make somethin’ like that into a game.”

Ohmie peered square into Blado’s eyes, an infectious grin forming onto his entire face. “Horseshoe, huh?”

Credit to:
Jigsaw puzzles - John Spilzbury a London cartographer (1760) (He did not call them jigsaw puzzles, but disections)
Monopoly - Invented by Lizie Magie who called it Landlord's Game. It was modernized by Parker Brothers.
Scrabble - Invented by Alfred Mosher Butts who called it Lexiko. He renamed it Criss-Crosswords. James Brunot bought the rights and renamed it Scrabble.
Clue - First called Cluedo by Alfred E. Pratt of England
Horseshoes - relates to the 17th century game of Quoits (flat stones)
Sorry - Invented by William Henry Storey of Southend-on-Sea, England

So many games were invented by Brits, one of you should have written this one!

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© Copyright 2023. Wayne Fowler All rights reserved.
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