When we looked back at the mike, a skinny old black man with a forehead you could project a movie on and dressed like Roble was now speaking. “My name Is Boti Dhalidad ” he said. “I am a Somali chess champion.“ A ripple ran through the crowd. “For many years since I have come to this country I have looked for a place to play outdoor chess with my friends. When I came across the table in Portutalia Park a year ago with my friend Ali…” At this point his friend Ali, a goggly eyed Arab man with a wet and droopy moustache jumped up and waved awkwardly at the crowd. Boti gently pressed him back down and a woman in a veil, presumably his wife, smacked him on the arm. Boti continued.
“We thought we had found the answer to our prayers so we immediately sat down and began to play. Many pleasant hours passed until we were satiated at last. Finally it came time to leave and Ali and I were packing up when this gentleman…” He indicated the Italian spokesman. “…came by and told us to move on, that it was their table and so on and so on. I was amenable as we were already on our way but Ali was not. Ali is more excitable as he is originally from Kenya… “ Ali’s wife smacked him again. “… and his wife is from Ethiopia…” Ali’s wife smacked Boti who just smiled and went on. “ Ali began to argue with the disagreeable man and it soon turned into an altercation of a physical nature, albeit with two old men, so no real damage was done. All of us said things that day that we regret…” At this point the Italian put his head down in shame. “… but that is in the past. Now the question is, what do we do?”
“May I? ” said Fernando. Boti stood aside graciously and gave him the floor.
“Why doesn’t everyone share the table?”
The crowd started to babble excitedly.
“What did he mean?” cried a Korean grocer with excema.
“I don’t understand ” shrieked the President of the Functional Schizophrenics Society.
“Is the boy insane?” whispered an expectant Lesbian to her doula.
“Silence! Silence!” bellowed Pearl Jewel. The Mayor banged her gravel. “Yes, exactly. Silence, as Councillor Jewel suggested. ” She looked over at Pearl who pretended to study the edge of the desk. The room settled down and the cuckolded mayor continued. “Thank you. Any more outbursts like that and we’ll have to clear the court.” Oh my god, she thinks she’s a judge. Poor thing’s losing it. Better watch out Madame Mayor, there’s a human truck in stretchy pants who’s got your gavel with her name on it.
“How could we do what you propose young man?” said the Mayor. “It’s always been a 50/50 split. Half and half. That makes sense. How would you divide it into three? It’s too complicated.”
“Why not let everybody have it a third of the day ” he suggested.
“What do you mean?” asked the Mayor. “ There’s only morning and afternoon. That’s two periods not three. It would never work. We must set up a committee.”
“What about if we went from eight to eleven, the Italians from eleven to two and the Somali’s from two to five ” said Fernando.
The Mayor comtemplated his outrageous suggestion as the crowd waited expectantly for her considered reaction. Before she could reply the Italian stepped back to the mike.
“Perhaps the Somali community could play after six ” he said. “Let the Africans play at night, is that what you’re suggesting Sir?” asked Boti, a definite edge in his voice.
“What’s wrong with that?” he said defensively.
“That’s all we need, the park filled with blacks at night ” came a voice from the back of the room.
“What’s the difference?’ yelled someone else from the dark.
“They’ll be there legally! “ hollered back the voice of the first man.
“Who said that?” Pearl Jewel had jumped out of her seat and looked like she was about ready to blow not just her stack but the stack of all her ancestors. The Mayor began to bang her gavel but to no avail. Pearl started to scan the crowd for the perpetrators. Then Victor Picklesly her assistant scuttled over to her side and placed his palm on her tiny arm and immediately all the anger seemed to drain out of her. She sat down and began to play with her Blackberry. Then Victor took his hand off her arm and drifted back to his place in the backroom shadows. The Mayor continued to bang her stupid stick screaming “Order! Order in the Court.”
To be continued…