The Hanjub Syndrome


thehanjubsyndromecoverAdam bristled in the stiff chair, his elbows pressed onto the dining room table across from his father. He was infuriated by the man’s smug look, which suggested Adam’s defeat was inevitable. It was a look all too familiar, and seemed present in nearly every interaction with him lately. His father seemed to relish Adam’s mistakes, and never missed an opportunity to point them out. His concentration wasn’t being helped by CarolLee’s constant stare, and her frequent interrupting questions. He swapped his father’s knight with one of his own pawns, and put it aside.

“Why can’t the horse play any more?” CarolLee asked.

Adam snapped, “It’s not a horse, it’s a knight, and it was captured. Stop asking stupid questions.”

“Don’t take it out on your little sister,” David said, ignoring the capture and moving a rook into position targeting Adam’s king. “She didn’t fall for the trap, you did. Check.”

Adam looked up to see his father’s smirk, which made him all the more angry. “Son-of-a-bitch,” the teen barked as he pushed over his king.

“Don’t swear in front of CarolLee,” David said, his admonition not serious enough to displace the smirk.

“Can I play,” CarolLee asked.

“You don’t know how to play,” Adam said, as he and his father began resetting the pieces.

“Yes, I do,” the ten-year-old said.

“Who taught you?” Adam asked, displaying a smirk not unlike that of his father’s.

CarolLee’s head dipped shyly as she said, “A friend.”

“You don’t have any friends that know how to play chess,” Adam said. “You don’t even have any friends.”

“Oh, stop it,” David said. “Let her play a game, then we can play again. It’ll be quick.”

Adam grumbled as he got up and hung over the two at the table with his arms folded. CarolLee sat on the edge of the chair, and leaned on her elbows in front of the board. She had drawn white, and moved her pawn to Q4.

Adam and his father looked at each other with more than a little surprise. CarolLee continued to play, considering her moves briefly, only asking how a knight could move once, until she resigned after about twenty moves.

“Hah,” Adam said. “I knew you couldn’t play.”

David said, “Nonsense, you played a very good game, CarolLee.”

Adam hated that his father always took his sister’s side. As she got up from the chair, his father pulled the girl into his lap, and cuddled her. “Your mistakes were strategic,” he said, then turned to Adam, “Not stupid blunders. I’ll bet you could beat your brother.”

Adam, incensed, said, “She can not, and I can prove it. Let’s play.”

“No, thanks,” CarolLee said. “I don’t want to play any more.”

“That’s not fair– ” Adam started, but was interrupted by his father telling him to let her be. David wrapped his arms around the girl, cuddling and oozing his affection all over her. Adam stomped off to his room in disgust.

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