Pawns and Little Drummer Boys

Posted: December 5, 2012 in Life, Uncle Richard
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Today, I feel like I need an adviser. I have a lot of big decisions to make. Its times like this I miss Uncle Richard the most…

We kept working with Uncle Richard – mostly it was acting stuff. I auditioned for (and was at least sometimes in final callbacks) for things like The Dark Half, The Good Son, Huck Finn, and Newsies. Uncle Richard rarely charged, and when he did…it was a pittance. He’d charge us for half an hour when he really sat down and talked with me for 2. Not everything we did together was acting related (although arguably it was all acting related, if you follow the “everything is art” line of thought). Sometimes we talked books, sometimes we talked movies. Sometimes he’d sit and just play chess with me – although I got very good, I don’t think I ever beat him, except maybe once. Even then, I’m not convinced he didn’t let me win. He picked up each piece and explained them to me in detail.

Me: What’s this guy for, then?

Uncle Richard: That’s a pawn.

Me: Is it important?

Uncle Richard: Not always.

Me: Does it do anything cool?

Uncle Richard: It moves one space at a time, across the board. The first time it moves, it can move 2 spaces.

I was unimpressed.

Me: So it’s basically there to protect the King?

Uncle Richard: Mostly. But sometimes, if you’re very lucky and your opponent is distracted, a pawn can make it across the board.

Me: What’s the point of that?

Uncle Richard: Then, the pawn can become one of the most valuable pieces on the board.

He’d tell me that I could probably become President, and that he’d help run my campaign. We talked about national and international policy, and even though I barely had a clue what I was talking about, he listened thoughtfully and talked to me as an equal. One day, after working on  a script, he thoughtfully looked over at me.
Uncle Richard: What do you think of pollution? Global warming and all that?

Me: I think it should be stopped.

Uncle Richard: Okay, let’s say you were running the country. How do we stop it?

Me: I’d put caps on all the smoke stacks and chimneys.

Uncle Richard (trying to hold back laughter): That’s a pretty good idea, Danny.
He was really into the supernatural – among other things, he believed in ghosts. He had an old book on one of his shelves that I often asked him to take down for me. Despite some of the pages having been dog eared, it was in otherwise good condition. “That’s how you can tell a book has been well loved,” he always told me. Anyway, there were artist depictions of ghosts and descriptions of the different kinds that supposedly existed. Flipping through, I stopped on a certain page and felt goosebumps.There was a pencil drawing of a little drummer boy – his eyes looked dead and haunted.
Me: What is that?

Uncle Richard: That’s a little drummer boy.

Me: That’s pretty creepy.
Uncle Richard’s eyes lit up, and as told me about them. They supposedly appeared on the site of battles – sometimes reenacting how they died. I thought that was pretty horrible, to spend eternity reenacting getting shot or killed by a cannonball. He agreed. Sometimes that picture still haunts me, and when I was a kid I used to carefully search my room for the little drummer boy before going to sleep. Even though my house was the site of many battles, I never found him.


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