Forrest Gump Chapter Twenty-One
Well, after that I was one sorry bastid.
Dan an me stayed at the apartment that nite, but the nex mornin started packin up our shit an all, cause there wadn’t no reason to be in Indianapolis no longer. Dan, he come to me an say, “Here, Forrest, take this money,” an helt out the two thousand dollars Mike had give us for rasslin The Professor.
“I don’t want it,” I says.
“Well you better take it,” says Dan, “cause it’s all we got.”
“You keep it,” I says.
“At least take haf of it,” he say. “Look, you gotta have some travelin money. Get you to wherever your goin.”
“Ain’t you goin with me?” I axed.
“I’m afraid not, Forrest,” he says. “I think I done enough damage already. I didn’t sleep none last night. I’m thinkin about how I got you to agree to bet all our money, an how I got you to keep on rasslin when it oughta have been apparent Jenny was about to freak out on us. An it wadn’t your fault you got whupped by The Professor. You did what you could. I am the one to blame. I jus ain’t no good.”
“Awe, Dan, it wadn’t your fault neither,” I says. “If I hadn’t of got the big head bout bein The Dunce, an begun to believe all that shit they was sayin bout me, I wouldn’t of got in this fix in the first place.”
“Whatever it is,” Dan say, “I jus don’t feel right taggin along anymore. You got other fish to fry now. Go an fry em. Forget about me. I ain’t no good.”
Well, me an Dan talked for a long time, but there wadn’t no convincin him, an after a wile, he got his shit an I hepped him down the steps, an the last I seen of him, he was pushin hissef down the street on his little cart, with all his clothes an shit piled in his lap.
I went down to the bus station an bought a ticket to Mobile. It was sposed to be a two day an two nite trip, down thru Louisville, to Nashville, to Birmingham an then Mobile, an I was one miserable idiot, settin there wile the bus rolled along.
We passed thru Louisville durin the nite, an the nex day we stopped in Nashville an had to change busses. It was about a three hour wait, so I decided to walk aroun town for a wile. I got me a sambwich at a lunch counter an a glass of iced tea an was walkin down the street when I seen a big sign in front of a hotel say, “Welcome Grandmaster’s Invitational Chess Tournament.”
It sort of got my curiosity up, on account of I had played all that chess back in the jungle with Big Sam, an so I went on into the hotel. They was playin the chess game in the ballroom an had a big mob of people watchin, but a sign say, “Five dollars admission,” and I didn’t want to spend none of my money, but I looked in thru the door for a wile, an then jus went an set down in the lobby by mysef.
They was a chair across from me with a little ole man settin in it. He was all shriveled up an grumpy-lookin an had on a black suit with spats an a bow tie an he had a chessboard set out on a table in front of him.
As I set there, ever once in a wile he would move one of the chessmen, an it begun to dawn on me that he was playin by hissef. I figgered I had bout another hour or so fore the bus lef, so I axed him if he wanted somebody to play with. He jus looked at me an then looked back down at his chessboard an didn’t say nothin.
A little bit later, the ole feller’d been studyin the chessboard for most of a half hour an then he moved his white bishop over to black square seven an was jus bout to take his han off it when I says, ” ‘scuse me.”
The feller jumped like he’d set on a tack, an be glarin across the table at me.
“You make that move,” I says, “an you be leavin yoursef wide open to lose your knight an then your queen an put your ass in a fix.”
He look down at his chessboard, never takin his han off the bishop, an then he move it back an say to me, “Possibly you are right.”
Well, he go on back to studyin the chessboard an I figger it’s time to get back to the bus station, but jus as I start to leave, the ole man say, “Pardon me, but that was a very shrewd observation you made.”
I nod my head, an then he say, “Look, you’ve obviously played the game, why don’t you sit down an finish this one with me? Just take over the white in their positions now.”
“I cain’t,” I says, cause I got to catch the bus an all. So he jus nods an gives me a little salute with his han an I went on back to the bus station.
Time I get there, the damn bus done lef anyway, an here I am an ain’t no other bus till tomorrow. I jus cain’t do nothin right. Well, I got a day to kill, so I walked on back to the hotel an there is the little ole man still playin against hissef, an he seems to be winnin. I went on up to him an he look up an motion for me to set down. The situation I have come into is pretty miserable – haf my pawns gone an I ain’t got but one bishop an no rooks an my queen is about to be captured nex.
It took me most of a hour to git mysef back in a even position, an the ole man be kinda gruntin an shakin his head evertime I improve my situation. Finally, I dangle a gambit in front of him. He took it, an three moves later I got him in check.
“I will be damned,” he say. “Just who are you, anyway?”
I tole him my name, an he say, “No, I mean, where have you played? I don’t even recognize you.”
When I tole him I learnt to play in New Guinea, an he say, “Good heavens! An you mean to say you haven’t even been in regional competition?”
I shook my head an he says, “Well whether you know it or not, I am a former international grand master, and you have just stepped into a game you couldn’t possibily have won, and totally annihilated me!”
I axed how come he wadn’t playin in the room with the other people, an he says, “Oh, I played earlier. I’m nearly eighty years old now, an there is a sort of senior tournament. The real glory is to the younger fellows now – their minds are jus sharper.”
I nodded my head an thanked him for the game an got up to go, but he says, “Listen, have you had your supper yet?”
I tole him I had a sambwich a few hours ago, an he say, “Well how about letting me buy you dinner? After all, you gave me a superb game.”
I said that woud be okay, an we went into the hotel dinin room. He was a nice man. Mister Tribble was his name.
“Look,” Mister Tribble say wile we is havin dinner, “I’d have to play you a few more games to be sure, but unless your playing this evening was a total fluke, you are perhaps one of the brightest unrecognized talents in the game. I would like to sponsor you in a tournament or two, and see what happens.”
I tole him about headin home an wantin to get into the srimp bidness and all, but he say, “Well, this could be the opportunity of a lifetime for you, Forrest. You could make a lot of money in this game, you know.” He said for me to think it over tonight, an let him know somethin in the mornin. So me an Mister Tribble shook hans, an I went on out in the street.
I done wandered aroun for a wile, but they ain’t a lot to see in Nashville, an finally I wound up settin on a bench in a park. I was tryin to think, which don’t exactly come easy to me, an figger out what to do now. My mind was mostly on Jenny an where she is. She say not to try to find her or nothin, but they is a feelin down deep in me someplace that she ain’t forgot me. I done made a fool of mysef in Indianapolis, an I know it. I think it was that I wadn’t tryin to do the right thing. An now, I ain’t sure what the right thing is. I mean, here I am, ain’t got no money to speak of, an I got to have some to start up the srimp bidness, an Mister Tribble say I can win a good bit on the chess circuit. But it seem like ever time I do somethin besides tryin to get home an get the srimp bidness started, I get my big ass in hot water – so here I am again, wonderin what to do.
I ain’t been wonderin long when up come a policeman an axe me what I’m doin.
I says I’m jus settin here thinkin, an he say ain’t nobody allowed to set an think in the park at night an for me to move along. I go on down the street, an the policeman be followin me. I didn’t know where to go, so after a wile I saw an alley an walked on back in it an foun a place to set down an rest my feet. I ain’t been settin there more’n a minute when the same ole policeman come by an see me there.
“All right,” he say, “come on outta there.” When I get out to the street, he say, “What you doin in there?”
I says, “Nothin,” an he say, “That’s exactly what I thought – you is under arrest for loiterin.”
Well, he take me to the jail an lock me up an then in the mornin they say I can make one phone call if I want. Course I didn’t know nobody to phone but Mister Tribble, so that’s what I did. Bout haf a hour later, he shows up at the police station an springs me out of jail.
Then he buys me a big ole breakfast at the hotel an says, “Listen, why don’t you let me enter you in the interzonal championships next week in Los Angeles? First prize is ten thousan dollars. I will pay for all your expenses an we will split any money you win. Seems to me you need a stake of some sort, and, to tell you the truth, I would enjoy it immensely mysef. I will be your coach and adviser. How bout it?”
I still had some doubts, but I figgered it wouldn’t hurt to try. So I said I woud do it for a wile. Till I got enough money to start the srimp thing. An me an Mister Tribble shook hans an become partners.
Los Angeles was quite a sight. We got there a week early an Mister Tribble would spend most of the day coachin me an honin down my game, but after a wile of this, he jus shook his head an say there ain’t no sense in tryin to coach me, cause I got “every move in the book” already. So what we did was, we went out on the town.
Mister Tribble took me to Disneyland an let me go on some rides an then he arranged to get us a tour of a movie lot. They is got all sorts of movies goin on, an people is runnin aroun shoutin “take one,” an “cut,” an “action,” an shit like that. One of the movies they was doin was a Western an we seen a feller get hissef thowed thru a plate glass winder about ten times – till he got it right.
Anyway, we was jus standin there watchin this, when some guy walk up an says, “I beg your pardon, are you an actor?”
I says, “Huh?” An Mister Tribble, he says, “No, we are chess players.”
An the feller say, “Well that’s kind of a shame, because the big guy here, he looks ideal for a role in a movie I’m doing.” And then he turn to me an feel of my arm an say, “My, my, you are a big strong feller – are you sure you don’t act?”
“I did once,” I says.
“Really!” the feller says. “What in?”
“Marvelous, baby,” he says, “that’s just marvelous – do you have your SAG card?”
“Screen Actors Guild – oh, no matter,” he say. “Listen, baby, we can get that, no trouble. What I want to know is, where have they been hiding you? I mean, just look at you! A perfect big strong silent type – another John Wayne.”
“He is no John Wayne,” Mister Tribble say sourly, “he is a world-class chess player.”
“Well all the better,” the feller say, “a smart big, strong, silent type. Very unusual.”
“Ain’t as smart as I look,” I says, tryin to be honest, but the feller say none of that matters anyhow, cause actors ain’t sposed to be smart or honest or nothin like that – just be able to get up there an say they lines.
“My name’s Felder,” he says, “an I make movies. I want you to take a screen test.”
“He has to play in a chess tournament tomorrow,” Mister Tribble say. “He has no time for acting or screen tests.”
“Well, you could squeeze it in, couldn’t you? After all, it might be the break you’ve been looking for. Why don’t you come along, too, Tribble, we’ll give you a screen test as well.”
“We’ll try,” Mister Tribble say. “Now come along, Forrest, we have a little more work to do.”
“See you later, baby,” say Mister Felder, “don’t forget now.”
An off we go.