Game Night

by John Wentworth Chapin

Seven empty wine bottles huddled on the coffee table. “URGENT,” I said to my brother. He stared blankly at me. “URGENT,” I repeated. You can't say more in Password.

“I heard you,” he snapped. He stared at the burgundy dregs in his glass. I wanted to go to bed, but I wanted to win. Competitive and drunk.

“You're taking too long,” my mother said. If she said anything else, he would explode. I couldn't believe she didn't know that by now. He paused, long and deliberate, daring anyone to goad him.

“DELIVERY,” he said. I sighed.

“SOS,” his wife said to my mother immediately, barely a pause.

“HELP,” my mother responded. It was the right answer.

My brother glowered. “Delivery was a good guess,” he said.

“But it was wrong!” his wife chirped.

His eyes were glazed: the wine, the late hour, the competition. A bad combination. He and my mother looked at the next card.

“DOCTOR,” she said to her daughter-in-law.

“NURSE,” came the reply. My mother shook her head and frowned.

My brother stared at the card, again too long. He looked at me. “DOCTOR,” he said, nodding slowly.

 “She just said that,” I groaned, my tone critical, bewildered.

“I know she just said that,” he snarled. “DOCTOR.” He nodded, persistent.

“You can't gesture,” my mother complained.

I took in a sharp breath. “NURSE,” I hissed.

He called me a fucking asshole before he upended the coffee table and sent the bottles clattering across the floor.