Wednesday 07 Dec 2016

A Game of Murder
AJ Robinson

It sounds like a title for a murder mystery, doesn't it. Yet, it's a game. We, my friends and I, played it, years ago, on Martha's Vineyard. Our neighborhood was perfect for playing all kinds of active games - the sort kids can't play these days. You know, because if they did, and they ran and fell, they'd get hurt, and someone might get sued. Oh, whom am I kidding? Someone would definitely sue.

Anyway, the game was quite simple; we took several cards from a deck: ace, king, queen, jack and several others. I don't remember exactly what each card represented, but I do remember that they were characters in the murder mystery. One, of course, was the killer. Another was the detective, and another was the assistant detective. The reason for having two of them was in case the detective was the first victim. Then there were innocent bystanders, and someone to commit suicide.

Yeah, that's right - one of us was supposed to kill him (or her) self. A politically incorrect game, don't you agree. No one would let kids play it these days. No, someone would accuse us of encouraging kids to commit murder and kill.

After that, we started strolling around the neighborhood. We generally limited ourselves to just a couple blocks. Not because we were worried about going too far from home, the Campgrounds was pretty much a total safety zone, as if a force field protected us, no, it was that we wanted the game to move along quickly.

We'd walk around, wondering who was going to be the first victim, and keeping an eye out for each other. Finally, the call, one of us found a "body." Immediately, we'd converge on the spot and the detective and/or the assistant would whip out their card, and start investigating. This consisted of asking questions of all of the witnesses, and trying to figure out who was the last person to be near the victim. The way the "kill" worked was this: the murderer just squeezed a person's wrist, and then they died a minute later.

Sometimes, often times, the detective wouldn't be able to figure anything out - at first. This was especially true if the victim was the suicide. That was the whole point of that character - to mess things up.

After the questioning, if no accusation was forthcoming, and released, we went on our way. That is, until the next fatality. Then, the questioning began anew. Eventually, either the detective (or his/her assistant, or a bystander - if both of them died) caught the killer or the killer wiped us all out, and then the game ended.

Huh, a guess you could say we were playing a game of serial killer. I never thought of it that way before. Yet, we just saw it as an innocent game. Today, I'm sure any children who dared even suggest such a game would undergo intense therapy and sensitivity training.

Although I agree that it was most definitely a macabre game to play, we played in complete innocence. Sometimes, I think parents read too much into children's games. Even Freud said that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.

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