"Dude, I think I'm gonna hurl!" Henry Ryler said, as he glanced around at the ever growing crowd.
"Aw, keep your cool dude!" his best friend Jimmy replied, "you already hurled twice on the way over here. You're gonna rule! You're the best Backgammon player here, man!"
"I don't know, dude," Henry said, "I mean, there's guys from all over the county that have entered this tournament. Guys who can really play."
"I believe in you, man," Jimmy said, "just be cool. Besides, Gammonee is going to smile down upon you tonight."
Henry laughed. It was an inside joke between the two of them. Jimmy once said there is a God for everything including Backgammon. Henry came up with the name "Gammonee". It was good for a few laughs.
"Yeah, I'm confident alright," Henry wearily said, "confident I'm gonna hurl again!" He then quickly ran to the restroom. A few minutes later, Henry wobbled back.
"Hey, check it out, dude!" Jimmy said, punching Henry in the shoulder.
"Oww, man," Henry reacted, "cut it out, that hurts!"
"But look who's here," Jimmy said, as he pointed towards the entrance, "its SHELLLLYYYYYYY!"
Henry glanced over to see a stick skinny, cute brunette, walking through the admission gate. Shelly Wilson worked in the mall at a kiosk that sold fake gold jewelry and Henry had had a crush on her for about a year. He had invited her to the tournament not thinking she'd actually show.
"Oh, man," Henry said, "as if I'm not nervous enough!"
"HEY SHELLY! Jimmy yelled out.
"Dude! What are you doing?!" Henry nervously asked.
"Calling over your true love, dude!" Jimmy confidently smiled, "she'll bring you luck!"
Shelly glanced their way and smiled, then slowly made her way over. Henry thought she moved like an angel, as she walked through the crowd.
"Hey guys!" she cheerfully greeted, "so Henry…are you ready to play?"
Henry's face turned fifty shades of red, as he nodded.
"Of course he's ready to play," Jimmy answered, "and ready to awesomely dominate!"
"Well, I'll be rooting for you," Shelly subtly smiled.
"Th…Thanks," Henry stuttered, as he noted she had the smile of a saint.
"Now's your chance, dude," Jimmy whispered, as he suddenly poked Henry in the ribs.
"Oww! Uh, Shelly?" Henry nervously stammered, "yyou think that mmaybe after the games..uh..you and I could, uh, go and get something to…."
"HEY SHELLY BABY! WHAT ARE YOU DOING TALKING TO THESE TWO CLUNKHEADS?!"
The interrupting voice was very loud with a healthy heap of arrogance.
"Oh great, its Rickie Nance," Henry mumbled. Nance was not only a state rated backgammon player but also a know it all and a self fancied ladies man whom Henry unfortunately knew from the community college they both attended.
"Hey, Rickie!" Shelly smiled, "I didn't know you had entered this tournament."
"Of course, sweet cheeks!" Rickie replied, as he glanced around the room, "but not much competition here, though. So it'll be an easy win for me!"
"An easy elimination in the first round for you, dude!" Jimmy spoke up.
"Shut up, twerp!" Rickie replied, then quickly turned to Henry, "It'll be fun Ryler, if we get to go up against each other. Fun to show what a loser you are!"
Henry just glanced away.
"C'mon, Shelly," Rickie announced, as he put his arm around her shoulder, "after I win this tournament, I'll take you over to Mr. Goodburger. My brother's the shift manager tonight, so we can get free fries!"
"Good luck, Henry!" Shelly called back, as Rickie led her away.
"What an arrogant S.O.B.," Henry mumbled.
"Dude!" Jimmy said, "He's stealing your girl!"
Henry frowned, "she's not my girl."
"But she will be when you win," Jimmy replied, "and you can impress her and win her back by buying the Mr. Goodburger jumbo pack with the prize money."
"Aw, girls like her don't go for guys like me," Henry sadly replied.
"That's her loss, dude!" Jimmy said, "besides, this is only the beginning of your professional backgammon career. Soon, you'll have your share of hot backgammon groupies."
"Hot backgammon groupies?!" Henry gasped, "there's no such thing as backgammon groupies, hot or not!"
Jimmy winked, "there will be when you start winning!"
Henry just shook his head. Suddenly, the announcements started indicating the tournament was about to begin.
"WILL ALL ENTRANTS PLEASE APPROACH THE RULES COMMITTEE TABLE TO FIND OUT WHO YOUR FIRST ROUND OPPONENT WILL BE!"
"This is it, dude," Jimmy said, "good luck."
"Yeah, thanks man," Henry replied, as he slowly headed over to the table.
In the first round, he easily defeated some guy with a lazy eye from Huntington Beach. He glanced over to the stands to see Jimmy giving him the thumbs up. Three rows further up he could see Shelly smiling at him. He quickly looked away, because he figured he couldn't afford to loose his concentration.
He had a little harder time in the second round against some slacker from Sacramento, but he did manage to pull off another win. After a short break, the third round started. It was then that Henry's worst nightmare began.
"Well, it looks like I'm easily moving on to the fourth round, eh, clunker?!"
Henry looked up to see Rickie Nance standing before him.
"Oh, great!" Henry mumbled.
"You want to forfeit right now, Ryler?" Rickie taunted as he sat down straight across the game table from Henry, "It'll save you a lot of embarrassment!"
"Rickie, lets just play, okay?" Henry wearily asked.
So the game began. Henry once again glanced up into the stands. Jimmy was still smiling stupidly and still giving him the thumbs up. Shelly was still smiling sweetly.
Henry found, however, his concentration had begun to wane because he was letting himself become intimidated by the mere presence of Nance and he suspected his elimination from this round at the hands of ol' Rickie was not far off.
Get yourself together, dude, he tried to convince himself but to no avail.
So he did the only thing he could think of at the moment. He began to pray to the great God of Backgammon; Gamonnee.
Just then he heard a voice. Whether it was outside or inside his head, he couldn't yet determine but he definitely heard it.
"Don't worry dude," it said in a somewhat whiny pitch, "Gammonee's got your back."
Henry looked around in confusion.
"Up here, dude. In the stands!"
Henry glanced back towards the stands and suddenly noticed a pudgy, bald headed guy who waved and smiled.
"Oh, God!" Henry mumbled.
"Fer sure, dude!" the voice continued, "for it is I, the great God of Backgammon, humbly at your service."
"You say something, chump?" Rickie asked.
Henry didn't answer, as Gammonee was now standing up and waving, still speaking within Henry's head.
"Hey, dude," Gammonee said, "what are you doing playing against that squid? You're good enough to go to Vegas and turn pro. So let's split this nerdorama and go out for a thick, juicy cheeseburger! I'm buyin! Have your girlfriend join us. Ask her if she has a sister!"
"No! Shut up!" Henry mumbled.
"What'd you say?!" Rickie asked again.
"Nothing," Henry replied.
"If you're trying to play some type of psyche out game on me, Ryler," Rickie warned, "its not gonna work! You keep it up and I'm calling over a referee to have you disqualified!"
"C'mon, man!" Gammonee continued to speak somewhere shallow within Henry's mind, "if ya don't want cheeseburgers, then lets go for a thick crust pepperoni and anchovies pizza! What do ya say?!"
"Not now! Get lost!" Henry whispered.
"Okay! That's it!" Rickie cried out, as he signaled for a referee.
An older, prim woman, with her hair tied up tightly in a bun, approached their table.
"What is it?" she impatiently asked.
"This guy is trying to cheat by constantly mumbling to distract me!" Rickie answered.
"Is this true, young man?!" the woman said, as she turned and addressed Henry.
Henry glanced back over towards the stands. Johnny was still grinning. Shelly was still smiling and Gammonee was still in his head. Henry then looked up at the woman referee.
"I'm still waiting for your answer, young man!" she sarcastically stated.
Suddenly, Henry hurled all over the woman.
The tournament was immediately halted. Clean up crews were immediately called and Henry was immediately disqualified. Later, as he cleaned himself up in the restroom, Jimmy walked in.
"Well, dude," he said, "I've got good news and bad news. Which you wanna hear first?"
"How can there be good news in any of this?!" Henry sadly replied.
"Well, the good news is," Jimmy answered, "Rickie didn't win. He finished eleventh, but you my friend, despite being disqualified, still ended up twentieth! Which entitles you to two free washes at the Caked Mud Automated Car Wash."
Henry shrugged, "So, what's the bad news?"
"Shelly just left with Rickie."
"That figures," Henry lamented.
"But," Jimmy continued, "I heard they're still headed over to Mr. Goodburger. I say we go over there and while I distract Robbie by doing some trash talkin', you steal Shelly away by using all your natural charm. Besides, I think they still have the double blast burger special. What do ya say?!"
Henry thought it over for a minute then smiled devilishly, "So lets rock!"
"Sweeeeetttt!" Jimmy happily replied.
As they headed out, Henry glanced back one last time at the now empty stands. Empty except for one short, pudgy, bald guy still sitting up there all by himself. The guy waved down at Henry who instinctively waved back, then Henry heard the voice once again.
"Gammonee spreads his blessings upon you, my righteous dude and by the way, did you ever find out if your girlfriend has a sister?!"
A/N: This story was inspired and is dedicated to my brother, Aaron and his friend John, who are both obsessed with Backgammon and do believe in Gammonee. At least that's what they claim.