The Story of A VETERAN AFFAIR
Ted, an older middle-aged man, is sitting at a table in the center of the recreation room at the Veterans Affairs Hospital in West Palm Beach, Florida. He is setting up a chess board with the white pieces on his side. There is a walking cane hung on his chair. After a beat or two, William enters in a wheelchair. Although the two men are not elderly, the extent of their wounds in Vietnam has aged them significantly and has rendered an invalid and William incapable of caring for himself.
Ted and William play their usual game of chess as they discuss the various happenings during the past couple of days. As the conversation and game both seem to turn against William and he gets increasing upset. Finally, Ted declares “Check Mate” and gets up to go to the restroom.
William is not happy over the results and tries to talk Ted into continuing the game. But, Ted leaves to relieve himself declaring "You don't need me, William. You're too busy entertaining yourself."
William looks at the chess board and realizes that he is fully beaten, so he throws the pieces and the board on the floor. He then turns his wheelchair over as he angrily tries to leave the room.
He calls out but no one answers. He tries to reach the call button and cannot. He then straightens up his chair but cannot pull himself up. He then notices the king piece and picks it up. In a final desperate attempt at some semblance of trust (or faith?) he calls out to God, then pulls himself up into the chair.
As He does so, Ted enters, having watched most of the foregoing action. William admits that he tries to help William recognize the role God had in the situation. But William’s contentious attitude forces him to argue the point and brag that he had done it himself. Although Ted tries to explain how God may have helped him, Williams attitude makes Ted decide not to argue the point any longer and exits.
Finally, William is alone holding the king piece in his hand. He stares at it for awhile, smiles, puts the piece in his pocket and then rolls out into the hallway on his way to the cafeteria.