“Riiight,” said Linda, weighing up her next move.
“Left,” chipped in Barry.
“Stop it, I’m thinking.”
“You can always tell when she’s thinking,” Barry confided to Neil in a stage whisper. “Looks painful, eh?”
It was the third day of the holiday, and Barry had finally convinced the others to play. The rain had them pinned inside the barge like enemy fire, and his decision to bring the game ‘just in case’ had paid off now that they were bored of gin rummy and reading. “It’s a modern classic,” he’d explained to Linda as they packed. “It’s not just chance, it’s strategy and skill as well. And it’s easy enough for you girls to understand!” he added with a bark. Linda said nothing and continued pressing her clothes down into the suitcase. She knew better than to try to talk him out of it, and in any case her mind was on other things, namely long walks in the woods and Neil’s strong hands.
“Can I do that?” she asked. Barry squinted at the tiles and confirmed that she could, in a way that suggested that she really shouldn’t. She ignored him. “Alright,” he said, palms raised in defeat. “Neil, your turn – might want to watch out for that monastery!”
Behind his smile Neil’s teeth were clenched. Tina was confined to her bed, having complained of nausea, leaving Barry as the only obstacle between him and Linda. “Seasick on a barge!” Barry had exclaimed. “Can you believe it?”
Neil placed his tile down, followed by a small blue figurine. Barry looked at it and gave a small patter of applause. “Very nice. Very nice.”
Neil and Linda’s eyes met as Barry scrutinised the tiles. He was surrounded. He sucked his teeth and considered his options as the rain drummed overhead.