Little Garrett Swopes looked down back his swinging feet to the black and white checked floor of the diner. Surprisingly, it looked really clean and shiny. He decided the floor was happy. The wall was not as happy, as it had a small hole in it, down in the baseboard. Looking back up and across the Formica table, which was happy as it was both clean and yellow, he saw his parents, Florinda and Lyle Swopes, who were not happy.
They utterly failed to notice as he dug the felt bag out of his backpack and slid onto the floor. The waitress did notice, but she decided it wasn’t her business to tell the child not to play down there with his toys. She didn’t like to meddle, as it was presumptuous and tended to reduce tips.
Finally noticing, Florinda said chidingly, “Garrett, don’t be so banal. What are you doing on the floor.”
“Setting up the pieces. See, the floor is like a chess board.”
His mother sighed, “But who will you play on the floor?”
He answered quite naturally, “The rat king, of course.”