I worked in a coffee shop up the street from the monkey's school, right after my divorce. Naters would come to the coffee shop with me at the crack of dawn, and drink hot chocolate while I worked. He was always shy, but slowly got to know all of the regulars who would congregate at the Speedtrap.
And then one day, Nick walked in. Nick was a big bear. No idea how tall Nick was, but he had to have been at least 6'5" or so. A barrel chested big man with a big beard, crazy hair sticking up in every direction, and a booming voice. Nick was a walking example of intimidation, at first glance. When Nick and Tammy walked in that first morning, he walked over to Nate's little corner of the coffeebar. Nate always had a book or two, coloring sheets, and either Mancala or Checkers to amuse himself while I worked. Nick walked right up to him, asked him if he knew how to play chess. I remember Nate being absolutely speechless that this big bear was speaking to him, and just shaking his head. Nick walked over to a bookshelf, pulled chess pieces down and started to teach Nate chess. I think Nate was so in awe of Nick that he could not even refuse the lesson.
|My monkey, before Nick introduced him to chess|
Tammi and Nick bought Nate a chess board for Christmas that year. His very own, solid wood, hand-carved pieces. We still play with that board, six years later. Nate has been given lots of other chess sets, but that is the one that matters. And he learned well from Nick. I manage to beat him every few months, maybe force a stalemate every few weeks.
|First chess tourney, Second place in district.|
Rest in peace, Nick Kapusta.