When Jim first handed me the cleaned-out coffee can with all of my pieces inside I bit down on one like a prospector testing gold.  The feel of Scrabble tiles without the letters, the heft of bone, each one a variant shade of beige.   My tongue assessed the fine grit of something vaguely tasting of shoe sole.

“Don’t eat it!” Jim said.

“I’m not eating it.”  It left a tinge of worn leather on my lips, and then I set the square back down.

“Why would you do that?” he asked.

“I’m not eating it.  I’m not doing anything.”  Just like I hadn’t been nudging my fingernail into a piece of stale gum, right at that very moment, stuck under the tabletop and relishing the way the gum softened its resistance.  Which I had been.  “So.  What is it?”

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