Saul knocked gently on Larry’s door before pushing it open; a vast improvement from his old habit of just barging in whenever he felt like. As far as brothers went, the two had been good siblings to each other since they went to university; before that, sibling rivalry always leads to petty squabbles and bickering. Four years apart had served them well, and they had been the best of friends ever since. They now lived in houses beside each other, and despite the occasional row over who should cut the small line of grass between their houses (for the both refused to get a surveyor to tell them exactly where that line was, and often neither would cut all the way, leaving a small, slightly uneven row of long grass between the two brown houses), they were good neighbours, visiting each other daily for games of chess and cups of tea. Saul usually won the chess, while Larry usually made the tea.
Larry moved to get the door when Saul opened it and started walking in, holding a small bag of sugar and a baggy with three eggs. “Larry, I’m here, what are you up to?”
“Baking a cake,” Larry said from down the hall.
“Huh, very funny.” Saul pulled his boots off and joined his brother in the kitchen, setting his groceries on the counter. “You better not have started without me, at least.”
“No no, I wouldn’t deny you the pleasure of helping to make your wife’s birthday cake.”
Saul harrumphed, and looked over the recipe Larry had laid out. “All right, you take care of the dry stuff, and I’ll get the wet?” Saul suggested, knowing Larry would want the opposite.
“Naw, I think I better handle the wet, it’s a bit tricky if you’ve never done it before.”
Saul rolled his eyes as he turned around and started measuring all the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl while Larry did the same with the wet.
“Make a well in the centre, would you? Don’t you know how this works? Daft old fool,” Larry said.
“Ha! I’m the daft one? You, my friend, tried to mount a defense with a pawn and a rook against my bishop and knight the other day.”
“Yeah yeah, don’t remind me.”
“It was mate in three moves!”
Larry took his bowl and poured it into Saul’s, with what he hoped was just enough conviction to portray his annoyance. Saul, however, was still going over the game in his mind.
Taking a wooden spoon, Larry began stirring the ingredients together, while Saul absent-mindedly took the cake pan out from the cupboard. Finishing the stirring, Larry set the bowl in front of him, obviously wanting him to do the pouring without actually saying so. Saul picked it up and poured the batter in the pan, hoping his brother would pick up on his annoyance this time. It was remarkably difficult to portray annoyance through pouring batter into a pan though, and Larry remained unaware. He picked up the pan before Larry could reach for it and placed it in the oven, setting the timer for thirty-five minutes.
“Chess?” Larry asked.
“As my grandson says, ‘Bring it’.”