A Sunday Tradition.

"God-DAMN IT! I thought I told you: I AM ALWAYS THE FUCKING CAR! You know that there are only three pieces left."

"Yeah, that's because you got so mad one day, after you lost, that you threw the whole box out the door of my single-story house. Those three were the only pieces I could find. The rest fell down the sewer drain. Besides, it's my game and I can be whatever I want! The hat and the thimble are just as good, anyway."

"OK, then why don't you be one of them?"

"Because, it's my game and I want to be the car!"

And so it always went. The two grown men were always arguing over this trivial board game. Still, they had played Monopoly together every Sunday after church since they were five and four years old respectively. Ron, the older brother with the hot temper, had grown up to become a tennis instructor for the local YMCA in Bensalem, Pennsylvania. Don, the owner of the Monopoly game, taught English as a second language at the Bucks County Community College. Both were very mild mannered in their daily lives and well-adjusted husbands and fathers to their families. Ron's wife just gave birth to their fifth child two Sundays ago. Needless to say, the Monopoly game was still played by Ron and Don in the waiting room at the Doylestown Hospital, just north of Bensalem. The scene they created made the young children in the room cry; red hotels and green houses were thrown all over the place, let me leave it at that.

Don's wife always worried when her husband played the game. However, when he finished, his competitive fire always subsided and he returned to his reserved demeanor. During play, though, Don could be heard yelling at his brother and breaking dishes against the walls (when he started losing, he could not control himself). That was why Don's wife preferred to no longer watch the matches. After getting a shard of glass imbedded into her eyeball, she had to wear an eye patch for three months. Fortunately, the piece was small and she eventually regained the use of her left eye again.

Ron's wife was not allowed to sit in on the games anymore. Ron saw her as bad luck and had never gotten over the "incident." It went like this: they were on their honeymoon after marrying, fifteen years ago. It was a ten day vacation, starting on a Wednesday. On the following Sunday, Don was invited to their room at Bally's Park Place Hotel (which overlooks the world famous Boardwalk) in Atlantic City. Ron's wife was most upset at her husband's decision, but she saw no weakness in his stance. One afternoon out of bed would not kill them, after all. Anyway, Ron soon amassed a sizable lead in money and properties (Don had the unfortunate luck to land on the Income Tax space and the Luxury Tax space a personal worst 16 times during the game). Feeling confident with his impending victory, Ron left the room to pick up a large pepperoni pizza at the Domino's Pizza, a half block away. Ron decided, being a good sport, to let his wife play for him while he was gone. She happily accepted the chance to play. Fifteen minutes later, when Ron returned, he found that his wife had lost most of his money and was forced to mortgage both Pacific and Atlantic avenues. Don was now winning, since Ron's wife had landed on Indiana Avenue three consecutive turns with a hotel on it. Ron did not stop yelling at her until the game was over and he lost to his brother. This loss especially hurt, for this was the tenth consecutive week without a win. Ron snapped after the game, trashed the room, broke the television set, and eventually got thrown out by the hotel security guards. Ron did not speak to his wife all the way back to Bensalem, a ten hour drive.

"Well, I'm older than you and stronger than you and if you don't give me the car, then I'm going to KICK your ASS!"

"OK, first of all, you are only one year older than me. Secondly, I am taller than you, with longer arms and legs, and I am just as good at fighting as you. Finally, you have gotten fat over the years. So, bring it on, because you are not getting this car!"

Ron had been in quite a funk at the time of this argument. He had not defeated his brother in Monopoly for fifteen straight weeks. Of the 1092 games they have played, the overall series record was tied at 546-546. When they were children, Ron always got to cheat his brother because Don never really understood the rules until he was about eight years old. For the first four years of his life, the record was 146-62 against Don. Ron always kept track of the record and never once tried to cheat his brother in this regard. In his teenage years, though, Don proved to be a Monopoly mastermind and closed the gap to twenty games by his twentieth birthday. Now 25 and 26 years old, Don and Ron have played close to .500 in their twenties, but Don had evened the record this year for the first time in his life. To win this game would be more than a milestone, it would essentially prove to Ron that Don was no longer the loser in the family.

Don grew up very much in his brother's shadow. Ron was always the important athlete in the family. Ron got a scholarship to attend Penn State and play tennis. He was even on the ATP tour for a short time in the early 1990's, until he tore his Achilles tendon, thus ruining his tennis career. Still, he was the town's local hero and was admired by all the high school tennis players. Don tried out for the baseball team in his sophomore year of high school as a pitcher. In his only practice, he had to pitch to the team's captain; a senior who was the state's batting champion the previous year. Don's first pitch was a fast ball that hit the batter directly in the face, shattering his nose. Don freaked out and fainted at the sight of the senior bleeding all over home plate. Don was not invited back for the next day's afternoon practice. The senior missed six weeks of the season and the team failed to make the playoffs for the first time in seven years. Don was mercilessly picked on by the athletes for the rest of his high school career.

Don did manage to get his life together later that year. After teaching English to Miguel Sanchez, his friend from Venezuela, Don thought that teaching would be a fulfilling career. He went to college at Pennsylvania University and got his degree in English. Right after graduating, Bucks County Community College hired him to teach ESL 101.

"Listen, asshole. You're going to be sorry if you don't give me the fucking car!"

"Oh, shut the hell up! You're not getting this car. Do what you will to me, but I am not backing down."

"Fine, I'll be right back, then."

Ron left in a huff. He drove off in his 1972 El Camino to his house, which was only five minutes away on foot. Besides being a tennis aficionado, Ron was an avid hunter. Just like Ted Nugent, Ron never ate any meat unless he had killed it himself. Ron was a huge fan of the Motor City Madman's music and lived his life parallel to Mr. Nugent's. Ron even owned a similar bow and arrow set. He used it to hunt deer and other animals in the forest behind his house. Over the years, Ron had become a very accurate shooter. He could hit a deer in the neck from 100 yards away. This dreaded Sunday, Ron, in his temporarily insane rage, planed to go hunting for something else.

Don was still furious about his boorish brother's actions. Believing the game would not take place for the first Sunday in 21 years, Don got a beer from the refrigerator and began watching the Philadelphia Eagles game. It was only the second quarter and they were already losing 21-3 to their hated division rival the New York Giants. This enraged Don even further, so he drank more beers. Four empty cans stood on the coffee table beside him as he finished drinking his fifth, just twenty minutes after his brother left. A nice buzz was starting to take effect. Don did not hear the front door open behind him as the Giants returned a punt for a touchdown. 28-3. "Fuck," was all Don could mutter before an arrow tore through the back of his skull. The tip protruded through his forehead, looking like a cheap Halloween novelty arrow, but the blank stare in his eyes proved otherwise. The now empty can of Busch dropped to the ground from his limp hand. Don, deceased husband and father of one, slumped down into his chair. Ron grabbed the car from the Monopoly box and left the house.

Wondering why it was so suspiciously quiet, Don's wife peeked her head inside of the living room. All she saw was the back of Don's head from his La-Z-Boy recliner with something sticking out of his head. Ron was not there, so she thought the game must have been over. She walked into the room to get a closer look at her husband. "Don," she said quietly, with fear rising in her voice. She did not know what to make of the strange stick coming out of his head. She lifted his face up and saw the blood all over his body and the chair.

Ron proceeded directly to jail. He turned himself in and gave the police the treasured Monopoly piece as evidence. When asked why Ron and Don always played Monopoly on Sundays, Ron's answer was very direct. Ron and Don grew up in a poor family on the south side of Philadelphia. They lived in a cramped, dirty apartment until they were both teenagers. Both parents worked; their mother was a maid for a rich family, and their father was a bus driver. At Christmas, as small children, they never got any toys because their parents could afford nothing more than warm clothing, which both children desperately needed. Then, when Ron was five, he got his first board game: Monopoly. That Christmas day, Don got his first toy as well: a bucket of Legos.

That year's Christmas fell on a Sunday. Ron and his father played Monopoly for the first time. As a family custom, every Sunday after that, Ron, Don and their father played Monopoly, while their mother worked. However, three months later, their father died in a bus accident. To avoid hitting a child who ran into the middle of the street, Ron's father swerved and smashed into a tree. The impact bounced the bus back two feet, but his body had already plunged through the windshield on contact, leaving half of his body hanging out of the front. The blow to the head left him in a coma and he died a week later. The other bus riders had small injuries, but no other fatalities took place. Ron was so distraught that he actually gave his Monopoly game to Don. They continued the tradition from that point forward.

Ron acknowledged to the police that part of his rage was due to the pressure he felt to defeat his brother. After all, losing to your younger brother just might be one of the worst experiences in life. Ron also revealed the series record to the police and the tremendous losing streak.

"The last time I beat Don, I was the car. I always win when I am the car. He knew that, and he purposefully chose the car every damn time during the losing streak! I couldn't let him do that to me again."