fbpx vie magazine subscribe button


The Deadliest Game on Earth

By Greg Cayea  |  Illustrations by Lucy Young

The time was eight o’clock as I pulled into the parking lot that evening. I knew I was late, so I threw my car into park, whipped the door open, and headed toward the big, swanky doors of the imposing white building. I didn’t even bring my phone with me, just the iced tea I was drinking to keep me alert. I didn’t want any distractions. Tonight is a big night, I thought to myself as I passed an elderly gentleman smoking a cigar on a bench a few feet away from the entry. As I entered the lobby, I kept uttering my mantra in my head: Tonight is the night that nothing will stop me.

I turned right at the hallway and blew past the security guard at the reception desk. I was late and didn’t have time to explain myself. If you don’t know me by now, after showing up every week for a year, well, that’s on you, buddy. The carpet under my feet gave me a bounce and kept my steps silent as I approached the final door. I took a deep breath and walked in. It was brightly lit, and the crowd was viciously awaiting my arrival.

It was Wednesday—bingo night.

My grandma’s eyes lit up as I walked toward her table. She waited anxiously with two dollar bills covering my boards, which were set in front of an empty chair, just to make sure no hooligans took my spot. I was always right on time—to the point of nearly being late. Our bingo gang was at our usual four-top table, smiling. I sat down. My bingo game face was on, sturdy and ready to fight.

“I thwought you weheran’t comin’!” My grandma said in her New York–Jewish-grandma accent. But I didn’t let her doubt shake me. I was there for one reason and one reason only: to make sure nobody overthrew our family reign.

Bingo Ball Machine Illustration by Lucy Young Greg Cayea Deadliest Game on Earth

“I’m here every week, Grandma,” I said, but I knew better than to question her. What she meant was, “You’re late! Again!

“I got you a board with a one and an eleven,” said Evelyn, our partner in bingo crime, from across the table. Those were my lucky numbers, so she always got me those cards. And, dammit, I’m grateful for that.

I was there to win. I looked at my grandma. She smiled. I nodded. “Grandma, tonight is the night we destroy everyone in this room.” But she didn’t quite hear me.

Then came the sound that marked the beginning of the main event: the ping-pong balls clanking into each other. The jackpot was seven dollars, two more than last week. The eighty-five-year-old girls at the other table were whispering about something, but I didn’t let them distract me. I was there to win. I looked at my grandma. She smiled. I nodded. “Grandma, tonight is the night we destroy everyone in this room.” But she didn’t quite hear me.


“I said we’re gonna win.”

The first number was called. Some ninety-year-old chap got up and asked for another board like he always did when he didn’t hit a number. Apparently, his board wasn’t working very well. Again.

“I need anutha bwoard!” Okay, okay, man, you’ll get another board—but it won’t make a difference! The bingo lady calling the numbers asked the rowdy crowd, “Does anyone else need another board?” And they responded appropriately.

“No, sit down!”

“Let’s go! Stop getting bwoards!”

“Come onnnn!”

Oh man, the table behind me was getting all revved up. This guy had better sit down, I thought. I kept my mouth shut; I didn’t want any problems. The ping-pong balls started clanking around again after the young ninety-year-old fellow sat down, and a few more numbers were called.

Bingo Cards and Bingo Chips illustration by Lucy Young The Deadliest Game on Earth by Greg Cayea

“What are we playing?” a gal asked.

“A straight bingo!” The room erupted. But it wasn’t the whole room; it was the table behind me. They were starting to scare me with their threatening dispositions, but I didn’t let it faze me.

“A straight bingo!” one of the vixens at the gossipy table behind us shrieked again.

“A late what?”


It was already getting rowdier than usual. I swallowed my fear and kept my bingo face strong. I hadn’t gotten any numbers yet. I looked over, and my grandma had one on each board. Atta gal, Grandma. Time to f**k s**t up. The rest of the numbers were called, and some other woman screamed “Bingo!!!”

Sighs were heard across the room. Faces of sadness clouded my vision. It was over, I had lost, and so had my grandma. But there was another game coming up—plus, this gal might not really have bingo. (That sort of thing happened quite often in this neck of the woods.)

“I need another card. This one won’t work,” said the guy that already got that other card. The bingo lady rolled her eyes. She always tried to keep the room in line, but what was the point? It was a jungle in there.

“Alright, but no more cards, okay?”

I took a sip of my iced tea. It was one of those bottled teas—organic, so my grandma wouldn’t flip out. I had also trimmed my beard. (Unhealthy drinks and a beard too long would ruffle her feathers.) Then came the official ruling—the woman did, in fact, have bingo—and we were instructed to clear our cards.

“Okay, now we’re going to be playing an X on both cards,” said the bingo lady. Ugh, I hate playing an X. It’s too confusing!

“Whattaya drinkin’!” my grandma asked, but it came out more like a demanding statement.

“I’m drinking tea, Grandma. No sugar. Don’t worry.”

“Drinkin’ what?”

“Tea. Iced tea.”

“Iced tea?”

“Yes, iced tea.”

“Probably has all that sugar.”

“No, no sugar. It’s just tea, Grandma.”

Then the woman to my left turned to me and, with a stern face, looked into my eyeballs like I was some kind of an ass and said, “We’re not playing a T! We’re playing an X!”

“You’ah gonna win!” she screamed.

She was confused, but I just nodded my head in agreement as the bingo lady rattled off numbers. I looked at my card after a short while and realized I almost had an X. I heard whispers from across the room. “Some thirty-something-year-old guy walks into our bingo night and wins all the winnings? Not a chance.” (That’s what I thought they might be saying to each other. It frightened me.) I thought I’d better not win that game or else they might not invite me back. I got a bit nervous, to be honest. All I needed was O-63. I prayed that they didn’t call it. I had wanted to give them a run for their respirators the whole night, but it was then that I realized maybe I should let someone else win that game. But by then I was almost there, almost at bingo. I was terrified I might win and have to say that emotion-packed word: BINGO. So, I made a decision: if I won, I’d just lie and not call “Bingo!”—just for that one game. But then my grandma looked at my card and saw that all I needed was O-63.

“You’ah gonna win!” she screamed.

Crap, now my cover was blown. Thanks, Grandma. The next number was O-74. Phew. I’m still in the game.

“O-68?” some woman across the room shrieked. Oh no. Before I could even prepare, the entire room erupted.

“O-74 she called!”

“Not O-68! O-74!”

All the screaming didn’t help. In a moment of sincere confusion and frustration, the woman demanded: “Well, which one is it? O-74 or O-68?”

Bingo Balls and Bingo Chips Illustration by Lucy Young The Deadliest Game on Earth Greg Cayea

Oh man. I figured I’d better stay out of it. That woman is super riled up—and possibly disoriented. I kept focused and thought about my situation again. I mean, these women would tear me to shreds if I won two weeks in a row, especially after I took the jackpot last Wednesday. Then, some good news: my grandma’s card was filling up. I just needed her to win. If she won, then I didn’t, but our team still did, and the women at the gossipy table wouldn’t eat me alive. I swear, what a crazy night. I was sweating.

N-34 was called, and my grandma slid her red thingy down over that number. Nice. She was catching up. Oh, wait! There are no Ns; we’re playing an X! The only space that N has in an X is the free spot! Grandma, NOOO!

So, I gave my grandma a nudge. “Eyo, Granny. No Ns.”

“You’ah leavin’ when?”

“No, no Ns! NO Ns. You put an N down.”

“Oh! There’s no Ns. We’ah playin’ an X!”

I just said that.

She quickly lifted the red thingy back up to clear the number. It was too late. The room went crazy.

“No Ns!

“We’ah playin’ an X!?”

“Did she cwall an N?!”

The bingo lady was flustered and tried to correct her massive mistake. “Oh, that’s right! Swurry!” Her thick Long Island accent had come out.

It was the end of the night, and all I needed was for my grandma to win this game so that I wouldn’t have to yell “Bingo!” Oh man, please. Please, Grandma, win! That’s when the bingo lady called the next number, and I looked over at my grandma’s card. It was all over. She covered her last number and reviewed the card, even though it was clear she had an X, and she looked up at me and said, “I got an X! I won! BINGO!”

I let out an internal sigh of relief. Half the room went wild, while the other half went silent from disappointment.

“I only needed one numbah!” I heard from the gossipy table behind me. Tough luck, woman, we all only needed one number.

Then my grandma gave me her card and told me, “You read it off for me.” I took her card and called out the first number so the bingo lady could confirm that my grandma had taken the crown—but that’s when I saw the gossipy table all look over at me. “HE WON AGAIN?!

“Noooo, it wasn’t me! It’s my grandma’s card!

Too late. They were off and running about how I won again. But such is life at Wednesday night bingo. Sometimes you win, sometimes people think you win, sometimes people think they win—and sometimes you’re a damn loser. There’s always next week . . .


Greg Cayea writes offensive short stories about his life adventures, then draw cartoons to illustrate them. Stay tuned at ScrambledGregs.com for his next adventure.

Read Responsibly

VIE Magazine September 2023 Jay Mercado
VIE Magazine - The Art & Design Issue November 2021
VIE Magazine January 2021 Special Commemorative Edition
VIE Magazine September 2020 Wanderlust Issue, Fancy Camps, The Idea Boutique
VIE Magazine August 2020 Art & Culture Issue, Nathan Alan Yoakum Art
VIE Magazine - Architecture & Design Issue - July 2020
VIE Magazine - Decor and Home Issue - June 2020
VIE Magazine May 2020 Entertainment Issue, Leslie Odom Jr
VIE Magazine - April 2020 Culinary Issue
VIE Magazine March 2020 The Fashion Edit, VONDOM, Alys Beach Fl, Digital Graffiti, Tres Chic, isidro dunbar Modern Interiors, Digital Graffiti Festival
VIE Magazine February 2020 Health & Beauty Issue
VIE Magazine - Travel Issue - January 2020 - Tanzania Safari Cover
VIE Magazine - Women's Issue - December 2019 - Tina Brown Cover
VIE NOV19 Goodness Issue
VIE Magazine, September 2019 Art & Culture Issue, Paul Hanninen
VIE Magazine - August 2019 - The Architecture and Design Issue
VIE Magazine - July 2019 - The Artist Issue
VIE Magazine - June 2019 - Fashion Edit
VIE Magazine - May 2019 - Culinary Issue
VIE Magazine - April 2019 - The Health & Wellness Issue
VIE Magazine - Special Entertainment Edition - March 2019
VIE Magazine February 2019 Luxury Homes & Technology Issue with Robbie Antonio of Revolution Precrafted
VIE Magazine - January 2019 - Southern Sophisticate Issue Cover
VIE Magazine - Special Anniversary Travel Edition - December 2018
VIE Magazine - The Goodness Issue - November 2018
VIE Magazine - The Art & Culture Issue - October 2018
VIE Magazine - Home & Garden Issue - September 2018
VIE Magazine - August 2018 Animal Issue
VIE Magazine - July 2018 Architecture & Design Issue - Subscribe to the magazine!
VIE Magazine - June 2018 Travel & Tech Issue
VIE Magazine - May 2018 Couture Issue
VIE Magazine - The Culinary Issue - April 2018 Cover - Chef James Briscione and Brooke Parkhurst
VIE Magazine - The Entertainers Issue - March 2018
VIE Magazine - February 2018 Destination Travel Issue
VIE Magazine - January 2018 Health & Beauty Issue
VIE Magazine, The Sophisticate Issue, December 2017
VIE Magazine - November 2017 Art & Culture Issue
VIE Magazine - October 2017 Home & Garden Issue
VIE Magazine | September 2017 | The Stories and Storytellers Issue
VIE Magazine - The Adventure Issue - August 2017
VIE Magazine - July 2017 - Art & Artist Issue
VIE Magazine - The Voyager Issue - June 2017
VIE magazine 2017 March-April Cover South Walton Fashion Week
VIE Magazine - January/February 2017 - The Health & Beauty Issue
VIE Magazine - Nov/Dec 2016 The Sophisticate Issue
christian siriano vie magazine september october 2016 vie magazine
the modern minimalist issue
the culinary and couture issue march april 2016 vie magazine
the voyager issue alys beach vie magazine january february 2016
cultural issue vie magazine november december 2015
home and garden issue vie magazine september october 2015
the art and style issue vie magazine july august 2015
the wedding issue 2015 May June vie magazine
the food and fashion issue vie magazine march april 2015
the travel issue vie magazine january february 2015
the music issue vie magazine 2014 november december
The Animal Issue vie magazine september october 2014
the home and garden issue vie magazine july august 2014
the wedding issue vie magazine may june 2014
emeril lagasse food and fashion vie magazine
the men's issue january february 2014
the music issue november december 2013 vie magazine
the home and garden issue 2013 october september
the wedding issue vie magazine july august 2013
the artist issue may june 2013 vie magazine
the food and fashion issue march april 2013
the men's issue january february 2013 vie magazine
The Holiday Issue
the love issue july august 2012
the all american summer may june 2012
the entertainment issue march april 2012
the fashion issue vie magazine winter 2011
the home and garden issue vie magazine fall 2011
the anniversary edition vie magazine summer 2011
the wedding issue vie magazine spring 2011
vie magazine the holiday issue 2010 Dec
vintage swimsuits vie magazine 2010 Fall
judith march designer vie magazine summer 2010
wedding giveaway vie magazine spring 2010
holiday gift guide vie magazine winter 2009
emarketing explosion vie magazine fall 2009
tribute to mother's day vie magazine summer 2009
james and robert redford vie magazine spring 2009
zz top vie magazine fall winter 2008
project dreams vie magazine new york fashion week
Sign-up for VIEmail

Sign up for VIEmail