Filmmaker Gabriel Olson tells the story of Mattie, a timid housewife who fears for her life when her bridge partner utters a threat to her.
Mattie arrives at the Moss Harbor Bridge Group. She stands alone as others mingle in the ballroom. The host introduces her partner Olivia, a new member from a European bridge group. Olivia is everything Mattie is not — outgoing and refined. When Olivia goes to kiss Mattie on the cheek, Mattie is clearly uncomfortable.
As they play bridge, Mattie makes a carless play. Others say that’s the worst bidding they’ve ever seen — to which Olivia defends Mattie.
Mattie apologizes to Olivia, but says she’ll do better. Olivia tells her she had fun even though they lost. Then, she leans over to kiss her goodbye and whispers, “I’m going to kill you.”
Later that night, Mattie is nervous as she enters her home. Her husband Don tells Mattie they take bridge too seriously. He humors her. But Mattie insists she didn’t mishear Olivia and isn’t safe.
The next day, she walks to walks to the dry cleaners and sees the back of Olivia and quickly turns around. In the supermarket parking lot, she thinks she hears the sound of Olivia’s high heels and rushes off. She goes to the hairdresser and dozes off, dreaming of walking into the bridge group. Everyone is saying how beautiful Mattie is. Then, Olivia’s threat drowns out the others.
She wakes up to see Olivia standing in front of her. Olivia says she’s looking forward to practice. Mattie makes a half-hearted excuse that she has things to do. Olivia insists. She says to play elegantly, they must look the part. Olivia then grabs Mattie’s hands and cuts it.
Mattie approaches Eileen about switching partners. But Eileen won’t have it.
Mattie brings some treats to the bridge group. Olivia is the only one there. Mattie asks her about the threat, assuming she misheard it. Olivia tells her a story — where she’s from, there is sheep and dogs. And sometimes, the dogs will hide among the sheep and kill for sport.
Mattie begins to get worried. She asks when the others aren’t coming. Olivia begins to play with the knife on the table. Olivia continues to talk about the dogs. They think the dogs kill because of the passive nature of the sheep — it triggers something primal in the brain of the dogs.
Olivia asks Mattie if she understands. When Mattie says she’s doesn’t, Olivia makes it clear — Mattie is her sheep. And she is the dog.
Then, she unleashes a bark.
Olivia adds that dogs can’t wait to kill, but she can — she likes to wait.
Then, Mattie looks at the knife next to her.
“The Bridge Partner” is adapted from a story by Hugo Award winning author Peter S. Beagle.