Johnny Tribout doesn’t know how he walked into it.  This casino.  Built on beach-front property.  But this maybe after the war, and what happened there.  With his friend, who he would call a friend now—David Threnody.  And they’re both there.  They’re both sitting there, at this blackjack table.  The sounds of slot machines all around them.  And this maybe why it’s a dream. Because it was after she was murdered.  Nina.  After the car wreck over an innocent squirrel.  Like instead of them going to the brig they ended up here…  And perhaps they were dead.  Johnny’s face shows the question of it.  The question he wants to ask.  That if they are dead how they ended up here.  Like it’s some way-station, some purgatory, where a test must be passed so they can continue on.  And maybe David knows it too, but his face doesn’t show.  His face looks like it’s been there before. The DEALER looks familiar, and so do the rest of the PLAYERS sitting at the table.  Like they’ve had their pictures taken before.  Like they’ve been on the back cover of books. 


(to Johnny)

          Do you want to hit or stay?

Johnny looks at his cards showing.  Pausing like he doesn’t recognize them.  He doesn’t recognize their value.  The dealer dressed like he’s from the fifties though they haven’t happened yet.  A handsome man.  A copy of a railroad brakeman’s handbook sticking out of his leather jacket pocket. 


          I guess hit me…

The dealer slides a card out of the shoe and flips it face up in front of Johnny’s chips—a queen, a queen of spades.  The dealer now looks at David, who slides his finger across the green cloth, as a symbol that he stays, and the dealer goes to the next gentlemen at the table.  A man dressed in a white suit with what looks like a river boat pilot hat on.  And he wears a name tag, but you know it’s just a pseudonym—a term boatmen use to measure the depth of the water.  A term used to navigate the channels of a river.  And that’s how they’ll be addressed now—by what they’re wearing—what identifies their work.


Now what the difference between a smart man and an imbecile is around here?  One knows he’s putting you on and the other actually believes it…  I’ll take a card.


You oughta apply for the railroad.  It’s much easier work and you get more pay…


(whispering over to Johnny)

Don’t believe it.  Don’t believe nothin’ happenin’ here.  It’s just a dream you’re havin’ and I’m in on it too.  Because it’s the same dream I had.  The same dream all men have when they love a woman.  When they love a woman and something else…  You’re just in Mississippi, man.  But you gotta go through this.  You gotta go through this to get to the other side.  Just let it guide you.  Let the music guide you.  Hear it in the sounds of slot machines…