The smoke clears.  The casino again.  Apparently there wasn’t a fire.  The sounds of slot machines.  You pass by the tables.  The blackjack tables.  The Caribbean Poker.  Following a cocktail waitress.  You go by Johnny and David.  The others at the table, and the tables beyond.  Maybe it’s Rosie.  Or maybe it’s Nina.  But they’re not dressed how you know them.  You’re distracted by what’s in your periphery.  Until she gets to the stage, which was to the right, and she climbs the steps, walking to the spotlight—holding a tray with two empty glasses.

COCKTAIL WAITRESS

And you ain’t heard me talk yet.  At least not like this, in what I’ve seen here.  Who I’ve served…  I loved him because of his fear.  Though maybe I wouldn’t really call it fear.  Because he knew—he knew better.  But he did not want to survive.  That I found fearless in him.  A will opposite of all directions.  He fought when he shouldn’t fight, and just listened when he should have said something…  It was the little things that scared him—what came out in his playing—his music.  He wanted grace.  Grace under pressure.  But you can only die that way.  It’s not for living…  I made my deal long ago.  Not in any demonstrative way—that ain’t the way a woman does it.  It’s more a walk.  A walk in the woods.  And you hear the trees talk…  Then it’s a game afterwards.  To see who’s brain dead.  To see who’s talked to trees.  Sometimes a light shining.  Sometimes not…  The good ones think about ideas.  The average think of things.  And the bad ones think of themselves in terms of others—not in what’s similar, but in what is different.  A depth with no depth.  The surface your search…  One day you’ll wake up dead.  Maybe then you’ll have your answers.  Until then I’ll continue to keep it real.  I’ll continue to do it for him.  Because I love him.  I love him for how it makes me feel…  I love how he speaks to me through his fears.  In his songs.  A guide for others awaiting the same judgment…  For these things are simple—a child’s knowledge—what you learn as a child.  The basics.  What evolves from that a world view.  Triggering connections.  A circuit break.  This we don’t dwell on as adults—a given.  Because you don’t go back on that deal.  Only those who don’t want to survive do that…  Only an artist does that.

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