It’s almost like you have a sign on your forehead.  All of us.  All of us have a sign on our forehead we can’t see.  Others can see, and you can see theirs, and we make bets on it, wagers on our confidence that what they see is not of lesser value than what you see.  We even make it a game.  A game we play with friends—Indian poker we call it—Blind Man’s Bluff.  And the question becomes: Can you keep a straight face?  Do you keep upping the ante when a friend is only showing the two of hearts?  But sometimes you not just betting beers.  Sometimes you’re not betting money.  Sometimes the wager is your soul—a soul you can’t see, but others can.  And the bluff is making you fold.  Making you think your soul isn’t worth much, compared to what others are showing.  David played this game in Mississippi, and you can say he was young and didn’t know what he was doing, what he was holding.  You could say he was naïve to bad friendships.  Nevertheless, the consequences—the outcome—was the same.  He lost.  He lost something in Mississippi, which is why maybe he joined the Army and returned there, and the friend he made, his friendship with Johnny Tribout, gave him the chance to fold again even though he knew he could win.  But what he was folding on this time wasn’t the wager.  Just like the sign on your forehead, sometimes you don’t know what you’re wagering.  The bet is the bet, and you play not to win or lose.  You play out of compulsion.  You play because if you don’t something in you dies.  It dies without a funeral, without mourning, and what survives can’t be defined as human.

            Johnny Tribout didn’t die during the war.  He didn’t die in the love triangle that occurred before the war during his enlistment.  He didn’t die in the love triangle after the war, playing with David among the local denizens of New Orleans, when David met his wife—Bethany.  Johnny Tribout died at his own hands in the winter of 1975, some thirty years after the war, after he had David met, after they split and stopped making records together in 1946.  His last statements on his friendship with David documented in a PBS interview televised in the fall of 1971.  He died because of woman—his wife of over twenty-five years—after a nasty divorce and speculations she made into his sexuality, questions she brought up on the true nature of his relationship with David Threnody (unsubstantiated but nevertheless damaging to his reputation), and how his two children, his two daughters, grown and out of the house, looked upon their father after the allegations were made.

                Maybe all the bets were in.  All the bets were in for Johnny Tribout.  And he decided to cash out.  Because eventually you do get to see.  You get to see the card you’re holding—the sign on your forehead.  You get to see what you were betting on when all the chips are in.  You finally know what everyone else at the table saw, and they know what you saw.  And the winner is the holder of the high card—true—but maybe everybody wins, everyone wins once they know what they were betting on.  Everyone wins because everybody knows—you know and they know.  There’s no more room for bluffs or folds.  There’s no more room for fear.  There is only knowledge, and the memories of what led to it.

            Johnny Tribout’s memories were destroyed by lies.  The knowledge of lies—a woman’s lies.  And when David Threnody learned of his death, he wrote something, he wrote of it in his journals, one his last entries before his own death in 1988, when perhaps he was reflecting on a long life and what survived.  Maybe he had finally come to terms with it—what happened in Mississippi.  In any case, these are his words, his final ante on how he felt about Johnny Tribout, and their friendship:

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