Gregson drove Gertrude’s electric Mercedes onto the ferry. There were white caps on the water. Leaves were leaving, caught-up by the wind, blown by what they didn’t plan for—so beautiful, and yet, so dead—lost forever. Gregson thought about his time. He knew when he was wasting it; and when he wasn’t, it was beautiful.
“This could be my day,” Gregson said.
“What do you mean by that?” Madelynn asked.
“When the planets align—when you feel good, and then something makes you feel better—when death doesn’t matter, because the moment is too beautiful.”
“Oh—I’ve never heard anyone say that before.”
“Just watch,” Gregson said. “This feeling floats around and lands on me from time to time. If there’s gambling on this cruise, I have the magic hand.”
They left for the bar. The wind kept hitting the windows, and the waves rocked the ferry. Everyone was drinking.
“Don’t worry. We’re in the Bay, and the island is 10 minutes away. Anyone care to chance their luck?” A dealer in a purple tuxedo asked.
Gregson raised his hand. “I want to gamble.”
“21 is the game.”
“One game—50,000 dollars.”
“I’ll have to call my manager. Are you sure you don’t want to place a smaller bet?”
“It’s not gambling, if you can’t lose?”
“Sir—vacationers do it for amusement, to stave-off boredom.”
“Exactly—they’re neither living nor dead—and what’s the point of living, if you can’t feel alive?”
“He can play,” a voice said through the radio.
“Just one thing—bury the top three cards. Now, deal!” Gregson flipped his over. “20!”
“19. Hit! 27! Bust! You just made it. Collect your winnings at the Creative Conference.”
Gregson walked to the observation deck, feeling like God, or at least how he thought God might feel when beating the odds.
A patch of rocks at the horizon was growing, like a whale worshiping the sun—an island, cut-off from the horde of humanity—mysterious, like an individual, unwilling to cross the ocean to join the mainland.
“She’s perfect, isn’t she?” Came a voice.
“Where?” Gregson was looking for a strawberry-blonde.
“Not just rocks—but possibilities.” He had an athletic build, and wore a silver beard with binoculars draped across his neck. He looked like a tourist.
“What’s your purpose at the conference?”
“Are you a cop?”
“I’m an artist.”
“Maybe we’ll see each other again?”
They shook hands.
“My name’s Gregson.”
Gregson wanted to be with Madelynn in the Mercedes. He walked down to the main deck and got in, turning-up the butt warmers. It was too chilly, not to enjoy some heat.