bonfire came alive as Rick tossed in logs under Sally’s sleepy
gaze. I sat down next to them and facing the fire began folding the
paper Dylan had given me before. Forced into a blind bet, I tried to
fathom the enormity of the situation- if I won, I could have anything
of his. Garth came over with some tumblers and a half-full bottle of
whiskey. My sheet became a ship, my wish, five words, a sketch.
know if you’re not sure, you can just throw it into the fire”,
was about to do that when the hush that settled nearby told me that
Dylan was coming back. I turned around and saw him walk up to the
bonfire circle. He’d brought a brown, leather-bound book from which
he produced a piece of paper, folded in four. It was a large
well-thumbed Bible, with a very worn cover.
my part of the bet, Nar. You’ll be really pissed when you lose
held out his paper to Rick and with one look made me do the same. He
looked at my boat, hiding any surprise.
can hold the papers and Garth can read from the Book of Isaiah.
Here’s a King
I said the quote about ‘standing
upon the watchtower…’
is from Chapter 24 and you said it’s from …”
21, verse 8”, I finished off, without shifting my gaze from the
he muttered as he handed the Bible to Garth.
poured whiskey into the glasses scattered across the floor. Dylan
grabbed one, Rick too. I lit a cigarette and stood up to hear how
this improvised duel was about to end.
lord, I stand continually upon the watchtower in the daytime…’.
Isaiah, Chapter 21, verse 8,”
read Garth in an almost liturgical voice. And glancing down, he
returned the Bible to Dylan who held it in silence while the people
who’d gathered around us started to move away.
go without knowing what I’ve lost!”
shout stopped most people in their tracks and many turned to look at
me as if waiting for a reaction. There was none.
to believe but you’ve won, Nar. Now I just need to know what the
fuck you’ve written on that ridiculous paper boat. What did you
want to win off me to dare such a foolish move? Pass it over, Rick.”
held out my sailing boat on the palm of his left hand. Dylan grabbed
it in his fist and unfolded it clumsily.
round box in the basement...” he read out questioningly.
looked me straight in the eye for a few slow seconds, tilting his
head first one way and then the other, forgiving me my life. His
voice sounded like hail, I felt it fall on my face.
more innocent than I thought.”
drained his glass of whiskey and threw it into the fire. Then he
turned on his heel and strode over to Big Pink, going in through the
back door. I went over to the living room window where Richard had
the fuck just happened, Nar?” he asked quietly. “Dylan’s gone
down to the basement like a shot. And he looked seriously pissed
just lost something by winning a bet. I’ll explain another time.”
man with the face like a mask walked right by us and, briefly raising
his black hat, made a gesture as if to say goodbye.