The water flowed. On it went, more came. He thought about it. This thing before him was the closest thing to endless he has ever known.People die. Days and years and lives end. His father, then mother were gone. A brother he never knew died before he was even born.
But this river, the mighty Mississippi ever flowed.
He could go with it. Simply slip over this rail and down into the murky depths. Dive breathlessly deep into the swelling current and join his parents, meet his brother.
A train’s whistle broke his bleak concentration. He glanced over his shoulder up the hill to the clock tower at the center of town. Almost time.
A glance over his other shoulder held his destination. The Julien Hotel. Dubuque’s finest.
They were expecting him up on the eighth floor. The game would start without him. Cards would be dealt, dropped and held, but none of the players would make any real moves until he showed.
He’d tried to leave. Time after time, he walked north up Main Street to the edge of downtown and dreamed of Vegas or Atlantic City or Monaco. He could be anonymous, just another player seated at a high stakes table. Hit or stay or just fold and walk away.
He could dream, but he’d never leave. Dubuque was his kingdom and he the perpetual king. They went and built a casino right here on the river. But he’d never stepped foot inside. Why should he when the world came to him.
He’d made and lost and made again a fortune. But many a night found him sleeping on the street. Some nights he didn’t care to make the trek up the short, steep hill west of downtown holding Dubuque in its lap. His house, the only home he’d ever known, was up there, perched like a fine marble dragon atop a lonely temple.
The cable car, the fanicular, up the steep hill stopped running at 10 pm. Most of his games were just starting to heat up then. He never owned a car. Never wanted one. His two feet inside old and worn shoes were his only means of transportation.
He turned again to the endless passage of life and time before him. Someday. One day he’d find the courage to jump in. A swan dive off the old bridge spanning the river would do.
He pushed away from the railing and trudged up the hill toward the Julien. A quick stop downstairs at Caroline’s restaurant in the hotel’s basement level for a bowl of tomato soup and a cup of coffee were in order. The game would wait. The players who’d made their way to Dubuque today from points around the world were here for one reason. To play the best, the king.
iPhone Notes Story
ORD – TUL 09.22.15