It was a vivid dream of wild colors and loud noises. A calliope played at street level. He sat at a table waiting for Mairie when Dave took the seat across from him.
"That's not your place," he said.
"Jack, without me you wouldn't even be here."
"No she's not."
A waiter resembling the bartender at the previous night's pub delivered a covered platter to the table, then strolled away.
Phil pulled off the cover and saw his own heart beating on the plate.
"Knew it," said Dave.
The heart started bouncing about, heading off the table. Phil knew he had to stop it. Dave tried spearing the errant organ with his knife and fork. As Phil dove to grab it, he awoke with a start.
He hurried back to the lodge, bounding up the rocky crag in hopes he had not missed dinner. In the pale blue moonlight, he saw outlines of the sloped roof lodge. He rushed into the front entrance and looked around for some sign of life. No one was there, so he tried the next room, the lodge's great room. A crowd of people was gathered together in one corner, lodgers and employees alike. Phil knew by the "oohs" and "ahs" what was happening. Dave would be in the center of that crowd.
As he tried to join the gathering unobtrusively, a matronly woman turned toward him.
"So you're the other one, eh?"
"I usually am."
"And you have the special ability, do you not?"
"You want me to guess your card?"
She smiled back at him, eyes wide as a puppy's. Phil wasn't in the mood for this but then he heard Dave.
"Yes, friends. I tell you, this man is uncanny. Never gets it wrong. You'd all better mind what you think when he's here in the room with you."
They all turned to face him now. Phil looked at Dave pleadingly. Dave smiled and winked.
Okay, he thought, do I or don't I?
"I'm seeing a red card, a picture card."
The woman's eyes grew larger as he put his hand up to massage his forehead.
"In fact, as luck would have it, you've picked my favorite card of all."
The crowd waited. It's always about hopes and expectations, he realized.
"Ladies and gentlemen, we are talking about none other than the Jack of Hearts."
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