—I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you. But I sort of had to. Well, I mean I didn’t have to startle you, that wasn’t required, but since I won the wager and they’re over there watching
I . . . I’m truly sorry to have disturbed you. Um, let me start over. My name is . . .
—How did you know? Oh, my name tag.
—Are you one of the curators?
—Curator? Me? No, I’m just a guard.
—You mentioned a wager?
—Yes. Well, we couldn’t help noticing . . .
—Oh, right. A few of the guards, Chuck, Tony, Anne, me, a bunch of us. We couldn’t help noticing that you come here pretty regularly, every Tuesday, and that you pretty much spend most of your time in this gallery . . .
—And in front of this particular piece.
—Yes, that too. So we were talking about it one day, about how reliable you were, and speculating as to how long it would last . . . the streak of consecutive visits . . .
—And that was the wager?
—Has there been a winner?
—What did you predict?
—Five months. No one else thought you would go on that long.
—You demonstrated enormous faith in my persistence.
—I didn’t really think about it.
—I don’t understand why you felt obligated to tell me this.
—It wasn’t part of the original bet. But, now, even though I’ve won, they say they won’t give me my money unless I talk to you.
—I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have bothered you.
—No. It’s all right. I was just thinking. I’ve never been a bet before. I suppose they want to know why I come here every Tuesday?
—Well . . . yeah.
—Look, this was a bad idea. I’m really sorry. I don’t know why I let them talk me into this.
—No, no. Please stop worrying. I was just formulating a reply. I find this all very amusing. But, you know, I don’t think I can really give you a very good answer now. May I make a rather bold suggestion?
—What would you think of spending some of your winnings buying me a cup of coffee?