Before I went back to Playland, where my purple dog was still sitting on a shelf, waiting to be won, I filled up on clams, corn on the cob, knishes, french fries and Coca-Cola. It was dark when I finished, and lights twinkling from the rides, glancing off the water, were transforming Coney Island into an illuminated fairyland.
"Back again?" asked the good-natured heavyset money changer at Playland, jingling the coins in the capacious pockets of a canvas apron. The place was jumping, and I had to wait for a chance at most of the games.
"If you play that poker game again," he said, converting a dollar into a handful of dimes, "try rolling the ball very slowly along the edge of the board. That's the way to come up with five of a kind. We have people come out here got it down to a science." I didn't have much luck with poker, and my ball-rolling lacked control, but an hour later I was almost an expert at Skee Ball and Bingo-Reno. I turned in my tickets and collected the dog. It might have been worth $1.95 at the outside, and it had cost only $6 to win it. It was better than carrying a dead fluke home by the tail.
I fell asleep on the subway. At home I could still taste salt on my lips, and after I had taken a shower there were still a few grains of sand sticking to my feet.