Is it Eddie’s thirty-seventh birthday, and he is having breakfast with his friend Noel, who works for the park dry-cleaning uniforms. Noel mentions a fatal accident in which a mother and child died at an amusement park in Brighton, and Eddie takes the story very seriously. He begins talking about all the potential safety hazards at Ruby Pier, and Noel chides that Eddie isn’t very much fun, even on his birthday. The narrator comments that the darkness from the war still hangs over Eddie. Eddie continues thinking about the accident at Brighton. Noel invites him to the horse tracks that night, and Eddie thinks of Marguerite and hesitates—but then says yes anyway.
Eddie’s sense of detachment—part of the darkness that lingered around him after the war—is challenged by his job at Ruby Pier. Though he resents having to stay at Ruby Pier, his reaction to Noel’s story betrays that Eddie has also begun to deeply care about the people there. The violence Eddie witnessed in the war wasn’t wasted on him, as it has created a strong sense of connection to all loss. Eddie feels a sense of responsibility for the safety of others, and a desire to prevent loss even for people he doesn’t know.