Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Aunt Clara Part Nine

Yvonne asked me if she could borrow the photograph of Jack and Don, the one where they look like dandies in the Depression. I said, "Sure, but why?". She said, "Well, I think I'd like to do a painting of them. It's a cool picture." "Okay", I replied, "I think that's a fine idea. Paint away!"
      "Oh yeah", she said, "I meant to ask you...how did Uncle Don and Uncle Jack... uh...die? Do you know, Papa?" "Yes... well, I think so anyway", I said, "Uh, as far as I know, Uncle Don had a heart attack and died a few days later with his family around him and , uhmm, well, Jack was killed on the beach in New Jersey. Stabbed to death. By the mob. At least that's how the story goes. He'd gone up there on some kind of business that had to with the speakeasy. He'd gotten into debt. Gambling, I think. Anyway, the police found his body on the beach, a knife in his back. They called Aunt Clara and she had him shipped back to West Virginia. That's where he was buried. In Point Pleasant, West Virginia." "Wow!", exclaimed Yvonne, "That's wild!" "Yes", I said, "It is, isn't it."
      It was one p.m., closing time on Saturday,  and Yvonne and I were both excited and a little nervous about the coming poker game with Uncle Jack. Not the game itself, but just meeting and being with him and Aunt Clara. "I hope he shows up", Yvonne said. "Oh, I believe he will", I said. Then Yvonne whispered, "Papa, I've been studying up a little on poker, online. It doesn't really look all that hard to play." "Oh, it isn't, but Jack is a pro so don't get any big ideas about beating him just because you won a game of rummy with me and Aunt Clara." "No", she said, "I just don't want to seem like a complete dummy." "Don't worry, darlin', you're no dummy and Jack knows it or he wouldn't want to meet you." Then Yvonne said, "Listen Pop, if he's so good, a pro as you say, then why did he get into such hot water with the mob?" "Good question", I said. "I never really thought of that. Hmm... can't win 'em all, I guess." Yvonne kind of rolled her eyes and said, "Yeah... right."
      We closed up shop and went our separate ways agreeing to meet in the parking lot across the street. "What time?", Yvonne asked. "I guess about dark", I replied. "Okay", she said. Then her cellphone buzzed. She looked at the screen. "It's Uncle Jack", she whispered, "I hope he's not cancelling." "Answer it, sweetie", I said. She pushed a button to take the call. Then she pushed that button that turns on the speaker. "Hello... Uncle Jack?"" Hello yourself, Yvonne. How did you know it was me?" "Well, you know, your name was on the screen." She laughed a little. "It is a cellphone, you know... a cellphone? One of those new fangled contraptions we talk on nowadays?" "Right", he said. "I forgot. Don't get smart young lady. This is your Great, Great Uncle Jack talkin' to ya here. Jack's my name and gambling's my game! I just wanted to let you know I'm running a little late. I'm always late! Late? Get it? Late... as in... dead? It's a joke, girl. A joke!" Yvonne laughed out loud. "Yeah, I get it, I get it." Then Jack said, "Listen, I'll be at the shoeshop at midnight. That okay with you and your dad? By the way, how is your old man, your dad I mean?" "Oh, he's fine. Want to talk to him?" "No, not really, " said Uncle Jack. I'll see you both tonight. Midnight. Get ready to learn how to play poker and how to lose at the game! Later, young lady. I gotta go now. Goodbye!" He hung up before Yvonne had a chance to reply. "Holy smoke, what a character", she said, " I can't wait to meet him in person." "Me too, " I said, "... I think."