Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Aunt Clara Part Eleven

I blinked hard and clumsily stuck out my hand and shook his. It was a left handed shake.
“Coltrane?” I asked.
“Yeah, you know, John Coltrane. One of the greatest jazz men of all time. Right up there with Miles Davis in my not-so-humble opinion,” he replied.
“Well,” I answered, “Yes, I'm sure there's some Coltrane on there. Probably some Miles, too.”
“No,” he said, “I'm in a Coltrane kind of mood. So are you. I can tell. You might not know it, Davey, but you...are in...the mood for some John...Coltrane!”
“Okay,” I replied, “Coltrane it is.”
Jack touched my arm, stopping me from getting up. “Oh, don't get me wrong,” Jack smiled, “I like all kinds of stuff. Even Dylan. Not much of a singer, but a hell of a writer.” Then, faintly and sweetly, Uncle Jack began to sing:
How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?
...The answer my friend is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind

“God, I love that one,” said Jack with an edge of emotion in his voice, “The answer my friend is blowin' in the wind. Now that's some writing! And he was just a kid, you know. Twenty-two, I think.”
“Yeah,” I said, “He's my favorite. I call him the Shakespeare of our times. That's what I tell everybody.”
“Well, I don't know about that,” he replied, “But I like Mr. Dylan. He's seventy now, or seventy-one, and still rockin', right? Got a new album just came out, too. I think it's called 'Tempest'. Nothing to do with Shakespeare though. And I'll tell you this,” said Uncle Jack, “Bob Dylan is sounding more and more, his voice anyway, like Louis Armstrong, don't you think?!”
“Yeah,” I answered, “He is. You're right. I hadn't thought about that, but yeah...Louis Armstrong. Hmm.”
Jack got up from the bar-stool and strolled over to the jukebox. I watched him put a five dollar bill in and a moment later, Louis Armstrong was singing...
“...And I think to myself, what a wonderful world...”
Four more songs, I thought, I wonder what's next?
Jack sat back down on his stool and said, with a slight shrug, “No Coltrane. That's okay. I'm not in the mood now, anyway.” Then he motioned to Joyce, the bartender, and she walked over to us. “Couple of shots please, for me and my Great Nephew here! Make mine Jack Daniels, Jack for Jack!” he laughed, “And whatever Davey wants.”
“Jameson's,” I said, just above a whisper. 
“Of course!” Jack half-yelled, “I shoulda known. You're stuck on all that Irish stuff! Guinness for yer beer. Jameson's fer yer whiskey. Don't you ever go out on a limb and try something different, Davey? Something new? I mean...just for the hell of it?!”
“Well..uh...sure...sometimes....I guess...I might...uh...” I was stammering again, and for obvious reasons, feeling a bit foolish. 
“Well?!” demanded Jack, smiling big now, “Don't you?”
“Okay,” I gave in, “I'll have a shot of Jack Daniels, Joyce...please.”
“There you go, Davey.” Jack grinned from ear to ear now, showing a gleaming gold tooth. “There you go my boy.”
Joyce set the shot glasses in front of us. Uncle Jack picked his up quickly without spilling a drop, as I picked mine up, rather slowly, and just a little shakily, sloshing some onto the bar. 
“Don't wast it,” said Jack, “There are thirsty drunks in Indiana.”
I frowned a little at his politically incorrect remark but didn't say anything. Jack raised his glass in a toast, and as I raised mine he said, “Here's to livin', Davey, and dyin'! I've done both, and believe you me, they're worth drinkin' to!”

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