I raised my glass to Jack's and repeated, "Here's to livin'... and dyin' ". I guess my toast was a bit weak, Jack raired back, shaking his head, and said, "Davey, loosen up boy. You're too tense. That's the most boring toast I've ever seen. Life and death, son! Livin' and dyin'! Say it like you mean it! Now.. c'mon let's try that again!"
"Okay", I said, "But you gotta understand I'm kind of in shock here. A little nervous, you know?!"
Jack smirked and gave that gold toothed grin.
"Why, Davey? Why you in shock? Why you nervous? Davey... why you, as Elvis would say, all shook up?!"
"Well", I said, "Maybe 'cause I'm sittin' here at the bar... with you... I'm sittin' here with... a dead guy?! Yeah, maybe that's it...?", I said, sarcastically.
"Well, excuse me", Jack exclaimed Steve Martin style. It wasn't just a fair imitation. He sounded exactly like Steve Martin! Exactly! I couldn't help it. It made me laugh so hard I spilled my shot of whiskey all over the bar and I even managed to spill some onto Uncle Jack's silk suitcoat.
"Hey, watch it there young man! I died in this coat, you know? besides that, there are thirsty..."
"Yeah, I know", I said with a grin, "Thirsty drunks in Indiana. Sorry about that Uncle Jack, but that was really good. I mean the Steve Martin thing".
I grabbed a handful of napkins from the holder on the bar and, as if presenting him a gift, handed them to Jack who snatched them in mock anger and began wiping the spilled whiskey from his suit.
"Such a waste", he said. Then he motioned to Joyce and held up two fingers like a peace symbol.
"A couple more here, Joyce, for me and Mr. All Shook Up. Please."
She brought the drinks over and set them on the bar, then went back to reading her book.
"She likes romance novels", said Jack.
"How do you know?", I asked.
"Never mind", he said, "Just trust me, Davey, she likes romance novels."
I started to say somthing else, but Jack stopped me.
"Now", he said, "What do you say and how do you say it?"
This time, in a hearty gesture, I proclaimed, "Here... is ... to... livin' and dyin'!"
"That's better", Jack said, and we both downed our shots. I got up to go to the bathroom and when I returned to the half dark room, Uncle Jack was gone.
Joyce said, "He told me to tell you he'd see you at the shoeshop. Somthing about a poker game at midnight."
I reached for my wallet, but Joyce held up a hand, saying, "He took care of it."
"Oh", I said, "Okay, thanks."
I had some time to kill so I decided to take a walk. Walking is a good idea, particularly if you've had a couple shots of whiskey. Plus, it's good exercize, from what I hear. I got my guitar out of my car and began walking towards the park. When I got there I sat down at a picnic table and took a bunch of folded papers out of my jacket pocket. I had recently written several songs, but had yet to put them to music. The first one I unfolded was called "Whiskey Down, Whiskey Blue" and it started like this,
"I'm feelin' pretty good
I'll take another shot
I'm in the mood
for whatever you've got
Whiskey down, whiskey blue
All my whiskey dreams came true..."
Hmm, I thought, a country song if ever there was a country song. I put the words to a simple three chord arrangement and tried not to make it sound too much like Hank or Willie. Not and easy task for me.
Satisfied I had not ripped off someone else's tune, that it was original, I put my guitar back in it's battered case and walked back to my car. I settled in behind the wheel and turned the key. The engine started and, before backing out of the parking space, I turned the radio on and, lo and behold, there was Willie singing, "Whiskey River". Small world, I thought.