He often wondered when it would end and how? A stroke? Maybe a heart attack. Could be a hit and run out on Broadway in the middle of the night. The old man always worried about this. This next phase of life called death. He worried that he wasn’t good enough to go to heaven. Scared he would be sent to hell for his misdeeds. Stealing, lying, cheating, not a man of his word. Or, maybe he was. The fat man told folks right up front he’d disappoint them. Told them right to their faces that he was going to screw them. And then he did. Made them sign on the bottom line. Always saw the beauty of an interest rate. Percentages were always running through his head.
Old bony hands wrapped around a highball glass. Gin filled three quarters full. A dash of tonic water. Limes. Asked the bartender to keep dropping limes in his drink. He kept count that way. The old juke box played Lush Life by Billy Strayhorn. The old man kept playing the song over and over. Thinking of his life that had passed before him. And the ongoing question, is it faith or works that get you a free pass. He was hoping it was faith.
Do I believe? yes. And so does the Muslim, Hindu, Mormon, Catholic, Jew, all of them. They all believe, he thought. Maybe the only guy who hasn’t got a shot is an atheist, he laughed. But even they believe in something albeit is nothing, he chuckled again, talking only to himself while Wheel Of Fortune played on the TV with no sound. Just letters being turned by Vanna White. Give me an N, he yelled out. Buy a vowel you son of a bitch, he motioned for another drink.
Where am I? he asked the barkeep. On my tab. Where am I? The server smiled. Shook his head. Said he owed nothing.
How could that be? the old man asked.
Sir. No one owes anything in heaven.
They smiled. Pointed at each other. That’s a good one, the old man said. That’s a good one.