Friday, March 19, 2010

Jake's Place

My old cat Jake died today, moved on to whatever's next. I found this writing when I was looking through some old pieces. It's a true story and it will have to do for today.

There’s a bar in Austin called Jake’s Place. Pete, the bartender, is too young to remember Jake. In fact, no one who frequents the place remembers a Jake. There was a rumor for a while that Jake was the owner’s dog, a brown mutt with a bad ear, but maybe that was a description of the original Jake. No one knew anymore.

In Austin on business, John wandered into Jake’s late one afternoon. He usually just went to the hotel bar—it was easier to talk to other business travelers than to locals, but that day the hotel bar had been full of convention-goers and it was noisy and unpleasant. So he’d wandered a few of the streets in the old part of town looking for a convivial spot. And he ended up in Jake’s.

John drank the first vodka on the rocks by himself. Pete was a good listener—he had that bartender’s knack—but he wasn’t a good conversationalist and John found it easier to keep his own company.

After a while, he noticed another fellow a few seats down the bar. He was about John’s age, in an expensive suit and even more expensive silk tie. His body language was relaxed and approachable. John slid over three stools and started up a conversation. He turned out to be an estate lawyer in town himself on business. The recently deceased client had no heirs and his affairs were in disorder. He was on his way out to the property to see what was what.

A second drink together led to a fifth, and their conversation turned to wagers and risks.

“What say I give you all the cash I have on me,” John said, pulling out his wallet and laying $400 in 50’s and 20’s on the bar, “for whatever lies behind door #3 in the garage?”

The second man, also named John, laughed. “You sure? I have no idea what’s out there.”

“I’m sure,” my father said. And he drove that silver Jaguar XKE all the way home to Portland.

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