We’re sittin’ on my patio in front of a firepit. It’s just enough flame to
create a little warmth and a little mood. My turntable is hooked up to my guitar
amp and my Peavey speakers. We’re listenin’ to some record albums, not CDs,
just lettin’ the words and music flow through our veins and bring our minds to a
good place.
Ol’ Jimmy “Sweet Potato” Jones is sittin’ across from me. We call him
Sweet Potato ’cause he was practically raised in a sweet potato patch and his
mama makes the best sweet potato pie you ever ‘et. Sweet Potato is a buddy
that I have known so long and so well, but I’ll never know all there is to know.
“Hooch” is on my left. I don’t know much about him but I’ll tell you what, I already
know too much. Hooch was raised livin’ over a liquor store. Every afternoon
when he came home from school he helped his old man put out the stock and
sweep up. Yeah, he snuck a little hooch now and agin. That’s how he got his
The other fella in the group is Pat “Pancake” Patterson. Pancake is a big
ol’ boy. Why, he’s so big that he buys shirts from Omar the Tent Maker up in Ft.
Worth. I wuz with Pancake the night we went to the Alamo Ranch Café over by
the Bat Cave near Sisterdale. They got a special where if you eat it, it’s free. The
special is a hamburger with six meat patties, six slices of cheese and all the
fixin’s. It comes with a pound of French fries. You have to eat everthing and all
within twenty minutes. Then, you have to sit there for fifteen minutes to make
sure you don’t puke.
You do all that, then it’s free and ya get a free T-shirt to boot. Pancake
did it with time to spare. After he did all that, Pancake had a piece of pecan pie
and a piece of coconut pie. Pancake is the man. Sometime, I’ll tell ya how he got
that nick name. Man-o-man.
Anyway, back to the music. We had Jerry Jeff Walker’s rendition of “Me
and Bobby McGee” playing on the turntable. Jerry Jeff’s version is a lot different
than Janis Joplin’s. Its done kinda slow like. Jerry Jeff has about as much range
as my arthritic little finger, but…his voice has enough cigarette and gin in it that
he sounds like a man who has done most of it and has seen it all. He’s got the
kind of life story we old hard livin’ birds can relate to.
Jesse Colter, Waylon’s wife, did “You Ain’t Never Been Loved Like I’m
Gonna Love You.” Hearin’ her sweet voice singing those lovin’ words makes you
want to turn and lock the door and throw away the keys, cause you know you
ain’t never leavin’.
Sweet Potato passed the gin bottle around and we all had another pour.
As the gin goes down, the mind goes up, soaring to places it ain’t never been.
Ah, to the good life! Good times with good friends.
As the night wears on and the Comanche Moon makes its way across the
sky, we relish the camaraderie and close feelings we have for each other. Hooch
becomes philosophical. He relates how most music is about lovin’ and losin’,
livin’ and dyin’ and drinkin’ and jail. Hooch tells us that if them are the only three choices life offers, then it’s probably better to love and lose. We’re not ready for
death anytime soon. Hooch has spent a little time in jail and says it’s not worth a
damn. As bad a feelin’ lovin’ and losin’ is, Sweet Potato, Pancake and me
decide ol’ Hooch is probly right.
After this bit of philosophy, we put on a record from a new singer, Hayes
Carll from down Galveston way. Hayes is singin’ a parody of a song, “She Left
Me For Jesus.” While the song is supposed to be humorous, there is too much
truth to it. You get a gal goin’ just how you want, then she goes and finds Jesus
and whoops, everythin’ is ruined. A man can waste a lot of time that way. You’re
better off never lettin’ them walk down Church Street.
My buddies and I spend an evenin’ like this every once in a while. It helps
to stop and reflect on things and listen to some good music. You can spend too
much time rushin’ to hell. We’re gonna get there fast enough as it is.
It’s gittin’ late and the boys are yawnin’ some, so we figger we better close
up shop. We get up an we all piss on the fire. It’s kinda a tradition we have.
Smoke goes up everwhere. Hooch starts coughing and the rest of us start
laughin’. We hug, slap backs and everbody heads for their pick-em-up truck.
Another good night with the boys.

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