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"The Story Of Sam"

Sam played "As Time Goes By" in a bar in Casablanca.
Ten years later, in the fifties, he had learned a second song.
He tried to keep up with the musical trends.
In the sixties he bought a reverb unit, a sitar,
and took guitar lessons.

In the seventies he got a fuzz box and a drum machine,
and began singing "As Time Goes By" like Neil Diamond.
All the musicians in town were playing guitar,
singing like Neil Diamond, and wearing black vests.
To break the monotony,
the musicians started trading jobs without telling the bar owners.
Nobody noticed because they all sounded the same,
looked the same, did the same songs,
and went with the same waitress.

Bars were disappearing, so gigs were getting scarce.
Every fifteen minutes a stern voice on TV said:
Less people were going out,
they were drunk at home with the kids.
Sam had been replaced by a karaoke machine.

Sam sat in the park, trying to figure it all out.
Even with all his equipment he couldn't get a job.
The public mind was headed for prohibition,
against drinking, against smoking, against guns.
Sam was so mad he felt like getting an abortion.

As far as he knew, drinking and staggering was acceptable,
so that's what he did.
He staggered between a fat lady and her bald dog,
tripped over the leash,
and arced gracefully into the path of an oncoming piano truck.
He settled out of court for enough to buy his own club,
and more equipment.
He even put in a giant screen TV.
He was so proud of it he left it on even while he was playing.

One night he was playing his digital keyboard
and singing "As Time Goes By" like Shania Twain,
when he looked up and saw that his customers had all grown
thick hair all over their faces!
The shock gave him a heart attack.
After all he was a hundred and fourteen.

Nobody noticed as he grabbed the money from his tip glass,
slid off the bench and died.
The crowd was facing the other way,
watching Casablanca on the giant TV.
They didn't recognize Sam in the movie,
singing in his own style and playing a regular piano.

At "The End", the bartender turned off the sound
and they heard the funny noise:
Sam lying dead on his new bass pedals.
The bartender said: "Here's looking at you, kid",
and bought the house a drink on Sam.
He put about half the cash from the till in his pocket,
poured one for himself, and closed early. 

Copyright  Dec. 20, 2000 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved.


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