The Men in Black

There truly is a place where dreams do come true. High above in the sky, higher than the clouds and somewhere amongst the stars this place lies. It's at this location that you come upon a gate, unlike any gate you've ever seen, beautiful fresh paint and no touch of rust in sight. At this gate stands a man with a long list of names, but you don't have to give your name to the man at the gate, because he already knows it.

 He takes his pen and places a small check beside your name and with the biggest sincere smile says, "Welcome to Heaven."

      The doors of a bar swing open and the first thing that catches your ears is "I wear the black for those who've never read or listened to the words that Jesus said about the road to happiness through love and charity why you'd think he's speaking straight to you and me." Those words are from the Johnny Cash song "Man in Black" and they are among many Cash songs that play around the clock on the jukebox. As you flip through the pages of music on the jukebox you see the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Roy Orbison, Buddy Holy, and Jerry Garcia among many others. There is one peculiar thing about this particular jukebox though, every time a musician passes away on Earth his legacy is added to the playlist.  

     As you continue listening to the music you wader around the bar watching some of the regulars shooting pool, while others are playing close attention to the television screen as the ballgame is in extra frames and Cy Young is coming out of the bullpen to face Babe Ruth. As you continue you notice a bulletin board on the wall with all of the latest news on the Heaven front. The biggest news seems to be that Audrey Hepburn has gotten her wings. You say to yourself, "I always knew she had to have been an angel." All of a sudden you hear a loud booming voice from behind you at the bar. You suddenly think to yourself, "I know I've heard that voice somewhere before." You quickly turn around to see who it is and to your astonishment it is the "man in black" himself, Johnny Cash.

        Johnny Cash asks the bartender, "What time is it?" The bartender promptly reminds Cash that, "in heaven time does not exist; heaven is eternity. " "I keep forgetting that after all this time," responds Cash. "That's okay it took Abe Lincoln ages before he finally stopped asking for the time." It appears that Johnny Cash is expecting someone, but he hasn't let on to anybody as to whom it is he is so anxiously waiting for.

     As Babe Ruth homers to win the game and the jukebox beams Webb Pierce's "There Stands the Glass" the door opens and in walks another "man in black" NASCAR racing legend Dale Earnhardt. Earnhardt pulls up a stool at the bar beside Cash and Cash says, "It's about time you ol' Ironhead." "Sorry, I'm late Johnny, but Shakespeare caught me outside, and you know how that goes." "Yeah, don't I know it! He talked to me for twenty minutes yesterday about classic movies before he finally realized that I wasn't John Wayne." You can't believe a word you are hearing. Johnny Cash and Dale Earnhardt, the "men in black" and you two heroes are the best of buddies.

     You pull up a stool closest to the conversation, so you can sort of listen in. The bartender wanders over to the two and asks Earnhardt, "What'll you have to drink?" "Whiskey", immediately replies Earnhardt. "Sir, this bar does not serve alcoholic beverages." "What in the hell kind of bar doesn't serve alcohol?" "The heavenly kind. If you want alcohol, you'll have to go to Hell." Earnhardt quickly replies, "ice water please" and turns to Cash and says, "I spent a day in Hell as punishment for decking Weatherly after we got into a late race wreck. I don't want to go back to that place, my skin still burns."  

     "So, Johnny, what's new?" asks Earnhardt. "Oh, nothing much really. I did have one kind of cool experience." "Yeah, what's that?" "God asked me to record a new version of "Ring of Fire" as background music for those taking the elevator to Hell. ‘You're going down, down, down to the burning ring of fire.' You know that type of thing." "Man, that is cool", says Earnhardt, "God never asks me to do anything like that, in fact every time I see God I'm being punished for one thing or another. Just the other day I was short track racin' at Wilkesboro with the boys and got called to God's "big red truck" for putting the ol' spin and win on LeeRoy Yarbrough." "What'd he say?" asked Cash. "Well, he let me off with a warning, but he said one more incident like that and "Little E" goes into another slump." "Man, that is rough." "Don't I know it, John. I spun Lee Petty one cotton pickin' time and now Junior has no shot at making "The Chase" back on Earth.

     "Well, Dale I hate to end a great conversation, but I'm opening up the show for Elvis tonight." "That's all right man. I've got to meet Bonnett at the track anyway for some dirt racin'." "Same place tomorrow night, Dale?" "You betcha, I'll see you then, John." You are still in shock of what you've just witnessed, but you know that in heaven anything and everything is possible. Same place tomorrow night for the "men in black" and you know that you're going to find the time to be there as well.

     Suddenly a strange feeling hits you and you rub your tired eyes. You gaze at your surroundings and see a clock that says 2:15 am and quickly determine that you are in your bed, back on Earth. It suddenly hits you that there won't be a tomorrow night, as everything you have just witnessed isn't factual, merely a complicated dream played out in your head. You think to yourself, "well, I guess that's over with", but you lay back down in your bed and hope to heaven above that it becomes a recurring dream. As you lay your head back down on your pillow you see a dark figure leaning against your closet. All of a sudden the flash from a cigarette being lit lights up the room showcasing the ghostly image of Dale Earnhardt, "Helluva dream, huh buddy?" is all he says as he quickly disappears out of thin air.  


The End


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