"You scared, Sammy? Com'on, who you trying to kid?"
"Yeah Sammy, or should I say, 'Samson'. You're always braggin' about how you're not a'feared of nothin'."
"I'm not scared of nothing. Not down here noways."
"You're going to have to explain yourself better if you want us to follow you, Sam."
"I don't fathom it my own self, not much, nohow. That's part of what scares me, Andy."
"Well, try. Maybe saying it out loud will help you sort it out."
"Ok, I'll give it a shot. Ya' see, I just got back from seein' the Doc, and...."
"No wonder you;re scared. Doc could scare the feathers off a jay bird...."
"It ain't just that. Doc ain't handy with words, sure 'nough, but what he told me ain't easy to spread with honey."
"What'd Doc do, tell you you're going to die? Ha ha."
"Yeah, he did, sorta'."
"Double ah, oh.".
"What 'cha got, Sammy-boy, is it the ol' ticker?"
"No. It's the big 'C', but that's not what's got me scared."
"T'would be enough for me, you betcha'. Then if it aren't the cancer, what is it then? You aren't afear'd of dyin', are ya?"
"No, I ain't scared of dying. Not exactly. It's more the being dead that's got me goin'."
"You're talking double-talk. Dead is dead. Don't matter how you slices it."
"What I mean is, after you die. Like, the devil, and God, and like that."
"Oh! You mean the Judgment!"
"Yeah, that's it, I suppose. I just ain't sure I'm fit for it."
"Shure ya' are."
"Why sure. You go to church on Sundays, don't you?"
"Yeah, mostly, I suppose."
"You're good to yer wife, ain't ya? I mean, you don't beat her or nothin'?"
"No, I reckon not."
"You treats yer kids proper, don't ya? Feeds, 'em, gets 'em some schoolin', see's to it they's shod proper?"
"Yeah, I reckon so."
"You don't lie, do you? The big black one's, I mean?"
"No, I guess not. Leastways, not lately."
"Sounds to me like you got it made, Sammy-boy. 'Pearly Gates, here I come'."
"That's pretty insensitive, Bill."
"Yeah, guess it was, Andy. Sorry Sam-boy."
"That's ok. I didn't take no offence, particularly."
"Feel any better about it, Sam?"
"Kinda', I guess, no, not really."
"You lost me again."
"I mean, like, what's it like when you die? Is it floating 'round in the sky on a cloud playing a harp like the preacher says?"
"Sure it is. All the pictures I seed's got 'em doin' it."
"Don't you believe the preacher, Sammy?"
"Yeah, mostly I do, I guess. But it just sounds so boring, and all. I likes to get in and get my hands grimy fixin' things. I don't s'pose there's trucks up there?"
"Never saw no picture of no truck up on a cloud. Could be though."
"I saw a picture in a magazine once of a guy sittin' on a flower, kind'a like a frog on a lilly-pad, like. Said folks what die, the good ones leastways, sits like that forever. I can try and see if I can find it and show you."
"That's ok, Hank. I don't reckon that would be too all-fired excitin' neither. I wonder if they has got any trucks down there in that other place."
"I don't reckon so. The fire would blow the gas tank anyhow."
"I Reckon so."
"A ways back I was talkin' to Wing Chow over at the café. He tells me the Chinee', most of them noways, cotton to the notion that when you dies you don't go nowheres, but you comes back to life as a chicken or bug or some such. I couldn't get no grasp on all what he was tellin' since he don't talk too good an English an' all. Wish them f'erners would learn to talk proper. Should be a law or some such."
"I t'ink so too, you betcha'. I learn'ed to speaka' da English. So shoulda' them guys."
"Sure you did, Carlos."
"Well, I don't reckon that coming back as no chicken would be much fun. My wife wouldn't take to that too well, I s'spect. Maybe a horse."
"Ol' Wing was referring to reincarnation."
"Reincarnation. It's a belief that a lot of people hold to. And it's been around longer than just about any other. It says that when you die, you come back to life as a different person. If you've done well in this life, you come back in a higher form. If you've done badly, you come back in a lessor."
"That don't make no sense, Reggie. You tellin' me that if I been bad, I could wind up comin' back as ol' Hank here?"
"Hey, watch it, fella. I ain't been all that bad."
"You ain't been all that good neither."
"You mean, I could come back as a horse?"
"Does you hanker to that re-in, re-in, that ring thing, Reggie?"
"I would say it has it's points. It's an interesting concept. And no, Sam, I don't think you would come back as a horse, or as Hank. According to the theory you would just be born again as another person."
"I wish you'd learn to talk more proper, Reggie. Or leastways tone your words down a tad. You is hard to foller' at times."
"Why would a folk want to be borned again. Ain't it hard enough just once around?"
"It's to afford one the opportunity to perfect himself, at which point you can...."
"Sit like that fella' on the lilly-pad."
"Rather indelicately put, but yes."
"I don't reckon none of this is helping me none. I think I'll go talk with the preacher and dredge his thoughts on it."
"That's a good idea, Sammy. Besides, maybe the Doc was wrong and you have nothing to worry about after all."
"I still got to go someday, nohow, Andy."
(To be continued)