This article is the second post that I’ve written in coordination with other pool bloggers. On the 15th of each month, we write articles based on a common theme. This month’s theme is “The Most Important Thing.” To see articles written by my fellow bloggers this month, visit Mike McCafferty’s host page.
I died at 2:30 in the afternoon. That much I know for sure. It may have been a week ago, a month ago, or even a year ago. I’m not quite sure since there are no mechanisms here to track the passage of time. When I arrived at the pearly gates, I was told to stand in a special line: the line for those souls who were granted the privilege of sharing one last message with the world before passing away. No one in Sunday school told me that Saint Peter would ask me one final question before making a decision on my passage through the gates.
Saint Peter had asked each of us in line the same question: “What did you communicate with your last words?” The gentleman in front of me had visited his family and encouraged them to set aside their differences and work together in harmony. A woman told of communicating with missionaries to save lost souls in a far region of the world. Both of them were granted passage to the promised land. Me? Well, when I told Saint Peter what I had said with my last few words, he shook his head and told me to wait here with rest of the pool players.
I still remember my last few minutes on Earth. The Doctor had given me only a few hours to live. “You should go home and rest,” he said. Instead, I went to the pool hall. My nephew was shooting in a tournament and I wasn’t going to miss it. When I arrived, he was practicing at a table in the corner. After rolling up in my wheelchair, an Angel of the Lord appeared to me and whispered in my ear that it was my turn to climb Jacob’s ladder, but the Big Man upstairs had granted me the privilege of sharing one last piece of wisdom with the world before I expired. The only catch? My message had to be conveyed in 20 words or less.
The clock was ticking. What words of wisdom should I share? To whom should I share them? I watched as my nephew struggled at the table, trying in vain to make improvements to his game. Hummmm. What could I share with him? What was the most important thing? What could I convey that would radically change his game for the better? I considered the options. I could tell him to work on fundamentals such as developing a balanced stance, creating a solid immovable bridge hand, shooting with a level cue, or using a smooth stroke, but there were plenty of books on the market that covered these topics. Maybe I should tell him to just relax, enjoy the game more, be more social. Or better yet, I could recommend that he hook up with a professional and take some lessons. As I pondered the last words that I would deliver, I watched him bang balls around. He hit shots with amazing force, sending object balls flying around the table at high speeds. Bank shots were coming up short, object balls were rattling in the jaws of pockets, and he was working up a sweat with his frenetic pace. As I sat and watched, I got more and more irritated and could no longer contain myself. I blurted out, “Stop hitting the balls so damn hard! Ninety percent of your shots should be characterized by very gentle clicking sounds… ahhccckkkk!” And that was it – I had used up my twenty words and kicked the bucket. Was it the best use of my final words? Maybe so…maybe not. Oh well, what’s done is done.
Now I sit with the other misfits, waiting for the Big Man upstairs to make a final decision on my fate. No one seems to be in any hurry, which suits me just fine. Three or four thousand fellow miscreants are gathered around that old pool table in the sky, watching Mosconi and Greenleaf play one final match of 14.1 continuous in a race to 1,000,000. Greenleaf is ahead 834,766 to 831,995, but Mosconi is on a high run of 2,645 points and shows no sign of slowing down. I guess there are worse ways to spend eternity.