JINGLE BAR JINGLE BAR JINGLE BAR ROCK: After downing a half-dozen or so glasses of well scotch at Marty’s, Boyd asked to settle up. The bartender handed him a handwritten receipt. Written on the receipt were these words: STF offers his apologies for not being able to make it tonight. He had family obligations—something about a Santa costume. He’ll meet for a drink on Christmas day—you choose the venue. Your drinks are on STF’s tab. Merry Christmas. This last line quelled most of the anger Boyd might have had about the missed appointment—free drinks are always a good gift. But he had to choose a venue now. Bottletree would open at 6 p.m. on Christmas day, and he wrote that down with the number and the website, (205) 533-6288, www.thebottletree.com. But maybe that wouldn’t be right. The Garage would be open as well, so he scrawled (205) 322-3220, www.garagecafe.us on the receipt. But maybe live music would provide some needed sound cover—Scott Ward & Friends would be playing at Marty’s for $5, so he wrote that down. But then he thought he might like to hear The Back Row Baptists continue their Christmas service at Stillwater Pub, so he scribbled (205) 202-5625, www.stillwaterpub.com on the receipt and circled it. He pushed himself away from the bar with the grace, or lack thereof, of someone who never felt compelled to leave a bar, and hobbled out. If the meeting with Sammy the Fiddle went well, he’d have to wait ‘til Monday to do anything with the new information. Outside, he leaned on his car and fiddled in his pocket, looking for his keys. Merry damn Christmas to me, he thought as he pulled the last Lucky Strike from his pack.