Ole Blue Eyes, always the first to get tipped off, was soon hep to the story that me and the boys, we were forming a new lodge, see.
Did it make him jealous? We'll never know. But we were on his radar again, and he wanted a piece of the action.
Yeah. My phone rang that winter day, shattering the naive comfort that had settled in before I answered his fateful call. The line crackled as he sez to me, "Tommy! It's yer pal, Frankie! It's been too long... I've been thinkin' about all the good times. You remember, don'tcha? Back at the Sands? When life was good, and the world was our oys-tah?" I nodded, involuntarily. Dammit. That's how he reels ya in. I knew he could sense it over the phone, "Yeah, they was good times, Frank, they was good times."
I could just picture my old Rat Pack buddy, with that toothpaste grin, as he continued, "But do you remember the tunes, baby? Hey, I never told ya, but we wrote 'em all wit' youse boys in mind... Remember how Dean-o, that lovable swill, he'd open the show? Sammy'd knock 'em out, and then I'd send 'em over the moon! Man, we were singing about you! You, and Bourbon Jimmy, and Matt the Cloud and Johnny Two. And Big Tony! How's he doin?" --I said he was doin' well, like the others, and should tradition prevail, would soon be elected grand poo-bah of the Shrine. But Frank continued on without hearing me, reliving his memories. "...And Cueball Brad, that lovable rake, and Jimmy the Oak, and ev'rybody else (sniff!)... Oh! But the best part was singin' to your gals. God, I loved all o' them gals you'd bring with you, sitting up front, every show... Man, those songs... Those days and nights... They was somethin' to write home about, eh?"
I could hear him tap, tap, tapping on the table by his phone, like Poe's damn raven. Gaaa! He continued. "Hey, I heard you and the boys in Minnie - once again calling our town by that annoying nickname - I heard you're openin' up a new lodge... He paused for emphasis, before continuing...
So!... How'z about making me part of the gang?
Well, that figures. Criminy! It would bump our little project on a whole new direction, wouldn't it? Frank wasn't going to be content to sit on the sidelines, flyin' in for a lodge meeting here and there. Aw, nuts! Soon enough he'd want to run things, even when he was outta town. But how on earth was I supposed to steer Frank Sinatra away? Could anybody? Not that he'd send his goons - ah - his assistants, to press the point, but geez!
Well, I told him I'd get back to him right away. We exchanged our goodbyes and he hung up. -One always let Frank Sinatra hang up his phone first.
Talkin' it over with the boys, Cueball came up with a jewel of a plan: Instead of steerin' Frankie ta join the lodge, why, we'd form a little side group, dust off our fezzes, and make it all part of the Shrine! Not only was this perfect fer us, but it was much more Frank's style... With trepidation, I called him back, and man, I'm tellin' ya, he loved the idea: "That's fabulous! Sure, I'll be there, count on it - in person or in spirit, at every meeting!" (I could hear him shout off to the side, "Guadalupe! Where is my damn silk cummerbund!") "We can make it our town again, Tommy, like we did just after the War, when fellas just like us - red-blooded Americans - we owned the world. Yeah, we knew we could do anything, be anything, didn't we? They spun my platters when they shot a man to the moon, you know... And that Churchill guy you like so much? They said he listened to our tunes at the parties with them English swells, each time VE Day came around. I met the Queen once... Frank had a lotta memories to go through, sifting them when he was on the phone... Did I tell ya about the time when Joey, Lee Marvin, the Duke and I took the Buick down to Tijuana...? Had the top down, see, and...