Story Time With Hank
“Here it is, kid. As promised, see?” He leveraged one foot into the air with tremendous effort and, twisting his whole body to generate the requisite torque, THUMPed it against the side of the stoic, wooden chest.
The chest did not deign to respond. It sat on the cold concrete, amidst the dank and the dust and the chittering bugs, and pretended we weren’t there.
Its black varnish shone with a malignant inner warmth separate from the light cast by the single exposed bulb dangling at the end of a long cord from the ceiling overhead, spinning slightly in a draft I couldn’t feel.
The chest had no clasp or keyhole that I could see, no adornment at all save for a plain, silver orb, like a globe bisected neatly from North to South pole, that bulged tumor-like from its front.
When I was a kid, I was a Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer man. I watched—and loved—all the schmaltzy Christmas specials—your Charlie Browns, your Garfields, your Frosty the Snowmans—hell, I watched Nestor the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey once, and didn’t even kill myself after—but Rudolph was my favorite. I bet there’s an Angelfire website that would tell me what that says about me as a person.
I’m out with a friend at a bar that I hate. I mean I’m not really, not right now, obviously, but I’m in a present tense kind of mood so bear with me, please. I’m out with a friend at a bar that I hate. I’ve never been in this bar before today, but I know immediately that I hate it. The walls are black with purple trim and purple-framed pictures of skeletons and women in torn clothing and skeleton-women in torn clothing hang every two feet exactly. The bartenders are tattooed women in bikini tops. The ceiling fans are skeletons. In every seat is a middle-aged man in a Harley Davidson t-shirt tucked into jeans; in every parking space outside is a Nissan Sentra.
A little light from the street leaks in around the edges of the blinds over my kitchen windows, two orange-rimmed eyes looking at me over the table where I eat my breakfast and stack junk mail and presently sit, with a glass and a bottle, but otherwise it’s dark. That suits me fine. It’s that kind of night.
Happy (almost) December, ladies and gentlemen. May there be a crisp twenty in the linty pocket of a jacket-you-haven’t-worn-in-a-year-or-two of your life.
I meant to have a very special surprise for you today: the first ever audio Story Time.
Hello, readers fair and not. I hope your every dream is coming true, unless you’re some kind of sick sonofabitch. Today’s Story Time, as with everything this time of year, is a very special Thanksgiving edition. Enjoy.
Happy November, everyone. I understand that this is the second installment of Story Time to go up this month, but, like a jerk, I forgot to mention it last week. So I’m mentioning it now. Happy November. Did you have a good Halloween? It’s November 9, so I don’t care.
I’m the Customer of the Week at the Starbucks down the road. Every morning, I’ve sauntered up to the counter, been handed a free coffee and gone about my super-important business. I don’t know how they know who I am—there’s no picture that I can see and most of the staff is new—but they do, every day, without my mentioning it. Except for one day. Today, actually. Today, I ordered a double tall latte and I wasn’t told that they’d have that right up. I was told it would be $3.84.
Lady at the bar told me she could hear the future. And when a lady at the bar tells you she can hear the future, you roll with it—that’s what I believe.
So I took a moment to consider the implications of such an ability, but I was a little tipsy and it was an uphill battle.
Buenos dias, chicas. I did a learn-Spanish-by-tape thing once and the guy would say that at the beginning of every lesson. Or maybe it was one lesson, and it just really stuck with me. Either way, you could hear this dude winking and throwing up finger-guns and having a mustache and not wearing a shirt and it was wonderful. Changed my life. My Spanish is still awful.
You know, I wasn’t one-hundred-percent certain what to do with this space this week. Coming off an entire month of pretty intense reminiscences by special guest-writer Coyote—who is a genuine saint to whom I’m certainly very grateful—it seems we might all benefit from a change of pace and a chance to catch our breath. So I opened up the ol’ inbox and whaddayaknow, it’s Story Time with Hank | Story Time Mail Time.
Happy day, children. The end is nigh. Part 4 is the long-awaited final chapter in the magical epic that has been, “Story Time With Coyote.” It started with a lost bet and ends…well you’ll have to read it to find out.
Afternoon, folks. Hope you’re having a good one. And if you weren’t before, that’s all about to change. We’ve got the third installment in the epic of Coyote all written out in words and ready to be read.
Good day, everyone. May it and every other day be one more pearl on a long chain of pearls that brings you a great deal of personal satisfaction—maybe you wear it around your neck, maybe you keep it in a drawer; it doesn’t matter. Last week, if you were here, you met a man named Coyote and read a little bit of his story.
Hi, folks. Hank Henry here. In lieu of my regular Friday garbage, I’ve arranged a special treat: a guest column written by a friend of mine. His name’s Coyote and he lives across the street. Um. Yeah. Introductions are boring. I’ll let Coyote take it from here.
Still on the road, so this is gonna be another quickie. I’d apologize, but “you’re welcome” is probably more appropriate.
The plan this week was the same as the plan last week: namely, sitting in bars, dropping some eaves, hoping other people would basically write this thing for me. Except last week’s material came out of a clean and well-lit sports bar, which I figured was a fluke. The best stories, in my experience, usually come out of the shittiest bars. So for three nights I sat in dark rooms on wobbly stools, waiting, listening and taking copious notes. Being looked at weird for taking such copious notes. But I think I overshot my mark; these bars were too shitty. I didn’t hear the kinds of conversations I was hoping to hear, the kinds of conversations I can share with tender-hearted readers. I have a notebook full of stories about prostitutes.
It’s not quite six o’clock in the evening, and I’m sitting in a sports bar that someone’s wedged into the lobby of the hotel in which I’m staying. Or maybe the bar was here first and the hotel grew out of it like a profitable tumor. Either way, it’s an awkward arrangement: certain tables are all but behind the reception desk and every now and then a brass luggage trolley bumps and nudges its way through the maze of tables and chairs laid out by the bar staff, leaving behind it a wake of spilled drinks and muttered curses then disappearing into one of the elevators on the far wall.
There’s a fellow I run into pretty predictably in a bar around here. His name’s Charlie. Charles, actually, but people call him Charlie because he hates it and, upon hearing it, can generally be relied on to tell you …