Hank Adrift…Pt.2

Leaning on a towering green giant of an oak tree Hank gazed across the landscape of his new city awaiting the hearse to deliver him to school.  Not 48 hrs. before was he kicking dust from his swollen scorched shoes.  Even in fall the desert has the look and feel of one of Dantes realms. But here, 20 miles north of Pittsburg, Hank felt as if his already ragged soul was being cleansed as he basked his senses rich with the fog and mist finding it’s way through the trees. Hank was torn and shattered though.  In the last two days he was asked to “leave” another school, his Uncle had better things to do “Time to get out dude,” Nikki was gone and his Mother decided  it was best for everyone for Hank to leave.  Leave the state.  “Time for your Father to deal with this.”  Until then, Hank saw his Pop only once a year.  A lot changes in a year.  If you’re lucky….

The plane ride was uneventful minus the few tears being choked back and the flight attendant asking, “You ok honey?” Hank thought she was nice so he saved her from a rasp of expletives and answered with a “perfect. Thank you.”  Hank pulled out the headphones and notebook then disappeared into…. his realm.  Which at the moment was surrounded by the Ramones and penned thoughts of what it was going to be like seeing, then living with his Father.  Hanks Pop was a quick witted, quick fisted and often hilarious and scary all at the same time kind of man.  He was a 20 year military veteran with a “hellish stent in Vietnam that I goddamned volunteered for.”  He did some secret things over there with a team that he never talked about.  To anyone. When he came back to the states, as he walked off the plane, he shed his uniform then proceeded to the trash can. There, he tossed the ghosts in and lit it all on fire. Lit a smoke and caught a piece of fruit that was thrown at him and slammed it into the face of the antagonist.  Very poetic and movie-esq but that was Hanks Pop.  Violent, funny, hard drinking and at times a very loving guy.  War and the miliatry messed him up.  “Changed everything about him” according to his Pop’s mother and brother.  Hank’s pop was an exrtemly intelligent man.  He was fluent in five languages two of them being Russian and Hebrew. With that type of chaotic personality it was so hard for anyone, let alone Hank, to get a gage on which guy was going to be there when you appraoched him.  Hank couldn’t help but wonder which guy was going to greet him when he got off the plane?

As the plane began it’s descent the stomach aches and scars seared his corpse.  Hank grabs his backpack and heads for the door.  At the gate there was Hanks Pop with his big smile, a steely stare and his blonde hair slicked back ala’ James Dean although a bit thinner then the last time Hank saw him. With his massive shoulders his Pop barrled through the crowd and put Hank into a head lock;

“I didn’t think you’d come.”

“Where the hell would I go?”

“The world is your oyster when you’ve got a free plane ride.”

“Pssh.  The layover was in Houston.  Who’d wanna live there? This’ll do. Good to see ya Pop.”

“Wanna beer?”

“Uh…ok. How’s that gonna work?”

“You forget who you’re talking too. Go stand over there and have a smoke I’ll be right back. Don’t start any crap with anyone.  Hey? I’m glad you’re here.”

“Cool. Yeah, it’s good to see you too.”

Hank makes his way to the smoking section and lights a cigarette.  As he stands watching the omnious blue hue swirl and break apart he starts to think of the whirl wind of the year he’s had; not unlike the smoke whipping by soon to be forgotten.  Thinking of the people that have come and gone.  The anger.  The loneliness.  The bitterness.  It was then he realized his Pop’s easy going demeaner could be a sham.

“Pop goes military when things get shitty. Fucking hell what’s he gonna do…?”

Hank realized he was thinking out loud when a little old lady told him to watch his mouth as she passed by.  As he apologized, Hank saw and felt his hands start to shake the more he thought about what his Pop was going to do when the dust settled.  Getting kicked out of another school was not going to go unpunished.  At least at first.  Consistency was not a family trait. Just quick, sometimes brutal exchanges that would be repressed within moments. It was then that Hanks Pop walked up with two pints,

“Here.  Don’t look all twitchy just relax.”

“Thanks Pop.”

“Your hands are shaking.  Shit.  Listen, these last few days/years have been hell on you and I get it. I’ll tell you what.  How about we not deal with the issues for the weekend. Although it will be addressed let’s not deal with punishment right now.  You’re in a new city, I haven’t seen you in over a year, you’re clearly a man now so lets be men and get to know each other. Deal?”

“Um… Deal? What?”

“Just drink, I don’t want to hang out here all goddamn day ya dig?”

“Hahaha ok Pop. Hey can’t I err… you get in trouble for this?”

“Take a look around.  You think anyone notices or even cares.  Be aware of your surroundings, trust your instincts and remember people are dip shits most of the time. Hell you have facial hair you easily pass.”

“Ever wise Pop.”

“You still writing?  Wait, do you even have bags.”

“Yeah, I’m still writing and I do have a bag.  Not much in it as all I brought are t-shirts and jeans.  You have to get me a coat.  Oh, I brought my guitar too.”

“We’ll go shopping tomorrow. Guitar huh? Alright. We’ll hang out tonight, get some pizza, you can play and I’ll sing.  How’s that sound?”

“Sounds good.”

That night and weekend turned out to be a pretty good time for Hank.  Pop was on a roll with the jokes and stories of when he was young. His singing voice was fresh as ever too.  Hanks Pop was an opera singer while growing up.  Until he joined the military that is. With bellies full of beer, food, and laughter Hank began to feel as if this might be alright. The night ended with Hank’s Pop stumbling up the stairs to bed.  Having been cut off waaay earlier Hank made his way to wash up and do a little writing before slipping off to sleep.  As Hank laid back after the last word was inked he found himself at ease.  Pop seemed ok and the new city felt good.  Hank must’ve drifted off because a few hours later he was startled awake by the sounds of a beast screaming, swearing and then dead silence…. then a few moments later the sounds of Mario Lanza (an Italian opera singer) drifted through the house greeting each room with a painful yet beautiful and soulful kiss. Hank quickly remembered this scenario played out over and over again when he was younger; “Damn, he’s still having the nightmares.” Hank slowly strolled down the hall to peak into his Pops room.  There sitting on the edge of his bed with a beer in his hand, radio on, and the drapery wide opened Hanks Pop sat staring into the full moon.  Slow deep breaths were taken as each breath brought in the light of the moon as if it’s true purpose was to take the darkness from his Pop’s soul.  Without even turning his head,

“Come. Sit.”

“Ok.”

“Don’t waste your life. Don’t let anyone tell you what to do with it.  Everyone has an agenda.  Your heart and mind well be your best asset.  Listen to it.  Just promise me something? Please don’t follow my footsteps.  Do the opposit.”

“What woke you up? What was the dream?”

“Messed up shit that no one should ever see.  Ah hell.  Look at those trees.  The moon makes them look like old souls.  They look happy.  See, that ones smiling. You see her?”

“Sure… Yeah, I do.  Maybe you should go back to sleep.  It’s 3am.”

“Pssh.  Yeah. Good night sonny boy.  I do love you.”

“Good night Pop.”

That was one of the last times Hanks Pop was gentle.  The next few months the drinking got heavier, the fights started and the hatred brewed deep.  It’s as if hell was being reborn in Hanks rotten guts. Everyday there was a new task.  But the ironing of the underwear was the worst.  Hank could handle all the cooking, the cleaning, the washing, but the underwear was just to mess with Hank.  Just more dogmatic tripe of “breaking a mans soul to build him back up.”  He even had Hanks hair chopped real short.  Hank felt like nothing.  Nothing but the hired maid.  With the payment being cartons of cigarettes, maybe a night out with some new friends he had met and a few more mental scares. One such night Hank’s Pop started a fight with Hank in front of his friend.  Not with just words but with pushing and fists.

“You are such a little punk.  What the hell man, all the shit I do for you and you’re being a little prick.  You don’t talk to me unless I ask you a question.  What the hell!?”  *push to Hanks chest*

“Pop! Stop!  Maybe if you weren’t so mean I’d want to talk more.  You’ve never been around and yet I was kicked out and sent to live with you.  You were fine when I got here now you’re just a dick!!!”

“Pssh.  You think you can find a better place to go?  Then go you little shit.  Where are you gonna go huh?  No one wants you. You get that right?”

“I’ll go back home.”

“Pssh. Go ahead; try.  She kicked you out.  Why would she want you back?  You rode that train and wrecked it!”

“She’ll understand.  She left you didn’t she?”

With that, a phone call was made, plane tickets were purchased and Hank left for the night.  He wandered the streets with some friends, smoked cigarettes, drank a little and tried not to concentrate on the faces that were trying not to stare at him.  Turns out Hank and his Pop were more alike then not.

When Hank returned he found his bag packed and all the pictures of him taken off the walls and the ones on the tables were turned face down. His Pop was no where to be found so Hank just went to bed.  The following morning Hank made his way to the corner for his last day at school.  He was to leave back to the desert that afternoon.  How fast things change.  There, Hank found himself leaning on the same tree that a few months before was welcoming him.  Now the old oak was saying goodbye.  The day dragged on but soon it was time to leave.  Hanks Pop picked him up from the corner and took him to the airport.  Not much was said but,

“Will you give me another chance Son.”

“Nope.”

“I do love you.”

“I know.”

Hank saw his Pop one more time a few months later.  He came to visit this time,

“Boy.  I’m a mess.  I’ve been a mess.  My career is stellar and I can keep it together for my staff and the hospital but when it comes to family… I’m a failure.  I’m not asking for forgiveness I just don’t want to go on not talking.  I love you sonny boy.”

“Man Pop…  I guess we’re both dicks.  I do love you. You have to know that.”  *Warm Hugs*

Three months later Hank was standing out in the rain waiting for a ride home one night.  It was eerily dark, cold, wet and the sky looked of crushed velvet.  Not a very common scene in the desert but it does happen.  An hour goes by and Hank calls home to see if anyone had heard from his girlfriend as she wasn’t there to pick him up,

“Hank.  She’s on her way. Just stay put.  You need to come home right away though.”

“Naw, I’ve got things to do.”

“No.  You’re coming home.  She’s bringing you here anyway… I just don’t want you to make any detours. Just come home.”

“What’s with the drama?  You ok?”

“Not over the phone Hank please?”

“It’s fine. What’s wrong.  I’m wet and cold would you please…”

“He’s dead Hank.  He was found this morning.”

“Dead? Who…Oh… Damn…..”

*Click*

The understanding of the phone booth held Hank up as he fished through his pockets for a smoke.  Stepping out under the over hang Hank took a deep breath letting in the sweet, wet, night rain.  Thinking at first it was the rain that put his cigarette out he backed back into the booth to relight it.  It was then he realized it was his tears.  No matter.  It was raining anyway.  Hank let the sorrow and tears go for a moment. It was a fitting night for his Pop to go.  Hank’s Pop loved poetic scenes and natures activity and attraction to it. The clouds loomed, purple, black and thick.  The sky lit up violently with flashes of pain only to settle quietly with the hush of the rain kissing the phone booth and Hanks face.  Much like Hank’s Pop.

To be continued… Pt.3

 

Drain

Burn it out
With Gasoline
That’s Pain
It’s Clean

Let it Bleed
Let it Bleed
Let it Scream
Let it Drain You

From Chemicals…

© Carlson 2013

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Hank Doesn’t Like Suicide ~ Pt.1

Lying in a make shift bed in the corner of a very small walk-in closet Hank was busy doing nothing and everything waiting for the night to take off it’s cloak. It was only 7:00pm and the shadows were already getting restless.  Uncle K had shooed him off to the hollow as he had a busy morning of coffee, cigarettes and hawking his “How to make it in buisness” VHS tapes. By the yellowing of his fingers and his twitchy body from the years of LSD use it was clear he was the owner of one of the world’s savviest business minds. Hank, ripe into his teen years, was feverishly scribbling the sore thoughts that would spill into his mind as fast as he could into one of his many notebooks. It was a game he often played when writers block would try and sap his words.  He read about it once reading Kerouac.  Armed with a flashlight, a ball point and words bellowing from a mix tape of Dee Dee, Westerberg, Cobain, Ness, Rollins, Lydon etc. through his headphones Hank went into the night with a heart full of fury.

A disdain for adults was etched deep into this young man’s psyche. Years of pain drenched from the daily let down of those in charge and the shattering of hopes a dreams was the prevailing requiem. From the tragic death of his Father, to out running gang members (often getting jumped), to his elder family members hitting him up in front of his school for drugs, any kind, there really wasn’t much interest in listening to the powers that be.  It’s a dangerous mixture for a teen; not to have fear and nothing to lose. Sprinkle in desperation and passion and you have a volatile youth. This night, Hank was deliberating with the shadows and the lost souls hanging from the rods that were bolted to each corner of the walls. Sure they looked like clothes when the doors were open but with the ominous glow of the flashlight and the doors tightly shut they looked of all the sad, soaked souls who took the easy way out and were left for eternity to hang in the shadows to whisper with the living corpses. Ah the solitude. Could make one crazy if your not used to yourself or the fact that the mind can be a bastard.  But for those that let the thoughts be what they are it can be a magical place where no one can ever break in. Or break apart.  Writing was Hanks nirvana.  His and his alone.  Dead  Beats and Hero’s could live incredible lives or be bludgeoned apart.  No harm. No foul.

Hank would write until dawn sometimes.  Hell, how could anyone know what time of day it was?  No windows.  No clock.  Just the banging on the door at 4:30am and the crackling, raspy voice splintering through the ears, ” Beat it. I gotta go,” was Hank’s alarm clock.  Shuffling out the door with his back pack filled with his notebooks, walkman, and bathroom utilities Hank would proceed to the bathroom for a quick shit, shower and shave. Uncle K’s two little toddlers would be screaming for food and not wanting to go to day care as Hank would slither into the fridge and swipe a bagel and two beers. Then out the door by 5:00am to meet the day feigning to go to school.  Most of the day was met with wandering and wondering. Sometimes it was the desert that beckoned if the heat wasn’t too unbearable.  But, after all, it was the desert so refuge was mostly sought in the comfort of the second floor of the school library.  That’s where the books that changed lives were.  Ya know, the ones that at one time or another were burned?  No one could hear the snap of the beverage can or the chatter of a couple trying to figure out love and death up there either.

“Hank?  You ever… ya know… think of……. just ending it?”

“Naw.”

“Really? Why not… I mean how come.”

“Too curious to see how this shit ends I guess.”

“Oh…”

“Oh? That’s it? There’s more you want to say so don’t shatter shut now.”

“No it’s just…. I can’t stand it anymore Hank.  I don’t feel anymore. I can’t even cry anymore.”

“You don’t even hide the scar anymore either.  Have you tried again?”

“No… Not since Christmas. Do you have anymore in your backpack? Or something to smoke.”

“Let’s go outside.  You wanna hear what I wrote last night?”

“Sure….”

Hank and Nikki faded into the afternoon smelling sweet and ripe with victory.  Hank read her stories that he wrote and she would write him poetry and draw pictures in his notebook for him. The rest of the afternoon was happy.  But Hank couldn’t help but think about Nikki being down by a suicide. These two young adults were troubled, yes, but Nikki was different.  She tried to kill herself one Christmas.   She had many reasons but the main reason had already killed her really.  Nikki never made love to anyone but she wasn’t pure anymore.  Somethings should never be taken let alone stolen.  Nikki was stolen. Repeatedly. She didn’t want to face the day ever again.  But Hank liked her and would make her feel special.  They both didn’t have “homes” in the traditional sense of the word.  Nikki’s was very violent and hostile.  Hank was ignored and the violence he encountered was on the streets. But during the day, together, they were safe.

As the bell rang you could see Nikki’s face turn cold.  Hank’s tightened.  They new what was ahead.  Darkness.  Literally and figuratively. They kissed and parted ways.  The pangs in Hanks gut wrenched with venom.  Part hunger and part sorrow. The walk home was slow and filled with images of the day with Nikki.  Laying together reading, smiling, shy kisses and talking.  Back at Uncle K’s apartment Hank settled in.  A dinner was left for him and plenty of beer in the fridge with a note.  Unlce K was going to be out until 9:00pm.

“Hank,

Here.

Thanks for the hook up.  I’ll be home by 9:00pm. Be in bed.  I have an early day.”

“Great.”

With a full belly of food and beer Hank settled in and began to write when the phone rang.  It was a friend of Nikki’s and she was hysterical.

“Nikki is gone.”

“Where?”

“What do you mean where? She did it. She’s…… Dead Hank.  I’m so sorry.”

*Click*

Hank stared into the dark searching.  Not sure for what.  But he was still certain that the ones who skip out are left to wander and whisper to whom ever will listen.  Hank laid back and shut the door himself that night.  No writing.  Just the flashlight, the shadows and listening.  Hank doesn’t like suicide…

© Carlson 2013