Fiction Saturday – The Henway Chronicles – Part 5
I hate listening to people bickering, especially if I’m not one of the bickerers or the bickeree. With Lech Ontario and Daisy Cutter, his moll, bickering was as pointless as a truckload of watermelons. Finally, I couldn’t take it any longer.
“Shut up – both of you. Can’t you wait and do this bickering stuff when you’re at home so I don’t have to listen?” That seemed to work. They both looked at me.
“Awww, shut your pie hole, Henway,” sneered Daisy.
“You dummy,” snapped back Ontario “With Henway it would be ‘shut your German Chocolate Cake hole.’”
I reached out and slapped them both just like Moe used to hit Curly and Larry.
“Bessie – tell me about this Bessie, Dang it,” I half shouted at them. Ontario threw his coffee at me. Daisy dumped what was left of her hot roast beef sandwich on me. It was au jus, usually that is just the way I like it. It took me three napkins to clean my glasses.
“OK,” I sputtered, “Now that we’re done with all of that won’t somebody tell me who this Bessie girl was and what was so special about her that you two characters are still acting goofy over her after all these years?”
“Girl? What girl? Bessie was a cow. She had the biggest brown eyes you ever saw. I wanted her and so did Hank.”
“A cow? All of this is about a cow?”
Ontario shrugged. I think in his brain it all made sense.
“What can I say, times were tough and she looked tender.”
It took me three days to track down Hank. I finally went out to Ontario’s old address. He wasn’t there. The Optometrist living there now said that Hank had knocked on his door and asked if “That filthy cattle rustler” was there.
“What did you tell him?” I asked.
“I didn’t have time to tell him anything right then. My dog took a big chunk out of his pant leg and your friend ran away. But he’s been back the last two nights. Nice old guy, but with some serious astigmatism. I fixed him up.”
“Fixed him up? How?”
“Two nights ago I got him to let me check his eyes. Last night I gave him a new pair of glasses – Trifocals. He still thinks I know something about this ‘cattle rustler.’ He’ll be back. I promised him a pair of ‘Jackie O’ sunglasses. A strange request from a man his age.”
His story was all “Hank” – persistent and addicted to any celebrity who ever showed up in People Magazine.
I told the Optometrist that I’d be back later that night. I couldn’t let Hank, my mentor, and as close as I’ve ever had to a “Crazy Uncle who lived in the attic,” wander the streets.
When Hank got close to the house I called out to him.
“Hank, Hank, it’s me. I’m over here,” I stage whispered. I didn’t want to scare him away. When I called his name again, Hank stopped in his tracks and looked my way.
“Who’s calling my name? I’m warning you, I have a gun and I’m not afraid to use it…if I can find it.”
“Hank, it’s me, Henway. I’m in the shrubbery.”
“Henway? What are you doing in the shrubbery? Did that Optometrist mess with your eyes? Those eye drops can make you see things funny. Are you stuck in there? Should I call a Topiarist to get you out?”
Now where did Hank ever learn a word like Topiarist?
I climbed out of the shrubs and asked him just that question while I picked bits of greenery off my clothing.
“Well, Henway, I couldn’t very well say, ‘Should I call a Bonsaist’, now could I? You weren’t stuck in a miniature tree. What would you have done? What do you call the guy who comes to trim your shrubbery?”
“Usually, an ‘ex-con alcoholic who can’t hold a real job,’ but forget the shrubs. Where have you been for the last three nights? I’ve been looking for you.”
Hank looked around, scratching his head. “Well, I came here looking for Lech Ontario, but he ain’t here no more. Then the Doc fixed me up with some new specs. What do you think, Henway – Masculine, yet a touch Hipster, no? Then I’ve just been walking around the City seeing it like I haven’t in years. When did they build that new baseball park?”
“Eighteen years ago, Hank.”
“My, my – I wish I’d met this eye doctor years ago. He said he’s gonna get me some sunglasses too, Henway.”
“He told me, Hank – not a good style choice for a man your age. Let’s go down to Wilma’s and get a bite, my treat.”
“In that case I think I’ll order some cake.”
“Live large, Hank. I got someone you need to see.”