Hank visited for three weeks in July. It was supposed to be two. He came to town see his daughter, Angel, my neighbor. Diesel, Angel’s boyfriend, shook his hand when he arrived.
“You named your daughter wrong,” Diesel joked.
“Nope,” Hank said, “Cause even the devil was an angel once.”
Every night during his visit, I’d sit in the back yard parking lot of our apartment building and pass a bottle of vodka back and forth with Hank.
He talked about being a machinist, and I smoked cigarettes. He showed me his pace maker scar.
“I was a Marlboro man,” he said with pride.
My brand was American Spirits, but Marlboro’s had gotten me hooked.
I told him my life was full of pig fat fuckers pissing and shitting themselves over improper attire.
He told me he once invented a new machine able to produce at one thousand, five hundred and twenty-three percent the current capacity of the machine the damn place was using.
“Got fucked on that one,” he said. “Wrapped it in a pretty blue print, then grabbed my ankles for the raping.
“It was a contest. Best idea supposed to win some money.
“I gave it to ‘em. Met the company’s head engineer. He was all done up in a blue suit and white hard hat, staring at the blueprints I had entered.
“‘How the fuck did you come up with this?’ he asked me, then he shook my hand. ‘You win.’” Hank passed the bottle of vodka to me. “A month later they let me go. Didn’t see a dime for them blueprints.”
The last night Hank was here, we drank until the sun came up and a white cab drove up to shuttle him away. He turned and shook my hand.
“You and I have something in common,” he said. “We’ve been fucked by the same assholes.”
I nodded, said goodbye, and never saw Hank again.