The Zinger

The little hand on the beer-logo clock were making their second round for the day.  Hank had not shown up for the second day in a row.  And I was starting to second guess my actions.

When Ashleigh and I “hooked up” on Valentine’s Day, I hadn’t thought about the fact that I was helping her cheat on the man she cheated on me with.  And to Hank – that’s a major no-no.  But so much so that he refused to return to Marlin’s Inn?

H.L. had taken Hank’s seat next to me and he tried to pull our absent comrade’s ol’ tap pull trick.  But Santiagowould have none of it.  Every time H.L.’s short arms reached over for a self-served refill, Santiago would actually slap the top of his hand.

Kilgore sighed heavily apropos of nothing, and he engaged me apropos of something.  You want to know where Hank is, don’t you kid?

I shifted in my seat.  The silence over the last two days was deafening.  I didn’t realize how much that walking pile of negativity lit up the place.

Remember when your old teacher stopped up here to speak with Hank?

Of course, I remembered.  It was that night I became no different than Ryan.  He stole Ashleigh away from me; I borrowed her back.

I’ve been meaning to save this bit of info to rub it in one day.  Give him the old Caribbean jerk ribbing he gives all of us.

“What is it that they talked about, Kilgore?”

He shook his head.  He really wanted to save this savory fact for later: He plays bingo.  Ryan does, too.

The rock that was Santiago cracked first.  H.L. took his distraction as an opportunity to refill his own mug.

“You’re telling me the pair of them go to crowded halls full of smoking seniors, pull out their fuzzy troll dolls, and dot their liquid dabbers, all in the name of small cash prizes?”

I trailed him there once.  I think they both agreed to keep each other’s secret.

I couldn’t believe it.  None of us could.  Bingo seemed like something H.L. would do.  Maybe even Kilgore, or Santiago.  But Hank?

Santiago actually made a joke.  It wasn’t accurate, but it surprised us:

Do people moan when they call O-69?