I sat on the floor of Hank’s apartment picking up change.
My phone rings.
“Hey, are the cats okay?”
I look under the desk. One cat is sleeping on a pile of old chip bags, the other is on the window sill.
“Yeah, they’re good man. Hey I have a question.”
“Yeah,” I stand up and walk over to the desk. I look down at the sock. “So there is a sock here with a raw egg and cigarette box in it. What do you want me to do with it?”
I pick up the sock and swing it in front of my own face.
“Right.” I put the sock down.
The phone clicks. I go back to cleaning. Hank didn’t ask me to clean. Just watch the cats. But, leaving his apartment in the condition I found it would be tantamount to high fiving an arsonist in an orphanage.
It would be easier to clean a Denny’s bathroom, I think, in Detroit.
I manage it. Every corner, every drawer, every orifice of the apartment held some new secret disturbance. The last step, collecting the change. The floor, carpeted, is littered with change. I collect it all in a bag. I take it to the store and change it into cash.
I stand in the center of the room, genuinely proud. The door opens. His face falls.
He looks around.
“Where is all my change?”
I hand him a stack of bills.
He frowns at it.
“You wouldn’t believe how much it was. How did that much change get on the floor.”
Hank takes the bills slowly, looking at them, wounded. I sense something is wrong. He looks at the floor.
“When I get home from work I throw all my money on the floor,” he says, not looking at me.
“Oh, uh, why?”
He shrugs. “That why I don’t know how much I have, but it’s always enough. If I need coffee in the morning or want a beer, I just pick up the money off the ground and go.”
I hang my head.
“Oh, sorry man.”
He scratches his head.
“No it’s okay.”
He drops the stack of bills on the ground. It sits there, alone. We both look down at it.
*For more conversations with Hank, click here.