We sat on the porch outside my ex-girlfriend’s apartment.
Hanks father walks out of the apartment carrying a leather ottoman, he hands it to a Rastafarian man, who places it in the truck. They light up a joint, not looking at us. Hank’s new boyfriend John stands with them, awkwardly refusing a pass.
“How’s that going?” I motion to John.
Hank shrugs. “He doesn’t like video games.”
I pat him on the back. “Bummer.”
“Well, thanks for letting us borrow all the furniture for the summer,” I tell him.
“Yeah, he doesn’t need it,” Hank waves a lazy hand towards his father.
We smoke in silence. It is summer.
Hank picks a coin out of his pocket. He pinches it between his thumb and ring. He snaps. The coin goes flying, hits him in the chest. He picks it up, repeats.
“What are you doing?” I ask, lighting a cigarette.
“Making a coin disappear,” he says, flicking the coin again. It hits the wall behind us. I pick it up, hand it to him.
“What exactly is supposed to happen?” I ask. Hank misses the flick. The coin falls onto the step. He decides to take a break, lights a cigarette. He looks over at his father. His father looks like him, but with loose skin and no glasses. Hank shrugs.
“Just wanted to try, maybe. So I can remember.”
I nod. I stand up.
“I’m going to grab us some beers.”
I go inside, grab a couple beers and a painting. On my way out I hand the painting to Hank’s dad. He thanks me, bleary eyed. I go back to Hank; he is snapping the coin again. Once, it looks disappeared, but is found under his right butt-cheek. He smiles, twisting off the top.
“Why would you want to remember this?” I ask, sweating, itching, watching the Rastafarian man carry my ex-girlfriend’s bedside table from the house.
“I want to remember everything,” Hank says.
I light another cigarette. “What do you mean?”
He shrugs. He doesn’t look at me. “Well, you know people just do the same thing all the time. Same job, same hobbies, same people. And when you do everything too much it sort of mashes together and you lose time. It all goes in the file marked ‘work’, or ‘hobby’, or ‘friends’. You know? And it all becomes timeless mush. Do you remember the second Tuesday in June?”
“The second Tuesday in June?”
I frown. “No.”
“Yeah,” he sighs, “me either. But I bet I thought it was a pretty important day, that day. It will go into the mush marked summer two-thousand-twelve, I think.”
The weather seems right for pondering. So, I do. Eventually, I just nod.
Hank watches his father meander in and out of the house carrying various things, handing them to John. His face is blank.
“That’s why I like to try so many things, you know. If I try new things all the time, I’ll remember them. They won’t become mush. And at the end of your life, that’s all you have is memories. So, if I just keep trying new things, have more memories, then, well, I can live longer than anyone.”
He nods to himself. I find myself nodding along the same beat.
“You know, you’re not all that crazy,” I say.
He picks up the coin, places it between his fingers and snaps.
It hits him in the chest. He shrugs.
*For more conversations with Hank, click here.
(Also, this is the last story in the “Conversations with Hank” series. If you enjoyed these stories, let me know. If so, I can write more in the future.)