“This place looks like it’ll need quite some work.”
“It does. But you know what they say, ‘buy a house, build a home’. You already made yourself a beautiful family here. And it’s time you found a place to make beautiful memories with them in. What’s better than building this little home together with your family?”
“How the hell did you do it? I’ve been trying to sell that wicked old apartment for a year.” Charlie exclaimed in disbelief.
“It wasn’t that hard, really. I even had fun playing with their kids.” Hank took a sip of his neat whisky.
“And they took the upper limit price?”
“No. I offered them the base price.”
“Why in God’s good name would you do that? Didn’t we agree to quote the higher price so we can cushion their bargain after?”
“They seem like a lovely family. I like them. Besides, I’m not a salesman. I don’t sell stuff. I was helping them getting a home they deserve.”
“You’re unbelievable!” Charlie gulped his drink to swallow the prospect of the extra money he could have made.
“I’m taking that comment on a positive note.”
“Can you help me do the next one? I want to tag along and watch how you charm people off their wallets.”
“I’m not doing it again. I only agreed to fill in for you this time so you could go and make up to your dear Zoe. How did it go by the way?”
“The complete opposite of your sale. She wouldn’t talk to me. That look in her eyes through the gap in her door was telling me to come back in 2087 when she suffers some serious dementia and finally forgets what I did.”
“Sounds like a plan,” Hank grabbed the next glass and lit a cigarette, “Give her some time buddy. It’s not the first time you fucked the universe up with your stupid antics.”
“I’ll come back again next weekend,” Charlie replied with a sigh and signalled the bartender for the bill, “Anyway, I don’t want to rain on your parade. We should celebrate your impossible sale. My problem will still be mine tomorrow but that ancient apartment won’t be. Where do you want to go?”
“Actually I was thinking of going home and smoke through the pages. It’s a lonely Saturday night and Karen might come home,” Hank put down the half-finished cigarette and finished the new glass of alcohol.
“Karen has a date tonight, Hank. Stop mulling over it already and get your slouchy ass out there to have some fun. How about you calling Brenda? She called you back after the last time right?”
“Brenda the Moana? No thanks. If I’m getting laid tonight I’d want to make love to the Beauty, not the Beast.”
“Fine. Whose numbers do you have in your phone?”
“None. I deleted them all.”
“You sure know how to fuck your life up worse than life has already done.”
“So they say, Charlie. Thanks for the idea though. We can celebrate when the family signs that apartment and hopefully I’ll have found my home again by then. Tonight I’m the recluse in room number two.”
Hank slotted the green note under the empty glass. On the way out he spotted a water dispenser and decided to have a cup. The plain water felt like an elixir washing off all the poison in his body and dirt in his soul. He recalled as a kid he used to imagine himself collecting all the dirty things in his mind into a huge lump and he’d dump that filth to make himself pure again. “That lump would probably be too big to get out of the system now,” he thought.
Hank felt something buzzing in his pocket. He pulled the phone out, hoping for a name on the screen because there’s only one left in his contact list.
There was nothing on his screen. Behind him, the speaker in the bar played on.
“The answer my friend is blowin’ in the wind…”
He lit another cigarette and took a puff. He had been intepreting that famous line differently from others. His answer was not floating with the wind. His answer was in this smoke he was blowing into the wind.
Hank took the first step towards the seemingly undying night ahead, his mind torn. On one hand he was enjoying the company of the smoke and the dark. On the other, he was wishing the new day would come already. For what? He wasn’t entirely sure.