Every once in awhile I wonder how Hank! is doing without my stepfather around to pull his nuts out of the fire. Has he learned to take responsibility for himself? Or has he found someone else to protect him from the consequences of his actions?
Back in the late '70s, Hank! was busted for shoplifting. He was caught with socks in his back pocket.
Socks. He stole socks?!
Well, I'm one to mock...I got busted stealing a freaking dollar penlight. Without batteries.
The store manager called the cops and the Old Man, who went to the store and did a little song and dance--not the first, not the last--to get his boy off the hook. Can't have him going to jail or having a record or having to pay for his crime.
Maybe somewhere there's a list. Just for the sake of blogging, I wish I'd made up a scorecard, but I stayed away from Hank! as much as possible. Guy's a dick. He went from being a shoplifting dick to a drinking dick to a drunk-driving dick to a paranoid psychotic drunk-driving dick who walked along the right-of-way in front of his mother's house holding either a shotgun or a rifle. Screamed at passers-by to get off his street. People out for a walk would cross the street before passing that house.
The neighborhood adored him.
Then--early '90s--he became a drunk-driving dick who had a car wreck that landed him in jail. There were injuries. He was facing 30 days in jail. Actual consequences loomed in his future!
...and step-pops pulled some Fred Astaire magic, that old song and dance, and Hank! ended up with 6 months' house arrest instead. In our house.
If I didn't like Hank!, my mother loathed and feared him, especially after he pushed her into a wall because she was in his way. The Old Man took Hank!'s shotgun and rifle away, so Hank! wandered around the yard with a sledgehammer instead. I hid it, so he toted a jack handle instead.
The neighborhood--different neighborhood--adored him, especially with his racist screaming at the black family next door and his more mundane screaming at the white folks.
His own mother stopped letting him stay with her, so he bounced from our house to his siter's to his son's and back, never actually welcome, only endured.
I learned something the day the old man danced to get Hank! house arrest instead of jail.
I learned that "women and n*ggers" were responsible for Hank!'s plight.
The Old Man came home from the court hearing ranting that "one day I'm going to make it my business to get even with all the women and n*ggers!"
The past few weeks, I've amused myself wondering what the mechanism for this vast conspiracy against poor, much-maligned Hank! might be, and which group, for example, bears responsibility for which problems in Hank!'s life.
Was it the women, the blacks, or both who forced Hank! to drink?
Which group made him drive? Was it women who engineered the traffic "accident" that brought down this mighty Titan? Black people who conspired to get him arrested yet again?
Thunderstorm kills the TV? WOMEN!
Sportsball team loses the game? BLACKS! GAWDAMMIT!
I don't really have an ending for this post, other than to say I'm glad I don't share blood with him. I can't get too smug about that, though, since I did a little digging into my birth family and found one habitual offender who could well be the Hank! of that family. Felony battery, burglary, criminal mischief, larceny, prison time, five different mug shots since 2003. Makes Hank! look like an amateur.
Ursula K. Le Guin, 1929-2018
56 minutes ago