Sunday, October 19, 2008

My Old Friend Henry

I want to tell you about Mr. Henry. When I first met him 16 years ago he was in his late 60’s. We worked together and our only problem with him was trying to tell him to stop working so we could go home. He’s a retired army sergeant and a World War II veteran. He also had already retired from working another company after 30 years of service. He didn’t need any money and I couldn’t figure out what the hell he kept working for. He’s also probably one of the craziest old men I have ever met. He would give me rides home at night and talk to me about the old days. We joked around a lot with each other but when he decided to get serious I never took what he said for granted. It was almost like having a bonus grandfather except we looked at women together. After we stopped working together I would still pass by his house and have a highball with him or run into him at Bally’s Casino flirting with young women.

I saw him in Jackson, Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina but things were so hectic that I lost contact with him. I always worry about him because he is in his 80’s now and rebuilding your home and life again at that age is a rough thing to go through. I’m in my 30’s and it almost took me out. I can only imagine how it is for people who thought they had completed the journey already. People like that definitely didn’t deserve to have to start from scratch. It's a damn shame there's not enough medical facilities for them. There was a trailer in front of his house but no one was living in it. I saw people working on the house but I never saw him.

Thursday evening I was leaving City Park and needed some gas. I stopped at a gas station in Gentilly and as usual was staring off into space while the gas was pumping. A red SUV pulls up with chrome rims. An old man in his 80’s steps out looking healthy enough to be 30 years younger. He’s wearing a security guard uniform and walks towards me with an ignorant looking smile.

Sometimes men have a strange way of saying I love you and I miss you. The conversation went something like this.

Henry: You tank head summa bitch! What you doing all sweaty boy? I know you ain’t working out. You are going home to eat a whole chicken for dinner.


Me : Shut up you old goat. Who gave you a security guard job anyway? It’s a good thing you don’t have a pistol. First of all you can’t see. Secondly, you might have a D-Day flash back and kill somebody.


Henry: Don’t you know boy if I hit you, you gonna bleed?


Me: Just because some young woman got you thinking you still a young man don’t mean you should try running up on me.


Henry: Shut up boy……when we drinking a highball?


Me: Whenever you are up to it.


The chance of things like this happening is one of the reasons I am glad I moved back to New Orleans.

6 comments:

Another Conflict Theorist said...

Peace Cliff,

Hell of a story, man. Thank God for brothers like you who recognize how important it is to fellowship with the older heads. That cat Henry sounds like an American original.

Leigh C. said...

Woohah! An altercocker, that one! And God bless 'em all.

b said...

that's the wonderful thing about new orleans. there were people who, when i went home, i didn't even bother looking them up, because i KNEW i was going to see them. isn't that strange?

Anonymous said...

Glad to know Henry is doing well. That's an awesome story! When are ya'll gonna go women watchin? T.

Maitri said...

Heehee! That was a great conversation, one for the records.

BLESSD1 said...

FUN-NY stuff! I have a friend like that named Beauvais. He'd spent 14 years locked in Angola which only made him determined to live legally. He worked harder than anybody, spent his pennies wisely, and would talk shit like nobody's business. Good to have friends like him.