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H&K: Path of Knowledge

Book 1 of the H&K Series: Chapter 16

By Shawn David KelleyPublished 2 years ago 23 min read
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Chapter 16

Hank smiled at Katharine as he came back into the airport bar. Tess and Karen sat next to her, chatting about the whirlwind of activity that had occurred in the last month.

Karen smiled at Hank as he sat down, a knowing look on her face.

“What was so important that you had to interrupt our lunch?” Katharine asked.

“I had to finalize some business downtown,” Hank replied without a hint of a grin. “Sometimes, you just have to check in to make sure people are following instructions and doing things the right way. It also helps when you have some help from someone’s assistant to make the full impact of a situation clear.” Hank was referring to Adrian Smith.

“Here’s to not having to hide out or look over our shoulders anymore,” Karen said, raising her glass of wine in the air. The other two women raised their wine glasses as Hank raised his pint of Guinness.

“Hear, hear,” the others echoed.

Karen eyed Hank for a moment as he sat his glass down. There was something in his eyes that didn’t bode well it seemed.

“Everything okay, honey?” Katharine asked.

“Everything is fine, just thinking that I forgot about that consultant job in Dallas,” Hank replied. “It’s a week, and the company hasn’t called to complain or anything. I just need to call them later to make sure the job is still on. After lunch, of course. It’s only noon in Dallas anyway. They should be at lunch as well.”

“Another round?” the bartender asked as she came over to the table. The bar was empty this time of day.

“Please,” Hank said, looking up at the bartender. The bartender’s eyes went wide. “Hank Logan?” she asked, nearly exclaiming.

The three women at the table looked first at the bartender and then back at Hank. The bartender was in her early forties with shoulder-length brunette hair and brown eyes. She had a few curves but obviously worked out. Hank looked into her eyes as his mind wandered back to the first time, he had visited the airport bar.

*****

After a few months in South America, Hank requested a leave to fulfill a promise he had made to a fallen comrade. Lowell arranged for leave and transport. A few days later, Hank found himself in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was dreading the drive out to the city of Lancaster and Copeland’s parents’ home, but he had a promise to fulfill.

It was six in the evening on Friday night as Lisa the young brunette bartender busied herself restocking the beer coolers behind the bar for the late-night crowd as three separate individuals sat at the horseshoe-shaped bar, each at a respectable distance from the others. At the end of the bar sat an older handsome gentleman in his late fifties wearing grease-stained coveralls, broad shoulders, salt, and pepper hair with a goatee, absently slowly turning his shot of brandy with his right hand. Tears flowed down his cheeks from his dark-blue eyes as he slowly shook his head, lost in his own world. On one side of the bar sat a lovely, slender, green-eyed young woman in her late twenties wearing a light-blue dress with spaghetti straps, with long dark hair, sipping at a glass of white wine. Across from her sat a young man around her age wearing jeans and a plain white T-shirt, with brown hair cut in a very short military high and tight. He had been the last to enter the hotel bar and had just sat down. The bartender finished her restocking before turning to the newcomer. The bar could easily hold sixty-plus occupants.

“I have an odd request,” the young man spoke in a southern drawl, addressing the bartender.

“Yes?” she replied with a quizzical expression on her face.

“Can I have twelve double shots of Jack Daniels and four shots of Jose Cuervo Gold Especial Tequila?” he asked.

“That’s quite a lot. Are you planning on driving?” she asked. “No, ma’am. I’m staying in the hotel tonight. My flight leaves tomorrow around fifteen hundred hours.”

“Are you in the military?” she asked. “Army, ma’am.”

“Thought so by your haircut and the way you tell time and say ‘ma’am,’” she smiled.

“Good southern upbringing, ma’am,” he smiled back.

“Well, soldier, I have to apologize. I’m not allowed to serve double shots or more than three shots at a time.” The frown on her face showed she indeed was sorry.

“Well, if I told you that three friends will be joining me soon, could you pour them for them before they get here?” he asked.

“Okay, just don’t tell anyone. Can I see your ID?” she giggled. The soldier pulled his army ID card out and handed it to her.

Satisfied, she handed it back. She then began to set sixteen shot glasses on the bar in front of him. The young woman across from him watched as he arranged the sixteen shot glasses in four rows, each row with four shot glasses. He instructed the bartender the first three shots glasses were for the Jack Daniels and the last was for the tequila.

After the bartender had poured the sixteen shots, the soldier stood up, walked to the jukebox, smiled, and selected several songs. He returned to the bar but instead of sitting down on the barstool, stood before the row of full shot glasses. He stood at attention waiting. The first song was the national anthem, which aroused the gentleman at the far end of the bar to stare at him. The soldier placed his right hand over his heart, mouthing the words as it played. Then Hank Williams Jr. started to blare “All My Rowdy Friends.” With that, the soldier began a strange countdown.

“Ten, nine, eight, seven…” he continued his countdown as the three other occupants of the bar watched.

Once the soldier said “one,” he picked up the first double shot of Jack, held it high, then downed it in one swig. He continued down the first row until all four were empty. He reached for the first double shot of Jack in the second row, began the countdown again, then at one, held it up, and continued the same process until all four shot glasses were empty. He did the same for the third row. He paused with the fourth row as the jukebox fell silent. He reached for the first shot glass, completed his countdown, and held the shot glass up.

“For all my fallen comrades.” He emptied the last row of shot glasses before sitting down at the bar.

The three occupants stared at him for a few moments before the door opened and a half-dozen new patrons entered the bar, laughing and talking. The soldier held up a finger, and the bartender refilled a row of shot glasses before turning to the newcomers and their orders. Someone fed the jukebox and songs began to blare. The older gentleman downed his brandy and ordered another. Two young women approached the young dark-haired woman across from the soldier. They hugged as they ordered drinks. The soldier retreated to a solitary corner table in a far part of the bar.

Soon, the bar was full of patrons, laughing, drinking, and starting off the weekend with a night of partying. Two more bartenders arrived with two waitresses and two bouncers for the anticipated patronage. The bouncers stood at the far side of the bar near the main door. A bachelor party arrived with a group of fifteen young men who appeared to have already been partying for some time before finding the bar. They pushed three tables together between the soldier and the bar. All the while, the soldier sat in his corner, nursing the fifth round of drinks the bartender had served him. She looked over and saw as he downed the last shot, the tequila. She made her way over to his table with an empty tray.

“Hello again.” She smiled, bending down so that he could hear her over the music from the jukebox. “I’m Lisa, by the way. Can I get you anymore?”

“Hi, Lisa. Call me Hank. And yes, if you could manage another set,” he indicated the four empty shot glasses.

“Sure thing.” She flashed him a smile as she took the empty shot glasses.

One of the young men at the bachelor party grabbed her as she passed by, pulling her into his lap, and laughing. She struggled to get up, but the thug held her tight around the waist as he tried to force her to take a drink. One of the bouncers in his early thirties with shoulder-length brown hair started toward the bachelor party. Several of the individuals blocked his approach. They held him back as he tried to force his way to the aid of the bartender.

The thug holding the bartender felt steely fingers grip his left shoulder, digging deep into his flesh. He released the bartender instantly. The bartender moved away from the bachelor party as the thug and his compatriots turned on the owner of the steely fingers. Four held the bouncer back as eleven faced the soldier who had placed himself between the bartender and the bachelor party. The jukebox fell silent as the last song ended.

“Think twice,” Hank warned.

“What are you going to do? There are more of us than there is of you!” the thug snarled.

“I hope you’re not the groom,” Hank stated. “And if I am?”

“Then you had better think hard about your next actions. You won’t be enjoying your honeymoon.”

The thug swung his fist straight at the soldier’s face. Hank blocked the man’s arm and delivered a mighty blow to the man’s jaw with his right fist, dislocating it, and sending the thug crashing to the floor, unconscious. Two more came at him. Hank pushed the bartender farther back away from him as he crouched down, sweeping his right leg out toward the two approaching assailants, knocking their legs out from under them. He sprang up to confront a third as he advanced. Hank blocked the man’s right outstretched fist with his left open hand, seizing his wrist, forcing it away from the man’s body, and delivering three quick jabs to the man’s right rib cage. The man staggered back just as the bouncer broke free and the second bouncer appeared.

“Enough!” both bouncers yelled.

“You’re out of here!” the second bouncer pointed at the soldier.

“Wait a minute, Bill. He didn’t start it,” Lisa, the bartender, came to Hank’s defense, stepping in front of him.

“I don’t care who started it. He’s out of here,” the bouncer said. “That’s telling him, Bill,” the men of the bachelor party chimed in, patting him on the back.

“Just because they’re your friends doesn’t make it right,” Lisa said.

At that moment, the bar manager walked up. He was a small twig of a guy with a goatee and glasses. He surveyed the group.

“Bill, get him out of here.” The manager pointed at Hank. “Lynn, he didn’t start it,” Lisa told him.

“And you’re fired,” Lynn told her.

Bill the bouncer and several of the bachelor group stepped toward Hank and Lisa.

“You’ll be the first one I drop,” Hank stated, squaring off against Bill.

“He doesn’t know whom he’s messing with, does he, Bill?” one of the men mocked. He’s a fourth-degree black belt and a champion. He’ll wipe the floor with you.”

“I don’t want any more trouble. Let us leave and it can all be forgotten,” Hank stated, not backing down.

The bar was deathly quiet. The man who had been in the bar when the soldier arrived stepped forward in front of Hank. Lisa pulled the soldier toward the back door of the bar.

“He hasn’t paid his tab,” Lynn yelled.

Hank dropped a hundred-dollar bill on the table as he backed away from them, Lisa urging him to follow her. Once outside the bar, Lisa started to laugh as she led the soldier into the parking lot.

“You sure have guts, soldier,” she said. “I’m sorry you got fired.”

“Oh, that? Lynn says that every time something happens. I’ll be back tomorrow night. He knows I’m the best bartender he has. Besides, the hotel owner is my uncle.” She laughed.

“Well, thank you for your help,” Hank said.

“My help?” she began. “You’re the one that put Jeff in his place and stared that pompous-ass Bill down as well. Good thing you are leaving tomorrow. That group has a suite in the hotel. You’d best stay in your room until it’s time to check out and head straight to baggage check-in.”

“Well good night then,” he said, starting to walk around to the front of the hotel.

“Hey, how would you like to grab a drink with me?” Lisa asked.

“Can’t,” Hank replied.

“Why not?” she asked.

“You’re wearing a wedding ring.” Hank indicated her ring.

“It’s just a drink. Besides, my hubby is the bartender at the bar we’re going to,” Lisa told him.

Reluctantly, Hank escorted Lisa to her car where the two climbed in and drove several blocks away to another bar. Hank was surprised to find that Lisa had been honest about her husband being the bartender. His name was Dan, a gentleman in his late thirties with graying hair. When Lisa regaled the happenings at the hotel bar, he laughed.

“About time someone stood up to that bunch,” Dan replied. “What’s your MOS and unit are you with?”

“Eleven Bravo, one Papa, Airborne Infantry, stationed with the first, five O ninth Airborne, Fort Polk, Louisiana,” Hank said, using his new cover story.

“Have a drink with me,” Dan said.

Lisa excused herself to go to the ladies’ room. The two men watched her as she walked away. Then Dan turned to Hank.

“Interesting tattoos you have,” Dan said as he poured two shots of Jack.

The gold and black Airborne tab and silvery jump wings were barely visible through Hank’s white T-shirt on his left shoulder, as was the tattoo over the left breast of a rifle pointing down with a helmet on top and two pairs of boots resting under the rifle.

Hank picked up the shot glass, held it up, then brought it down to clink with Dan’s shot glass. He downed it. Lisa walked up smiling. “Soldiers, take them away from the army, but you can’t take the army out of them,” she started, smiling at her husband.

Dan took the two shot glasses and refilled them. A patron at the far end of the bar waved for him. He limped to take his drink order.

“A grenade nearly tore his leg off in Panama,” Lisa said. “They saved his leg, but he hasn’t been the same since. Even without the limp. The grenade killed his best friend. Sam was his name. He pushed Dan down before it exploded. He still blames himself.”

“It’s hard,” Hank said.

“What?” Lisa asked.

“To make it back alive when your friends don’t.”

“So, Hank, what brings you to the city of brotherly love?” Lisa asked.

“A promise,” Hank told her.

“Oh.”

“But I was too late.” Hank’s head drooped a bit.

“How so?” Lisa asked as Dan walked up.

“His mother died before I could keep my promise,” Hank replied, raising his head.

“One of their mothers?” Dan solemnly asked.

“Yes. I failed. She passed away last week. Seven days too late.”

“You tried to keep your promise. That should count for something,” Lisa said.

“I should have come sooner. I kept putting it off. I broke my promise,” Hank said, standing up and walking out of the bar.

Lisa started after him, but Dan stopped her.

“Let him go. He’s got to work it out himself.”

Outside in the parking lot, Hank spied the airport. He started back on foot. After a few steps, he picked up his pace to a quick walk, then a jog until he was running flat out. Frustration drove him forward. He berated himself for being a coward in facing Corporal Copeland’s mother, his friend, and his teammate.

*****

Hank’s mind played everything over and over as he ran, oblivious to his surroundings. He never saw the red and white Chevy Camaro as it swerved out of the parking lot and struck him, sending him flying through the air. He crashed to the ground in a heap. The car slammed to a halt as the four occupants piled out. Eleven others joined them as they descended on Hank. By the time they finished, they had broken four of his ribs, stomped his hands until they had dislocated his fingers, and gave him a mild concussion from kicking him numerous times in the head.

It was a miracle that the young woman in the light-blue dress and her two friends were pulling out of the parking lot around the same time. The group scattered. The four thugs jumped into the Camaro to speed off into the night. The women couldn’t identify the assailants for the police other than the Camaro. The case went to the cold case files with little evidence.

Due to his injuries, Hank remained in the hospital for several months. When he was finally released back to active duty, Lowell questioned his mental status from the concussion. His psychological evaluation showed that he was fit for duty. MRIs showed no brain issues that impeded his performance. Therefore, he returned to active duty.

“Glad to have you back,” Lowell said as he shook Hank’s hand as he got off the plane on a remote South American airstrip.

“What’s the assignment?” Hank asked.

“It’s a cakewalk this time,” Lowell said. “It’s an Overwatch assignment for an international medical team treating villagers. The rebels are hitting the area hard. The villagers are getting caught in the crossfire.”

“Hank? Earth to Hank,” Katharine was talking to him. “Are you going to introduce us to your friend?” There was a tinge of jealousy in her voice.

Hank came out of his reminiscing with a slight shudder.

“Ladies, this is Lisa Delanie,” Hank stated, introducing everyone. “Lisa, this is my wife, Katharine.”

Lisa shook Katharine’s hand.

“This is Tess, Katharine’s cousin.” Lisa shook her hand. “And this is Karen, a very close friend.” Hank finished the introductions as Lisa shook Karen’s hand.

“And how do you know my husband?” Katharine’s tone rose somewhat as jealousy crept into her mind and body language.

“I met Hank in this very bar over twenty years ago with my husband. He helped me out of a bad situation with a bachelor party. He and my husband bonded at the time. My husband was an army veteran also,” Lisa told the group.

“I didn’t expect you to be here still,” Hank said.

“I own the place now. My uncle died a few years back and left it to me. He knew how much it meant to me after Dan…” Tears appeared in Lisa’s eyes.

The table fell silent as Lisa waved them off. She walked away from the table with her hand covering her mouth.

“I take it Dan was a relative?” Katharine spoke first.

“Her husband,” Hank replied.

“What happened to her husband?” Tess asked.

“He killed himself. He had PTSD from Panama, and a good friend of his died saving his life. Dan blamed himself, but the VA at the time didn’t help. They fed him loads of drugs and a few hours of counseling a week, but no real intervention.” Hank downed the last of his Guinness.

Lisa returned with a large tray of wine glasses and shot glasses. She placed the wine glasses in front of the ladies and set out two rows of four shot glasses, one row in front of Hank, and the other off to the side in front of her.

“Katharine, I know he’s your husband, so I have to ask. Would it be all right if I had a shot with your husband?” Lisa asked.

“Well. Er… I don’t see what harm it would do,” Katharine replied, half dazed. She had only ever heard Hank talk about his drinking game while he was in the army, and here was a bartender, a female bartender, who knew about his lineup of shots.

“Thank you,” Lisa told her. “As I remember, you had a countdown or something.”

“Good memory,” Hank replied.

“Ten, nine, eight,” Lisa began. Hank picked up the count at seven.

When the countdown was at zero, Hank raised the first shot into the air, followed by Lisa.

“To Dan and all my fallen comrades,” Hank said.

Hank and Lisa started downing the four shots.

“Thank you,” Lisa said, tears flowing down her face.

Lisa walked around the table to Katharine. She bent over and gave her a big hug and kiss on the cheek.

“That’s for your husband and thank you,” Lisa said as she slipped away.

“You must have made a huge impact on her,” Karen said as the three women watched as Lisa walked away.

“I liked her husband the moment I met him. I came here during a layover on my flight back to post. I knew he was in a bad way but not to the full extent he was,” Hank said as he remembered the last time he was at the bar.

Hank had left active duty on the tenth of November 2000. After visiting family and paying his respects at the graves of Sergeant Grimes and Corporal Copeland. He decided to visit the City of Brotherly Love one more time. His plane landed a little after two in the afternoon on the twentieth of November 2000. Even though it had been seven years since the altercation outside the airport hotel bar, he felt drawn back to the same hotel and the same bar. He checked into the hotel, showered, and had an early dinner before heading to the bar.

Hank arrived at the hotel bar at six at night. To his surprise, Lisa was tending bar. This night found nine patrons sitting in various places about the bar. A woman and man sat at a table chatting away. Three women sat at the bar farthest from the main entrance. Two men flanked the women trying, to buy them drinks in hopes of future endeavors. Another man and woman sat at the table closer to the bar. He approached the bar and Lisa instantly recognized him.

“Hank Logan,” she cried, coming around the end of the bar, and giving him a big hug. “How have you been?”

“I can’t complain. I recently ETS’ed and thought I would do some traveling.” ETS stood for end time in service, meaning a service member had finished their contractual obligation to the military.

“What are your plans?” Lisa asked.

“I’m not sure. I may look for work and stay here,” he told her. “How’s Dan?”

Lisa’s face went ashen. Tears welled up in her eyes. Hank put his arms around her to comfort her, foreboding hung heavy in the air.

“Dan shot himself four years ago. He couldn’t handle the nightmares and the guilt he felt. The doctors tried everything. They even had him committed for a while. They put him on so much medication. Everything seemed to have gotten better for a while. I came home one night after work and found him. He had received a letter from Sam’s fiancée, Amy, the week before. He didn’t even know Sam had a fiancée.”

“In the letter, Amy had explained that Sam had planned on asking Dan to be his best man at the wedding. She was a private in the personnel office at Fort Bragg when Dan and Sam were there. Dan had goaded Sam into talking to her and asking her out. Before their deployment to Panama, Sam had asked her to marry him. It wasn’t until after Sam’s death that Amy found out she was pregnant. When word reached her that Sam had been killed in action, she was devastated. She had written that she had been searching for Dan for years and had finally found his address through a friend in personnel records. Her letter explained how much Dan meant to both of them and wanted Dan to meet their daughter. She had enclosed a picture of Sam’s daughter, the spitting image of Sam but with long hair, according to Dan. A week later, I came home to find Dan slumped in his favorite chair, clutching the picture of Amy and her daughter, his pistol on the floor.” Lisa began to cry.

Hank walked Lisa to a barstool and sat her down. Another bartender came over with a shot for Lisa.

“I’m sorry. It gets to me sometimes. I should have been there for him,” she cried.

“It was his time,” Hank said matter-of-factly. “There was nothing you could have done, even if you had been there. He chose his actions, not you. You can’t blame yourself.”

“I know, but I loved him so much. He was my life. We knew each other since elementary school. We lived on the same street. I guess the one good thing is that we never had kids. Panama saw to that.”

Hank called the bartender over and started to give her his drink order.

“Amber, he’ll have three double shots of Jack and a shot of Cuervo Gold.” Lisa interrupted him.

The bartender nodded and produced the order. She refilled Lisa’s shot glass.

“To Dan,” she said, holding her shot glass up as Hank had done so many years ago in the same bar.

“To Dan,” he repeated.

By the time Lisa had finished her shot, Hank had downed two shots and was starting on the third. The door opened. A man and woman walked into the bar. The man was boasting about how he kicked someone’s ass in some tournament. They walked past the bar, the man bumping into Lisa, making her drop her shot glass. It shattered on the floor. The man laughed as he looked at her. Without missing a step, he pushed the woman he was with toward a far corner table.

Hank caught Lisa before she fell off the barstool. Sitting her upright on the barstool, he stood up.

“Are you okay?” he asked. “I’m fine,” Lisa replied.

Hank spun and started after the thug who had shoved Lisa, making her drop her shot glass and nearly knocking her off her barstool. The two had sat at the same table he had occupied the night of the altercation seven years before. His blood boiled, and a red haze crossed before his eyes. The man was none other than the bouncer

from the bar who had been driving the car that had tried to run Hank down years before. The woman seemed familiar to him as well, but he couldn’t place her.

“Forget it,” Lisa said, grabbing his arm.

“You should go home,” Hank told her, turning to the other bartender. “Is there someone that you can call to come and pick her up?”

“I’ll try her uncle,” the woman told him, reaching for the phone.

At that moment, the thug grabbed the woman at his table roughly by the arm, who had stood up, shaking her. He couldn’t hear their voices, but the look on their faces told Hank that the woman was terrified of the man. The thug pushed the woman back into the chair in the corner, shoving her and the chair against the wall. The woman buried her face in her hands, apparently sobbing from the rise and fall of her body. The man laughed as he stood up.

“Get off the phone and take my bottle to my table,” he ordered the bartender, slamming his hand down hard on the bar.

The bartender held the receiver to her ear without moving. The thug leaned over the bar, pulled the receiver out of the bartender’s hand, and hung it up.

“Get my bottle and take it to my table,” he ordered her again. “I won’t tell you again. By the time I get back from the head, you had better have done what I told you.”

The thug continued into the men’s room. Hank stood up. Lisa placed her hand again on his arm.

“It’s okay,” he told her. “Give me the bottle. I’ll deliver it. And call Lisa’s uncle.”

The bartender handed Hank an unopened bottle of Captain Morgan and two shot glasses. He took them, turning toward the table. He walked over, placing the bottle and shot glasses on the table. The woman was in her early thirties, with long black hair and green eyes, tears streaming down her face. Her right wrist was red from where the thug had grabbed her. On her left hand, she wore a wedding ring.

“Are you okay?” he asked.

Startled, the woman looked up at him.

“Some birthday, huh?” she choked.

“It’s your birthday?”

“Yes. Just turned thirty-three. What a life I chose.”

“Things can always change. What’s your name?” he asked her.

“Marie.”

“Well, Marie, it looks as if things are bad for you. I suggest you get out of this relationship before it’s too late.”

“It’s already too late. I’m pregnant,” she told Hank.

“It’s never too late. Your family will help you,” Hank said as he turned and headed back toward the bar.

Lisa’s uncle came through the door just as Hank passed by, walking toward the men’s restroom. The door was just opening as he and the thug came face to face. The thug tried to shove Hank back out of the way, but Hank wasn’t going to be that easily manhandled. He grabbed the man’s outstretched arm, twisted it, spun the man around, and pinned his bent arm between his shoulder blades. Hank shoved the thug back into the men’s room holding onto his arm. Once the door closed behind them, Hank pushed the man across the bathroom floor where he smacked hard against the far wall.

Like a crazed animal, the thug spun on him. But unlike an animal, the thug was well versed in the form of martial arts. He aimed a side leg at Hank but found empty air. Hank moved like lightning, sidestepping the kick. The thug tried a roundhouse kick at Hank’s head. Again, his kick passed through thin air. He tried an axe kick, only to have Hank capture his raised right leg in midair.

Hank swept the thug’s left leg, crashing him to the floor onto his back. Hank landed squarely on the man’s groin with his right knee, forcing an agonizing scream from the thug’s throat. Hank wrenched the thug’s right leg sideways, snapping the leg at the knee as he flipped onto his back next to the thug. Hank drove his left elbow into the thug’s solar plexus several times, knocking the wind out of him. Hank spun around, capturing the thug’s right arm with both of his, driving his legs into the thug’s right side. He pulled suddenly against the thug’s arm, heard the loud pop as the shoulder separated from the socket, and dropped the thug’s arm to the floor.

As Hank stood up, the thug writhed on the floor, moaning and screaming. The music from the bar drowned out his cries.

“You should think twice next time. If Karma was a thing, she’d be a bitch for you right now,” Hank said as he turned and left the men’s restroom.

The woman who had been sitting at the table with the thug walked toward the ladies’ restroom as Hank passed.

“If he’s your husband, you should get rid of him,” he told her as he continued to walk.

Lisa had been taken home by her uncle by the time Hank got back to where he had left her. The bartender gave him a note.

“Lisa?” The bartender nodded as she turned back to a beckoning customer.

Hank left the bar and headed back to the hotel. He read the note the bartender had given him from Lisa. The note contained her address and phone number. At the bottom, it read, “If you ever need a shoulder.” It was signed by Lisa Delanie. He folded the note and placed it in his pocket. He caught a cab to the Greyhound bus station where he bought a one-way ticket to Georgia. He needed to put some distance between him and Lisa Delanie, if for no other reason than in memory of her husband, Dan. It wouldn’t do for him to get involved with her especially this soon after losing her husband.

Hank smiled to himself. If it hadn’t been for trying to run away from this woman and the possibility she held, he would never have met Graff again on September 11, 2001. From there, he returned to Philadelphia and met back up with Katharine.

Hank smiled, leaned over, and kissed Katharine. He mourned what could have been a great friendship with Dan and Lisa, but he was glad he had connected with Katharine.

“What was that for?” Katharine asked.

“I’m just glad that I have you and that you keep me grounded. I don’t want to end up like Dan,” Hank told Katharine as he stared into her eyes.

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About the Creator

Shawn David Kelley

Prior Service, saw the Berlin Wall dismantled and the aftermath of the Gulf War/ Desert Storm/ Desert Shield. He has drawn upon his unique views of life and science fiction to bring together an alternate reality of excitement.

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