“I knew better,” Hank Tanner muttered, as he shouldered through the doors of Anders Hardware Store and headed for the aisle that shelved the hammers. “Yet, I just couldn’t help myself. I had to go mental and prove there were two fools arguing.”
Behind Tanner, he could hear the footfalls of the kid that had spurred his temper to unusual heights. A tall, rail thin kid, with a pockmarked face and narrow shoulders stood at the end of the aisle behind him and yelled, “I’m not done, old man. You ought to get to church and pray through. Then, you need to go to the burn center and get checked out.”
Hank lifted an 8-pound sledge and turned to face Jayson Nom. Fear glinted in Nom’s hazel eyes, and they widened when Hank smiled at him.
“Un-huh. I’ll be sure to do that. You on the other hand, should probably walk out of here while you still can.”
Nom spun around and raced for the front doors. Hank put the sledge back in its place and headed to the back of the store. After perusing the various types of plumbing, he bought a roll of Pex pipe and necessary fixtures.
He carried it to the front and laid it on the counter. Sally T. Anders, 71, smiled at Hank and rang up his total. “That kid wants to be in charge so bad,” she said, as she counted out the money Hank handed her. “He’s all caught up in his feelings, and somebody is going to line him out one day.”
“He’s young,” Hank said. “Kids nowadays think they know everything, and we old timers just got here by luck.”
Sally smiled and handed Hank his money. He took it, and Sally patted his rough hand. “You be careful out there, Hank. That boy is trouble, and you don’t need any.” Hank put the money back into his wallet and nodded.
“Yes ma’am, you’re right. I’ve had enough trouble to last me for the rest of my life. I want to live my life in peace and quiet, and I’m more than content to let everyone else do the same.”
Hank secured his purchase in his left hand and took a deep breath. “You have a good day, Ms. Sally.”
“You do the same, Hank.”
The world had done a lot of changing in the fifty years Hank had been alive. Some people called the era he was born into ‘the good ole days’, but one of Hank’s dearest friends had another word for it, “the bad ole days.”
It’d been a while since Hank had to use the skills he’d sharpened to a razor’s edge as he hunted bad people all over the world. Back when he brought these problems to a swift and brutal end.
Now, all he wanted was to live in simplicity and stay far, far, away from people like Jayson Nom, but Hank knew trouble would find him sooner or later.
People like Nom, the know-it-alls, the mouthy, arrogant, ‘don’t nobody tell me anything’ types, they never listened to wisdom.
They’d wrap up in their feelings and overload their mouths, and then Hank’s phone would ring. A voice would give him a name and address, and Hank would pay them a visit.
Hank exited Anders Hardware Store and walked out to his red Dodge flatbed. A bunch of kids stood next to it taking selfies and pictures of their handiwork. On his hood, painted in white paint were the words, “Old Geezer.”
Jayson Nom grinned and held up a peace sign. His friends cackled with laughter, and all eyes fell upon Hank. “We thought your ride could use some fresh paint old man!” Hank locked eyes with the kid and began counting backwards.
“Five things I can see…blue in blue jeans, black in the sneakers…”
Jayson Nom and his pals slapped five to each other and walked away. Hank watched them go. He looked at his watch, 15:57. If he hurried, he might catch his pastor at the church.
Hank needed to vent his anger to someone who would listen to his frustration, but also to someone who had the Lord’s ear.
Jayson Nom had no idea how close he’d came to having his ticket punched.