Here are some stereotypical character traits of the handsome romantic hero that have already been established for this character:

–single male
–dark wavy hair
–broad shoulders
–far-away stare
–BA in Geology
–works as a construction contractor
–built his own unique home in the hills north of Portland, Oregon
–favors well broken-in jeans, tee shirts, beat-up running shoes
–his name is Hank

Your challenge is to put Hank into a scene where it becomes obvious that he is not a stereotype at all, but someone full of surprises.

31 responses to “Hank

  1. “You said you loved me, Hank”
    “I do. That’s what makes this so hard.”
    “You said for me to make this my home too.”
    “Yeah, but now I want you to go.”
    “All because I put a pink bedspread and matching curtains in the bedroom.”
    “I’m trying not to be a stereotype, George.”

    • Damn. I just remembered that you guys say ‘drapes’ instead of ‘curtains’.

      • Naah, we use both. Usually curtains are lightweight and short, like for kitchen and bathroom windows. But, bedrooms, also. Drapes are heavier, fancier–living room things, sometimes lined, and usually floor length.

  2. Too easy.

  3. Hank slips the thick red suspenders off his broad shoulders, unbuckles the tool belt at his hips, and slings the whole thing into the Knaack gang box in the bed of his crew cab Ram truck. He stretches, then rolls his neck and shoulders, glad to be rid of the weight after five ten-hour days.

    He holds up his right index finger and looks at it. “Damn, that’s gonna hurt,” he says, squeezing the swollen red skin around the cedar sliver that’s been in his finger since yesterday. Looking closer, he sees the tip of the sliver. Reaching into the console in the truck, he grabs his Leatherman and uses the pliers grip to yank the sliver from his finger. He looks up to see his foreman watching.

    “Everything stowed for the weekend?” Hank says.

    “Yeah,” the foreman replies. “We still on for tonight?”

    “Still on, but be quiet about it, huh? No sense letting everyone know.”

    “Relax, it’ll be fine. Not like we haven’t rehearsed it,” answer Bart. “Piece of cake job. Knocking off a candy store couldn’t be easier. See ya later then.”

    Hank musses his fingers through his dark wavy hair and shakes as much sawdust out as he can. The he reaches for the door handle on the truck, again noticing the new magnetic sign on the side, “Harrison Builders.” His own company, after all these years. He’d started apprenticing to his father when he was just a kid in junior high school, and now at thirty-five he owns his own company.

    So much for that BA in geology, he thinks. He shakes his head in wonder as he starts the big four-wheel drive crew cab, and heads north of Portland into the hills and his own hand-built geodesic dome house.

    He kicks off his beat-up sneakers, peels off his sawdust-covered jeans and tee shirt in the mud room and goes into the kitchen. He grabs a beer and a slice of leftover pizza from the fridge, then heads for the shower.

    An hour later, Hank parks in a dark alley and raps his knuckle on a unmarked steel door. Tension puckers the skin around his eyes and he wonders if that pizza and beer was such a good idea.

    The door swings open and a disembodied voice whispers, “Ah, Harrison, come on in. Everyone’s here and waiting.” Hank slips through a narrow passageway lit only by a 40 watt bulb, and finds the place where he’d stashed what he needed for tonight. Ghostly shapes move around him in the semi-dark, everyone knowing their assignment, everyone silent.

    As if by mental telepathy, the ghost figures follow Hank through another short dimly-lit passageway and arrange themselves before him to wait for his signal.

    This is it, thinks Hank, his eyes staring off into space as butterflies tickle his stomach. If this doesn’t work tonight, I’ll be run outta Dodge. He lifts his hands. Then his right hand drops.

    The plaintive notes of a baritone bassoon fill the auditorium, followed in a few measures by the swirl of a French horn as Hank Harrison, nattily attired in full dress tails and white tie, directs the orchestra in his own composition, Concerto in A Minor for Bassoon.

  4. Nicely done. Great job working in the details and definitely not stereotypical.

  5. Ann, sorry that I have been missing AWOL for your past few prompts, but I have a new writing gig with our City’s Web page. I have a column that appears each Wednesday. The page is Goshencommons.org. and I am writing under my real name, Becca Briscoe. Check it out if you get the time. I am posting my latest piece, just to prove to you that i have not just been sitting around eating BonBons. Sorry it is Off Topic, but maybe you’ll forgive me this time.
    Home Blogs Lighten Up Taking the Bleak Out of Midwinter
    Lighten Up
    Taking the Bleak Out of Midwinter
    January 23, 2013, Becca Briscoe, 2 Comments
    “In the bleak mid-winter,
    Frosty wind made moan,
    Earth stood hard as iron,
    Water like a stone.”

    Those lines were penned by the English poet Christina Rossetti prior to 1872. The poem became a Christmas carol after it appeared in the “English Hymnal” in 1906, in a setting by Gustav Holst.

    We are now in the midst of a classic northern Indiana bleak midwinter. One week the temperatures reach 50 degrees, and the next week our high for the day is 7 degrees, with wind chills 5 to 10 below zero. Cold and flu season came early and with a vengeance, and cabin fever has made otherwise charming people turn into cranky old Mully Grumps.

    I ushered in 2013 by attending a showing of “Les Mis.” This perfectly produced, beautiful movie simply must rank among the top 10 Bleakest Stories ever written. After all, the French Revolution isn’t exactly musical comedy material.

    If you are hoping to avoid becoming the victim of the dreary winter blahs, I suggest that you refrain from reading or watching any material written by Victor Hugo, Charles Dickens or Tennessee Williams until after April 15. This threesome comprised the Original Blues Brothers, or should I say Bleak Brothers?

    However, all is not doom and gloom in the bleak midwinter. There also some positives to a weather-related confinement.

    For instance:
    • This is a fine time to catch up on your reading or movie watching.
    • It is an excellent time to master a new skill such as, knitting, bonsai, small engine repair or learning to play the accordion for fun and profit.
    • Winter is also an opportune time to clean out your junk drawer in the kitchen. Come on, you know you have one and it is probably overflowing with an abundance of twist ties, flattened Super Glue tubes, keys with no known locks and expired coupons. Sift through the dim bulbs, dried-up ballpoint pens and dead batteries. Pitch them to make room for new useless stuff.

    In my opinion the most treasured aspect of midwinter is the guilt-free nap. An afternoon snooze in June is fraught with angst because you should be mowing, planting, waxing the car or washing the windows. But there are no expectations of productivity on a cold and windy Sunday afternoon in January.

    A midafternoon nap in midwinter is not only socially acceptable; it is fundamental to maintaining good mental health. Few things known to mankind are more healing or satisfying than a long winter’s nap under a plush blanket with your puppy by your side. Sweet midwinter dreams

    • galelikethewind

      When I retired from a 35 year career with UPS in 1997, folks provided lots of advice about investing, travel, volunterring and such. None of my retired friends advised me on one of the most important elements of retired life: when to take your nap. If you take it too early in the day, you might miss lunch. On the other hand, too late in the day results in missing the cocktail hour. (Can’t have that!)
      So reading your piece validated my own view of the power of an hour on the living room couch each afternoon, with Maggie the cat looking on.

    • Just the tonic I needed for a late January night, and one so full of John and Martha at the bus stop, I have no time for that favorite pasttime of all writers–small engine repair! You always make me laugh, Becca. Why did I think you were from Oklahoma? Maybe that’s Walk. So, Indiana. Being a Midwesterner myself, I can appreciate your description of January, although we are winter wimps in Gullie’s world. May you always feel free to post whatever you want here! I’ll certainly read it.

    • Are all junk drawers universal? Mine has ALL of the above mentioned items carelessly tossed there. Congrats on the new job. Perfect for you!

  6. galelikethewind

    Darla couldn’t believe that she was supposed to be happy taking classes, doing laundry, cooking, and cleaning now that she was married. Maybe she should have waited until graduation in June and…and…then what? Run back to the city and hang out with her exciting big city friends? She did love dear Johnny, and it was sweet that he had found a job that could support them while she finished her last semester in this college town. But. There were several handsome guys in her classes. Even some of her friends’ husbands looked good to her, and she’d noticed a few of them, looking her way, considering her. She knew that look. She ran a hand back and forth across her forehead.
    The litter box needed changing. Dirty dishes cluttered the sink. She’d finished War and Peace and didn’t have a new book to get lost in. Her physics homework was done. TV and the Internet only made her feel lost. Now what? Divorce was the only way out.

    It was hard for Darla to believe that it had only been three months since her divorce from Johnny was final. She had really moved on with her life. Her studies toward a degree in Geology were nearing completion, as the settlement from the sale of the house afforded her enough to finish school. Living in a small apartment in Portland suited her well. Low rent, minimal upkeep, and a quiet space.
    She had met Hank at Lou’s Tavern, about a block from her place just over a month ago. She thought “Hunk” would have been a better-suited name. He was the antithesis of Johnny, literally tall, dark, and handsome. And his degree in Geology was the icing on the cake.
    They had been dating steadily ever since, and she had even spent a weekend at his unique log cabin north of the city. Darla was apprehensive about entering into a new relationship so soon after her failed marriage, but this guy seemed almost too good to be true. Two months later, Darla learned that she was right.

    Hank kept his agoraphobia under control with the latest medications, but was noticing that their effectiveness seemed to be waning. He had not mentioned his condition to his new love interest, Darla, and worrying about her finding out was increasing his feelings of anxiety even more.
    She seemed to be a prefect partner in every way. Their sex life was outstanding, her interest in Geology amazed him, and she always was so appreciative of his helping with house chores. He really didn’t want to lose her.
    Darla noticed Hank’s discomfort as they were climbing up a rugged peak about a mile from his log home. He became short of breath, grabbed his wrist, frantically feeling for his pulse, and broke out in a cold sweat. He sat down on the rough ground and stared off into the canyon below.
    “We have to go back,” he breathed,”I have to get back to the house. Help me, please.” Darla thought he might be having a heart attack and asked if she should dial 911 on her cell. He told her it was just a phobia, nothing physical, and he would be alright if he could just get back home.
    ”I thought I had this thing under control,” Hank sighed, “but it looks like the meds aren’t effective anymore. I should have told you upfront about my condition.” He started to cry, and then began to sob like a wounded animal.
    “Yes, you should have – it’s been nice knowing you, Hank.” said Darla as she fled out the door and headed back to her secluded apartment in Portland.

  7. galelikethewind

    Thanks for the fix! I see Darla as similar to Twain’s cat: Once he had set on a hot stove lid, he would never sit on ANY stove lid..(paraphrasing my idol)

  8. Dear Ann Linquist,
    Let me introduce myself. My name is Dr. Phil McGraw. You might have heard of me and my wildly popular TV show. I am very proud of the work we do on the Dr, Phil show by helping desperate and dysfunctional people find the strength and resources they need to become emotionally and mentally healthy folks.
    On Wednesday, I had the pleasure of having John and Martha on my show. My first impression of them was that they were an extremely manipulative couple. John has temper issues and Martha is a unforgiving hag. I ask them what had brought top this point in their relationship and they said that you had. One day they were blissfully in love and the next day their lives had been turned over to a bunch of novice creative writers who made them ride public transportation for hours each day in rather inclement weather.
    The first couple of classes that they participated in were a novelty and a bit of fun. But after all these years of being used and abused by your students, John and Martha are getting really messed up by all the fighting, yelling, threats of gun fire or stabbings. To say nothing of the constant sinus infections that they both suffer after one of their rumbles in the snow at the bus station. All this, just so your students can learn to use active words,write detailed descriptions, have a point of view and be solid in their understanding which verb tense to use,
    John and Martha wanted me to plead their case that if they decide to continue to work with your writers, could they get away from cold and snowy bus station scenes and maybe move into an upscale big city hotel. Perhaps the Waldorf.
    If your students are actually talented writers, then surely they can come up some mayhem in the Waldorf.
    I have agreed keep seeing John and Martha, until you had an opportunity to adjust your curriculum to this more elegant location.
    Do allow me to pass on a word of caution…John’s temper is unpredictable and Martha is either going through “The Change” with a powerful vengeance, or, her Happy Pills need to be changed to Industrial Strength.

    Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to read this letter. Should you ever feel that you might benefit from therapy with me on the show,please feel free to make arrangements to be on the show.

    Respectfully Submitted
    Dr. Phil

    • galelikethewind

      So I’m sitting having coffee with my wife Cindy. And I decided to read the latest ”Peanut” aloud. ( She loves your work) well, the next thing I know , we are both doubled over, spilling coffee all over the place, laughing ourselves into a frenzy. Please stop.

  9. John and Martha are still around??? I’m pretty certain I killed John in any number of ways, and that twit Martha should have died of pneumonia from being out in such nasty weather for so long.

    • John started watching Zombie Apocalypse and decided he didn’t have to die after all. Anyway, he was fictional, so he could rewrite his ending, as long as you didn’t notice. Martha is busy designing new footwear for folks who have lost toes to frostbite.

  10. Hank rolled his broad shoulders and leaned forward against the kitchen island, stretching out the hamstring on each leg. He loved running along the trails in Forest Park. Today’s rainstorm hadn’t bothered him. The grey overcast rainy days of Portland were his favorite– they suited his mood. Today he’d made time for a quick run before dinner, and since it was cooler than usual, he’d had the trails all to himself. The heavy mat of fir needles covering the path gave a spring to his step and the air smelled clean and freshly scrubbed of all the big-city odors.

    He kicked off his beat-up running shoes and picked up the set of rolled drawings, spreading them out on the counter-top, and gazed at the design. The house was coming along on schedule, although slightly over budget. The owners had picked a challenging lot in the West Hills to build their new home. As a General Contractor specializing in that area, he was in high demand, not only because of the unique contemporary-designed homes he built, but because of his degree in Geology.

    Hank was an expert in dealing with any potential problems that the fault line running the length of the West Hills presented. He’d engineered the complicated building site, calling for the foundation to be reinforced with re-bar, and for concrete pilings to be driven deep into the ground. He situated the home perfectly to maximize its stability and to take advantage of the views of the Willamette River. Although he was one of the younger General Contractors in the city at thirty two, he had a stellar reputation and clients had faith in him. It didn’t hurt that he had built and lived in a unique chrome and glass house in the hills along the fault line also.

    He ran a hand through his dark wavy hair and glanced at his watch. He had two hours to get ready. Tonight his usual well-worn jeans and tee shirt attire would give way to something more suited for his destination.

    He reached for his cell phone when the “Y-M-C-A” ringtone played. He got kidded about that a lot, but he liked the Village People.

    “Hey, there’s a bunch of us meeting for a drink downtown around six-ish at Kell’s Irish Pub,” said Stephanie, his assistant. “You wanna join us?”

    “No, I’ve got other plans,” he said, “But thanks for asking.”

    “You sure? Jeannine will be there.”

    “Yep, I’m sure. I’ll see you Monday.” Stephanie was always trying to set him up with a date. He did his best to discourage her, but she still tried. He stared off into the distance. It would take someone pretty understanding to put up with him, his hectic work schedule, not to mention his hobbies.

    He came back to the present and headed for the shower. He practiced a few dance moves as he sauntered down the hallway.

    Two hours later, Hank parked in the lot behind the well-known downtown building and carefully exited the car. He straightened his clothes before opening the door to a room full of noise, music and lights.

    “Henrietta,” called another patron. “Over here.”

    He carefully smoothed his red sequined gown, pushed a curl from the long brunette wig behind his ear, careful to not disturb the dangling earring clipped there, and sashayed over to the table. “Hi, Darcelle,” he said to Portland’s oldest drag queen. “Looks like business is booming tonight.”

    • Just so you know, my husband was a General Contractor in Portland for 30 years and designed and built many houses in the West Hills, where we also lived. A major fault line does run through the West Hills of Portland and requires extra engineering for roads and houses. We used to jog in Forest Park and loved the sights and smells there.

      Darcelle does exist and he runs Darcelle’s XV Showplace in downtown Portland. There are drag queen shows nightly and you need a reservation to get in. I think I went there once when I was just out of college, but I’m not sure because I had to have extra alcohol to get up the nerve to go, so I don’t remember much about it. 🙂

      One of Portland’s mottos is “Keep Portland Weird.”

    • Parrot, this is good fodder for a novel. Great characters and setting. Loved your version of Hank.

  11. Great story Parrot. I didn’t see that one coming.

  12. I’m a grea fan of drag queens. They know how to enjoy dressing up! Good Hank story!

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