The Sixth Man – Episode 3


He walked in an open bay door. It seemed natural rather than using the door to the showroom.

A man was removing a tire from a car. The man turned around and looked at him. “Steve, the boss has been looking for you.”

Thanks,” he said and played along, though not having a real clue as to where he was. “Where’s the boss?”

The man motioned with his head to a door that read Office.

He walked to the door, opened it, and entered.

A burly man with “Hank” etched on his blue work shirt looked up from behind the desk. “Steve, where the heck have you been for the last week?”

Can I sit down?”

Sure,” Hank said. “Make yourself at home.”

He sat in the chair in front of Hank’s desk.

You look troubled,” Hank said. “Ya look like you’ve been on a bender. I didn‘t think you were the drinking type. Did you fall off the wagon?”

I don’t think I’m a drinker either,” he said. “But think it’s worse than that.”

Hank leaned forward. “Ya wanna tell me what’s going on.”

I don’t know who I am,” he said.

What!” Hank said.

I walked by this place and heard someone removing a tire. It sounded familiar, so I came in.”

You’re kidding me,” Hank said.

No, I wish I were.”

You look like you’ve been through it,” Hank said.

Where do I live?” he said and pulled the key from his pocket to show Hank. “It looks like a house key.”

You don’t know where you live.” Hank appeared incredulous.

He waited for Hank to offer a clue or sympathy, but none was offered. “Honestly, Hank, I have no idea what is going on. At least tell me my name.”

Steve Joseph,” Hank said and shook is head as if not believing Steve.

I must have really made things tough for you, Hank,” Steve said, “and I’m sorry, but I just don’t have any idea what’s going on.”

You drunks and druggies are all alike,” Hank said. “Ya work until you get money for your habit and disappear.” Hank ignored Steve and read through some paperwork on his desk.

Steve paused, he stood, turned, and left.

He was nearly outside a bay door. “Hey!” Steve turned. It was Hank standing at the office door. “Didn’t you come to get this?” Steve held a brown envelope above his head.

I don’t know what it is,” Steve said.

Steve stood at the bay door as Hank walked toward him.

Hank handed him the envelope. “It’s your pay,” Hank said.

You keep it,” Steve said. “It will make up for any problems I caused.” Steve turned away.

Wait,” Hank said.

Steve turned to him.

You really don’t know what’s going on do you?” Hank said moving closer to Steve and squinting.

No clue,” Steve said.

Hank held the envelope out to Steve. “You earned it, take it.”

I don’t remember doing a thing for it,” Steve said.

Well I do,” Hank said. “What can I do to help you?”

Tell me where I live,” Steve said.

The basement of Mick’s Bar,” Hank said. “I think this is the key to the basement door. It‘s five blocks east.”

Why do I live in the basement of a bar?” Steve said.

You told be you mop up the place and stock the coolers for room and board,” Hank said.

Steve tucked the envelope in his coat pocket.

Hank shook his hand.

By the way what did I do here to earn the money?” Steve said.

One day you came in off the streets and asked if you could change tires for us,” Hank said. “I told you I couldn’t hire you, but I said if whenever you come by and you see cars lined up just come in and I’ll put you to work. We’ve been running specials for a month and been swamped. You changed tires like you were working on a pit crew. Ya did good work.”

Steve tried to smile. “Thanks for the job, Hank.” He turned and walked toward the street.

If you ever need a job…” Hank said, but Steve did not turn around. He walked east. As he walked he clutched the key tight in his hand.


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