“We met before?” S.T. asked taking Hank’s hand for a firm shake.
“In the photos Chris took. Beautiful shots." He tilted his head, studying S.T.'s face, then scanning down his body. "I wouldn’t mind shooting some studies of you myself. Gratis, of course."
Before S.T. could get past his surprise, Christine said, "You do remember I told you he doesn't take kindly to cameras? Where’s Jerry?"
"He’s out but should be back.” He glanced at his wrist watch. “In an hour or so. Why don’t you like having your picture taken? With a face like that, you owe it to the world. Not to mention that body. Good God.” He scanned down S.T.’s body. “How many hours a day you work out? I don't suppose you'd let me photograph you in buckskin maybe with a feather. I could sell those shots for big bucks."
"You've got to be joking," S.T. shot back.
Hank laughed. “I do? Chris told me about you and the camera. Just like to joke around a little… Of course, if you’re open to no clothes on a river bank, I’m your guy. Anybody ever catch you buck naked?”
“Not with a camera." S.T began to recognize Hank's offbeat sense of humor and found at least a modicum of appreciation for it. He gave Christine a telling look. "At least I don't think so." She smiled innocently and said nothing.
"So what'd you do to your ankle?" Hank asked.
"Wrenched it," S.T. said.
"Or broke it," Christine put in. "He won't go to a doctor."
"Want me to look at it?"
"You a doctor as well as photographer?" S.T. asked. "Or do you just like looking at-- swollen flesh?"
Hank laughed loudly. "I was a medic in 'nam. Did a lot of quick patch-ups. Come on back to my kitchen. I'll take a look." Hank led the way down a narrow corridor to his private quarters, then glanced back. "You think about that modeling thing though. You could make some real money at it. Ads. Magazines. Yep."
The kitchen, a large yellow room with long, black-topped counters, glass fronted cupboards, a round oak table at one end, was filled with the fragrant smell of freshly brewed coffee. S.T. wondered how strong his will power was going to be. He'd always said he wanted to get off the brew. He'd gone since Friday morning without a cup, but did he now want to stay off?
"If he changes his mind on the modeling," Christine said, linking her arm possessively with S.T.’s, "I have first dibs." For good measure, she added a firm grip on his biceps.
"So that's the way of it." Hank shook his head. "All the good ones are taken," he said, leaving it up to S.T. to decide how he meant that as he grinned like a tipsy leprechaun, which, with his bowling ball shaped bald head and slightly pointed, prominent ears, was how S.T. was beginning to see him.
"How about coffee?" Hank asked S.T., pouring Christine a cup.
S.T. felt the desire well up in him. One cup. What could one cup hurt? When he took it, he saw by the knowing expression in Christine's eyes that she hadn't forgotten his earlier comment that he would give up the brew. Just as well she be forewarned that where it came to will power, he didn't think his would take any awards.
"Sit down on that chair," Hank gestured. "We'll get that boot off and have a look at the injury."
Overriding S.T.’s protest, Christine and Hank soon had him seated, his boot painfully pried off, his sock removed, jeans rolled up his calf, and his foot resting on a chair, while Hank heated some sort of salts in a pan of water.
"Stick it in there," he said, lifting S.T.’s leg as though he wasn't capable of doing it for himself. When his foot met the water, he understood why the hand had been there. It was to keep his leg down and foot submerged.
"Ouch!" he yelped, hoping Hank would relent, but he didn't.
"Got to be hot. When this cools, we'll pack it in ice. Tomorrow you'll barely remember it happened."
"If I survive the burns.”