Another Hannibal Story

Here's a story from my Hannibal, Missouri days.

I worked the graveyard shift at a convenience store. I had many late-night visitors to the station who just wanted to talk. One of them was a woman in her thirties named Karen. She was married to a guy named Duane. I've given those two new names for this account, just to give the couple a bit of privacy, I suppose.

One night Karen came in to the station, and I could tell that she was upset.

"That Duane! I work my butt off trying to pay the bills, and he can't keep a job! I think he might be smoking crack. What should I do, Larry?"

"Well, you could kick his sorry butt out!"

"I just might do that! Thanks for listening, as I've been up all night worrying."

I had never met Duane until he unexpectedly showed up at my building, which had a couple of unoccupied apartments. He said "Hi! I'm Duane, Karen's husband. I heard that you might have some cheap apartments to rent."

"Well, right now, my apartments have no electricity or water. Feel free to move in if you want some free lodging!"

He did move in, as he was desperate. One evening we got to talking and Duane said:

"A few years ago I was riding high. I was cooking up meth and made quite a lot of money. I bought a new sports car and felt like things just couldn't get better. Then I got busted and spent a few years in the state prison. I was just going crazy there! After two years they finally let me have a radio. I got to listening to late-night broadcasts of old radio comedy and drama shows from the '30s and '40s. Here, have a look at this".

Duane showed me a couple of pages of written logs of the shows he had listened to. Tiny obsessive print.

I was so affected! So pathetic and poignant! This guy was trying hard to retain his sanity in a stark prison environment.

Duane took off after a couple of weeks. I think he went to live with his mother. Frankly, I think Karen was better off without him!