readingHenley continued to move through our lives with regularity. Utterly oblivious to the material world, he became a serious student of metaphysics. He also became convinced that I had special healing powers, which I certainly did not, at least not the kind he imagined. In the evening he knocked on the door to request a healing treatment for his balding head. This consisted of seating himself in front of the woodstove and offering non-stop conversation, while I placed my hands above his head, and sent the heat from my palms into his thinning patches of remaining hair. I had no faith in my abilities, but he was positive I had powers from another world. It couldn’t hurt and his conversation was interesting, so I became his healer. (His hair never did grow, by the way.)

Henley never entered or left a room in the usual manner. Most people have rituals which consist of entering or leaving talk. For instance, how nice to see you, how have you been? Or in leaving, I think it’s about time to go, it’s been great. Henley, however, entered a room like he’d been there all day, and had just gotten up to get a drink. He launched into full blown conversation without warning and left by simply disappearing. He just rose from his chair and walked out. This always left Kristen and I baffled, and looking at each other questioning, is he gone? Do you think he’s done now?

The other bizarre puzzle was that one of the young skaters he had coached had matured and was on her way to a silver medal. Because he didn’t have a phone, I would receive his calls and retrieve him from the far corners of the house. The calls came from all over the world. When he took them, he stopped being the eccentric Henley I knew, and became the authority in his field. His voice lowered as he dispensed advice, and gave long distance suggestions on winning strategies. My jaw always dropped to the floor during these conversations. I privately mused, who are you Mr. Henley, who lives in there?

We lived in Henley’s house for five years, then left for Seattle. His mother passed away shortly after Kristen and I moved out, leaving him a large settlement. He gave B’Lou one of his mother’s mink coats, paid his back debts, sold his house and moved to Tacoma. I lost track of him after that. But where ever he is, I’m sure he continues to be optimistic, has maintained his status as a world class trasher, and is pursuing his love of learning. If I am wrong, and his inheritance has run out, you might look closely into the eyes of the next tall thin man you see bending into the garbage to retrieve bottles. Could be Henley, who is not really a bad guy at all. I think you’d like him.

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