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. 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 scrutinizing the design. The house was coming along on schedule, although slightly over budget. The buyers 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 rebar and concrete pilings 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 lived in a unique chrome and glass house he’d designed and built 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. Hank 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, how about meeting me and Jeannine for a drink downtown around six-ish at Kell’s Irish Pub,” said Stephanie, his assistant. “We’ll probably stop at a few other places after that.”
“No, I’ve got other plans,” he said. “But thanks for asking.”
“You sure? Jeannine would really like to get to know you.”
“Yep, I’ll see you Monday.” Stephanie was always trying to set him up with someone even though he did his best to discourage her. He stared off into the distance. It would take someone exceptionally understanding to put up with him and his hectic work schedule, not to mention his hobbies.
Hank came back to the present and headed for the shower. He practiced a dance move as he sauntered down the hallway and in the shower he sang a few show tunes.
Two hours later, he parked in the lot behind the well-known downtown building and carefully exited the car. He straightened his clothes before entering a room full of noise, music and lights.
“Henrietta,” called another patron. “Over here.”
He carefully smoothed his red sequined gown and pushed a curl from the long brunette wig behind his ear, careful to not disturb the dangling earring clipped there. He sashayed over to the table. “Hi, Darcelle,” he said to Portland’s oldest drag queen. “Looks like business is booming tonight.”
“All the advertising paid off. They’re coming to see the performance—it’s sold out.”
In the dressing room, the jitters rumbled in his stomach and his hands shook as he fixed his makeup and wig. Hank took his place on stage and the curtain opened to a round of cheers and applause, and Stephanie and Jeannine in the front row. He panicked and missed the first dance step, but quickly recovered, blending with the others in their rendition of “New York, New York.”
As he passed by the front of the stage, he saw Stephanie stare at him, her eyes narrowing, intently scrutinizing his face. Her mouth dropped open as she realized it was him. He winked at her and she closed her mouth. She turned to Jeannine, then shook her head and stared back at him.
He worked “zipping his lips and throwing away the key” into his dance routine. She hesitated, but repeated the gesture with a grin, picking up her glass and toasting him.