Al Sullivan’s journal


A Class Act



March 24, 1995



Garrick called back two nights ago. I guess he's lonely. At the end, he and Hank were closer friends than any of the rest of us. We all seemed to take on Hank for periods of time, assigning ourselves to his friendship until we grew bored or frustrated with him. Early on, he was my responsibility, from 1967 to 1969, when I went away and left him to Pauly, Garrick and the rest of the gang. In 1970 when I showed up at his door, I inherited him again, put up with his visits after he moved to New Jersey again, then left him to Pauly once more as Louise and I went west. Over the years, we've traded him back and forth so many times that Garrick -- in the end-- more or less inherited him full time, even managing to go with Hank and Daren to meet Hank's last lover, a dinner Garrick's described as a ``trip.'' This woman -- Margaret -- it seems lived much the same way Laurie did in New York in 1969. Garrick said there were dozens of flies for every bite of food.

 I find myself collecting these little tidbits of information, trying to shape something out of those years I've missed with Hank. Even old journal entries hardly suffice. I saw him only in snap shots, as we passed each other on our way other places. It surprised me, for instance, to have heard Margaret say she had known him since 1984. Had I abandoned Hank so long ago? How could I hope to piece together information from so many years?

 Guilt after a death has amazing power. Anyway, Garrick did confirm the fact that Margaret had attended the funeral, rushing up at the last minute to throw a rose in the grave. I should have gone. I should have paid my last respects and my final dues. I didn't get much done at home for thinking about Hank, or wondering what we all would do now without him. I asked Garrick about the grave's location, and he chuckled a little -- one of those tearful bits of humor that indicates a suddenly ironical self-discovery.

 ``He's buried over by my house,'' he said. ``Not far from where me and Pauly grew up.''

 Apparently, Pauly and Garrick once lived on the corner where the bridge crosses the river into Totowa and Paterson from West Paterson, near where the band used to play, and Hank used to join in for a song or two. As kids, Pauly and Garrick used to go to the store for a woman who lived in the apartment below Garrick. They used to cross the bridge, and rather than take the long way around to get to Union Avenue, they snuck under the cemetery gate and crossed the cemetery, coming out right in front of what was then the Acme.

 ``We used to go right passed the spot where he's buried now,'' Garrick said, then grew a little irritated again, asking me if Pauly had mentioned what items Hank had wanted in his grave. Pauly had mumbled something about the request, but never in specific details. Garrick was upset about the neglect, but told me he was the last person to view the body before it was closed, and had slipped in the Sergeant Pepper's patch I had given him the previous Sunday.

 ``I just slipped it into his pocket,'' Garrick said, and we both nearly cried over the telephone, neither of us able to think of a more appropriate tribute. Hank loved the Beatles as much as he loved anything in the world, and once owned a patch of that kind.

 It was class act on Garrick's part, and one that had only remotely come to me during the hazy days since Hank's death.

 ``I did it for both of us,'' Garrick told me, and had he been in front of him, I would have kissed him.


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