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Ed and Hank , 3rd Update . Requiem… Length: Long, 6,000+… - myeyesaintblue [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
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[Apr. 11th, 2007|11:17 am]
myeyesaintblue
[music |500 miles...]

Ed and Hank, 3rd Update.

Requiem…



Length: Long, 6,000+ words, and sad at times, but certified 98.976% religion-free. Note: This update was unexpected, but Hank has reason to believe there might be cause for another update in another two or three weeks.  Disclaimer: Hank told their story to Annie Proulx. Jack and Ennis are all hers. Ed and Hank belong only to each other  Comments: Always appreciated.


Everything else is here:
http://myeyesaintblue.livejournal.com/10082.html



Requiem...


“Hey Hank, ya gonna help me this afternoon?”

Before Hank could answer Ed, Bill opened the door and walked into the kitchen. Hank automatically turned towards the cupboard, reaching for a coffee mug, “Ya wan’ some coffee, Bill?”

Hank’s hand stopped in mid-air when he heard the concern in Ed’s voice, “Wha’s wrong, Bill?”

“It’s jus’ tha’… Shit… I don’ know how ta tell ya this…”

“Wha’? Why? Wha’s wrong?” Hank glanced at Ed. Ed was okay. So at least it wasn’t the worst thing Hank could ever imagine, but it sure didn’t sound good.

Bill just stood there, looking from Ed to Hank and back again.

Hank and Ed spoke at the same time, “The dogs…?” “It ain’t Annie…?”

“Dogs are fine ‘n the horses are all fine...”

“Dammit… Jus’ spit it out, Bill. Worse doin’ it this way…”

“'S tha’ ol’ truck. ‘S done fer.”

“…Are… are ya sure?”

“Yep.”

“Maybe it…?”

“Nope.”

“What if…?”

“Sorry, Ed.”

“But…?”

“’M real sorry, Ed...”

“Where is…?”

“Jus’ out in the driveway. Down towards the road.”

“Gonna go see fer ma self.” Ed got up and headed towards the door.

Bill held the door open for Ed, “I’ll go with ya, Ed.”

“Wait a sec, Bill. Wouldya stay here fer a minute? Wanna ask ya somethin’.”

“Sure, Hank. What is it?”

Once Ed was out the door Hank spoke again, “Didn’ have nothin’ ta ask ya, Bill. Jus’ thought Ed migh’ wanna be alone with the truck fer a piece.”

“Sorry, Hank. Weren't thinkin'. Know how much Ed loves tha’ truck.”

“Yep. Ed don’ love too much in this here world, but when he does, he does. Don’ matter if’n it’s man, woman, beast or machine. ‘Fraid he migh’ take this pretty hard.”

“Know it ain’t none a ma business… but… why’s he so attached ta tha’ particular truck?”

“Think it’s ‘cause it’s the first thing we ever owned ta gether. One a the only things too. Don’ own the ranch ta gether ‘n ain’t never really bought much ta gether… ‘sides cattle ‘n horses ‘n stuff ta keep the ranch runnin’. ‘N maybe a couch ‘n a chair or two… ‘n the bed… ‘n a couple other trucks as we needed ‘em… Guess it’s more ‘n I thought…”

“Jus’ assumed ya both owned the ranch.”

“We do ‘n we don’. Day ta day runnin’ it we migh’ as well. But the ranch… the property… is only in my name. Brought it up more 'n a few times… wantin' ta put half in Ed's name... but Ed, stubborn as he is, wouldn’ have nothin’ ta do with it. ‘Course everythin’ goes ta him if’n I go first, ‘n then ta Iris…”

Hank sighed, “Think we were righ’ lucky my pa left it ta me at all. Weren’t sure fer a while. Man never said much a anythin’ ‘bout nothin’, but I thought maybe takin’ the ranch 'way in the end 'n givin’ it ta my cousin or somethin’ mighta been his plan fer puttin’ us in our place. Never even occurred ta me ‘til after Ed moved in ‘n I started thinkin’ ‘bout the future as somethin’ real.”

“Ya think yer pa really woulda done somethin’ like tha’?”

“I dunno… but… when my ma passed first… tell ya… the worry of it ‘caused me more ‘n a few sleepless nights. Ed had tha’ job at the co-op… but I woulda had ta find somethin’. ‘N I don’ have no idea where we woulda lived. Or even if’n Ed woulda stayed with me… But… in the end my pa left the place ta me. ‘N I’ll always be real grateful ta him fer tha’.”

“Cain’t ‘magine Ed ever leavin’ ya, Hank.”

“Yeah… now, maybe. Back then… it were diff’rent. Think maybe he needed ta have this place ta be in order ta stay with me.” And Hank couldn’t help thinking, “Just like bein’ way up on tha’ mountain had a lot ta do with him lettin’ his self love me.

“Jus’ cain’t ‘magine it no how.”

“Yeah… Ed’s had a lotta years ta work on calmin’ down some.”

“We talkin’ ‘bout the same Ed? Tha’ man’s ‘bout the calmest man I ever laid eyes on.”

“Ta look at maybe. Tell ya… Ed could be fallin’ ta pieces ‘n ya’d never know it. Took me a helluva long time ta figure tha’ out. Gotta admit though… these days he’s a whole lot easier ta read than he used ta be.”

“Sure ain’t hard ta see tha’ he’s upset ‘bout tha’ truck.”

“Yeah… I’ll head out there in a few minutes. Jus’ wanna give him a l’il more time by his self.”

“Well…I’d best be gettin’ back ta work, Hank… Sure am sorry ‘bout the truck.”

“Thanks, Bill.”

Hank followed Bill to the door and looked down the driveway to where the truck had stalled. Ed was half buried in the engine under the hood, his long legs almost leaving the ground as he stretched to reach for something. Despite the solemn circumstances, Hank couldn’t help pausing to admire the view.

Hank knew he should head back out to work too, but instead he refilled his coffee mug and sat back down at the kitchen table, work forgotten, and the memories from the day they had bought the truck filling his head instead.

It had been out of sheer necessity. They needed a truck. And neither could afford one on their own. Each of their old trucks barely made one respectable pile of junk between them, and Hank’s pa had never replaced the one that had been totaled in the accident.

Ed hadn’t wanted to go, of course. Back then, just the simple act of buying groceries with Hank was still difficult for Ed, much less buying a truck together. But he did it. Sure, he made them drive to the next town over, using the excuse that it was a larger town and there’d be more choice, but still, he did it. And once he and Ed walked onto that first used car lot, well, Ed’s love of trucks took over and they spent a downright enjoyable afternoon test driving a few different trucks and quibbling over the finer points of those in their price range.

And sure, Ed’s name was the only one that ended up being on the title, but that piece of paper didn’t matter, they both knew they had bought it together. Just like it didn’t really matter who that other piece of paper said owned the ranch. And it didn’t really matter that they couldn’t get the one piece of paper Hank truly wanted… Well, maybe not back then, he never even thought to want it back then... But the one he wanted now, the piece of paper that would declare to the world that he and Ed had just as much right to be together and to love each other as anybody else did. It just didn’t matter.

Well it did matter. It mattered a whole lot. And for a lot of different reasons. But… to hell with them all… it didn’t either.

And after they had bought the truck, Hank hadn’t even argued about who should get to drive it home. He just let Ed have the honors. A small, unspoken reward for going out into the world with Hank and doing something together that any other couple wouldn’t think twice about.

Hank got up and walked back over to the kitchen door, opened it and looked down the driveway towards the truck. Ed was now sitting in the driver’s seat, both hands on the steering wheel staring off into the distance. Hank headed over to the truck, opened the passenger-side door and climbed in.

“Y’ okay, Ed?”

“Nope. ‘M old Hank.”

“Yer not old, Ed.”

"‘M old. Clint Eastwood’s old. Saw him on tha’ Oscar show a while back. He looked old.”

“He didn’ look tha’ old, he jus’ stumbled readin’ his lines ‘cause he fergot his glasses. Man mus’ jus’ be vain like you. Not wantin’ ta wear yer glasses. ‘Sides… Clint Eastwoood’s gotta be more ‘n ten years older ‘n us… ‘n he’s still goin’ strong.”

“Ain’t vain. ‘M jus’ old.”

“Ya ain’t old, Ed.”

“Bought this here truck a long, long time ago. Ya cain’t argue with tha’.”

“Nope. Cain’t argue with tha’.”

“All them years since we bought this truck… gone by like the blink of an eye. Seems like each year’s goin’ by faster than the last… Shoulda moved in with ya sooner. Ain’t no way ta get them years back…”

“Ya really think ya coulda moved in with me any quicker than ya did? Ya think ya coulda left Iris any sooner than ya did?”

“I dunno… Guess not… Didn’ get ta see her ‘nough as it was.”

“Then ya cain’t have any regrets, Ed… Ya did the best ya could all ‘long. I know tha’. ‘N we got a helluva lot more time ta gether than a lotta folks get. ‘N luck or fate or God… or whatever ya wanna call it… willin’… we still got a fair number a years ta gether ahead a us. Hell... read a l'il while 'go where some 87 year old rancher got killed after a couple a cows knocked him down 'n head-butted him when he were on the ground. Tha' fella were a lot older 'n us 'n he were still workin' his ranch.”

"Prob'bly a mean old cuss 'n them cows were jus' waitin' fer their chance."

"Could be. Article said the daughter called the police 'fore chasin' them bovines off a him. Seems like if'n I saw you bein' head-butted by a couple a cows I woulda gone after the cows first 'stead a callin' in a SWAT team."

"So... they haul them cows off ta jail?"

"Didn' say. Point is though... we still could have ourselves plenty a years ahead a us."

“Still… I shouldna been so damn scared a everythin’ all the time… Shouldn’ oughta say ‘shouldna’ neither… ‘cause ’m still scared of a lotta stuff. Ain’t like it’s all in the past.”

“Whole lotta stuff out there ta be scared of, Ed. ‘N I don’ jus’ mean the bubonic plague ‘n mountain lions ‘n semi-arid land sharks. Said yer self a while back… it’s a mean world. ‘N ya jus’ gotta do the best ya can. ‘N ya done the best ya could.  Hell... ya done a whole lot better 'n tha' even.”

“Still… Feel bad… Don’ know how ya do it, Hank… you jus’ ain’t never seemed ta be ‘fraid a nothin’ or no one…”

“Told ya before Ed, tha’ just ain’t true at all.”

“Yeah? Then tell me jus' one time ya was ever really ‘fraid a somethin’?”

“Lots a times I been ‘fraid a stuff…”

“So’s then ya shouldn’ have no problem comin’ up with jus’ one time ta tell me ‘bout.”

“I sure as hell were ‘fraid tha’ ya’d never move in with me.”

“You bein’ ‘fraid I’d be ‘fraid ta do somethin’ don’ count.”

“Well… I were damn scared ma pa wouldn’ leave this here ranch ta me. Scared ya’d leave if’n we had nowheres like this ta be.”

“But he did leave it to ya. ‘N we didn’ have ta worry ‘bout where we’d go or wha’ we’d do.”

We? Ya sure it woulda been we?”

“No… I ain’t sure it woulda been ‘we’. Ya know damn well I woulda been ‘fraid a tha’. This ain’t ‘xactly makin’ me feel any better, Hank. Weren’t easy fer me ta move ta this here ranch ta begin with. Don’ think I coulda rented a place in no small town with ya. Guys jus’ didn’ do tha’… ‘lessen there were three or more of ‘em sharin’ a place. ‘N I sure couldna moved ta no big city.”

“Guess I owe my pa a lot more ‘n I ever thought I did.”

“Still the same thing though… You bein’ scared a me bein’ scared ta do somethin’. Or not do somethin’. It don’ count.”

“Okay… okay… I never told ya this… never told no one this… ain’t real proud a it… Ya know tha’ fella I wrote ‘bout a while back? Not the one tha’ used ta stop by, but the one I were with in Juarez ‘n in El Paso … ‘n fer a while after…”

“Tha’ the fella ya were with when ya stopped sendin’ me them postcards?”

“Yeah... Tried ta make a go a it with him…”

“This gonna be somethin’ I don’ wanna hear?”

“Prob’bly… but ya asked… ‘n I think maybe it’s somethin’ I gotta say.”

“Then ya might as well say it.”

“His name were Ben. ‘N it were one afternoon when I were in town runnin’ errands...”

“Ya met up with him?”

“No… I didn’ meet up with him. Wish I woulda. Met up with ‘nother fella tha’ me ‘n Ben were rodeoin’ with way back then. Always thought he were a good guy so’s I went fer a beer with him. We started talkin’ over old times ‘n all… ‘n he told me he’d heard tha’ Ben had died... tha' he'd had AIDS...”

“Sorry ta here tha’ Hank.”

“Yeah. I were too. Anyways… This fella went on ‘n on ‘bout it... Think ya know well ‘nough how I mean withou’ me sayin’ it... Bar was full a the Friday after-work crowd jus’ gettin’ goin’… ‘n a couple of ‘em joined in… ‘n I jus’ sat there ‘n didn’ say nothin’… Jus’ let ‘em say all them awful things…”

“Don’ know whatcha coulda said or done tha’ woulda made no diff’rence. Kinda guys hung out in tha’ bar… if’n ya’d said anythin’ ya coulda ended up bad hurt. Or dead yer self.”

“Jus’… jus’ cain’t believe I didn’ say nothin’… not even tha’ Ben were my friend ‘n tha’ he were a real good guy or tha’ I were sorry ta hear it… Think I owed him tha’ much… He was my friend… He was…”

“Think he woulda understood…”

“Maybe… But I sure wish I woulda told tha’ fella ‘n them other fellas ta shut the hell up… Sure wish I woulda said somethin'... Instead I jus’ got the hell outta there as soon as I could. Slunk outta there like a dog with its tail ‘tween it’s legs…”

“Like ya said, Hank… Ya jus’ did the best ya coulda at the time.”

“Didn’ do the best I could. Didn’ do a damn thing. I was jus’ scared, Ed. Jus’ plain scared.”

“Had every righ’ ta be scared. Bar full a ignorant drunks ain’t the best place ta make a stand. Woulda been all them guys in tha’ bar ‘gainst you. Tha’s why I didn’ like ya goin’ in tha’ place.”

“Yeah… I know… But…”

“Don’ know wha’ I woulda done if’n anythin’ had ever happened ta ya, Hank.”

“Well nothin’ happened ta me ‘cause I didn’ do nothin’. ‘Cause I were too afraid…”

“Don’ think I don’ know how ya felt, Hank… I took a lotta shit at work when them rumors ‘bout us started up. I know I told ya tha’… jus’ never told ya how much. At first… some a them guys… they’d jus’ be talkin’ ‘n maybe laughin’ ‘n they’d shut up real quick when I come by. Then this fella got hired on… real piece a work he were… ‘n he started sayin’ some stuff ta ma face… nothin’ spelled out… but ‘nough tha’ I knew damn well wha’ he were talkin’ bout. ‘N I never said nothin’. Never did nothin’. Knew I coulda took him easy. But fightin’ would get ya fired ‘n I were real ‘fraid a losin’ tha’ job. Iris were in college then 'n I needed ta keep tha’ job ‘til she were done with it.”

“Always suspected ya went through a lot more ‘n ya ever let on ‘bout. Sure was happy when ya could quit tha’ place.”

“Not half as happy as me…”

“But… I know ya weren’t ‘fraid a him… ya were’ ‘fraid a losin’ yer job… tha’s diff’rent.”

But it were more’n jus’ bein’ ‘fraid a losin’ tha’ job. I were ‘fraid maybe if’n I fought back it’d turn inta somethin’ worse… maybe a bunch a them’d get ta gether in come out ta the ranch sometime… Hurt us bad. Kill us even. So… I didn’ do nothin’. I didn’ say nothin’. Jus’ tried ta ignore ‘em. But it ate ‘way at me ‘most every day…”

“Like ya jus’ told me, Ed… Ya did the best ya could in a bad situation.”

“There’s more tha’ ya don’ know though… One time when Iris were visitin’… She stopped by ta meet me fer lunch… ‘n when I got back, this guy… tha’ same fella I jus’ mentioned… made some crack ‘bout her… ‘N I didn’ think twice ‘bout it… jus’ laid him out flat. Righ’ in front a the boss ‘n everyone.”

“Yer kiddin’?”

“Nope. ‘N nothin’ happened. Well… nothin’ bad. Boss didn’ fire me. Instead tha’ fella got fired. Turns out my boss heard wha’ he’d said… told me tha’ if’n I hadn’t punched him he woulda. ‘N after tha’ things weren’t quite so bad with them other fellas … So I were glad I did it… but I were sorry I did it too… ‘cause fer a long time I did worry tha’ him ‘n some a his friends migh’ come after us… Hell… had a big ol’ knot in ma stomach every time I left fer work… ‘n it’d stay there ‘til I caught sight a you when I come home. Sure as hell wish they woulda had them cell phones back then…”

“Jeez… Ed…”

“Tell ya… slept a whole lot better when I heard he’d left town ta take a job somewheres else...”

“But… Why the hell didn’ ya never tell me ‘bout all tha’? Ya shoulda told me.”

“I did tell ya… kinda… Dontcha remember me tellin’ ya tha’ I’d had some trouble at work with tha’ fella ‘n you should be real careful durin’ the day…? Keep the shotgun nearby…”

“Didn’ take ya too serious. Thought ya migh’ be ‘xaggeratin’ some…”

“Jus’… didn’ wanna… couldn’… repeat wha’ he said… Jus’ wanted ta forget 'bout the whole thing.”

“Ain’t ‘xactly the kind a stuff tha’s easy ta forget.”

“Yeah… got tha’ righ’. Hell… even thought ‘bout leavin’ ‘round then too… but figured I couldn’ win fer losin’… ‘fraid if’n I stayed they’d come after us… ‘n ‘fraid if’n I left they’d come after you ‘n I wouldn’ be ‘round ta…”

“Ta come rushin’ ta ma rescue like Sir Lancelot?”

“Like ta think it’d a been more like moseyin’ over ta save ya all cool ‘n collected like Clint Eastwood ‘n all them westerns.”

“More like Clint Eastwood’s better-lookin’ younger brother.”

“Better-lookin’, huh?”

“Damn righ’.”

“But ya know, Hank… I could ask you the same thing… How come ya didn’t tell me ‘bout tha’ fella at the bar ‘n yer friend dyin’?”

“AIDS weren’t ‘xactly a subject we talked ‘bout a lot. Think I were worried ya coulda had some kind a religious relapse… Wha’ with all them folks sayin’ God were punishin’ queers ‘n all...”

“Nah… Didn’ never think nothin’ like tha’. Hell… wouldn’ wan’ nothin’ ta do with a God like tha’. ‘Sides, then ya’d have ta figure all the diseases folks get are on account a God punishin’ ‘em. Don’ make no sense.”

“Ya know Ed… Think we were real lucky… Them years I spent withou’ ya… spent tryin’ ta ferget ya… tryin’ ta find someone else… Weren’t nothin’ like tha’ out there then. Mighta been a whole ‘nother endin’ ta our story if’n there had been. ‘N not a happy one. Lotta folks died. Lotta folks lost people they loved. People they cared ‘bout. We were purty cut off from all tha’.”

“Yeah… I know Iris had a couple a close friends die. ‘N I know she still has a friend livin’ with it.”

“Yeah… Like I said… think we been real lucky.”

“Yeah… know we’re lucky. Know all tha’… but… still don’ make gettin’ old any easier.”

“Think maybe ya should jus’ consider yerself lucky ta have the opportunity ta get old.”

“So… you sayin’ ‘m old?”

“Said ‘get’ not ‘got’. Ya ain’t old Ed.”

“‘M ‘bout twice as old as this here truck… ‘n lookit it…”

“Truck years ‘n human years ain’t near the same… ‘Sides… ya don’ have near as many miles on ya as this poor ol’ truck does.”

A slow smile turned up the corners of Ed’s mouth, “Yeah… but I gotta a lotta real hard miles on me… seein’ as who’s been doin’ the drivin’ fer the last forty-odd years…”

“Guess I did put yer pedal ta the metal a few times...”

“A few times?”

“Righ’ here in this ol’ truck more ’n once, too.”

“Yeah… first day we brought it home even. Didn’ let me get outta the truck ‘fore ya were on me.”

“Didn’ wanna waste no time in christenin’ it real proper-like.”

“Think tha’s where this here dent in the door came from.”

“Sure tha’ weren’t this dent here?”

“Nope. Tha’ were an entirely diff’rent time. Then there was tha’ time ya kicked this here knob off… 'N the time ya ripped the seat cover with yer boot…"

"Ya sure got mad at me over tha’…”

“Yeah… Guess we had plenty a fights in this here truck too. ‘N outside a it.” Ed let his hand trail outside the window and across the dent in the door, “Remember this one?”

“Weren’t tha’ when ya found out I had the phone bill put in both our names?”

“Yep.”

“Ya came outta tha’ house at me like a bat outta hell. Lucky fer me I had tha’ truck door ‘tween you ‘n me.”

“Ya really shoulda asked me ‘fore doin’ tha’.”

“Ya jus’ woulda said ‘no’, wouldn’ ya?”

“Damn righ’ I woulda said no.”

“Hell… I jus’ wanted somethin’ ta come ta the house with our names on it together-like… Hey… Think maybe tha’ migh’ count as ‘nother time I were scared a somethin’. Was plenty scared a you tha’ day.”

Scared? Seem ta remember ya laughin’ yer ass off when I slipped on tha’ patch a ice ‘n hit the ground after kickin’ tha’ door.”

“Yeah… But wha’ was even funnier were tha’ it took ya a couple more years ta figure out tha’ yer name were in the phone book too.”

“Fella don’ gen’rally look his self up in the phone book...”

“Ya sure got mad over tha’ too… Don’ know why… ain’t like it said ‘Mr. ‘n Mrs. Ed ‘n Hank…”

“Might as well have.”

“Our names were eight pages apart, dumbass.”

“Seven.”

“Tha’ were the same week we found Stella... Remember?”

“Yep. But more like tha’ dog found us.”

“Yeah. Still makes me laugh… way she jus’ hopped inta the front of this here truck while we was loadin’ up the back… cain’t even remember with wha’… but know ya were still bitchin’ at me ‘bout tha’ phone book… ‘n when we finished there she was jus’ sittin’ there like she owned the truck... ‘n us too. Sure am glad ya didn’ succeed when ya tried to pull her outta there.”

“Me too. But think tha’ dog knew wha’ she were doin’… when I went ta get her she jus’ licked ma face ‘n let out the sorriest l’il whine ya ever heard… Jus' one though… weren’t like she were beggin’… just sayin’ ‘please’ real nice-like.”

“Was righ’ glad I ran inta Betty ‘fore I put up any a them lost dog flyers. Woman jus’ grabbed ‘em from me ‘n threw ‘em in a trash can. She knew the family tha’ Stella had run from. Even had a few run-ins with ‘em over her. Told me tha’ they weren’t treatin’ her righ' at all.”

“Don’ believe ya ever intended ta put up any a them flyers anyways.”

“Knew I shoulda. Think I woulda. Thought someone woulda been missin’ tha’ dog bad… She were a good dog.”

“Yep. A real good dog. Always got a kick outta how she'd decide if'n she wanted ta ride up front or in the back... She'd look at the truck, then up at the sky 'n study it some, then sniff the air real good 'n then make her decision.”

"Think sometimes she were really sniffin' you. Decidin' if'n she could stand it."

"Smart dog too."

“Tha’ last ride with her in this here truck sure were hard.”

“Didn' think it would do no good takin’ her ta the vet… Jus’ had ta try.”

“Kinda glad it were snowin’ tha’ day… Stella jus’ loved a good snowstorm.”

“Yeah. She sure did. Hey… do ya remember tha’ time we were drivin’ down the interstate in tha’ real bad snowstorm?”

“Yeah… Took us a while ta notice tha’ there weren’t no other cars out there.”

“Still cain’t figure how tha’ happened. Musta closed tha’ highway righ’ behind us or somethin’. Stella sure had a good time though... bustin' through them drifts when we stopped ta let her run fer a piece.”

“Tha's when we nearly slid offa tha' road... pullin' off at tha' exit ta let Stella run. Rest a the road didn’ seem tha’ bad… ‘N it were kinda nice havin’ it all ta ourselves. Remember tha’ one hailstorm? Tha' were a lot worse...”

“Sure was. Couldn’ believe it when tha’ hail cracked the windshield.”

“Thought tha’ wind was gonna flip this ol’ truck righ’ over. Guess maybe tha’ could count as ‘nother time I were ‘fraid a somethin’.”

“Not too ‘fraid ta jump on me after we pulled off the road ta wait fer it ta stop.”

“Tha' time I were kinda glad Stella weren't with us. 'Sides... had ta keep my mind otherwise occupied so’s I wouldn’ think ‘bout tha’ storm.”

“Don’ think it were yer mind tha’ were occupied.”

“True 'nough. 'N I seem ta recall a lot a moanin' tha' day... but don' recall hearin' ya complainin' at the time."

"Never said I were complainin'."

"So’s how many times ya figure we had ta change tha’ windshield?”

“Lost count a long time ago. Do ya remember the time it got cracked the very same day we got it changed? Had ta keep ya from goin’ after the truck tha’ kicked up tha’ rock.”

“Rock? Was more like a boulder. Ticked me off no end.”

“Not like they did it on purpose, Hank.”

“Then there was tha’ time them idiots were cleanin’ the streets in town durin’ tha’ windstorm. Poor ol’ truck got sandblasted ‘long with a lotta other folk’s. ‘Caused a righ’ big uproar in town.”

“Yep. Don’ think the mayor ‘xpected ta get booted outta a job on account a tha’.”

“Think he were righ' lucky he weren’t run outta town.”

“’N remember tha’ time ya got her hung up on tha’ rock crossin’ tha’ stream way up in the mountains? Tell ya… we were damn lucky them other fellas come along the next day ‘n towed us out or we woulda had a helluva long walk outta there…”

“Yeah… ‘Cept you were the one tha’ got the truck stuck. Not me.”

“Don’ think so.”

“Guess maybe ya are gettin’ a l'il senile if’n ya don’ remember tha’.”

“Ain’t senile. 'M jus' old. Know damn well I didn’ get tha’ truck stuck.”

“Well… if’n yer old then I‘m old too.”

“Ya ain’t old, Hank. I’m old.”

“We’re the same age, dumbass.”

“Yeah… but you ain’t old.”

“Look, Ed… ain’t neither of us old. But ain’t neither of us gettin’ any younger neither…”

“If'n tha’ s’posed ta make me feel better, it ain't workin'.”

“Jus’ listen… Ya had a good time on tha’ campin’ trip, righ?”

“Yeah…”

“Been thinkin’ maybe we should do more a tha’. ‘Fore we do get too old. Take some well-deserved… fer you anyways… time off ‘n travel ‘round some. See some sights.”

“Cain’t.”

“Why not?”

“Cain’t afford it, fer one.”

“Won’ cost so much. Know gas is high, but we’d save a lot by campin’ like we do. Gotta eat whether we’re campin’ or at home so tha’ won’ cost much more if’n we don’ eat out too much. Ain’t gotta do nothin’ tha’ costs a lot.”

“Ain’t ya forgettin’ a l’il somethin’…? Wha’ ‘bout the ranch?”

“I dunno… Maybe give Bill a promotion. Make him foreman or general manager or somethin’… let him hire someone ta help him out.”

“Ain’t no way we could afford ta give Bill 'nother raise ‘n hire someone else too.”

“What if’n we hired a couple a kids outta high school? Jus’ temporary-like fer the summer. Make it like one a them apprenticeship deals… Learn while they work. Wouldn’ have ta pay ‘em as much as regular hands ‘n they’d get some good ‘xperience.”

“’M sure Bill would jus' love tha’. Liable ta up ‘n quit on us if’n we do somethin’ like tha’ ta him.”

“Could least-wise ask him anyways.”

“Come home ‘n the cattle’s liable ta be scattered ta all four directions.”

“Nah… not with Bill in charge.”

“Where wouldya wanna go, Hank? Wha’ would ya wanna see?”

“I dunno, Ed… Maybe jus’ head out ‘n find out wha’ there is ta see.”

“Gotta admit… Always kinda wanted ta see them real big trees in California.”

“Yeah. ‘N the ocean. I’d like ta see the ocean. ‘N maybe some a them tidepools ‘n sea stacks them folks from Oregon told us ‘bout.”

“Wouldn’ mind seein’ tha’ volcano…”

“Mt. St. Helens?”

“Yeah.  Always wanted ta see tha'. ‘N maybe some a them big ol’ cactus… the ones with all them arms. Like in them old coyote cartoons I used ta watch with Iris. Well… didn’ really watch ‘em. Always had ta turn the channel. Iris jus’ couldn’ stand seein’ tha’ coyote get hurt over ‘n over again. Even if’n he were tryin’ ta eat tha’ roadrunner all the time. Tha’ girl is strong on the outside, but real tender-hearted jus’ the same.”

“Takes after somebody else I know.”

“’N jus’ who migh’ tha’ be?”

“Nobody you’d know.”

“I forgot, Hank… Ya already seen them cactus ‘fore… so ain’t no need ta go there.”

“Yeah… but… ain’t like I were vacationin’. ‘N ain’t like I seen ‘em with you. Be real hot there in the summer though.”

“Maybe we could jus’ stick ta places tha’ wouldn’ be so hot.”

“Yer talkin’ like ya really wanna go, Ed… Don’ go gettin’ my hopes up if’n ya don’.”

“Dunno… maybe we could see if’n we could work somethin’ out...”

“’N maybe when we go ta tha’ place I said I weren’t gonna mention no more ta visit you know who… we could drive there one way there ‘n come back ‘nother. Maybe stay off a them interstates 'n take some a them back roads.”

“Kinda sad tha’ this ol’ truck didn’ get ta see more a the country.”

“Yeah… Sure gonna miss this ol' truck… lotta memories…”

“Yep. Lotta memories...”

“Guess we should take out the steerin' wheel 'n hang it next ta tha' other one... but... sure wish there was somethin’ we could do 'sides jus’ parkin’ it out back behind the barn next ta them other two trucks.”

“Maybe there is…”

“’Fraid ta ask… Whadya have in mind, Hank?”

“I dunno… Maybe we could park it somewheres in the yard or down by the road even… Plant the bed with flowers or somethin’.”

“Ya wanna turn it inta a big ol’ flower pot?”

“Yeah… Kinda make it inta a memorial ta itself. Maybe plant a few plants fer Stella too ‘n… if’n ya wouldn’ mind… maybe fer Ben too… maybe make up a l’il fer wha’ I didn’ do tha’ day.”

“I wouldn’ mind, Hank. Think tha’s a real good idea. Think it migh’ look real nice.”

“Yeah… a l’il green ‘n some bright flowers would contrast real nice-like with all the rust.”

“Speakin’ a rust… migh’ rust through righ’ quick.”

“Guess we could drill some drain holes in the bed. Maybe put some plastic sheetin’ or somethin’ down first, so’s it’d take a lot longer ta rust through. ‘N then get some gravel ta put down fer drainage ‘n then put some good soil on top a tha’ ‘n some fertilizer...”

“Sure as hell got plenty a manure. How ya figure on keepin’ it watered?”

“Didn’ think ‘bout tha’… Guess we could use native plants ‘n wildflowers… Somethin’ drought resistant tha’d come back every year. Maybe we’d have ta do some waterin’ at first… but once it got goin’ we could jus’ let it be. Jus’ see how long it’d last.”

“Dunno, Hank... Think it migh' last a fair long time. But… if’n we put it down by the road ain’t ya ‘fraid some a them kids would shoot out the windows ‘n whatnot?”

“Maybe. Don’ have ta put it down at the end a the driveway. Or maybe we could jus’ take out the windshield ‘n roll down the windows ‘n take out the seat ‘n do the same ta the cab.”

“Plant the front too?”

“Why not? Put in some kinda vine or somethin’ tha’d grow out the windows. Migh’ look real good.”

“Might at tha’. Guess we could give it a try. Worst tha’ could happen if’n it don’ work out is tha’ we tow it back behind the barn where’s no one can see it. Park it next ta them other two.”

“’N if’n it does turn out maybe we could plant the other two too…”

“Maybe… Jus’ don’ get no ideas ‘bout turnin’ tha’ ol’ trailer inta a big ol' planter too.”

“Hey, Ed… How ‘bout we give this ol’ truck a proper send-off righ’ now?”

“Righ’ here in the drive-way? With Bill just over in the barn? No way.”

“C’mon, Ed…”

“Keep them hands ta yer self, Hank…”

“Bet it’ll make ya feel better. ‘N ya know I can do it real quick-like if’n I put my mind ta it…”

“Hank… Sit up. Bill could come over… somebody could drive up. We’re too close ta the road… Wha’ if’n someone drives by?”

“Wave ta ‘em.”

Beeep…

Shit. Hank… Ya jus’ had ta hit the horn, didn’ ya? Bill’s gonna come ‘n check on tha’ horn blowin’”

“No he ain’t.”

“Yeah. He is. Stop it, Hank. Sit up.”

“C’mon, Ed… Jus’ got through sayin’ ya wished ya hadn’ been so ‘fraid a stuff… Jus’ relax...”

Relax? Yer kiddin’… righ?”

“Jus’ gonna take a lot longer if’n ya keep makin’ me talk.”

“Hank… Hank…”

……
..........

“Maybe yer righ’, Ed. Maybe I shouldn’ be doin’ this here ‘n now…”

“Hank… DamnHank…”

“Or maybe ya wan’ me ta keep goin’ now?”

Hank…

“I’ll take tha’ as a ‘yes, please’.”

……
………
...............

Damn… Hank… Damn…”


Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee…

Beeeeeeee…  “Think ya migh’ wanna let loose a the horn, Ed…”  eeeeeeee…

Beeeeeeee…  “Ain’t me no more… It’s stuck… Dammit!”  eeeeeeeeeeeeeee…

Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee…

Beeeeee…  “Try givin’ it a couple a whacks… Otherwise I can go pull tha’ fuse.”

Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeep.

“Finally. Shit. Truck ain’t never done tha’ ‘fore.”

“Guess maybe tha’ were it’s swan song…”

Shit. Now Bill is coming over. Hank, ya gotta go meet him… Walk him back ta the barn or somethin’… Don’ wan’ him ta see me zippin’ up.”

“He cain’t see tha’.”

“Yeah… but he’ll still be able ta tell wha’ ‘m doin’.”

“Okay… okay… I’ll ask him ta go 'n get one a the other trucks so’s we can tow this one outta the way.”

“Hey, Hank… wait a sec…”

“Yeah?”

“Wan’ ta thank ya…”

“Ya know ‘m always more ‘n happy ta…”

“Not jus’ fer tha’… Ya got me feelin’ like a goddamn teenager here. Least-wise wha’ I think a teenager migh’ feel like…”

“Good. Teenagers like ta dance. Maybe tha’ means you’ll dance with me again later?”

“Maybe… If’n ya get me all liquored up. Now get the hell outta here… Bill’s gettin’ a l’il too close fer comfort.”




---





For Ben…

This was one of Ben’s favorite songs and he sang it often. And when he did, he could render even the toughest rodeo fuck-up misty-eyed in no time flat. So here it is, one more time, for Ben:


Hank didn’t say it when he should have, but he’s saying it now. Ben was a good guy. Ben was a good friend. And Ben was more than a friend.

Ben was soft-spoken with an easy smile, a quick laugh and a sweet singing voice. He liked riding the broncs better than the bulls. He loved burgers with fried onions and beer and kettle corn and black licorice and cotton candy. Although, not necessarily in that order. Ben’s prized possession was a beat up old book by Buffalo Bill Cody. He never failed to lug that big old book to the next town down the line… even though Hank never once saw him reading it.

Ben never talked much about his home or family. And Hank never asked. Hank knew that was something that had to be offered. And not much ever was. All Hank knew was that Ben grew up in a small town in Oklahoma and, every now and again, he spoke fondly of a younger sister named Beth.

Ben deserved more than what Hank could give him. And Hank hopes that maybe, just maybe, somewhere along the way, Ben found what he was looking for. What everyone's looking for… a place... no, a person... to call home.


But...


Ben, like Hank, never wanted to leave anyone sad, so after making those rodeo fuck-ups all homesick and teary-eyed he'd turn around and sing a song that would make them all bust up laughing. And this was one of his favorites. (Although it made Ben and Hank laugh for somewhat different reasons than the rest of their buddies.) This isn't the same version Hank remembers, but Hank can't believe he found it at all:






---

 
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: bbm_citygirl
2007-04-11 07:10 pm (UTC)
It has been a while since I left a comment, my bad, but I am still loving your Hank and Ed. I really, really liked this chapter where they reminisce over all events which took place since buying that truck. This sure was a lovely piece. Ed's regret for not taking that risk of being with Hank earlier was so touching but as Hank said, they had much more than a lot of other people and still have more times to come.
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[User Picture]From: myeyesaintblue
2007-04-12 02:34 am (UTC)
Hey, Happy to hear that you're still reading Ed and Hank's story and I'm really glad you liked this chapter. Your comments are very appreciated whenever you get the urge to leave one. :D

Every now and again either Hank has to remind Ed, or Ed has to remind Hank, about just how lucky they've been.
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[User Picture]From: joetheone
2007-04-11 07:47 pm (UTC)

Great Great Great story to make Joe cry again!

Ok this entire Brokeback thing has changed this Joe into a blobbering idiot and well I thank you guess I always was but real men do not cry. The feeling behind the truck and reminicing about all the good times and bad with it were great. I like the idea of a planter even though it would send my Pat through the roof if I ever wanted to do something like that. He wants my landscaping to well you know. The ending and the videos were wonderful a year ago i did not like Country music much but well I have a new appreciation for it for sure. Thinking on all of those wonderful people who are not with me I watched the video three times and missed out on being the first one commenting but that is ok. I cannot do it anymore it is too hard when someone I know has AIDS, but I took in 8 of my friends and held them until they passed away and attended over 200 hundred funerals until I could not take it anymore. When I was 21 in 1985 I spent that year going to 158 of those funerals burying men that I slept with laughed with drank with and had a good time knowing. I don't know how I got so lucky to be untouched by that horrible disease it tears me up to no end still to this day. Then the other thing that hit me was how hard it was for Ed and Hank to buy a vehicle together like normal couples and the phone book. Well, Pat and I have seperate phone lines and seperate accounts and seperate everything because well that is what he says keeps his job and I'm just about sick of it. Who cares if he works in the school system I give him plenty to do at home. Ok I'm ranting and raving again. I'm just sick and tired of having to hide and not be out even though I am out as most would say can I ever really be out as long as I still have to do stupid things like this? I don't know but you hit me hard in the gut again and make me want to just go out an dput flyers on all my neighbors doors letting them know that two homosexual men live in their neighborhood even though most of our neighbors know this it is still well just a thought. Ok thanks again I need to rest now. Joe
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[User Picture]From: jennydcf
2007-04-11 11:04 pm (UTC)

Re: Great Great Great story to make Joe cry again!

(((Joe))) Oh, Joe, I'm so sorry. I can hardly imagine what that was like, and I am in awe of your strength, courage, and loving nature that allowed you to help 8 friends die with someone there.

I can, I think, understand how deep your frustration must be about having to have separate everything. Why the heck should you have to hide in that way? In a way, it makes your love and your roles in each others' lives invisible. It denies the reality of you. It's part of this constant denial that being gay is natural and that love between consenting adults should be celebrated and supported, and it makes me furious.

I admire everyone who goes on slogging through this crap and succeeds in staying together, loving each other, and sharing their lives. May the flowers always outnumber the weeds.
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[User Picture]From: myeyesaintblue
2007-04-12 02:06 am (UTC)

Re: Great Great Great story to make Joe cry again!

Joe,
I am so sorry for everything you've been through and everyone you've lost. It must have been devastating. I admire your strength in surviving and thriving after all that you've been through. As well as your compassion and caring in helping those who didn't make it pass a little more easily.

It must be very difficult that, even though you are out, you still have to keep certain things hidden and separate. Like Jenny, all of this makes me very angry. I do hope so much that the tide will turn in this country and that someday soon everyone will have the same rights.

And just remember, to paraphrase the Dixie Chicks, some days you've just gotta loosen up those chains and rant... (Somehow, it does seem to help.)

Take care.
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From: (Anonymous)
2007-04-11 08:09 pm (UTC)

Ed & Hank Requiem

Afternoon.

Sure do like these two, and sure do like this update. Covered a lot of ground, and showed how they worked hard to be together and stay together, through doubts and fears. It's a measure of how much they love and trust each other, that they can bring up memories that might still hurt each other but need to be said, and laid to rest.

Do hope that Ben found that person to call home. And sure glad that the guys were able to avoid the epidemic. Good to bring that topic up and talk about it in context.

Thanks again for this great story, and for keeping us updated. Always have a smile when I see a new posting, and after reading it even when it dealt with serious topics.
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From: cwby30
2007-04-11 09:08 pm (UTC)

Re: Ed & Hank Requiem

Afternoon, again.

Dang it! Did it again! Rushed to make some comments, and skipped over the log-in! Dumbass.

And Joe, you will be rewarded for your corporal works of mercy in caring for your friends and companions. We should all have the opportunity to do that, and the guts to take the opportunity when presented, and the compassion to allow others to live and die in dignity surrounded by persons who love them.
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[User Picture]From: myeyesaintblue
2007-04-12 03:00 am (UTC)

Re: Ed & Hank Requiem

Evenin',
Thanks and glad it still made you smile even though this update was more serious. (And one of the longest ever, I think.) Hank is glad (and surprised) that a lot of stuff is being said that might not have been otherwise.

I was very touched by your note to Joe too. And I also hope that Ben found what he was looking for.

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[User Picture]From: trekfan
2007-04-11 10:53 pm (UTC)
Very nice. I love how sentimental they both got over that truck. And how the truck gave its' all to the end.

tell Ed I said 'BEEP' :D
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[User Picture]From: myeyesaintblue
2007-04-12 04:01 am (UTC)
Hey there! Thanks and yeah, they both loved that old truck and it certainly did give it's all. I will definitely tell Ed you said 'BEEP' And he will definitely turn bright red when I do so. :D
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[User Picture]From: jennydcf
2007-04-14 03:58 am (UTC)

I see I never left a comment of my own

'M old. Mind is goin'. Fortunately, it ain't quite gone yet, so...

I just loved this. They have a wake for the truck: remembering the things that made it special for them (Hee!), thinking about mortality (I remember Ben.:-( I grieve for him and for all those others. "Good night, sweet Prince. May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest." And I love Hank for remembering him so well and giving him his due. I know all about the regrets for what you didn't say, but it really is alright. Ben would have understood.) and recalling sweet Stella, and, of course, giving it a send-off, just as they gave it a christening. I liked Hank's idea of using it as a planter, so that it would be its own memorial (and a living one), too. He knows how to love Ed, and comfort him, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health--just as Ed knows his man.

Your God (or whatever) is most definitely my version, too. Love, in all its variations, is the core of life.

I can never be totally sad with these guys, and fortunately, neither can you.:-) I LOL at this: Hell... read a l'il while 'go where some 87 year old rancher got killed after a couple a cows knocked him down 'n head-butted him when he were on the ground. Tha' fella were a lot older 'n us 'n he were still workin' his ranch.”

"Prob'bly a mean old cuss 'n them cows were jus' waitin' fer their chance."

"Could be. Article said the daughter called the police 'fore chasin' them bovines off a him. Seems like if'n I saw you bein' head-butted by a couple a cows I woulda gone after the cows first 'stead a callin' in a SWAT team."


And of course, the horn getting stuck cracked me up. Swan song! ROTFLMAO!

Now guys, listen carefully. ROAD TRIP!:-D
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[User Picture]From: myeyesaintblue
2007-04-14 11:06 pm (UTC)

Re: I see I never left a comment of my own

"Love, in all its variations, is the core of life."

You do have a way with words. That pretty much sums it all up. And I'm really glad you liked this chapter. Your note to Joe was very touching. You said so well what I feel too. And you made Hank feel better about not speaking up when he felt he should have. (Like you, I do think Ben would have understood.)

Glad it made you laugh too.

P.S. 'N ya ain't old, Jenny!
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