||[Dec. 13th, 2006|09:48 am]
ED and Hank, Part 18, Friday morning and early afternoon
A very special holiday episode of Ed and Hank*
(Part one of three parts)
(*Well, not really, it’s pretty much just the usual Ed and Hank...)
Note: Hope to post all three parts this week. Disclaimer: Somewhere, sometime, Hank told their story to Annie Proulx. Jack and Ennis belong entirely to Annie Proulx. Ed and Hank belong only to each other. Money-wise, thought we were comin' out ahead this week, but then the durn truck broke down.
Everything else is here:
Part 18, a very special holiday episode, part 1
“Hey, Hank.” Ed and Bill were in the kitchen, Bill sitting at the table. Ed standing by the coffeemaker.
“Hey, Bill. Ed…” Hank grabbed a kitchen chair and sat down.
“Jeez. Sure am sore this mornin’. Muscles achin' somethin’ fierce.” Ed gave Hank a grin, then groaned and stretched, solely for Hank’s benefit, still playing that game from earlier that morning. He then lifted the coffee pot and motioned towards Bill, “Ya want some coffee Bill… Hank?”
Ed dropped a spoon, “Clumsy today, too.” Then he bent over to pick it up. Hank laughed.
Ed straightened up again, “Gotta get ta town today. Do some grocery shoppin’. Ya wanna come Hank? Go out fer lunch, maybe?”
“Sounds good. Can stop at the bakery. Buy ya a big ol’ pie.”
“You int’rested Bill? Got any errands ta run? Or ya need us ta getcha anythin’?”
“Nope. Think I’ll jus’ stick ‘round here. Somebody’s gotta do some work.”
“Hey, Hank. Found this in the desk. Forgot we had it.” Ed held up a small tape recorder, “Thought ya migh’ wanna use it fer yer writin’. Could come out ‘n work ‘n whenever the urge strikes ya could stop ‘n tape record yer thoughts then get righ’ back ta work.”
“Thanks, Ed. Dunno ‘bout usin’ no tape recorder. Jus’ seems like I’d hafta do stuff twice. Talk then type everythin’ I said. But maybe I’ll give it a try.”
Ed looked down at his shirt, a frown on his face. “Sure did get this here shirt dirty this mornin’. Think I’ll toss it in the laundry ‘n go up ‘n put on a clean one.” Ed started slowly unbuttoning his shirt, a glint in his eye.
Hank watched Ed, amused. He didn’t think Ed would really go through with taking his shirt off. Not even just in front of Bill. Hank grinned as he watched Ed’s fingers working on those buttons. Ed was grinning too, that is until Ed’s eyes locked onto Hank’s. Then both their smiles slowly faded and next thing Hank knew his heart was thumping hard.
Bill coughed, “Uh… Think I better go check on Annie. Thought she mighta been off her oats yesterday…” Bill started to get up.
Ed’s face immediately turned that tenth shade of red, “No… uh… no reason ta get up Bill. Think Annie’s fine. Checked ta make sure first thing this mornin’. Drink yer coffee. ‘M jus’ gonna go upstairs ‘n get a clean shirt…” Ed turned and quickly left the room.
Hank turned to Bill, “Tha’ obvious, huh?”
“Don’ have no idea wha’ yer talkin’ ‘bout,” Bill deadpanned.
“Can I ask ya somethin’, Bill?”
“Yer the boss. Can ask anythin’ ya wan’. Don’ guarantee a answer though.”
“How long did it take ya ta figure out how things was between Ed 'n me? After ya started workin’ fer us.”
“Well… Lemme think… Always been kinda slow on the uptake. So’s I think it musta took me ‘til at least… Lessee… ‘til at least noon on the day I started.”
“Wha’ gave us ‘way?”
“Dunno… Musta been… Whadda they call it? A vibe? Musta jus’ been some kinda queer vibe you two were givin’ off.” Bill laughed then, “’Course, then again, mighta been tha’ quick kiss ya give Ed in the kitchen. Spied you two through the window on ma way ta ask ya somethin’. Tell ya. I turned ‘round righ’ quick. High-tailed it outta there.”
Hank laughed, “Ya never said nothin’ ‘bout it.”
“Surprised the hell outta me. Watcha woulda wanted me ta do? Knock on the door ‘n tell ya you two make a real cute couple?”
“Did ya think a quittin?”
“Nah. Needed the job.” Bill laughed again, “’Sides, figured if one a ya were gonna make a play fer me I could take care a ma self. Heard ‘bout people like youse.”
Hank grinned, “Yeah. Ed drove off a few other ranch hands tha’ way. Man jus’ cain’t keep his hands ta himself.”
“Yep. Yer Ed’s a wild man.”
“Seriously though… Did ya ever really think a quittin’ ‘cause a tha’? Lookin’ fer ‘nother job?”
“Maybe jus’ fer a minute. Did need the job though. ‘N jus’ figured weren’t ma place to judge y’all. ‘Cept as guys I were workin’ fer. ‘N ya always been good ta me. Turned inta real good friends too. Sides kinda enjoyed you fellas not knowin’ fer a while tha’ I knowed. Got a kick outta the way Ed tried so hard not ta never look straight at ya. Guess I can see why… way he was lookin’ at ya a minute ago. Gen’rally he’s purdy darn good at hidin’ it, but I caught a few a them looks he’s thrown ya over the years. ‘N you were real amusin’ yerself, back then. Always watchin’ Ed with this kinda comical worried-like ‘xpression.”
“Gotta kinda twisted sense a humor there, dontcha Bill?”
“So’s how long did it take ya ta figure tha’ out?”
Hank laughed again as Ed came back inta the kitchen, face settled at that fifth shade of red.
“So… Hank… Why ya puttin’ tha’ ol' fake tree up? Thought we’d get a permit next week ‘n go up ta the mountains ‘n cut us down a real nice tree this year. Wha’ with Iris comin’ for Christmas ‘n all.”
“Uh… Ed… Don’ know how ta tell ya… Iris called this mornin’. Said she was real sorry, but she ain’t gonna be able ta come fer Christmas this year.”
“Shit. It’s our year, ain’t it? She spent last year with Nora.”
“Yeah, but she cain’t get off a work. Jus’ changin’ jobs recent-like ‘n all.”
“Damn. Really lookin’ forward ta seein’ her. Still don’ ‘xplain why yer puttin’ up the tree.” Ed looked hopeful, “She comin’ earlier?”
“Nah. She cain’t get off no chunk a time righ’ now. Maybe jus’ a day or two here ‘n there. Not ‘nough ta make the trip.” Hank hesitated, “Iris asked if… So’s I… I kinda told her… Well… Told her… Told her we’d try ‘n…‘n come ta Chicago. Ta see her. Thought we’d put the tree up now so’s we could enjoy it some ‘fore we left.”
“Shit! Hank… No…”
“C’mon Ed. We only been there once. ‘N tha’ was years ago. She’s always comin’ here. ‘Sides she bought tha’ house few years back ‘n we ain’t never seen it. Think we’re bein’ rude.”
“No way. Once were more ‘n enough fer me.”
“Not fair makin’ her come here all the time.”
“Don’ think she minds. She likes ta get ‘way ta the wide open spaces every now ‘n then.”
“But she cain’t now. ‘N ya wanna see her, dontcha? Hell, didn’ think ya minded it tha’ much.”
“’Course I wanna see Iris. But… All them people. Think I seen more people in one day than I seen in ma whole life up ta tha’ point. ‘N all tha’ noise… All tha’ traffic... All them tall buildin’s blockin’ out the sky. Cain’t breathe if’n I cain’t see the sky.” Ed paused, “Lake was nice though. More water ‘n I ever seen in one place. Could see the sky there too. Ain’t the same sky though. ‘N tha’ big park. So much green. Ain’t tha’ kinda green here less’n ya go ta the mountains. Even then.” Ed shook his head, “’Course won’ be green this time a year. Winter’ll make the trip even harder.”
“Don’ gotta go downtown again. Can jus’ visit with Iris.” Hank tried a different tack, “Seemed ta like all tha’ food well ‘nough.” Hank couldn’t help but grin at the memory.
“Food was good. Real good.”
“Seem ta recall them were close ta yer exact words when Iris ‘n her friends took us out ta tha’ Thai place. ‘N tha’ Polish place. ‘N tha’ Indian buffet. ‘N when ya had one a them Italian Beefs.”
“Dipped. I like ‘em dipped. ‘N with sweet peppers. No hot peppers. Shit. I like both. ’N remember tha’ Pita somethin’ place in tha’ suburb? Won’ ferget tha’. Food was good. Real good. Liked all them sandwiches. ‘N tha’ other stuff ya dipped tha’ bread inta too. ‘N tha’ dessert. Almos’ as good as yer ma’s pies was. Real cheap too.”
Hank laughed, “Think tha’ trip was the first time in yer life ya ever gained some weight.”
“‘Cept fer way back, when yer ma would cook fer us.”
“True. Okay. It’s settled then. We’ll go visit Iris.”
“Ain’t nothin’ settled. Still don’ know if’n I wanna go. ‘Sides… Ain’t got no one ta watch the ranch or take care a Hankthedog ‘n Edthedog. Bill generally goes ta his sister’s place over Christmas.”
Ed and Hank both turned to look at Bill.
Bill stood up, “Think I really better be goin’ now…”
Hank put his hand on Bill’s arm, holding him back, “Wait a second, Bill. You gonna be ‘round at Christmas or ya headin’ over ta yer sister’s?”
Bill looked from one to the other, “Shit. You two fight ‘n I always end up getting’ caught in the middle…”
“Yeah… Right… I keep fergettin’. You two are a regular Ozzie ‘n Harriet. Okay, tell ya the truth, ain’t goin’ ta tha’ sister’s this year. They’re headin’ ta her in-laws’ place in Boise. More like out-laws if’n ya ask me. Them folks is nuts. Anyways, ma sister tha’ lives in town here is havin’ me over fer the day.” Bill headed towards the door, “Be glad ta watch the place… Take good care a Edthedog ‘n Hankthedog. Jus’ lemme know wha’ ya decide.” Bill headed quickly out the door and across the yard towards the barn.
“Which one a us do ya think he was callin’ Harriet?”
‘Neither. He meant we ain’t like Ozzie ‘n Harriet. ‘Cause we’re arguin’ all the time.”
“Tha’ man’s got a righ’ peculiar sense a humor.”
“Yeah. It’s a lot like yers.” Hank laughed, “C’mon, Ed. Don’ go changin’ the subject. Know it’d mean a lot ta Iris. She were real happy when I said we’d try ta make it’.”
“Shit. Okay. But no sight-seein’. Did all tha’ last time. No need ta do it again. Jus’ hang ‘round Iris’ place. ‘N go out ta eat sometimes. I’m willin’ ta go out ta eat.” Ed paused, “’N most important. We gotta be back fer New Year’s. Ain’t gonna go ‘lessen were back fer tha’.”
“Okay. Got yerself a deal. Ya know I wouldn’ wanna miss our New Year’s neither. We ain’t missed one yet. You call Iris back, let her know we’re comin’. I’m gonna call ‘n send her some flowers. D’ya know her fav’rites?”
“Think it’s yellow roses. Why ‘r ya sendin’ Iris flowers?”
“Cause a wha’ ya tol’ me yesterday. Know the only reason I got ya here with me now is on account a her. Owe Iris a lot. Owe Iris everythin’.” Hank got up and went over to Ed. He reached out and tugged on Ed’s shirt, unsnapping the first snap. Hank smiled, “Ya put on one tha’ snaps. Gotta say. I like snaps a whole lot better ‘n buttons.” Hank tugged again and two more snaps popped open. Hank laughed then, “Hell. Cain’t believe ya did tha’ in front a Bill.” One more tug opened all the snaps down to Ed’s belt buckle.
“Didn’ ‘xactly mean fer him ta know wha’ I were doin’. Guess you used ta be a lot better at it. Got carried ‘way righ’ quick. Cain’t believe how fast jus’ lookin’ at ya can still get me riled sometimes. Even after all a these years. Ya’d think we’d jus’ be plain tired a each other.”
“Think I jus' been insulted here."
"Didn' mean... Jus' tha'... been together a long time... 'n I ain't no teenager..." Ed stopped, "Shit. Think I jus' better go back ta not talkin' so much... Always puttin' ma big ol' foot in ma big ol' mouth."
"Don' ya dare stop talkin'. Jus' teasin' ya. Feel the same way. 'N sides, can think a somethin' I'd much rather ya put in tha' big ol' mouth a yers 'sides yer foot." Hank put one hand around Ed under his shirt and the other hand behind Ed’s neck then pulled him into a kiss
A minute passed. Then another. Ed was the first to speak, whispering in Hank’s ear, “Now… ‘Bout tha’ thing ya jus' mentioned... 'n tha' other 'depraved desire' ya was havin’ earlier this mornin’…?”
“Gotta do a little paperwork, why don’ you work on puttin’ up tha’ tree ‘n gettin’ the lights on it, then we can go ta town, then maybe later we can decorate tha’ tree together ‘n then maybe I migh’ be able ta take care a both them things fer ya.” Ed kissed Hank on the nose again then abruptly let him go and walked out of the kitchen, snapping up his shirt as he went.
Hank called after him, “Don’ think I wanna play this game no more. Think ya were right. Better how we got it now. Don’ need this anticipatin’ stuff. Hear tha’, Ed? Ed…? Shit…”
Hank roamed back into the living room and started working on putting that tree together. Hank’s ma had loved that pitiful old fake tree. And Hank did too. Exposed wire and bristle brush branches and all. Hank wouldn’t have put it up if Ed seemed to mind, but he didn’t.
Ed and Hank didn’t really celebrate Christmas. Hank knew Christmas could bring back bad memories for Ed. No sugarplums dancing or presents or caroling or cookies and milk left for Santa. Not that Hank had all of that either. But he’d had some of it. Sure the presents tended to be practical, maybe a new shirt and a new pair of pants and sometimes a new winter jacket, but still, there had been presents. And there had even been a bike one year and a bb gun another. No worries about shooting an eye out for a ranch boy.
Hank had tried giving Ed a Christmas present a couple of years in a row, before they were together permanent-like, nothing fancy, a nice pair of work gloves or a new wallet, thinking he could replace Ed’s bad memories with good ones, and, of course, maybe make Ed think about Hank every time he wore those gloves or took out that wallet. But Ed never seemed comfortable with it, so Hank had finally stopped, not wanting to do anything that might make Ed skittish during their time together.
Of course Ed would set aside his own feelings about Christmas for Iris. He and Nora had always made sure Iris had the kind of Christmas they thought a kid should have. Ed didn’t really know what that was, but Nora did and Ed just followed her lead.
Hank had tried again, once they were together permanent-like. But he could tell Ed still wasn’t comfortable with it. Not that Ed never gave Hank anything. He did. Every now and again. Just never at Christmas. And never wrapped. Until the shirts, that is.
It had started a long times ago, on that day Hank had waited so damn long for. That day when Ed’s shirt had joined Hank’s shirt in the closet. Permanent-like.
Ed had hung his shirt over Hank’s that day. Then, when Ed wasn't looking, Hank had moved his shirt so that it was on top of Ed’s, only to find a few days later that Ed had changed them back. It went on like this for a while, back and forth, forth and back. Until Hank suggested they take turns, switching those shirts once a year. They tossed around a few possible dates for making this annual switch, but settled on New Year’s Eve at midnight. They tossed a coin to decide whose shirt got to be on top first. Flipped for best three out of five. Ed won the first three flips in a row. Hank thought maybe he had cheated. Wasn’t quite sure how.
To Hank’s surprise, it was Ed who started their shirt-giving tradition a few years later. One New Year’s Eve, after switching their shirts Ed had almost-shyly handed Hank a package, a brown paper bag wrapped in the Sunday funny papers. Inside that bag was a shirt that looked almost exactly like Hank’s shirt that was hanging in the closet. Ed had tried to shrug it off as no big deal, but Hank knew better.
"Ya wrapped it, 'n all?"
"Twice. Fergot ta take off the price tag the firs' time."
Hank wore that shirt until it plumb wore out. He liked the way Ed looked at him when he was wearing it. That shirt was either on Hank’s back or in the laundry. Never anywhere in between. Well, except maybe when it had been tossed to the bedroom floor. Or the living room floor. Or the kitchen floor. Or the barn floor. Or tossed to the ground.
Hank spent the next year scouring the stores every time he went to town, searching for a shirt that looked like Ed’s. Finally found something close enough then wrapped it up just like Ed had and saved it for New Year’s Eve. That night, Ed had handed him another package. Same shirt. And then the year after that… same shirt. Turns out, when Ed had bought that shirt he’d also had the foresight to buy every one the store had in Hank’s size. Three in all. Ed had given them to Hank one at a time, year after year.
As time passed, they both kept buying shirts for each other. Hank came to think of this shirt-buying as a challenge. He could rarely find a shirt that matched Ed’s so, instead, he tried to find the loudest possible shirt that Ed would actually wear. Ed, on the other hand, once those first three shirts had been doled out to Hank, always bought pretty plain shirts.
Hank knew this was mainly out of self-defense on Ed’s part. When Hank had gotten too carried away in his shirt selecting, Ed would quietly start wearing the shirt he’d bought for Hank and Hank would start wearing the one he’d bought for Ed. But Ed would always wear whatever outlandish shirt Hank had given him into town or out to dinner, at least once anyway.
Trouble was, as worn out as some of those shirts got, Hank couldn’t bear the thought of parting with even a single one. He knew Ed felt the same way. They never even joked about it. Just kept filling their sparse closet space with more shirts. Hank smiled thinking about somebody someday, hopefully a long way off in the future, finding all those shirts. Hank could almost hear the townsfolk whispering excitedly about the two crazy, shirt-hoarding, old queers. He suspected it would keep a fair number of people’s jaws flapping for a long, long time.
Hank would never have wanted to miss New Year’s Eve with Ed. But he suspected Ed was particularly anxious not to miss this particular New Year’s because Ed’s shirt was currently on the bottom and Hank thought maybe Ed didn’t want to miss a minute of it being on the top.
“Damn right. Jus’ wanna give ma shirt a chance ta breathe. Been suffocated by yers fer prit’ near a whole year now…”
“How long ya been standin’ there for?”
“Long ‘nough ta know we’re gonna become the town crazies after we’re dead. Sure we ain’t already?" Ed walked over to the couch and plopped down next to Hank.
"Prob'bly. Hey... maybe we should make sure Iris knows wha' ta do with all them shirts. After, ya know, we're both..."
"Ain't a bad idea. But... What is Iris s'posed ta do with all them shirts?"
"Dunno. Maybe cremate 'em with... you know...whoever goes last."
"Be a mighty big fire."
"Well... wha' would ya think... if'n we maybe paid someone ta make a quilt outta them? Could make sure Iris got the quilt after we're both gone. Don' 'xactly have much else ta give her."
"Think I like tha' idea. Could use it now fer us too. Be missin' some shirts 'n the end though. Tha' matter ta ya?"
"Nah. Hope it's missin' lots a shirts 'n the end. Think it'd be nice ta do it now. 'Cause a writin' our story 'n all."
"Think some a them shirts is too worn out?"
"Dunno. Betty does some a tha' quiltin'. Could ask her 'bout it. See if'n she'd do it."
"Sounds good ta me. Know Betty wouldn' flap her jaw 'bout it none."
"'Fraid s'gonna be a mighty crazy lookin' quilt."
Ed laughed, "Sure is. 'Course tha's gonna be entirely yer fault. 'Cause a yer love fer them gaudy shirts." Ed paused then, "Ain't puttin' the original two in tha' quilt though, righ'?"
"No way. They're stayin' in tha' closet. Maybe they can be cremated with the one tha's last ta go."
"Dunno. If'n I go first, kinda like the idea a goin' up in flames with yer shirt on ma back."
"Me too. But... wouldya like the idea a bein' left behind with only one shirt hangin' in tha' closet?"
"Nope. But I'm goin' first."
"No ya ain't."
"Sure I am. Gonna work ma self ta death tryin' ta do the labor a two men."
"All tha' exercise s'gonna keep ya healthy as a horse."
"Feel free ta join me anytime. Like ta keep you healthy as a horse too."
"Thanks. 'Preciate tha'. Guess we jus' need ta think on it fer a while. Talk 'bout it 'n decide later."
"Maybe we should flip fer it? Whoever wins gets ta decide."
"Don' think so. Don' know how ya always win, but ya do."
"Don' know what yer talkin' 'bout."
"Yeah. Right. 'N bet if'n I go first ya'll jus' go 'head 'n do whatcha want anyway."
"Think I jus' been insulted this time. I'll go by whatever we decide ta do. Together. Even if'n you go first. Which ya won't."
"Like ta get tha' on this tape recorder here. Mind repeatin' yerself?"
"Speakin' a tha' tape recorder. Idea was fer ya ta work ‘n jus’ take a break when ya thought a somethin’. Not lie on the couch all mornin’. Think this whole tape recordin’ idea may have backfired on me.”
“Jus’ givin’ it a trial run. Don’ wanna risk hurtin’ ma self first time usin’ it.”
“Mus’ be prit’ near done if’n yer up ta our New Year’s Eve shirt switchin’.”
“Not quite. Skipped over some. Some stuff tha’s real hard ta write ‘bout. Jus’ ain’t in the mood. Puttin’ up tha’ old tree made me think a all a this. So’s I ended up veerin’ off track some. I’ll get back ta it later.”
“Are ya s’posed ta do tha’?”
“Dunno. Prob’bly not.”
Ed snorted, “Sounded kinda funny. Listenin’ ta ya talk inta tha’ recorder like tha’. Talkin’ ‘bout yerself like yer someone else. Didn’ seem tha’ funny when I was jus’ readin’ it.”
“Harder ta write sayin’ ‘I’ all the time. Maybe this tape recorder thing ain’t such a good idea. If’n yer jus’ gonna make fun a me ‘n all.”
“Ed thinks it’s a good idea.”
“Know whatcher doin’.”
“Ed don’ know wha’ Hank’s talkin’ ‘bout. Ed ain’t doin’ nothin’”
“Shit…” Hank sighed loudly trying to hide his smile.
“Hank sounds annoyed. Ed thinks Hank might be irritated.”
“Hank would like Ed ta stop talkin’ like tha’.”
“Okay. Ed’ll stop talkin’ like tha’.”
“Ed says yer welcome.”
“Hank thought Ed said he were gonna stop.”
“Ed lied. Ed enjoys annoyin’ Hank.”
“Hank’ll let Ed drive ta town if’n Ed stops talkin’ like tha’.”
“Ed thinks he migh’ prefer the irritatin’ ta the drivin’.”
“Hank sat up then picked up a throw pillow and smothered Ed with it. Hank and both them old shirts lived happily ever after. The end.”
“Ain’t ‘the end’. Ed fought Hank off. Desperately tryin’ ta grab tha’ pillow from him.”
“Suddenly Hank found himself in a life ‘n death fight’ fer his life. Strugglin’ ta hold onta tha’ pillow.”
“Ed fought back real fierce-like. Finally gettin’ control a tha’ pillow.”
“Seein’ tha’ Ed were distracted by tha’ pillow, Hank seized the opportunity ta pin Ed down with the full weight of his body. Other things on his mind all a the sudden.”
“Ed could feel one a them ‘other things’ pressin’ ‘gainst him.”
“Hey, Ed? Hank?”
“Shit,” Ed whispered, “Bill’s in the kitchen.”
Ed yelled towards the kitchen, “Yeah. Jus’ a sec. Be right there Bill.” Ed tried to get up but Hank still had him pinned, “Shit. Get off a me Hank…Gotta go see wha’ Bill wants.”
“Shhh... Hank thinks maybe Bill’ll go ‘way.”
“Bill ain’t gonna go ‘way. Jus’ told him I’d be righ’ there.”
Hank reluctantly crawled off of Ed.
Bill’s voice came from the kitchen again, “Jus’ gonna leave ya some money on the table. Been thinkin’ on tha’ pie Hank mentioned. Thought maybe you could pick me up a pie too.”
Ed went into the kitchen, “No problem. Keep yer money though. Wha’ kind da ya want?”
“Apple. If’n they got it. Eat ‘bout anythin’ though. Thank’s Ed.” Bill walked out the door, screen door banging behind him.
Ed yelled back towards the living room, “Hey, Hank. Ed’s gettin’ hungry. ‘C’mon. ‘Bout time Hank ‘n Ed headed inta town fer lunch. Ed’s drivin’ though.”
Ed turned to find Bill standing at the door again, a confused look on his face. Ed turned that third shade of red and grinned, “Long story… Talkin’ like this is irritatin’ Hank, so’s I’m enjoyin’ it.”
Bill shook his head, “Nuff said… Jus’ came back ta ask ya…”
“Hank’s hungry too.” Hank’s voice drifted in from the living room, “Hungry fer Ed. Hank’s gonna start by nibblin’ on…”
“Hank!!” Ed’s face instantly jumped up to that tenth shade of red again, “Shit!”
Seconds later, Hank stuck his head into the kitchen, “Wha’…? Hank laughed, “Oh, Hey Bill. Thought ya left. We were jus’…”
“Uh… Think Bill would prefer it if’n Hank didn’ finish tha’ sentence.” Bill laughed as he backed out the door, “Think Bill will jus’ head outside now ‘n get some work done. Even if'n queer ain't catchin', Bill’s ‘fraid crazy migh’ be.”
Hank laughed, then walked over to Ed, threw his arms around him and whispered in his ear, “Shoulda let me finish. Was jus’ gonna say ‘Ed’s left ear’. Left ear’s always been ma favorite. 'Sides, should know by now I always start with the appetizers ‘fore tuckin’ in ta the main course.” To make his point, Hank started nibbling on Ed’s left ear.”
"Shit. Gotta start bein' more careful 'round here."
Hank stopped nibbling, "Why? Ya think maybe Bill heard too much? Think we're gonna have ta kill him now? 'N order ta keep him quiet?"
"Got ma self a better idea. Think I'll jus' do 'way with you, 'n then me 'n Bill'll live happily 'n quietly ever after."
"Hey! You started it. Both times. 'N 'sides, ya know damn well ya'd miss me somethin' fierce after I were gone."
"Nah. Wouldn' miss ya at all. Least-wise not much more'n I'd miss ma heart if'n it were cut outta me." Ed wrapped his arms around Hank and kissed him, long and slow, then Ed abruptly let him go, grabbing for Hank's arm, and pulling him out the door, “C’mon, dumbass. I’m hungry…”
"Well.. then I'm drivin'."
"What's me bein' hungry got ta do with you drivin'?"
"'S complicated... I'll 'xplain it ta ya while I drive ya ta town."