|||||Stand by your man...||]|
Ed and Hank, 1st Update, the day before yesterday
Stand by your man…
Note: Hank really did not think he’d be posting something again this quickly, but, as it turns out, Ed did something much sooner than expected… (The next update most likely will be at least three to four weeks from now. Hank's hoping Ed might do something else by then.)
Disclaimer: Hank told Annie Proulx their story. Jack and Ennis belong entirely to Annie Proulx. Ed and Hank belong only to each other. $$: Nope. Comments: Always appreciated.
Everything else is here:
1st Update, Stand by your man…
“Ed! Ed! Where the hell are ya?!?”
“In here! Wha’ the hell's wrong?”
“Quick… ya gotta come upstairs with me.”
“Jeez… don’ a fella deserve some sweet talk first?”
“Don’ mean fer tha’. We gotta both go put on our fish shirts… C’mon.”
“Bill showed up ta day wearin’ a fish shirt jus’ like ours. I jus’ now caught a glimpse a it when he switched inta a lighter jacket. He’s comin’ in fer a break in a few minutes ‘n I thought it’d be righ’ funny if’n we were both waitin’ fer him in the kitchen wearin’ ours.”
“Ya heard me. C’mon, yer movin’ too slow.”
“Where the hell did Bill get a fish shirt jus’ like ours?”
“How the hell should I know. He didn’ say nothin’ ‘n I weren’t ‘bout ta ask. Tried not ta let on tha’ I saw it at all.”
“So who wins the bet? Where’d we even put them pieces a paper?”
“They’re in tha’ thing on top a the dresser. But no one wins ‘lessen Bill actually says somethin’.”
“I think him showin’ up in the same shirt purty much adds up ta him sayin’ somethin’.”
“We’ll argue ‘bout tha’ later. Where’s yer shirt? Don’ see it in the closet.”
“Shit. Jus’ remembered… ma shirts dirty. Cain’t wear it.”
“Ya only wore it ta town las’ Saturday, didn’ ya? Cain’t be so dirty tha’ ya cain’t put it on fer a l’il while.”
“’S in the hamper with all them other dirty clothes. Ain’t gonna put tha’ on.”
“Fine, Ed. Here… you put mine on ‘n I’ll wear tha’ one. This is too good a joke ta pass up ‘cause a shirt’s a l’il dirty.”
“Quick… it’ll be funnier if’n we’re jus’ settin’ ‘n the kitchen when he comes in.”
“Hey, Bill. Ya wan’ some coffee?”
“Sure, Ed. Thanks.”
“Take yer coat off… Make yer self comfortable.” Hank had to turn away to hide his grin and suspected Bill and Ed were doing the same thing.
“Thanks Hank, don’ mind if’n I do.”
“How ‘bout a piece a pie?”
“Sounds good, Ed.”
Hank knew whoever laughed first was the loser in this particular game. He figured the key to not laughing was avoiding eye contact, so he stared intently down at his cup of coffee as he spoke, “Hey Bill... you goin’ out with Betty again this weekend?”
“Prob’bly. Guess we're ta tha' point where we sorta got ourselves a standin’ date.”
“Sounds like you ‘n Betty are turnin’ inta our very own version a Andy ‘n Helen on tha’ ol’ Mayberry show. Or maybe tha’d be more like Barney ‘n Thelma Lou, huh?”
“Yeah...? Guess tha’d make you ‘n Ed ‘Howard ‘n Goober’…”
“Don’ wanna be Goober.”
Hank risked a quick glance at Ed, who, after setting a slice of pie down in front of Bill, was concentrating intently on a seemingly very interesting spot on the fridge. “S’okay, Ed. I’ll be Goober ‘n you can be Howard.”
“Don’ wanna be Howard neither…”
“Who ya wanna be then?”
“Ya cain’t, dumbass… Tha’s an entirely dif'rent TV show…”
Knock, knock, knock…
“You ‘expectin’ anyone, Ed?”
Hank hit his forehead with the palm of his hand, “Shit. I forgot... called them neighbors yesterday ‘bout tha’ replacement light-up plastic lamb Iris finally found fer ‘em on one a them online auction sites. I were gonna drop it off but they said they’d stop by some time ta day ta pick it up.”
“Shit… Hank…we’re all… lookit us…”
“I’ll get the door… You ‘n Bill can stay in the kitchen.”
“Won’ work… ain’t polite not ta ask people in fer coffee. Shit. Some guard dogs them are… shoulda least-wise barked when they pulled up so’s we woulda known…”
“Maybe they won’ stay… Or you two could jus’ take off out the back door… I dunno… Jeez… is it tha’ big a deal, Ed? If’n they’re city folks they’ll jus’ think we got a ranch uniform or somethin’…” As Hank went to the front door he guessed he couldn’t blame Ed for feeling kind of embarrassed, but thought it’d sure be nice if he’d loosen up just a little around other folks sometimes. Sure could manage it well enough when they were alone.
Hank opened the door then stepped back a little at the force of the greeting, “Hi neighbor! I’m Bob! And this here little lady is my wife, Pat!
Hank started to put out his hand, “Good ta meet you folks ‘m…”
Hank turned his head in surprise as Ed stepped up beside him throwing one arm around Hank’s shoulders, interrupting him, “Pleased ta meet ya… ‘m Ed… 'n if’n the law would allow… this here would be m' husband, Hank.”
Stunned, Hank stared at Ed as if he had just turned into a 6’2” tall talking goat. He then turned back to look at Bob and Pat. Bob’s reaction was fairly dull, a sudden blank stare taking over the formerly friendly expression as he lowered his hand, part way raised to shake Hank’s, slowly back to his side. Pat’s reaction was a little more interesting. The flush crept up her cheeks while the disgust traveled down her face, from the creased forehead and the knitted brows to the narrowed eyes and then to her mouth, flattening out into a tight, thin line of contempt.
Everyone stood stock still as an uncomfortable silence grew around them. Hank opened his mouth to speak, but nothing came out. He looked towards Ed who obviously wasn’t going to be any help either. Finally, Bill, who must have been watching the scene unfold from the kitchen doorway, strode purposely towards them, “Howdy, pleased ta meet you folks.”
Ed started slightly then spoke again, “Oh… ‘n this would be our ran… uh… our friend, Bill.”
Bill put his hand out, where it stayed for a considerable length of time, until Bob finally realized Bill wasn’t going to pull it back until it was shaken. Bob briefly shook Bill’s hand, wiping his own hand on his coat, perhaps unconsciously, right after he did so.
Hank somehow managed to recover enough to speak, switching into some kind of polite-host-autopilot mode, “I’ll get tha’ light-up lamb fer ya. Uh… Would ya… uh… like ta stay fer some coffee?”
“… uh… no… no thanks… We best just take our lamb and be on our way.”
“It’s jus’ righ’ in here.” Hank opened the closet and picked up the box containing the lamb.
As Hank turned back to face Bob and Pat, he noticed that Bill was standing beside Ed now, with one hand resting, perhaps slightly protectively, on Ed’s shoulder.
Bill broke the silence again, “So… uh… how you folks likin’ the neighborhood?”
“…uh… Fine… uh… Just… just fine.”
Ed found his voice again, “Yeah… Real nice area. Me ‘n Hank ha’ been livin’ out here nigh-onta thirty years. Hank a lot longer ‘n tha’. Kinda sad ta see it changin’ though. Sure wish we could keep it jus’ the way it were.”
Bill smiled at Ed, “Yeah… ‘fore ya know it lotta the wrong kinda folks are gonna be movin’ in.”
Hank handed the lamb to Bob, “Nice meetin’ you folks. You be sure ta stop by again when ya got more time ta stay ‘n visit.” Hank had now concluded he was dreaming and was just biding his time waiting to wake up.
Once the door was closed behind Bob and Pat, Bill and Ed sank to the floor, laughing helplessly. Hank stood by the door looking at Ed with unbelieving eyes. Deciding that maybe this wasn't a dream after all, he opened his mouth to speak, but once again nothing came out.
Bill was the first to recover, “Damn Ed… Swear… I did not know ya had tha' in ya.”
Once Ed had managed to stop laughing he looked as stunned as Hank still felt, “Hell… Didn’ know I had tha’ in me neither. Thanks fer steppin’ up like tha’, Bill… but ‘m ‘fraid ya mighta been outed by association. ‘Specially after puttin’ yer hand on my shoulder like tha’.”
Bill grinned at Ed, “Don’ bother me none. Hey, yer ears burnin’, Ed? My ears are burnin’ up. Think maybe they migh’ be talkin’ ‘bout us…”
“Oh, ya think, huh?”
“Can hear it now… ‘Ma hand, Pat… One of ‘em touched ma hand!’ ‘Hold on Bob… hold on... ‘m lookin’ fer the disinfectant wipes… Don’ go nowheres withou’ ‘em…’ ‘Ain’t no use, Pat… Think ‘m havin’ me some powerful homosexual urges already. Tha’ one fella were kinda cute, dontcha think?"
“’N jus’ which one a us d’ya think Bob would be referrin’ ta?”
“Me a course. Cain’t say as I didn’ feel some kinda electrical shock when our hands touched. Saw it in his eyes too. Think maybe I’ll be sendin’ tha’ man some flowers…”
“Promise ta give me ‘n Hank a l’il notice if’n the two a you decide ta run off?”
“Sure will, Ed.”
“Gotta admit I almos’ lost it when ya said tha’ part ‘bout the wrong kinda folks movin’ in… Shit…”
“’N didja see ‘em eyein’ our shirts?” Bill started laughing again. "Their eyes was goin' from yers ta mine ta Hank's 'n righ' back again."
“Can jus’ ‘magine how long tha’s gonna keep folks talkin’… Wha's tha' old sayin'...? Somethin' like, 'ain't much ta see in a small town but whatcha hear more 'n makes up fer it.'”
“Yeah... Sure like ta hear tha’ story when the grapevine gets done with it. Prob’bly have us in the middle of a orgy… part a some kinda well-dressed, devil-worshippin’, trout-sacrificin’ queer cult.”
“I’m bettin’ there’ll be a whole group a angry villagers with pitchforks ‘n torches congregatin’ outside the house by evenin’.” Ed suddenly looked a little green around the gills, as if maybe he was only half-kidding.
“Always wondered why them angry villagers never got ta gether in the daytime.”
Ed snorted, “Workin’ folks… jus’ like us. Got too much else ta do durin’ the day. All tha’ angry mob stuff’s gotta wait fer after hours. ‘N then only if’n there ain’t nothin’ good on TV.”
“Guess tha’ makes sense."
“Jus’ where the hell did ya get tha’ fish shirt, Bill?”
“Borrowed it from my brother-in-law. Turns out my sister got one fer him fer Christmas. Since I weren’t there fer Christmas ‘n I don’ see ‘em all tha’ often, I never knew ‘bout it ‘til I saw him wearin’ tha’ a couple a weeks ago. Tell ya… nearly dropped my teeth when I saw it. Benefits a livin’ in a small town I reckon… ain’t but one or two places ta shop. Man thought I were crazy fer wantin’ ta borrow it. Didn’ tell him why. Least-wise he lent me the shirt jus’ the same.”
“So when’d ya notice our shirts?”
“Figured it out pretty durn quick. Seein’ as you two ain’t never worn the same shirts ‘fore. Always thought tha’ were the righ’ peculiar thing.”
“Did at first. Well not right at first. But after a while. ‘N then I had ta put a stop ta it ‘cause Hank were always spillin’ stuff on ma fav’rite shirts. Or cuttin’ his self ‘n bleedin’ all over ‘em or rippin’ ‘em or whatnot.”
“‘Course didn’ say nothin’ when I did notice… had ta take me some time ta think on jus’ wha’ ta do ‘bout it. Sure glad I waited.”
“Figured ya’d wait on it a while. Hank ‘n me had a bet goin’ on jus’ how long.”
Bill laughed, “Figures ya did. So who won?”
“Dunno... D’you know Hank?”
Hank finally spoke, ignoring Ed’s question, “'Husband'…? Wha’…? Why…? Ya never even… Thought ya didn’ like tha’ word?”
“Don’t. Jus’ all a the sudden occurred ta me tha’ it were the quickest way ta figure out if’n them folks were friends or foes.”
“Wouldna been more s’prised if’n ya’d a stuck yer tongue down ma throat righ’ in front a ‘em.”
“Thought ‘bout it. Decided I‘d rather try out tha’ ‘husband’ thing first... see if’n it fits.”
“’N did it fit?”
“Nah… l’il tight ‘round the shoulders… 'N jus’ don’ think it suits me. Or you. Kinda a stupid-soundin’ word.”
“‘Course ya know, Ed, maybe if’n more a us queer folks jus’ started usin’ them straight folk’s stupid-soundin’ words they migh’ get ‘round ta givin’ us the rights ta go with ‘em a l’il faster.”
“I dunno… Think maybe them straight folks should jus’ come up with better-soundin’ words. Think I’ll stick ta ‘pardner’...”
“Stick ta, huh? Don’ never recall ya sayin’ ‘This here’s my pardner Hank’ ta no one neither.”
"I were thinkin’ a sayin’ ‘pardner’, but thought I’d jus’ jump righ’ in with both feet. ‘Sides… situation jus’ seemed ta call fer somethin’ tha’ wouldn’ leave no doubt.”
“It did, huh?”
“Yep. Figured I had a 14% chance a gettin’ a sincere smile ‘n a handshake, a 24% chance a gettin’ ‘n insincere smile ‘n a handshake, a 12% chance a gettin’ a punch in the nose ‘n a 44% chance a gettin’ wha’ happened. Anythin’ but the first one ‘n I knew I’d be free ‘n clear a ever havin’ ta chitchat with them folks.”
“Wait a minute… Think tha’ only figures out ta… uh… lemme see… 38… 50… 94% all ta gether… Wha’ ‘bout the other 6%?”
“Guess tha’d be a 6% chance tha’ somethin’ completely unexpected would happen.”
“How the hell would I know… tha’d be the unexpected part a it, dumbass.”
“So… yer tellin’ me ya only did it ta avoid havin’ ta chat with them folks?”
“Liar. If’n ya wanted ta avoid chattin' with 'em ya jus’ coulda headed out the back door 'n been done with it.”
“Already felt bad tha’ I made ya go over ta their house by yer self tha first time... even though they ended up not bein' home... Couldn’ very well force ya ta chat with ‘em by yer self too.”
Bill laughed, “Purty sorry fate tha’ woulda been… Well… I’d better be gettin’ back ta work… Though cain’t say as it ain’t been the most fun I’ve had in a long while… Help me up, Hank…”
“Wouldn’ let Betty hear ya say tha’…” Hank first pulled Bill to his feet and then helped Ed up.
“Lemme tell ya… tha’ woman’s got a real good sense a humor… Ya mind if’n I tell her ‘bout all this? Know she won’t go tellin’ no one else.”
“Okay by me. Tha’ okay with you, Ed?”
“Figure it’s a l’il too late fer me ta worry ‘bout it gettin’ round. 'N maybe ya better tell yer brother-in-law too, 'fore he hears tha' grapevine version.”
Hank laughed, “Bet Betty won’ even believe it. What’re the odds we’d all be dressed up like some dumbass triplets the same day them neighbors come ta the door ‘n tha’ jus’ happens ta be the same day Ed decides ta officially out all a us, queer or not, ta perfect strangers fer the first time? Gotta be like a gazillion ta one.”
“Nah… Betty’ll believe it alrigh’… Won’t s’pose we could make up no story like tha’.”
“I’ll join ya in a while Bill..." Hank glanced at Ed, "Got some stuff ta take care a first.”
“I’ll see ya when I see ya...” Bill turned and headed back towards the kitchen to get his jacket.
And then Hank was on Ed, pressing him up against the wall, kissing him thoroughly.
“Thanks, Ed… Sure meant a lot ta me. ‘N jus’ when I think ya cain’t s’prise me no more, ya do…”
“Tell ya the truth… Cain’t hardly believe I did tha’… Damned if’n I know wha’ got inta me… ‘n gotta tell ya… it were righ’ scary… but it sure felt good. Real good.”
“Bet ya made Bill feel real good too… Heard ya start ta call him our ‘ranch hand’… glad ya changed it ta ‘friend’. Even though ‘m a little jealous ‘cause I think I mighta saw you two havin’ a moment.”
“Man is a friend. Best kinda friend. Was real glad he stepped in… after I said tha’… I didn’ know wha’ ta do. Jus’ felt like runnin’ ‘til he put his hand on ma shoulder... If'n tha's the 'moment' yer referrin' ta. 'N as ya migh' recall… you weren’t ‘xactly bein’ a whole lotta help at the time...”
“Kinda caught me jus’ a l’il off-guard there, Ed…”
Ed laughed, “Guess I did at tha’. Ya shoulda seen yer face… were funnier than Pat’s.”
"Yers were purty durn funny-lookin' too."
"Don' doubt it."
“Damn… Cain’t wait ta see wha’ yer gonna do next…”
“Jeez, Hank… no matter wha’… It jus’ ain’t never gonna be ‘nough fer ya, is it?”
“Nope. Ain’t never gonna be ‘nough… Least-wise not ‘til you ‘n me and Goober ‘n Howard and Aunt Bea ‘n Clara can get hitched proper-like ‘n go out dancin’ with Bill ‘n Betty and Andy ‘n Helen and Barney ‘n Thelma Lou on Saturday night... Hell… wouldn’ even mind if’n Bob ‘n Pat came ‘long…”
“Didn’ let me finish, dumbass… was gonna add… But when it comes righ’ down ta it...as far as yer concerned… it were more ‘n ‘nough tha’ ya moved in here with me permanent-like. Anythin’ else since then’s jus’ been gravy. ‘N there’s been a whole helluva lot more gravy ‘n I ever ‘xpected.” Hank pressed Ed to the wall again as he whispered in his ear, “Now… ‘xactly how much sweet talkin’ da ya think it’ll take fer me ta get ya up them stairs righ’ now?”
“Think ya know damn well ya had me at ‘gravy’, dumbass…”
Hank pulled back and looked at Ed suspiciously, “You been readin’ the comments fer our story?”
“Somebody used tha’ phrase… ‘Ya had me at…’ Now they’re jus’ gonna think I stole it from ‘em.”
“How the hell could I steal it if’n yer the one tha’ jus’ said it?”
“See yer point. Wouldn’ worry ‘bout it then.”
Them folks been awful nice ta me… ta all a us… so’s maybe you should jus’ say somethin’ dif’rent anyways.”
“Forgot the question.”
“Lemme put it a l’il plainer… Hey, Ed… Ya wanna go upstairs ‘n fool ‘round some?”
“Nope?! Thought ya jus’ said…”
“Think I wanna go upstairs ‘n find them pieces a paper ‘n see who won the bet. After tha’ I’ll decide if’n ‘m still in the mood fer foolin’ ‘round.”
“Guess tha’ means tha’ I got ‘bout a 50% chance a gettin’ any.”
“More ‘n willin’ ta take ma chances with them odds… C’mon, Ed.”
Ed lost the bet.
Hank got some anyway.
A mob of angry villagers did not appear that night, although Ed figures they were all just home watching TV and will show up the next time there’s mostly re-runs on.
Ed took Edthedog and Hankthedog aside to describe what an angry mob might look like and suggested that they might consider barking if they see one approaching.
And everybody is still living happily, if generally somewhat uneventfully, ever after.
Of course, Hank cannot speak for Bob and Pat where ‘happily-ever-after’ is concerned. But since, according to Wendell Phillips, “the Puritan's idea of hell is a place where everybody has to mind his own business”… he would be willing to bet that they are currently residing in hog heaven.
is on the left...
Some of the folks residin' in Mayberry,
for those possibly not familiar with the town:
Helen and Andy and Barney and Thelma Lou
Goober and Howard
Aunt Bea and Clara Edwards
sure hopes he 'n Ed,
'n everyone else who wants to,
can tie the knot legal-like everywhere real soon
"You know what they say about a man who keeps puttin' off gettin' married?
They say he starts gettin' irritable."
- Barney Fife