||[Sep. 5th, 2006|08:30 am]
|||||home sweet home||]|
|||||I cried all the way to the altar - Patsy Cline||]|
Ed and Hank
Part 8: Tuesday Night
Warning: All talk ‘n no play. And Ed’s still having a bad day. But unfortunately, not in a laugh-out-loud kinda way.
Pairing: Ed & Hank Rating: PG13 Length: Too long. Disclaimer: I know somewhere out there are a couple of guys named Ed and Hank who at some point in their lives met the amazing Ms. Proulx and told them their story. Well, at least Hank did. Jack and Ennis belong entirely to Ms. Proulx. Ed and Hank belong only to each other. Still makin' millions. Feedback: Much appreciated.
Part 1: http://myeyesaintblue.livejournal.com/456.html
Part 2: http://myeyesaintblue.livejournal.com/698.html
Part 3: http://myeyesaintblue.livejournal.com/897.html
Part 4: http://myeyesaintblue.livejournal.com/1101.html
Part 5: http://myeyesaintblue.livejournal.com/1339.html
Part 6: http://myeyesaintblue.livejournal.com/2024.html
Part 7: http://myeyesaintblue.livejournal.com/2157.html
Part 8: Tuesday Night
Hank poked his head inta the bedroom and saw Ed laid out on the bed, “Yer lookin’ like somethin’ the cat drug in. Can I put some more calamine lotion on yer mosquito bites ‘n yer rash?”
“Won’t get no argument from me. Thanks for pullin’ the rest a them pickers out a ma foot.”
“Least I could do. Ya mus’ be feelin’ pretty bad. Didn’ make no cat joke.”
“Nah, not too bad. Jus’ a little tired.” Ed smiled, “Which ya prefer, ‘Don’ got no cat’ or ‘Musta been a pretty big cat’?
“Too late. Did ya take some a tha’ antihistamine? Migh’ help with tha’ poison oak and maybe even with all them bites.”
“Nah. Don’ think I need it.”
“I’ll getcha some. Cain’t hurt.”
“Wouldn be so sure a tha’.”
“Here, take these.” Hank handed Ed a couple of tablets and some water and then started dabbing the lotion on Ed’s rash and bites. “How’s yer ass? Do ya need some a this calamine stuff on it?”
“Nah, don’ think so.”
“Darn. Let me know if ya change yer mind. Y’know,” Hank hesitated, “Ya never told me ‘bout wha happened tha’ day. After we came down from the mountain.”
“Now I get it. ‘Can I put some stuff on yer bites is Hank-speak for gonna make ya talk some more.”
“Aw, c’mon, won’t kill ya.”
“Might. Seem ta recall yer the one told me goin’ on tha’ picnic would make me feel better.”
“Okay, fair ‘nough. But it migh’ help take yer mind off a yer misery. Always wondered wha’ happened tha’ day.”
“Shit. Talk ‘bout misery. Tha’ was some day. Knew I had ta marry Nora. Weren’t no question ‘bout tha’ in ma mind. Never considered still tryin’ ta see ya. Thought I’d ferget ya ‘n fall ‘n love with her.” Ed smiled at Hank, “Didn’ quite work out tha’ way.”
Ed’s smile faded, “Hell. All happened so sudden-like. Didn’ even get ta look a’ ya one las’ time ‘fore Nora’s folks shoved m’ass in tha’ car. Even brought her uncle ta drive ma truck. Made damn sure I weren’t gonna get a chance ta make a run fer it. Not tha' I would have.”
Ed shook his head, “Tha’ was some ride. Shit. Wedding was jus’ a few days later. Was pretty much under house-arrest ‘til then. Don’ think there was ever a wedding with two such unhappy people.” Ed snorted, “Only consolation was I stank up their car somethin’ fierce tha’ day. ‘N ya can be sure tha’ stink lingered fer….”
“Two unhappy people?” Hank was staring wide-eyed at Ed.
Ed muttered “Shit” under his breath then hesitated and went on, “Guess never told ya. Didn’ see the point. Didn’ find out m’self ‘til years later, ‘round when we divorced. Turns out Nora fell hard fer some ranch hand from Montana almos’ righ’ after I left tha’ summer. Made it sound like it were as hard as I fell fer you. When he found out she were pregnan’ he high-tailed it outta there, never ta be heard from again.”
“After tha’ she told her folks ‘bout us real quick so’s they could corral me the minute I came down tha’ mountain. Guess she wanted ta make sure I weren’t gonna run out on her too. Think the only thing she were feelin’ on our weddin’ day was relief tha’ someone was marryin’ her.”
“So… Nora…. Iris….” Hank was trying ta sort out what this might mean, “Is Iris yours? Did Nora trap ya inta marryin’ her? How couldya keep this from me? Could we ha…?”
“Weren’t really like tha’. Nora was jus’ as broken as I were, in a diff’rent way. Eighteen, pregnant, scared outta her wits ‘n jus’ been abandoned by the boy she loved. ‘N don’ ferget, I slept with her too. Tha’ one time. Thought we were in love. Shit. We had no idea.”
Ed sighed, “Iris is prob’ly mine. Don’ know fer sure. Nora don’ know fer sure. Sure seems like she’s got a lot a me in her. After all tha’ time figured no reason ta go down tha’ road. Weren’t no way to find tha’ other guy anyway. Love Iris no matter wha’.
“But… Why didn’ ya jus’ tell me?”
‘Don’ really know. Guess life seemed complicated ‘nough fer you ‘n me a’ the time withou’ bringin’ all this up. Jus’ figured it wouldna changed anythin’ between us. Didn’ think a it like I were keepin’ this big dark soap opera secret from ya. Never really thought ‘bout it at all.”
Hank just sat there, staring at Ed, trying to take it all in. Then he finally managed to speak, “But… If you ‘n Nora had talked to each other sooner, realized how ya felt, we might ha’ been able ta get together years sooner… All them years… First not seein’ each other t’all. Then….” Hank was starting to get upset, “All tha’ didn’ ha’ ta be? We coulda…”
“Jus’ seemed like Nora ‘n I couldn’ hardly talk ‘bout nothin’ ‘til the divorce. Neither a us knew jus’ how miserable the other was. Think a lot a married folks never really talk. Hell, ‘jus’ lookit us Hank. Been together how many years, ‘n we even been real happy ‘n all, but we never talked ‘bout any a this stuff ‘til now. Prob’bly never woulda started at all if it hadn’ been fer all them stories.”
“Then there was Iris ta think ‘bout. Guess we was tryin’ ta stay together fer her. Jus’ wha’ ya were s’posed ta do. Divorce weren’t so common back then. Lotta shame in it. Had ‘nough a tha’ ta deal with already. Weren’t quite as bad tha’ way when we finally did get divorced.
Hank was still upset, but now not with Ed, “Them sure were stupid times. Everyone pretendin’ nobody was havin’ sex. Biggest ‘premature’ babies ya ever seen bein’ born left ‘n righ’. Girls disappearin’ fer a while then their aunt or cousin sudd’nly turnin’ up with an ‘adopted’ baby. Not ta mention wha’ people like us went through. Still go through.”
Hank was warming up to his rant now, “Small towns ain’t never wha’ they seem. Hell, scratch the surface a mos’ any a ‘em ‘n ya got… wha’s the name a tha’ movie tha’ caused such a commotion when we were kids… 'Peyton Place'…. Tha’s wha’ ya got. Still like tha’ in a lot a places.”
Ed laughed, “'Peyton Place'? Think yer age is showing, Rodeo. Agree with ya though.” Ed shook his head, “Ain’t no sense in keepin’ kids ignorant. Jus’ ends up ruinin’ lives. Sometimes I think the only thing Nora ‘n me managed ta do righ’ was raise Iris ta think fer herself. ‘N I know Nora made damn sure Iris knew everythin’ she needed ta know ‘bout sex before she needed ta know it.”
Ed was hesitant again, “’Nother thing Hank. Like I said the other day, I’m not so sure we woulda made it this far if’n we had gotten together right off. Knowin’ ‘n doin’ are two differen’ things. May ha’ known I loved ya. But tha’ didn’ mean I thought it was righ’. Was still a far cry from bein’ able to be with ya permanent-like. Still hated ma self fer bein’ tha way… I mean… For bein’ queer… For bein’ gay.
Ed glanced at Hank to see how he was taking all this before continuing, “I weren’t as bad as Ennis, not by a long shot. But weren’t no easy road fer me either. Still ain’t sometimes. Crawlin’ out from under all tha’ religion tha’ was beat inta me. Took me a while ta realize weren’t nothin’ Christian ‘bout hatin’ people. Don’ rightly know if I believe in God, but if’n I find m’self standin’ in front a Him someday I kinda doubt He’ll be carryin’ a tire iron.
‘N never saw no mutilated body like Ennis did. But didn’ ha’ ta see somethin’ like tha’ ta know wha’ could ‘n did happen ta guys like us out here. Or anywhere fer tha’ matter. Knew I’d never make it in a city. Mighta been a little easier. Maybe not. Need wide open spaces. Had ta make ma peace with bein’ who I am where I am. Took a long time.”
Hank moved closer to Ed, “Guess when it comes down to it, ’m jus’ mighty glad ya managed it at all Ed. Know how hard it was fer ya. Jus’ glad we’ve had all the years we’ve had.” Hank leaned over to give Ed a kiss…
“Oops, sorry Ed, forgot ‘bout yer lip.
“So,” Hank couldn’t stop himself, was like picking at a scab, he had to ask, had to know, “Wha’ ‘bout yer honeymoon nigh’? Weren’t ya worn out from tha’ week… y’know… our last week together?” Even after all these years, what Hank really meant but didn’t say was, ‘How could ya go from my arms straight into somebody else’s?”
“Lucky fer me, didn’ have no honeymoon night. Stayed with Nora’s parent’s fer a time after the weddin.’” Ed snorted, “Pretty damn miserable livin’ there. Was jus’ as well. Gave me ‘n Nora time ta get used ta each other. Took a while ta get set up on our own. Had ta find a job ‘n had ta find a place ta live. Then Iris arrived pretty quick. Ya know I was a lot luckier than Ennis. Findin’ steady work a’ tha’ feed co-op. Weren’t an easy life. But not as hard as Ennis ‘n Alma’s. Not by a long shot.”
“So when did you ‘n Nora first...?
“Ya jus’ain’t never gonna quit, are ya?”
“Prob’ly not anytime soon. Possibly quit a short time after I stop breathin’”
“Yeah, I’ll believe tha’ when I see it. More ‘n likely then you’ll jus’ be some kinda ghost yammerin’ away in ma head ‘til I cain’t stand it anymore ‘n saw ma own head off. Hey, ain’t there been a story ‘bout tha’?”
“Tha’ sounds more like one a them Stephen King stories.” Hank laughed, “C’mon Ed, now yer jus’ stallin’. Was it so great ya don’ wan’ ta tell me ‘bout it? Earth move ‘n all tha’?”
“Earth only moves with you, dumbass.” Ed thought for a minute, “Don’ even remember ‘xactly when it happened. Weren’t nothin’ memorable. Didn’ happen tha’ often. Hell. Bein’ with her jus’ made me miss ya more. She weren’t no substitute. No one woulda been. Know I had a lot more reason to be jealous than you ever…” Ed stopped talking too late and looked at Hank. Saw the hurt in his eyes.
“Sorry, Hank. I didn’ mean ta…”
“S’okay. I know ya didn’. I was the one brought up the subject after all.”
Ed, seeing that Hank was okay, went on, “Lookin’ back on it, feel bad fer Nora. Didn’ know she was hurtin’ like I was. ‘N at least I knew ya loved me back, specially later on, after ya started sendin’ me all them postcards. Nora didn’ even ha’ tha’ much.”
“Least we both had Iris. Feel guilty ‘cause I resented her at first. Had ta get married ‘cause a her, but knew it weren’t really her fault. ‘N it was only on account a Iris tha’ it weren’t all bad. Think Nora ‘n I poured all the love we couldn’ give ta each other inta tha little girl. Think Iris like ta ha’ drowned in it sometimes. She turned out real good though. Headstrong, independent ‘n not afraid a anythin’ or anyone. Real proud a her.”
“Ya both did righ’ by tha’ girl. Tha’s fer sure.”
“Only wish I coulda done right by you sooner. Ya waited fer me a long time.”
“Loved ya. Couldn’ do nothin’ else. Tried like hell ta stop lovin’ ya. Jus’ didn’ work.”
“Same here. Tried like hell.”
Hank grinned, “First had ta go cold turkey. Was kinda forced inta tha’. You runnin’ off ‘n gettin’ married ‘n all. When tha’ didn’ work tried shock therapy. After tha’, didn’ love ya any less, but seemed ta be able ta think a lot clearer fer a while. Then tried wha’ they call aversion therapy where every time I thought ‘bout ya I got a diff’rent kinda shock. Trouble is I kinda started likin’ them shocks after a while, so’s it jus’ made me think a ya more.”
Ed laughed, “You been readin’ ‘Reader’s Digest’ again?”
“Yep, real old one, at the dentist’s office. Made damn sure I threw it out when I left. Ya know tha’ aversion therapy’s how they used ta try ta “cure” gays. Fer real. Think some people migh’ still use it even though they ain’t s’posed to.”
“Ed…” Once again Hank just couldn’t stop himself, “if they really could make ya straight, with a pill or injection or somethin, wouldya do it?”
“This yer plan all along? Drug me up on antihistamines ‘n ask me stupid questions? Shit. Told ya. It jus’ ain’t right.”
“Not sayin’ it’s right. Know it ain’t right. Jus’ one a them hypothetical questions.”
“Think ya lost yer ever-lovin’ ‘hypo-thetical’ mind, Rodeo. Not really a surprise. Been expectin’ it fer some time.” Ed laughed, “Ya really think I’d toss ya aside after all these years jus’ so’s the preacher’s wife migh’ smile at me ‘n say ‘hello’?”
“O.K. See yer point. But wha’ ‘bout when we were younger? Righ’ after tha’ summer? Wha’ if they coulda changed ya then, made ya not want me tha’ way?”
“Shit. Hank… dontcha think at some point it’d be kinder jus’ ta shoot me ‘n put me outta ma misery? Ain’t I been through ‘nough today? Do ya jus’ not like me anymore?”
“Ya know I love ya, dumbass.”
“Shit. Think I’m gettin’ a headache now.” Ed rubbed his eyes, “I dunno Hank. Don’ rightly think they could invent a pill or shot tha’ woulda made me stop lovin’ ya…
“But what if they really coulda…?”
“What is this, Hank?” Ed was starting to get angry, “Ya want me ta say yes I woulda done it? Ya want me ta hurt ya tha’ way? Back then I mighta been dumb enough ta do it. And not jus’ ‘cause I was ashamed ta be queer. Which I sure as hell was. No, I woulda done it ‘cause I wanted ya so damn bad ‘n I couldn’ have ya. ‘Cause I loved ya so damn much ‘n I couldn’ be with ya. Ya don’ ha’ no idea how bad it was. Thought I’d never see ya again. Hell. Didn’ know anythin’ could hurt tha’ much ‘n not actually kill me. So yes, I mighta done it jus’ ta try ‘n make the pain go away...”
“‘N back then I mighta done it ‘cause, even with everythin’ I’d seen growin’ up, I still mighta been too young ‘n too dumb ta realize tha’ bein’ straight weren’t no magic ticket ta happiness. Mighta thought it woulda been the answer ta all ma problems. Shit. If nothin’ else it certainly woulda made life a lot easier. Maybe thought jus’ bein’ straight woulda made me fall in love with Nora ‘n we woulda lived happily ever after. But it jus’ don’ work tha’ way.”
‘’Nother thing. Damn few people in this world, gay or straight, ever get wha’ we had tha’ summer. Don’ think any pill or shot or therapy coulda made me forget ‘bout tha’ or stop lovin’ ya. Ta do tha’ they woulda had ta rip out ma heart, tear out ma soul ‘n lobotomize me ta boot. ‘N ‘prob’ly still wouldna worked. Hell, tha’s wha’d it already felt like been done ta me.”
“Ed… Ed….” Hank moved to take Ed in his arms, but Ed pushed him away.
“Dammit Hank. Is tha’ ‘nough fer ya now? Or ya wanna poke me in the eye too? Or maybe ya wanna ask me wha’ it was like growin’ up in tha’ house? Or how it felt ta leave ma little girl ‘fore she was all grown up? Shit. Maybe we can go lookin’ fer ma folks. Ain’t seen ‘em since tha’ day I left. Fer all I know they’re still alive. Maybe ya could bring a goddamn video camera so ya don’ miss one fun-filled minute. Or would ya prefer hearin’ wha’ it was like livin’ with ma sister. Fryin’ pan inta the fire fer tha’ poor girl. Kind enough ta take me in, but unlucky enough ta marry a man tha’…”
“I’m sorry, Ed. I didn’ mean ta…”
“Kinda think ya did mean ta.”
“Guess I deserve tha’. Know it looks tha’ way but s’not true. Was jus’ kiddin’ ‘round ‘bout tha’ stuff at first. Shoulda known better. Ain’t really a good topic fer kiddin’. Then really wanted ta know, even though I knew I migh’ not want ta hear the answer.”
Hank hesitated, “N cain’t say ‘m not glad I asked it. Was always so wrapped up in how bad I felt durin’ them years. ‘N you were always so damn stoic. Knew ya loved me. Knew ya missed me. Jus’ never knew how much. Now think I got some idea.”
“Glad ma pain ‘n sufferin’ pleases ya.”
“Not what I meant ‘n ya know it. I’d never make light a whatcha been through. Jus’ think there’s a lot we don’ know ‘bout what we each went through.” Hank moved cautiously back towards Ed, stretching out beside him, wrapping his arm around him, throwing his leg across him.
Ed sighed and shifted so he could put both arms around Hank and pulled him close, “Don’ know if we need ta know everythin’, Hank. Let’s jus’ start over, okay? Truth is, was almos’ happy as a clam withou’ ya. Barely even knew ya were gone. Hardly missed ya at all.”
“Yes ya did. Heard ya say it. Cain’t take it back.”
“Was exaggeratin’. Jus’ tryin’ ta make yer story more dramatic. Punch it up a little.”
“Appreciate it. Though think I’m gonna have more trouble keepin’ it funny.” Hank thought for a minute, “Dunno Ed. Maybe I should stop dredgin’ up the past. Tough on you. Tough on me. Don’ rightly know if….”
“Can we maybe jus’ shut up now Hank?” Ed reached for Hank and shut him up the best way he knew how.
Hank pulled away when he could, “Ed, yer lip… tha’s gotta hurt…”
“Don’ matter… hurts so good. C’mon back here. Hard day. Hard night. Need ta stop talkin’. Need ta stop thinkin’. Jus’ need ta make ya moan.”
-------A little while later------
“Hank… don’ stop…”
“Kinda thought ya’d wanna know right away. Found a wood tick on ya.”
“Shit! Hate them things… Where…?”
“Don’ worry. Ain’t on anythin’ vital. Not even close. I’ll go get the tweezers.”
“Shit. Ain’t even tick season. Wood tick on ma ass funny ‘nough fer yer story?”
“Ain’t on yer ass. Said it weren’t on anythin’ vital. ‘N wood ticks ain’t funny. Jus’ kinda gross.”
“Wha’ if I decide ta jus' never get outta bed again? Tha’ funny?”
“Nah. Migh’ be funny at first. Then jus’ gets sad ‘n pathetic ‘n kinda scary. Like Howard Hughes. Only without all tha’ money.”
“Then think I’m all outta funny. Sorry, Rodeo.”
“S’okay, Cowboy. Think the people readin’ this’ll undestand ya had a real bad day.”