||[Sep. 7th, 2006|11:26 pm]
|||||home sweet home||]|
|||||I'm so lonesome I could cry - Hank Williams, Sr.||]|
Ed and Hank
Part 9: Wednesday Morning
"Having a terrible time. Wish you were here."
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. Losing money now. 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: http://myeyesaintblue.livejournal.com/2471.html
Part 9: http://myeyesaintblue.livejournal.com/3719.html
Part 1: http://myeyesaintblue.livejournal.com/3394.html
Hank couldn’t bear to watch that car drive away. Taking Ed away. Never had the words to describe that day or the days and years that followed. That is until many years later after Hank and Ed were finally together and Ed’s daughter Iris brought them a cd player and a few cds. After dinner Iris put in a Bonnie Raitt cd. When the song 'Love me Like a Man' started playing Ed and Hank grinned at each other like they were teenagers again. Iris just laughed and rolled her eyes at them. But later, when the song '(Goin’) Wild for You Baby' came on it stopped Hank dead in his tracks then yanked him back to those pain-filled years. Iris hadn’t noticed anything. But Ed had.
“Struck by the moon, risin’ too soon, I feel a pain deep inside me. Cold northern wind a fist in ma chin, makin' me wild for ya baby. What can I do to get back to you? I'm feelin' desperate and lonely. The city's a river of cold misery. Makin' me wild for ya baby.”
”I'm down on ma knees, hear me cry for ya baby. Cold misery. I would die for ya baby..."
Ed looked at Hank, holding his gaze for a moment until Hank looked away. Those memories must have been written plain as day across Hank's face. Ed jumped up and went over to the cd player fumbling with the buttons until, after turning it up, then back down, he finally managed, somehow, to turn it to the next song. When Iris got up to help, Ed said that maybe they should just turn it off and watch some TV, thought there might be a show on he wanted to see.
Hank smiled to himself at the thought of Ed rushing in to battle a scary piece of electronic equipment in order to keep it from hurting Hank any further. Hank looked past the computer screen and out the window towards the distant mountains, almost obscured by the dark clouds draped across them, then he smiled again as he looked down and saw Ed walking towards the barn. Pretty as those mountains were, Hank enjoyed having Ed in his line of sight a whole helluva lot more. Damn. He loved that man. Made every miserable minute of those years worth it.
Hank spent the first couple of years after that summer at his folks place, following the rodeo circuit or aimlessly traveling around the Plains states, the West and the Southwest, picking up odd jobs where he could. He did spend a fair amount of time in Texas, but there was no Lureen, no Bobby and, luckily, no J.D.
To Hank every place he went looked just like the last place he’d been. Lonely. He never noticed when mountains changed to plains, changed to desert, changed to forests. Barely noticed when cold turned to hot turned to dry turned to wet. Just knew he was somewhere else where Ed wasn’t.
Hank was much luckier than Jack in many ways. His father wasn’t mean. Just real quiet. Man of few words and all that. Most likely loved Hank, just never seemed to know quite what to make of him. His mother was warmer and more open than his father, but still had plenty of that reserve that came from a long, hard life on the plains. Hank came along somewhat late in their life. Probably thought they couldn’t have children by then and surprise, there he was.
Hank helped out as much as he could on the ranch. His folks were getting older and they appreciated whatever time he spent there. But it was hard for him to stay there for too long at a stretch. The past caught up fast whenever he slowed down. Of course it wasn’t like thoughts of Ed weren’t doggin’ his heels no matter how far or fast he went.
There were a few women. But Hank gave up on that pretty quick. And, yes, there were other men. More than a few, but a lot less than some people might think. And sure times were different then, but people weren't. And people who need each other always seem to have a way of finding each other. There were even those who wanted more from Hank than he was able to give. And it wasn’t that Hank didn’t try. He did. Like Ed had said, wasn't all bad. Just most of it. Hank wanted more than anything to forget Ed. To find someone else. To love someone else. But it never happened. No one would ever be Ed. And Ed was all he wanted.
Hank looked out the window again just in time to see Ed walking from the barn to the shed. Hank watched as Ed stopped midway and took out his pocket watch, checking the time then turning it over to read the inscription. Ed breathed on the watch then rubbed it against his shirt, tucked it back into his pocket then patted his pocket as he walked off towards the barn. Hank’s heart skipped a beat as he watched him.
Took Hank a long time to realize just what a soft center Ed had. The man didn’t demonstrate it in real obvious ways. Had no use for birthdays, anniversaries or holidays of any sort. Except where Iris was concerned. It was the little things you had to notice. Like what Hank had just witnessed with the pocket watch. And fighting with that cd player for him. Rubbing Hank’s feet when they ached. And when they didn’t. Always making sure they had Hank’s favorite candy bars on hand. And the way he took particular care of that now ancient first truck they had bought together, refusing to part with it for any reason. Hank enjoyed teasing Ed about it, never once letting on that he knew the real reason Ed wouldn’t get rid of it. Course Hank would never part with it either.
And then there was the coffee table. Old trunk they found somewhere, figured they could use it for storage and as a coffee table. Few months later Hank brought home a nice piece of glass he’d found at an auction. Thought it might fit that trunk pretty good. And it did. Fit almost perfect, with just a few inches hanging over on every side. Hank smiled, thinking of Ed’s reaction at the time.
“Don’ fit right.”
“Sure as hell does fit.”
“Hangs over. Can see it with ma own eyes.”
“S’okay if it hangs over. Only be bad if it were too small.”
“Jus’ don’ look righ’ fer some reason. Like its jus’ lookin’ fer a knee ta bruise. Mos’ likely one a mine.”
“Well, let’s jus’ leave it be fer a few days ‘n if it attacks ya I’ll get rid a it.”
They left it at that until the next day when Hank walked into the living room to find Ed setting the glass back down over the trunk.
Ed looked up at Hank and smiled, “There. Tha’ looks better, don’ it?”
Hank looked to see what Ed was talking about, then smiled and laughed when he saw that Ed had picked out a mess of his favorite postcards from the dozens Hank had sent him over the years and arranged them across the trunk, placing the glass back over them to protect them and keep them in place.
“Looks real nice Ed. But ain’t ya worried someone will come over ‘n see 'em all? Ask what they are?”
“Guess we’ll jus’ ha’ ta tell ‘em they’re old postcards, dumbass.” Ed grinned, “No one’ll know wha’ they mean ‘sides us.”
Hank’s smile faded as his thoughts traveled from that day back to the day he had sent Ed that first postcard. He still remembered that day clearly. Sometimes it seemed like the older he got the sharper those earlier memories seemed. Perk or a curse? He couldn’t decide. Was leaning towards curse.
The time Hank spent in Wyoming was the hardest of all. Knowing that Ed was just an hour, or two or three away. And it was in Wyoming where Hank found himself exactly a year after they had come down from that mountain. Not hours away from where he thought Ed and Nora must have settled, but twenty minutes away. Next town down the line. Shit.
Unlike Ed, Hank remembered dates. Pretty easy to remember that date considering it was the one year anniversary of the day his life had ended and all. Time had failed to do its duty and Hank’s wounds seemed even deeper now than they had been before. Hank broke down bad that day. Drank a whole lot. Started wondering if he had just imagined the meaning of that shirt swap. Maybe Ed really did just love that particular shirt a lot. Maybe he had forgotten all about Hank. Maybe he loved Nora now. Shit.
Hank stumbled into the five-and-dime and lurched over to the counter. Yes, way back then they served food too. He ordered a cup of coffee then turned his head and noticed a stack of phone books next to the pay phone. Right on top was one from that town just down the line. Looked fairly new. Would it be in there? Then there it was. Right in front of him. Ed’s address and Ed’s phone number. Just like any other responsible family man with a baby. Shit.
Next thing Hank knew he found himself hanging onto that pay phone, dropping coins in the slot. Determined to call Ed… and what? Ask him if he was happy? Ask him if he still loved that shirt? Hank didn’t know. All he knew was that he couldn’t go on like this. It was stupid. If Ed was happy Hank just had to find a way to move on and live his life. He had to find out once and for all. Besides, Hank was starting to forget what Ed’s voice sounded like. Needed desperately to hear it.
And then the line was ringing….
“Hello? Hello? Anybody there….......................... “
It was Ed. Hank froze. He couldn’t speak. It was like the current between them traveled clear through that phone line and zapped Hank senseless. All he could do was hold on to that receiver for dear life as the silent seconds ticked by.
And then a hoarse whisper, Ed’s voice catching, “Hank……Tha’ you?” All the lonesomeness of the past year plain in his voice.
Hank opened his mouth, tried to say something, then he heard a woman’s voice, “Ed, ‘m ‘xpectin’ a call from mama. Tha’ her?” And then a baby crying in the background and a click and the dial tone.
For the second time in his short life one whispered word changed everything for Hank. And it was the same word. His name. He hung up that phone knowing that Ed still thought about him. That Ed still loved him. Maybe even that Ed remembered what day this was.
But then again, what did it change? In the end it didn’t really matter, did it? Ed had a wife. Ed had a baby. Wasn’t like he’d pick up and leave them and ride off into the sunset with Hank. Not even on separate horses. All in all it just left Hank in the same old spot he’d been in the year before.
“Who ya callin’ Hank?” One of his rodeo buddies, (no, not that kind of buddy), had come up behind Hank, slapping him on the back.
Hank stammered, not really knowing what to say, then his eyes lit on a postcard on the rack next to him, “Ole fishin’ buddy. Lives nearby. Jus’ wanted ta say hello since we’re passin’ through.”
“Can’t be too old. Hell, yer only ‘bout twenty.”
“Yeah, guess not. Guess I’ll jus’ send him this card, he’ll get a kick out of it.” Hank reached for the postcard with the big old fish on it.
Might as well send it. Had Ed’s address. Maybe at least let him know it was Hank on the phone. Let him know Hank still thought about him too. Loved him too. Hank didn’t put a return address on the card. Didn’t see the point. Didn’t even have one. Unless he was visiting his folks. And sure Ed had said his name, but did that mean he wanted to see Hank? Would have written him back? Sure, Hank had managed to place the call, but that drunken courage had largely passed and now he was back to being afraid of what the answers to those questions might really be.
Hank managed a small laugh to himself as he pictured Ed getting that card with the big fish on it. Neither of them had ever been fishing a day in their lives. Didn’t like the smell of fish. Didn’t even like eating fish.
“Dammit Hank. Think ya jus’ need ta step away from tha’ computer fer a while. Ya seem ta be gettin’ obsessed with it. ‘N after yesterday I don’ think I can take much more a it m’self.” Ed shook his head, “Now yer talkin’ ta yerself ‘bout fish. Tha’ cain’t be a good sign.”
Hank hadn’t noticed Ed heading into the house from the shed. “Not obsessed. Can quit any time. Gonna this afternoon. Got a few errands ta run.” Hank smiled at the thought of one particular errand he had planned. “Talkin’ ta m’self ‘bout fish ‘cause I was writin’ ‘bout tha’ first postcard I ever sent ya.”
“Shit. Blind-sided me with tha’ one Hank. Read it standin’ in the yard. Lucky I made it inta the house. Grown man collapsed cryin’ like a baby over a postcard with a big ol’ fish on it.” Ed laughed, “Shit. Was lucky Nora weren’t home. Don’ know how I woulda ‘xplained tha’”
Hank looked at Ed, surprised. He hadn’t known that. And here Ed was just chatting about it like he was talking about the weather. Maybe some good had come out of pestering Ed with all those questions. Hank had been afraid it’d end up being more like poking at a hornet’s nest with a stick. Damn hard to resist and in the end you always ended up regretting it.
“Kept every one a them postcards ya ever sent me along with yer shirt in tha’ knapsack. Always remember what tha’ first one said. ‘Hey Ed, Havin’ a terrible time. Wish you were here. Got one a yer shirts by mistake. Gonna hang onto it. Love that shirt. Always will.’”
Hank knew Ed remembered what every single one of those postcards said. Realized it that day so long ago when Ed had put them under the glass on the coffee table. Every time Hank had mentioned a particular card, Ed rattled off what it said on the back without looking.
Course it wasn’t that hard. Every single one of those earlier postcards up until when they finally met up again started off with ‘Having a terrible time. Wish you were here.’ Usually not much else to say after that. Too afraid somebody else would read it. Hard to put it down in words anyway. Later on they were mostly just dates and times and places to meet.
Hank realized Ed was saying something and these days he didn’t want to miss anything Ed said. Actually, was never a good idea to miss anything Ed said.
“…after all, tha’ was the first one. But still, think m’all-time favorite is the one with the two donkeys that says ‘My ASS-ociates and I Send You Our Greetings’. Gotta tell ya Hank, tha’ one had me laughin’ ‘n cryin’ at the same time. Missed yer ass so damn bad… ‘n there it was sendin’ me ‘greetings’.”
“N those two guys by the tent in the mountains. Shit. Damn near made ma heart stop beatin’. ‘N that one with the cowboy in the bathtub. ‘N then there was the cowboy on the big ol’ jackrabbit. Still cain’t believe ya found one with sheep on it.” Ed laughed, “Who the hell buys a postcard of sheep? And, ‘nother one a ma favorites, the south end of tha’ cowboy facin’ north. Guess a lot of ‘em had me laughin’ n’ cryin’ at the same time.”
Ed shook his head, “Didn’ really like the rodeo cards much though. Could look at ‘em later. Once ya quit. At the time jus’ worried ya’d get hurt.” Ed laughed again, “’N some a them other ones. Damn embarrassin’. Shit. Got real mad at ya sometimes. Started to worry ‘bout what tha’ mailman musta thought.”
Hank tried to keep a straight face and failed, “Don’ have know no idea what yer talkin’ ‘bout. Ya must have a dirty mind there, Cowboy.” Hank grinned, “‘Sides, never sent that kind twice in a row. Spaced ‘em out good.”
Hank got up from his chair and wrapped his arms around Ed. “Had ta send ya them cards. Couldn’ forget ya. Tried real hard. But I couldn’t do it. ‘N I didn’ wan’ ya fergettin’ me.”
“Not like tha’ were possible, Hank.” Ed laughed, “Not like tha’ were possible.”
Hank leaned back to look at Ed’s lip. “Is yer lip better, Ed? Thinkin’ ‘bout kissin ya righ’ good righ’ now.”
“Hell, if it survived las’ nigh’ think it can survive whatever ya can dish out now.”
“Sounds kinda like a challenge ta me.”
“Do yer best, Rodeo.” Ed pulled his head back, “Wanna clean kiss though. No rough stuff. No bitin’. That includes both the upper lip and the lower lip. ‘N anythin’ below the belt is off limits fer now. But jus’ fer now, mind ya, ‘n only ‘cause I have errands of ma own ta run.”
“Damn. Tongue allowed?”
“Not jus’ allowed. Encouraged. Get more points for creative use of the tongue.”
“Sure is. For technical merit, style, creative use of the tongue, mentioned tha’ already, general enthusiasm, and moaning. Throw out the high ‘n low scores then combine the rest ‘n divide….. Hmmmm…”
Hank cut Ed off in mid-sentence, pressing his mouth against Ed’s and backing him up against the wall.
----a little while later----
“So wha’s ma score?”
“Jeez, Hank… Damn…… Hold on. Cain’t quite think straight yet. Lessee… Carry the one… Nope. Tha’s not righ’. Couldn’ add two and two ta save ma life righ’ now. Special circumstances here. Ya rendered the judge’s brain unusable. Means ya automatic’lly get a perfect score.”
Hank still had Ed pressed hard against the wall, “Kinda feels like I violated tha’ below-the-belt restriction though.”
“S’alright. Ya did it withou’ usin’ yer hands. No penalty fer tha’. In fact, ya get extra points.”
“Sure ya don’ wanna lift tha’ restriction?” Hank pressed against Ed harder.
“Wish I could.” Ed started moving forward, pushing Hank back as he went, “Place is gonna start fallin’ down ‘round our ears.” The back of Hank’s legs hit the bed, “’N I gotta run them errands…” Ed pushed Hank down onto the bed, “So there’s jus’ no way I can do this…”
“Spendin’ a lot more time here lately. Think we should get a king-sized bed?”
“Nah. Bound ta run outta steam sooner or later.”
“Hope it’s a helluva lot later than sooner. Hey, Ed, will ya still love me if we do? Run outta steam, I mean.”
“Prob’bly not. Whole relationship’s pretty much based on sex.”
“Shit. Why’d I gotta go fallin’ in love with such a mean ol’ man?”
“Why ya gotta keep askin' tha' 'mean ol' man' dumbass questions ya already know the answer to?”
“Hey Ed, if I can figure out this whole scanning thing ‘n how ta upload them ‘n everythin’ else do ya mind if I put some a them postcards online?”
“Migh’ as well be speakin’ a foreign language there, Rodeo. If the gist a wha’ ya jus’ said is tha’ some other people’ll be lookin’ at our postcards, I dunno. Seems a little too close ta home.”
“But like ya said a long time ago. Ain’t no one really gonna know. Jus’ a bunch a ol’ postcards, dumbass. If I'm rememberin' correctly ya did add a 'dumbass' onta the end a tha' sentence.”
“Shit. Ya really do remember everything I say, dontcha?”
“Sure do. ’N ain’t like any of these people readin’ it know who we are or where we are. Ain’t gonna be droppin’ in on us.”
“Thought you said there was a newer story along them lines.”
“Think so. Since I started writin’ s’ hard ta keep up with readin’. Feel terrible ‘bout it. Really miss it. More work too. Gotta make up our own sex stuff as we go along.”
“Yeah, tha’ is a hardship.”
So, whadya say? Mind if I jus’ put a few of ‘em up? If I can figure it out?”
“Any chance I could really stop ya?”
“This time yeah. Wouldn’ do it if ya didn’ wan’ me to.”
“Ya migh’ as well go ahead. Don’ really see no harm in it I guess.”
“Yer jus’ hoping I’m never gonna figure it out, ain’t ya?”