||[Dec. 18th, 2007|09:36 am]
An old-fashioned Ed and Hank
Deck the halls…
(And five things Ed thinks Hank made him do.)
Note: Unexpected second part to the last part, but it can stand on its own too. Not really written for the challenge, it's just that Hank still can't break his habit of counting things after the fact. Maybe he has a touch of OCD... Length: 3,171 words. Hank counted. Twice. (And one picture.) Disclaimer: Hank told their story to Annie Proulx. Jack and Ennis are all hers. Ed and Hank belong only to each other. Rating: G-XS (for 'Xtra Sappy. All Ed's fault again.) $$: Nope. Comments: Always appreciated.
Everything else is here:
Deck the halls…
“Where the hell didya get yerself off to, Ed…? I was jus’ ‘bout ready ta go out 'n start lookin’ fer ya.”
“Wha’ the hell are ya talkin’ ‘bout… We ain’t s’posed ta be leavin’ fer a few days yet... ‘N I ain’t even started gettin’ ready. ‘Sides… it's gettin' late 'n ‘m hungry…”
“‘M hungry too… ‘n we ain’t really goin’ campin’…”
“Where we goin’ then?”
“Next best thing... C’mon…”
“Lemme grab a jacket least-wise…”
“Go ahead... But ya don’ really need it…"
“Whaddya mean I don’ need a jacket…? 'S cold out...”
“You’ll see… C’mon, dumbass…”
“Wha’ ‘bout the dogs?”
“They can come too… C’mon, fellas…”
“Truck’s the other way, Ed… Think yer the one tha’s fin’lly gone nuts…”
“Ain’t goin’ ta the truck…”
“Then where the hell are we goin’…?"
“You’ll see… 'S righ’ ‘round this here corner…”
“Shit.” Hank came to an abrupt stop. The trailer… their trailer… their old, beat-up, rusted-out trailer… was lit up like nothing he’d ever seen before. Multi-colored lights outlined the entire outside of it and Hank could see by the soft glow through the windows that they covered the inside too. A small ceramic tree stood on the table by the biggest window, its lights shining through the frosted glass.
“Ya don’ like it?”
“Wha’…? How…? When didya…?”
“Jus' these past couple a days. Was ‘fraid ya’d see me goin’ back ‘n forth… Knew ya didn’ really wanna go winter campin’... Wha' with all tha' talk 'bout me gettin' ya killed 'n all..."
"Know ya didn' really mean it... but I knew you were jus' goin' campin' fer me... 'N I figured this migh’ be the next best thing… Be like old times... with some a the comforts a home... 'n the rest righ' next door..."
“But… if’n ya don’ like it… if’n ya don’ wanna stay out here… we don’ gotta…”
“I love it, dumbass.” Hank worked to control his voice. He knew Ed would get embarrassed if Hank made too much of it.
“Yeah. I do. More ‘n I can say…”
“Is tha’ my ma’s ol’ ceramic tree on the table?”
“Where in the hell didya find it? I looked high ‘n low fer tha’ tree over the years… Thought we musta given it away by mistake…”
“I found it in the trailer when I were cleanin’ it up 'n all. It were in a box piled with a buncha other boxes 'round the table…”
Hank had never thought to look in that old trailer, but he should have. He thought back to the first time he’d seen it there… it was the first Christmas Eve after Ed had finally moved to the ranch. After a quiet dinner with Hank’s folks, he and Ed had gone back to find that tree lit up and sitting on their table. Hank’s ma must have put it there for them. Hank knew it was her favorite Christmas decoration. And he knew she put it there so that their small, cramped trailer would seem a little more like home.
“Real glad ya found it, Ed.” That tree had kept Hank company on a few Christmas Eves. Ed would always have dinner with Hank and his folks, but then he’d nap for a few hours so he could get up and drive half the night in order to be with Iris the next day. Depending on Nora’s plans, he’d usually see Iris for breakfast, sometimes for lunch. He’d pick her up and drive her to the only place open, the truck stop on the edge of town. They’d eat pancakes, the safest choice at that particular truck stop, and they’d open their presents to each other. Then Ed would turn around and drive back so that he could be at work the next day. It continued like that until Iris got old enough to insist on splitting her holidays between Nora and Ed and visiting Ed on the ranch for either Christmas or Thanksgiving.Hank couldn’t help smiling to himself thinking about Iris' first visit to their ranch, but then he realized Ed was talking and he was missing what he was saying.“…After that I went out ‘n bought all them lights new… figured them few light strings yer folks had were too old… Didn’ wanna burn the place down after cleanin’ it up ‘n all. But… Guess I got kinda carried away… Weren’t sure wha’ ta do… ‘N they got so many dif’frent kinds a lights… Made m' head spin… Knew ya wouldn’ care fer flashin’ lights, but I didn’ know how else ta narrow it down… Fin’lly jus’ picked some bigger ones fer the outside ‘n some littler ones fer the inside …”“’S beautiful, Ed…It really is… But…”“But what, dumbass…?”“I thought you weren’t much fer celebratin’ Christmas ‘n all…?” Hank could have kicked himself the minute the words left his mouth. He knew Ed wasn’t much for celebrating Christmas. And he knew it was on account of Ed’s folks. Hank didn’t know all the details, but he did know that no visions of sugar plums or anything else pleasant had ever danced in Ed’s head. Ed didn’t dread Christmas like he did when he was a kid, and he'd even decorate the tree with Hank, but beyond that he usually had no interest in it… except where Iris was concerned. He and Nora had made damn sure Iris always had the kind of Christmas she could look forward to.“We ain’t celebratin’ Christmas. We’re celebratin’ the longest night a the year. ‘N we’re gonna make damn good use of ev’ry minute of it. ‘Course it ain’t fer 'bout a week yet… Think it's the 22nd this year... Meant ta wait ‘til then… But… Didn' know how long it'd take me... 'N once the trailer were all done… Hell… I jus’ wanted ta get ya out here ‘fore ya saw it on yer own… So’s we got plenty a time ta practice celebratin' ‘fore the real celebratin’ starts.”“So’s… what’re we waitin’ fer, Ed…? S’ damn cold out here… Ya wan’ me ta carry ya over the damn threshold or somethin’?”“Was kinda like our first home, weren’t it?”“Sure was.”Ed walked over to the trailer and stood next to the wooden crate he had placed in front of the door as a step, he reached over and opened the door, holding it open for Hank and the dogs, “After you, Hankthedog... Ya always gotta be first... dontcha?""Woof.""'N Edthedog...""Woof.""'N Hank...”“Thanks, Ed.”Hank stepped into the trailer. The forgiving glow of the lights Ed had strung up made the place look... almost nice. A rush of memories flooded over Hank. Ed had obviously scrubbed the place down real good, but he couldn’t scrub away the dent where the beer bottle Hank had thrown had just missed Ed’s head and hit the cupboard instead. The linoleum was worn through in spots, unable to stand up to the relentless scuffing by rough boots. Every surface was beat up or simply worn and faded and the door to the closet, where Hank had found those shirts hanging together so long ago now, was missing a hinge and duct-taped shut. They sure had done a lot of hard living in this small space.“’S real nice, Ed…” Hank couldn’t help turning to look at the bed. That bed. Damn.“Don’ worry… I got a new mattress...”“Weren’t worried. Am a l’il worried ‘bout tha’ ol’ heater, though…”“Checked it out good. ‘N I brought one a them carbon monoxide detectors out from the house… wha’ with you bein’ worried I’d kill ya ‘n all…’Course I cain’t promise ya this here trailer won’t explode.”“Willin’ ta take my chances… Guess all this explains why ya wouldn' go ta town with me 'n Bill the other day...""Yep. Did most a the work then."Hank tried to move to one side as the dogs pushed by on their urgent mission to inspect every inch of the trailer, “Don' think this place is big ‘nough fer us ‘n them dogs too...”“They’ll settle down once they make sure this place is up ta their standards... Lucky fer us their standards are purty low.”“Hell... Cain't believe ya got it lookin' this good... Ya musta worked real hard on it Ed.”“Not all tha’ hard. We been talkin' 'bout old times so's much... I jus’ got the urge ta set it ta rights… Much as it could be anyways…”“’S like ya resurrected it from the dead.”“Think tha’s an altogether diff’rent holiday.”“Think yer righ’.”“’N I brought out tha’ cd player... I even bought us one a them holiday cds… Ain't heard it yet... Hope it's okay... Picked it just on accounta the one song… Ya wan’ me ta put it on?”“Sure do.”“Jus’ give me a second… It seemed kinda fittin' 'n all... After all yer talk a freezin' ta death... Here…”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SwFU_FouaOk
"Don't know if'n I remember this one too well...""Guess tha's just an added bonus...""Words'll prob'bly come back ta me... This kinda song ya purty much know even if'n ya don't.""Shit. Well... maybe I can distract ya with dinner... Jus' gotta heat it up… Ain’t much… Jus’ thawed out some leftover stew… Tha’ kind ya like with the beer ‘n it… Couldn’ believe this ol’ stove was still in workin’ order… ‘Fridge too… Just had ta replace a couple a parts… but I didn’ wanna cook the stew from scratch out here… ‘n I didn’ wantcha ta smell it cookin’ in the house… ‘N we got beer ‘n whiskey…’N I had Bill pick us up a pie on his way here ta day…”“Thanks, Ed... Sounds real good. Like tha' song a whole lot too... Still cain’t believe ya did all this…""Ya wan' a beer, Hank?""Sure do...""How 'bout we start with the good stuff...?" Ed opened the fridge and took out two beers. He opened them and handed one to Hank, "Here ya go...""Thanks."Ed clinked his beer bottle against Hank's, “Happy prit near the longest night a the year, Hank…”“Happy prit near the longest night a the year ta you too, Ed. Hey... Think I migh' be rememberin' them words now...” Hank took a long drink then cleared his throat and broke into song, hamming it up and miming the lyrics as he sang, "So's...
'Off with my overcoat 'n off with my gloves... I need no overcoat... I'm burnin' with love... My heart's on fire... With one desire... So I will weather the storm... What do I care how much it migh' storm? 'Cause I got my Ed to keep me warm'...""Ya know them dogs ain't got nowheres ta run to...""Guess I should give 'em a break..."“Uh... Ya said you were hungry... Ya wanna eat…? Or... somethin'...?”Hank's breath caught as he looked at Ed. In the soft glow of all those lights he'd strung up it could have been thirty years ago. For a moment Hank wished he could turn back the clock. But only for a moment. Not that Hank wouldn't have jumped at the chance to go back and do it all over again. He would have. In a heartbeat. But thirty years ago Ed would have cringed for real at Hank singing a song like that to him. And not just because Hank couldn't sing. And thirty years ago Ed never would have thought about lighting up their trailer... or playing a song like that. Hank set his beer down, “Ya know, Ed… Maybe I ain’t so’s hungry righ’ this minute after all...”Ed set his beer down as well, "Guess maybe I ain’t neither…”
Half a step and they were in each other's arms. Hank's mouth closed over Ed's... Damn... Sometimes it could still be just like the first time...
And sometimes it was even better.A couple of minutes later and another half a step and they were falling onto the bed... “Ow… Dammit... m' head…”“You okay, Ed…?”“Yeah…""C’mere then…”“Hold on… Damn… S' a lot smaller 'n I remember…”"Doubt it shrunk since yesterday, Ed.""Meant the bed, dumbass. Can ya move over some?”“Not hardly...""How the hell did we ever do this fer so's long in this l'il bed anyways?”"Guess where there's a will there's a way.""I got the will, Hank.""Me too. Hell... 'S prob’bly like wha' they say 'bout ridin’ a bike…”"I didn' never have no bike.""Yer kiddin', Ed...?""Nope.""We gotta getcha a bike.""No we don't. C'mere, Hank..."Later…“Goddamn...”“Jeez… You okay, Ed?”“Think so… How ‘bout you?”“Yeah… I think so."
"Dogs look okay too..."
"Yeah... Justa l’il startled maybe... ‘N a l’il reproachful… Like usual..."“Think they’re blamin’ you, Hank.”“They always do.”“Swear I made sure this thing was settin’ real good on them cinder blocks…”“Tell ya, Ed… At first I thought it was jus’ you makin’ the earth move a l’il more forcefully than usual.”“Ya did, huh...?”“Yep. Least-wise this thing tilted so's tha’ pot a stew didn' hit the floor... Hey… we’d better check tha' propane tank... Make sure it’s still attached ta the outside ‘n ain't leakin'…”“Shit. Good idea. Hang on… I’ll do it.”“I’ll come too… Ya migh' need some help puttin' this here trailer back level-like.”“Yeah… Here… think these are yer jeans, Hank… 'N I got yer boots too...”“Thanks, Ed... Here's yers...”“Guess we still got it, old man…”“Guess we do, old man.”Later…“Good stew, Ed.”“All’s I did was thaw it out 'n heat it up. Cain’t remember which a us made it.”“Think you did. Good pie too.”“Yep. Good pie.”"Ya know... If'n ya wanna, Ed... We can still go campin' too... I migh' survive fer a few days anyways...""Truth is... I liked the idea when I first thought a it... But... Hell... Even sittin' here in this ol' trailer... I cain't help thinkin' 'bout the fireplace in the house 'n our big ol' couch 'n our big ol' bed 'n hot 'n cold runnin' water 'n...""Don' tell me yer goin' soft on me, Ed...?""Guess I am. Ain't nowheres comfortable-like ta sit out here...""Never was.""Ya wanna go back ta the house, Hank?""After all tha' work ya did...? Ya don' wanna go back ta the house already, do ya...?""Only if'n you do...""Well I don't...""Whaddya wanna do then?""I wanna crawl back inta tha' too-small bed with ya 'n listen ta some hokey holiday music 'n reminisce 'bout all them good times we had in this here trailer.""Wha' 'bout the bad times?""Wha' bad times? I don' remember no bad times.""Guess yer goin' senile a lot quicker than I thought ya would... How 'bout when ya threw tha' bottle at me...? Shit... You were 'bout as mad as I ever seen ya.""Yeah, but... know I said it before, Ed... 'n I'll most likely say it again... my worst day spent with you was still better than my best day spent withou' ya...""Easy fer you ta say... tha' bottle weren't aimed at yer head.""True 'nough. 'N I am real glad it didn' hit ya.""I'm real glad it didn' hit me too. 'N I don' seem ta recall you sayin' nothin' 'bout tha' particular day with me still bein' better 'n yer worst day withou' me as tha' bottle were leavin' yer hand... Think ya said somethin' more like...""I remember what I said well 'nough. But do you remember why I threw it?""Yep. 'Cause I refused ta move inta the house with ya.""'Cause you refused ta move inta the house with me yet again... Like fer 'bout the hundredth time as a matter a fact... Thought ya'd never move inta the goddamn house with me.""But I did.""Ya know... I jus' realized... I were so happy when ya fin'lly moved in that I never asked ya why ya did... So's... wha' was it tha' fin'lly made ya do it, Ed?""I dunno... Guess it had somethin' ta do with tha' big ol' couch 'n tha' big ol' bed 'n tha' big ol' fireplace 'n all tha' hot 'n cold runnin' water...""Tha's all...? Nothin' else comes ta mind...?""Nope. Not right off anyways...""Figures.""Wait a minute... Think I thought a somethin' else...""Yeah...?""Kitchen was a whole lot nicer too. Wha' with tha' big ol' fridge 'n tha' big ol' stove...""Figures...""'N a course... there were this real good lookin' fella livin' there... 'N I kinda liked him a lot. In fact... I liked him so's much tha' I ended up doin' a whole buncha stuff I wouldna never done if'n I hadn' a liked him so's much. Still do. Whole buncha stuff...""Whole buncha stuff... huh...?""Yep. 'Course he kinda made me.""He made ya, huh...?""Yep. He made me fall fer him in the first place.""Don' think it works tha' way, dumbass.""Yeah it does... Fell real hard too... Think he mighta pushed me when I weren't lookin'.""He don't sound too nice.""'N then he made me move ta this here ranch. 'N then a while after tha' he made me move inta the house. 'N most recent-like he made me travel a whole bunch.""Made ya do all tha', huh...? Sounds awful.""Tell ya the truth... the man's kinda a bully.""A bully, huh...?""Yep. 'N he made me shower with him too.""Yer kiddin'...?""Nope. Never woulda considered showerin' with no one else if not fer him. Bugged me fer years 'bout it he did.""Sounds like a real pain in the neck...""L'il lower maybe...""Real irritatin' sort, huh...?""Yep. He 'bout drove me nuts askin' me over 'n over 'n over again... day in 'n day out... month after month... Year after year... He's a real unrelentin' sonofabitch...""He is, huh...?""Yep. He's always just at me 'n at me 'n at me 'til I fin'lly break down 'n do whatever it is he wants... Like takin' them hot, soapy showers with him...""Ain't fair a him at all...""Sure ain't. Real long showers too... Practic'lly run out the hot water heater...""Sounds real wasteful.""Sure is. 'N real soapy. Did I mention soapy...?""Think ya did.""'N steamy. Did I mention steamy...?""Don't think ya mentioned steamy... Kinda goes hand 'n hand with 'hot' though.""Guess it does... Hot 'n steamy...""Yep.""Yep... Long... 'n hot... 'n steamy... 'n soapy...""Now I think ya said all a tha' already, Ed...""Guess I did...""Yep.""Yep...""So's... Ya wanna wander back ta the house 'n go take a shower ta gether, Ed...?""Well... if'n yer gonna keep badgerin' me like tha' 'n all... I guess I don' got much choice...""C'mon, dumbass...""After you, dumbass..."