||[Sep. 14th, 2006|02:31 pm]
Ed and Hank
Part 10: Wednesday Afternoon / Evening
The dog days of summer...
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. May have to mortgage the ranch. 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
Part 2: http://myeyesaintblue.livejournal.com/4258.html
(Sorry, I only seem to have one speed these days... Slow.)
Wednesday Afternoon / Evening
“C’mon Hank. Get that fine ass a yers outta bed. We better get goin’ if we’re gonna get any work done. Entire life cain’t be one long picnic ya know.”
Ed stopped short and looked at Hank. Then they both broke out laughing. “And thank God for that!” Ed added, “Don’ rightly think I’d survive much longer if it was.”
Soon they were both walking out the door and heading towards their trucks.
“What kinda errands ya gotta run?”
“Jus’ this ‘n tha'. Wha’ ‘bout you?”
“Thought I’d get a couple a things done here first so we better take separate trucks.”
“Okay. Which truck ya want?” Hank knew damn well which truck Ed wanted.
“Ya know damn well which truck I want.”
They’d had some variation of this conversation many times before and easily slipped into it like it was a comfortable pair of old shoes.
“We should really get rid a tha’ truck.” Hank was trying not to smile, “Piece a shit. Only good fer scrap metal at this point. How many times ya think tha’ odometer's turned over?”
“Don’ have no idea. Kinda lost track after the first few times. But ain’t a damn thing wrong with tha’ truck. No piece a shit tha’s fer sure. Damn good truck. Ain’t no sense gettin’ rid a it fer no good reason.”
“Parts of it are prit’ near rusted clear through. Things a death trap.”
“Ain’t rusted through anywheres critical. Ain’t no death trap either. Made ‘em better back then.”
“Ya do got some mighty fine seat covers though. Gotta admit that. Right purdy.”
“Yer jus’ sayin’ tha’ ‘cause you picked ‘em out.”
They had reached Hank’s truck and Ed leaned over to kiss him good-bye, looking around quickly to make sure their ranch hand Bill wasn’t nearby. Hank just rolled his eyes.
“Dammit tha’s the final straw.” Bill had just rounded the corner and saw what was about to happen, “Ain’t bad ‘nough tha’ I work fer slave wages ‘round here, now gotta find out I’m workin fer goddamn queers ta boot. Tha’s it! I quit!”
Ed jumped, landing easily a foot back from Hank.
Bill laughed, “Fer God’s sakes, jus’ kiss the man good-bye and be done with it. I’ll avert m’ eyes so’s I’m not scarred fer life by the sight a it. Though if I ain’t turned queer by now don’ think it’s gonna happen. Guess I dodged a bullet with that one, eh? Hear it’s awful contagious. Mus’ jus’ be naturally immune.”
Bill and Hank laughed their asses off while Ed turned beet red and stalked off towards the barn. After just a few steps though he turned, walked back to Hank and planted a big old kiss square on his lips, then turned even redder, if that was possible, and walked off towards the barn again muttering to himself and trying to hide his own wide grin, “Shit. Everyone thinks they’re a goddamn comedian ‘round here.”
“Finally.” Hank thought as he looked out the window for what seemed like the hundredth time, “’Bout damn time tha’ man got home. Been waitin’ forever.” Hank walked out of the house to greet Ed. “’Bout damn time ya got home. Watcha been doin?”
Ed had a big old grin on his face as he called back to Hank, “Got somethin’ fer ya.” Then he threw open the truck door and out leapt the ugliest dog Hank had ever seen. Well, make that the second ugliest. Hank started laughing so hard he had to plop down on the porch step. The dog started barking and bounded over to him, playfully jumping on him. When Hank could finally speak he said, “Tha’ has gotta be the second ugliest dog I ever seen.”
Ed sounded hurt, “C’mon, Rodeo, don’ ya like him? He cain’t help how ugly he is. So ugly figured no one’d ‘dopt him. ‘N Betty down at the shelter said he was next up fer execution anyways. Couldn’ let tha’ happen.” Ed paused to listen, “Tha’s weird. Sounds like an echo or somethin’.”
Hank got up and started towards the door, still laughing, “Ain’t no echo, Ed.” Hank threw the door open, “Let me introduce ya ta the ugliest dog ya ever saw.” Out bounced the ugliest dog Ed had ever seen.
“Tha’ is one ugly critter.”
“Yep. Figured ya had such a bad day yesterday, picnic ‘n all, tha’ I’d make it up ta ya by gettin’ ya a dog.”
“Sure tha’s a dog?”
“Pretty sure. Barks ‘n all.”
“Got you a dog too.”
“Can see tha’”
“Thought ya were ready. Not a replacement fer Stella. Jus’ thought ya should have a dog. Ya always liked havin’ a dog. Me too. ‘Sides, ranch needs a dog.”
Hank laughed, “No way I could ever mistake either a these fellas fer Stella.”
“Tha’s fer sure. One I got does come in second though. Close second. But definitely second.”
“Think they’re even uglier when they stand righ’ next ta each other. Tha’ possible?”
“Think yer righ’. Jeez. Them’s two ugly dogs. Leastwise they seem ta like each other.” Ed laughed again, "No wonder Betty was grinnin’ at me so much. Thought she mighta hit her head on somethin’. Wrote a note, told me it weren’t nothin’ important, jus’ instructions. Figured didn’ need no instructions fer takin’ care a dog.”
Ed unfolded the note he had tucked into his pocket and started reading, “Says I prob’bly know by now tha’ you were there before me ‘n already got yerself a dog. Says tha’ these fellas came inta the shelter together.” Ed glanced over at the dogs playing, taking turns chasing each other around the yard, “Guess tha’ ‘xplains why they get along so well. They were found roamin’ jus’ outside a town. And we are welcome ta return one or both if we suddenly discover ourselves ownin’ more dogs than we wanted or if they don’ work out fer any reason. Havin’ no history ‘n all.”
“Tha’ musta been why she asked me if I was thinkin’ a maybe gettin’ two dogs, 'cause she knew she had these two fellas. Told her I better not. One’s plenty. She shoulda jus' mentioned it. Did the same as you. When I asked which one was next and she brought tha’ fella out I knew no one else would take him. Never even asked ta see any a the other dogs.”
“Well, better get ‘em both a good bath ‘n make a ‘pointment with the vet. Make sure they get a good lookin’ over ‘n any shots they need.”
“Ya don’ mind keepin’ ‘em both?”
“Didn’ really want two dogs. Guess don’ mind though. Hell. Lookit ‘em playin’ together. Them’s two a the happiest dogs I ever seen. You gonna separate ‘em? Choose which one gets the death sentence?”
“Guess tha’s what Betty figured would happen.” Ed grinned. "Must be brothers. Littermates."
"Ain't no other explanation. What kind ya think they are?"
"Definitely mutts. Maybe with a little somethin' ‘xtra thrown in. Pos’bly warthog."
“Doubt you ever even seen a picture of a warthog.”
“Prob’bly not. Imagine tha’s wha’ one would look like though.”
Hank laughed, “True ‘nough. So. What we gonna name ‘em?”
“Dunno. What d’ya think?”
Hank grinned at Ed, “Think I migh’ have ‘n idea… Don’ think yer gonna like it though.”
Ed looked at Hank, “No way. Not in a million years am I namin’ these dogs ‘Jack ‘n Ennis’. Jus’ ain’t gonna happen.”
“Aw, c’mon Ed. Ain’t no one ‘round these parts even seen tha’ movie.”
“Wanna bet? They migh’ not admit ta it or even ha’ seen it in town, but I can tell ya everyone in Wyomin’, hell prob’bly everyone in the entire West, has seen tha’ movie. Prob’bly jus drove twenty or thirty miles down the road ta the next town so’s they could see it withou’ bein’ recognized.”
“Tha’ don’ make no sense. ‘Cause then they’re all jus’ gonna see each other in the next town anyway.”
“Sure it makes sense. They’re all doin’ the same thing. So they got somethin’ on each other. Ya tell anyone ya saw so ‘n so at the queer cowboy movie ‘n the next town over ‘n they’re gonna know you were there fer the same reason.”
“Dunno ‘bout tha’”
“Well ya do know tha’ movie was a big hit in all a these red states out here. Ya read tha’ ta me yerself.”
“Maybe tha’s a good thing. Kinda encouragin’ like.”
“Could be. Then ya got those self-checkouts at Wal-Mart these days. Twenty bucks cash ‘n a self-checkout line ‘n no one knows the difference.”
“Makes ya wonder how many copies a tha’ movie are hidden in houses all ‘cross the West, hell, 'cross the world. ‘N how many guys are sneakin’ online ta read all them stories.” Hank shook his head, “All them guys like us who’ll never get what we have. So many years since we were young. Seems like it should be easier fer ‘em now. But guess it ain’t. Lotta ‘em still gettin’ married. Still livin’ lies. Feel real bad fer ‘em. Feel bad fer their wives too. Ain’t right. Jus’ ain’t right.”
Hank started to wonder, “Just how many guys were out there at their computers, not sharing those stories with someone, but looking over their shoulders, listening for the sound of footsteps approaching, keeping other computer windows open to switch to at a moment’s notice. Trying to cover their tracks by erasing their history, always lurking, never logging on, but reading every story about Jack and Ennis they can find. Reading about Jake and Heath too. Wanting the sex, wanting the love, wanting to find the courage to…”
“…Hank. Hey Hank!”
“Don’ think ya heard a word I been sayin’.”
“Sorry. Jus’ thinkin’ ‘bout all them guys out there still livin’ a lie. Know we ain’t advertisin’ ourselves or nothin’, know it’s still hard sometimes, but least we’re livin’ our lives together.”
“Ya know, Hank, I ain’t seen much in ma life. But seen ‘nough ta know we’re damn lucky.” Ed smiled then, “’N them two ugly dogs are damn lucky too. So whadya wanna name ‘em? Besides Jack ‘n Ennis.”
The dogs had quit running around the yard and were now standing at Ed and Hank’s feet, looking up at them expectantly, as if waiting for their new names.
“Well there’s always ‘Rodeo’ and ‘Cowboy’. Ain’t really ours. Only started callin’ each other tha’ as a joke since the movie came out. Then kinda caught on with us. But you ain’t never even seen the movie.”
“Nah. Same problem as with ‘Jack’ and ‘Ennis’. Too well known.”
“Think I got it.” Hank grinned again.
“Don’ know if I like the look a tha’ grin either.”
Hank laughed, “How ‘bout we name ‘em ‘Ed ‘n Hank’? Ain’t our real names. Certainly ain’t well known. Seriously doubt anyone we know is readin’ our story. Whadya think?”
Ed grinned, “Kinda like tha’ idea. Name ‘Ed’ is actually growin’ on me. But won’ tha’ be confusin’ if yer writin’ ‘bout the dogs?”
“Dunno. Maybe. Didn’ think a tha’. Guess if I’m writin’ ‘bout ‘em I could call ‘em Edthedog and Hankthedog. Tha’ might work. Can always change their names later in the story if it’s a problem. But we can still call ‘em Ed and Hank, in real life I mean.”
“So which one’s Ed and which one’s Hank?”
“Think we should give ‘em a day or two? See what their personalities are? Which one’s which should come from that.”
“Sounds reasonable ta me.” Ed opened the door and let both dogs into the house.
“Dogs in the house. Shit. Youse two are really pushin’ yer luck now.” Bill had come up to the porch to check with Ed and Hank about the plans for tomorrow before he left for the day.
Hank laughed, “Guess yer righ’. With some people ’round these parts tha’s prob’bly a worse transgression than bein’ queer.” Hank shook his head, “Took me a while ta get Ed ta accept the idea of keepin’ a dog in the house. Weren’t ‘til Stella tha’ he really caught on. Lotta people out here love their dogs kinda like they love their kids. Always ‘round. Part a life. Take care a ‘em ‘n all. Jus’ don’ see the point in spoilin’ them with things like too much attention, affection or comfort.”
“Not all people so prejudiced though.” Bill laughed, “Some people got house dogs and yard dogs. We were so poor couldn’ afford dogs at all so’s ma parents separated us kids inta house kids ‘n yard kids. Alas, I were unlucky ‘nough ta be one of the yard kids. Bit one a them house kids good though once.”
Ed just smiled but Hank laughed, “Bet you ain’t kiddin’ either.”
“Sure ain’t.” Bill turned towards Ed, “Was plannin’ on workin’ on tha’ fenceline tomorrow. Tha’ okay by you?”
“Yep. Help ya if I get a chance.”
“Good. See ya tomorrow then.”
Hank and Ed were stretched out on the couch in front of the TV, relaxing with another beer after dinner, the dogs curled up together on the floor in front of them. The dogs had calmed down and settled in quickly, like they had lived there their whole lives. Like they knew how close they had come to the end of the line.
Ed was reading the chapter that Hank had handed him. Hank watched Ed reading, slowly, cautiously, as if the next sentence might leap off the page like a rattlesnake and bite him in the ass.
“Ain’t gonna bite ya.”
“Dunno. Might.” Ed looked at Hank, “Sorry, Hank. Don’ think I can read no more. Know ‘bout yer family. Know ‘nough ‘bout how ya spent them years. Know how ya felt ‘cause it’s how I felt too. Don’ wanna know no more. Too much truth can hurt somethin’ awful. Each did wha’ we had to ta get through them times. Cain’t we jus’ leave it a’ tha’?”
“Think I know what part ya don’ want ta read. How ‘bout I jus’ cut tha’ part out ‘n let ya read the rest?” Hank didn’t wait for Ed’s answer. He got up, tripping over a dog, then went over to the desk, pulled out the scissors and started cutting into the paper.
“Hank. Don’ gotta do tha’. Jus’ think it ain’t…” Ed paused and watched Hank. “Tha’s it? Tha' little bit’s all ya gotta cut out?”
“What were ya expectin’, dumbass?” Hank started to laugh then stopped, “Hey. Think I’ve jus’ been insulted here.”
“No… Hank… I jus’ thought…” Ed stammered, “I mean… Hell. Damn. Ain’t no good way outta this one. Jus’ gonna dig m’self in deeper.”
Ed tried again, “Shit. Jus’ thought ya mighta went inta more detail is all. Since it were a few years a yer life, ‘n all.”
“Ain’t no details a ma life tha’ matter ‘cept the ones involvin’ you. Think ya’d know tha’ by now.”
Well, jus’ give me the whole damn thing then. I’m a grown man. Think I can take tha’ much. Maybe.
Hank handed him the paragraph he’d cut out and Ed started reading from the beginning of the chapter.
Ed got to part written on the separate paragraph he was holding in his hand and read it. “Know how hard them years were for ya. But…” Ed hesitated, “Sure am glad ya never found someone ta replace me. Sure am glad ya never completely gave up. On me. On us.”
“Like I said, ain’t like I didn’ try real hard. Gotta warn ya, though. Gonna be a little more a tha’, not much, but there’s gotta be a little.”
“S’okay. Think I can take it.”
Hank moved closer to Ed, wrapping his arms around Ed’s free arm and kissing him on the shoulder.
Ed went back to reading, then, “Spyin’ on me now? Yer as bad as this damn government.”
“Am not. Ain’t never told ya no lies.” Hank laughed, “‘N I were’n’t spyin’. Jus’ happened ta look out the window as ya were walkin’ by.
Ed read a little more, then objected, “Ain’ got no soft center. ‘Cept maybe when it comes ta you. ‘N Iris. ‘N dogs. Like dogs a lot. ‘N horses…”
“Okay. I take it back.” Hank laughed, “Other than with me ‘n Iris ‘n a few other people ‘n things, yer hard as nails through ‘n through.”
“Bet yer sweet ass I am.”
“Sure tha’s wha’ ya want ta put on the line? Risk losing my sweet ass in a bet?”
“Now tha’ ya mention it. Rather bet somethin’ else. Wouldn’ ever wanna risk losin’ tha’ sweet ass a yers.”
Ed laughed then continued reading, commenting every now and then.
“Know damn well tha’ you know why I don’ wanna part with tha' truck. Jus amuses me no end ta bicker with ya ‘bout it all the time.”
“Still think tha’ glass don’ fit tha’ trunk right. Thing's gone after ma knee more’n a few times over the the years.”
Then Ed paused again, “Don’ rightly know how I knew it was you on the phone tha’ night. Jus’ knew it in ma gut. Never even questioned it. ‘N yer right. I don’ remember dates too well, but sure as hell remembered tha’one. Wanted ta reach through tha’ phone ‘n pull ya to me.”
“Thought maybe ya’d call again the next year on tha’ same day. After ya’d been sendin’ me all them postcards so regular like. Remember it was a Sunday. Waited all day fer ya ta call. Stupid. Had ta go over ta Nora’s folk’s place fer dinner. Drug ma heels good. Then tried ta rush us home quick as poss'ble. Like a damn schoolgirl. Hopin’ ya’d call again. Hopin’ ya migh’ actually say somethin’…"
“I did call Ed. Musta been when ya were at dinner. No answerin’ machines back then. Not that I woulda known what ta say ta one."
“Shit. Missed it. Then, when them postcards….”
Just then one of the dogs got up and started barking.
Ed got up, “This one mus’ be Hankthedog, seems a migh’ slow, showed him where Stella’s doggie door is a few times now ‘n he jus’ don’ seem ta get it.”
“Don’ think he’s stuipid. Think he’s jus’ trainin’ you ta walk him ta the door. Likes an escort.”
Ed showed the dog the doggie door again, proppin it open for now so he’d be sure to find his way back in. Then Ed started picking up a little. Straightening the papers, bringing the beer bottles into the kitchen. As he did the other dog got up and followed him around. Had been doing that pretty much since they’d gotten back, except when he was running around playing with his brother.
“Think I’m gonna take a nice cool shower. Poison oak ‘n some a them bites still itchin’ some.”
“Tha’ should help.”
As Ed walked up the stairs the dog followed him. A little while later Hank heard Ed bellow from upstairs. “Hey!! Dumbass dog jus’ jumped inta the shower with me! Can ya come up here ‘n get him out ‘n towel him off? Nothin’ in the world worse than’ the smell a wet dog.”
Hank yelled back, “Wha’ ‘bout wet dog jus’ been sprayed by a skunk? Or wet dog jus’ been rollin’ in garbage? Or a wet…”
“Okay, okay. Yeah them’s worse. Jus’ get yer sweet ass up here Hank.”
“Only if I can join ya instead a the dog.” Hank yelled again as he headed up the stairs. Hank had been trying to take a shower with Ed for years, but Ed resisted the idea. Had something against it. Wouldn’t tell Hank what it was. Hank thought he might be making some headway reading Ed all those hot shower scenes from those stories. Maybe tonight was the night.
Ed laughed, “Well I guess we know fer sure which one is Hankthedog now. Always following me around ‘n now jumpin’ inta the shower with me.”
“Guess tha’ means the slow one is Edthedog.” Hank laughed as he grabbed an old towel and dried the dog off as best he could, then brought him downstairs and rushed back to the bathroom, but he was too late, Ed was out of the shower already.
“No fair. Thought ya said I could join ya?”
“No way. Ya smell like a wet dog. Ain’t ‘xactly a romance-inducin’ aroma. Think ya need yer own shower now. ‘Sides, think I’m plum wore out.”
“Jus’ you wait Ed. Now tha’ the dog’s been in there with ya I cain’t be too far behind. Haven’t fergot ‘bout dancin’ either. Hell, think I’m gonna start a list.”