||[Sep. 20th, 2006|08:56 am]
|||||home sweet home||]|
|||||I cain't stop lovin' you, Hank Williams SR||]|
Ed and Hank
Part 11: Late Wednesday Evening
Greetings from Juarez...
(Uh oh, Ed and Hank and a whole lotta angst.)
Pairing: Ed & Hank Rating: PG13, Stronger language than usual. 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 losing money. Think we can save the ranch though. Feedback: The good, the bad or the ugly...
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 10: http://myeyesaintblue.livejournal.com/4776.html
Part 1: http://myeyesaintblue.livejournal.com/3394.html
Part 2: http://myeyesaintblue.livejournal.com/4258.html
Greetings from Juarez
The second anniversary of the end of Hank’s life found him sitting in a diner in Juarez across the table from one of those guys who wanted more from him than he was able to give. Hank’s eyes went from the pay phone, to the postcard rack near the door, to the man sitting across from him. Pay phone was nothing. Postcards were nothing. This guy was something. Well, at least better than nothing. Hell, wouldn’t even know how to call Ed from Mexico. Figured it was different. And expensive.
Hank was more than a little drunk. Took him a minute to remember that they were staying in El Paso. Just across the border. There for a rodeo. Pay phones weren’t any different there. Ed’s phone number and address were always burning a hole in his wallet. Looked at it so many times he kept wearing out the paper it was written on and had to replace it. Course he had it all memorized, but kept it written down anyway. Just in case. In case what, he didn’t know. But just in case. Made him pause for the briefest second every single time he passed a payphone. But he never stopped. He never called. Not since that time a year ago.
Hank went back to studying his friend. Trying to figure out how he was so different from Ed. Why he wouldn’t do. What was so damn special about Ed anyway? This fella was fine looking. He was a nice guy. He liked Hank a whole lot. Hank glanced over towards the pay phone and the postcards once more. Then made up his mind. Two years of pointless heartache was more than enough. He was young. He was here. And yes, dammit, he was queer. And so was this guy. It was time he tried to forget the past. Time he tried to forget about Ed. Give this guy a fighting chance. He’d send Ed one final postcard, but that would be it. Well, maybe just one more phone call too.
Back in El Paso, Hank made some excuse, got a pile of change, then found a phone booth, dialed the operator and asked her to place the call for him. Real long distance this time so he had to use the operator. Wasn’t like today. Hank was even pretty sober by then. Well, relatively sober. Didn’t need to hang onto the phone to hold himself up at least. But there was no answer. Let it ring a long, long time. Finally hung up. Didn’t know what he would’ve said if Ed had answered. Didn’t really matter anyway, since Ed wasn’t home.
Then Hank set about trying to forget Ed. Gave it his best effort. He really did. Lasted for two and half months. But it was no use. Hank knew he couldn’t keep the question that was always in his heart out of his eyes, ‘Why can’t you be him?’ Hank wasn’t even the one who left. Couldn’t work up the energy. Hank couldn’t blame that fella fer leaving. Hard to compete with a memory. Impossible to compete with true love. And what else could possibly have done this to him?
Hank saw the hurt in that guy’s eyes though. Made him feel even worse. Hank knew that pain. Didn’t want to be the cause of it in anyone else. Well, besides Ed, that is. Couldn’t help Ed. If Ed still felt that way. Maybe anonymous was better. When he needed it. When he got to missing Ed so much he couldn’t stand it anymore.
Before long Hank was digging through the older “3 for a nickel” stacks of postcards again, looking for just the right ones to send to Ed. Hoping to make him laugh. Make him cry. Make him think about Hank. Maybe dream about Hank.
And that one postcard. Damn. Boy did the shit hit the fan years later just ‘cause of that one little postcard from Juarez. After that short story had come out and Ed finally read it. Read the part about Mexico. Ed had disappeared for a minute. Came back carrying that postcard. Ripped it in two in front of Hank, letting the pieces fall to the floor.
But that Mexico part was only true for Jack and Ennis. Hank had never mentioned anything about Mexico to her. Those few days and nights out drinking that week were the only times he’d ever been there. Sure as hell never went to a prostitute. Wasn’t really necessary. Tried to tell Ed that, leaving out the ‘not necessary’ part of course. Story wasn’t the same at all.
Ed and Hank had a terrible argument then, with many accusations both true and false hurled back and forth at each other. Then the dam finally burst and the real reason Ed was upset spilled out.
“When them postcards stopped… Shit… Didn’t know where ya were. Didn’ know if ya were alive or dead or hurt somewheres. Didn’ know if ya had stopped lovin’ me. If ya found someone else… Know ya had every right to. Day after day… Walkin’ up ta tha’ mailbox... Hopin’ there’d be somethin’… But nothin’…”
Ed couldn't keep his voice from cracking, “Was bad ‘nough bein’ apart, knowin’ ya loved me. Thousand times worse thinkin’ ya didn’ anymore. Or thinkin’ worse. Musta looked at that Juarez postcard a hundred times fer some clue as ta why ya stopped. ”
“After a while, couldn’ take it no more. Got yer parents number from the operator. Had ta know if ya were at least okay. Called ‘em. Jus’ asked if ya was there s’all. All’s yer dad said was tha’ they hadn’ heard from ya in a while. ‘Xpectin’ ya back maybe sometime in spring though ‘n could he take a message. Couldn’ leave no message. Didn’ know wha’ ta say. If ya had been there prob'ly jus' woulda hung up. Woulda known then.”
Hank had never even thought about what stopping those postcards might do to Ed. Was too wrapped up in his own feelings. Felt about as bad as he ever had that day. Still felt bad when he thought about it. Knowing what he’d done to Ed for those months. Knowing Ed would always have one more painful memory buried deep inside of him all on account of Hank’s stupidity.
“I’m sorry Ed. No way I can make up for it. Didn’ realize… I jus’ didn’ think what it would do ta ya. I’m a selfish sonofabitch. Always was.”
“Guess ya didn’ know. Was all I had. Meant ya loved me. Meant ya was okay. Went ta the library when I could. Took me a while ta get ma nerve up. They had a big book with all kinds a maps in it. Woman there was real nice ‘n showed me how ta use it. Used it ta follow ya ‘cross the country from all them postmarks. Jus’ made me feel better ta know where ya was.”
“Hell. When they started up again… Broke down worse than when tha’ first one come. So glad ta hear from ya. ‘N so mad at ya.”
Hank apologized again, knowing nothing he said or did could ever totally heal that wound. Then their painful words turned into tender kisses, turned into not so tender kisses, turned into clothes being frantically ripped off and tossed aside. And everything was made all right again in the way that always worked best.
That was the beginning of it. The short story. Dredging up the past, bringing them some pain with it, but also bringing them closer together. Probably where it would have ended. After all, movie didn’t do much for them that way. Probably mostly because Ed wouldn’t see it. But all them stories Hank found online. That Ed let Hank read to him. At least parts of them. That’s what really opened the floodgates.
Hank paused, "Ed really needed to see that movie. Note to self: Tie Ed down and make him watch that movie. Hmmm... Tie Ed down..."
Tonight it was Hank who was unable to sleep, seemed like they took turns. Hank was sitting up at the computer, writing. He looked over at Ed. Fast asleep now, his face lit by the moonlight streaming in the window, mouth open, snoring softly and, Ed was going to kill Hank when he read this, a little bit of drool glistening on Ed's chin, trailing down towards the pillow. God, he loved that man so much it hurt. Can’t imagine what he ever did to deserve him.
Hank continued to admire Ed. Sleeping in the altogether, limbs spread out ungainly-like on the bed. Hank smiled as he remembered how Ed slept in pajamas at first. The kind Nora had always bought for him. Never slept in pajamas when they were meeting in the mountains for all those years. Once he moved in though, out came the pajamas. Hank recalled laughing his ass off at them. Teasing Ed about his ‘old man pajamas’.
Then one night the pajamas disappeared. Hank asked Ed where they’d gone to and Ed had laughed and said that he didn’t never want anything to come between them again, not even pajamas, so he'd thrown out the ones he had left. Funny thing was, once they disappeared Hank missed stripping those pajamas off of Ed. Fondly remembered ripping more’n one pair to shreds in his zeal to get at what lay beneath.
“Hmmm. Maybe he’d go out and buy Ed a nice cheap pair a pajamas, or two...”
Hank liked the sight of Edthedog and Hankthedog curled up next to the bed too. Not nearly as much as the sight of Ed, but something nice and domestic about the scene all the same. No dogs allowed on the bed, though. Not even Stella. Well, just now and then. But the bed was the one spot reserved for just Ed and Hank. If Ed wasn’t going to stand for pajamas coming between them not likely he’d stand for a dog doing the same.
Hank’s dick twitched as he went back to admiring Ed. Had the urge to crawl over there and start with Ed’s toes, making his way up. Well, maybe he’d skip over the poison oak rash on his legs and feet. But after that…. Hank shook his head. Better just let him sleep. Poor guy had a hard day yesterday and a hard enough time sleeping through the night as it was.
Hank willed his reluctant mind to travel back to that year again, that third year without Ed. Hank roamed aimlessly around the Southwest after parting ways with his lover. No, that just didn’t sound right. That word was reserved solely for Ed. Let’s just say after parting ways with that guy who liked him a whole lot. Hank somehow made enough money to survive and keep his truck running. But just barely. He still sent postcards from wherever he went and bought extra knowing he’d be going back to his folks place for a while in the spring.
Spent a good bit of the spring helping out at his folks place. More like moping around his folks place. Then one day he decided that enough really was enough. It was time to fish or cut bait. Whatever that meant. It was time to piss or get off the pot. That one he understood. Hank had to stop doing this to himself. He had to find out one way or the other. Considered going to Ed. Just showing up at his door someday. Then realized that wouldn’t work. Well, it might work, but it wasn’t what Hank wanted. Ed had come to Hank that second night and Hank knew it had to be Ed that came to him now. Hank knew well enough how he felt about Ed. But he wasn’t sure anymore how Ed felt about him. If Ed came to him, Hank would know that Ed still loved him.
The rodeo in Cody... Ran for a good chunk of the summer. Hank had been there the year before. He rushed off to his room, rifling through the stack of postcards, finally finding the one he’d picked up from the motel he’d stayed at the previous year. Called right then and there to reserve a room during the rodeo. Most of town booked up right tight for the summer, but this place wasn’t too well known. Hank took the room for the first whole week that they had a room available. Got the weekend on either end too. Wanted to reserve it for as much time as he could afford. Give Ed the widest window possible to come to him.
Then, hands shaking, he copied the information from the postcard down on a slip of paper for himself, then circled the name and address of the motel on the front of the card so Ed couldn’t possibly miss it and addressed the card to Ed.
Hank thought carefully about what he wanted to write. Only had this one card from that place so he didn’t want to mess it up.
“Hey Ed, Having a terrible time. Wish you were here. Going to be in Cody for the rodeo July 15-24. Thought ya might want ta come see the rodeo and all. Rehash old times. Gonna be stayin’ at this place. Welcome ta bunk with me. Plenty a guys double up durin the rodeo ta save money. Hope ta see ya there.”
Hank didn’t put his parent’s return address on the card. No room left. Besides, he didn’t want to know so fast if Ed wasn’t going to be there. Sure, he needed to move on if necessary. But no sense rushing it. And maybe Ed would have said ‘no’ right away. Knee-jerk reaction and all. But maybe if he had time to think on it, he’d show up.
Hank knew it was wrong. Man had a wife and baby. Maybe more than one baby now. Figured three years was long enough for the marriage to stick if it was going to. One of the thousand different ways Hank tried to rationalize it. But in the end it just didn’t matter. He just wanted Ed. And if Ed still wanted him… God, he hoped Ed still wanted him.
It was only May. Hank wasn’t quite sure what to do with himself until July. How to make the time pass. Didn't seem to matter if Hank was on top of the world at the prospect of seeing Ed again or in the depths of despair convinced Ed would never show up. Time passed at the same unbearably slow pace. And there were more than a few days Hank would have sworn the hands on that clock in his folk's kitchen were actually moving backwards. Hank mainly stayed around his folks place. He'd been stranded places before. Truck broken down and no money to fix it. Didn't want to risk that happening, maybe keeping him from Cody. Maybe keeping him from Ed. Week before he was supposed to leave he started that truck every morning. Listening closely for any sounds of possible trouble.
Then somehow it was July 15th and he was in Cody. Checked into the room. Nothing to do but wait. Trying to calm himself. Telling himself there was no guarantee Ed would show up the first day. Or at all. Hank checked everything out. Checked himself out in the mirror. Kept looking at that damn bed. Checked everything out again. Wasn’t too bad. Looked pretty much how Hank felt. Everything a little worn out, a little threadbare. Carpet no doubt made more so from Hank’s ceaseless pacing. Probably hadn’t replaced anything since that postcard had originally been printed. But it was clean enough.
Then there was a knock on the door. Hank’s heart leapt. He threw the door open to find a couple of his rodeo buddies standing there. He'd been surprised earlier in the day when he had run into them. Guess he shouldn't have been, but he just wasn't thinking about anything else but Ed. They probably didn’t even notice his dismayed look because they were already half drunk even though it wasn’t even five. Come to see if he wanted to go get something to eat. He tried to beg off. But they pretty much just grabbed him and dragged him with them to the coffee shop across the street. Hank just had time to yell in to the desk clerk that if a buddy of his showed up to send him over.
Hank made sure he sat where he could see that motel. See the parking lot. See the office. Thought he never took his eyes off that place for a second. So when Ed walked in the door he was caught by surprise again. Hank's heart came to a standstill. Ed looked the same to Hank. Exactly the same. Heartbreakingly the same.
Ed didn’t see Hank. Was headed towards an empty stool at the counter. Hank somehow managed to stand and walk towards Ed, cutting him off before he got to that stool. Then their eyes met. Ed looked like a deer caught in the headlights. Even started to back away from Hank as he got closer. Hank wasn’t sure what to do. Finally just grabbed Ed by the arm and pulled him over to the table where his buddies were sitting.
Hank's mind was racing. He needed to get Ed away from here. Now. Needed to get Ed alone. Now. Needed Ed. Now. Hank didn't remember introducing Ed to his friends, but he must have. Hank did remember realizing that his buddies had a clear view of that motel across the street. How was he gonna get Ed into that room when Ed knew all these guys might be watching?
Hank thought he had anticipated everything, but he hadn’t considered this. He glanced quickly at Ed. Ed looked like he might turn and flee any second now. Hank had to think fast, next to impossible to do in his current state. Hank heard himself talking, “Hey Ed bet ya had a long, hot drive. Why don’ ya clean up some ‘n the room then I’ll show ya ‘round town. We can meet these guys later and go fer a few beers.” Hank knew once he got Ed into that room no one would really notice how long they’d been there. And by later in the evening all his buddies would be too drunk to remember if they ever showed up for those beers or not.
Hank thought he’d heard Ed agree. Then heard someone mention his untouched sandwich. Hank took out some money, threw it down on the table and grabbed the unwanted sandwich, saying he’d just take it with him. Must have tossed it out somewhere, ‘cause he never saw it again. The walk across the street to the motel seemed endless. The door to that room just seemed to get farther away with every step. They didn’t say a word to each other. They didn’t look at each other. They made their way across the crowded sidewalks, across the traffic-filled street and, finally, across the parking lot to the door to Hank's room.
Somehow Hank got the door open. They walked inside. Hank closed the door and they stood there.
Ed was standing with his back to Hank. Hank took one step towards Ed. Reached out to touch his shoulder. Then something about Ed made him stop. Ed wouldn’t look at Hank, just looked around the room nervously, “Hank... Made a big mistake. All them people… Not like tha’ mountain. Too many people... Cain’t... Was jus’ goin’ inta tha place ta get a cup a coffee. Maybe try’n write ya a note, ‘fore I left town. Figured I owed ya tha' much. Didn’ think ya’d be in there.” Ed’s voice broke and Hank could see that Ed was shaking, “Sorry… Jus’ cain’t. I... Gotta go…”
Hank was used to crowds. Figured it was better to be lost in the crowd. Easier to disappear. Had forgotten that there was no way Ed would feel that way. “Fuck! I am such an idiot. Oh, God, he’s leaving! What have I done? I’ve gotta stop him...”
Ed turned and headed out the door. Hank grabbed for his arm, but Ed shook it free. Then Ed was heading across the parking lot.
Hank couldn’t help himself, “Ed! Ed!” He called after him, but his words just seemed to spur Ed to flee faster. Hank somehow managed to close the door then collapsed onto the floor, leaning against it. That was it. It was over. Almost three fucking years spent aching for that man and in his eagerness Hank had blown it by not considering how Ed would feel in a crowded town. But Ed had shown up. He must still love Hank. He didn’t get spooked until he saw all these people around. “Oh God! I cain’t start that again. If he loved me he would have stayed. At least for a little while. At least long enough to…” Hank let out one choked sob.
Hank didn’t know how long he stayed that way. After what seemed like a very long time, or maybe not long at all, he heard a knock on the door. His heart leapt again. Hearts just don’t learn. But then he heard one of his buddies yelling to him, “Hey, c’mon Hank, let’s go get some beers.”
Hank yelled back through the door, “Cain’t. Ain’t feelin’ too good. Try ta join ya later.”
“How ‘bout yer friend? He ‘round? Thought I saw him drivin’ away earlier.”
Hank could feel his throat closing up. He tried to steady his voice, “Ain’t here. Don’ know where he went.”
More time passed. It was dark now. Hank finally managed to get up. He stumbled to the bathroom and took a piss then splashed cold water on his face. He looked at the bed, then at the door. Might as well go get drunk. Good and drunk... Shit-faced drunk... Fallin’ down drunk... Fallin’-down-pos'bly-never-get-back-up drunk... Dangerous thing for a desperately lovesick queer boy to do in a town chock full of rodeo fuck-ups. But better than staying here looking at that empty bed. Trying to sleep in that empty bed. That empty bed… Only way he was getting any sleep in that bed was if he passed out on it.
Hank threw the door open and was stopped in his tracks. There stood Ed. Hat in one hand his other hand raised, about to knock. They both stood there frozen. Hank recovered first. He grabbed a fistful of the front of Ed’s shirt and yanked him into the room. Then he kicked the door shut and roughly pushed Ed against it. Hank grabbed Ed’s hat from his hand and tossed it aside. Ed opened his mouth to say something, but Hank wasn’t about to give Ed a chance to talk this time. Made that mistake earlier. Hank flung himself full-force against Ed and covered Ed’s mouth with his own.
Only took Ed a moment to recover. To respond in kind. Ed moaned. His arms wrapped tightly around Hank. His mouth devoured Hank’s as hungrily as Hank’s devoured his. Ed’s hands matched the movement of Hank’s hands on him. Going from Hank’s back, to Hank’s head, to Hank’s ass. Pulling on Hank’s shirt. Tugging at Hank’s belt…
So long. It had been so long...