He came down to show them his new truck. His brand new metallic blue pickup truck. Of course in manner of toast they went for a right now ride into the night. Drinking lots of cold beer and being very careful not to spill any on his new blue Naugahyde seats.
All in their spots. She was flanked on either side.
“Hey Adam you wanna try ’er?”
She slid over but Dan walked around.
“Sure handles nice,” Adam said. “Shifts real easy.”
“God, it’s big,” she said, looking out over the deck. The three of them were in it, she thought, and all you could smell is new truck. They drove at breakneck speeds through the newly harvested fields skirting the rim of the canyon. The moon was full and the night was crisp. The coyotes howled and their cries echoed in the background.
“Best be gettin’ back I guess,” Dan said after a while.
“Sure is a nice rig,” Adam said.
“Mmhmm, sure is,” agreed Dan.
They drove back leisurely, and in silence, each busy with their own thoughts.
It was Friday night during green pea harvest which waited for no man. Adam and Dan both had to work tomorrow; there was no tribute there.
They had been talking about fighting. Adam had long since gone to bed.
“I’m not much of a fighter really,” Dan said in that slow, horse walk speaking, way of his. “Don’ like it, but when I get mad I don’ take much.
“Look it’s different for a guy. Sort of like its bred in ’em. Everybody’s gotta know how tough y’are…I’m no punk, y’’know. No chicken neither. But even your friends gotta know how tough y’are.”
“I don’t understand,” she said, “what fighting has to do with it. I mean you believe in certain things and you stand up for them. So what the hell…”
He said, “Oh Eve.”
“I guess I best be boogeyin’ on home,” Dan said without moving.
He was lying flat on his back. She didn’t say anything.
He looked up after awhile, “you wanna ’nother beer?”
“Sure,” she said.
He went to the kitchen. He gave her the Buckhorn and took the Rainier for himself.
“Don’t much wanna work tomorrow,” he said. “Hell, don’t need no money, ’rs only me.”
“Well,” she said laughing, “you sure tricked yourself into that one. You’ve got a new truck out there. Besides,” she continued, “it’s really not so different with two people. I mean, Adam isn’t obligated to pay my way.”
He cocked his head. “I bet he don’ feel that way.”
“Well look…I mean he takes care of me and I take care of him but the bottom line is we can both take care of ourselves.”
His hands were folded across his chest, his beer between his thumbs. “Hey, why’nt ya put on some tunes, but real low so it don’t wake Adam OK?”
His eyes opened wide feeling the wrong of what she said. That she wouldn’t expect Adam to take care of her or fight for her.
She came and sat next to him on the floor. All he wanted to know was, “how can that be?” he asked, looking her dead in the eye.
“What?” she said.
“You know what,” he answered, quiet.
“Look, certainly I’d expect someone to help me but, I think… it’s unfair to…give that burden…of protection, I mean to someone.”
“No.” He said. “It’s not like that.” He sat up and said, “I’d fight, but I wouldn’t wan’ ‘o. I mean I’m really not a fighter.” He was taut.
In that sense, she thought to herself, he wasn’t much of a talker either. “You understand,” she asked, “that I’m not insulting him, don’t you?’
He smiled, his eyebrows jumping, looking at her. Beside himself.
God she’s, he didn’t know exactly what but either way makin’, he thought, makin’ a man crazy wanting to take care of her and her spoutin’ all that shit ‘bout she don’ need this ’n that as if it had anything to do with anything. Mm.
“We’re jus’ different,” he said. His hands, all rough and bulbous from work, were in the air as though to mend the gap.
“You ought to put something on them,” she said.
“Can’t. Man’s hands. Ain’t no sissy.”
“Well, they look rough enough to rub off a person’s hide, you know. You need softer hands for softer things,” she said gently.
And they had come back to the start. She wouldn’t want or expect him to fight for her and he certainly would.