Jonesy thought he saw a deer, It wasn’t a deer, nothing even close. It was a walking human plague, but he didn’t know that at the time.
He was on the hunting stand in the maple. He thought his friends had bought the excuse of his sore hip, even if his husband didn’t. The one thing about marrying a shrink was, Henry usually knew what Jonesy was thinking. Or did he anymore? Did he care enough to sort through Jonesy’s lies and half-truths or was he too numb?
Speaking of numb, it wasn't that cold out, but Jonesy’s finger was cold and losing feeling on the Garland’s trigger.
And then he realized it wasn’t a deer.
What he had thought was a deer’s eye turned out to be a button on the coat of a man. Of a human being! And Jonesy had almost shot him. Even Henry would have an opinion n that.
Jonesy scolded himself for thinking about getting Henry’s attention at a moment like this. Though he didn't know why, his thoughts went to Beaver.
Put the gun down, Jonesy.
His hands felt frozen in place and in horror he realized he still had the gun aimed at the man in the coat. Jonesy forced himself to put the gun down.
The man in the brown coat and the brown gloves fell down. Jonesy awkwardly got down from the hunting stand with his sore hip nagging him the whole way. “Hey, are you okay?” He asked the man. He was about to tell him he shouldn't be out here wearing all of that brown, but the man appeared to be out of sort or maybe in shock.
The man was named McCarthy, Jonesy thought. He didn’t know how he knew. He just knew these things sometimes. The same way Henry, Beav, and Pete knew things sometimes. Pete? He was good at finding things. He called it seeing the line. Henry tended to get foreboding feelings. Maybe that was why he was so goddamned depressed all the time. Too bad he couldn’t work that shrink magic himself.
Suddenly, Jonesy wanted nothing more than Henry to be there with him. Maybe to hold him and keep him warm and tell him everything was going to be okay.
He’s at Gosselin’s, not the other side of the world
Except, it seemed some days as if Henry might as well be on the other side of the world. Jonesy knew he tried to guard the blank expression in his eyes. But he had seen it. Oh, he saw it every time Henry thought he wasn't looking. Jonesy supposed he should be flattered that Henry put that effort into faking it.
“Oh dear, oh dear,” the man in the brown coat said. As Jonesy got closer, he saw that the man had quite the beer belly.
“Are you okay?” Jonesy asked, offering the man (McCarthy) a hand to help him up out of the snow.
The man was shocked to see another person. “Oh, thank GodI thought I was lost. I thought I was going to die out here!” He seemed unsteady on his feet, as if he were drinking about as much as Pete did,
“You’re not going to die,” Jonesy said, and he had the odd feeling as if he were talking to a child, “Come on, my friend’s cabin is just up the way. Let’s get you warm and indoors.”
McCarthy was quick to agree to that offer. Jonesy had to put his arm around the man and help guide him to the cabin, even despite his injured hip. He wasn't limping yet, at least. That would probably come later. His hip would never be the same since his car accident, but he was thankful he had recovered as much as he had. Jonesy hadn’t had sex since the injury, of course that was supposed to change this weekend but...
Jonesy opened the door to Beaver’s cabin and guided McCarthy to the couch, “Why don.’t I get you something to eat and drink?” Jonesy asked. “How does water, hot soup, and grilled cheese sound?”
“Oh, that would be lovely,” the man said. Jonesy remembered that he hadn’t yet told him his name, although he knew it was McCarthy.
“My name is Gary. My friends call me Jonesy. This is my friend Beaver’s cabin. He’s out in the woods and Henry and Pete went out to Gosselin’s Market for some beer.” Jonesy didn’t tell McCarthy that Henry was his husband. He seemed the religious type, and they could always react poorly.
“My name is McCarthy. Richard McCarthy.”
Outside the snow was coming in quick. The ground had disappeared under the snow. Would it get bad enough that it would interfere with Henry and Pete come back from Gosselin's? Jonesy felt like he couldn't bear the thought. He wanted Henry back and now although he had no idea why.
It’s the foreboding.
“It wasn’t supposed to snow,” McCarthy said. “Thank God you found me!” He smiled and with horror, Jonesy realized he was missing several of his front teeth.
Henry Devlin planned to kill himself exactly twenty-three days after the “hunting trip.” They always called it that, even though all of them knew that wasn’t what it was. It might have started that way, back when Beav’s dad and his friends had came. But now? It was a fuck fest.
They had gotten in last night, and as far as Henry knew no one had hooked up yet, Then again, he had left Jonesy and Beaver alone. If that was going to happen -and it most certainly would- Henry would rather not hear from the other room.
But Henry was with Pete now. Once Pete had gleefully referred to himself as Henry's “side-chick”. Jonesy most likely found that funny because that was allowed in the rules. Anything could happen during the hunting trips. Stuff happened between Pete and Jonesy as much as stuff happened between Henry and Pete. One glorious trip, they had had a drunken threesome that Henry would remember for the rest of his life.
All thirty-six days of it.
The thought sobered him significantly.
He drove faster to try to get the thoughts away.
“Whoa,” Pete said. “Almost spilled my beer.”
Henry was overcome with the urge to tell Pete he loved him, but that wouldn't do. That wouldn’t be normal behaviour. When he was gone in thirty-six days, he didn’t want the boys to have anything they could pinpoint to and say they should have seen the signs.
“Maybe you should slow down?” Pete said. He merely suggested it, too timid to ask.
Henry didn’t slow down. He wanted to outrun his thoughts, as impossible as it was. There was a rush about going to fast on the slippery roads. It hadn’t been snowing long, but it was coming down fast now...
“Henry, watch out!” Pete yelled.
For a moment, Henry didn’t realize what he was supposed to be watching out for and then he saw a woman just sitting there in the middle of the road unblinking. And she wasn't going to move. Henry swerved to avoid her, but ended up turning the car over and slamming it into a tree in the process.
“Shit!” Pete said.
“What? Are you okay?” Henry asked. He might not have cared a lick for his own well-being but he did care about Pete.
“I spilled my beer.”
It turned out that Pete had worse problems than just the spilled beer.
”My leg,” he said, calmly at first. And then not so calmly. “My leg! My fucking leg is broken!”
Pete’s howling was hurting Henry’s head. “You’re okay, Pete. Your leg’s going to be okay.” Henry had no idea if that was true but he felt the urge to comfort Pete as he tried to get out of the car. Pete’s side of the car was on the ground, which meant Henry’s was on top. Henry kicked at the driver’s door, trying to open it. He was fairly certain he could get himself out, although he had cut his leg on the steering column and he wasn’t certain how bad it was. How Henry was supposed to get Pete out of the car, he wasn’t certain.
Henry hip-checked the driver’s door, and this time it opened.
“My leg!” Pete was still screaming.
“It’s okay, Pete. It’s going to be okay,” Henry said. He was overcome with the desire to kiss Pete’s cheek, a whim which he indulged in. He giggled. Some part of Henry knew he was probably in shock, but it felt like a giddy euphoria. And while Henry could see that the leg he had cut on the steering column was bleeding, he felt no pain. He felt nothing at all. He could hear his heart beating in his ears.
“Henry?” Pete asked, his voice full of concern.
“It’s going to be okay,” Henry said again. The same empty platitude over and over again. “I’m going to get out and then I’m going to see if I can get you out of the car, okay?”
By way of answering Pete simply said. “It’s cold.”
“I promise, I’ll get you all warmed up real soon,” Henry told him The thought of it made him giggle again.
Henry climbed out of the car and down on to the ground. It was very icy now. The snow had accumulated quickly.
“Son of a...” Henry said.
Pete’s voice took on a tone of panic once more. “Henry? What is it? What’s wrong?”
Henry had forgotten all about the reason they had crashed. The woman, was still sitting in the middle of the road, not batting an eye, not acknowledging their existence. She was completely unharmed by the car accident.
“Honey, I’m home!” Beaver said as he stepped into the cabin. Jonesy cringed internally, but it wasn’t a moment before Beaver realized they had company.
“Well, hello there,” Beaver said, grinning at McCarthy.
“This is my friend Beaver,” Jonesy said. “He owns the place, Beaver, this is Richard McCarthy.”
Jonesy had now made the grilled cheese and soup and McCarthy was eating it hungrily. Jonesy brought a pitcher of water, which was good because McCarthy was on his third glass. Or was it his fourth? Jonesy couldn't be certain. “McCarthy got lost in the woods. I think we’ll drive him back to town when Henry and Pete get back.”
“Sounds like a plan. When did you get lost?” Beaver asked. “Someone’s probably worrying about you.”
McCarthy’s eyes widened. “Oh gosh, they’ll be looking for me. I’ve been missing for... oh I don’t know how long. What day is it?”
“It’s Sunday,” Beaver said.
“The 7th?” McCarthy asked.
Beaver and Jonesy exchanged a terrified glance.
“No,” Beaver said. “It’s the the 14th.”
Henry felt strangely pissed off about the woman in the middle of the road. She just sat there in her catatonic daze. She probably didn’t even register the crash or that Henry and Pete were there. But still, Henry felt like she was watching him, despite the fact that her eyes didn’t move.
Fuck her, Henry thought to himself and focused on the problem of how to get Pete out of the car. Tilt the car or try to get Pete out the driver’s side? Yeah, right. You’re not strong enough to move the car by yourself, idiot.
Except he was full of adrenaline and he was strong enough. He was surprised by his own strength, but not by the howl that came out of Pete when he tilted the car back to it’s normal position. Then he managed to shove the passenger’s door open, finally getting to Pete.
“Quit your whining,” Henry said. “You’re fine.” But now he could see that Pete wasn’t going to be fine without medical attention. His leg was broken and bleeding. Henry took off his jacket and then slid off his t-shirt. He put the jacket back on, it was freezing as hell out here, but Pete needed some kind of tourniquet and the t-shirt was the best Henry could think of.
Pete looked up at him as Henry tied the t-shirt around his leg. He looked so young. He wasn’t. None of them were young anymore. Back in their school days, Pete was a grade lower than the rest and he had seemed younger. He had looked up to Henry. They all had.
I can’t imagine why, Henry thought to himself. He finished bandaging Pete’s leg to his satisfaction and kissed the other man on the forehead. Henry wanted to say something to Pete. Maybe “I’m sorry.” Maybe “I love you.” But Henry didn’t know how to say either of those things.
“It’s not so bad, right?” Pete asked.
“No, it’ll be okay,” Henry said. “The car won’t be. We’re almost ten miles from the Hole in the Wall.” And then he remembered the woman. Still sitting in the middle of the goddamn road. Wearing her parka and oblivious to the world. The snow was falling on her. accumulating in her hair and coat. That was when Henry wondered if she was dead. “Stay here. I’ll be right back.” He hadn’t tried to get Pete out of the car yet. He was in a sitting position and that was probably best for now until they figured out a better plan.
“Where are you going?” Pete asked, his voice sounding small.
“There’s a woman in the road,” Henry said. Pete must have forgotten about her, too although his yells of warning were what caused the accident in the first place. “I’m going to check if she’s okay.”
“Okay. As long as you’re right back,” Pete said.
For a moment Henry forgot himself. He didn’t care who was watching (if the woman was alive, if she was capable of watching). He kissed Pete on the lips, gently lingering for just a moment. “I’ll be right back.”