chapstick [boot tread]

Part of Unhitched’s prompt collection, Boot Tread

Private prompt: 

Butch needs some chapstick. Go wild.


1000 words

Rated: G
Joseph Dennis | Flickr

I didn’t grow up with cold winters. Maryland saw its fair share of snow storms, but it was nothing like this. This is bitter, unrelenting, and I die a little each time I step outside. These are not unfamiliar feelings for me, but the chill is new.

We’re standing at the side of the road, somewhere in western New York which is the worst place to be in late January. Butcher’s trying to recap the ass of the log pile before the damn thing fills with ice. The wind roars and snow whips around us – a blinding white sheet. My fingers are frozen to the axe handle, my toes are numb, and there is no good reason for us to be here. We could be in fucking Florida right now, but we aren’t. Someone wanted to go north.

I, also, could be helping him, but I don’t want to. I like watching him struggle, and those wood plugs are not easy to maneuver.

Butch shouts over the storm and his shoulder, “AXE!”


He holds out his hand. “My axe, asshole!”

How was I supposed to know? I hold out the handle and he takes it, smacking the axe butt against the logs before he grabs his shit, and we both high-tail it to back to the truck cab.

The doors slam and we sit, huffing out clouds and listening to the wheezing and moaning of the white wind haunting the entire state.

Butch tears off his soaked gloves and throws them on the dash. “Could’ve used a little help out there, Princess.”

“If you’re going to keep calling me that, then don’t expect me to do grunt work, Butcher.”

He glares at me. Yeah, I’m bringing back an oldie but goodie. And he’s not going to argue about it. He likes calling me Princess way too much to make a fuss about his name.

He tosses me a brick of dried meat, and we both sit back and finally relax, chewing on whoever this used to be.

“Why don’t you ever feed Garm?” I say. She’s out running around in this shit and it kills me.

“You feed horses. You don’t feed dogs,” he growls between bites. “They feed themselves.”

“Then why do they sell dog food?”

He stops and shakes his head. “You want that beautiful creature eating that shit? No. She’s strong – stronger than you – and can take care of herself.”

He goes back to gnawing on his pemmican like a fucking animal. He suddenly hisses and when he wipes his mouth, blood smears across the back of his hand. He looks at it and touches the corner of his mouth. Yeah, that’s right. His lips are chapped and bleeding.

He glances at me because he knows exactly what I’m thinking. I’m thinking of cackling and pointing at him, and calling him a weak little shit. He can’t even eat without his face cracking open in protest.

“If I remember correctly,” I say, “you called it lipstick.”

He scoffs and leans back in his seat rubbing his eyes.

“If I remember correctly,” I continue, “it prompted my lovely little nickname.”

He stares at me now, blood gathered in the corners of his mouth. I’ve seen that before, but it’s not typically his blood.

“What I find funny, Butcher, is that you are Mr. Prim and Proper, but it’s all an illusion. You dress me up in fancy clothes and insist that I scrub my nails–“

“You’re not sticking your grimy fingers up my ass. It’s called common courtesy.”

“But you have some bizarre thing about mouths, don’t you? Why? Is it just my mouth? Is that what you find so insulting? Are you so jealous that you can’t stand watching me put on lip balm?”

“Princess, you’re delusional.”

“You’re jealous of my Chapstick, Butch. Who here is delusional?”

I laugh at him and then I open my mouth, nice a wide – no cracks forming, no blood – and take a bite of dried meat. “It’s so good, Butcher. You should have some.”

“By all means, continue,” he says, “But you’ll find out later just how much I love your pretty little mouth. I’ll treat it with the reverence it deserves and I guarantee you won’t need your lipstick anymore.”

“It’s a balm … for your lips,” I snap. “You make all sorts of crazy shit – that poultice for my face after Vegas, and the balm when I burned my hand – so what is the big damn deal?”

“There’s no deal. This is all in you’re head, you little shit. You made this all up like you always do!”

“Your lips are cracked, Butch, so what are you going to do now?” I pull the tube out of my pocket and wave it around. “You want some? It looks mighty painful.”

“I’m not sharing it with you.”

“Is it the germs? Do the germs scare you? You know all that shit you do with your mouth – sucking on my fingers, licking my cock, the kissing – same germs.”

He bites his broken lip and tries to snatch the tube from my hand, but I pull it away. “No, no, no. We aren’t the snatchy types. You can ask nicely.”

Oh, he’s pissed now. He’s chuckling, but he’s pissed. “You’re right,” he says. “May I borrow your Chapstick?”

He doesn’t like it when I order him around so I take every goddamn opportunity to do it.  “And what’s my name? I’ve forgotten already.”

“Hopper,” he sneers.

“All together now.”

“May I borrow your Chapstick, Hopper?”

He’s going to bite me later. I’ll be lucky if I keep both my ears after these shenanigans. I raise my eyebrows, still waiting.

“Hopper, may I borrow your Chapstick, please?”

I smile and nod. That was very sweet of him to say it like that. I feel respected now. “Can you borrow my Chapstick? No, Butcher. That’s fucking gross. Get your own.”

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