Part of Unhitched’s prompt collection, Boot Tread …
Prompt from Tumblr:
I grew up … around [trucker] culture, where truckers love nicknames, booze (gallons) and Girl Scout Cookies. Lucky for me, I never had to sell a cookie, I gave the sheet to dad, he gave it to the truckers and they bought cases. Not boxes, cases. I can see Hopper loving him some Girl Scout Cookies and Butcher giving him shit about it.dandelion_wishes
2484 wordsRated: G
We’re coming up on the truck stop exit when he peers over at me. “Why am I getting off the highway, Hop?”
“Because I asked nicely.” He loves it when I’m vague, but he hasn’t changed lanes yet. I’m not sure he’s enjoying it this time.
“You’ve got to give me a better reason than that or I’m staying put. Have a plan? Target? Need something?”
“We have nowhere to be, Butcher, just let me pick where we’re going for a change. Get off here and head east toward those houses back there.”
He eyes me but does exactly as asked, though he’s huffing and scoffing the whole time. He knows I’m still pissed about his incessant nit-picking about where and when we eat. I’m getting sick of his stews and dutch oven cooking. Campfires are nice when you don’t have to rely on them for every hot scrap of food you eat. I’m not saying the shit he makes isn’t good; I just want to eat something that hasn’t been smoked, covered in a wine-tinged gravy, or pressed into a three-inch square.
“Pull off,” I say, and he parks in a gravel lot by the off ramp. “I’m going for a walk.” I grab my school bag from behind my seat, dump out the books and gear, and pop open my door.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, son. What am I going to do without your pretty little face keeping me company?”
“You’ll live. I need a break. You’re driving me crazy.” I’m about to jump out when he stops me.
“Get the hell back in here. You can’t take off like that. ”
I turn to him because he’s right. I can’t just leave willy-nilly without saying goodbye. I lean over the console, grab his shirt, and pull his mouth into mine. He gasps because he was probably expecting a slap, but I like to keep the bastard on his toes.
His eyes eventually close as I pull him against me, sucking and chewing on his lips. It’s when I let go of his shirt and slip my hand down the back of his pants that he pulls away.
“What the hell are you doing, Hopper?”
I peck his cheek, steal the smokes from his breast pocket, and slide back into my seat. “Going for a walk, Sugar. Don’t leave without me.” I snicker and drop out of the cab before he says a goddamn word, and book it for the truck stop. I am getting something decent to eat. Fuck him and his murder wagon. I can’t take that goddamn food anymore.
On the other side of the underpass is the truck stop. It’s flanked by a 7-Eleven and a strip mall on one side, and a diner and a Piggly Wiggly on the other. I’ve finally found a decent civilization to explore. I’m hitting the supermarket first and then I’m grabbing a coffee, a slice of pie, and plate of food that I didn’t have to chase down and tackle.
In my hand is Butcher’s wallet. I lifted it when the bastard was getting hard with my tongue down my throat. I feel a little bad about that, but not really. I have no money and he sure as hell wasn’t going to give me any for this little jaunt.
I’m halfway to the store when a familiar and mouthwatering sight catches my eye. A couple of little girls, maybe ten, eleven, are pulling a red wagon down the sidewalk. Rosy cheeks, long brown hair on both of them – just my type. They are laughing and having a grand old time.
My plans immediately change. Fuck coffee, fuck pie. I’ve always been more of a cookie man myself, so I take off to catch up to them.
“Hey girls!” They stop and turn right when I reach them. “Whatcha got there?”
“We got sandwich cookies, chocolate mints, Shorties, and the peanut butter ones. All out of the Pecanettes. Did you want some?”
“I do indeed. They still fifty cents?”
“For the small ones, yeah. A dollar for the big boxes. They’re new.”
“How much for all of them?” I say. I’m starving.
“All of them?!” They look at each other like I’m crazy. I could have done the math in my head, but they’re the ones supposedly building life skills here.
The taller one picks through the boxes. “Twenty-three dollars for all of them.”
“Sold! You are one hell of a salesman, sweetheart.”
The girls giggle while I sift through Butcher’s wallet. He is going to be pissed. He has a twenty, a five, and a couple singles, and I should really tip these gals. Their feet have got to be killing them by now, and Butcher wouldn’t want me to be rude. I hand them the twenty and the five and I dismiss the change while they start handing me boxes.
“How many of these are chocolate mints?” I wonder, fingering the stack in the girl’s arms.
“Uh, I think three.”
“Only three?” Damn it. I was hoping more. She hands me boxes and I start filling my satchel. Have you ever had to carry thirty boxes of cookies? It’s problematic. My bag’s puking, I’ve got them stashed under each arm, and a half-dozen tucked in my coat.
The girls are giddy because they get the rest of the afternoon off, while I’m left shell-shocked about what the flying fuck I just did. It’s all the goddamn shit Butcher’s feeding me. I can’t think straight. Why the hell did I just buy thirty boxes of cookies?
The girls thank me with a couple curtsies and carry on their merry way, an empty Radio Flyer nipping at their heels. I’m now in the middle of a parking lot with a couple armloads of cookies and nowhere to go.
I grab some coffee at the 7-Eleven, still juggling boxes, and plop down under the grocery store awning with my haul. A hot cup o’ mud, a smoke, a partially crushed box of shortbreads, and no Butcher slapping food out of my hand. I am in heaven.
It’s been awhile since I’ve gotten to sit and watch people interact. I’m not picking marks, or locks, or leaves out of my teeth after diving off a porch to hide. I’m just enjoying the peace of a revving and bustling truck stop. Moms on vacation are stripping and changing their messy kids in back seats. The dads are checking tire pressure and shooting the shit with the chatty station attendants. Good buddies are meeting for a bite at the diner before the road takes them halfway across America. Deisel and chicken grease fill my nose and the warm concrete under my ass never stops rumbling. I said it was heaven and I meant it.
The shortbreads are perfect – crumbly and sweet – and I pop the lid off my coffee to let it cool. This is the life, right here and now on the ground outside of a Piggly Wiggly. This is what I can’t get Butcher to see. He has his ideas about what constitutes a good life – special meals cooked with “special” meat, a certain level of civility maintained with trimmed nails and good posture – but he misses this. He misses the sweet smiles you can give little girls when you take a silly burden off their shoulders. He misses the absurd frivolity of being a grown-ass man with thirty boxes of cookies shoved in his jacket.
Jokes and puns are fun and all, but what happened to sitting in the shade and having a smoke? What happened to just sucking each other off and going fishing one afternoon? We can eat a piece of pie in a diner without waxing on about rabbits and butterflies and fucking mongooses.
Point is: I didn’t sign up for this. I didn’t chase after him to have the joy sucked out of my life. I’m chasing him because he has a nice ass, a sharp tongue, and he fits me like a glove. He saw me in the shadows because he is a creature of the night. And I do sometimes thank him for noticing me. We all like to be seen on occasion, but just because he can see me, doesn’t mean he sees all of me.
I don’t share his opinions on God. I don’t share his opinions on happiness. And I sure as shit don’t share his opinions on what constitutes good fucking food. It pisses him off, but so be it. Let the scary man sulk.
It’s getting late when I finish the pack of cigarettes and debate opening another box of the chocolate mints. They are my favorite, but honestly, I’d rather wait and save them for a special occasion. My coffee’s gone anyway, and I realize that I now have to walk back to the truck, juggling the remnants of my shameful purchase. Maybe I can convince Butch to try one … maybe the bastard will like it?
I gather up the boxes and my bag and make my way back through the underpass. The sun’s barely setting and he’s outside the truck, watching Garm bouncing around in the weed. He sees me, and he’s already shaking his head.
“Do I have to put a goddamn leash on you, boy!?” he shouts.
“Sounds good to me,” I say back.
He’s laughing, but his jaw is clenched so tight his cheeks are bulging.
“Three strikes,” he says. “In a single go, too. What’s to be done about that?”
“What do you mean three? I bought us snacks for the road … One strike at best.”
He holds up three fingers. “One, you bought junk that neither of us is putting in our mouths. Two, you stole my wallet, you little shit. Three, you lied to me.”
“One, it’s not junk; it’s delicious. Two, I have no money so you leave me no choice but to pick your pocket. Three, I did not lie. You are insufferable, and I had to take a walk.”
“When I agreed to let you have your little walks, that agreement did not include thievery or whatever the hell this is,” he says, gesturing around my stuffed coat.
“I was peckish.”
“You are not eating that shit. It’s full of processed garbage. Your body is a temple, not a dump.”
“It’s my temple, and it wants to bask in the processed garbage.”
“Our temple, and too bad.”
“Fight me, you dick!”
He finally cracks a smile, but still motions for me to hand over the goods. I drop everything to the ground in a pile. If he’s going to be this anal-retentive, he can toss it all out himself.
I kick a couple boxes under the truck and then pat my thigh. Garm bolts out of the tall grass and joins me as I hop back in the truck. He can take my snacks like an asshole, but at least I got some peace today without him peering over my shoulder while I read or grilling me on Descartes while I’m trying to take a shit.
I pull off my boots and flop in the sleeper while Garm curls up in the driver’s seat. My pocket crinkles as I land and I realize I still have half a sleeve of shortbreads on my person. Lucky me. I can hear Butcher shuffling around the truck, chucking my treasures into the weeds. Well, fuck him. I’m going to enjoy my last bit of peace before that blackbird of unhappiness starts cawing in my face again.
I have three shorties in my mouth when I hear the door creak open. The dome light flicks on, throwing it’s shameful glow across my sorry ass, chewing on a pile of cookies like a rat. I force my jaw shut and scramble to hide the wrapper. As he steps up, I choke and blast crumbs all over myself and the bed. He stops and stares as I fight to breathe through the dry wad desiccating my mouth.
“I’m fine,” I choke.
“Hopper, what is God’s name are you doing?”
I cough and clear my throat. “You’re a joy sucker, Butch. You suck joy.”
“That’s not all–“
“Enough dick jokes!” I cough.
He holds up his hands. “Alright, Hopper, calm down,” he snickers. “I know you prefer swallowing, but you might want to consider spitting thatmouthful out.”
I glare at him and swallow as I wipe my mouth and dust the crumbs off my shirt. He chuckles and crawls into bed, flopping next to me.
“You know what your problem is?” I ask.
“Tell me what’s wrong with me, Hop. But use small words so you don’t choke again.”
“You hate happiness. You loathe it, actually.”
He snickers and unbuckles his belt. “I’m the happiest fucker who ever lived, Hop. And you know that.” He slides off his jeans and tosses them to the front seat like we aren’t having a serious discussion in which we should both remain fully clothed.
“I’m trying to talk to you,” I say, but his hand is untucking my shirt so it can slide up my belly.
“You think I stifle your happiness. You think I force you into a box, pray on your weaknesses, and trick you into feeling victimized so I can save the day.”
I pause and narrow my eyes. “No, actually. What? I wasn’t thinking any of that. Well except the happiness part … what did you just say?” He kisses my neck, completely disregarding me yet again. “The happiness part, Butcher, that’s what I’m talking about.”
He stops and pulls away. “Shit food makes you happy?”
“Well, I’m sorry you feel that way.”
He’s sorry I feel that way? What a crock of shit.
He kisses my jaw, rubbing my crumb-filled beard against his while his fingers scour my body for the snap and zipper of my jeans. He thinks it’s all about the food. He thinks if he gets rid of my desires, it solves the problem. It solves his problem, but mine is still front and center.
He sighs in my ear and I feel my body relax despite my anger. He does things to me – powerful, disturbing, anger-inducing things. He makes me seethe … but also melt, and it frustrates me to no end.
I let him unbutton my jeans and slide his hand down my pants. I let him play with me and toy with me and have his fun.
And then I let him kiss me on the mouth and he sucks my tongue, but when he pulls on my lip, I suddenly taste it. Chocolate … and mint.
I grit my teeth as I stare up at his innocent face, and a resolve suddenly washes over me: I will kill this lying, cookie thieving son of a bitch if it’s the last thing I do.
See? Hopper’s not the only liar in this dynamic duo.
So, where could you find 7-Elevens and Piggly Wigglys in 1972? Ohio, apparently. They’re in Ohio. That took forty-five minutes to confirm … all because I wanted the grocery store to be a Piggly Wiggly. (All my gas stations are 7-Elevens because they are universal … and also because Tonny and Frank bumble through a 7-Eleven in Pusher. Shut up.)
And with inflation *bangs hand on calculator*, Hopper just spent $146 on cookies.
Also, Thin Mints were not branded as such until 1973. WHAT THE HELL? They were called chocolate mints. So don’t blame me. Blame the Girl Scouts.
Also, this prompt was by dandelionwishes70 (Tumblr) who created a lovely bit of Unhitched fanart with Rocket and Sinman. Check it out! And thank for the prompt, dandelion_wishes, I had a blast!