Days and Nights on Old Haven Road.
(The idea for this was inspired by Laika. Who thought maybe a look at some of the other people and such who lived up on Old Haven Road might be something people might like. This is a story about two of those people.)
Ryan had asked him to come over to his place whenever he need some stuff for the kids. Rob once Bobbi Hart pulled on his ace bandage wrapping it over his small but decent breasts and then the two t-shirts and got into the piece of shit Toyota half ton he owned and headed down his lane and checked his Saturday night special to make sure it was there.
Rob wasn’t transgendered; Bobbi Hart had once been a great girl, happy and normal. Then she married Eddie right out of high school him being the great football star of their rinky dink little town of Briar in north Texas. Her life was great until he drank, he got strange and not like the boy she loved when they got married. He got jealous and he hit her. He had always been so loving and apologetic afterwards and her mom told her… “Don’t y’all be stupid he’s a good man and he’s gonna be a good provider. You just gotta not get on his wrong side girl. You seen me and yer daddy.”
It was true, her own Dad was a lot like Eddie and it was a lot like that for a lot of women in Briar. It was the way they were taught growing up that it’s just part of life. In life a little rain must fall.
After Eddie blew out his arm, it rained a lot. His daddy was owner of the town mill and owned most of the timber and a lot of the land so when Eddie flunked out of school because he’d been coasting on his game he got a job at the mill as one of the foremen and he got mad because she’d stayed in nursing school…until he beat her for getting to big for her britches and took her home out of school.
He’d kept her there until the school flunked her out and she lost her own scholarship. Her family didn’t know he hit her that time and hauled her home. They were just glad that she showed some sense for once and returned to her husband. Eddie got worse and worse with the drinking and the beatings and hooked on his painkillers…Vicodin, the Vicodin led to him getting into Oxycodone. It got bad enough she prayed for him to overdose. Then he knocked her up trapping her there even more. He never hit her then, his daddy knew he beat her and didn’t give a damn. She had only been safe because she was pregnant carrying twins.
It’d been Eddie’s greatest achievement when after he had produced twin boys. She didn’t want to know how her life had’ve been if she had just girls. It was too much though when she was doing the dishes and listening to Eddie and her father in law going on and on about raising the boys right and all the plans for their life.
So she waited on them hand and foot and smiled making them nachos and bring her “Honey” and her “Daddy” beer after beer and each one they had got a bit of rat poison before she had added the wedge of lime. She took what money and cash they had, Ernest, Eddie’s dad’s truck and took her boys and fled. Eddie had recovered somehow and chased her in his car to the outskirts of town. He drove across a wheat field to cut her off he had two friends and guys he partied with help cut her off with their cars and he was going to beat her to death with a tire iron.
Ernest being the typical old school red neck had a gun rack in the truck. She’d never fired a gun in her life but she shot all three guys. Bobbi left and had been on the run ever since for murder, and Eddie had lived like the cockroach he was…he’d inherited everything his daddy had and he wanted her dead, he wanted their boys back.
So she learned the hard way over three years and seven states to disappear. Then last year she found herself here As “Rob” Robert Hart a young widower, he lost his wife to a drug problem he quietly told a few people and just wanted a place to raise his kid’s right. Keep them out of the bullshit.
He’s been here living like this raising his two boys as best he could and trying to bring them up right. The biggest deal was the authorities, the whole child welfare thing and they came when he first moved in. It’d been an old hunting camp that some guy name Lewis had owed money on and he’d got in for cheap. It seemed no one wanted to be in the middle of the woods with a lot of swampland and stuff. It took every bit of money he had saved up and still a dose of charity from the realtor who knocked off a thousand off the asking price because of his story.
Lewis had put some work into it and had fixed it up enough. In reality it was and old mobile home that had been brought in by they guy and had water put in with a well and a septic tank. It was old built in the fifties but it was still better than nothing or just about. There was power run in from the main road down his lane which was nearly a mile back in the woods. While he knew the social worker didn’t like it his place was spotless as he’d really learned how to do housework and the kids seemed happy. This far out they’ve never been back.
It was hard, damned hard and Rob had to work his butt off just to make ends meet. Not greatly educated in the stuff that men folk did it became a learning experience. Odd jobs like helping to dig a well or to cut brush and using a chainsaw to cut wood or junk up the wood already felled for the winters wood.
They damned near frozen that first winter in the trailer with that rinky dinky little electric furnace and shitty base board heaters. They’d have been snowed in if it wasn’t for Ryan and his tractor. They’d have starved too if it hadn’t been for him and a few locals.
It’s why he was making the trip right now to Ryan’s house. Ryan lived comfortably made milk and cheese because you had to do something with all the extra milk and he always put in a large garden. It’s the way of people up and around these parts; buying stuff in town was one of those more like going in for supplies kind of things. Up here on Old Haven Road you were more likely to trade services or stuff you had or made.
Rob as it had turned out just discovering things by accident was a pretty good woodcarver. It had just started as whittling just to pass the time as the boys played and something’s turned out pretty good. Over their second winter there it sort of became what he did. In fact he’d built himself a turntable like lathe out of an old two stroke engine and a collection of homemade shaping tools. He paid for all of it in clothes pins, wooden spoons and other wooden made knick-knacks. Everyone around had a real great liking for the dishes though, Rob turned out mugs and bowls of all sizes as well as plates and platters and saucers. He traded mostly with the neighbors but in the fall fair he’d bring out stuff to sell in the fall farmers markets and the fair in Rome.
Most of that money though had to last all year. So here he was pulling into Ryan’s patch and he could smell baking? When he got out and let the boys out who ran immediately over through the garden grabbing handfuls of peas and beans to snack on as they went and watched to cows and mooed at them.
Coming here made some of the stuff Ryan grew here a treat and he loved the way that they just were so…untouched by all that crap that had gone down in his life. He swore he could smell baking; there was the unmistakable scent of frying doughnuts that was making his mouth water.
“I guess the rumors are true then?”
He asked Ryan as he came out of the house looking…well, not that he’d have said it but handsomer? That guy getting well taken care of and being happy. Ryan usually had stoic going for him, he had stoic down, this was Ryan and Ryan looked happy.
They did the whole guy swing their arm into that handshake thing and grinned at each other. If Ryan knew then like anyone else around here they never said a thing about it. There were times unless they were in the bath they actually were Rob. That wasn’t a bad thing either, Rob as quiet as he was it seemed was liked and he even heard once that a few people in town didn’t blame him if he wanted to keep his kids out of the drugs and stuff that was even in the smaller towns these days.
It all helped in keeping Bobbi away from Eddie.
Ryan smiled. “Yeah, c’mon I’d love for you to meet her.”
He went to the house gesturing and Rob called out for the kids to come over and meet Uncle Ryan’s lady friend. Ryan blushed and smiled and let them into the house where Becky was in the kitchen baking up a storm to use up the buttermilk they had on hand that might have gone bad. There was this huge roaster full of brown paper and she had lines and lines of doughnuts draining off some plain, some dipped in a glaze and those ones that had been rolled in cinnamon and sugar and a little nutmeg.
She, this Becky was actually quite pretty. Now she was about twelve years or so Ryan’s senior but she looked happy. A long skirt that almost went to her ankles and was loose in that gypsy peasant country looking kind of way, her hair in a pony tail and she was wearing a Led-Zeppelin tee-shirt and had her hair pulled back in a pony tail. She was barefoot and dancing as she cooked with a pair of his wooden tongs he had made and she smiled when Ryan kissed her neck and there was that look.
When he kissed her Becky shone from within like someone gave light to her heart. Rob had been alone a long time and had…this was real and it wasn’t something they’d ever had know.
Ryan smiled. “Becky hon, this is Rob Hart the local wood sculptor I told you about, His two sons Robin and William.” William piped up. “That’s Will like Will Scarlet ‘cause Robin’s my brother.”
Becky smiled and blushed and shyly offered her hand. “Hi I’m Rebecca, it’s very nice to meet you….uhm would you and the boys like a few doughnuts and some coffee?”
Rob smiled. “I’d love some Ma’am.” Around here was a lot like the old days you used manners more than most places and everyone extended hospitality to one and other. Robin piped up like his twin had. I don wanna coffee ma’am but can my brother and me have some milk?”
Becky’s smile lit the place up. Rob smiled a little sad and distant for their own losses and yet happy the way that a parent should be at watching their kids eating and stuffing their faces and happily guzzling away milk. The doughnuts made him smile too because they were actually better than his momma’s recipe and it had been a long time since he’d had them fresh out of the hot fat and with a really good cup of coffee to go with them. Part of him was in heaven.
Ryan asked. “You bring any work?”
“Oh yeah I took the time to make you your order up plus I’ve brought a few things I made also if you want to take a look. I was going to take some of it up to the mill to trade off, maybe have a beer while I’m there.”
“Okay, how about after supper. You and the boys stay with us and have supper and get all the stuff you need and then we can all go up to Emmitt’s place and have a few and I can introduce Becky to them.”
“Sounds good, if that all right with Rebecca that is?”
She looked scared. Not freaked out run for you life fear but scared, scared of being caught or found out scared. She was biting her lower lip and staring at Ryan and he smiled and took her hand and squeezed it and she nodded, she changed her grip so their fingers were intertwined and she nodded.
It was great and it was hard to watch. Ryan cooked he had some one stop by before with a whole mess of bass and lake trout and he did them up in this way that Rob was assuming was from Canada. He washed the fish clean then rolled them in corn meal and then lots of salt and pepper and sweetened dried coconut like what you baked with then took tin foil and slathered it with butter and wrapped the fish up each in a buttered sheet. Those got tossed onto the grill with fresh out of the garden potatoes and veggies he put into a foil pack with more butter and a squash was emptied of its pulp and seeds and he did the same with that. Heck the only things that he used pans for was the greens off of the beets and turnips mixed with some from the pea plant too and even some dandelions and some chards. Those were cooked in bacon once they had gotten crispy and the fat had come out a diced up pickled hot pepper and tossed.
It was a bit embarrassing when Ryan had asked Rob to make up a couple of pans of cornbread saying that he made the best cornbread he’d ever had. “Well of course I do Ryan, I’m from Texas we eat cornbread like most folks eat peanut butter.”
It was kind of true but with all the butter milk and bacon and lard there making good cornbread wasn’t too hard. Rob’s secret was melting a little bit of brown sugar into the mix and a can of cream style corn in replacing some of the liquids. That and having a well greased pans and he used butter for that.
It was a great meal and a feast really, the food wasn’t free by any means with him having made Ryan a whole mess of nice wooden bowls and new things to cut and work with his cheeses and hand made old fashioned crocks of wood and boxes for his butter.
In exchange Ryan let them have use of his washer and dyer and picked six or so boxes of vegetables from his garden. It was almost a family country scene with all of them out there as a group picking stuff together in the garden that gave Rob pangs of homesickness and the good times but cheered him because Old Haven Road was like this.
After all of that they headed up all of them walking up through the woods and these well worn back woods paths that went between or around or through people’s places until they got to Emmitt’s place and they crossed the little bridge over the stream that turned the mill and walked in. Ryan brought his wheelbarrow and had stuff for trade like butter and cheese and Rob carried the stuff he had to barter with in an old hockey bag. Years ago that might have been too heavy but that was a lot of hard desperate work ago.
The boys screamed and ran ahead to play with some of the other kids that were here with their folks. There were swings and hand made teeter-totters for them to play on and they were already having a good time. There was about six vehicles parked here and a four wheeled ATV and it The Barn there were people mingling and things set out for buy/sell/barter or trade on one of the long benches up against the wall. On the other side was Emmitt’s bar and a bit of a stage and at the back at the far end was the kitchen where things were made just to nibble on or where you could by baked goods from Emmitt’s wife Suzy.
Both of them were old hippies that had been all over the place and knew all sorts of people that ended up sort of famous from those times. Emmitt was one of those old grey haired Willie Nelson types and a bit like Uncle Jessie from The Dukes of hazard thrown in. Suzy was almost twenty years younger that him but had the almost same sort of look as Becky with the skirt and the tee-shirt only here was a Grateful Dead shirt that looked like she got it on tour with them and she had a bandanna on over her hair.
There was booze around all of it homemade and the smells of food and tobacco and the odd bit of reefer and there was Jim Croce playing loudly out of the juke box as a couple of people danced to “Car Wash Blues”. He set out his stuff and if someone had an offer they’d come up and ask. You never had to worry about people stealing your things here, this was one of those places were as much as you got left to your own you got helped and trusted at the same time.
It didn’t seem to matter where you came from or what you did or what your story was. Once you were here you just got to breathe.
He when up to the bar and shook hands with Emmitt and Lane porter who was one of the local guys around here who hunted and trapped mainly but he also cut firewood for a living. Lane was a bit of the new age hippie living in a straw built eco-home and was seriously against industry logging. His adage was cut down a tree plant a dozen. He was also the source of a lot of Rob’s working wood bringing him left over cutting and stumps to turn into his carvings.
They all shook hands and talked a bit well they talked Rob found it a lot easier just to stay quiet and have a few beers. More good tunes started playing and a few more people showed in the whole mid evening thing. Emmitt’s was part pub part trading post and Rob got busy selling a few bowls and all of his clothes pins and coat hangers and he gave a few things to Suzy by way of trade payment for some baked goods and some flour for his own baking at home. Sweetheart that she was she through in a dozen cookies for the boys. He smiled and gave her one of his unrevealing hugs.
“You spoil them Suzy.”
“Their kids, and you here with no family both you and them deserve to be spoiled every now and then.”
“You’re way too sweet for this world y’know that right?”
“Rob honey, that’s why I’m so sweet. The world needs so much more of it. Now git, go have a good time. I’m going to talk to Ryan’s Missus eyeing my guitar.”
He went and got another beer and slipped out to watch the kids for a bit and slipped back inside just as the people who played instrument were gathering on the stage to play including Ryan and his girl Becky who looked scared but excited.
Emmitt tapped him on the arm and he looked over to the old guy. “Rob, this is my “Niece” Danielle, she’s here for a spell.”
Rob sort of instantly got the emphasis on niece she was one of those transgendered types or something but she was actually not really going to pass in regular places. She looked oddly good though in this strange sort of way. Danielle’s shoulders were thick and her arms kind of built, she’d lost weight that much he could tell and there were lots of life scars on her…including her face where she kind of let her hair hide it…Rob was pretty sure that that might even be a wig too. But they didn’t have any body hair; there was the subtle scent of not perfume but of green apple shampoo and soap mixed in with baby lotion and hints of that classic old styled body powder from Avon that smelled like roses.
Danielle was actually attractive if you weren’t some judging asshole. Rob couldn’t help but to inhale as he took her hand and gave her a polite handshake not like the guys but one that treated her like a lady.
“Ma’am it’s a pleasure to meet you.” He saw her blush and gave her a kind smile.
“It’s…its nice...nice to meet you too.” Wow, she was nervous more nervous that Ryan’s Becky was around people.
“Can I buy you a drink?” Gosh when she looked at him with those hazel eyes of her it did something…there was something there that just spoke not just to Rob, but to Bobbi.
“Uhm, n...no…thanks, I don’t drink.”
She bit her lower lip in this bashful cute way. Danielle might be built in a way that never’d pass but there was just something. The long hair this great shape of strawberry blonde and as long as that singer Amada Marshall’s used to be, careful appearance, just hints of make up still going with the age old less is more. This simple dress of pale, pale yellow with white flowers here and there and even though she didn’t fill it out at all she had this sort of an a cup kind of thing going on after her weight loss. Her look was set off with simple white sandals and a white knit open sweater she use to minimize her arms and to hide a bit.
Danielle had this hurt and so tired of the world but so scared to be who she was look to her that Rob’s heart didn’t just go out to her but skipped a beat.
“Then maybe a dance?”
“Uhm…” she looked scared, undecided until Emmitt push her by her back gentle into Rob’s hands as the group of locals jamming up on the stage started playing “Angel Eyes.” By Jeff Healy.
Rob had only danced a few times since everything as the lead and Danielle hadn’t danced much at all and was shaking and saying she was sorry every time she stumbled or stepped on his feet. He smiled and held her there dancing but slowed it down.
“It’s okay Danielle, like this.” And they slowly almost like a dance lesson taught each other how to dance with each other and she very slowly began to relax, very slowly let herself smile.
It was during. One of the “band” breaks when the juke box was playing Unchained Melody that Rob reached over gently and kissed the first person that they had kissed in nearly four long, hard lonely years.
Danielle backed away breathing hard. Tears slipped out and she looked so hurt and sad. “I’m sorry Rob, god I’m so sorry I…I...I’m not into guys.” She ran outside crying and Rob just stood there stunned until Becky slid up behind him.
“Listen, Rob…I know we just met and I’ve only been around here a few months but I know special when I see it. You two had a spark between the two of you building up that few people ever get to have. Right now Danielle’s all nerves, all fear and she honestly thinks that she’s never going to be worthy of being loved. And she’ll snuff that spark out if you let her because she’s been in the dark for so long she’s scared of what the light will bring into her life.”
He turned and looked at her and instead of Ryan’s shy girl there was another person who’d been through just that and knew just what the hell she was saying.
He let Becky hear Bobbi’s voice in a little tiny “Fuck…” that widened her eyes in surprise and he left her there running out to find Danielle.
She was there on that little foot bridge over the brook and sitting on it back to the railing legs pulled up and was crying. Rob went over and sat beside her and pulled her head onto her shoulder and kissed the top of her head which made her cry all the more.
It had been about twenty minutes when she cleared her throat and spoke to Danielle. “I’m really kind of glad that you like girls although I’ve never seen myself as a lesbian.”
Danielle’s eyes went huge as she lifted her head up and stared at Rob/Bobbi. Bobbi kissed her long and sweet the way that she used to kiss way back when she thought she really had someone to love her.
She broke the kiss. “Dani…I’m really a girl, I’m living like this because I have to it’s safer for me and my boys that way. I know this is crazy, I know we’re both messed up and scared but I felt something tonight, something real and it’s because I met this little bit extra girl that touched my soul. I know you’ve been hurt too but I would really like to try? I’d love to be your boyfriend if you’d be my girl.”
Danielle looked deeply into Rob/Bobbi’s eyes and her response was to kiss him.
*** Becky smiled thinking back to that night and what she had seen and everything. In Rob/Bobbi Dani had found someone who treated her like the princess she yearned to be and still they had this lover’s relationship where the just exactly fit each others needs. Dani was the lover Bobbi had always needed able to let her be as strong and as Rob as she needed to be and at the same time loving and feminine enough to be the lover that’d never beat her ever again.
Becky was smiling because they had moved in together and things had only changed for the better. Danielle’s text showed that much with an excited. “The boys just called me Mom:)”
The end... Thanks Bunches Of Hugs Veronica:)
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