Friday, June 10, 2016

Free Fiction: Chips, Dip, and a Bottle of Wine

"What should we bring for the cook-out?" Billy asked.

"Cook-out?" Hank stopped reading the newspaper on his tablet and looked up. "What cook-out?"

"You know. The one for Desiree and Harmony. Their five year anniversary, or something. Or four year? Doesn't Harmony only like even numbers? I remember her saying something about detesting anything ending in a 5 or a zero. She nearly bit my head off last year when I asked her if she enjoyed the town's bicentennial parade." Billy leaned on the kitchen counter and moved the salt and pepper shakers from the left side to the right side. Then he frowned at them and moved them back. "Can't we put these things on the table? Do we need to have them on the counter? They're always in the way over here when I want to put salt on my food."

"No. They get knocked over on the table." Hank kept his voice bland, and he did not bring up that Billy was always the one knocking them over. He liked to make dramatic gestures and when he got really swept up in a topic, nothing was safe. Hank also did not bring up that Billy needed to reduce the amount of salt that he shook onto his food. Making him get up and walk for it was a small way to help reduce Billy's exorbitant sodium intake. "Get back to the cook-out. When is it?"

"Two o'clock, I think." Billy shrugged. "But we don't have to be there right at two. It's a cook-out. We can go late."

"You mean today? Today at two?"

"Of course. Why else would I mention it?"

"And it's an anniversary cook-out?"


Hank resisted the urge to scream and shout. "Did we get an invitation? Or did they tell you?" He couldn't remember getting any notice at all. Of course, Desiree and Harmony were Billy's friends, not really Hank's. Hank knew them a little, because of events like this, but he hadn't gone to school with them, not like Billy had.

"Harmony sent me an e-mail a while back. She said it was low key. Come as you are."

"Can I see the e-mail?"

"I think I deleted it."

"Of course you did." Hank looked at the clock. With an hour to go, there weren't a lot of options. He didn't have time to really make anything. Even putting a salad together involved time for chopping. And in this instance, shopping. Hank had planned to grocery shop later that evening, when the store wouldn't be so crowded. Now that plan was out the window. Hank walked over to check out the pantry. Pasta salad wouldn't be cold enough in time, and he didn't have any vegetables to put in it anyway. He could make it mayonnaise based, but there wasn't enough mayonnaise in the fridge. Hank considered several other options and then sighed.

"What is it?" Billy asked. He'd moved the salt and pepper shakers to the table.

"We'll have to go to the store on our way. Pick up some chips, dip, and a bottle of wine to give as a gift."

Billy laughed. "We always do that!"

Hank raised an eyebrow. Fully half of the time the invites came from Billy's friends and family, and they contacted Billy directly. The rest of the time, Hank's friends and family send him notice of their special events. In general, Hank kept much better track of upcoming social gatherings.

Acknowledging the fact that they did indeed bring a lot of chips and dip to parties, Hank said, "At least half the time, we do." Then, because he loved Billy and knew he couldn't change him, he let it go. Once again.


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