Written by Mandi
Rated PG to PG13, just in case.
Written by Mandi
Rated PG-13ish. Just to be safe.
A/N: Look out, Disneyworld, here come Jack and Ennis!
“I ain’t goin,” Ennis said for the third time that minute. The hundredth time that hour. He couldn’t keep track a how many times he’d said it that day, but he weren’t goin on that damned Splash Mountain.
Jack only smiled, thumbin Ennis’ chin with his thumb and goin back t’readin the map.
“Grandpa Ennis,” Annie sighed, takin her grandfather’s arm. “I ain’t goin withoutcha.”
“Good, you can wait on the ground with me while these two go get themselves killed on that damned ride.”
“Haunted Mansion?” Suggested Jackie, flippin the attention away from the argument between Ennis an her sister. She rolled her eyes at Vick, who was walkin beside her. Vick only snickered politely, but shot an apologetic glance Ennis’ way.
“Haunted Mansion,” agreed Jack, foldin the map back up into his pocket. The disagreement, for the moment forgotten, could be drudged up some other time.
“Haha, look at that!” Annie pointed at the portrait of John Gracey, which was aging into a skeleton right before Ennis’ eyes. He blinked quickly an looked again, but rememberin he was in “the happiest and most magical place on earth,” reminded himself that portraits could probably do that.
“Ladies and Gentlemen,” shouted a man in a dark Victorian suit, his nametag readin ‘Vince.’ “If you will please move your carcasses along to the right or left side! Thank you!”
He didn’t smile, which for some reason unnerved Ennis. Jackie, Annie an Vick looked at each other an broke into giggles.
“Are ya really not enjoyin yourself?” Asked Jack, leanin in so only he an Ennis could hear it.
“I am,” he half lied. Hated waitin in all these damned fool lines all day for three minutes on a glorified rollercoaster that he didn’t care for no how, but he wasn’t gonna tell Jack that.
They were ushered into a small room, remindin Ennis how much he didn’t care for enclosed spaces. Jack had called him “claustrophobic” on it a few years back an Ennis jus’ snorted at him an ignored the fact that his husband was probably right, knew him better than he knew himself, an pretended the spaces didn’t bother him as much as they did. The portraits surroundin him started stretchin, revealin strange paintings, the one catchin his eye was that of a young girl holdin an umbrella on a tightrope; as the portrait stretched out, an open mouthed alligator appeared beneath her. Another cold eyed man stood on a powderkeg. Three men on one another’s shoulders were sinkin in quicksand. A woman sat on her “beloved George’s” tombstone with an axe buried in it. Jack’s face was completely lit up with amusement; Ennis wanted a drink an had t’remind himself it was just some strange old man’s idea a fun
Frozen ole’ weird ass dead man, he grumbled t’himself. Wouldn’t be surprised t’see ole’ Walt in here as part a the decoration.
The lights flickered in mock lightnin an thunder roared in the small room; Ennis jumped an grabbed for Jack’s hands as the girls beside him shrieked in spooked delight. Fingers squeezed back in that assurin way a Jack’s, the one that said, “don’t worry, Tough Guy, I won’t say nothin.”
The room musta been some kind a elevator, ‘cause steppin out, he found himself in a completely different place.
“Chicken Door’s that way,” Jack whispered in a half playful manner, noddin his head at some less disturbin portraits an a door leadin out, which a set a parents were takin their hollerin eight year old back into the safety a daylights. Ennis glared at him, only half meanin it, an walked behind the three a the girls in their charge for the “Doom Buggies.”
A husky, disquietin male voice filled the room ‘bout bein their “ghost host,” an several a what he’d come to understand were Disney Cast Members walked in place, not movin a single inch forward; it was jus’ a conveyor belt an he knew it, but the appearance was jus’… strange.
For Christ’s sake, this is a kids’ ride, he thought t’himself. Stop gawkin at it like you was one yourself… or the way Jack is.
Once secured in their Doom Buggie in front a the girls, Jack quietly took Ennis’ hand an smiled. Somehow, it was comfortin t’feel his warm hand in his, even though this was jus’ some kids’ ride, as he’d told himself a hunnert times. Never was one for haunted houses or any kind a shit like that. He remembered goin to the county fair as a kid with his family, one a the last trips they took together as well as one a the only, an everyone but him an his momma went into the Fun House. Everyone knew it was a haunted house an K.E. an Rosie never let him forget that he didn’t go in.
“Stay out here with me, Ennis,” Momma had said, holdin his hand in hers, same way Jack was right now. “I don’t like them fun houses, they scare me.”
He remembered lookin up into her eyes an smilin gratefully for her understandin.
The ride lurched forward an lifted ‘em up into “The Bride’s Attic.” There were portraits of some hauntingly beautiful bride, the story a which he weren’t clear on, but she must a died or some shit. A course she died, you gotta be dead t’be in a haunted house. He remembered the girls pointin out her weddin ring in the pavement while they were in line waitin t’get on.
Wouldn’t Elsie have a shit fit in here? He thought t’himself an laughed softly, almost admirin the clutter an cobwebs that hadn’t decked his house since that woman showed up.
A dead organist played out a somber tune, ghostly dancers locked forever in that dusty ballroom they were passin through. Jack squeezed his hand again, an Ennis squeezed back with a friendly sorta ease.
“Let’s hope we jus’ go Home an dance,” Jack’s eyes glowed a ghostly blue in the lack a light.
“Wherever we end up after this,” Ennis said softly, “I’m sure we’ll be dancin.”
“Cain’t believe you talked me into this shit,” growled Ennis, wipin at his dampened shirt. “Told ya I didn’t wanna go on that Splash Bullshit…”
“Splash Mountain,” Jack laughed, hummin the Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah tune that’d been blastin on the way outta that wet hell ride.
“Haha, hold still, your glasses are all…” Jackie pulled Vick’s shades off a the top a her head an wiped ‘em on her wet shirt, smearin fingerprints an more water on the lenses. “Ah… sorry.”
“Nah,” Vick shrugged an put the shades over her mismatched eyes. “I weren’t gonna get ‘em dry, neither.”
“Why do you cover your eyes up all the time?” Annie asked.
“Yeah, they’re beautiful,” Jackie continued, goin a little pink from the sun exposure. “I mean, if I had eyes like that, I’d show ‘em off all the time.”
Vick shrugged. “Thanks, but I gotta wear shades a lot ‘cause my eyes are real sun sensitive. Just comes with the territory.”
“Oh,” Jackie nodded. “That… that sucks.”
“Least I have eyes to see with,” she smiled. “Mom always told me that when I bitched ‘bout bein different.”
“Nothin wrong with bein different,” Jack put a hand on Vick’s shoulder an shook her gently. Ennis felt a little uncomfortable at the words, an more’n a little visible, wonderin if everyone who looked at him in The Happiest Place On Earth knew he was different, too.
The sun was sinkin as they headed for the mainland, as Annie called it. Jack said it was called Main Street. There was supposed t’be fireworks that night, their last night at Disney ‘fore returnin home. As much fun as everythin had been, Ennis was more’n ready t’sleep in his own bed and weren’t cherishin one last night a sleepin sittin up on a bus or wakin up half slumped over on Jack, only makin his differences further noticeable.
They stopped at a little hot dog stand for dinner, not feelin like nothin fancy. Jackie an Annie chattered nonstop ‘bout the ghosts at the Haunted Mansion, their favorite ride, while Vick politely pointed out her favorite had been Splash Mountain, an winked at Ennis.
“I’m gonna miss this,” Vick sighed. “I don’t think my life is ever gonna get no better that this. This is my highlight -- I played with my band at Disneyworld. It’s all downhill from here.”
“Wait ‘til your kids are born,” Jack smiled. “Or your grandkids. Or when you get married. This’ll all be bullshit to that.”
Vick looked away. “I ain’t marriage material.”
“Oh, stop,” Jackie shook her shoulder a little. “Even I know that not havin a boyfriend in high school don’t mean nothin!”
“Love finds ya when ya stop lookin,” Ennis said sagely, lookin over at his beloved Jack, surprised for the first time on this trip that he was chaperonin his granddaughters at Disneyworld, eatin hot dogs overlookin the waterfront.
“He’s got some good advice from time t’time,” Jack laughed.
Vick didn’t look convinced; she bit into the last bite of her hot dog, chewed gingerly an swallowed with a reservation no child her age should have.
“Great spots,” Annie smiled back at her grandparents; they were practically at the iron bars separatin the guests from the water. Jack had somehow managed t’keep pushin forward in the crowd t’get here, some people gettin bored with the waitin on the fireworks.
Jackie an Vick were surprisingly quiet, insistin they’d eaten too much for dinner, though neither one had hardly picked at much a anything in Ennis’ eyes. He wondered for a moment if Vick hadn’t said somethin ‘bout her feelings for his granddaughter, but resisted from askin; weren’t his business, first of all, an second… he couldn’t find the words no matter how bad he wanted t’know.
“I think Vick said somethin,” he said finally t’his husband when he was sure the girls weren’t listenin.
“Jesus, Jack, that Vick cares ‘bout her… wants t’be… t’be with her,” he looked at her painfully, knowin how awful that feelin was. “They ain’t talkin no more.”
“Jackie said she ate too much,” Jack shrugged.
“That girl eats like a goddamned army,” he groused. “She ate half a hot dog an handed the rest off t’me, does that sound like our girl?”
He shook his head. “We can’t go fixin this for ‘em.”
“Weren’t goin to, but…”
“Sometimes,” Jack sighed, soundin real pitiful sad, “sometimes love jus’ don’t work out the way you want it to.”
Ennis rebelled in his head; well, Goddammit, it should! He felt a roarin need t’set it all right for Vick, for Jackie… Maybe more for Vick than his own granddaughter; if only he could make ‘em both see how hard it was..
The sky split open an fireworks rained down an fizzled out. Clap after thunderous clap a explosions went off, lightin up the night sky as if it were daytime. He’d never seen fireworks as bright or colorful as these, rememberin back to a Fourth a July with little Junior where he kicked some foul mouthed bastard’s teeth in for cussin in front a his daughter.
The music accompanyin the fireworks were damned near drowned out by the noise a the explosions. He looked over at the girls again; at least Vick an Jackie were smilin now, a far better look on ‘em than that strange, pained distant…
Jackie an Vick looked at each other an the smiles on their faces disappeared; Vick’s hands came up an pushed a strand a flyaway hair outta Jackie’s eyes, trailin down t’her cheeks and then… then the earth spiraled outta its course an went hurtlin into the moon.
Ennis’ mouth fell open; Vick’s lips touched Jackie’s… An Jackie was kissin back! Full on, arms ‘round the other girl’s waist beneath the firework-lit sky. Annie, standin right beside ‘em, hadn’t even noticed.
“Jack!” Ennis gasped. “Look!”
“Damned fine idea,” an he moved in, takin Ennis completely by surprise; a few people moved aside, but not too many appeared t’care. Those who were disgusted weren’t sayin nothin ‘bout it, jus’ content t’let Ennis’ face burn off from the red hot embarrassment an confusion racin through his veins.
Once Jack let him go, ‘fore he could snap out somethin ‘bout the right time an place for things, his eyes shot back for his granddaughter an her… friend? Vick was smilin an blushin, if possible, brighter’n Ennis, an Jackie looked surprised an acceptin all at once. She looked up an saw Ennis starin open mouthed at her, an quickly moved away from Vick.
“That’s okay, Honey’,” Jack smiled. “We had the same idea.”
“I didn’t… I’m so… I didn’t know how to tell you…”
“Tell me… tell me? You didn’t know how t’tell me… this?”
Jackie’s face fell an Vick bit her lip an fussed nervously with her braid. “Grandpa, I’m so sorry…”
“Ain’t that,” Jack filled in quickly ‘fore the tears could form in her eyes. “We jus’ wished y’knew you could tell us, above anyone else, ‘bout this… Not that it’s our business no how, right, Darlin?”
“Uh… sure thing.”
Jackie ran forward an scooped both a her boys into her arms an hugged ‘em, apologizin profusely, none of which registered t’Ennis’ shocked ears. After a short moment, she broke away an headed back off towards Vick, takin her hands an lookin at her with a confused sorta understandin ‘bout what she’d jus’ done an the direction her life jus’ went coursin down; clearly, they both had a lot a talkin t’do.