|You and Me and a Dog Named Flea
Author: fridayblues PM
Altinate universe fiction of Ennis & Jack from Brokeback Mountain set in San Francisco. Jack Twist had a chance encounter with a veterinarian one day, didn’t know the shy vet & his black & white boston terrier, would have a permanent place in his heart.Rated: Fiction M - English - Romance/Drama - Chapters: 25 - Words: 163,541 - Reviews: 97 - Favs: 63 - Follows: 31 - Updated: 08-06-08 - Published: 07-15-07 - Status: Complete - id: 3658247
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Me & a Dog Named Flea Chapter
1 [A Vet in Black & White
Disclaimer : Annie Prouxl owns the timeless characters in BBM. I'm writing from love and making no profit.
Summary : Altinate Universe Fiction of Ennis and Jack (from Brokeback Mountain) set in San Francisco ; Jack Twist had a chance encounter with a veterinarian one day, didn't know the shy vet, and his black and white terrier, would have a permanent place in his heart.
My Deepest Thanks always to Judy, my ultimate beta!
Feedback : means the world to me:)
You still feel lonely even when you're amidst the crowds?
Ennis Del Mar's nagging, sore eyes stared at MSN's chat window in his 17-inch computer screen, blinking slowly. Lonely? He looked up to the window above his desk. The night sky at two a.m. on this cool autumn night was full of stars but all he saw was his own reflection, a pair of boring brown eyes on a worn-out, pale face were staring right back at him. Blue and red lights from some on-line ads were dancing wildly on that face, his face, the only face of a living thing in this room, if breathing meant living.
He drummed his fingers on the keyboard, still couldn't take his eyes from his own reflection on the window glass. He looked different somehow. Ennis craned his head to the left then right, the color now changed to green turning his dirty blond hair into a dark shade of purple. He sure looked different. Ennis Del Mar had never been this colorful.
still there, Jaguar?
Grabbing a coffee cup, he swallowed cold coffee that reminded him he had been at this desk longer than he first expected.
Yeah, his numb fingers typed the word.
to the party. Don't just hide away after a broken heart, Panther.
If you're lonely, go have fun. It's the rule of the
Glancing up again, Ennis poked the tip of his tongue at his inner cheek and turned his head to the side, chuckling dryly at the man in red who made a silly face right back at him.
A broken heart? Yeah, right. He had gotten divorced barely two weeks ago but Ennis wasn't so sure if he had a broken heart. Lonely? Yes, but broken-hearted?...
He looked down at the computer screen again, the clock at the bottom right said two twenty-one and the banner of the ad had changed to yet another colorful ad for a new match-finding site, a site with the dull, lame name of Casablanca –where a kiss is still a kiss-. As he put his elbow on the edge of the table and palmed one side of his face, Ennis's eyes followed the movement of a man and a woman, both looked like typical white Americans, slowly drawn into each other's embrace for a kiss. Then they disappeared and reappeared again, each at the edge of the banner, Casablanca in white winding letters popped up, and there they were, drawing into another kiss.
It looked ridiculous. Why didn't they just stand there and kiss? Ennis's index finger poked at his cheek while he watched the endless loop of that kiss, finally clicking at the banner after a few more seconds of staring. The brand new page popped up and even bigger letters spelling Casablanca appeared at the very top, more color from small ads flashing madly into his eyes.
Are you sleeping or something, Big Cat?
The MSN bar flashed again. Oh, he hadn't answered the message. Had he?
he typed, Been
distracted. Las Vegas lights.
Are you on drugs?
Don't think so.
No. Have about ten more minutes to go.
Good then. Think about the party this weekend. You're really not in any shape to face loneliness alone now. This is a very sensitive time, Tiger.
Ennis pressed his thin lips together, chewing his lower lip with his front teeth. Whatever you say, Mona Lisa. You're my personal shrink.
Just Mona is fine for me. Not every fat beauty wants to be called Mona Lisa and I am not even fat.
Ennis smiled, feeling his dry lips stretch, I like calling you that.
Thank you, Puma, but it freaks me out to know you think of me like that.
I'll stop calling you that if you stop calling me names.
Why not? It kinda reminds me of what you're doing for a living.
I'm a vet, not a Tarzan.
I know, darling, or else I'd call you Chimpanzee. Besides, it's kinda cute, Tiger.I'm not in the Felidae family tree either, just so you know.
Mona sent a row of smiling faces to him, That's better. Keep this spirit. And you're going to the party with me.
Another long row of smiling faces and Mona logged out, leaving Ennis with the bright Casablanca site. He stared at the box in light blue, saying 'select your sex'. Hesitating, his eyes flew back to himself sitting across from him, a colorful man in the midst of the darkness of the night sky. He crooked his green brow, crinkled his blue nose and blinked once, then twice. If he wore a red rubber ball on the tip of his nose, he would sure look like that clown character in a circus. He fixed his eyes on the reflection, thinking maybe colorful Ennis liked the idea of finding a casual date. That was what Mona wanted him to do, too, right? Don't hide and nurse a broken heart. Like a man on a mission, Ennis clicked the 'male' button and moved on to 'select the sex of your partner.' He clicked the drop-down button, female, male…
The phone rang fiercely and his whole body jerked, knocking the wireless mouse down to the floor. Cursing, Ennis staggered to the phone on the wall below the light switch near the door, a sharp voice of a woman vibrated his drowsy brain tissue into life.
"Ennis, we got an emergency case. A five-year-old poodle got hit by a bike. She's bleeding badly."
"I'll be right down."
Ennis rushed to the table and put the computer into sleep mode. He glanced up to find his reflection looking right back at him again, but this time the man in the window was a figure in dull earth-tone with black pants and a white shirt. He looked through that man's body to the view of the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance.
He felt transparent. He was transparent.
Pulling his gaze from the window eventually, Ennis snatched his white coat and left the room, taking two stairs down at a time from the second floor to the front of the clinic where a wounded poodle was waiting for him. Ennis scanned around the room and squinted at the bright fluorescent light. A boy and his mother were standing at the counter with Martha, a big black woman who was one of the two night-shift assistants. Jeffrey, the other assistant, was also the guard and he always stayed outside the clinic unless there were some big, restless animals that require two men's strength to carry or handle. Most of the time, Martha and Ennis could handle everything just fine.
A table lamp in the waiting room cast its warm light for a home-y touch, and also cast Ennis's shadow on the white floor as he walked by it to greet the client with the poodle. Putting on the rubber gloves, Ennis watched the grey figure stretch as he stepped further into the examination room of Pet Haven 24 Hour Animal Clinic. Where the hell did the colorful Ennis go? he wondered. Then he heard someone cough and looked up to find Martha holding the wounded little furry dog on the examination table. Martha told him the condition of the dog, maybe for the second or third time. He nodded slowly and slid closer,
"Hang on there, doggie,"
he said under his breath, rubbed the dog's head as he stepped in and, once again, sank into his own shadow.
"I hate this day of the month."
Grabbing the white mug, Jack Twist chuckled, blew the white steam from his espresso and watched it melt into the air. Beside him, a tiny woman with curly long reddish-blond hair was still complaining how she hated the 23rd day of every month, the day they had to close the column and send the final script to the boss before those men with tongue or brow pierced in the graphic design department put the magazine into shape. Alma was waiting for an e-mail from one of the freelance writers for her 'home clinic' column, a married-with-three mom who had promised to send her work two days ago.
"Told you not to hire a freelance writer," Jack said, turning a long sideways glance in her direction.
"Everybody hires freelance writers and I know you do, too."
"A mother is not a freelance. She's got a 24-hour job, Alma."
Alma sighed and clicked the refresh button on Outlook Express for the millionth time that day. "I hired her because she is a mom. Now I'm not so sure. I don't want to do this but she's been late a lot. Guess I have to move her out of this column, have someone else taking care of it. Last month, she was two days late and Lureen almost smacked my head."
Jack smiled broadly, "Lureen won't smack your head."
"That reminds me… Lureen extended the deadline for me 'til tomorrow noon. Did I tell you today how thankful I am to have you with me here, Mr. Lover Man?"
Jack knew Alma didn't really want an answer for that. She just loved nagging him. Her full lips stretched lightly into a small smile, brightening her doll-like face at two thirty in the morning.
Alma and Jack were two of the three staff members in the editorial department, with Lureen, the one and only daughter of the big boss of the Newsome Group, owner of Newsome Publishing, as their boss, a.k.a. the on-shelf editor of Soul Singing weekly magazine where Jack had been working for five years right after graduating from college, a magazine with a universal theme ranging from every little thing like a tooth pick to something big like the El Niño phenomenon in the North Pole.
"Just so you know, Jack, Lureen is still in the office. I guess she's waiting for you."
"At almost three in the morning? I don't think so." Jack grimaced, but there was amusement in his voice. Alma rolled her eyes at him. Having known Jack Twist for two years, she knew how much this man wanted attention. He always enjoyed being in the spotlight and this time she was glad to be in for the game.
"Why don't you just accept it? Everybody knows she has a big crush on you. Why don't you just ask her out for a date or something? So she will stop looking at me like I'm about to steal her favorite candy."
Jack chuckled, "You get something out of this?"
"That hurts," Alma looked at him with her big brown-greenish eyes then a tiny smile was formed on her lips.
Alma was a sweet, southern girl, whom Jack would think was popping up from some western cowboy movie starring John Wayne or Paul Newman. She even looked boring at first, always wearing a plain skirt and a sweater, but Jack found she was an ok woman, the type that wouldn't grab the first man she met. And she was a really good and reliable partner in work. If Jack could have a friend then Alma would do just fine.
"I'm dating someone, you know that."
"How can I forget? What was that he gave you from Paris again?"
Jack pointed to the blue crystal bottle of an expensive aftershave tucked behind some books on his desk.
"Right. Yves Saint Laurent. Now tell me why haven't you slept with him already?"
Jack's eyes widened, "You didn't just ask me that."
Alma blushed. She looked at the computer screen for a brief moment and turned to Jack.
"It's just… You're so lucky, Jack. You got everything. You even got a nice man by your side once you decided to be gay."
Jack winced at that, "I didn't decide I wanted to be gay. It's not something I can control, Alma. I had a hard time coming to terms with that. Years, and when I finally knew, I just…I just wanted to try to live this life. I just don't want to rush."
Alma sighed, "I'm sorry, Jack. I know what you've been through. I still think you should think more about Brent. He's a good man."
"I know…but…" Jack rubbed his hands on his face, letting out a long breath. "I've never felt, you know, sparks or…that kind of fierce sensation that tightens my heart or shakes me to the core when I am with him. It shouldn't matter if I'm straight or gay, right? Connection is connection, Alma."
Alma still kept her eyes on him and she got that look on her face, the look she always got when she was sure about what was in Jack's mind. Like the way she looked at him yesterday morning when Lureen asked Jack for a 'special meeting at 12:00' with her. They both knew the sassy boss just wanted to have lunch with Jack. That look was back now and Jack was pretty sure Alma couldn't enter his mind that easy when it came to the topic of his love life. He smirked,
"What's that look about now?"
"Jack, you're a 21st century boy. Don't tell me you still believe in soul mates or something like that."
He shrugged, "What's wrong with that? " Jack said innocently and smiled over the rim of his mug, "Why don't you date that Dan guy from the PR section any more? Wasn't that because you didn't feel like floating when he kissed you?"
"Don't throw a question back at me, Jacky." Alma groaned, but Jack didn't hear the sound of irritation from her voice. Just then the new e-mail bar on the screen blinked.
"Any new messages?" Jack asked
"No, just some more spam." Alma shook her head, her long reddish-blond hair swaying back and forth. "Guess now my writer is singing her youngest children to sleep."
"Or hollering at her oldest for having been driving drunk."
Alma giggled despite herself, "You're in a good mood."
Jack sipped his coffee and let his chair swirl around. He closed his eyes and laid his head on the head rest of the comfortable leather office chair, savoring the bitter taste of the espresso and thought back on how good this day had been for him.
All his writers
submitted their work on time, namely Josh the Nerd and his weirdo
column about computer software, Kate the Shrink and her full article
on A4 size paper about 'E.Q. and Diverging Behavior' or something
like that, he didn't even do the proof reading before sending it to
Lureen, knowing it wouldn't make any difference. Who
cares about E.Q. now that you have a job and a good life?
Jack even had one additional story from Kate for next month's issue
and that pacified him more. He had already finished his own research
on 'Beach Party Tequila Mix' and could begin to rearrange and
write it this weekend, and yes, while sipping his tequila cruda on
the porch of his apartment complex facing the bay. God, he couldn't
wait. If he could squeeze one more column out of Josh's brain in
advance, he would be totally free like a bird. Who
wants to go to work a couple days before Christmas anyway?
And he could actually plan on the ski trip he had been denied for the last few years. A trip he hoped that Brent and he could spend together for the first time since they'd been going out for a month. Yes, this had been a really nice day.
bell, jingle bell, jingle bell rock. Jingle bells swing and jingle
bells ring. Snowing and blowing up bushels of fun. Now the jingle
His cell phone rang and he had to smile at the cheerful ring tone, welcoming Christmas in no less than a month from now. He pressed the button and walked to the window, staring down at the colorful lights of the miniature town four floors below. He knew who was on the line.
"Hello," Jack said, pretending to knit his brows in annoyance at Alma and her I-know-who's-calling-you smiling face. "When did you change the ring tone?"
"When you were sleeping like a log last night. It's almost Christmas so we need something appropriate to the season. Know what mine is? Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer."
Jack laughed as he heard a tease in the man's deep voice. Brent continued, "We were in the middle of Snakes on a Plane. I can't believe you could sleep with people screaming in your ears like that."
"It must be the food," Jack mused and he heard Brent's chuckle.
"Remind me not to bring Lasagna Bologna on our movie night next time."
Jack smiled, drawing the tip of his index finger on the outline of the wire that led to the Golden Gate Bridge on the clear window as he reminisced about the cozy moment on the couch last night with Brent before sleep had claimed him. The lasagna was good, hearing why Brent brought it even made it taste better. 'You're like a cat, Jack, and Garfield loves lasagna. Guess I might score some points with this.' They opened the champagne to go with it, sharing soft kisses that turned passionate but nothing happened after that. And the next thing he knew, it was morning.
"You want anything from Japan?" Brent asked, his voice muffled by the sound of the airplane taking off somewhere in the background.
"No, thanks. Just be safe."
"I will. I'll see you in three weeks."
Jack pressed the button on his phone and rested his eyes on the view of the Golden Gate Bridge and the bay. Brent had been really patient with him and Jack was thankful. He had made many mistakes in the past when it came to having a relationship to the point that he didn't want to start the new one now just to break it up again. But Brent, the banker, the attractive dark-haired bachelor in his mid 30s who could charm even a (gay) prince, came to him -- an ordinary man named Jack Twist from Wyoming.
Brent might think of him as a cat 'cause Jack always sought warmth and comfort – what he had lacked since a kid. But a cat was still a cat, hard to hold at the end of the day unless it found the one person it really belonged to.
Shrinking his neck as much as possible into the dark brown knitted scarf, Ennis ducked his head down, watching his black leather boots leaving damp, dirty footprints on the sidewalk that was wet from morning dew. He could almost remember every pattern on every segment of the pavement, knew it took 67 of his long strides up the hill from the clinic to reach the coffee shop, a fat grey pigeon with a tiny yellow tag around one of her legs always strolled beside him, keeping him company before they parted at the corner of the street.
There were not so many people on Sunday morning, still Ennis couldn't help but feel fidgety when he saw three more people at the shop. He never felt comfortable with people, let alone strangers. Ennis put his bag on the single free low-back stool at the far side of the counter and waited until everybody had their coffee. He chewed his lower lip as he waited, keeping his eyes on the white chalked letters on the small blackboard above the coffee maker, reading the menu as if it was something extremely interesting. Latte, hot & cold, Cappuccino…
"What can I get you today, sir?"
Ennis blinked at the girl in a pony-tail wearing the smile as fresh as newly ground coffee, well. He was about to order his Espresso when he saw more customers loom over the counter and he wasn't really in a hurry.
"I can wait…,"
he said softly. The girl in the shop sent him a thank-you smile as she turned to more fussing customers at the other end of the counter. Ennis swirled around, digging his bare cold hands deeper into the sweater's pockets. The stool he had put his bag on was moved, and Ennis reached out only to feel the vibration of his cell phone inside the bag. Ennis zipped it open, frowning at the merry, sweet voice of little girls ringing along the vibration from the cell in his hand, a black Nokia, looking brand-new…with a shining flip cover and a video camera which was definitely not his ancient black Nokia he had accidentally dropped to the ground more times than he cared to count.
Jingle bell, jingle bell, jingle bell rock. Jingle bells swing and jingle bells ring. Snowing and blowing up bushels of fun…
Here was more proof. He had never changed the ring tone in his life, let alone to this song. Ennis looked down at the bag, dry mouth went slightly ajar as he had a good look at it. This was definitely not his bag either.
bell, jingle bell, jingle bell rock. Jingle bells swing and jingle
He startled as the next round of the same verse came to life again. Should he get this call? Why not? Ennis pressed the button and listened.
"Hello? I'm sorry, I guess I took your bag. I don't know from where or when it happened." The man on the line sounded out of breath, like he was running up the hill or was chasing after someone…or something like…
"Oh, I guess I know now. That coffee shop. I see you. Please stay right there."
…like his bag and cell phone…
Ennis saw a tall black-haired man standing restlessly across the street, his whole body bounced either from the exertion of climbing up the hill or anxiousness to take back his belongings, Ennis couldn't tell. But he was looking back at Ennis now, in between staring at the light for pedestrians as the cable car moved slowly past him. That man was holding a coffee cup with one of his hands while the other hid in the pocket of his sharp-looking black leather jacket with the white wool collar as puffy as the coat of the poodle whose leg he had fixed this morning.
At the same moment when the light for pedestrians changed to green, he stuck his hand out from the warmth of the pocket and curled his fingers into a small wave to Ennis, his long legs took several long strides before he was eventually standing in front of him, breathing hard and fast. Ennis's brown eyes flicked to meet the stranger's blue and the latter held up a black Nokia 6030, definitely his Nokia, in his hand.
"I'm sorry, really sorry, I should be more careful." The excuse came with a sincere smile. Ennis blinked at those blight blue eyes and glanced down, fumbling with the bag and the Nokia with a camera.
"Here. Your phone."
"Nokia N93," the man said, grabbing the phone from Ennis, as if to prove who was the real owner of this shining new cell phone, oh yes, with a camera.
"Yeah," Ennis spoke low. They exchanged the bags, then both stood quietly, almost awkwardly. Ennis finally nodded, coughed and met the man's eyes briefly, "Thank you."
"Yeah, thank you."
The blue-eyed man smiled at him again and was gone. Ennis murmured a 'no problem' to the floor and lifted his head to order his espresso, missing one long last look from the stranger.
Jack couldn't take his eyes off Ennis as he waited for the light for pedestrians to turn green. Alright, he was gay, so it was not a new story if he stared at a man's masculine body for too long. But there was something else about that man with curly dirty-blond hair apart from his long legs and broad shoulders. During the few seconds when their eyes met, Jack saw sensitivity behind the amber color of his eyes – the barrier to his soul thicker than the Berlin Wall. It was weird to see and feel like this toward a total stranger and, maybe it was the curiosity of the journalist in him, Jack had the urge to explore what lay behind the wall.
Sipping the hot coffee, Jack saw that the tall blond-haired man still stood there, fighting to be still against the force of the spinning world.
Suddenly, Jack felt like he was watching a movie…Cameron Crowe's maybe. As the seconds ticked by, people rushing back and forth in different directions, there was this man – lean body resting on the counter of the coffee shop with ankles crossed, both hands digging deep into his black sweater. He looked down at his feet, totally ignored the world around him.
What was he thinking?
Without even realizing, Jack took out his phone and switched on the camera mode and, with a click, preserved the favorite scene of this 'Coffee Shop' movie for himself.