Note: SurlyCoach has decided to delete her account, but she gave me permission to re-edit, expand, and repost any stories we worked on together, so I thought that on this Halloween night I'd slap up these two revised Tami/Eric fluffy Halloween tidbits.
Halloween Eve 2013
It was after ten on a Wednesday, the night before Halloween. Coach Taylor knew it was time to get out of his study and go to bed, but he also knew he wouldn't be able to sleep, and Tami was probably already asleep by now. Even if she wasn't, his chances of scoring were pretty slim tonight. He'd forgotten to take out the trash that morning, and it had been more than full. Then she'd asked him to stop by the grocery store on his way home for two things, just two things, - but of course he'd forgotten one, which was easy to do when you had a game coming up in two days. But did she give him credit for remembering half the list? No, sir.
He turned the pencil roughly in the handheld sharpener. "Damn it!" he swore when the tip broke off once again. He threw the pencil and the sharpener down on the playbook. "Argg!" He slammed the playbook shut. When he leaned back in his bendy, rolly chair, it shifted in place.
He liked his chair, which he'd picked up at a yard sale about six months after they settled in Philadelphia. At the time, Tami had said, "We've already got enough junk in the garage I'm trying to get rid of. Do you really need to buy more?"
"Yes, yes I do," he'd replied. "And it's not junk. It's damn comfortable. I'll tell you something. It's gonna help me think." And it did. It was his thinking chair. Except tonight he couldn't think of how in the hell the Pioneers were possibly going to be ready for this game against the undefeated Ulysseys S. Grant High. Erasing and redrawing lines and writing notes in the margins of his playbook wasn't going to make them ready either.
Nope, he decided, inspired perhaps by the muse hidden in the wheels of his chair, he was going to have to call a special second practice tomorrow night. It'd have to be after he took Gracie trick-or-treating, of course. Tami wouldn't let him miss that. She always wanted to hand out the candy while he made the rounds with the little one. The truth was, he didn't want to miss it either. He loved the delight on his little girl's face every time she got candy, and he loved to laugh when she got scared. He especially loved to comfort her with a big daddy hug when she got so scared she cried. That'd happened twice last Halloween before he'd said, "A'ight! Let's pack it up and head home, Gracie Belle. It's getting too late. All the big kids are coming out." She'd just started first grade this year, and it wouldn't be too much longer before she was too cool to trick or treat with her dad.
It got sort of dark by 6:45. They could be home by 7:45 this year. He'd call an 8:30 practice. That'd give him time to help Grace sort out her loot and pocket the good stuff that was wasted on her anyway, because she didn't know the difference in quality between a tootsie roll and a Butterfinger. He'd have to be sure to grab all the Special Darks for Tami too. He had a plan to parcel them out to her over the next few days. He would see if the fact that he remembered her favorite candy got him any loving
Yeah, they'd practice at 8:30. Go over the plays a few more times. The players would hate him for it. They all wanted to go to their Halloween parties so they could scope out the girls in their costumes. He supposed the thing his players liked most about Halloween was that it was the one day a year when it was considered socially acceptable for young women to dress like prostitutes.
That and prom, apparently, at least that's the way it had seemed to him at Pemberton. He'd been talked into chaperoning once two years ago and had spent the entire dance turned to the wall adjusting the decorations. Mr. Davis, the history teacher and a former football player who had actually played pro for one year before he injured himself, had come up and stood next to him, his back to the dance and his eyes wide. "I think something's going on over there in the corner. Are we supposed to stop that sort of thing?"
Eric had turned around briefly, grown red, and immediately turned back. "Jesus, Mickey," Coach Taylor had said. "We never did anything like that. Well, I mean – "
"Yeah," Mr. Davis interrupted. "We had the decency to take 'em to the back seat of our car at least. These kids have no concept of privacy anymore."
"Well," Coach Taylor said, "I suppose the pictures will be on Facebook tomorrow. Take that end of that ribbon down there. This needs to be straightened again."
Coach Taylor had vowed he would never get talked into dance duty again, even if it meant more money for football uniforms.
He was just stretching his arms out behind his back and leaning his head against his hands when he heard the door to his study open. "Trick or treat?" came Tami's soft, teasing voice.
A smile spread across his face. Without turning around to look at her, he asked, "Why can't I have both?"
He heard her low laugh and turned to look at her. That was when his mouth fell open.
"Good night!" he exclaimed. "Good night, Tami! Where'd you find that costume?"
"I have my sources."
"Wow..." He couldn't keep his mouth closed. His smile was beyond his control. So was his voice, which was growing a bit high. "I mean wow... you aren't handing out candy in that."
"I wasn't planning on it." She took two steps closer and struck a sultry pose. "You like it?" she asked.
He laughed giddily. "Wow...I mean..." he said through his laughter "you aren't wearing that outside the house. No, ma'am. You aren't wearing that for anyone but me!"
"So you like it?" she asked, raising a single eyebrow.
"Holy...Tami...I mean...oh my God, woman..."
"Well, are you going to study that playbook all night, Coach Taylor, or are you coming to bed?"
"Well, I am now." He stood up, finally the master of his excited laughter, but still unable to control his smile. "I sure as hell am now."
"No. Nah-ah," Coach Taylor insisted, slicing his hand emphatically in the air. "You get back in that bedroom and you change right now."
"But, Dad, Karen spent all week making this costume for me!" Grace protested.
Coach Taylor put one hand on his left hip and shook his head. "Absolutely not. No twelve-year-old daughter of mine is setting foot outside of this house wearing – no. Nah-ah."
"You're the one who's making me go to this ridiculous party anyway! There's just going to be a lot of boring people there."
"Karen will be there too of course. And it's not me – it's your mother who's making you go. Believe me, Gracie Belle – "
" – Grace!"
"Grace, I tried to get us both out of it, but this will be our last Halloween in Philadelphia if I really do get that coaching job at A&M next year, so she wants us all to go to the neighbor's party. Sorry, baby girl. I am no less sorry than you."
"What are you complaining about, sugar?" Tami asked, coming up behind him and kissing his still surprisingly thick, salt-and-pepper hair. "Are you moaning because you're wife's making you be social tonight?" He grunted. She was leaning in to kiss his cheek when she froze. "No. No, ma'am. You're not wearing that."
"That's what I just told her," Coach Taylor said.
"Come on, Gracie girl." Tami walked over to her daughter. "We'll fix it up together. Make it a little more modest."
When they came out, Grace's witch's costume looked less sultry and more scary. For the first time that evening, though, Coach Taylor got a good look at his wife's costume. His lip curved up into a smile. She was just a cowgirl, but she looked good, he thought. Real good. She'd had a bit of a crisis the year she turned fifty, and he was still trying to assure her that, to him, she was as attractive as ever.
"Hon, when are you getting dressed?" Tami asked. "We've got to be next door in five minutes."
"I am dressed," he said.
Grace looked from her mother to her father and laughed. "Good luck, Dad," she said and walked over to a chair in the living room, where she slumped down and crossed one leg over the other.
"Where's your costume?" Tami asked.
"This is my costume," Coach Taylor insisted. "I'm dressing up as a football coach."
"As yourself? You can't dress up as yourself. Where's the costume I bought you?"
Coach Taylor shifted his green cap. He unsnapped the first snap of his green jacket.
"Hot in here, Dad?" Grace teased.
Coach Taylor took several steps closer to his daughter. He bent down and whispered, "Help me out here."
"You're on your own, old man," she whispered back. He hated it when she called him that, and she loved that he hated it.
"See, Tami," he said, standing back up straight. "I don't really think I make a good vampire."
"You make an excellent vampire." She motioned him to come close with a finger. He took ten hesitant steps toward her. She whispered in his ear so Grace couldn't hear, "You make a sexy vampire."
He smiled and chuckled softly. He whispered back, "Then I'll wear it for you later tonight. But I ain't wearing it to the party. I'm going as a football coach. And that's final."
When he pulled away, she raised an eyebrow. The eyebrow of caution. The eyebrow of accusation. They eyebrow with a complete vocabulary of its own. The eyebrow that said, "Are you sure you want to cross me right now? Are you sure you won't regret it later? "
"Look," Coach Taylor said to his wife's eyebrow, "I'm going to this party even though I don't really want to. I hate these kinds of parties. But I'm going. To please you. So give me points for that." He went and got his keys and led the way out the front door to the sound of Gracie's resigned pre-teen stomp and Tami's "suit yourself but don't say I didn't warn you" sigh.
When they got to the front yard of their neighbor's house, Grace saw Karen on the stoop and ran ahead to be with her friend. A car pulled up an out stepped Pemberton's baseball coach. Then out stepped his wife.
"Stop staring at her," Tami hissed.
"I wasn't," Eric insisted, averting his eyes from the approaching cheerleader-costumed, 34-year-old, buxom wife of Coach Saunders.
Tami sighed. "Yes you were. But I'm sure she wore that costume so men wouldn't notice her."
"I only have eyes for you," he whispered back. "You look gorgeous tonight."
Tami shook her head, but he saw she was smiling between those clenched lips.
"You couldn't get yours to dress up either?" Mrs. Saunders asked when she was standing across from Tami. "Mike insisted on being a baseball coach."
"Hey, Eric," Coach Saunders said as Tami put on her southern belle charm, laced her arm through Jenny Saunder's, and walked, chatting with her, toward the front door. "Tami looks good," he said, watching the women walk away together. "Guess I'll be lucky if Jenny's still that hot in a couple of decades."
"Uh…nothing, I just…" Coach Saunders motioned in the general direction the women had retreated. "Complimenting your wife." He looked back at Coach Taylor, "So, hey, we both refused to dress up. Glad not to be alone in that."
"Yeah, Tami wanted me to dress up, but I couldn't do it."
"Jenny wanted me to also. I said no, but I might regret it later. I think I'm never going to hear the end of this costume thing."
Eric looked him up and down. "We could trade," he said.
"You be the baseball coach and I be the football coach?"
"Let's keep our own whistles though," Coach Saunders said. "I don't care to swap spit with you. No offense."
"None taken. About the whistles anyway." They made the exchange and then made their way into the party, where they rejoined their wives. Eric found his getting a mug of spiced cider. "You're the most beautiful woman in this room, Tami," he whispered.
"Nice try," she whispered back. She looked him up and down. "Baseball coach, are you now?"
"Yeah. So I'm not myself. Do I get points for that?"
"No. But I'll reset you at zero, because you went down into the negative column when Jenny got out of that car and your eyes popped out of your head."
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"You know precisely what I'm talking about," she insisted.
"Well, how many points do I need to earn before I get lucky tonight?"
She smiled. "I guess I should just be glad you still consider yourself lucky when you get lucky with me."
"Of course I do. So how many points do I need?"
"Ten." She made her way from the table over to the back porch, where bobbing for apples was underway. She looked at Eric when he trailed after her, smiled at him, looked at the vat of floating apples, and motioned her head towards it. He shook his. She held up a single hand with five fingers. He shook his head again and held up both hands with ten fingers. She rolled her eyes and nodded. He came over next to her, and she whispered, "But only if you actually get one."
Ten minutes later, Coach Taylor had soaked the baseball coach's hat and the baseball coach's jacket. His face was dripping with water, but the apple was, at long last, in his victorious teeth.
Three hours later, he was a vampire, and twenty minutes after that, he was a very satisfied husband. As Tami snuggled in against his chest beneath the warm, heavy blanket, she said, "Sugar, what would you think if I didn't die my hair like I usually do? Just let it gradually go gray? Would that bother you a lot?"
"Nah, it would relieve me."
"Yeah, it would mean you aren't freaking out so much about this getting older thing."
"But don't you like my hair this color?"
"I love it, babe. I'd love it any color. I love you. You age like a fine wine."
She laughed. "Where'd you get that one?"
"Oh, I've got a whole book of 'em." He kissed her ear and whispered, "How many points for that one?"
She kissed his shoulder, chuckled, and said, "Only one, but you get five points if you just let me go to sleep."
"A'ight…" He said, yawning. "I'll save 'em up for a rainy day."