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“Hello, ah, Mr. Graham?

“Mike. My name’s Dean Singer.

“That’s right. Bobby’s my uncle.

“Nosir. He-ahh. He passed away a couple of years back.

“Yeah, thanks, man. Me too.

“Right. Well, I found your number here in his contacts, and I’m —

“Huh. Yeah, a ’67. Anything you can scare up.

“Hey, that’d be awesome. Just, call this number once you know somethin. Anytime.

“Yeah, well, she’s kinda special.

“I always do. Thanks a million, Mike.”

“We gotta get a maid.”

Book pyre, .45 Caliber third eye.

Cas.

 

Tires crunch, door slams. “How’s it comin?” Jody steps into the shop’s shade, bags in both arms.

“’S good.” Pop beers on the workbench edge. “Found just about everything I need here in the yard.”

“No surprise.” She toasts. “Everybody knew Bobby’d pay good scratch for junked Impalas.”

Licked lips, long draw. “So I keep hearin.” Bobby’d put in real work, keepin those parts stocked.

“Sam says it’s pretty bad.”

“Well.” Pretty bad’s pretty relative for Winchesters. “Ain’t like when she danced with a big rig but it’s a project.”

“You gonna fix her up here? Or haul all this to your hideout?”

“Oh we’re stickin around. Sam’s drivin a flatbed to Kansas right now.” Bunker’s fine, for washes, oil changes, but this shop… “Have her in a bay tomorrow.”

Jody grins. “Well I’m glad. Be nice having you boys around. And I’ll pitch in. Not with the, manual labor, but I’m good for all the beers and home cookin you can stand.”

“When’d you learn to cook?”

She fires her eyebrow. “Didn’t say it was my home cookin, smartass. My church ladies. Looove to spoil the local law.” Naughty cop. “You know, the two of you oughta come with me on Sunday. One peek at your pretty mugs and they’ll bury us in casserole.”

Pushed-away kitchen sink stew. “When was the last time you ate?”

Hollow-eyed, huddled. “I- I don’t...” Liquid like the ’93 pneumonia.

“Days, Sam. It’s been three days.”

 

If Bobby never eighty-sixed the thing that barn has an Airstream. Beats the shop floor. Hunt. Dig.

Privacy fence gapes. Booted toe pokes fallen, rotten wood. Chain link’s still solid. On the list. Buffalo grass waves dry-spell yellow. Subdivision, ways off. Bulldozers of civilization.

Sky’s red. Better quit dicking around sightseeing and get this trailer aired out. Sam’ll bitch about the mildew either way but, A for effort.

Wind shifts, whiff of ash. Fists close.

“Kevin?”

Eyeless. Smoking.

“Kevin?”

Shop-Vac, wipedown. Camper’s stripped almost to the shell. Little Formica table with bare benches. Bones of a kitchenette. Cringe at the mattress, corner in rags. Rats, probably. Patchable. Foam in every piece of shit out here.

“It remembers me.”

Little hunter's helper from the bottle and turn in. No gas for the genny and jack shit to do. Tense without Sam. Chilly with the windows wide. Should stay dry. Mooch Jody’s shower or hit the truck stop. In-between, state park has hot water and toilets. Did this a whole summer once, camper up by the house.

 

Back in that convent Lucifer busted out of. Sam’s somewhere. Door after door kicks open to black void. Rising water. Ankles, knees. Screams.

“Sam!”

“If the situation were reversed and I was dying, you’d do the same thing.”

“No, Dean. I wouldn’t.”

 

A junked engine that’ll still turn over smells — good. A Dad thing. Sniff the oil, lawn mowers to land cruisers. Anything to run around in.

Fire an ancient El Camino and hit up town. Canned goods, gas. Beer and ice. Pretty little checkout girl. Eighteen, nineteen. Pops her gum and smiles shy. Still got it, work-dirty with rolled-up sleeves, holed-up jeans. Still, flirtin with some old psycho? Can’t encourage that.

Organize. Lay out parts and tools. Test torches, wheels, sanders. All still works, thank fuck. Pliers. Dollies. Hammers.

Hole. Plaster patch and elbow grease. Sanded til it burned, ached.

“Killin you? Ain't no choice at all.”

Sam rolls in, late afternoon. Declares the mattress a biohazard. Blankets and bedrolls still beat the shop floor. “It’s not the Bellagio. Not even the Circus Circus.” Curled lip.

“Y’know? Sam? Fuck you. Get in the spirit.”

“You’re not gonna miss having your own space?”

“I got the shop.”

 

Day two Sam brings home candles that smell like cookies, “Martha,” runs five miles, “Lance,” and learns all the wi-fi spots in town, “Urkel.”

 

Sunday puts him in pressed gray pants with a sharp white shirt. Even Sam's shoes shine. Long fingers roll up his sleeves, expose inch by inch. Hair soft and loose. Face too.

Jody goes to a plain brick church at the end of a block. Five-point face with a modest cross. White doors. Parking all along one side.

“You should come in.”

“No.”

Double-hung windows frame stained glass sun-catchers. Praying hands, doves, the Grail, the Cross. Spades, diamonds, hearts, clubs.

Man could meet a nice girl at church.

Idle the engine, bait the cougars. Waves for Alex, Claire. Jody scowls but she’ll forgive. Guy’s got his own gospels… And, the most consistent, reliable motherfuckers in this mess have been the crossroads demons. Coffee or ice cream’ll pacify the women.

Midday lights Sam up. Morning run brown, ring of admirers. Kids roughhouse in a patch of grass. Sam laughs, tosses that hair, flashes his neck sweat. Least the God-fearing crowd ain’t so grabby.

“Look at Mister Popular.”

Sam slams the door. “Don’t…”

“MILF magnet.”

“Dean…”

That night Jody drops off a camp stove, a coffee pot, and shit-you-not groceries. Soup and sandwich stuff, chips and salsa. Dry beans and rice. Some kind of ham-and-cheese-potato deal she puts straight on the fire. Friggin cupcakes.

 

Day six Sammy brings home bud.

“Young man, I’m surprised.” Bristling proud. “How’d you even?”

All teeth. “Been tellin you, dude. Farmer’s markets.”

Fire faces the backseat bench of a conversion van. Roast hot dogs while Sam… rolls blunts.

He raises his hips. Fingers a knife from his deep jeans pocket. Blade glints as he slips it open, slits a cigarillo and shakes cheap shag into the wind. He wets his lips and slicks them along the cut edge, drags and licks. Spit shine. Whiff of sicky-sweet strawberry. Credit card and a little green and Sam’s tongue darts, seals, smooths. Huge hands, tiny touches.

“Lighter.”

Which means flashin and tryin to navigate around a lead pipe of a hard-on.

Sam pretends he didn’t notice. “You wanna — ” Offers.

“No! Please. Maestro.” Hand over the Zippo. “You’re gonna smoke me stupid, aintcha?

Clink, click, rush. “And then we’ll have chili dogs.” Sam squints against the flame. Puffs and turns. Cherry blazes. Cheeks hollow out and air whistles. Held breath.

Sam coughs against the back of his hand and his eyes glaze. “Kinda rough.”

“Pot snob.” Hit it deep. Heavy eyelids, fingers tingle.

“Just because, I wouldn’t smoke, what that guy had clearly grown in his chicken coop. Salmonella will kill you, Dean, as sure as — ”

“You burn it, Sam, we’ve…”

 

Poker nights.

“No strip.”

“Why not?”

“You fucking cheat!”

“When there’s actual laundry at stake…”

And when that gets boring —

“I know you’ve got a jack over there.”

“Go fish, bitch.”

 

Two weeks. Grill’s at the chromer’s. Body’s done, engine’s tuned. Hoses, belts and fluids square.

Sam kneels across the backseat. Joins in the scrubbing. “How’s it look?”

“Y’know, Bobby knew an upholsterer up in — ”

“Why are you ducking the Bunker?”

“I literally have no idea what you’re talking about.”

Sam’s rag browns. “I’ve seen you fix twice this in half the time.”

“Had to wait on parts.”

“And now you want to upholster?”

Does it matter? If, why. “You said it, man.” Caress the seat. “She’s our home.” Forge a smile. “She’s earned a full remodel, haven’t you, Baby?” Kissy faces.

“Bullshit.” Won’t even take the I-was-right out.

Charlie, in a pile of sticks.

“Help her.”

“I will have to stay in your brother longer.”

“Save her.”

Freed that fuckin witch…

and that dickbag…

 

Sleeping compartment doesn’t leave much for respectful distance. Separate bags don’t stop the stream of Sam’s breath.

“You jumped all over half a rumor for a two-day drive.”

“Sam.”

Radio silence.

 

Eyelashes. Lips. Sam? African dream root vivid. Beard burn. Zipper.

“It’s freezing in here, okay?”

Blink. “You need to huddle against me for warmth, Elsa?”

“Fuck you.” Frozen toes, Yeti paws join up the sleeping bags. “Come on.”

Icy nose between Sam’s shoulder blades.

Tense. “Dick.”

Piper kinda hurt, except, Sammy never did get laid enough. That chick. Didn’t even try to hide the goods. And Sam. Buttoning up, whole car stinkin sweat and pussy. Fuckin Night Moves.

“You don’t ever think about something… with… somebody who understands?”

Christ.

Every non-functional or you’re-not-dead touch prickles. Pass a beer, smack at the tape deck. Sam little-spoons of course. Dr. Freeze feet a solid excuse to shiver. No matter what Cas did to fix him, what Sam must associate with cold…

“Sokay, Sammy.”

Look what happened the last time Sam went off by himself. Kid got infected. And —

and cured the zombie apocalypse, while infected, with a hardware store and a chapel, apparently. Will Smith can suck Sam’s dick.

Meantime, that baby…

“Dad was right.” ’Cause. Which brother here can't be trusted alone?

“About?”

“Not using the same crapper twice.” Three a.m., in the kitchen, the head.

“We’re bound, Dean. We’ll always be bound.”

“You, care to elaborate?”

No. “Hunters… move. Even the ones that have homes. Freak gets too close, pull up stakes. Track this wolfpack up the coast.” Grunt. “We never have to live in our messes.”

“You just now figuring that out?” Chuckles rock Sam. “And you admitted I’m right. In one day!”

“Oh. Shut. Up!”

 

Cheerios in coffee mugs. Sam stirs. “You know, the Men of Letters shunned most hunters.”

Forehead wrinkles. “Yeah.”

“And, there’s gotta be what, hundreds, maybe thousands of hunters active?”

“I, guess…”

“And how many Men of Letters legacies?”

Spoon stops halfway. Slops a little. “What, you wanna retire? Give all this up?” Slops a lot.

“Not yet.” Doe eyes. “The Darkness is my mess — ”

“Our mess.”

“ — and I’ve gotta clean it up.”

“We! We, Sam!”

“Okay!” Half-smile just begging to get clocked. “Point is, when this is all over, we have choices.”

Free Will. How long have we been spewin that shit? “Well I choose you.” Shovelful of cereal, pooched cheeks.

Sam squints in stages. “What does that mean?” Man of Letters. Poised for his prime tail-catching years not spent running in front of teeth and bullets.

“What…?” And no one predicted Dean Winchester, living legend. “It means, we gotta stuff Barbara Eden back in her bottle. Without makin a bigger mess.” If Sam wants to say adios after that, well. Always another job. Go out soaked in blood or whiskey.

Sotto. “I’ll drink to that.”

Gaze cuts zig-zags. Eyes, shoulders, nipples, elbows, hands. “We manage that, after-party’s all you.”

Clinking spoons and crunching.

“We should check on Cas.”

“Yep.” Gulp of milk. Licked lips. “Hope he hasn’t found Porn Hub.”

“Porn Hu— ”

Shrug, “They got an app.”

 

Chalk lines.

Cas forgives, predictably, everybody but himself.

New York strips. Crystal decanter. Vinyl.

Sam stretches. Red undies. “Can I — ”

“You wanna — ”

“Cause,”

“Cas…”

Wonder if Sammy’d go for family showers.

No chance to pitch it.

Lizzie Borden’s ghost haunts Massachusetts. Two-day drive in the other direction and Sammy’s stoked.