Ellen was just setting the last grocery bag in the back of her Chevy Blazer when her phone rang. She pulled it out and gave it a quick glance, then huffed out a soft laugh as she answered it. “Well, well, Bobby Singer … you’ve been so quiet the past month or two, I figured you might have locked yourself in that bunker of yours to ride out this impending apocalypse.”
“It’s a panic room, Ell … and don’t tempt me,” he said in his usual gruff way – though not without a little cheer and light tone to his voice. A small amount of relief washed over her at that. At least he wasn’t calling with bad news, or a desperate problem.
She closed the door of the Blazer and leaned against it. “So what’s been going on in your neck of the woods? Any more strange signs? Broken seals, omens, portents, whatever?”
“A few here and there. Nothing too earth shattering, not since that whole ‘Rising of the Witnesses’. Just enough to keep us on alert. But the vibes are there, for sure.”
“Don’t we all know it,” she said, more casually than she felt. She could sense it, pretty much all the time these days – that foreboding that larger, darker things were looming ahead. Every day brought them closer to something bigger and more evil than they had ever even imagined … and they had dealt with some nasty things over the years. But as she always did, she tried now to push those thoughts from her head and concentrate on the here and now. “How are the boys?”
Bobby paused for a second. “Boys are pretty much the same. Doing what they can, the best they can.” She could tell there was more he wasn’t telling her, but he apparently didn’t want to say anything else. “What about Jo?”
She let out a short laugh. “Jo still thinks there’s nothing in this world she can’t fight, beat, or kill. Fortunately she’s a good hunter, smart enough to hold her own, but …” Ellen trailed off. She would always worry about Jo, that the day would come when the odds would be against her, and her skills and smarts wouldn’t be enough to save her.
Bobby obviously had a pretty good idea what Ellen was thinking. “Yeah,” he said softly. “Well she’s got you to keep an eye on her, and that’s no small thing. Which brings me to my call … thinking we’re all about due for a little regroup.”
Ellen rolled her eyes a little and tried not to groan. She knew he meant well but she had so many things going on. “I don’t know Bobby,” she started, but he cut her off.
“Hey, I already got Mr. Here and Now meeting up with me. You know it won’t be pretty if it’s just the two of us. There’s only so much small talk we can both suffer through.”
“He’s back out of retirement, there’s plenty you two can come up with to talk about! Especially if he shows up with mister Johnnie Walker.”
“You know damn well that’s not what this is about, talking about all the business going on out there.” He paused for a few seconds, then continued. “Come on Ellen… there’s things we all need to forget just for a little. And other things we need to remember.”
She was silent for a moment, then shook her head and sighed. “All right then. I’m pretty free right now, so … tell me where to meet you two, and I’ll be there.”
“Three actually … and that’s where.”
She raised her eyebrows. “Well I’ll be damned … you got him in as well?”
“Sort of. In any case, as I said, that’s where you’re going.” He hesitated. “And we’ll be along shortly, behind you.”
She frowned. “Oh hell no … I am not here to do your dirty work for you! Or to be your shield!”
“Oh can it, Ellen … you’re not anyone’s shield! You’re going first because you’re the … kindler, gentler voice of reason.”
Ellen scoffed. “You actually said that with a straight face? Besides, you know even if that were true, it wouldn’t matter. The last time I went to his place to visit him, he pointed a Remington at me for almost five minutes.”
“He didn’t fire it though. Come on, Ell … he needs this -- and he needs us -- whether he realizes that or not. And we need him too at times. So …”
Ellen shook her head, then sighed again. “Well we’ve all definitely lost our common sense, that’s for sure. Might as well go down together. Tomorrow evening?”
“Yep. Bring your own … well, everything.”
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __
“Are you out of your mind, woman?” Rufus gave Ellen a look across the table that was half confusion, half exasperation. “What in tarnation did you call trump on?”
Ellen gave him a pointed look. “I was two–suited, had the right Bauer, an ace, and another trump.”
“Another trump?! It was a puny little ten! You’re just lucky I had the other Bauer, or else you would have gotten us euchred.” Rufus worked on scooping up the cards and grumbling under his breath a little.
She flashed her eyes at him as she took a sip of her whiskey. “That was not luck … I figured I had two tricks, and knew I could probably count on you for one. Like my Bill always said, a point is a point, even if it ain’t pretty.”
“I can hear Bill saying that,” Bobby said with a slight chuckle. “That man would call trump with a Bauer and a nine. And he’d make it too. Drove you crazy if he was your partner. Or your opponent.” Ellen nodded in agreement with a little smile.
“Yeah, well, that foolhardy attitude obviously rubbed off on his missus here,” Rufus griped, shuffling the cards.
Frank eyed Rufus suspiciously. “You wanna give those here and not try and steal my deal again?”
Rufus scowled to his left. “It’s not your deal, Richard Nixon, so stop thinking I’m out to get you.”
“Of course you’re out to get me … you’re the opposing team.” Frank held his hand out for the cards.
“It is not your deal, genius … Bobby dealt the last round and turned down trump. It passed to Queen Reckless over there who called it and made it by the skin of her teeth. So now it’s my deal.” Rufus gave Frank another annoyed look. “You, getting on my case? The guy that has nothing in the way of snacks in his damn house? Don’t you at least got any peanuts here or something?”
Frank narrowed his eyes and leaned back. “Do I look like a 7-11 to you?”
“Oh relax, Frank,” Bobby sighed. “As always, you’re too serious. Take a little breather here, lighten up and try to have a little fun.”
Frank’s face scrunched up. “Great idea, Singer. Let’s have a grand old time here, while the government works on bringing about World War III and making it all look like some whacked out biblical prophecy.”
“Frank,” Ellen said patiently, “that is exactly why we’re doing this. We got enough to worry about. We may be able to head it off, or maybe not. Who knows?” She paused for a second, as Frank watched Rufus deal the cards like a hawk. She thought maybe he was ignoring her, until he spoke again.
“Your devil-may-care attitude may help you sleep at night, sweetheart, but it’s that type of thing that sometimes causes you to wind up dead.”
Rufus grimaced. “Oh, will you give it a rest, Devereaux? Why do you always have to be the harbinger of doom? Drink some scotch, for crying out loud.”
Frank picked up his cards. “Being a paranoid bastard has kept me alive this long. I’m not about to stop now.”
Ellen let out a little snort, but then spoke affectionately. “Well grumpy or not, I’m still glad to see you, you paranoid bastard. It’s been too long since we all did this.”
Frank let out a little hmph, but said nothing other than “Pass.”
Ellen was quiet for another second, then passed as well.
“Pick it up,” Bobby said, ordering up Rufus.
Frank look up slowly at Bobby. “Are you kidding me, Singer? I had a lone hand. And not in that suit.” He glared at Bobby.
“Like I can read your damn mind. I called it, this is what we’re playing, so deal with it.” Bobby sat up straighter.
“Well don’t expect any help from me, partner. I’ve got all the wrong color,” Frank grouched. Ellen chuckled, and Rufus chimed in with a cheerful “Don’t you just hate it when that happens?”
They were silent for a little as cards fell and tricks were played. Then Bobby spoke again. “Ellen’s right,” he said lightly. “We may not know for sure what the hell’s going on, or what’s coming. But we know no matter what … we’ll get through it the best we can. And if we don't ... then here's to knowing you well.”
So many unspoken things in his statements … though it wasn't vocalized, deep down they knew they could always count on each other. They had for years. And they had lost people, good and dear people, over those years. People they never had the chance to say goodbye or thank you to. Even now, knowing this, they still wouldn’t say those things to each other. But all the same, inherently -- they knew.