Carlo and Andrew lay tracks and rebuild a foundation.
|Amsterdam to Scranton (And All Stops In Between)
Summary: Written for the prompt: Rain and OneThrone Magazine’s Joust.
First line: They laid the train tracks back to front and this caused a great deal of confusion—you’d think you were on the train to New York and arrived in Kinshasa, or to Shanghai and found yourself lost in Istanbul.
Last line: Rain dripping from the rusty gutters made a curtain between the platform and the tracks.
They laid the train tracks back to front and this caused a great deal of confusion—you’d think you were on the train to New York and arrived in Kinshasa, or to Shanghai and found yourself lost in Istanbul.
“We’re doing it wrong,” Carlo noted, taking a sip of his pinot noir as Andrew laid another length of track. With the switch coming down the line, this was shaping up to take one from Amsterdam to Scranton in one slow, scenic ride.
“We’re finishing it,” Andrew said gruffly, taking a swig of his Miller High-Life. His eyes were red, but Carlo knew his own to be as clear as a summer day. “We’re finishing the job. That’s all that matters.”
Carlo sighed, running his finger down the textured bark of a tree and not looking at Andrew. He didn’t want to see that mule-stubborn look weakened by the tears that had a habit of standing out in his eyes these days.
Picking up a length of track, Carlo ventured: “Wouldn’t he want us to do it right? The way he wanted it done? If Lucas was here—”
“But he’s not here,” Andrew interrupted to say, as soft as a sob. “Lucas is gone, and it’s our job to . . . to muddle through as best we can.”
I can’t talk to you when you’re like this, Carlo thought but didn’t say. Instead he took another sip of pinot noir that he barely tasted, anymore. Picked up a STOP sign and twirled it in his fingers like a swizzle stick before placing it back exactly where he found it.
“He had plans drawn up, you know,” Carlo said in a low voice that was obviously trying not to antagonize. For all the good that it did. “Remember he used to show us the blueprints over breakfast—or he’d try to. But we’d be busy trying to cram our food and bolt out the door to work.”
”You mean, I’d cram my food and bolt.” Andrew grunted, glancing at Carlo, his red eyes suspiciously wet. “Off to another important day at a job I hated, instead of spending time with our son.”
Carlo sighed again. “Drew, baby, that’s not what I meant—”
“Isn’t it?” Andrew slammed another section of track down, one that was, for all Andrew’s slamming, perfectly in place. “You and he used to spend more mornings together than not. I was the one always rushing out the door. At least you work from home, and he knew that. Knew that he could always count on you to be there for him. Could count on you to show an interest in the things he did, whether it was the track team or these stupid model trains. . . .”
“Baby,” Carlo whispered, putting his glass down near Kinshasa and approaching Andrew tentatively, as if afraid his husband would move away. But Andrew didn’t even look up, merely stood there, head hanging and shoulders slumped, holding another section of track between his thick, blunt fingers as if he didn’t know what to do with it.
Carlo dared to put his hand on Andrew’s left shoulder—the first time he’d touched Andrew in months—and Andrew shuddered and shook as if there was a momentary mini-earthquake in their basement. The section of track fell from his fingers, to grassy nowhere-land between Scranton and Leipzig.
Then, without warning, Andrew was pulling Carlo into his arms, clutching him tight and burying his hot, damp face against Carlo’s neck.
Startled, Carlo held his husband while he wept and shook, shuddered and sobbed. He didn’t hush Andrew, or whisper comforting nonsense-words meant to soothe. Andrew’s emotions, long since buried—even at the funeral, Andrew’s now perpetually red eyes were wet, but he hadn’t let a single tear fall…unlike Carlo, who’d cried at the funeral and for weeks afterward, till his eyes were rusty gutters—were a tsunami, one that had to at last reach the shore, no matter what damage it caused.
Dry-eyed, Carlo turned his gaze to small window set at the back of the large basement. Outside, it was raining heavily, steadily, with white-noise that covered the entire city like a blanket, muffling all other sounds….
Carlo thought of nothing at all, while he and Andrew stood locked in despairing embrace for long minutes. Andrew’s sobs tapered off into hitches and shuddering breaths, before he finally spoke, his voice hoarse and raw from crying.
“I don’t even know where L-Lucas kept his damn b-blueprints,” he said, half-embarrassed and half-defensive. “Damn kid never kept stuff where a normal person would.”
And at that they both laughed a little, because it was entirely true. Lucas had never kept anything where one might expect. And that included his precious blueprints.
“Well,” Carlo said softly. “It just so happens that I know where he kept his blueprints.”
Letting go of the embrace, wiping his face, and sniffling, Andrew nodded. “Of course you did. He told you everything.”
“Not everything.” Carlo smiled just a bit. “He was a teenage boy, after all. But it just so happened that I was cleaning his room one day and stumbled across his blueprints hidden behind his stereo, of all places.”
“Damn kid.” Andrew laughed again, and a few tears leaked out of his eyes. He didn’t bother to wipe them away, but instead picked up a sign that read: DEPOT. He stared at it for a few seconds before risking another glance at Carlo.
“I love you,” he said desperately, as if Carlo might not know this. And Carlo admitted to himself that, over the past few months, he’d had his doubts.
“I love you, too, Drew.”
And this time, Carlo opened his arms and Andrew went into them with a sigh of relief. As they hugged and swayed, Carlo stared at the DEPOT sign. For the first time in months, his eyes began to tingle and burn…and fill to overflowing.
Rain dripping from the rusty gutters made a curtain between the platform and the tracks.