as published in VEIL'S VISIT
Q. Hap, I'm going to start with you. You strike me as an intelligent guy. Why don't you try and make a little bit more of your life?
Hap: Haven't a clue. I keep thinking I will, but I seem to take wrong turns.
Q. Why not back off from the situations you get yourself into? You deserve a little better, don't you?
Hap: I get into them before I mean to. It's like they're kind of lurking out there. I turn left to avoid them, there's more trouble comin' the other way.
Leonard: And he drags me in after him. Can I say something?
Q. Be my guest.
Leonard: Hap's bright, but doesn't fully believe it. He thinks because he hasn't come up with the formula for something like Coca-Cola, or has done him some brain surgery, or cured a disease, he hasn't lived up to his expectations. Problem with Hap is, he coasts. Ain't sayin' he's lazy. He works hard. When he works. But he hasn't got any rudder.
Q. Now, don't take this wrong, Leonard, but what's your excuse?
Leonard: I don't make any. I'm doing what I want to do. That's the difference between me and my brother here. He isn't entirely happy being him. I'd damn ecstatic about being me. I work hard. I don't worry that much about the future. A little. But nothing serious. Hap, he's nothing but a big ol' bag of worry.
Hap: I thought I was a love machine.
Leonard: You're a love machine can't keep a woman.
Hap: You've had a bit of a problem maintaining relationships yourself, my good man.
Leonard: Yeah. But, you know what. I think I've found a man finally.
Q. That's another thing. Don't the people you guys care about seem to...Well, you know?
Leonard: Yeah, they seem to give us bad luck. We haven't figured that one out yet.
Q. Well, they're the one's get killed.
Leonard: Yeah. We haven't figured that out either.
Q. This one's for you, Leonard. Do you feel that as you get older you're gettin' your temper under control?
Leonard: What temper?
Leonard: Hey, answer the question. I didn't stutter. What temper?
Q. I was merely sayin'...
Leonard: You haven't said anything yet. You asked if I had a temper. I don't have any damn temper.
Hap: Yes you do.
Leonard: Hey, you want a piece of me, brother? You want to wake up with a crowd around you?
Hap: Hey, bubba. You and me get into, you better brought yourself a sack lunch, cause we're gonna be here all night.
Q. Let's change the subject. You guys seem to survive through pure tenacity and a feeling of quarrelsome brotherhood...
Leonard: Quarrelsome. Who you callin'-
Hap: You're right. We do. There's this, Lansdale. You can have all the money there is, every damn thing, and what it comes down to finally, like it or not, you got to have someone to lean on. Leonard and I aren't brothers by birth. But we are brothers. Like our lawyer friend Andrew Vachss says, "It's the family you choose that counts." We stand by that. It can be your blood kin, certainly, but it doesn't have to be. Way we see it, we can argue and fight with each other, but no one else better think they can. Least not in any serious manner.
Q. All right. Let me ask this. What are future plans?
Hap: Hard to say.
Leonard: Charlie Blank and Hanson have some ideas for us. They've got a little Private Investigator's agency, and we may be picking up a few jobs from them. Nothing technical. Just little stuff, you know. Hap here, he'll still be looking for a date. Watching his weight. Sticking to non-alcoholic beer and losing his hair. I'll still be cool and calm in my J. C. Pennys suit.
Hap: You may be calm, but that cheap suit is enough to make anyone else nervous.
Q. I have just a few more questions.
Leonard: Actually, we got to go. We borrowed the truck we're in to get over here, and we promised to have it back. Our junkers are in the shop. Guy needs this one back to go to work.
Hap: And there's a monster movie showing on channel 38 I want to see.
Leonard: Not that he hasn't seen it about a hundred times.
Q. Well, thanks, guys. And be careful out there.
Leonard: Hell, careful's our middle name, man.
Copyright 1998 by Joe R. Lansdale
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