Main Characters: Vin and JD
Note: Thanks to Sue M for some edits and suggestions and for the lovely collage
“Alrighty, I love it when a plan comes together!” exclaimed Buck, grabbing a Nerf ball out of his desk drawer and lobbing it off JD’s head to get his attention. “Good news kid, you got the place to yourself all weekend. Susan’s booked her company’s chalet at Aspen for us.”
“You don’t even really like skiing,” commented JD with a decided lack of enthusiasm.
“But I sure do love the après-ski,” he replied bobbing his eyebrows and grinning.
“But it’s Easter. I thought there’d be a dinner or something,” JD replied quietly.
“Thought you had plans with Casey?” the rogue asked about JD’s on again, off again, sometimes girlfriend.
“No, that was last week, her soccer team’s going away to a tournament and Miss Nettie’s visiting her cousin’s.”
“No problem Little Buddy, it’s a huge chalet, you can double date with us. Susan has plenty of single friends, and I’ve got lots of numbers in my, not so little, black book. Don’t let anyone tell you there’s no Easter Bunny kid, because I know a whole bunch of cute bunnies.”
“No way, no thanks. I just always thought people did something special for Easter, me and my mom always did.”
“We didn’t do anything last year,” frowned Buck thinking back to the team’s first year together.
“We worked on Easter weekend last year, finished the Griffin case then,” commented Vin from behind Buck, while grabbing a handful of chocolate mini-eggs out of the bag on Buck’s desk.
“Jeez Junior, make some noise will ya. Do those ears of yours hear everything?” teased Buck.
“Sometimes much more than I want to know, I don’t think Chris would approve of federal government phones being used for those types of calls,” he replied dancing out of range of Buck’s long arms.
“Is anyone doing anything special for Easter this weekend?” JD asked the rest of his co-workers.
“Raine’s family’s having a big family dinner so we’re going to that. It’s only a couple hours drive but she wants to stay over, make a weekend out of it instead of just a day trip,” answered Nathan, his unhappy face prompting sympathetic nods of understanding in reply.
“It’s spring break at some of the colleges,” said Josiah, “a previous colleague of mine, a theology professor, is coming for a visit. I’m looking forward to some great discussions.”
“As most of you are aware I’m taking a few days off starting tomorrow and am meeting Maude on the French Riviera.”
“Doesn’t seem long enough to go all the way to France,” remarked Nathan.
“Long enough for a visit with my mother,” explained Ezra, “and we have been invited to attend a couple of events in Monaco,”
“Monaco,” Buck mused, “hey, isn’t that where James Bond went to that Monte Carlo Casino?”
“Exactly!” Ezra smiled his gold toothed smirk.
“I’m doing nothing special, told the cowboy I’d help him fix the corral gate and stuff,” said Vin as Chris came out of his office scowling at Vin and earning him a shit-eating grin in return.
“You’re welcome to come out too JD,” added Chris.
“Come on JD, it’ll be more fun with you there. We’ll finish the work faster and when the old guy’s all tuckered out we can take the dirt bikes on the back trails.”
“Who you calling old, I’ll show you old,” growled Chris trying to hide his grin as the agile sharpshooter easily avoided his reach.
“Thanks, I’ll think about it and let you know,” answered JD, while heading for the break room.
In the break room JD leaned against the countertop. ‘Way to go Dunne, you’re not a kid anymore, Easter’s no big deal.’ He sighed deeply, and quickly swiped his eyes. Sometimes it seemed like nothing was a big deal anymore since his mama was gone. He grabbed a cola from the fridge mostly as a reason for being there. Opening the can with a satisfying hiss, he took a big gulp then plopped into a chair just as Vin walked in.
Buck and Chris had realized that something was bothering JD and both wanted to go talk to him but Josiah suggested they leave him be, and that he’d talk to him later. While they were having this quiet discussion Vin slipped behind them thinking JD might not want to be left alone with his thoughts.
“Didn’t mean to put you on the spot,” Vin said, leaning against the wall. “No pressure, but it would be fun if you came out’; we’ll take the horses out a couple of times, and you could bring some games over.”
“Sure, I’ll let you know soon,” JD shrugged. Everyone always said he talked a lot, but sometimes he didn’t want to and one of the best things about Vin was how easy it was being around him; you never needed to explain things to him if you didn’t want to.
Vin slouched in the chair across from JD sipping his own drink quietly while knowing that sometimes being there for a friend literally meant just being there.
Finally JD looked up and spoke quietly. “Easter was always a big deal to my mom.” At Vin’s nod he continued. “Sure we always decorated Easter eggs and she hid some for me to find, and there were some chocolates and candies, a new toy when I was little, a book or magazine when I was older; but Easter itself was special. It’s such an important church holiday and that meant a lot to my mom.”
Vin nodded again encouraging him to continue. JD liked how Vin really listened, not just waiting to say something next like most people, but really listened to hear what you had to say. It showed he really cared and wanted to know, that what you said was important to him.
JD continued. “We always went to Mass on Good Friday, of course, but Easter Sunday was a special celebration and everyone seemed happy and we always dressed up in our best clothes, I usually got a new shirt to wear and my mom,” JD quickly looked away, blinked a couple times, took a deep breath and turned back to his friend.
“Mama had one special hat she only wore on Easter, guess you’d call it an Easter bonnet, but it was sort of like a straw hat with fake flowers on it.” JD had a far away, wistful look in his eyes and he sighed again.
“What did it look like?” prompted Vin.
JD smiled. He knew he could have talked to Buck or Chris or any of the others, he hadn’t even wanted to say anything, but while sitting here with Vin it was like the words just welled up in his heart and spilled out.
“Like a rainbow.” JD laughed quietly, a soft sad little laugh. “Pink, yellow, blue, green and violet colored ribbon flowers on it. When I was little I called it an Easter egg hat because the colours reminded me of Easter eggs. She told me how Easter is all about rebirth, and that Spring and all the lovely flowers are the earth waking up after Winter. She looked so pretty wearing it. Some ladies got new ones everyone year, but she only ever had that one.
JD leaned forward in his chair. “When I started working I was going to buy her a new one but she said no, she didn’t need but that one special hat, that’s why she only wore it once a year so it would be special.” JD took another deep breath and let the tears welling up in his eyes roll down his cheeks.
“Oh God Vin, I even had them bury her in that hat. I wanted her to look pretty going to heaven.” Suddenly JD’s hazel eyes opened wide in realization. “I’m sorry Vin, your mama, ….. sorry, I didn’t think.”
“It’s ok kid, I like hearing about your mama. I can’t even remember Easter with my mother but when you were talking about the hat with flowers it reminded me that sometimes when I would pick a flower for my mother, she would put it in her hair. I hadn’t remembered that in a long time.” Vin smiled. “Thanks.”
JD smiled back. Vin might not say much but somehow he always said the right thing.
“Let me know if you want a ride to the ranch Friday night,” said Vin, finishing his drink and standing up.
“I dunno, I’ll probably go to Mass Friday night, and then I really should go again on Easter, wouldn’t want to disappoint my mom,” he smiled sadly.
“The Catholic church in Purgatory puts on a special Pascua fete; that’s an Easter celebration,” Vin informed JD. “All the neighborhood kids have all invited me, so we could drive in Sunday morning, that is if you want to. ‘Course it’ll all be in Spanish but there’s a sort of Mexican party afterwards, it might be fun.”
JD nodded thoughtfully, it would still be Easter Mass but it would be different, maybe he wouldn’t miss his mother as much. He knew a few Spanish words, perhaps he’d learn some more. He already had one new word, Pascua, Easter. He’d been to a Latin mass before and it was familiar enough that he was able to follow along plus Vin would be there too. “Sure Vin, sounds good, I think I’d like that.”
Vin quickly left, to let JD compose himself and to get Buck and Chris back to their desks before the younger man came out. Vin had heard them walking then stop outside the break room and knew they had heard most of what JD said. Vin couldn’t understand how JD didn’t know they were there. Vin didn’t realize how unusual it was that he not only always knew when other people were approaching but also usually who they were. However in this case he was glad that Chris and Buck had heard what was bothering JD but hadn’t interrupted him.
Buck sat down at his desk and tried to look busy but obviously failed miserably as JD sat down, took one look at him and said, “you heard.”
“Didn’t mean to. You know you can tell me anything, don’t you?”
“Didn’t know I had anything to say but I do feel better now,“ JD answered, popping a chocolate egg in his mouth and lobbing the Nerf ball back at Buck.
On the Good Friday afternoon Vin approached JD. “Are you coming over tonight,” asked Vin.
“Nah, I’m going to church tonight, I’ll come out tomorrow morning, that’ll give you guys some quiet time, and you can get all of that ‘not talking’ over before I get there.”
Vin laughed, “that never takes long. Whatever works for you, we’ll see you when we see you, and remember to bring something to wear to church, but not your suit. Everyone will be wearing something bright and colorful.”
“You want to ride with me?” Chris asked Vin later.
“No thanks, I’ve got to pick up some stuff from my place and got some things to do in the neighbourhood. Won’t be too late.”
“Ok, I’m going to stop for some groceries, anything special you want?”
“Nah, you know me, I eat anything.”
“And then some,” teased Chris.
“Hey! I can’t help it if I got one of them fast metabolisms. I’ll bring out some junk food for me and the kid.”
Chris glanced at all the posted sales ads as he walked into the grocery store while mentally figuring out everything he needed. He noted one in particular.
‘Ham on sale’.
‘Hhmm’, Chris thought. He hadn’t planned to cook anything particular for Easter, but JD would probably appreciate something special. ‘Ham’s easy, throw it in the oven, put some potatoes in to bake, some vegetables, salad’.
He selected one. It would give him something to do while the guys were at Church, and an excuse not to go. Sarah liked them to go to church as a family on special days. She wasn’t a Catholic but there was a Christian church nearby she liked.
No, he wasn’t ready for church yet, still had a bit of an issue with the big guy.
Grocery decisions made he grabbed what he needed and stood in the long line, trying to wait patiently while listening to cranky children clamouring for more candies.
‘Why do they always put stuff like that near the checkout?’ he wondered before answering his own question. He shook his head. ‘Because it works, there’s another mother buying candy to shut her kid up. Look at all those chocolate bunnies, so many different sizes.’
Chris thought back to his son’s last Easter and found himself enjoying the happy memories. Lately it seemed that he didn’t feel the same anger and bitterness when facing the holidays. He always tried to avoid them, pretend it was just a regular day and now hew he was planning a big dinner. ‘What’s up with that?’
Eying the chocolates again he found himself reaching for them guessing it wouldn’t hurt to buy a couple. JD and Vin would probably get a kick out of waking up Sunday morning to Easter candy. Now what size to buy, it was strange how picking out Easter chocolates wasn’t making him sad, sort of happy almost.
Sunday morning found Vin and JD very surprised to find chocolate bunnies sitting on the kitchen table, and not one each but two. As they both reached for their large one Chris told them in no uncertain terms, avoiding JD’s puppy dog eyes, that they couldn’t eat the large one before church, the small one was for now and they would have to wait until later for the larger one.
JD felt a bit nervous, but also sort of excited to be going to the Spanish Mass with Vin. He wore his brown suit pants and a nice green shirt that Casey had bought him and Vin wore a bright red shirt with tan Dockers. Vin parked a few blocks away and when they arrived everyone was still outside visiting and they were all wearing bright clothes. Many of the ladies had Spanish style dresses with flounces and embroidery and red was a popular color.
Everyone lined up along the sidewalk and there was a procession with the priest and altar boys leading the way followed by the children and then everyone else. JD was able to follow along somewhat with the prayer book and even sang a bit, sounding out the words after Vin pointed out the right pages to follow. He thought about his mom but it was so different it was like being on vacation somewhere, and he thought this was what it would have been like to travel with his mom. He knew she would have tried to find a Catholic Church wherever they were to attend Mass on any Sunday. He could picture her wearing her Easter bonnet in Heaven smiling down on him, and he smiled, suddenly feeling closer to her than he had in a long time.
After the service everyone went outside and there were tables set up with fruit punch, little cakes and cookies, and some wonderful square donut type things that Vin called sopapillas. JD munched happily, content to watch the children running around. It looked like they were playing some sort of chasing game. He did a double take. Oh no, that kid threw an Easter egg at another child. Didn’t anyone else notice? Wait there goes another one. What the?’
“Hey Vin, looks like those kids are throwing Easter eggs. Should we stop them?”
Vin grinned. “No, they aren’t Easter eggs, well not hard boiled eggs, they’re cascarones, and that’s what they do with them. Cascara is Spanish for eggshell, so these are hollowed out eggs that they decorate, fill with confetti then glue tissue paper over the hole to keep the confetti in. When they make them for other fiestas they might have little toys or prizes in for the little kids, but these ones just have confetti. It’s supposed to be good luck if you get one broken over your head.”
“Really?” asked JD almost rhetorically, he always believed Vin, if it was Buck maybe he’d wonder if he’d been had, but not Vin and it seemed like everyone was laughing when they got hit by one of these eggs.
“Yes, really,” said Vin reaching under a nearby food table. He pulled out two egg cartons and handed one to JD. “I asked Mrs. Mendoza to make some for us. Here, I’ll show you how it’s done,” and Vin grinned, lightly tapped an egg on JD’s head showering him with confetti and eggshell, then running off. It didn’t take long for JD to shake confetti out of his hair and lob one of his eggs at his laughing friend, catching him in the back of his head. Before long both young men were getting chased by the kids, letting the younger ones catch them and retaliating, hitting them back softly with brightly colored cascarones. An Easter like no other but thoroughly enjoyed by both Vin, who couldn’t remember Easter with his mother and JD, missing his, but happily building new memories.
“So did you have a good weekend, kid,” asked Buck as he walked into their place and found JD typing away on his laptop. “Because, let me tell you, I sure did!”
“Hey Buck, yeah it was great. After we finished fixing the corral on Saturday we took the horses out and then the dirt bikes, and before you ask, nobody got hurt. Then Chris barbequed steaks and Vin and I played my new racing game. Went to Spanish church on Sunday with Vin and they had a celebration after and it was fun. Did you know that Pascua is Spanish for Easter and we ate these really great square donut type things called Sopapillas, and then when we got back Chris had baked a ham dinner for us, but he didn’t let us eat the larger chocolate bunnies he’d bought us until after dinner, but we ate the smaller ones before breakfast.”
Buck let JD’s happy voice wash over him. JD was back to being himself, all was right in his world. ‘Wait, what did he just say? Chris bought them Easter candy, and baked them a ham dinner? He was definitely going to need lots more detail’.
JD flicked his long bangs out of his eyes and continued talking animatedly.
Buck frowned as he peered closer at JD and reached towards him. “Why do you have eggshells in your hair?”
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Some information about Cascarones: