The hammock was Rodney’s idea.
“I don’t have time for a hammock,” John said, sipping his morning coffee. “If I’m out there, I’m working.”
“Or we have the kids, yes, yes,” Rodney replied from where he was hovering in front of the toaster. “But my theory is that we’ve never had time to have a hammock because we don’t have a hammock.”
“I . . .” John closed one eye for a moment, but it made nothing that Rodney had said more comprehensible.
“We believe all our time to be used up in completely productive and often satisfying ways,” said Rodney, beaming. “We think we have no time! But we’ve never introduced the concept of the hammock into our thinking, so never tried to make time for it.” He cleared his throat. “I’ve been thinking about hammock-time for a while and discovered three separate occasions so far when I could have spent 6, 23, and 17 minutes outside.”
“But you hate the outdoors. Especially in summer,” said John, mentally setting aside the image of Rodney cataloging his daydreams with a timer.
“I’ve never tried being outdoors in the summer in a hammock,” said Rodney. His toast popped up and he cheerfully fished out his bread with the small, wooden tongs Ada had given him for his birthday (which he proudly told anyone who would listen were the greatest invention since the last thing he invented).
John sighed. He could sense when he was being volunteered for a project that he couldn’t get out of. “A hammock.”
“A hammock,” said Rodney, buttering his toast and looking generally smug.
“I gotta go buy us a hammock,” said John, mentally adding it to his list of things to be done that day.
“I, uh . . . “ Rodney licked his lips. “Might have bought one already and stowed in it the garage.”
John huffed a half-laugh. “You could have started with, hey buddy, I bought a hammock.”
Rodney let one shoulder rise then drop. “I preferred to work up to it with logical arguments in favor of napping,” he explained.
John leaned over and kissed him. “You keep on thinking that was logical,” he said, and set his mug in the sink. “I’ll go see what you bought.”
The hammock was exactly what a hammock should be, John supposed – rope webbing and a couple of sturdy hooks-and-eyes. He rummaged around for the right kind of drill bit, grabbed his drill, stuffed the hammock under his arm, and ambled out to the yard. There were two oaks there that had survived the storm, standing guard over Merrie’s Zinnia patch and offering shade that they all badly needed when it came to the heat of a summer afternoon. It took some tinkering of the kind that left sweat running the length of John’s spine to get everything put in place, but it wasn’t a bad job as things went, standing outside with the breeze blowing in from over Ada’s pasture, the cicadas buzzing intently nearby. John waved a fly away from his face as he cinched the second tie, and as he stood back to look at his work, he could hear Rodney walking determinedly across the grass, steps faltering as he made his way around the upturned kiddie pool, muttering all the while about Burp and his propensity for leaving half-branches abandoned in the middle of the yard.
“A hammock!” Rodney crowed as he neared.
John turned just enough to give him the side-eye. “The one we just discussed, yep,” he said, injecting just a hint of farm-boy drawl into his voice.
“Pfffft,” Rodney said, dismissing John’s attempt at dry commentary with a wave of his hand. “Did you try it?”
“You’ve been watching me from the window the whole time,” John said. “So you’d think you’d know.”
Rodney bounced on the balls of his feet. “Well. You do . . . look a certain way when using power tools,” he mumbled, cheeks pinking as he tugged on the netting.
John felt his heart twinge with sudden force of his affection. “Tumble on in,” he said, not quite knowing how to say anything more profound before 10am.
“Oh no.” John slowly shook his head. “Your hammock, your move.”
“I am not about to give you the satisfaction of watching me upend myself in my attempt to achieve proninity,” Rodney sniffed.
“The act of being prone,” Rodney replied, a ‘duh’ very firmly implied.
John set his drill down in the grass. “Look, it’s not so hard, you just – I’ll hold it, and you . . . “
Rodney half stepped toward it, then turned around and offered the hammock his butt. “This way?”
John bit his lip, trying manfully not to laugh. “Ass first,” he agreed, and true to his word, held the hammock firmly while Rodney made an inelegant spill into its depths.
“Ohhhhhh.” Rodney wriggled around until he lay on his back, looking up toward the sky, seemingly entranced by what he saw. “Oh, this is . . . Oh, I am very, very smart.”
John snorted, and clambered in beside him, elbowing some room for himself, Rodney shifting in ways that made the whole hammock swing dangerously from side to side. John felt his stomach pitch until he could get properly settled on his back, head pillowed on Rodney’s outstretched arm. If any of the neighbors stopped by right now, the stories they’d tell across town about the way those boys laid around instead of doing a full day’s work would haunt them for weeks. Still. It was a pretty nice thing, laying out beneath the sun with the scent of ditch lilies blowing by, the road long empty, silence stretching over the farm like a blanket.
“Thank you,” said Rodney, and John could feel the words rumble up from his chest.
“Sure,” he said, meaning ‘okay, I concede you were right,’ and he touched his fingers to Rodney’s own, figured the fencing could wait a good fifteen minutes or forty-five, and happily closed his eyes.