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March 2008

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Mar. 28th, 2008

If Jack Hadn't Died................?

The thought occured to me to wonder what would have happened to Jack and Ennis if Jack had not died. I chose that he would escape from the tyre iron wielding mechanics, although he could, of course have died in an accident.
This is my account of what might have happened. It is Brokeback Mountain with the happy ending we would all like it to have.
It may not be the masterpiece of fiction that the original short story is, but I hope that Annie Proulx will forgive me for what I have done with her story.
I have tried as always to stay faithful to her interpretation of her characters.




If Jack Hadn’t Died……….?
By
Janjo

Jack Twist could hear the gravel rattling down the sides of the gully, after it was disturbed by the mechanic’s foot. He crouched even lower, hoping against hope that the leaves of the scrubby bushes, under which he was hiding, were giving him proper camouflage.
The mechanic called to his associates, who were hanging back a little now, “Where’s that pervert fucker gone? He seems to have damn disappeared.”
“Huh! I suppose we’ll have to leave him alone, Tom, he ain’t never done us no personal harm.”
“Leave him alone, I’d like to smash his goddamned head in if I could see the bastard.”
“Where the hell has he gone?”
Tom let the tyre iron in his hand fall to his side, it didn’t look like he was going to get the fight he was looking for today.
“Goddamned pervert, he deserves to die.”
“I hate people like him, he don’t even seem to care who sees him any more. I don’t know how that wife of his stands it. I wouldn’t want to be alone with him that’s for sure; God only knows what he might do.”
“Yeah! You can’t turn your back on him, I tell you. World would sure be a better place with out queer creeps like him.”
“Don’t look like we’re gonna be doin’ the world that service today though, where in hell is the fuckin’ pervert?”

Jack’s heart was pounding. He couldn’t believe that they couldn’t see him. There weren’t many places to hide out here.
He had just been saying goodbye to his sometime lover, (Was that the right word?), in the old pickup Randall sometimes used for work. Jack had embraced him and kissed him on the lips, told him thanks for everything and got out to walk to his own truck, parked just a few yards away. Randall drove off, looking unhappy, which was not surprising after what Jack had just said to him, and it was on that short walk that Jack realised that they had been seen by the mechanics, and that they were approaching him, looking menacing. He was near the repair workshop, way out on the edge of town; Jack thought it would have been safe enough. Obviously he was wrong, he slipped between the parked vehicles, then slid to the floor, and down into a roadside gulley, which was deep, and luckily almost dry at this season of the year.

There had been times recently when Jack hadn’t cared whether he lived or died. Just now though, he did care, and he did want to live. He wanted to live, he wanted to get out of this mess, hell, he wanted to get out of Texas, and he wanted to see Ennis del Mar, and finally beat some sense into that head of his.

The mechanics were walking away now, muttering angrily, and kicking the stony ground. Jack heard one of them say, “I’m telling everyone in the bar tonight about that fucker and his carrying on. I’m gonna make sure he gets run out of this town and won’t never show his damn face round here again.
Him, with his hundred thousand dollar tractors, and his fancy clothes, and pickup trucks, he’s a disgrace, and even if I can’t find him. I’ll make sure he gets what’s coming to him right enough.”

Jack knew then that he had reached the end of the road as far as his life in Childress, Texas, was concerned. If he managed to get out of this, and that was by no means certain, there was, he knew, no way back into the community.
First though he had to find some way out of this situation, and out of town. It was a bad scene that was for sure.
Here he was, sometime respected local businessman, hiding under a bush, in a gulley and being threatened by three thugs, who had the power to either beat him, kill him, or ruin his life by scandal.
To ruin his life, for what?
For feeling affection for Randall?
For loving Ennis del Mar?
For a few fucks with Mexican male whores?
What was supposed to be so bad about that?
He had never killed anyone, never hurt anyone, except himself maybe, and Randall wasn’t too happy with him at the moment, but real harm? Not Jack Twist.

He could still hear murmuring and scuffling sounds from the mechanics, as they drifted back in a state of discontent to their work.
They knew he was still there somewhere, and he was alert for them to return to the fray at any time. He daren’t move, his hiding place wasn’t that good; it seemed more a matter of luck that they couldn’t see him.
Time passed. He had cramp in his legs, and felt sick with fear. Pain and fear, it reminded him of his rodeo riding days, that had all been pain and fear, and not too much success either. Would nothing ever change in his life?

Eventually he thought it might be safe to move. The day had darkened, and the sky was full of cloud. It was very still. Every movement seemed to send a loud sound ringing around the gulley, but maybe that was because of his heightened senses. Jack’s heart was thumping against his ribs as he tried to straighten himself up.
He stretched out flat against the gulley sides, and started to pull himself up to the roadside. There was no response from the workshop, so he continued. Eventually he reached up to the door handle of the pickup, opened the door just a little and pulled himself up onto the seat.
Closing the door gently he hunted for his keys in his pocket, started the engine and drove away.
The mechanics who were preparing to leave for home, heard him, and rushed angrily out of the workshop, but they were too late.
Jack Twist had fled.

What to do now? He could hardly go home. He knew that his secret was out. It was a small town; the news of his activities would be all over by morning. The mechanic had said he would tell everyone, and Jack had no doubt that he meant it.
How much of a surprise would the news be to Lureen? Not too much – he thought. She had had her suspicions for a long time. The phone numbers he kept in his head, the long fishing trips with Ennis del Mar, never taking her and Bobby on holiday, his lack of interest in sex with her.
Jack thought all in all she would be just as happy without him. He had never set out to hurt her, but he knew that she was as hard as nails, and well capable of continuing a life that she had mainly lived on her own terms for a long time.
It was strange that this had all happened today, just when Jack had made a few decisions. He had gone to see Randall in the first place to tell him they were over.
He had had an enormous row with the real love of his life Ennis del Mar, just a few weeks ago. Lovers and friends for twenty years, ever since they were both age nineteen, herding sheep on Brokeback Mountain, but they had never lived together. Ennis too frightened to be seen as anything but the straight guy, he most assuredly wasn’t, demanded only that they met “way out the hell in the middle of nowhere,” too terrified to be seen as what he was, what they were, a couple of aging queer men who had loved each other for so many years.
They had been camping at a lakeside in the mountains. He felt he had got absolutely nowhere telling Ennis he couldn’t stand the loneliness and the continual partings. Ennis had ended up in tears, shaking with grief, in fact, at the suggestion that Jack couldn’t take anymore, and wanted out. Jack had been so angry, and he knew in reality that he couldn’t go through with it, but Ennis obviously thought he might. It still brought any plans that Jack had of them living together no nearer at all. Jack couldn’t stand it, and Ennis wouldn’t move an inch.
It had crystallised a few things in Jack’s mind though. He knew that Randall, was never, could never be a substitute for Ennis. So much so that he had told him so.
He was near to accepting that if he couldn’t have Ennis, that no one else would do, it seemed to him then, that it would be better to be lonely, or just to give up and die, than to live the life he had been living.
Jack was puzzled what to do now. He had been greatly unnerved by the afternoon’s happenings and had never felt so rootless and abandoned. He had set out to tell Randall he didn’t think it was fair to see him anymore, and ended up feeling he wouldn’t be seeing anybody anymore.
The person he was most worried about was his son Bobby. He knew Lureen would be OK, but Bobby? He loved his son, a bright likeable boy, but he had problems with his education, seemed to have trouble learning to read and write somehow. Jack wasn’t sure Lureen would give him the attention he deserved.
He could hardly go to Randall’s place after he had just told him they were finished, especially with Randall’s wife being the way she was. If she knew about him, the news would be all over the county like wildfire, and if she suspected that he and Randall had been involved in it together, then Randall’s life would be utter hell.
Come to think of it, if the mechanics recognised Randall then his life would be hell anyway, but he wasn’t that local, and Jack just hoped that they didn’t know who he was.
Jack didn’t wish that on a man who after all had been a good friend to him when he needed one.
What Jack really wanted of course was to go to Ennis, to lay his head on his chest, and to cry about the misery of his situation. But Jack knew better than that. He knew Ennis needed careful handling. Next time he saw Ennis he was refusing to budge, refusing to leave him. He couldn’t take another parting, and he had just the merest ghost of a feeling that this time maybe Ennis couldn’t either.
He needed to plan his strategy for their next meeting. Refuse to be fobbed off for ever. Ennis had threatened to kill him if he found out he was seeing other men, and although Jack never for one moment thought he meant it, he knew that was one thing he could do something about. He stopped seeing Randall for Ennis. He would stop seeing whores for Ennis. Now Ennis had to meet his side of the bargain, and give him what he had never given him before, his time, his love, his care. Not just friendship and brilliant sex occasionally, but his whole life, their whole life, and this time properly together. Nothing else would do. Jack wasn’t at all sure how this would be accomplished, but he could be cunning when he wanted something badly enough, and he really wanted this. In fact without this it would have been a mercy if the mechanics had beaten him to death, because at that moment he had no life.
Jack did have a little money in his pocket though, and the will to use it. He drove for a couple of hours, filled the tank of the pickup with gas, and then booked into a small motel for the night. Maybe a meal, a stiff whiskey and a good night’s sleep would help him to devise some sort of a plan as to where to go from here. Whatever he decided, surely things couldn’t get any worse.

Jack spent a restless, anxious night, and when he woke the next morning he wondered momentarily where he was. Then the happenings of yesterday washed into his now conscious mind, and he became very angry, and felt very alone. He had taken refuge in the whiskey bottle the night before, but that settled nothing. The motel room was clean, but cheaply furnished. It wasn’t home, he couldn’t go back there at the moment, and anyway what was a home with no love in it? The home Jack craved was only in his mind. The little ranch, him, and Ennis del Mar, working together all day, loving together all night; that was the only home he wanted now. He knew it would be months before he saw Ennis again. He dare not contact Ennis too soon, for fear of frightening him off. The key seemed to be in showing him the spot he had planned for their ranch. Showing him how isolated it was, showing him the cabin where they would live, and more than that persuading that old bastard of a father of his to agree to any such plan. It was all too much for Jack to think about at the moment. He showered and shaved, decided that despite every thing he still cut a pleasing figure for a man of his age, and went into the motel restaurant for breakfast.
After breakfast he made his final decision. He was going to go back to Lightning Flat. To the very place he had fought so hard to get away from.
Jack thought he was strong enough to stand up to the old man now, but who knows? It was so easy to revert to the frightened little boy under his father’s pitiless gaze. The only thing was, his father was chronically short of men to do the work around the ranch. At the moment he was doing most of the work himself, and he wasn’t getting any younger. Surely, surely, his help, and eventually the help of a man like Ennis, would soften the blow of hiring Ennis, if his father could be persuaded, as the ranch “foreman.”
The first thing to do was to drive the 1200 miles to Lightning Flat, see his parents, and find out how welcome he would be. Then he was hoping to fix up one of the old cabins as a place for him and Ennis to live.
Of course this would probably all prove to be a waste of time, when Ennis refused for the umpteenth time to move in with him, but Jack thought he should try just one more throw of the dice, before he gave up completely, and now he felt he at least had the dice in his hands. He had no other options; he might as well go for it.

Jack was somewhat unsure of what he was going to say to his parents when he got up to Lightning Flat.
He looked forward to seeing his mother, but the old man was a nightmare. He never stopped bitching from morning to night, and if Jack was around he knew he would be the fall guy.
He kind of looked forward to taking over the ranch one day, he had told his father about his friend Ennis del Mar many times, how he would come up and set the ranch on its feet, but he hadn’t reckoned on persuading his father, when Ennis didn’t know anything about it.
It was a lot of balls to keep in the air at once. Telling his father Ennis was coming, preparing a cabin for them to live in, trying to make a living out of the ranch, and planning how the hell he was going to get Ennis up to Lightning Flat in the first place, when he wasn’t supposed to be seeing him again until November.
Did Ennis really think that they could go on as they had before, after what happened at the lakeside?
They had made up, but Ennis was very shaken. Jack could tell that.
Was it perhaps the first time Jack had used his power over him?
The power to not be there when he needed him?
The way Ennis had cried, Jack knew was because he was hurting. He was hurting because what they had together meant something to him, but did it mean enough to finally get him to risk all and finally commit, or was he really prepared to risk losing Jack altogether?
Jack knew that was the choice. He had to have Ennis with him, or just wither up and die. The latter did not appeal to him. Living up at Lightning Flat on his own with his father taunting him all day didn’t appeal either.
Jack knew he was a good combine salesman. If he could sell combines to tough Texas farmers, he could sell himself to Ennis del Mar.
He had no choice.

He would have to get his things sent up from Childress at some time. He wanted to see Bobby too. Perhaps when he was settled he could come up and see him.
Life materially was going to be a hell of a lot harder than he was used to, but he did have some financial assets and he wanted to make sure he could get his hands on them before the news was all round Childress and Lureen found a way to stop him. Lureen was a very clever business woman and would not hesitate in taking some sort of punitive action against him if it looked to her advantage.
Jack had hurt her enough, if her reputation was damaged she would get even, he felt sure of that.

Jack seemed to feel more fearful and uncertain the nearer he got to Lightning Flat.
What would his father really say when he arrived and told him he hoped to be staying for good.
Jack thought his mother knew about him and Ennis, he had given her broad enough hints, what his father knew he wasn’t sure, but he knew he would give him nothing but condemnation whatever he did or said anyway.
He might just be glad of the practical help though.
As the country became more and more remote under the wheels of Jack’s pickup, he knew that whatever he had to face would soon be upon him.
Eventually he came to the washboard road, and saw the sign” Twist Ranch, John C Twist,” and knew that he was home.
Not a comfortable home, not a cosy welcoming place, but the only place he could call home and feel safe in at the moment. He rattled down the driveway, and finally pulled to a stop in the yard. He opened the door, climbed down, stiff from the journey, approached the house, and knocked on the door. After a few moments of scrabbling sounds inside, and vague shadows seen dimly through the glass panel, the door opened and his mother stood there.
She looked completely taken aback, she hadn’t been expecting him. “Son, what are you doin’ here?”
“I’ve come back for good, Ma, left Lureen. I’m not welcome down in Texas no more. Gonna help Daddy with the ranch, if’n he’ll have me.”
In a way Jack’s mother looked relieved, “well he sure could do with some help, he’s been working himself to a shadow tryin’ to get everything done. It would be too much for a young man, let alone your father at his age, and you know he’s got heart trouble now too.”
“Ma, I didn’t know that, don’t no one let me know anything anymore?”
“Well we didn’t want to worry you son. Figured you had enough to do with Lureen and Bobby and that place a’ yours down in Texas.”
“Well they won’t be wanting me down there now, seems it might be a good job I’m here.
I told you about my friend Ennis del Mar, well I’m gonna try really hard to get him to come up here too, help Daddy out, take the burden off him.”

Jack wiped his dusty boots, went into the bare, sparse kitchen, and sat at the kitchen table; his mother put some coffee on and passed it to him without even asking if he wanted it.
“Jack, don’t like to ask this, but what went wrong in Texas?”

“Hell, Ma, you know what I’m like, I had a man friend, ranch foreman, some people saw us together, tried to kill me.”

Jack’s mother looked alarmed “Oh my God, Jack! You should be more careful. You and Ennis, you’re a lot more than friends too?”

“Yeah, Mom, you know that, we’re a lot more than friends,” said Jack.

“You two go back a long ways.”

“Twenty years Ma, never would have looked at anyone else if I could have Ennis with me all the time.
He won’t hear of it though, but this time I’m gonna make him listen good. I’m not living without him anymore and this time I intend to tell him so.”

Jack’s Ma looked him square in the eye; “and what if he won’t?”

“I ain’t thinkin’ about that, I ain’t playin’ around no more, I don’t want no one else, it’s him or nothin’!”
“He cried when I said I might leave him. Gotta mean somethin’, Ma.”
“When do you plan telling him about all this?”
“November, Ma, next time we meet up, goin’ fishin’ up at Pine Creek. Give me time to fix up a cabin for us, get Daddy round to my way a thinkin’.”

“My, son, you do have your work cut out,” said Jack’s Ma with a wry smile.

“You can say that again,” said Jack, but this time he did have a twinkle in his eye.

The twinkle had gone by the time John Twist came home that evening though. A curt “what you doin’ here, come home to watch your old man struggle,” was Jack’s welcome. “No Daddy, I’ve come to help, finally set this place on its feet.”
“You, that’ll be a miracle!”
Jack looked despairing, “Please Daddy, I mean it, I’m stayin’, I’m gonna help, and I hope in time to get my friend Ennis up here as foreman too. Capable guy, soon get everything straightened out with the two of us. He’s very good with stock, knows his stuff.”
John looked suspicious, but said nothing. Jack thought, he damn knows I’m queer and Ennis is a special friend, he just ain’t sayin nothin’.
He wondered what his Ma had been saying about him. Ma and Daddy didn’t get on. There were moments when she seemed terrified of the old bastard, but then again there were times they exchanged confidences. How many of them were about him?

“I’m gonna stay in the house for a bit, if you’ll have me. Then I’m gonna get the cabin out at Major’s Tree fixed up. Get Ennis down to share with me if I can.”

“Major’s Tree? That old place?”

“Yeah Daddy, There’s a spring I can pump for water, and I’m goin’ a’ send to a dealer I know for a generator for electricity. I reckon I can make it real comfortable.”

“You sure your friend’s coming this time?”

“No but I’m workin’ on it. If’n he don’t, I’ll just live down there by myself.”

Me and a bottle of whiskey, Jack thought, but it was too depressing for words, so he tried not to dwell on it for too long.

Jack and his father rubbed along as best they could. Jack could see at first hand just how run down the place had become. The stock wasn’t in too bad condition, John had always put them first, but he knew that Ennis would be able to do wonders with them, the fences, the grazing, the gates and nearly all the outbuildings were in a sorry and neglected state.
Jack worked from sunup to sundown, and little by little he could start to see improvements, but it was very slow, and his father seemed only able to work at half the speed he used to.
John loved his image as the tough bull rider he used to be, tough, rugged and a bully, but a lot of the fight had gone out of him now. Jack was relieved not to have to cope with his temper, but his ill humour now showed itself in bitter sniping, which whilst not as physically threatening, was almost as hard to live with.

One weekend Jack spent all his time up on the roof of the cabin at Majors Tree. His first priority was to get the place watertight. The sun was hot, and with his shirt off he found he was getting quite a tan. He felt sure Ennis would approve next time he saw him.
It was hard work overhauling the roof, but at the end of two days he was quite pleased with the result. His mind was full of plans, but he still had no idea whether he could get Ennis down to even look at this place he was putting his heart and soul into.

He took the long drive into town one day and rang the engineering company about the generator and the water pump. Dennis, his contact there said he would make sure it was delivered promptly, but wondered what Jack was doing up in Wyoming. Jack explained he was helping out his parents, but declined any inclination he had to explain further.
There was already a stove in the cabin, which Jack was able to renovate. He ordered some furniture, which would be delivered to town, and which he could bring back in the pickup, and then in what he regarded as the best stroke of luck so far, saw a card advertising a brass bedstead for sale. The details were just on a card in the window of the store, he went round to look at it. It was perfect, so like the one they had slept in at Don Wroe’s cabin on one of their getaways. Ennis had loved it then, and Jack felt sure he would love this one now. He bought it, went back to the store, ordered a mattress and some bedding from a catalogue, and with the brass bedstead loaded into the back of the pick up, headed back to Lightning Flat.

The cabin was really starting to come together now. Jack had been able to transfer his funds from Childress so he had some capital.
He had written to Lureen explaining why he had acted as he had, but so far had received no reply. He could imagine he was not the most popular man in that household at the moment. He knew he should phone her, but kept putting it off.

He used some of his money hiring a couple of hands from a neighbouring ranch, (who seemed to be doing better than him and his father were), to come and dig out a hole for a septic tank, and to get at least some basic sanitary fittings installed. He decided that living in Childress had made him soft. Him and Ennis had been quite happy with just the softly flowing river when they had been up on Brokeback.

Jack was quite concerned about his father’s health. He had really slowed down, and even with the heart tablets his doctor had given him, was often out of breath. Jack didn’t think it would be long before he was unable to work at all.
They had been out mending fences last week when John had been seized by a fit of breathlessness that had Jack quite concerned for him.
“Daddy, here sit a while on this,” said Jack manoeuvring a tool box in position behind him.
“Thanks son,” gasped John from strained lips as he sat down.
After a while he seemed to recover a little and said, “seems to me the sooner your friend del Mar gets here the better.”
“Yeah!” said Jack.
“You really gonna share that cabin together?”
“I hope so,” said Jack.
“I don’t want no goings on, down there,” said John.
“If I can get him to come, and it’s a big if, then as long as we get this ranch in order, I suggest you keep your nose out of my business. Me and Ennis ‘ll live our own lives, and it’s nobody’s business but ours.”
“That’s telling me,” said John, “I suppose I’m not in a position to argue.”
“No you’re not, now go back to the house and rest for a spell. I’ll finish up here and see you later.”
John did not like being told what to do on his own place, but didn’t have the energy to argue, so did as he was bid.
“One to me,” thought Jack.

Jack rang Bobby one day. Rang at a time he knew Lureen would be out.

“How’re you doin’ son?”

“Dad, Dad, where are you? I don’t understand.”

“Nothin’ for you to understand, I’m fine, I’m up at Granny and Grandpa’s in Lightning Flat.

How’s your Mamma?”

“Pretty upset with you, and there’s all this talk, and no one will tell me what’s going on. You sure your alright, Dad?”

“Yeah! I’m fine. Re-building a cabin. Tell you what; you come up here for a visit soon, once I get the place straight.”

“OK Dad, I’ll look forward to it.”

“Don’t tell your Mamma I rang will you, son”

“Not if you don’t want me to, Dad.”

“OK, see you before long then!”

In the middle of October Jack dropped Ennis a postcard with his new General Delivery address. It was a long drive into town to pick up the post, but Jack was used to long drives. He was wracked with anticipation about seeing Ennis again, and almost torn in two wondering if everything he had done would be for nought.
What if despite everything, despite him nearly being killed, despite all the hard work getting the cabin ready, all the work he had done on the ranch, Ennis wouldn’t come out to Lightning Flat, even to have a look?

The next week brought the return postcard, “Looking forward to seeing you at Pine Creek, about noon, November 7, Ennis.”

Jack felt better when he saw his friend’s familiar handwriting, but it was still no guarantee of anything.
The night before he left for their meeting he decided to stay at the cabin.
He was so worried and uncertain about what he was about to do that he turned as he so often did when missing Ennis, to the whiskey bottle.
His thoughts turned maudlin, and he wondered if he could go on at all without Ennis.
He looked at the shotgun leaning against the wall. He took another slug of whiskey. Without Ennis he had no future, he knew that. He knew it because he had tried it.
Tried it for twenty years.
He would persuade him, he had to. He didn’t know how to go on without him.
The next day bright and early, stomach churning with apprehension, excitement at seeing Ennis again, and the previous night’s whiskey, Jack threw his gear into his truck and set off for Pine Creek.
He remembered when he had driven to see Ennis once before, when Ennis had just got divorced from Alma. 1200 miles, just to be sent away again. Ennis was terrified. Didn’t want anyone to know about them. Had his girls over for the weekend. It was the closest Jack had ever come to having his heart completely broken. He remembered the hot stinging tears. The long trip to Juarez where he picked up a male whore.
He didn’t really want to think of it now. He would never be walked all over like that again. He thought maybe Ennis realised that now. After their last altercation, he sure hoped so.

The countryside became more and more appealing as Jack came nearer to Pine Creek. The excitement at seeing Ennis again almost dominated Jack’s fears about what might happen when he told him his plans.
At last Jack pulled into the trailhead parking lot, and within a few minutes there was a scrunching sound as Ennis turned his truck on the gravel and arrived too.
Old hat on his head, horses in a trailer, a slow smile on his lips. He got out of his truck and came towards Jack. Jack looked around, there was no one about, he remembered the last time he had embraced a man out in the open. No, not a soul, he went towards Ennis, took him in his arms, and was instantly happier than he had been for months.
“Great to see you darlin,’ said Ennis. Jack nuzzled his head into Ennis’ shoulder, “I’ve missed you so much,” he said. “I’ve got a lot to tell you, and a lot to ask you.”
“Whut!”
“Let’s get riding, and I’ll tell you all about it later.”

Jack and Ennis made camp for the night. With the tent up and a fire blazing, Jack felt it was time to make his proposition.
“I got somethin’ to ask you En, and I don’t want you jumping to no conclusions and just turning me down flat this time.
Promise me you’ll consider what I have to say.”
“I want us to live together. Properly.
I damn near got beaten to death down in Texas, had to leave in a hurry.
I’m back in Wyoming now.”
Ennis looked worried, “really?”
Jack gazed at him, and said, “Yeah, really, three bastards came after me with a tyre iron.”
“Hell, Jack, what have you ever done to deserve that?” Said Ennis.
Jack didn’t know quite what to say, he didn’t want to tell Ennis any more than he had to about Randall, especially now he was resolved that it was completely over.
“They found out about me, you know how people look at you sometimes.”
Ennis was really alarmed now, “You see what happens to boys like us when people come to know. Ain’t I been tellin’ you all these years? Jeez, Jack why’n’t you be more careful?
I been so miserable since we got together last, thought you was gonna leave me, now I find you nearly got yourself killed.”
“Well I didn’t.” said Jack.
He took a deep breath, now or never, “What if there was nobody to know, En? What about a cabin, way the hell out in the middle of nowhere?
Would you at least come and look at it? Could keep you working with stock, give you a living. We ain’t never gonna be rich, but we’d have enough to eat, and we would be together. Ranch ‘d be ours one day too.”

“You mean no one would find our bones for years after they came after us?”

“No I don’t.”

“You think we’re not in danger now? I should know, it just happened to me, living as we were. You didn’t see them, I was lucky to get out of there alive. I can’t go back to Childress. I gotta live somewhere, and so do you.
We could be together, look out for each other.
Who’s gonna come after me with you to look after me?”

Ennis had to smile at that. Jack pulled him close and kissed him.
“Now you’re really trying to tempt me, Jack.”

“I’m not asking you to commit to anything, just come up to my Daddy’s place with me and have a look around. If you think it’s too dangerous, you gotta chance to say so. But I gotta live there now, I ain’t got nowhere else.
Jack poured Ennis another slug of whiskey, and held him close.
“I need you Ennis, I’ll look after you, you look after me, at least come and have a look.
Ennis very reluctantly agreed.
“Well no ones gonna be beating you up while I’m around to stop ‘em, I suppose.
OK. But I’m just coming up for a look.”

Ennis was even quieter and more terse than usual on the drive up to Lightning Flat. The silence only punctuated by the music from the radio. Jack was feeling too tense to speak too. He really didn’t know how this was going to go. He hoped and he prayed it would be well, but was fearful that he was being too optimistic. As they drew nearer Jack said let’s go up to the ranch first, say hello to the folks.
A grunt was Ennis’s only reply.

Jack’s mother came out as they pulled into the yard. She walked over, smiling, and took Ennis’s hand.
“Welcome son, we been looking forward to your visit.”
“Good drive, Jack?”
“Yeah, OK”
“Come on into the house, I’ll put some coffee on, your father will stop by soon to say hello.”

Ennis followed Jack’s mother into the house, exaggeratedly wiping his boots on the door mat, and removing his hat, as he entered the Twist kitchen.
Mrs Twist asked him about himself, and he responded in a friendly manner, seeming to relax in her company. That was the first hurdle over thought Jack.
At that moment John came home, he stomped in, shot Ennis a glance, and said to his wife, “Ain’t you got any coffee?”
“Yes John, sit down, I’ll get it, aren’t you goin’ to say hello to Mr del Mar?”
“Hello” said Ennis extending a hand. To Jack’s surprise, his father took it. Shaking Ennis’s hand, he said, “So you’re Jack’s precious friend?”
“You could say that,” said Ennis, with what looked like a grimace.
John fixed him with a malevolent eye, “We’ve heard a lot about you over the years, how you’re gonna come up and put this place on its feet.”
Ennis shot Jack a look, as if to say, what have you been telling them about me?

“Well, I just brought Ennis up for a look around,” said Jack, changing the subject slightly.
Jack’s mother stepped in at this point, offering home made cake. Ennis accepted, bit into a slice, said how good the cake was, which bought a smile to Jack’s mothers face.
“When you’ve finished eating I’ll show you round. Tomorrow, I’ll take you down and show you the cabin I’ve been working on.”
“Thanks Jack,” said Ennis, looking bemused.
“Come with me now, and I’ll show you my old room.”
Ennis followed Jack up the narrow winding stair, seeming glad to be out of the Twist family circle for a while.

He walked behind Jack into the bedroom and shut the door. Jack turned and enfolded him in his arms.
“Thanks for coming Ennis. I know how hard it must be for you.”
“I don’t think your father likes me.”
“Don’t worry about him, he don’t like anyone.”
Jack kissed him, “I doubt the old buzzard would approve of this, and under his own roof,” said Jack.

“You have the bed Jack; I’ll sleep on a blanket on the floor.” They kissed goodnight. Sleeping together in a real room like this was a dream come true as far as Jack was concerned.
It was as dawn rose that Jack woke up, to find Ennis looking down at him with tears pouring down his face.

“Whatever’s the matter En?”
“I was looking in the closet for an extra blanket, found these.”
Ennis held up two old shirts from their Brokeback days, stained with his own blood, from a fight that last day on the mountain.
“You had these all this time?”
“Ever since Brokeback.”
“I always wondered what happened to that shirt.”
“Well now you know.”
“You kept it all that time, and yours too, blood all over them and all.”
“Reminded me of you, reminded me of our time together.”
“Jack,” mumbled Ennis, “I gotta say it,…………… I love you……………”
“What was that you just said,” asked Jack?
“I love you,” now go back to sleep, Jack.”
Ennis crawled back under the blankets, Jack couldn’t help but notice though, that he was still holding on to the two shirts as if his life depended on them, which maybe in some ways it did.

Jack found it hard to sleep after that. Twenty years he had been waiting to hear those words, twenty years when he knew how much Ennis loved him, twenty years when their love making had told him that Ennis loved him, and had told Ennis that he loved him back, but the words, the acknowledgement, never, ever, before.

Jack was on cloud nine when he got up the next morning. A smile spread across his face, he was singing to himself too. In the end Ennis had to tell him to be quiet before he disturbed everybody in the house, but Jack was way past caring by that stage.

June Twist, “call me June,” was what she said to Ennis, made breakfast for her two men that morning. The old man had gone out early to see to some stock. Jack hoped he was not overdoing it, but suspected he had just wandered off to get out of the way.
June seemed secretly rather pleased to have her son and his lover in her house, somehow satisfied in some measure that this time he might really be settled. She chatted to them amiably, and Jack got the feeling that for the first time since he had come back, she felt that just maybe she might not be left alone with just the old man again.

“What are you two boys doin’ today, she asked?”
“I’m takin’ Ennis up to see all the work I been doing up at Major’s Tree,” said Jack.
Ennis gave a shy smile, “Yes Ma’am, I’m looking forward to it, Jack’s been telling me all about it. Be a fine time to see what his house building skills are like.”
Ennis face broke into a broad beam, at the thought.
“You sure do look happy this mornin’ En,” said Jack, “shall we get up there then?”
“Yep,” said Ennis picking up his battered old hat and heading for the door.

It was about a fifteen minute drive out to Major’s Tree, Jack and Ennis saw no one on the way, and Jack didn’t expect to.
“It is kinda quiet out here,” said Ennis.
“Well, I’m not gonna tell you there’s never anyone about, there’s another cattle ranch way over there in the distance, but it’s about as quiet a place as we’re gonna find. I reckon we’ll be pretty safe out here. As safe as we were on Brokeback, I should think.”
Ennis was starting to look at least half persuaded to Jack’s eye. Wait ‘til he sees the cabin, he thought.
They soon arrived. The cabin was very remotely situated with just the tree, which gave it its name, for shelter.
“Looks alright,” were Ennis’s words as they drew up.
Jack jumped down from the pickup, walked to the door, undid the lock, and as the door swung open, beckoned Ennis to join him.
“No cold feet now, Ennis, what do you think?”
It was just a cabin, but from what Jack could make out looking at Ennis’s face it was paradise. He took in the furniture Jack had bought, the brass bed with the patchwork quilt, the stove, the running water, and the electric lights.
“You did all this for me, Jack?”
“Yeah! What do you think?”
“I love it Jack. Do you really think we could live together safely out here?”
“Well, I have to. I’m not safe down in Childress anymore; won’t you come and join me?”
“What about my girls?” Said Ennis, thinking about his two daughters.
“Your girls are pretty near grown up now, and so is Bobby, they can come and stay. We can pretend we’re just friends when they’re here if you like, if it‘ll make you happier.
Please think about it Ennis. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life out here on my own. I’m not seeing anybody else; it’s just you and me now.”
Ennis looked angry, “you shouldn’t a’ been seein’ anyone else anyway.”
“Well, I’m not now, so please say you’ll come.”
“Alright then, but you’ll have to deal with your old man.”
“I shouldn’t worry too much about him. I’ve told him the score, and anyway, he’s not at all well, he’ll be glad to hand over the reins to us now. I’m not sure how Ma will cope with him, but that’s her problem.”
“OK, then I’ll come,” said Ennis.
Jack felt euphoric; the thing he had wanted for twenty years was finally coming true.
He hugged Ennis.
“Do you remember what you said in the night, Ennis?”
Ennis grinned, “Me, I don’t remember sayin’ nothin’.”
“Oh, you mean about me lovin’ you an’ all.”
“Yeah, somethin like that.”
Jack hugged him tighter, pushed the door to, and pulled him towards that very comfortable looking double bed,
“This is where the adventure starts boy!”

Sep. 5th, 2007

Crying Out

This is my latest story and is about Alma Jr and her realization of her fathers true nature, and of their relationship. As always thanks to Annie Proulx for her wonderful characters, and in this case also to Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana for their development of the character of Alma Jr. The rest is just me.

Crying Out
By
Janjo

Alma Jr felt like she had always known about her Daddy, about him being queer. He thought he was being so subtle, so stoical. No one ever could see him as he really was, he might be right about it as far as other people were concerned, but he didn’t fool her, and he hadn’t fooled her mother either. Not for a long time anyway.
She remembered as a child. She must have been about six years old; she had woken in the night and gone into Momma’s bed. Daddy was away for a fortnight on a fishing trip with his friend Jack Twist. Momma was crying, sobbing into her pillow.
“What’s the matter Momma?”
“Matter, Jack Nasty, that’s the matter.”
“I hate that man.”
Momma sobbed again, but this time angrily, rather than just in what Alma Jr. now knew was bitter rejection.
“Who’s Jack Nasty, Momma?”
“Your precious father’s so called friend.”

Momma pulled herself together.
“I’m sorry darlin,’ couldn’t you sleep?”
“I woke up; I didn’t know you were crying.”
“Don’t worry about it, nothin’ for you to worry about. Come into the bed, shhhhh now, just get some sleep.” Momma was calmer now, her desire to protect Alma Jr. taking over.
She said no more, and the crying stopped.
“When will Daddy be back, Momma?
“Friday darlin,’ said Momma. Now don’t take any notice of me. Get some sleep. I promise you everything is fine.”
It wasn’t though.

Alma missed her Daddy when he was away.
He went away every chance he got, a week or sometimes two, two, three times a year.
Alma Jr. thought he must really enjoy fishing.
He was always very excited about it and came back so relaxed and happy seeming.
He would rush through the door, and embrace her and her sister Francine in his strong arms. He was a tall man, and when he picked her up it seemed a long way off the ground. She always looked forward to Daddy’s return from
his fishing trips.
If for some reason he couldn’t go, or had to postpone a trip for a few weeks he got edgy and nervous. Unsettled.
Alma Jr. didn’t understand that. Why get upset about not being able to fish? It didn’t seem a big deal to her.
She understood it only too well now, but not then.
She understood it properly after her husband was killed, but not then. Not as a child.
She met Jack once; to be truthful both she and Francine met Jack. It was just a little while after their parents divorced. She understood that too now.
What must it have been like for her Momma to be married to a man who was in love with someone else? Her father must have been in love with Jack, there was no other explanation that would fit. Anyway, she saw it in his eyes, the day they met him.
It was one afternoon that Jack called by, when Alma Jr and Francine had gone over to Daddy’s place for the weekend. Alma Jr didn’t like Daddy’s house, it was miles from anywhere, and very run down. Daddy wasn’t there much, he was always working anyway, and he didn’t seem to have too much idea how to make a place homely and comfortable. He certainly disproved the theory that queer men were good interior decorators!
Alma Jr chuckled to herself.
They were in Daddy’s pickup when Jack pulled into the yard, and got out of his truck with a big stupid grin on his face.
Alma Jr and Francine wondered who he was. Alma Jr must have been about twelve at the time. The age you really start to notice things.
Daddy went over to him with a broad smile on his face, and embraced him warmly. He was so happy to see him. He brought him over and introduced him.
“Girls, this here is Jack.”
“Jack, these are my two little girls, Alma Jr. and Francine.”
“Say hello to Jack, girls.”
They said hello.

From this later point in time it was hard to say, but Alma Jr. could remember a dark haired, very handsome man, with a warm smile and twinkling, amazingly blue eyes.
She realized now that this was as close as Daddy ever got to showing off the man he loved for so many years.
Momma met him once, but there was no pride in that encounter, just a desire to be away from there. At least that was what her Momma said now.

Alma Jr understood a little now how her father must have felt, she hadn’t talked to him about it, but she knew. Her husband Kurt had been dead for nearly two years now, and she still missed him like a physical pain. They had been so happy together; he had been killed in an oil rig explosion. There one moment and gone the next. He had worked away from home quite a lot too; it was the nature of the work. A lot like Daddy and Jack, Alma Jr thought. Her mother would never see it that way. To her Jack Twist was just the person who broke up her marriage, but Alma Jr could see now, looking back, how her Daddy had tried to keep the family together, when really his heart wasn’t in it. His heart was always dreaming of the times he could be with Jack. Just as hers had been when Kurt was working away.
Waiting, always waiting, for the time that beloved face came through the door.

Momma married to a handsome, good, kind, man who couldn’t love her. Who wasn’t even attracted to women.
She saw it all now.
But not then.
Then it was a mystery.
Why did her parents get divorced?
Her Mother re-married, to a grocer, Bill Monroe. He was a good and kind man, but he would never be her Daddy. He talked more than Daddy. He definitely wasn’t as good looking as Daddy, didn’t have Daddy’s shy smile. But Momma was happy with him.
Alma Jr. didn’t think her Momma had ever really got over Daddy, but she was more settled with Bill. She was calmer and no longer cried so much.
She did a whole lot of crying when she was with Daddy.

Momma hated Jack Twist. She always called him “Jack Nasty” she had seen him and Daddy kissing. She hadn’t told Alma Jr about it until she was in her late teens. Alma Jr wondered why her mother thought she should know, but Momma was feeling particularly bitter that evening and a glass or two of wine had loosened her tongue, and brought the tears to her eyes.
“I saw them, I saw him with that man, I thought he was trying to climb down his throat he was kissing him so hard. Never kissed me like that.”
Alma Jr was a little shocked; she’d worked out for herself what had been going on by then, but poor Momma having to live with that sight burned into her brain.
Of course there is nothing you can do.
If your man is in love with another woman, you can get a new hairdo, some new clothes, try some sweet talk, attempt to win him back, but what can you do if your husband is in love with another man?
Move on?
That’s all.
But what if your heart won’t move on with you?
What if despite everything you still love that man?
Now that’s a tough one.

Alma Jr was relieved it hadn’t happened to her. Her and Kurt had been as solid as a rock, but what good had it done? She was still unhappy and alone. Kurt was dead, she was a widow at thirty five, and just as alone as Daddy was.
Momma wasn’t alone, just a little bitter and making do with second best.

Daddy was alone, just like her. She knew Jack had died too. Daddy had let it slip one day. She had found him sitting looking especially sad and tearful one afternoon when she called round, said “what’s the matter, Daddy?” “Oh nothin’” he said, “just thinkin’ ‘bout that friend of mine I used to go fishin’ with. He died a while ago, too young, can’t get him out of my mind somehow.”
Alma Jr knew what that felt like now. The clothes they had worn which still smelled of them, and no one to wear them anymore. The memories, the loneliness, she thanked God she had her children.
Daddy had her and Francine, not that either of them could ever be part of Jack, but she knew how much he loved them both, and the grandkids too. It must all help.
Alma Jr had always loved her Daddy; they had some kind of special bond. She hadn’t realised just how special until she got married herself. She loved her husband Kurt and they had been very happy together. She had been so proud the day Daddy had walked her down the aisle.
It was funny how it had slowly dawned on her the truth about Daddy. She realised she had always known, but it took her a long time to piece it together, and an even longer time before she realised what it all meant. That Daddy and Jack had loved each other, just as her and Kurt had, and that he missed Jack, and cried for him just as she did for Kurt.
She would love to tell him she knew, but she wasn’t sure how Daddy would take it. He had quite a temper, Daddy, she didn’t want to upset him or make him cry, because she knew if that happened he would be embarrassed about it.
She thought about all the times Kurt had worked away. It must have been the same for Daddy and Jack. When she was a child it seemed that Daddy was away a lot, but time goes so slowly when you are a child, and she realised now that actually it was only two or three times a year. She couldn’t imagine not being able to be with the person you loved except for that short period of time, and so infrequently. It was so hard when someone died and you couldn’t see them anymore, but to know that they were alive and well and missing you too, and you couldn’t be with them because of what people thought, what people might do.
She had heard her Daddy’s terrible story about Earl and Rich. How Grandad del Mar and some others had been responsible for Earl’s death. How Daddy and Uncle K.E. had been taken to see the body.
All Earl and Rich had done was live together and run a ranch. No wonder Daddy was too terrified to see Jack very often.
Momma had been bitter after the divorce. She knew her husband, she found out what men like Daddy and Jack were. Looked it up in a medical book. Homosexuality they called it. Momma called it that too. Was it only Alma Jr who called what Daddy and Jack had, love?
When Kurt died, it was then that Alma Jr finally realised what Daddy must have gone through.
She had her Mom and Daddy, and her children to comfort her. Daddy had no one to comfort him after Jack died. How could he have, he had spoken the truth about what was really between them to no one, no one in the world. The only people who knew had deduced it through painful revelation, and none of them would have dared to talk to him about it. To talk to him about how he felt when Jack passed away would probably have caused one of his emotional explosions. So as it was, she would go and see him from time to time, living as he was then, in a dilapidated trailer, and would just find him red eyed and tearful about something they could never discuss.

Alma decided to do some work around the house, thought she was getting maudlin and introspective. Perhaps she would turn out some closets; she always found that therapeutic, making a clearance, out with the old.
She had a while before her children returned home, James the eldest, Adele, the liveliest of the three and young Robert, who looked so much like his grandfather.
Alma thought she would make a start on the closet in the hall, she found some plastic bags to put the rubbish in, opened the door, and made a start.
It soon struck her that it had not been a good idea. Apart from the broken toys, and sports equipment, most of which went straight into the rubbish bags, there were also boxes of photographs of happier days, her Kurt and the kids, riding through the woods five years previously on a family holiday, pictures of just her and Kurt in the apartment they rented when they were first married, Alma just replaced the lid on the box and put it back on the shelf, she would look at it again when she was not on her own, when she wasn’t feeling so melancholy.
She felt better having been decisive about it and continued with the sorting. At the back of the closet was a shoe rack that she had not looked at for sometime. Having dispatched some old mud encrusted sports shoes of Robert’s into the rubbish bag, Alma was taken completely aback when she saw at the bottom of the rack a pair of work boots that had belonged to Kurt. She gasped, hardly able to breath as she picked them up and hugged them to her chest, she realised at that moment that tears were falling down her cheeks and on to the plaid summer shirt that she was wearing. She was heart-struck and about to break down completely in gasping sobs, when there was a knock on the door.
Oh my God! Who was that?
What should she do?
She dried her eyes, and went to the door, it was OK it was only Daddy.
She let him in. He looked at her with concern in his eyes, “What’s the matter, Alma? Why are you crying?
Alma Jr realised she still had Kurt’s boots in her hand.
She lifted them up and showed them to Daddy, tears flowing uncontrollably again. Daddy realised immediately what was happening, he took her in his arms while she sobbed, she rested her head on his shoulder, he held her and patted her back in a comforting way.
She knew he understood completely when he said in a clear voice, “Hurts like hell, don’t it darlin’.”

Jul. 9th, 2007

Parting

Here is my latest Jack and Ennis story. This one is mainly concerned with Ennis’ reaction after he left Jack and went back to Riverton to marry Alma.
As always, thanks and admiration to Annie Proulx for her wonderful characters, I have as always tried to stay within her themes.



Parting
By
Janjo

Ennis del Mar felt really ill as he made his way back to Riverton after his summer herding sheep up on Brokeback Mountain. The whole of his insides felt cramped and in spasm. His eyes and cheeks were wet with tears. He only ever remembered feeling this bad once before, and that was a long time ago, when his parents were killed in an automobile accident. His mother especially, he missed her, her loving touches and kind words. How she used to tuck him into bed at night, used to sing to him, and tell him bedtime stories. He felt this bad then, but never since. Not until now.
He had made a little money up on the mountain. Not much. Aguirre had sent them down a month early because snow was expected. At least that was his story. Ennis blamed him though. He thought he was just trying to do him and Jack out of a month’s money.
Jack. Ennis wondered where he was now.
For three months they had been together every day. Herding sheep. Fucking.
To be honest, they had spent more and more time together the longer they were on the mountain.
Sometimes spending whole nights in each others arms.
Of course they weren’t queer. They had just been up there on their own. No women up there. Ennis had to admit it had been good though. Once they started having sex, there was no going back. They had to continue with it. Ennis found it hard to keep his hands off Jack after that. Mind you, Jack found it pretty hard to keep his hands off Ennis, and Ennis had been very glad of it.
Now Ennis was going back to Riverton to meet his girlfriend. They were going to be married soon. He wondered how that would work out. He hadn’t lived with anyone properly, as a family, since his parents died. His brother and sister had done the best they could, but it was always a bit hit or miss. Being farmed out to friends and relatives, signed on at different ranches as a hired hand with his brother. Hard physical work since he was fifteen. Never any home comforts. Perhaps Alma would make him the home he hadn’t had since his parents died when he was fourteen.

She couldn’t make him happier than he had been in the past few weeks, up on the mountain with Jack though. He remembered gazing into those amazing blue eyes. Eyes you could drown in. Would he ever see him again? He had told Jack he would see him around.
Would he?
He could hardly tell him how he really felt.
Anyway, what was the point?
It was OK up on the mountain. No one could see them up there. Down here if it got out that you enjoyed having sex with another man, let alone having feelings for each other, you could be beaten to death.
Ennis knew that.
He thought his own father had helped to kill a man once. He showed him and his brother the body. That was what they did to queer men.
Ennis told himself he couldn’t be queer.
What he did with Jack was good and beautiful. They looked after each other. Enjoyed each others company. Longed to see each other at the end of the day. Ennis remembered a night in August when he felt salt tears running down his cheeks from the sheer pleasure and beauty of having sex with Jack.

It wasn’t sordid. They weren’t sick perverts who deserved to die. It was good and beautiful, and my God he wished Jack were here with him now. Perhaps the sight of that handsome face would make the pain and gut cramps ease a little.
Ennis had been boarding with Alma’s family before he went up to the mountain. She was small and blonde and pretty, just what he had always imagined his wife would be. Ennis liked her a lot, he thought they would be happy together, maybe have children, children they could give a good home to. Now that would be nice.
She wasn’t anything like Jack.
Why couldn’t he get that man out of his head?
Ennis gulped, returned to trying to think about Alma. He knew it was no good thinking about things you couldn’t have. He wasn’t queer, Jack wasn’t queer. There was no way.
Now, Alma, he could have Alma, she would be right for him, she had to be.

How could he face Alma, after what he had been doing all summer with Jack? He had gone up to the mountain an innocent virgin, that wasn’t what he was now. He knew what sex felt like. He knew what it should feel like.
He knew what he liked too. Alma would have waited for him, he knew she would. She would have kept herself pure.
He wasn’t that now, that was for sure. God, him and Jack, they had sex with each other constantly, in the tent at night, out in the open in full daylight, with the warm sun beating down on their naked bodies, against trees, down by the river, anyway, and everywhere, they could. They had tasted fully all the pleasures that their bodies could give them, and now Ennis wondered if he would ever see Jack again.
His pain at leaving Jack was now being added to by a fear of facing Alma.
How could he look her in the eye knowing what he knew?
The nearer he got to Alma’s parents place the more apprehensive he got, as if he didn’t feel bad enough already, his guts churning, his mind going over and over the events of the last few weeks.

Finally, his old pick up rattled to a halt outside the house, the house he had lived in for the six months before he went up to Brokeback, the house where Alma lived too.
The front door opened, and Alma came down the front steps, he started to get out of the truck, but she was rushing towards him, almost before he got his feet to the ground. She flung her arms round him. She was warm, and soft, and so pleased to see him. He kissed her and she rubbed her soft cheek against his stubbly one. It was good, but he remembered another cheek, which had stubble much like his own, and wished, with all his heart that was the cheek he was rubbing against now. Her body was soft and pliable; he could feel her breasts against his body, when what he wanted was to feel Jack’s firm muscles, the feel of his hard cock rubbing up against him.
It was no good. Those days were gone forever.

“Hello Alma, …..’see you missed me?”
Alma giggled softly, “I really have, Ennis, I couldn’t wait for you to get back, the thought of you up on that mountain, all cold, and alone.”
“I wasn’t alone, Alma, had another guy helping me.” “What was he like?” “Alright I suppose,” that was all she was going to get out of him on the subject of Jack. He never mentioned him to her again for four years.
“Got anything to eat, Alma?”
“I’ve had a long drive.”
Why was he so keen to end her embraces?
“Yeah, sure, come inside.”
Alma felt a little rejected, but yeah, he had just come back from a long drive, and no home comforts for three months.
“Sure Ennis, I’ll get you some coffee.”

They went inside the house, Alma’s mother was home, “good to see you back, Ennis.”
Ennis raised his eyes from the floor just a little, and gave her a shy smile. It was good to be back inside a house, he would have something to eat, a hot bath. He was sure it was going to be OK.
“You gonna get this boy a meal,” said Alma’s mother.
“Yeah, Mom, I’m on it,” said Alma, taking sausages out of the refrigerator.
Ennis thought how nice it would be to have home cooked food, and not just the beans, and stew, he and Jack had been making over their smoky camp fire.
Alma brewed coffee, Ennis sipped some, and the pain in his guts eased a little.
“Any news about the wedding,” he asked?
“Yes, things are coming along. I’ve got the dress, and we have to see the Minister in September, for a pre-wedding talk. Ennis felt sick at the thought of that little chore.
How could he face a church minister, after what he and Jack had been doing?
Didn’t you go to hell for that?

Alma prepared the meal. Ennis studied her. She was good, and kind, and he was pretty sure they would be able to make a go of it. She was what he had always imagined as a wife. He could see them now, a fine couple, respected around town.
He would just have to keep his sexual thoughts about Jack to himself.
Now Alma, she had a good womanly figure. She must be just what he needed. Once they were married and having sex, these thoughts would soon be gone. He had no choice.

Ennis settled back into life at Alma’s parents. The wedding plans were taking everyone over. He and Alma went to see the Minister; it was not as bad as Ennis feared it would be. He managed to keep up his “shy bridegroom” act, even though he felt as if he had a sign saying “this man has been having sex with another man,” tattooed on his forehead.
Of course no one else knew how he felt and he certainly wasn’t going to tell them.
He enjoyed kissing and cuddling with Alma, he was sure everything would be alright once they were married.
Why was it though he was sneaking off and “wringing it out” whilst thinking of Jack?
God, he was missing him.
They were all so busy with the wedding, that no one noticed how preoccupied he was. Alma was there, freshly washed, sweet smelling, warm and pliant, some times he just longed for the smell of Jack, but he was not there, and maybe never would be.
Ennis wondered if Jack would get in touch, he had told him he would see him around; perhaps he thought he hadn’t meant it.
Jack Twist. What right had that man to make him feel like this?
Ennis made up his mind he would banish Jack from his mind and make a life with Alma. What else could he do?

The wedding came and went. Ennis found a job way out of town on the Wyoming plains. He and Alma had a run-down line cabin miles from anywhere. The wind blew constantly. Ennis loved it out there. No one to see him, no one to judge, no one to wonder what sort of man he was. He worked with cattle and horses, and was comforted by the wide open skies. He and Alma were OK. When she became pregnant, Ennis was overjoyed. Now he knew he was a proper man. Jack Twist was no longer in the front of his mind. Sure, he still thought of him, sure he still had dreams of him, still thought his body when he and Alma were having sex, but Ennis persuaded himself he had his feelings under control.

Alma had a hard time on the night that Alma Jr. was born, Ennis hated seeing her in such pain, and knowing that he was responsible for it hurt him. He was very fond of Alma, and although he wanted the child to be safely delivered, his main consideration was his wife’s health.
When at 2.30 in the morning he saw his daughter born and heard her wailing cry, it was one of the best moments of his life.
Alma and Ennis were good parents, and it wasn’t long before they had another little girl too, they called her Francine, and although they had very little money, Ennis was pleased with the way his little family was working out.
Sure he worked hard, and was out in all weathers with the stock, but he had never really known anything else, and he wasn’t bothered by it.
He still thought about Jack, and how wonderful it had been when they had been together on the mountain. He often wondered where Jack was, and what he was doing now.
He was fond of Alma, but sex with her was never, could never, be as it was with Jack. He had started taking her from behind in the way he did it with Jack and dreaming as he did it, that she was Jack. But she wasn’t Jack, she never could be.
Ennis wasn’t sure what to call what he felt for Jack. He knew how he felt when he held his daughters’ in his arms, so tender, so loving, it was a little like that, but of course it couldn’t ever be the same. Jack was another man. A man that Ennis would probably never see again, Ennis had Alma now; he had to concentrate on making her happy.

Alma was getting a little restive about living so far out of town. She told Ennis she didn’t think it was good for the girls not having any friends to play with. She knew Ennis liked it miles from anywhere, and he would never be a sociable man, but she felt she had some rights as to where she lived, and who her children mixed with, so she said she was going to start looking around for a place to rent in town.
Alma found an apartment over a Laundromat in Riverton. Ennis wasn’t sure about it. He preferred his own company to the possibility of people in town talking to him and about him. Anyway it was what he was used to. He could see though that it would be better for Alma and the girls to have some companionship, and for the girls to be nearer to the school when the time came, so he gave in relatively gracefully, and the family moved into town.

Ennis had almost given up hope that Jack would ever be in touch. He thought he might have gone back to rodeoing. He even thought of going up to Jack’s parents place in Lightning Flat, an idea that died as soon as it came to him. After all, what would he say?
How did he know Jack would want to see him again?
Anyway what could they do if he did?
Ennis told himself that he wanted to see Jack again because they had been such good friends, but somewhere inside himself he knew it was more than that.
One afternoon Ennis had to go and work in the sheds on the ranch. The heifers were calving and it was very, very busy, also very exciting, new life animal or human, was always something that was a cause of great satisfaction to Ennis.
He was working with another man, short, swarthy, about his own age, called Frank. They weren’t special buddies, but they got on alright.
About three in the afternoon, things calmed down a little, it was about this time that Dan, a livestock buyer and friend of the ranch owner, popped his head round the door and asked “Boss around?”
“No, ain’t seen him, have you tried the house,” said Frank?
The boss lived in a house a little way down the dirt road from the main ranch buildings.
“OK, I’ll head down there,” said Dan.
Frank spoke again, “sometimes I think there’s something going on between those two, I swear I caught them making eyes at each other last week.”
“Just keep your mouth shut about it, then” said Ennis, or you’ll get us both fired.”
“Couple a queer perverts,” Frank muttered to himself. “Hell, what about the boss’s wife?
“What she don’t know about won’t hurt her,” said Ennis.
“Are you defending him,” said Frank?
“No,” Ennis, muttered through clenched teeth, “but he’s OK, why don’t you leave the guy alone?”
“Because he’s a queer, and he’s cheating on that nice wife a his.”
“Just leave him alone,” Frank, “you don’t know nothin’ about it.”
“I don’t know why you’re standing up for him; he’d work us both to death for two cents if he could.”
“No he wouldn’t, he’s fair, well, as fair a man as I’ve ever worked for. Just drop it Frank.”
Frank looked quizzical “not sweet on him yourself are you?”
Ennis shot Frank a furious look, “another word like that and you’ll have no teeth left” said Ennis.
“OK, OK. Let’s drop it and get these calves cleaned up and bedded down,” Frank shook his head and got on with his work, but was still muttering to himself.
“Wouldn’t surprise me if you weren’t sweet on the boss’s wife yourself,” said Ennis in a bid to lighten the atmosphere.
Frank just blushed.

It was at about this time that Ennis started to see reminders of Jack everywhere. A cowboy in the street, black hat, blue jeans, long legs, and his heart turned over. There were times he thought he was going mad. He looked at people in the street, he remembered what Frank had said about the rancher and Dan; he had no idea if it was true or not. Did other people have such powerful feelings about someone of the same sex?
He knew how fond of Alma he was, how much he loved his little girls, but the sight of an old black pickup, a glimpse of a man of Jack’s build in the street, and that old gnawing feeling in his guts, that he had for so long after coming down from the mountain, returned.
He enjoyed sex with Alma; he told himself he wasn’t queer. What was this all about? Did it ever happened to anyone else, and if it did, what the hell did they do about it?
If only Jack would get in touch.
Sometimes he tested himself, he saw an attractive man on the street, could he ever feel about another man the way he felt about Jack. He would look without making it obvious, but he knew there was more to it than that. He and Jack had been far closer to each other than they had ever been to anyone else. No other man or woman would ever feel like Jack did in his arms.
There was only one Jack Twist and God knows where he was!
Ennis and his little family lived happily in the apartment over the Laundromat. It was hardly luxurious, but it was the most comfortable home Ennis had ever known. The girls were growing strong and healthy, and Alma seemed happy with her lot.

Ennis arrived home at the apartment one evening. He had been checking the grazing in different parts of the ranch, and was happy to be home and see how Alma and the girls were doing.
As Ennis was washing his hands, he was hit by a thunderbolt, when Alma said “You know somebody name a Jack?” Ennis stomach lurched; his heart was pounding, his hands trembling. Alma spoke again “got a postcard come for you general delivery.”
Ennis picked it up and looked at it, it was stamped Childress, Texas.
“Friend this card is a long time over due. Hope you get it. Heard you was in Riverton. I’m coming through on the 24th, thought I’d stop and buy you a beer. Drop me a line if you can, say if you’re there.”
Ennis read the postcard over and over, mouthing the words to himself.
He couldn’t believe it, after all this time, nearly four years.
“Somebody you cowboyed with,” said Alma?
“No, Jack, he rodeo’s mostly, fishin buddy.” Ennis let the lie fall from his lips. He didn’t want to be untruthful to Alma, but, hell, she’d never understand this, and he wasn’t about to explain it to her. Ennis left the apartment, went outside and set about gathering his thoughts together, and calming down from the shock that had just been delivered to him.

Ennis was in a state of high excitement and agitation. The thought of seeing Jack again was almost too much for him. Just thinking about Jack, his body, everything about him, lead Ennis to sneak off and have one of his “wringing out” sessions. He just couldn’t help himself.
What did Jack want to see him for, would he really come. It was like an impossible dream. Ennis was only too aware that he had responsibilities now, a wife, children, it couldn’t be like it was up on Brokeback, could it?
Perhaps Jack just wanted to visit him as an old friend, talk about times past.
Ennis told himself this, but that was not what his body was telling him. He knew he wanted Jack, heart, body and soul. Would he be able to control himself if Jack did come by?
He decided he just had to take a chance on that. He had to see Jack whatever he wanted him for.
He went down to the post office in town and mailed him a postcard, General Delivery, Jack Twist, Childress, Texas. All it said on the back, was, “You bet” with Ennis address as the sender.
Ennis knew the die was cast.
Ennis was so full of apprehension and excitement as the 24th got nearer. He took a day off work, something he would never usually do. He pressed his best shirt, white with black stripes. Alma teased him, “must be something special your friend, never seen you iron a shirt before.”
“I tol’ you, he’s just a fishin’ buddy, but I ain’t seen him for a long time.”
Dressed in jeans and the clean shirt, he waited for Jack to arrive.
Would he never get here?
Where was he?
He drank bottle after bottle of beer, and smoked cigarette after cigarette as he sat looking out of the apartment window waiting for Jack to arrive.
It didn’t help that it was really hot and humid, with rumbles of thunder coming in from the west.
You could cut the air, and Ennis’ mood, with a knife.

Alma was fussing a little; such was the state of tension in the room, and suggesting that they could both take Jack out for a meal when he got there. Ennis made an excuse said him and Jack would probably just go out and get drunk.
At last Ennis saw Jack’s old black pickup heading down the street. It rattled, and wheezed its way into the parking lot outside Ennis and Alma’s apartment. Ennis felt a glow spread through his whole body. It was Jack, he was here, he’d come back to him. A smile a mile wide spread across his face, he ran towards the apartment door, and out onto the exterior landing. Jack got out of the pickup and turned and smiled up at him.
“Jack ‘fuckin’ Twist” said Ennis, taking the stairs two at a time. He shot across the forecourt and flung his arms around Jack. Jack embraced him back, saying over and over “Son of a bitch, son of a bitch.”
Ennis grabbed Jack and pulled him back under the stairwell leading to the apartment. They kissed with such force that it knocked the breath out of them. Ennis threw Jack up against the wall, kissing and kissing him. Then Jack threw Ennis against the wall and kissed him some more.
Ennis murmured “little darlin’, little darlin’” in Jack’s ear. They hardly knew where, or when, or how to stop. There was no doubt now. They were both in such a state of arousal that they just had to find a way out of there, find a motel room, find somewhere, where they could have sex.
They could not, would not, be denied now.
Alma had to be ‘worked’ round. Ennis knew he had to get Jack away from there. He did not have any intention of hurting Alma, but the way he felt about Jack, was a thousand times what he felt about Alma, and he knew it. Jack was trembling with desire, Ennis could feel that. They went up the stairs and Ennis introduced Jack to Alma, Jack heard the girls crying and Ennis explained to him that he now had two daughters. Jack said that he too was married and had a son who was eight months old. Ennis grabbed a hat and jacket, and told Alma they were going out for a drink and might not be back all night, then quickly ushered Jack down the stairs and into the pickup.
Jack drove while Ennis stroked his leg, he could not keep his hands off him. They stopped at a liquor store and bought a bottle of whiskey. Within twenty minutes they were in a motel room, Jack making the arrangements and getting the keys, whilst Ennis sneaked from the truck and into the room, as soon as Jack could get the door open.
What followed was one of the highlights of both of their entire lives. They were barely through the door, before their lips met again in a violent kiss, and this time there was no reason to stop. They fell on the bed in each others arms, clothing was being unbuttoned, and belts and jeans undone. Ennis laid his head on Jack’s bare chest, and almost cried with happiness and pleasure. His Jack, he had come back. He had missed him so much. He was no longer on his own. He ran his hands over Jack’s precious, oh so precious body. As he ran his hands between Jack’s legs, Jack shivered with pleasure, and reciprocated; they were now both in the kind of heaven they could only find together, and they spent the whole evening and night, loving, sleeping, and loving again. The whole night was so passionate, the love making which started off with near violence, gradually eased into tenderness so profound, that neither of them ever forgot it.
Their reunion was unlike anything either of them had ever known. They still couldn’t live together as the lovers they were though. Ennis had seen what could happen to men who lived together, the thought of Jack’s body beaten and broken by evil men, was unthinkable to him. The fear that it could happen to him, that a group of men would stand and jeer at his torn up body terrified him. Jack suggested that they start a cow and calf operation together, it sounded wonderful, but Ennis could not overcome his fears enough to envisage it at all.
He did know something though, he knew he couldn’t live without seeing Jack again; he had tried it and failed. He realised now that he had not had a minute’s peace of mind or complete happiness since they had split up after they came down from the mountain.
He felt he had a level of happiness with Alma, he adored his little girls and no one could ever take that away from him, but this thing with Jack, the passion, the desire, the sex, the complete closeness they had together, he had known that with no one else in his life.
Jack was visibly disappointed and hurt when Ennis refused to even properly discuss his proposition, Ennis explained to him about his father and the body he had been taken to see. How it seemed likely that his own father had helped to kill a man for doing exactly what he was proposing they should do. He even told Jack that if his Daddy was still alive and could see them together he would probably kill them too.
Jack seemed to understand what Ennis was saying, and just how terrified he was, but that hardly solved the problem that there was no way they could live without each other.
In the end Ennis decided they would just have to meet up and go out on trips into the middle of nowhere as often as they could make it. With wives and children, and work, the opportunities looked pretty limited, probably to a week or two away once or twice a year, but if that was the best they could do, they would have to stand it.
Jack seemed to have married well and was now a tractor salesman in his father-in-law’s company, and Ennis had all his duties with the stock to perform so the time together would never be enough.

Ennis phoned Alma and told her he would not be home for a few days, he was going fishing with Jack, he hoped she believed him, but it didn’t seem to matter, Ennis had what he really wanted, even if it was only for a brief time, he had Jack in his arms again, and was ecstatically happy.
It was hard to know where this was going to lead. Ennis didn’t care as long as he could see Jack from time to time.
No one must ever find out about them. Ennis didn’t like the knowledge that was slowly seeping into his brain that he needed to be with Jack Twist if he was to know any moments of real happiness, and he also knew that he couldn’t control himself around Jack. He just couldn’t keep his hands off him, what they had together was so wonderful he wanted it to go on for ever.
What to do about Alma and the girls, they needed him too. It wasn’t Alma’s fault the way he felt about Jack, and he loved his girls.

What was it he said to Frank about the boss and his friend, when he mentioned how hard it was on the boss’s wife, “what she don’t know won’t hurt her?” Was that true?
He managed to cover up his feelings for Jack for four years. Could he do it for a lifetime?
Surely she wouldn’t know what men sometimes got up to?
Why should she?

What Ennis did know was that Jack was back in his life, and he was never going to lose him again however difficult things got. He knew now that he could never face up to not seeing him again.
What was it he had said to Jack earlier when he asked how long they could carry on only seeing each other two or three times a year, it was “for as long as we can ride it, there ain’t no reins on this one, it sure scares the piss out a me.”
It did too, but nothing like as much as contemplating a life without Jack Twist in it.
A life on the Wyoming plain, a life without Jack in it, was like looking on a dead thing, a living death that Ennis knew he could not bear.

May. 19th, 2007

Wanting

This is my latest Jack and Ennis story, which this time I hope will not reduce everone to tears.
It is my version of the early part of their time on the mountain, entirely from Jack's point of view.
As always, my thanks to Annie Proulx for her wonderful characters.




Wanting
By Janjo

Jack wanted Ennis from the moment he first set eyes on him. Even as Jack’s broken down truck choked its way into Joe Aguirre’s yard and he saw that lean scruffy body, hat pulled down over his eyes, leaning against the trailer that the sheep herding operation used as an office, he knew it.
What were the chances though?
Jack had known since he was a boy that he was attracted to other men, but this good looking cowboy, not very likely he would be that way too.
Jack had been up on the mountain last summer with a grouchy old man, who kept a careful eye on him, but wasn’t much company. The old man had talked disparagingly of the way some of the shepherds would “poke” each other when they got lonely. Made it quite clear to Jack that he thought it was disgusting. Jack didn’t say anything, he certainly wasn’t attracted to the miserable old guy, and he thought himself lucky that the old man wasn’t going to try anything on with him.
This year would be different, that was for sure. This cowboy could try all he liked by the look of him. Maybe he was one of the lonely ones?
The both ambled into the office after Joe Aguirre. God! He was a bad tempered old bastard. He gave them instructions as to what their duties would be. Said he wanted one of them in camp to cook and pick up supplies, they were both to eat in camp, but one of them, he said, looking at Jack, was to sleep up on the mountain with the sheep. After just a few moments they were back walking down the steps on the way out.
They finally got to introduce themselves, what a strange way to meet some one you were going to spend the rest of the summer with.
“Jack Twist,” said Jack extending a hand. “Ennis,” said the cowboy taking it. “Your folks stop at Ennis” said Jack? “del Mar,” said the cowboy.
They shook hands.
They walked down the street to a bar. It was pretty quiet. A lot of the tables were piled up in the corner. They sold beer though, and it gave them time for a smoke and a chat.
Jack could not help but notice that the cowboy had the most amazing brown eyes he had ever seen. He would love to have those eyes look at him fondly, but he didn’t really expect that they ever would.
They discussed the job in hand. What it would be like herding a thousand head of sheep for the summer. How cold it could be up on the mountain. Jack told Ennis you would need a whole lot of whiskey up there.
Ennis told Jack about his life, which sounded hard even to Jack, who hadn’t had a life exactly flowing with the milk of human kindness himself. Ennis was an orphan, and apart from a brother and sister, who had brought him up because they had to, and now wanted him no more, he had no one.
Jack told him about his father, and how he could never do anything right for him.
They were both poor, they had both had hard childhoods. Jack had holes in his boots, whilst Ennis was wearing a shirt that he had grown out of. Joe Aguirre described them to himself as “a pair of deuces going nowhere.” He wasn’t far wrong.
They weren’t trucked up to the mountain with the sheep until the next day. They were given a selection of horses to choose from, and some dogs to work the sheep with. Jack took one little pup, and held it inside his coat as they slowly moved the sheep up the mountainside. Jack always had the desire to help and protect vulnerable things, and he loved nothing more than a little dog. They rode the horses, walked, carried, and drove the sheep up the mountainside. Taking care not to lose too many on the way up.
Finally they arrived at the Forestry Service campsite, and proceeded to set up camp, putting up the tent, building a fire ring, and securing the supplies from bears.

Within a few days Jack was up on the hillside with the sheep. They were munching away at the grass, contented for the most part. Jack was always having to move them. God, sheep ate everything in sight. Amazing really the amount of grass they got through. Strange creatures!
The coyote’s were a problem. Jack was always up and down chasing them away. A shot from the 30.30 usually did the trick. Jack had to admit he wasn’t the best shot in the world. Usually the noise of the rifle was enough to scare them away, but they were persistent devils and always came back. In a way Jack had to admire that.
Ennis was down in the camp. Jack imagined him cooking and washing, “keeping house.” It was a good thought. What would he have for him to eat when he went back down for supper later in the day?
Jack was looking forward to seeing him again. He realised just how much he liked it when he could get him to smile.
He thought that Ennis probably had no idea what went through his head when they were together. He was a good friend, a good man to work with, reliable and efficient at the job. Why would he realise that Jack was starting to long to see him, to lust after that lean, firm body.
Ennis would not be expecting it that was for sure. Jack felt he was in a good position where Ennis was concerned though, he could look at him all summer, and there was no need for Ennis to ever know.
He needed to make sure that Ennis never noticed the ‘hard on’ that he got when they were having their evening chats over the campfire.
Jack’s throat was a little dry, as he thought of those deep brown eyes and just how much he would like to run his fingers through that curly fair hair.
His reverie was disturbed by a sudden movement among the sheep. Damn coyote, back again. Try and get a clear shot at it this time, every time Jack missed he knew he was storing up future trouble for himself.

Only Jack knew how much he wanted to hold Ennis. He woke up one night in the pup tent, from a vivid dream, where he was doing just that. It seemed so real; it hurt when he woke up and found it wasn’t true.
He was finding it hard to concentrate now with the thoughts of Ennis going round constantly in his head.
There were times when he really thought he was in love with him. He missed him so much even when he was up on the mountain with the sheep.
Why did this have to happen? It was just a summer job. Why couldn’t he feel like this about someone who would appreciate it?
Ennis had mentioned an Alma, was he warning him off? But still the mixed signals. When they were chatting last night Ennis had gazed right into his eyes, however momentarily, and it had turned his heart right over.
Ennis seemed grateful for the company, the friendship. He positively lit up talking about the dogs he had known, his folks’ old spread in Sage, growing up among strangers. Whatever care and attention he was getting from Alma, obviously it wasn’t meeting Ennis needs, or he wouldn’t be so delighted to be in Jack’s company.

They had a food crisis recently. In fact it could have been a major crisis.
Jack got back to the camp in the early dark of the evening, to find no sign of Ennis. He built a fire and got it going, drank some whiskey, and waited. Where was he? God, he hoped he was OK.
Finally to Jack’s relief Ennis appeared, he was flustered and upset, and had blood caked on to the side of his face.
When Ennis was bringing the supplies back from the bridge he had come across a bear. The horse had spooked and Ennis fell heavily on to the side of his head, on the rough stony mountain ground. The mules took off and a lot of the food was scattered. Packages burst open. When Ennis got back to camp he was bruised and bleeding and without much in the way of supplies.
Jack caught his breath at the sight of blood on Ennis’ face. He took off his bandanna and washed off the blood. He gave him whiskey to drink, and realized how afraid he was that something serious could have happened to him. He could have been killed or seriously injured. The thought of not seeing him again had been more than Jack could bear.
As it was his beautiful face was bloodied and battered, and Jack couldn’t help but keep looking at him to see how the healing process was getting on.
There was still a serious food situation though. They didn’t seem to have much left to eat other than beans. Ennis said he would stick with beans, Jack said he wouldn’t. In the end they decided together that they would shoot something for the meat. Ennis was dead against shooting one of the sheep, although Jack couldn’t see that Aguirre would notice.
In the end, Jack having seen an elk in the woods on, his way up to the sheep persuaded Ennis to come with him to make the kill. Jack had to admit that Ennis was a much better shot than he was himself.
Ennis made a good clean kill, as Jack knew he would. They then had the unpleasant task of butchering the meat, and drying some of it for future use, but they tackled it in a matter of fact way, and the meal they had that night was the best one they had in all of their time on the mountain. They both ate heartily, relishing the meal, and enjoying the break from the constant diet of beans which seemed to have been the greater part of their menu so far.

Jack was feeling irritated a few days later when he came down to supper. He was feeling aggrieved after chasing the coyotes’ all day, and decided to let off steam by having a good bitch to Ennis about the situation.
“I’m commutin' four hours a day; we oughta both be in this camp.” Was he making it too obvious that he really wanted to be with Ennis, and not out on the hillside on his own?
Last year when he had been up here with the old shepherd, he hadn’t had to sleep up on the mountainside with the sheep, getting up every five minutes to chase coyotes, and the smell of the pup tent Joe Aguirre had given him to sleep in up there was enough to make you sick.
Jack was surprised at Ennis’s reaction, “I wouldn’t mind switching with you.”
“What, why’s that”? “Is he doing this to make me happy?” These were the thoughts that went through Jack’s mind.
Was it his imagination or was Ennis starting to look at him in a concerned, and maybe more than a concerned way.
Those eyes, surely they were gazing at him lovingly. “Gee Twist, pull yourself together. It can’t be.”
Was there a possibility? Could Ennis possibly feel the same way? Was that too much to hope for. They sure got on well, there was such completeness between them. As if they were two sides of the same coin.
Jack hadn’t felt so content for years, he thought that maybe they could always stay friends. Was there any hope that it could be any more than that?

Jack and Ennis did decide to exchange roles, and when Ennis went up to the sheep leaving Jack on his own, he had a lot on his mind. Why did he feel so attracted to this cowboy, he was so quiet, but when you did finally get him talking his whole face lit up with pleasure.
It was as if no one had ever listened to him before. Perhaps that was it. No one had ever given a damn for him before. Jack gave a damn though. Perhaps he was giving a damn too much.
He looked for Ennis horseback figure up on the mountain. Wondered how he was doing. Hoped the coyote’s weren’t giving him too much of a hard time.
Was he starting to care about this man too much?
What if he were in love with him?
There was no way he could let him know about it. Unless he too was attracted to men he’d run a mile. Jack tried not to give no mind to that, too painful.
But was he interested?
He had been giving Jack some very curious looks lately.
Almost as if he cared.
Ennis rode back at evening time. Something happened then that Jack would remember with pleasure for the rest of his life.
Jack was peeling potatoes for supper, when Ennis decided to have a wash. He heated some water over the fire, and with a wash cloth and soap proceeded to strip off and wash his body all over. Jack tried hard not to look, he willed himself not to look, he tried to concentrate on preparing supper. He noticed Ennis wore no socks or underwear. He was really trying not to notice, his cigarette nearly fell into his lap what with the way his mouth fell open with the effort of trying not to look.
He did look though, and he did see, and he did enjoy.
Every moment of it.

There were times when, and he really wondered if he was imagining it, that Ennis seemed almost to be flirting with him. Jack was pretty sure that Ennis was a virgin, even though he had spoken of this Alma. He said they would be getting married when they came down from the mountain. Still it seemed a pretty innocent relationship to Jack, or perhaps that was just wishful thinking on his part.

Jack was only a little less innocent himself. He liked to swagger and pretend to be a man of the world sexually. There had been some pretty adventurous fumbling amongst the boys at school, but his experience was less than he was letting on, and he certainly didn’t want Ennis to know. If this particular cowboy was going to melt from his particular brand of charm, he wanted him to think that he was in control.

The nights by the campfire, just got better and better. Jack felt so warm and safe when he was with Ennis. The conversation became more personal as he started to draw Ennis out. He had succeeded in reducing both of them to tears of helpless laughter. Not that he intended it that way, he didn’t have a conscious plan, it just felt so right and so good them being together. Jack was as happy as he had ever been. If it wasn’t for his unfulfilled, and possibly never to be fulfilled desires, life would be just perfect.

He was still wondering about Ennis though. There were times, as they drew nearer to each other that it seemed to Jack that Ennis was giving him the “come on” even if just maybe he wasn’t aware of it.

Sometimes Jack played his harmonica and they took turns to sing. Maybe not a pleasant sound but who was out there to hear them?
On one fateful evening Jack sang a hymn his mother had taught him called “Water Walking Jesus,” and they began to discuss the fact that Jack’s mother believed in the Pentecost. Ennis asked Jack what that was. Jack was somewhat handicapped in his explanation by the fact that he didn’t actually know because his mother had never explained it to him, and by the fact that he had drunk so much whiskey that it was almost impossible to speak, let alone explain anything, even if you did understand it. He told Ennis he imagined that it “was when the end of the world comes and fella’s like you and me get marched off to hell.”
Ennis looked at him quizzically, gave him a broad smile and said “you might be a sinner, but I ain’t yet had the opportunity!”
Jack concluded from this that Ennis was definitely a virgin and had never yet so far, managed to persuade either a man or a woman into his bed, so he maybe had as much chance as this goddamn Alma.

Later that night they drank more whiskey together. In fact they drank so much whiskey that Ennis was too drunk to stand, let alone go up to the sheep.
He decided to roll up by the fire with a blanket and to go up to the sheep at first light, leaving Jack to sleep alone in the tent. It was a very cold night, and Jack tried to persuade Ennis to share the tent with him. The thought of them snuggling down together did things to Jack he tried not to think about, but Ennis wasn’t having any of it, so they said their goodnights.

Jack could hear Ennis shivering. Perhaps now was the time to try to persuade him to come into the tent. It sure was cold. Jack was cold in the tent even with the bedroll. If they could snuggle up together it would keep them both warm and then Jack could perhaps get some sleep.
It was at about two in the morning when Jack was awakened by the sound of Ennis teeth chattering with the cold.
After a while Jack couldn’t stand the noise any more, and anyway he didn’t want Ennis to freeze to death. He stuck his head out of the tent flap, there was a bright full moon, and said, “Quit your hammerin’ and get in here. Ennis almost ran for it, dragging the blanket, knocking over the cooking pans with a loud rattling sound. Within a moment his cold sleepy body was in the tent, and laying in the bedroll next to Jack.
Now it was Jack that was having trouble sleeping. Ennis was pressed up against his back; he could feel the warmth of Ennis body next to his own. They were both sleepy and drunk, and as the warmth of each others bodies started to seep into their bones, Jack had a problem.
There was no way he could get back to sleep now, not with what was happening. He had the most enormous throbbing erection. It was so hard it was painful. The more Ennis got close to him for warmth, the worse, or possibly better it got.
Jack was going mad with desire now. He put his hand on his cock; it wasn’t his hand he wanted on it though. What he wanted was Ennis, and so badly now, that it was almost impossible to control himself.
The only thing was, Ennis was very close to him. They were both fully clothed, but was there just a suggestion, could Jack just feel something against his butt, was Ennis in the same condition?
Was that too much to hope for? Jack was indecisive, the throbbing in his groin was getting worse, he could stand it no longer. He pulled an arm out from the bedroll’s warmth, took hold of Ennis’ hand, pulled it back into the bedroll and placed it on his erection.
The effect was like a shot of electricity. Ennis drew his hand away and pulled Jack up to face him. The look in Ennis eyes was of shock, disbelief, and lust, all wrapped up into one. “What’s goin’ on, said Ennis?” Although he knew. Jack undid his belt buckle and unzipped his jeans, Ennis turned him over and dragged him up onto all fours, and then he did the same, unbuckling and pushing his jeans down and out of the way.
Ennis entered him and started to thrust. Jack realised in a moment that it was not in his imagination that Ennis had been flirting with him for days. He knew now, it was certain. If Ennis had never done this before, and Jack was pretty sure he hadn’t, then the instinct driving him was sure and true. Jack’s world exploded in sensations of pleasure, he saw stars of wonderment, he was hardly capable of coherent thought.
Somehow or other, just as he reached orgasm, he managed to mutter in a choked voice, “Gun’s going off.” It was too, with Ennis not far behind him.
They collapsed in each others arms in a heap.
Jack realised that he still had hold of Ennis hand.
There wasn’t much to do then, but sleep.
Jack had never felt so relaxed and satisfied in his life.
He slept the sleep of the truly content and happy, and he knew something too.
He was in love with this man.
His very own Ennis.
The love of his life.

Mar. 7th, 2007

Sometimes I Miss You So Much.........................

Sometimes I Miss You So Much……..
By Janjo

Jack was lonely. It was a whole month since he had last seen Ennis, he could count every miserable barren day. He remembered how Ennis’ body felt under his fingers, remembered that slow, but when it came, utterly genuine smile, and the thought that it would be three long months before he saw it again, cut through his body like a physical pain.
Damn the man, why wouldn’t he come and be with him. It couldn’t possibly be as dangerous in reality as it was in Ennis mind. Sure Jack liked a challenge, but the scale of this one, of trying to persuade Ennis to share a home with him, was worse he imagined, than trying to climb Everest!
Jack’s mouth felt dry and his head ached. He had drunk far too much whiskey last night, had started before Lureen went to bed, and continued long afterwards. At two o’clock this morning it had been hard to make the stairs.
Lureen had been asleep for hours, she had long stopped expecting sexual favours from him, thank God. He didn’t know what she did about it, wouldn’t have bothered him if she had taken a lover, as long as she didn’t need him to oblige. He had long since decided that women were not the answer for him……………..probably never had been………all he had ever wanted since he was nineteen years old was Ennis del Mar!
There were the hookers of course; he had a regular man he saw when he was on the border with Mexico, it was pretty sordid, and no more than a physical relief, but when you got nothing else………….!
There was a local man too, Randall Malone. Jack didn’t see him often. In a small community if anything was amiss, word soon got round and certain people would find the notion of him and Randall very amiss indeed, not the least both of their wives.
Jack was aching with longing for Ennis now though. Randall was no real substitute, but even Jack had to admit he was better than nothing; he also had a cosy office, was interesting to talk to, and made good coffee. Perhaps he would slip round there later this afternoon and see how things were.
As the afternoon wore on, with the hot Texas sun beating down, Jack’s head cleared a little. He had a customer interested in a tractor, but it was a lot of money, and he was working hard at pinning him down.
Around four he decided to take that drive out to Roy Taylor’s place and see Randall. He rang; Randall answered, “Thought I might come over if that’s alright with you,” said Jack, “sure,” replied Randall “be nice to see you. I’ll be in the ranch office; it’s pretty hot over here.”
“It’s like a furnace here in town, perhaps I’ll cool off on the drive over.” Jack left the office, and climbed into his distinctive red pickup. He wondered what Ennis was doing now; feeding stock maybe, bet it wasn’t as hot up there in Wyoming as it was here in this cauldron.
Jack’s groin ached with longing when he thought of Ennis, just take deep breaths, go and talk to Randall, he was a “good ole boy,” maybe, just maybe, he would understand. After all no one else Jack knew round here would.
It was a pleasant drive over to Roy Taylor’s place, finally there was just a breath of air, and with the pickup windows open Jack felt just a little cooler and more comfortable. He looked out at the grazing stock, which to his eye looked in pretty good shape, and to the standing wheat, much of which looked almost ready to harvest.
He pulled up outside Randall’s office. Randall came out and put an arm round Jack’s shoulder. It felt good, pity it was the wrong man though.
“What’s up Jack? You look like you lost a dollar and found a cent.”
“Oh, I’m just hot and missing my buddy,” said Jack.
“That why you came over to see me?”
“Yeah, maybe!”
“You know me Jack; I’m always here if you need me.”
“Yeah you’re here, but you wouldn’t leave your comfortable life for me, would you?”
Randall looked quizzical and said, “Well I’ve got a living to make, a position to keep up.”
Jack looked a little angry, “That’s more than Ennis has,” said Jack. “Well at least he’s got a living to make, but I don’t think he’s got no position.”
Randall moved towards Jack, “come in the back office, we got the air con on in there, I’ll make you some coffee, you can tell me about it.”
“Nothing to tell,” said Jack, “I’m here, he’s in Wyomin,’ I’m feeling horny so I come to see you.”
“Oh I’m sure we can do something about that,” said Randall with a sly grin.
Jack couldn’t help but wonder what Randall thought was in this for him. He knew he would never leave Ennis for him, but he was never slow in coming up with the goods sexually. Never.
The temperature in the back office was much more bearable. Randall drew the blinds and turned the key in the door. “If Roy wants me he will have to think I come in here for a nap.
Long as he don’t see your pickup.”
Randall started to kiss and caress Jack, and Jack responded eagerly, anyone would have done for him at that moment, and at least Randall was a nice guy. The wrong guy, but a nice guy.
They lay on the day bed in Randall’s office later, snoozing and muttering to each other.
“Well, that should keep us going for a while,” said Randall. “Sure thing,” said Jack.
“You’re a good friend. You know I don’t love you, but you still give me the works.”
“Well, you’re the best arrangement I’m gonna get out here,” Randall said.
“Thanks for letting me come over;” said Jack, “I can’t get Ennis out of my head these days. It’s as if we were born to be together and yet he just can’t see it. He loves me, I know he does, but he won’t say it, no way. If he don’t say it, it ain’t real, and if it ain’t real he don’t have to live with me.”
Jack was sounding exasperated to the point of anger now, but he knew there was nothing he could do about it.
“Why do you still see me Randall, you know how the land lies?”
“Yeah,” said Randall, with the faintest trace of bitterness, “we both know, what chance would either of us have of making a living in the Panhandle if the outside world really knew what we want, what we do?”
“We need our wives to keep us respectable, keep us earning. There’s no way we’re goin’ a have comfortable lives without those two pretty ladies for cover. I ain’t goin’ nowhere, but I sure do like to see you from time to time.
I ain’t as scared as you say your buddy is about bein’ found out, but there’s lots of things to take into consideration here. I’m no more free than he is, even if you loved me, which you don’t.”
“Jeez, I hate feeling like I use you,” said Jack.
“Come on Jack, we use each other, and it’ll be a long time before things change for folks like us.”
Randall got up and stretched his limbs in a relaxed fashion, turned to Jack and said, “I feel better for that,” “me too” said Jack, he meant it too.
He knew he would feel guilty later, he always did, but just at the moment he felt a whole lot better than when he had arrived.
Randall put the coffee on, and they started to talk about the cattle and farming equipment businesses, and how things were going for them financially, if anyone came in now, what would they see? Two “good ole boys” chewing the fat about farming.
Jack wondered if his whole life apart from the time he spent with Ennis was just pretence. It was exhausting that was for sure. Family man, husband, father, son, ex rodeo rider, respectable farm equipment salesman, how much of it was the real Jack Twist. Very little.
What would happen if everyone knew he was queer, he didn’t love his wife, he wasn’t a good husband, his father certainly didn’t think he was a good son, he never really made a success of rodeo, he was a passable salesman, providing no one knew his true nature, because then the customers would probably boycott him. He thought he was quite a good father, he loved Bobby, the son who looked so much like him, but he would leave it all behind in a heartbeat if Ennis invited him to share a hut in the desert. He really would, and he knew it.
Jack didn’t want to live in poverty, he thought if the two of them were raising cattle, somewhere remote like the place where he had grown up he wouldn’t have to. No one was going to come nosing around out there, but Ennis wouldn’t even consider it. Given half a nod in that direction, Jack knew he would go with him that was for sure. Everything else would just have to sort itself out from there.
Jack thanked Randall for the sex, the coffee, and the listening ear, and got back into his pickup to drive back into town.
He passed Roy Taylor on the track from the ranch up to the main highway, he gave him a wave. Didn’t suppose he suspected anything, why should he, him and Randall didn’t get together that often.
What was there to suspect?
What was there to tell?
It was just a convenient arrangement.
Bobby was waiting for him when he got home. “Say, Dad, you look happier,” “ Yeah, been out on business, nice day.”
“It was hot in school today, Dad, I wanted to come home, but the teacher wouldn’t let me.”
“Good for her, son, you gotta keep learning, you're gonna take over this business one day, you need to get as much into that head of yours as you can.

Jack did feel better for a couple of days, but then the guilt started to settle in, why did he have to go and see Randall? Ennis remained faithful to him.
He managed it. He knew Ennis just used his thoughts about their times together to get himself off, because he had told him so, but he didn’t need to see other men, as Jack did.
Why was that?
He and Ennis complemented each other, they weren’t the same. Ennis was so stoical he could stand anything, or thought he could.
Jack? He had much more trouble coping with it.
It had been good having sex with Randall, but it was a band aid on a gaping wound. It was not Randall that Jack wanted, it was Ennis, and Ennis would never live with Jack because of his fear that one or both of them would come to harm. Jack knew he couldn’t live without Ennis, so he had to go along with Ennis’ rules, but it wasn’t getting any easier.

That evening Jack who could not shake off the pall of utter misery that had fallen upon him took to the whiskey bottle again.
He started off the evening OK helping Bobby with his homework, and generally trying not to be a misery, but after Bobby had gone to his room he was left with just Lureen and the TV.
She was watching a quiz show that she watched regularly, and seemed to enjoy, Jack found it meaningless, just like his marriage, he thought.

Lureen was becoming annoyed, “do you have to get drunk every night, Jack?”
“Hey, leave me alone. I’m doin’ no harm.”
“Yes you are Jack, you’ll kill yourself if you keep this up, and anyway I wouldn’t mind someone to talk to occasionally.”
“OK, talk to me”………… “well, I was just watching TV”,……… “well then,” said Jack pouring out another slug of whiskey.
“Don’t blame me if you have headache tomorrow, Jack.”
“I won’t, and anyway it’s my head.”

Lureen looked thoughtful for a moment, “what’s making you so miserable Jack?”
“We have a pretty good life, don’t we?
You just had one a your little fishing trips with your buddy, it’s not that I work you too hard is it?”
“Bobby’s OK.”
I know we have our problems, but there’s no need to drown yourself in that whiskey bottle every night.”
“Sorry, Lureen,” said Jack, who wasn’t, and poured himself another slug, “you want some a this?”
“No, Jack, I got customers to see in the mornin’ and anyway you know I hate whiskey.”
“Might be nice to be with someone who didn’t,” said Jack.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Lureen looked puzzled.
“Ennis likes drinkin’ whiskey with me.”
“Yeah, well I’m not Ennis.”
“You sure ain’t,” said Jack, who despite his drunken state, realised he was saying too much.
“Well, kill yourself with that stuff, if you want, I’m going to bed,” said Lureen.
“You wouldn’t miss me if I did die?”
Jack was getting maudlin now.
“Now don’t be stupid Jack, of course I would miss you. Anyway you’re a good salesman.”
“Don’t you ever think about anything apart from the business,” Jack was standing now and shouting in a drunken fashion.
“Shhhh, Jack you’ll wake Bobby.
“I don’t care, I….….think I’ve had too much to drink.”
Jack sat down on the sofa again, tears started to run down his face.
“Lureen, if I was to die, I want you to make sure that my ashes are scattered on Brokeback Mountain, it’s up near Daddy’s place.”
“Why’s that Jack?”
“It’s a pretty place; it’s what I want, you got that?”
“Yeah, I got that Jack,” “Lureen, I mean it, I want you to promise,” “OK, Jack I promise, now come on let’s get you to bed.”
“OK, Lureen, I’m sorry.

Lureen guided Jack up the stairs; he fell into bed and spent a fitful night tossing and turning, and woke up the next morning with a headache, and an aching to see Ennis that felt likely to split his world apart.

After breakfast Jack went out to the showroom to get some work done
and to see some customers, perhaps he could bury his misery in work. He knew Lureen did just that, but tried not to accept that he was the cause of it.
He kept busy, and did feel better after a while, particularly when he made a good sale with the tractor customer he had been working on.
It always made him feel good when he persuaded a customer to part with his money.

It was later that afternoon that the melancholy settled upon him again. He had some spare parts for a combine that needed delivery to a ranch eight or so miles out of town. It was pretty quiet, there was no one else to do it, he would take them himself.
He drove out into the countryside, and made his delivery. On the way back he had to pull in to a trackway at he side of the road to relieve himself.
It was hot again.
There was a sandy trail leading into the middle of a field. No one was around. He walked a few hundred yards along it. His eyes were once again wet with tears.
He thought of Ennis.
God, how he missed him.
Jack wrapped his arms around his chest in misery, and then let them drop to his sides, a strange noise was coming from his mouth………….just one word………..Ennis……………………Ennis…………………..Ennis!
He shouted that name over and over again, until he broke down.

There was nothing else to be done.
He dried his eyes, combed his hair, walked back to the truck, took a deep breath, and set off back into town.

Two weeks later Jack found a postcard from Ennis in his mailbox. It didn’t say much, Ennis postcards never did, but to Jack it was a promise of heaven.

“Got some time off starting October 23rd, how does riding the old horse trail round the Absarokas sound?
Let me know if you can make it,
Ennis.”

Jack could hang on; he had a date, a time, when he knew he could see Ennis again. His despair was manageable now because he had a time to look forward to, and not just a meeting to look back on.
He answered the postcard with some words that meant the world to them both, the words Ennis had sent him when they were first reunited after four years apart.
He found a nice postcard with a scene of mountains, green up to the tree line, and with snow on the tops.
On the back he wrote two words:
“You bet!”

Feb. 8th, 2007

Dawn Rose

Dawn Rose
By
Janjo

1979

Hey Jack, I got us a cabin see you on the 29th!

The words on that simple postcard sent a hot jolt of pleasure through Jack’s body as he saw the familiar handwriting of the man he loved.
A cabin, now there would be something to really look forward to, and in only three week’s time.
Mind you knowing Ennis it was probably going to be pretty basic, he wasn’t one for luxury that’s for sure.
He at least hoped it would have a comfortable double bed. They had hardly ever slept together in an actual bed. Bed rolls, sleeping bags, tents, the back of the pick up, once in a motel, but hardly ever in their own space, their own place, even if it was only theirs for two weeks.
Jack’s knees went weak, and he could feel himself trembling. Ennis and him together in a cabin for two weeks, talk about a promise of heaven, the waiting was almost more than he could bear.
Jack grew more and more impatient as each day passed, he snapped at his wife Lureen a few times, but then decided to try and be a little more thoughtful, he didn’t want her getting any more suspicious than she was already.
Sometimes he wondered how he stood it, loving this man so much and hardly ever seeing him. Of course there were other men, pickups, hookers, the trips to Mexico, where the social mores were easier. Men were easy to find if you knew where to look. He didn’t do it too often, and he despised himself for his weakness, but sometimes the needing and wanting Ennis was more than he could bear. Of course there was no replacing him, but sometimes it was possible to pretend with another man, to ease the ache, the longing for Ennis.
He never knew how much his wife knew about what went on in his life,
sometimes he wondered, he was very fond of her, but compared to his love for Ennis……………there was no comparison.

Ennis was very pleased with himself for having got the cabin. He knew how happy Jack would be about it. He could imagine the smile on his face now. That smile he would replace with the kiss he was longing for.
He had been out with his ranch foreman Don Wroe feeding stock, throwing hay into a paddock from the back of a trailer. Don was driving, shouting back at him, “taking a vacation this year Ennis? I know you usually get away two or three times a year.”
“Yeah!” said Ennis, “wouldn’t miss it, me and a buddy go fishin.’”
“Don’t take the kids then?”
“No, just go fishin’ like to get out in the wilds.”
Ennis thought to himself “don’t get no fishin’ done though,” but he wasn’t about to say that.
“Where do you stay?” “Oh! We camp mostly, horsepack.”
“I should have known that, I know you and horses. Old friend you go with?”
“Yeah, very old friend, we go way back to when we was boys.”
Don looked at him. A thought went through his head, surely not?
“I’ve got a cabin the two of you could use. Miles from anywhere, pretty cosy, by a lake, well stocked with fish.”
Don went up there with his wife sometimes, more often for weekends with Graham his feed salesman friend. They fished, that wasn’t all they did, but, he wasn’t going to say anything, just looked at Ennis quizzically and wondered.
Ennis felt a bit flustered, but tried to keep a cool head.
“Sure like to take you up on that offer Don. My buddy’s always complaining about the cold, he’d sure like a cabin.”
The thought of Ennis and his buddy exercised Don for the rest of the afternoon. Was it not just him and Graham; were there others like them in Wyoming?
Ennis and his buddy didn’t seem very likely, but it was possible.
Dangerous thought. Not something you would dare talk about.

Ennis thought himself lucky to have got the cabin. Don wouldn’t let anyone he didn’t trust completely have access to it, Ennis felt sure.
Don was very pernickety about things; he wondered what the cabin would be like, he didn’t imagine it would be that luxurious, either way he knew how pleased Jack would be, two weeks of fishing, drinking, talking……………..!
Ennis couldn’t wait, everyday he was away from Jack was an agony, and most days they were apart. That was what made their time together so special.

When Ennis arrived Jack was not there, he had sent him a sketch map on the postcard, surely he wasn’t lost. Jack didn’t usually get lost. Ennis turned the horses out of the trailer, made sure they were secure, then climbed back into the cab of the truck, lit a cigarette, and waited, didn’t want to open the cabin door until Jack arrived.
He finished his smoke, and was just dozing off when Jack’s pickup screeched into the rough area in front of the cabin.
“Sorry, couldn’t get away Lureen was having a crisis over a combine sale, got it sorted though, and here I am!”
Ennis leapt down and took Jack in his arms. He was shaking with wanting him so much, and grinning from ear to ear from sheer pleasure.
“Let’s go and look inside the cabin,” Ennis put an arm round Jack’s waist, he couldn’t bear to let go of him. Six months of wanting leading to this moment.
He undid the door with the large key that Don had given him, it creaked open. It was better than Ennis could have hoped, and nothing like as basic as Jack had feared. There was an iron stove for cooking, and a brass bed with a patchwork quilt on, really pretty and homey.
Ennis embraced Jack with a fire born of six months of longing, buttons were being undone, belts unbuckled, mouths met in passionate kisses. They fell on the bed in rapture.
They slept in each others arms for a while afterwards, Ennis thinking he never slept better than when he was with Jack. Then Jack woke and they started to make love again. Ennis wondered “was it possible to be so happy on this earth?”
As they dozed and caressed for what seemed hours it was hard for even Ennis to remember why they didn’t live like this all of the time.

When they were finally sated with each others bodies, Jack decided it was time to eat, and got up to start preparing a meal from some ingredients from his truck, that he had bought en route.
“Lureen been teaching you to cook,” said Ennis?
“You sure seem to know what you’re doing better than you did up on Brokeback”!
“Yeah, picked up a few tips from her, don’t think I could live on what you do with beans.”
Ennis threw a cushion from the bed at Jack, “you liked it well enough at the time”.
Jack smiled, “No En, I liked you well enough at the time, not the beans.
Still do.”
Ennis laughed contentedly.

At evening time Jack and Ennis sat on the porch and watched the sun go down.
Jack thought he’d never been so happy. The cabin, the man he loved sitting opposite him smiling and relaxed. Jack’s dream of how it could be always.
He knew by now that Ennis was unlikely ever to be making this any kind of permanent arrangement. Ennis was still inside, the frightened child he had been when his father had taken him to see Earl’s dead body.
Earl was a rancher that had been beaten to death for living with another man.
Ennis father had taken him to see the body as it lay in an irrigation ditch.
How could you do that to a child?
But Ennis father had done it, and it had left Ennis so scarred, so full of self hatred, that Jack knew that Ennis was going to take a whole lot of persuasion if he was ever going to fulfil his dream of them living together.
At this moment though Ennis had not even given it a thought, he was with his beloved Jack, he was sitting on a porch watching the sun go down, and it was him that had organised the whole thing.
The deepening realisation of the glimpse of heaven that this was giving to Jack had not then occurred to him. He just enjoyed the moment, reaching out to touch Jack’s hand from time to time. A promise for what they would do again later after they climbed back into the brass bed with the patchwork quilt.
Ennis found it hard to accept what he felt for Jack. The sex was like nothing else he had ever experienced. It had been OK with his wife Alma, he had liked it well enough, but even then his mind had been full of visions of Jack.
But with Jack it was a complete union of bodies and souls as well as physical pleasure on a level he experienced nowhere else.
Surely to feel like this about Jack was wrong. His whole body and mind lit up when he was with Jack. He wanted to be with him all of the time. When he wasn’t with him he was thinking and dreaming about him. But he knew it could never be. It was just too dangerous, and yet, and yet……..!
He smiled at Jack again, another touch of the hand, “what you trying to do to me cowboy” said Jack with a smile to light up the sky?
Jack was so happy, so content, how, wondered Ennis; could he continue to deny him what he wanted so much?
Of course there were their children to think of. What would their reaction be if all this came out?
Daddies are not really supposed to feel like this about other men.
Of course they would laugh at him. Would they tell their school friends’? Would the whole town soon know?
Would either him or Jack be beaten to death with a tyre iron like Earl had been?
He knew he couldn’t do it.
At that moment that last touch of the hand having been just too much for Jack, Jack leaned over and kissed him on the lips, and placed his hand on his thigh. Then anything seemed possible.
As they embraced Ennis did not know what to think anymore. This man, his Jack, sent his senses reeling. At that moment he didn’t just want to be with Jack, he wanted once again to be inside Jack giving him full measure. Yet still he could deny him the only thing he really needed.
They went inside the cabin and fell on the bed in each others arms. Ennis forgot the thoughts that were whirling in his head, as he went for that often sought moment of pleasure.

“What you thinking about,” said Jack, as Ennis lay looking up sleepily at the beams of the cabin roof early next morning.
“Thinkin’ how good this is, thinkin’ bout us.
Thinkin’ how much I like us bein’ together.
“Fancy goin’ huntin’ later, kill us a deer” said Ennis.
“You could cook it for us, what with your new found cooking skills, and all!”
“Sure, sounds good to me” said Jack, who was happy to do anything as long as it was with Ennis. Why couldn’t they always be together like this?
Ennis was divorced now, what was stopping them apart from Ennis fear?
He had to face it Ennis was terrified of anyone finding out what their relationship really was. He was sure that if anyone found out they were lovers, one of them would die.
That was a hard fact to live with.
They were a couple.
The happiest of couples when they were together, which wasn’t often enough, but no one, but no one, must ever know!

“Why don’t we get us a cabin like this” said Jack? We could get out here, see each other more often!”
Ennis froze.
“Where am I gonna get the money for that?”
“Oh! Don’t worry about that I’m sure I can get some money out of the business will cover it, Lureen can’t always follow my tracks.”
“No Jack I can’t have you supporting me. I’d feel real bad about that. Nice idea though.”
“Why don’t we at least see a real estate agent and see how much it would cost?”
“No, Jack this is great, but we get involved with somethin’ like that sure as sure someone will track us down. Someone will find out about us, and then how we gonna hold our heads up in town. Don’t want the whole place knowin’.”
Jack was getting a little riled now, he understood only too well why Ennis was the way he was, but it didn’t make it any easier for him.
“What makes you think anyone’s interested in what we do? It’s between you and me. Like I tol’ you, it’s nobody’s business but ours.”
“Well, someone will find out, they always do, and I couldn’t hold my head up knowin’ I was living on yours and Lureen’s money.” Ennis was looking upset now.
Jack softened a little, “I’m sorry En, we was just having such a good time, I want it to go on forever.”
“So do I, Jack, but some things just can’t be.” Ennis looked pensive, then smiled, and then gave Jack an embrace. “I’m sorry Jack, can’t help the way I am.”

As the days passed Jack and Ennis began to slip into the most domestic routine they had ever experienced. Both of them adored the situation, they loved and bickered, slept, ate and hunted together, sat together, sometimes in silence, sometimes talking about their families. Ennis talked about his horses too.
It was the domestic bliss that Jack had dreamed of, and that Ennis dreamed of, and feared in equal measure. Luckily they hardly saw a soul in their time there, although on the third morning they did see two fishermen on the far shore of the lake. Too far away to bother them, although Ennis did become jittery until they packed up their gear and departed.
Although Jack understood this, he couldn’t help but feel with pain just how frightened of discovery Ennis was. He loved this man, he longed for Ennis to be proud of him, to take him into a bar and show him off, but the whole world they knew would have to change before that miracle would happen.
Ennis was everything to Jack, Jack was everything to Ennis, both of them knew it, although it was something they never discussed, but it was a forbidden, illicit, secret, socially unacceptable love, that they would never be able to celebrate openly.
A man could spend many years trying to find the perfect person, who alone could make them sparkle, make them feel it was good to be alive. Jack and Ennis had found each other, they wanted to shout their delight in each other to the rooftops, but there was no way. Not only was their love not acceptable, to speak of it was potentially life threatening, especially in Ennis mind, so the silence and secrecy of the purest happiness either of them had ever known went on.
Why was life so hard?

In the middle of the second week together, Jack and Ennis were out riding, moving through the pines and along the lake shore. There in the deep woods, looking out across the lake, like the place they were staying, but if anything even more remote, was a cabin, and it had a “for sale” notice with a phone number and address in River Falls, nailed to the wooden wall at the front. It appeared to be empty, and the windows were boarded over. Jack and Ennis dismounted, and Jack asking Ennis to mind the horses, went and squinted through the narrow space between the boards, “looks good, doubt it’s been empty long, looks clean enough inside.”
“Wonder how much they want for it?”
“Come and look inside En.”
Jack walked back and held the horses’ reins. Ennis was pale now, heart beating like a steam hammer. He dutifully did what Jack asked, and looked through the small space into the inside. It did look good. He and Jack could be very comfortable here, but he couldn’t even think about it, someone would find out where they were, someone would find out they were lovers. One or both of them would be ridiculed or worse.
“Looks good, Jack, but I don’t see how we can. I’m still trying to find the money for child support; I can’t live off Lureen’s money, even if you can. I got some pride.”
“Please En, just let us find out how much they’re asking, surely that’s not too much to ask. You like us being together don’t you?”
“You know I do, Jack. Do you think I like the fact that we can’t always be like we have these last few days, but you know how nervous it makes me when I think someone might find out about us.”
They rode back to Don’s cabin in a prickly silence. Jack was praying Ennis would see the possibilities, and Ennis praying, just praying, that Jack wouldn’t ask him to do something which he was just too fearful to contemplate.
In bed that night Jack clung to Ennis as if his life depended on it. Willing him through the power of thought alone to see just how despairing he was about their inability to make some sort of life together, not this furtive dash into the mountains two or three times a year, in a bid to recreate those youthful times of first love up on Brokeback Mountain.
They continued their time together peacefully and harmoniously enough, although Ennis had the nagging doubt at the back of his mind that Jack would bring up the cabin again.
It was as they were packing up their gear on the last morning that it was mentioned again. Jack was as usual going to drive up to Lightning Flat to see his folks, stay a few days, and help around the ranch.
“You follow me in your pickup until we get into River Falls, we’ll go into the real estate office and see how much they want for that cabin.”
“Damn you Jack, can’t you leave it alone, I tol’ you I don’t see how it can be.”
“Well, I’m enquiring with or without you, if you don’t want to share it with me I’ll bring my boy Bobby up here for the fishin’.
Come on Ennis, help me out here!”
“Ok, ok, but if they guess about us don’t blame me, and I’m not taking your money.”
They drove the ten miles into town and parked the pickups. Ennis was looking white and furtive. Jack led the way with Ennis following on behind.
They walked into the office of Tanner and Sons and sat down together. Ennis was squirming with embarrassment now. A young lady came over to them, “Lucy Mae Causton;” she said extending a hand, “can I help you two gentlemen?”
“Yes, said Jack, I’d like a price on the cabin you’ve got for sale up on Lake Catrin. Was up there a few days ago fishing, we might be interested.”
“Were you looking for a property together?”
Ennis thought he was going to die.
“Well, we might buy it between us; bring our kids up at the weekends.”
Jack had his serious family man look on now.
Was Lucy Mae convinced, who knows?
“I’ll just look for you; she came back with a figure, a little on the high side, but the owner might take an offer.”
“My buddy and me, we’ll think on it, get back to you if’n we decide” said Jack.
Ennis nodded, and wanted to be anywhere but here.
Jack strolled nonchalantly out of the office. Ennis couldn’t get out of there fast enough.
“What did you think said Jack?”
“Think! I think I got no money towards it. It’s alright for you Jack fuckin’ Twist, you got a rich wife.”
“Well at least let me see if I can screw down some money for it before you completely decide.
We have had a good time the last two weeks haven’t we En?”
“You know we have Jack, the best.”
“It would be good to have somewhere to hide out when we could get away wouldn’t it. Maybe we could see each other a bit more often” said Jack.
“I don’t think it’s on Jack, but I’ll think about it, I promise. Follow me out of town and park up in the Forest Service trail entrance. I’m sure goin’ a say goodbye to you properly at least.”
Three miles out of town they parked up under the trees for a final farewell
until their next meeting.
They walked a few hundred yards into the forest, Ennis as always being ultra careful got behind a stout looking tree. Ennis was in control again now.
“Come here Jack” he said, pulling Jack towards him, you might upset me with your schemes, but there’s no way you ever gonna get rid of me. He caressed Jack’s hair, gazed into those deep blue eyes and kissed Jack as if he never wanted to let him go.
Jack looked quite shaken. “How am I goin’ to leave you and go up to Lightning Flat after that?”
“I don’t know, but we gotta go, we got long drives' ahead of us.” They embraced again and both had moist eyes as they walked back to their vehicles.
“I hate leaving you Jack, you take care,” “you too En, keep yourself safe for me. I’ll see you again in the summer if you can get the time off.”
“Sure thing Jack, see you darlin’.”
Ennis got into his truck, and not being able to bear the agony of parting for another moment, started the engine, slipped it into gear, and backed on to the road. With a wave of the hand he was off.
Jack had tears running down his face now. He could not stand many more of these partings, but he had no choice. He climbed into his pickup and set off to Lightning Flat to see is mother who he adored, and his father who liked his help on the ranch, but otherwise had no time for him at all………….!

1983
Ennis was having a coffee and a doughnut in the café at the Riverton bus station. It had become his habit to pop in there for a snack on a Thursday evening when he came into town for some supplies.
He had been dating a waitress called Cassie, he hoped he wouldn't see her again. Last week she had come in with Carl her new boyfriend and had given him a tongue lashing because he had stopped seeing her, without letting her know why. He just didn’t want to see her again. He couldn’t face another scene; he had too much on his mind for that. He had just dropped her like a stone.
Hadn’t realised she was in love with him until her tears last week. Perhaps because it had never occurred to him to be in love with her.
There was only one person Ennis had really ever cared about apart from his two girls, and that was Jack.
Ennis bit into his doughnut, it tasted like a mouthful of cardboard, dry unappetising. Strange, he used to like the doughnuts in here. Nothing tasted right lately, everything tasted like cardboard.
Couldn’t sleep either. Last night he had woken up sobbing, dried his eyes, given himself a good talking to, and then fell back into a fitful sleep.
He woke up this morning feeling terrible, heart hammering; he was goin’ to have to do it.
Do what?
Go and live with Jack, no, too much.
Go and live near Jack, would that be enough?
Buy a cabin like the one they looked at a few years ago?
It would mean living off Jack’s money and Jack’s money, was Lureen’s money.
What would he do for a job?
Work for Jack?
No way, he had some pride, much as he loved Jack, he wouldn’t be his kept man.
They could carry on as they had been, getting together two or three times a year way out in the middle of nowhere. But, he had seen the hurt, the pain in Jack’s eyes. Had felt that moment of utter panic when he thought that Jack had had enough, was really going to leave him.
Ennis had broken down; the first time he could ever remember doing that. He remembered the tears coursing down his face, his anger at Jack, and then his desperate warm embrace, seeming to grab him and drag him back from the pit of hell.
Why did it have to be like this?
Why did he have to be queer?
Why did Jack have to be queer?
Why did they have to have these overwhelming feelings for each other?
Ennis did not know what to do?
He couldn’t face any of the changes he had to make.
He knew that this time he had no choice. If he didn’t move on this now, he would lose Jack.
He remembered Jack’s words during their last parting, when things had really come to a head.
“I wish I knew how to quit you!”
The words still burned into his soul.
Jack would leave him if he didn’t give him at least some of what he wanted.
The sex was still great, they were still the best of friends, but for Jack, it wasn’t enough. He wanted them to share a life together. It was all he had ever wanted.
The bottom line was that if he didn’t give him what he wanted now, he feared Jack would leave him.
He had always known in his heart that Jack saw other men. In their last furious exchange of words, Jack had confirmed that.
It was Ennis worst fear.
If he didn’t come up with a way for them to be together then Jack would leave him, settle for second best, and he Ennis, would have lost the person who meant more to him than anyone else in the world.
Ennis had no choice. He had to do it. Next time he saw Jack he would tell him he had decided. They would make a plan together, something on Jack’s terms this time. Something Jack was happy with.
It might put them in danger; he knew Jack could be reckless at times, Ennis always thought it went back to his rodeo days, but he would be there to look out for Jack, and Jack would be there to take care of him.
Whatever happened it could not be worse than this half life without Jack, wondering if he would ever see him again.

At their last parting when they had the furious bloodletting because he could not get away in August, Ennis had told him he would try for it again. It was not to be, the boss was adamant. It was going to have to be November. Ennis had sent Jack a postcard explaining. Saying they would meet up in November as planned.
He could have told the foreman what to do with his job, but if they were really going to set up together someplace he needed this summer’s money. Still had child support to pay for Francine, so he decided to soldier on.
He would go into the post office next week, see if there was a reply back from Jack. He could imagine his face when he told him his decision.
Ennis felt better now, even the coffee seemed more flavoursome. He had no choice, he would do it. Whatever it took to keep Jack, he would do.


The following week, he went into the Riverton post office to pick up his mail. He walked outside and started to sort through it, on the top was his postcard to Jack.
It was stamped in red DECEASED.
He staggered to a call box and rang Lureen. She told him Jack had been killed in accident with a truck wheel. Ennis imagined Jack being beaten to death with a tyre iron.
Either way it was the end of everything for Ennis.
He went back to his home, closed the door his eyes full of tears, lay on his bed and wept for what seemed like hours.
Jack was dead.
It was all over.
Ennis knew his life was over too.
He had made his decision.
It was just too late!

Nov. 8th, 2006

The Ranch Sale

After I wrote my last story I had several messages asking me if it would be possible for Bob Twist to meet up with Ennis del Mar. Here is my version of how that meeting happened.
As always thanks to Annie Proulx for the use of her wonderful Brokeback Mountain characters, and to assure readers that I have tried at all times to stay within her themes.
The story is not erotic but does contain a little strong language.


The Ranch Sale

By Janjo

It was when he stopped at TJ’s Diner just inside the Wyoming state line that Bob was given the flyer “Ranch Sale,” selection of household goods, farm implements and equipment. All for auction, 25th May 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
It caught his attention immediately; he was building up a collection of agricultural bygones for a display in the farm equipment showroom. There was always interest from his customers in these things. Perhaps one day he might even have enough to warrant their own building, maybe even charge a dollar or two for a look round.
Maybe……….!

Bob had been up to see his grandparents, on their ranch; he was taking an interest in the business, which would be his one day. His grandfather was getting more elderly by the day, and was less able to manage, particularly the stock on his own. Bob was feeling quite upbeat about the situation though, because last year his surly grandfather had finally started following his suggestions and had hired a manager to run the ranch and get it into shape.
Bob had assisted with the interviews and it seemed that the man they had chosen, Tom Gale, was starting to do a good job. OK so he should the amount they were paying him, but so far he had been worth every cent, and he somehow seemed to keep Grandpa sweet, which no one else had ever managed. They had to re-furbish a cabin on the property for Tom and his wife, which Grandpa had railed against, but it was the only way they were going to attract a new manager, so Bob had persuaded his Mom to put up some of the money. Bob thought they were lucky to have got Tom, and it was nice for Grandma that his wife Lena was good company too.

Bob had been driving up to Wyoming now for some years. He first went up there when he was nineteen, a couple of years after his father died. He decided then to take an interest in the ranch, as a second string to the farm machinery business, and he had found it a worthwhile proposition, both in the limited financial rewards he received, and in the fact that it enabled him to visit his grandparents regularly, and to have long chats with Grandma in particular.
He had a lot to tell her this trip; she was the first person apart from himself and his girlfriend Emmie to know that he was going to be a father. He hadn’t even told Momma yet, the thought of telling her that they would have to bring their wedding forward, and that she could stop dreaming of marquees on the lawn and start organising a much more discreet affair was something he couldn’t face telling her until after he had discussed it with Grandma.
He had been more surprised than he should have been at Emmie’s news.
He knew he should have been more careful with his love making, but now it had happened he couldn’t be more pleased. He loved Emmie, he knew he would love the baby, and the whole thing gave him a rosy glow of pride, despite the suddenness of the news.
Bob looked again at the flyer he had for the ranch sale, he had to turn off in about two miles time. He looked for the track, a dirt road, amongst some scrubby bushes. It was quite a distance of bumping, banging and being thrown around, before the yard, where several cars and pick-ups were parked, came into view.
The yard was rough and rutted, and suitable parking that was not in a pool of water or in deep mud was limited. Bob decided to just edge round the corner of a dilapidated barn on to a piece of hard standing. He crept forward, his mind wandering to the new baby that he was helping to bring into the world, when there was that sickening crunch that could only mean that he had driven into another vehicle. The pickup shuddered to a halt, the bumper enmeshed and entangled with the rusty front end of a somewhat rundown looking blue truck.
Bob swore under his breath, looked ahead and saw a tense looking cowboy in his late forties get out of the now mangled truck. Bob decided to get out too, meet the obviously angry driver on neutral territory; he felt anxious and did not want a punch on the jaw for his carelessness.
“Say, cowboy, I sure am sorry.”
The cowboy still looked unhappy, “wouldn’t hurt to look where you’re going, son.”
“Look I’ve said I’m sorry, let’s see if we can untangle these trucks, I think they’ll both drive.”
Bob and the cowboy both got back into their respective cabs. There was a scraping and grinding noise, a clattering of loose bolts and chunks of metal as they eased the two vehicles apart. Luckily both of them were still mobile although neither pick up looked too pretty.
“Don’t think the damage is too bad” said the cowboy, “Might be more than the truck’s worth.”
Bob didn’t want to get involved in that discussion, so he said “let’s
just exchange names and addresses and let the insurance companies deal with it.
Bob, feeling that after all the trouble he had caused the guy he ought to introduce himself, extended a hand which the cowboy took,
“Bob Twist”
“Ennis, del Mar”

Both men blanched!

Bob as if had been hit by an express train, realised that the cowboy in front of him, the guy he had just driven into, was his own father’s long term lover
and greatest and dearest friend. The man he had valued above all others.

Ennis took a long hard look at Bob; it was like seeing Jack again as a young man, alive, well and in the flesh. Of course they weren’t exactly the same to look at, but there were so many echoes, the same mannerisms. Ennis stomach tightened into a hard knot.
Both of them looked at each other in a strained fashion. Should they say what they knew about each other? Hard not to.

Bob had the least to lose. “Weren’t you a friend of my Daddy’s? You used to go on fishing trips together……..”?
“Yeah, boy, you could say that” muttered the now completely rattled cowboy, standing in front of his damaged truck.
“So you’re Bob, your Daddy used to speak of you.”
“He never told me too much about you, though, but I did find out all about the pair of you after he died.”
The cowboy looked as if he had been punched in the guts.
“If you mean what I think you mean, it’s no business of yours, it was between Jack and me.”
Bob looked Ennis in the eye, in a way that was so reminiscent of Jack to him that Ennis heart melted a little. Bob picked up this moment and said “I can’t say that I thought we would ever meet, but here we are, I think we need to talk a little, if we can find somewhere safe to leave these trucks how’s about we go and look at the sale together, then later you can tell me a little about my Daddy and how you got together.”

The sale was surprisingly productive, Ennis bought some old harness, and Bob a 1920’s plough he thought he might be able to restore. It was mostly pretty worn out stuff, on a pretty worn out ranch. Ennis was still muttering about the cost of getting his truck fixed, so Bob feeling it was the least he could do, offered to help him with any costs that the insurance company couldn’t cover.
Strangely, Bob and Ennis had a pleasant afternoon together. Bob had never been able to quite picture this man his father had loved so. He was nothing like Daddy, that’s for sure, much more taciturn, very deep water, Bob thought. Perhaps that is what had complemented his Daddy’s easy going charm.
He certainly was not Bob’s idea of a typical “queer” man, but then neither had Daddy been, Bob had not known about any of this when his Daddy was alive. Only one person had really known what was going on back then, and that was Grandma. A whole lot of people had parts of the jigsaw but only Grandma had the complete story, and she wasn’t telling.

Bob was quite surprised when at the end of the afternoon Ennis asked him back to his place for a talk and something to eat. Ennis was surprised to find himself asking, it wasn’t often he would let anyone into his private space, but he liked Bob, and was amazed how easy he was to talk to.
Bob explained that he would have to find somewhere to sleep the night because he was on his way back to Childress, and usually stopped at a motel he knew a couple hours further down the road, but Ennis then offered him a bed for the night too, or at least a blanket and a sofa, and Bob was so keen to continue their conversation he accepted.
He gave Ennis a strange look at this invitation, which Ennis picked up on immediately, saying “don’t worry boy, I ain’t gonna jump ya, just being hospitable seein’s you’re Jack’s son.”
“Hey Ennis, I never thought for a moment……………”, but it was painful to him to realise that it had crossed his mind. Not fair really, but that last glimmer of homophobia still stayed in his mind.
“Ennis, that’s very kind, I’d like to take you up on that, we can talk about Daddy a little. I sure do miss him.”
“Not as much as I do, son.”

Later, settled into Ennis kitchen at the bare little one storey house where he lived, the coffee and the whiskey came out for an evening of truth telling.
“How do you get on, without my Daddy?” said Bob.
“Not well, like the job I’ve got now, nice people, and I’ve got my kids and grandkids, but I can’t begin to tell you how much I miss Jack. He was everything to me.”
“I didn’t believe it at first when I found out about you and Daddy, I had no idea, I didn’t even know then that two men could love each other.”
“Well, you didn’t know anything then,” said Ennis. I loved your father more than anyone else I ever met. I’m pretty sure he felt the same about me. We lived for our times together. Precious little times too. I know now I should have lived with him.”
“Why didn’t you?” Said Bob, not realising what he was getting into.
“Have you got any idea what it’s like bein’ like us in Wyomin’?
Have you ever thought what it was really like for your Daddy and me? If they find out about you people laugh and sneer behind your back, your family don’t want to know you. Men like us get beaten up, sometimes they get killed. I’ve never known for sure what happened to your Daddy, maybe it was an accident, and maybe it wasn’t.
Hell, I don’t know!
It wasn’t easy.
Maybe your Daddy thought it was, he’d have taken the chance. Me. Seemed too risky. But we were apart so much of the time, I’d give anything to be with him now, take any risk, but it’s too fuckin’ late.”
Ennis was looking pretty emotional and upset now.
Bob didn’t know what to say.
“I’m sorry; I didn’t mean to upset you.”
“I take it you‘re not like us then said Ennis, or you wouldn’t ask such damn fool questions.”
“No, I’m not, but I do try to understand, I did love my Daddy.”
Bob swallowed hard and said, “I’ve got some good news for you though. I’m gonna be a father later on in the year; at least you can think that there’s another little bit of my Daddy that will be walking around.”
“Really, Jack Twist would have been a Grandfather if he’d still been alive, he’d have enjoyed that.”
“Not many people know yet, I still need to marry my girlfriend.”
Ennis looked at Bob intently “I hope you love her, don’t marry her just for the sake of the baby, it will only make you both miserable.”
“No. no, it’s not like that, we really love each other, I just should have been a bit more careful is all.”
“Did my Daddy just marry my Mom, because I was on the way?”
“Well, we’d split up then, didn’t know if we’d ever see each other again.
I got married too, we both tried to be straight, do the expected things, but it didn’t really work out.
Took me a long, long time to realise it was your Daddy I really wanted to be with, and then I couldn’t do it.”
“Didn’t either of you realise how much you’d be hurting your wives getting married to them when you were in love with each other?”
“We didn’t do it on purpose, we just couldn’t see any other way.
“Well it certainly didn’t make my Momma happy, she spent years burying herself in work, while Daddy drank too much, and spent all his holidays with you!”
“I’m sorry; we never meant to hurt anybody.”
What’s this girlfriend of yours called?”
“Emmie.”
“Well don’t marry her unless you are really sure that she’s the one. Not unless you want to end up alone like me”
“Anyone ever tell you how much like your Daddy you are?”
“Well, Grandma says so.”
“Is that who you found out about us from?”
“Yeah, I think Daddy told her most things, strange really, she never seems to condemn. How she puts up with Grandpa I don’t know.”
“There was a few rumours goin’ round Childress about Daddy, but only Grandma seemed to know the real truth.”
“Rumours, what sort of rumours, said Ennis, looking disturbed.
Bob wished he hadn’t spoken, “well about Daddy, liking men, I think my stepfather started most of ‘em.”
Ennis looked as if he would like to beat Bob’s stepfather to a pulp if he ever got to meet him, but Bob had often felt like doing that himself, so he felt no distress.
“I know your Daddy saw other men, I didn’t like it one bit, but what could I do if I wouldn’t live with him. That’s another reason; I should have taken the risk.”
Ennis looked near tears at this point. “I thought I was gonna lose him, and still I wouldn’t live with him.” I don’t know what was goin on; I don’t know who he was seein’, I just know how much he missed me, he told me that, I know he never stopped loving me, so I just try not to think about the rest.”
“I shouldn’t worry too much Ennis, Grandma doesn’t often get things wrong, and he told her that too. And my stepfather is a bastard.”

“Did you know the last time I saw Jack we had a row, about what we was just sayin’, I didn’t know he was gonna get himself killed. I made up my mind afterwards when I realised how miserable I was making him, when I knew finally that I couldn’t go on like that anymore either, it was the hardest decision I ever had to make. I couldn’t bear the thought of him with other men, couldn’t take not seeing him more. I was goin’ to tell him we would be together somewhere, somehow. We arranged our next meeting……………!
I was goin’ a tell him, then I got the postcard I sent him back…………it was stamped by the mail service DECEASED.
I wanted to die.
That’s when I rang your Momma, she told me what happened.

“Oh God Ennis, that’s terrible”
“I wanted to scatter his ashes up on Brokeback Mountain, that’s where we first met, that’s what he told your Momma he wanted, but that old bastard of a Grandfather of yours wouldn’t let me have them.”
“Don’t worry about insulting my Grandpa; I know what he’s like.”
Ennis wondered if he did, if he really knew the amount of abuse that old man had heaped upon Jack over the years, but he forbore to say.

“You’re left with nothing if you’re like us, only the memories, nothing else.
no rights, not even to be told what happened to the man you loved for twenty years; nothing but a fuckin’ postcard.”
Ennis looked very hurt and bitter, as well he might, thought Bob.

Bob, poured Ennis some more whiskey, he could understand a little more now why him and his Daddy had drunk so much of the stuff. How did you live with what society had done to them?

Bob had understood for some years the situation between Jack and Ennis, it was only tonight he realised just how much they had both suffered. He knew how much it had affected him and Momma, but now he understood that it had hurt everyone, including no doubt Ennis wife and children.

“I’m so sorry for what’s happened to you,” said Bob, after a moment. “I hadn’t really thought all of this through before.”
“Well, I had son, don’t think much about anything else these days, except Jack. I do my job, love working with the animals, out in the wide open spaces, but never much time goes by when I don’t think how much better it would be if I had Jack to share it with.”

Later, in rather a drunken state as the effects of the whiskey took their toll, Bob settled down for a nights sleep on Ennis sofa. His house was as stark and bare as Grandma and Grandpa’s, no luxury or comfort of any kind, just the essentials. Bob went to sleep thinking how hardy these plains people were and the hardships they suffered, both emotionally and practically. He didn’t think many of his friends could stand this harsh life for a moment. Yet, there was a kind of beauty in their stoicism, their ability to stand this way of life, and still to continue no matter what nature or society threw at them.
Ennis went to sleep thinking how much like Jack his son was, and feeling that whatever the difficulties the pair of them had turned out some pretty good kids.
Next morning Bob made ready to leave and to get back on the road to Childress.
Although in the morning light the front of his pickup looked pretty mangled, it seemed mostly superficial with no real mechanical damage, so he was happy to drive it for the rest of the day.
He thanked Ennis for his hospitality and kindness and for putting him up for the night. It was a strange leave taking, for despite their intense conversation of the night before, both had doubts as to whether they would ever meet again.
“Get in touch if there’s any problem getting your truck fixed” said Bob. “Don’t want you to be out of pocket on my account; I know my Daddy would not have wanted that.”
“You got my number, ask for me, don’t have nothin’ to do with my step Daddy!”
“I didn’t expect we’d ever meet, but I’m glad we did, I am sorry about the pick up though.”
“It was probably worth it” said Ennis, “I got a few things off my chest.”
“I’m glad you made my Daddy happy, at least some of the time” said Bob.
“Oh! We were certainly that when we could be together, just never enough time.”
Make sure you look after your Emmie, and I hope everything works out.”
“Thanks,” said Bob as he drove away with a wave.

It was about a year later when Ennis went to collect his mail from the post office in town. He had a handful of mail, mostly fliers and saddle catalogues, but there was one personal letter, he didn’t recognise the rather scrappy looking handwriting. He tore it open, and a photograph fell out. There was some more scrappy writing on the back, it read,

Bob, Emmie and Jack Twist, Junior.

There was a note, “With best wishes, thought you might like to see a picture of the baby,
Kind regards, Bob X.”

Oct. 18th, 2006

Hard Driving

Folowing my last short story in which I tried to give just a little more redemtion to the character of Ennis del Mar than Annie Proulx allowed him, I have now turned my attention to the other person I feel would have been most affected by the death of Jack Twist, and that is his son Bobby.
As always tribute must be paid to Annie Proulx and her wonderful charaters from the short story Brokeback Mountain. I beg her forgiveness for any re interpretation I have made. I tried at all times to remain faithful to her overall themes.
The story is not erotic but does contain a little bad language.


Hard Driving
by
Janjo


Bobby Twist was nineteen years old, and Bobby Twist was a very angry young man. “Go and demonstrate that tractor for Mr Taylor, please Bobby”
and underneath his breath “it’s all you’re fit for”, Jason jeered, the new stepfather that Bobby could not stand.
Bobby seethed inwardly, but did as he was told, his Momma and Daddy, that is his REAL Daddy, had always taught him that you didn’t do anything in front of a customer that might put them off a sale. Business was too important for that.
However, under the smile Bobby thought that if Jason didn’t stop needling him soon, he’d smash the son of a bitch’s teeth in.

Why did his mother have to marry the bastard, they had got on alright after his Daddy died, but she had to take up with Jason. Jeez, practically anyone else would have been better.
Bobby even knew that his Daddy had not liked Jason. Jason had worked for Daddy for a while before he died; he remembered hearing him calling him a cocky bastard, who would be lucky to keep his job if he didn’t learn to keep his mouth shut.

Jason Vigars was tall with red blonde hair, Bobby supposed that some women, and his mother was obviously one of them, would find him good looking, but Bobby found him too cocksure, too opinionated, and above all too dismissive of him to feel anything but dislike for him.

Bobby had to admit that his mother had blossomed since she had remarried, and although Bobby had never understood why, they seemed closer than his Mother and Daddy had been.
His Daddy had often seemed down, even though he was at heart a cheerful and charming guy, but he often drank too much, and seemed to live for his trips out fishing with an old friend from his days back in Wyoming.

Friends that had known Bobby’s Daddy Jack Twist often remarked on how alike the two of them were, same dark good looks, same stunning blue eyes, and the same build. They were different in personality though although Bobby had a great deal of his Daddy’s easy going charm, there was more anger and aggression in him, more edge, a little as if he had been short changed in some way.

Bobby’s family had always been relatively well off financially. He was the “heir”, if that was the word, to the Newsome Farm Machinery business, the company set up by Bobby’s grandfather LD Newsome.
They sold combine harvesters and large expensive tractors. His mother had given her life to the company, making sure that she chased every damn cent, and that no good deal was ever missed.
Bobby’s father died two years before; he still remembered when they told him about it. How would he manage without his Daddy? His stomach had turned over, and then the tears had started to fall. His mother was upset and angry when Daddy died, almost as if it was his own fault, Bobby didn’t really understand that, why be angry with him about it. There was a lot it seemed to Bobby that he didn’t know about Daddy’s death, Mother was always cagey about it. The story was that Daddy had died in an accident with a tyre rim on a truck. Bobby always wondered if that was the whole story, sure as hell no one was telling him about it.

Momma and him were kind of getting over it a little, though it was still the talk of Childress, how that nice, good looking Jack Twist had died, when along comes Jason Vigars, interfering, sweeping Bobby’s mother off her feet, and then marrying her.
Jason did nothing but sneer at Bobby, who had a whole lot of trouble with paperwork. Didn’t take after his mother in that respect, she loved paperwork, and making money.
Bobby was dyslexic, he had extra help at school, but he still hated the paperwork, he did everything he could to avoid it.
He did feel he was starting to become a halfway decent tractor salesman though. He liked the big machines, felt comfortable around them, but the endless order forms and paperwork. Forget it!
He was angry enough with himself for finding reading and writing so difficult when other people found it so easy, but Jason continually jeering at him about it, and calling him stupid wasn’t helping.

Why had Jason picked up with his mother at all? Sure Bobby missed his Daddy, with his dreaming ways, and ready smile, but he didn’t need replacing with this bastard. His mother seemed happy though, she had quite flowered since Jason came on the scene, was all over him in a way she had never been with his daddy.
Daddy was a wonderful man, but attention from his wife never seemed that important to him. Even Bobby had noticed that in the last few years they had maintained a superficially pleasant but quite cold distance from each other.

Bobby was sure that Jason had married his mother for her money, and a way into the Newsome Company. Now he thought he was really somebody, tried to be taking over, and Bobby’s mother seemed to love every minute of it.

Jason would not have to say much more to him and Bobby would be out of there. It was only the fear that he would lose his own toe hold in the business with Jason in his present mood that persuaded him to stick around. There was a lot of money to be made, and he would be damned if Jason was going to get his hands on too much of it, no matter how much he sweet talked Bobby’s mother.

Bobby drove the tractor round the yard, putting it through its paces. While he did this Jason gave Mr Taylor the full menu of it’s specification, what it could do, Mr Taylor seemed impressed with the tractor, although his expression hardened a little when he heard the price. Bobby, pulled the tractor to a stop, and climbed down, walked over to Jason, who was continuing to chat to the customer, there was a mutter of low voices. “What’s the boy like? Not queer like his old man I hope? God! I remember a few years back; think he had something going with my foreman!” They both laughed and looked knowingly at each other. Bobby was straining to hear, he thought they were talking about him. Then he did catch just a few words, “Oh yeah, Jack sure liked his men, so I’ve heard.” What were they saying about daddy? It was bad enough sneering at him, Daddy wasn’t even around to defend himself.
What did they know that he didn’t, it wasn’t fair to keep things from him, after all Daddy was his own flesh and blood. Damn Jason.

“Can we go through the order book together Bobby, said Jason, I’m not too happy with some of your entries,” Why not,” said Bobby knowing only too well his weaknesses, and wondering what he had done now. They sat down at a desk in the showroom, it had started to rain quite hard, so there were few customers around and things were pretty quiet. Jason leafed through the book. “What does this say?” “You can’t send that out!” What sort of company do we appear, with an order that looks like this? I know your handwriting, and I can’t even fuckin’ read it!
Do you have to be quite so ignorant and stupid?

This was enough for Bobby, he knew Jason was right about the order forms, but it really wasn’t his fault, and he would one day own this company,
Jason wasn’t getting his hands on it. That would only happen over Bobby’s dead body.
All semblance of charm had gone from Bobby’s face now, just sheer anger and bitterness. “Don’t you dare speak to me like this, who do you think you are? This is my Mom and Daddy’s company, my Grandpa’s company, what have you ever done except fuck my mother?”
“Well son, I hear that’s more than your father could manage.”
Silence.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“What I said boy!”
“What! You’re talking about my Daddy here, watch what you say.”
“What are you saying?”
“I’m saying Bobby, that your father wasn’t a proper man, he kept your Mom on short rations in the bed department for years, and the reason was, that your wonderful Pa, didn’t like women, he preferred men!”
Bobby looked stunned, the thought had never occurred to him, not about Daddy.
“Yeah, you gotta face it Bobby, your old man was a damned queer.”
Now the half heard conversation between Jason and Mr Taylor, made sense.
Oh my God!
Something about a foreman.
Jason spoke again, “your ma was really upset when your Daddy died. Didn’t know how it happened, if it was really an accident or if the queer bashers got him. Sure as hell no one gonna tell a lady a thing like that.”

“Then a few weeks after it happened she got a call from some other creep queer, Jack’s fishing buddy up in Wyoming. Crying on the phone, devastated, seems he might have been more than a good friend of your Daddy’s and for a long, long time too, since before your Mom met him.”

Everything Bobby had known, and been brought up with suddenly made sense and clicked into place.
Mom and Daddy’s manner with each other, Mom’s devotion to work, Daddy’s frequent absences, usually on buying or selling trips, but regularly with Ennis, his oldest friend and fishing buddy. The trips he always looked forward to so much, the trips from which he came back so relaxed and happy, but very much missing his old friend.
Not to mention Grandpa Newsome’s contempt for Bobby’s father. Bobby might be dyslexic, but he could certainly pick up an atmosphere, and there had often been one in the Twist household when he was growing up.

“So Bobby you better face it, your precious Daddy was a no good queer pervert, and you’d better accept it. You got me now.”

It was at this point that Bobby lost it completely, Jason was a fit strong man, but Bobby was young and agile and in a towering temper, he clenched his fist and punched, laying Jason out on the showroom floor.

Bobby looked down at Jason’s body, he seemed momentarily unconscious. Then he started to murmur and rub his eyes. He came to, and looked at Bobby with a dazed expression, which quickly turned to one of utter fury, as he tried to get up and back on his feet.

Bobby suddenly realised what he had done. Jason was obviously feeling murderous towards him, and when his Momma found out what he had done there would be hell to pay.
He stumbled and then almost ran out of the showroom over to the car park. He decided on a vehicle that would not be locked, and pulling hard on the door of the old pickup that the mechanics used as a run-around, climbed into the cab and drove down the road at sixty miles an hour, almost taking the corner on two wheels.

Bobby was still burning rubber through the outskirts of town when a little common sense hit him, and he slowed to a more sensible and relaxed pace, after all he didn’t want the police following him. Where was he going after all?
He couldn’t go home at least for a while. It might be possible later, but he would have to get Mom on his side first, no doubt about that. He could go to his friend Jerry’s but knowing his mother she would soon be on the phone to tell his folks where he was. You would think at nineteen…….
His thoughts trailed off as he hit the highway north, and swerved slightly to miss another car joining at the intersection. Calm down Bobby; take some deep breaths, no use killing your self here.
What to do now? Jason had looked really upset when he was coming round, Bobby gave a self satisfied chuckle, great, the bastard had it coming for months. That would teach him to play wind up with Bobby Twist. He wouldn’t try that again.
He was driving out into open countryside now. The spring wheat quite advanced in growth, but still green, reaching for miles in every direction.
There were odd pockets of grazing cattle, looking contented. A peaceful contrast to the tumult going on in Bobby’s brain, his stomach still churning as he realised the enormity of what he had done, and of what he had learned about his Daddy in the last hour or so.
He knew that Jason was a bastard, he had always thought so, but why would he say those things about daddy if they weren’t true. Of course Jason loved it, it was another stick to beat him with, but even so what he had told Bobby made a whole lot of sense. Explained a great deal of things that had never really bothered him, but now seeing them brought into sharp focus helped him to understand much of what had happened while he had been growing up.
Why had it never occurred to him before? Daddy had never had much of an eye for the ladies. He was very good looking too, could have had any one of them. Obvious now, looking back, he just wasn’t interested. What about his “fishing buddy”, Bobby thought they just fished told tall tales and drank too much. Pretty wrong there, he thought. God, what was it men like that did? That was gross. Not his Daddy. Didn’t bear thinking about, made him feel sick just to imagine it. Jeez, why did this have to happen to him? Why couldn’t he have had “normal” parents? None of his friends had to cope with this. He had a dead father, a dead father who had a guilty secret, and who from the sound of it may well have been beaten to death. Add to that an utter bully of a stepfather who he had just knocked out, God Almighty what was he gonna do now?
The afternoon was starting to wear on now and Bobby was feeling hungry. He also realised that he needed to get some more gas for the pick up if he was going to keep driving. The truck mercifully seemed to be running quite well, didn’t want to break down out here.
When he came to the outskirts of a rundown looking country town he decided it was time to find a bank and take some money out of his account. Luckily he found one still open, and was able to withdraw $200. He then went to the rather tacky looking country store next to it and bought some supplies for his journey. He climbed from the dusty street back into the truck and drove around until he found a battered looking gas station just on the road out of town where a surly attendant filled the tank.

A plan was starting to formulate in his mind, he couldn’t stop thinking about what Jason had said about his daddy. Out here on the long road north, with nothing to do but drive and think, the reality of what he had been told started to sink in. His Daddy, the fishing trips, the drinking, Daddy’s friend Ennis. It all made perfect sense. It all rang horribly true. It explained such a lot. But surely those people, those queer guys were awful, and his Daddy hadn’t been awful at all. He had been charming, with a ready smile, kind and encouraging to him, and a good father. No, Daddy hadn’t been a bad man at all. So how could it be true?
Bobby had decided what he was going to do. He had never met his grandparents on his father’s side; they lived on their own ranch way up in the north of Wyoming. Daddy used to go up there every year and stay for a few days to help, but neither Bobby or his mother had ever met them. Daddy always said that his mother was a good woman, although he didn’t ever really get on with his father, and used to say so. Said he could never get anything right for him. Bobby’s plan was to go up to the ranch at Lightning Flat and talk to his grandparents about what his daddy was really like when he was a boy. He wanted to get a picture in his mind, to understand how his father became the way he was. He just wanted to understand, and not to see everything through Jason’s jeering perspective.
It would be a long drive, but Daddy used to regularly drive from Texas to Wyoming, of course Bobby knew why now, but if Daddy could do it, then so could his son!

Bobby put his foot down and kept on driving. It was starting to get dark now, and the countryside was empty and remote. It was just a little scary. He could go to a motel, if there was one, but he hadn’t seen any buildings apart from remote line cabins for quite a while. It looked like he would have to sleep in the pick-up. Good job it was a warm night.
Bobby pulled off the road, ate some of the food he had bought, swigged down some beer from a can, and settled down in the cramped cab for a long uncomfortable night.

It was early when Bobby woke; he felt grubby and creased, with some stubble just starting to show, a crick in the neck and a strong desire for a hot shower. Not much chance of that out here.
He contented himself with taking a piss, eating a chocolate bar or two, and some mouthfuls of fizzy drink. This surely was no way to start the day. The thought of his comfortable home and of clean clothes and a decent breakfast now really had some appeal. Mind you then he thought of Jason, at least he didn’t have to look at his face at the breakfast table out here.
Bobby stretched his legs some more, combed his hair, although there was sure no one to see him, got back in the truck and started to drive.

He had made up his mind to stop in the next settlement he came to and pick up a map. Daddy had told him all about Lightning Flat, and the ranch there, but he knew it was remote even for Wyoming, he didn’t want to be driving unnecessary miles round there all day trying to find the place. The dirt roads up there were often rough and potholed, miles from anywhere, he needed to find that map and make sure he could understand it. Although his reading wasn’t good, he could usually understand the symbols on a map alright.

Bobby was savouring the thought of the consternation he would be causing at home. He knew he shouldn’t have hit Jason, but even so he knew his mother well enough to know she would be pretty concerned regarding his whereabouts.
Bobby was well into Wyoming now, and still driving. He found a roadside diner where he enjoyed himself having a meal, and chatting up the waitress. The Twist good looks were useful for something, and Bobby liked nothing better than a pretty girl. He managed to get a map of the area, and to fill up with more gas. He felt quite the seasoned traveller now, and was proud of the miles he had put behind him. Without Jason and his nagging he would never have made the journey, never have had the sensation of adult maleness that travelling on his own was giving him.
As Bobby’s journey came nearer to it’s conclusion he found himself in more and more desolate countryside. He remembered his father telling him about his childhood in this big empty landscape, with these huge skies. It was both threatening, awe inspiring, and beautiful, Bobby thought as he ate up the miles in the pick up.
Eventually he came to the long washboard road leading to his grandparents place, or at least that was the name on the signboard. He wondered now if he should have let them know he was coming, but too late for that now. It would just have to be a surprise.
The place looked very run down, the two up, two down boarded house, neglected and stark in the empty landscape. Bob pulled into the yard and parked the truck, the front tyres burying themselves into the abundant undergrowth. He opened the door of the pick up, and rather stiffly after his long drive, climbed down on to the stony soil of the ranch yard.

June Twist was having a dreary morning, cleaning the house, dusting, organising. She wondered whether to go out to the barn to see if her husband John was around. They didn’t get on too well, but since their son had left home twenty years ago, he was the only one she could rely on seeing on any given day. The only conversation she was going to get.
Things had got worse in the last few years, ever since Jack, their only child had died. When he was alive and living in Texas he used to come up regularly, at least once a year and stay for a few days. There was no hope now of seeing that handsome face in the doorway. No more of their long soul searching conversations. No more news of Lureen, Jack’s wife and their son Bobby, or of the real love of his life, his buddy Ennis del Mar.
June was surprised when she heard the sound of a truck pulling up and looked out and saw a young man in the yard. What she saw there caused her to gasp, and her hand went to her throat.
Jack!
She said.

Bobby turned round, and looked at the woman coming down the steps of the house towards him. June looked at him aghast as if seeing a ghost. Of course it wasn’t Jack, Jack was dead, but it could almost be her son as a young man, a little different to look at, but that same build, those same searching blue eyes. Bobby looked at her and said one word, “Grandma?”
You’re not Bobby, Jack’s boy?
“Fraid so Grandma.”
“What on earth are you doing all the way up here?”
“I wanted to see you, didn’t seem right us never having met; ‘specially now Daddy’s gone.”
June still looked taken aback, “You’ve driven all the way up here by yourself, it’s 1400 miles?”
“Well Daddy used to do it,” said Bobby, and anything Daddy could do………”
June gazed at this pleasant handsome young man in wonder, could this really be her grandson. She was forgetting herself, “come in the house, I’ll make you some coffee, just made some fruit cake yesterday, would you like a piece?” You’ll need to wash and clean up too, been driving all that time”.
“Yeah, Grandma, I probably don’t look my best, had to sleep in the pick up last night.” “Don’t worry about that son, you’ll do for me, come and have something to drink and sit awhile, and we’ll go and see if we can find your Grandpa, he’s off seeing to the stock somewhere, I ain’t seen him all mornin’.”

Bobby liked this kindly lady, he could see they were goin’ a get on fine, didn’t know about Grandpa though, Dad had never had too many good words to say about him.

Bobby followed his Grandma into the house taking care to wipe his boots. It was very stark inside, very bare, but also very clean, and he did not want to make her angry by making a mess. She soon presented him with a very welcome cup of coffee, and some cake, nice to have some female attention again after his hard driving.
“Good to see you, after all these years. I always hoped your Daddy would bring you up, but it was a long way to bring a child, and then when you were older he didn’t want to interrupt your schooling. Anyway he used to come up after he’d been fishing with his friend Ennis, he wouldn’t have taken you out there with him.”
Bobby thought to himself, not what they were probably up to, but forbore to ask the question just yet; after all he had only just arrived.
“If you want to get washed and changed we can put you up in your Daddy’s old room, there’s still some of his clothes up there, if they’d be useful, you look about the same size to me.”

Bobby went up to the bare little room that was all his Daddy knew for a home as a boy. The road fading into the distance through the window, the road his Daddy dreamed as a boy would take him away from Lightning Flat. He got a wash and a shave, put some of Daddy’s old clothes on, which were at least clean, and went back downstairs, to talk to grandma.

“What made you decide to come and see us now? It’s a long drive, and we didn’t know you were coming.” “Well Grandma, Bobby decided to be honest; I’m in a bit of a fix. My step Daddy, well he’s been needling me for months because I can’t read and spell real well, and then he said some things about Daddy I didn’t like, so I punched him. I didn’t mean to hurt him that much, but he hit the deck, and I didn’t want to be there when he picked himself up, so I ran. Then when I got on the road I decided to come up here and say hello to you and Grandpa, hope you don’t mind.”

There was a clattering in the yard and Bobby looked out the window, it was to be his first glimpse of his grandfather. June jumped out of her seat and out of the door at the first sight of her husband. She really didn’t want him to come inside and say something rude and inappropriate to this grandson she had only just met. She knew from long experience that he was quite capable
“We’ve got a visitor John!” “Huh! What’s that, who would come all the way up here to see us?”
“Our grandson, Bobby, he’s driven all the way up here from Childress, on his own, just to see us. Now John you be nice to him an’ all. We don’t want to drive him away again.”
“Well, I’ll try, but I hope he’s a better man that that Goddamn son of ours his father was.”
“John! How can you speak like that? He was our son and I loved him. Don’t speak ill of the dead.”
John looked a little pensive, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to upset you, I’ll be nice.” June knew from long experience that she couldn’t guarantee that, not with her husband. Mean old bastard.

Bobby jumped up when his grandfather came through the door, stopping on the threshold to take off his muddy boots. Daddy had told him many stories about this old man, and Bobby was keen to introduce himself, yet still to stay on his good side. Grandma Twist was an angel, but from all accounts this old man was the very devil.
Hi Grandpa, said Bobby extending a hand, which was grudgingly accepted.
“Took your time coming up, we been waiting all your life,” said John Twist with a hard stare. “Suppose you want something”!
“No Grandpa, I am in a bit of a fix, but really I just came up to say hello. I don’t want nothin’.”
Just told Grandma, I decked my step Daddy, but all I want from you is to talk to you about my Daddy, get acquainted and maybe stay over for a day or two. I could give you a hand on the ranch, just like Daddy used to do.”
“Well that would always be welcome, boy!” I can’t get regular help up here. I used to like it when your Daddy came up.

The three of them sat stony faced around the plain wooden table in that bare kitchen, on the solitude of the northern plains. For a while there was no sound except for the drinking of coffee, and the ticking of the clock.
At last June broke the silence, “we sure do miss your Daddy. When he came up here it was the highlight of my year, loved to see that smiling face.” “Well I sure miss him,” said Bobby wistfully.” I got this fool Jason to call Daddy now. He’s been saying things about my Daddy too, things I don’t like.
“Is that why you hit him?” said Grandma.
“Could be”, said Bobby.
“What was he saying?”
“He said my Daddy was queer.” Bobby forced out the word. Only thing is I think it might be true.”
“What if it was” said June?
“Oh it was,” said John, too damn special for us, Jack had to be different.
“You that way, boy”?
“God no” said Bobby, “I love women”.
“Well heaven be praised for that” said John looking relieved. June just sat looking uncomfortable and not daring to contradict her husband. Perhaps she thought, they should change the subject, she could always talk to Bobby later. Tell him, as if he didn’t know, what a fine man his Daddy really was.
John Twist broke the silence by asking Bobby if he would like a look round and see the stock. Bobby said yes, although he was much more interested
In heavy machinery than stock, but he wanted to humour the old man.

After a walk round the rundown ranch, Bobby and his grandfather went back to the house. Grandma had some sort of beef stew cooking on the stove, which smelled delicious.
The three of them sat around the kitchen table for supper, and Bobby had to say Grandma sure could cook, or was it just that after his long drive he was very hungry.
After supper they went into the small sitting room, where John Twist promptly fell asleep. After a while when June was sure he was fast asleep, and looked as if he would be for sometime, she whispered to Bobby, who wasn’t quite sure what he was supposed to do with his evening, “come into the kitchen, I’ll put some coffee on, and you can tell me what you want to know about your Daddy.”
Bobby was suddenly very alert; this was what he had driven 1400 miles for.
He felt sorry for Grandma, she was such a good woman, yet she spent so much of her time trying not to antagonise her husband, although as far as Bobby could see she did nothing that could possibly be provocative.

With cups of coffee in front of them, and warmly ensconced back in the ranch kitchen it was time for the frank discussion that Bobby hoped would at last help him to answer some of the questions that had been troubling him about his Daddy.
“What you and Grandpa said earlier, Jason was right then, Daddy was queer.”
“Is that a problem for you then” said Grandma.
“Well………….I didn’t know before.”
“Did you get on well with your Daddy?”
“Oh yes, I really miss him,”
June gave him a thoughtful look, “Do you think he was a good man?” Bobby didn’t hesitate, “Well, I always thought he was.”
Grandma tried again, “Do you think we were pleased when we found out about him?”
“No, I suppose not.” said Bobby. “Your Grandpa has never forgiven him, even now he’s gone.”
“I couldn’t see it myself, he was a good man, he was my son, I loved him, he was good to me, who he chose to love didn’t really affect me.”
“Did you really not mind?”
“I gave birth to him, he didn’t change, he was my little boy, he told me all sorts of things, I couldn’t not love him because of it.”
Bobby felt a pang of anger with his Daddy, “he didn’t have to marry my Momma, if he knew he was that way, and you knew he was that way, why did he have to do that? She’s a good Mom, she didn’t deserve that.”
“She was expecting you when they got married. At least be grateful for that, he might not have ever had a child otherwise. It was when he was on the rodeo circuit; I think your mom took a fancy to him. They got on well, they were good friends, I just don’t think he ever loved her, he was already in love with someone else by then”!

“It was his fishing buddy Ennis wasn’t it Grandma?”
“Yes, Bobby, it was.
From the time they first met when they were herding sheep up on Brokeback Mountain, he never stopped talking about him. He used to come up here after their trips together, he hated leaving him, but they were so happy together. I couldn’t take that away from him. It broke my heart that they couldn’t live together. He was always going to bring Ennis up here to work the ranch, I don’t think Ennis knew about it though” she smiled at this thought. She knew her son and his dreams.
“Ennis would never risk it, I think your daddy would have, your daddy was very brave in that way, but Ennis wouldn’t, and so they just got on with their lives and met up when they could.”

“I always thought that your Mom would have worked it out before she did, but of course they had you to bring up, so perhaps she closed her eyes to it.”
Bobby was still feeling shell shocked by all this information. A week ago he knew nothing of this, now he had to face up to revelation after revelation.
Bobby had learned something else from this trip, this chat, something else he had never realised. That was just how close his Daddy had been to his own mother. He had never talked to his Mom in this way. It made him resolve to do something about that fact when he got back to Childress. If he was going to influence Jason into being at least a little more understanding of him, it would be good to have his Mom on side.

The next words that June spoke brought Bob up with a jolt, “We met him once, Ennis del Mar, he came up here after your Daddy died!”
“What”? “Yes he came up here to see if he could scatter your Daddy’s ashes on Brokeback Mountain.”
“Of course Grandpa wouldn’t let him, wanted him in the family plot.”

“What was he like, Ennis del Mar?” Bobby was really trying to understand here.
“Well he seemed a good man to me, he was in tears, a lot of the time he was here, I’m sure he truly loved your Daddy, and for a long time.”
“Grandpa wouldn’t let him have the ashes, but there was something he could take away, I let him find some old shirts they wore up on Brokeback, had blood all over the sleeve. Your Daddy kept them up in his room here for twenty years. Wouldn’t let me touch them, or wash them, or put them away.
I knew they were there, I knew they meant something important to him, so I just left them alone. Whatever it was they meant, I know Ennis knew it too.
He brought them downstairs, I gave them to him; they seemed to mean a hell of a lot. He was in tears when he brought them down”.

Bobby looked a little incredulous “I thought queer men just made out together, I didn’t realise they could love each other like that. It’s an idea I have to get used to.”
“I promise you Bobby, your Daddy was a good man, he really loved Ennis, and he made that quite clear to me. I think you are right; he should never have misled your mom. But believe me; you were lucky to have had my Jack for a Daddy.”

One final thing was rankling with Bobby, “Do you know how my Daddy died?”
Grandma looked distressed, “No, they said it was an accident, I think he liked to play around a little, he missed Ennis so much when he couldn’t see him, I don’t know if that had anything to do with it, I prefer to think it was an accident, I don’t think we’re ever really gonna know. I do know that not being able to live with Ennis was really eating him up though.”

“Another coffee Bob?”
“Yes please Grandma,” Bob had certainly got some things to think about now. Why hadn’t he realised, the signs were all there, he was not giving himself any lee way here, after all he had only been seventeen when Daddy died, why should he have understood all this? He decided to blame himself anyway.

“How are you now Grandma, you must miss him real bad, as much as I do?
I never realised how close you were. You knew all of this and I didn’t.”
“Yes, but I was his mother.”
“I was his son!”
“But look how young you were, how were you supposed to understand all this stuff.”
“I understand it now,” said Bob with just a trace of bitterness.

“Would you be able to take me into town tomorrow, Bob? I need some supplies and I think it’s time we found a pay phone so you can at least tell your mom and Jason where you are, that you’re safe and well. Your Momma must be going out of her mind, remember, its not that many years since your Daddy didn’t come home that day.”
“Oh God, I hadn’t thought of that, I have been a bit selfish, I was so mad at Jason I didn’t really think that through.”
“Well we can put that right tomorrow; I thought we could visit the cemetery where your Daddy’s ashes are, half of his fathers ashes were in Childress cemetery, the other half were sent back to his parents, we could visit on the way back. You can pay your respects.

The two of them went back into the sitting room; the old man was just stirring.
“You two had a nice chat?”
“Yes Grandpa, you had a good sleep?” “Yes son, I’m getting too old to run this ranch all on my own, gets me a bit fatigued.”
“Grandma and me, we’re going into town tomorrow, I can help you when we get back.”
“Sure son, I’d like that, that’s one thing I do miss your Daddy for.”

Bob lay in his Daddy’s old bed, it was very strange, he imagined his Daddy there; the room was so plain and bare, nothing like their home in Childress.
In some respects Daddy had made a better life for himself, in another way perhaps he would have rather have been here, out on the plains and have had his lover with him.
Bob settled down with everything he had learned in the past day streaming through his mind, his stomach was pretty much in knots, but he still felt that this had been a good day, a day when he had learned a lot about his family and about life. Finally, he slept.

The next morning was fine and dry but with the ever present plains wind blowing. The old man was already at work, but Bob had breakfast with grandma, and they chatted pleasantly about the affairs of the day. She presented him with his own clothing, newly washed and ironed. Bob was relieved there were no further revelations, was he finally on solid emotional ground?

Bob enjoyed it when Grandma climbed into his pick up, he was driving, he had responsibilities; he felt like the young man he was, he was not going to think of himself as a boy any more.
They drove through the winding dirt roads into town, it was quite a long way, and Bob wondered how Grandma could stand to live out there with only Grandpa for company.
The town was pleasant enough, a small place, Grandma saw a few ladies she knew, stopped for a chat. Introduced Bob as her grandson. She seemed pretty proud of him. That made a change.

Bob found a payphone and dialled his home number, please be Mom that answers, please be Mom that answers, he said over and over again under his breath. He was in luck; it was his Momma’s voice,
“Hi Mom, it’s me Bob,”
“Oh my goodness” said his mom, “where are you, we’ve been worried sick,” “I’m up at Grandma and Grandpa’s at Lightning Flat. Grandma’s been looking after me well; I’m sleeping in Daddy’s old room.”
“You didn’t drive all the way up there in that old pickup?”
“Oh yes I did, enjoyed it too! How’s Jason,” said Bob with caution.
“He’s pretty mad with you, but he’s OK, no lasting damage. I’ll get him calmed down by the time you get back. You are coming back?”
“Oh yeah, I’ll be back, but you can tell him I don’t want to hear any more about my writing and spelling, I can’t help being dyslexic any more than he can help having red hair. So I’m a little different to him, doesn’t make me any less valuable.”
“No of course not Bobby, you know I love you,” “by the way Mom, can you call me Bob now. I think I like it better”!
“Look I’ll talk to Jason for you, you just get back here as soon as you can, and for God’s sake Bob, drive carefully!”
Bob decided to try out some independence “I’ll see you in a couple of days; I’m goin’ to help Grandpa a little on the ranch for a while”.
A great understanding of his Daddy and of being just that little bit different to everyone else washed over him. He knew now how Daddy had felt being queer in this small town. Not that different to being dyslexic in the J. D. Newsome Farm Machinery business!

On the way back to the ranch Grandma directed him to the small fenced burial plot where his father’s ashes had been interred. He had bought a few flowers in a little gardening store in town, nothing special, but a splash of colour on that bare and empty plain. He and Grandma walked over to the family plot, there were Twist’s going back several generations, Bob found it uncomfortable to see his own family name on a gravestone. It made him shudder just a little. He left the flowers where Daddy’s ashes were scattered, and stood silently for a moment thinking of this man who he had known so well, and hadn’t known at all.
“Grandma, don’t it seem a shame to you that half of daddy’s ashes are here, and half down in Childress, it seems to me that he was torn apart for most of his life, and now he’s torn apart after it?”
“I hadn’t thought about it like that, but yes that is rather sad. I think what he really wanted was to have Ennis scatter his ashes up on Brokeback Mountain, but your Grandpa would never allow it.”
Bob winced at the unforgiving nature of his Grandpa, how could he be like that with his own son, whatever he had done.
But that was the way he was, he didn’t suppose he would change now.

When they drew into the ranch yard, grandpa was waiting for Bob, “thought you might like to help me with some fencing” said Grandpa.
“Sure, I’d like to,” Bob wasn’t sure he meant that, but it would be a chance to get to know his Grandpa a little better.
They set off on a tractor with a small trailer, full of fence posts, nails, hammers, fencing wire. Bob was more interested in the tractor which looked pretty antique to him, he didn’t say anything though. John started on his usual rant, “I have to do everything out here, I can never get any help,” “have you tried giving them a decent house to live in and paying a little over the odds, that might work” said Bob, expecting to get struck by lightning.
“I don’t like the idea, but you might have a point, son. I sure can’t do everything myself anymore. Especially now I haven’t even got your Daddy.” “Well, I’ll be up again, but if you get it organised I’ll put the word around for you, there ain’t that much good ranch work around. It never pays too well either.”
It suddenly occurred to Bob that maybe he had inherited a little of his Momma’s business brain after all. At least the old man hadn’t laughed at him.
Bob supposed that this ranch would be his one day; perhaps it would be a good idea to take an interest in the business. It would be another string to his bow, and something to hit Jason with. He wasn’t giving up on either venture.
It was then he had a revelation, if Grandpa could hire staff, then so could he, he was going to find some pretty young lady with good English and a head for figures to come in for some time each day to do his paperwork for him. He was not gonna be stopped by being a little different. He’d be like Daddy, just smile and work around it.
Although he hadn’t expected it, Bob and Grandpa worked together quite companionably for the rest of the afternoon. Bob was surprised how much he enjoyed it, but then he’d always enjoyed practical work.
He resolved to stay for another day, and then return home to face the music. He felt so much better now, he’d found out so much about his family, his father and himself in the last few days. He wouldn’t lose his temper with Jason again. He was not prepared to be wound up now. He knew the score. He would never again listen to derogatory remarks about his father, he knew the truth now, his father had been a good man, and was worthy of the love he had always felt for him. He would not feel guilty about his reading, writing and spelling either, no matter what Jason said or did.
Bob also knew what a fine woman he had in his Grandmother. It was a good thing that his mother had found happiness with Jason, but that did not mean that Jason was going to undermine his own position either in the family or in the company.
Bob stayed for another day, talking to Grandma, and helping with more jobs around the ranch. He cut down some of the undergrowth in the yard, and painted the tractor shed doors with some warm russet coloured paint.
Grandma made him a special meal on his last night, although Bob had come to the conclusion by then that all her meals were pretty special.
He had tears in his eyes the next morning after breakfast when it was time for him to leave for home. Grandma and Grandpa wished him safe journey and he contemplated the long journey ahead of him. He was trying to remember where the diner was that he had stopped at on the way up, wondered if that pretty waitress was still around……..!

Aug. 23rd, 2006

Out

This is a short story I have written about some of the characters created by Annie Proulx in her fabulous piece Brokeback Mountain. I have attempted to bring it up to the present day, and to give the character of Ennis del Mar just a little more redemption and peace of mind than he had in the original story.
It is not erotic, and is suitable for anyone of 13 years and up.


Out

A short story by Janjo

Ennis del Mar woke at about 7.00. It seemed strange, still, after his early rising all those years. when he had stock to take care of he rose at 5.00 regularly, now he was older, he had the luxury of some time to think.
There were times when he did not want to leave his dreams, it was all such a long time ago now, but his dreams of Jack were as strong as ever. He had never been a religious man, but he couldn't help but hope that if there was an afterlife, he would meet Jack again there, and they could be together in the way that they never had been able to in this life.

He was well settled here, he was on the plains of Wyoming, a place he had always loved. Loved the remoteness of it the silence, to be surrounded by growing crops, to see the grazing stock, to see how well they had done under his care.
He was living in a one storey house, timber clad, simple but with everything he needed. Old man Anderson, up at the ranch, half a mile away along the dirt road had taken to him when he first came, over twenty years ago now.
They got on well, understood each other. He had respect for Ennis's knowledge of stock, for his devotion to his responsibilities. he knew a good worker when he saw one. Mrs Anderson was a good woman too, always kind. She sometimes dropped in on Ennis with home made cherry cake, even when he had not worked there long, but she knew he lived alone, and seemed inclined to mother him, even though in truth she was only a little older than he was, something he appreciated. His own mother had died so long ago, that kind of caring was a little foreign to him. He appreciated her care all the same.

He was practically retired now, as were the Andersons, their son Mathew was the boss man these days, but the old man still liked to interfere, give him advice. Matt took the meddling easy, he seemed to respect his fathers opinion, just as he always respected Ennis' opinion. Ennis got the impression that he knew these two old men had been at this game a long time, they knew their stuff. There were new things to learn all the time, but sometimes old ways and experience came in useful.
The old man had insisted that Ennis could stay in his little house, even after he retired. He had worked hard all his life, they were friends, and he told Ennis that the house was his for as long as he needed it. There was a paddock out at the side where he grazed his horses, couldn't give them up even now. Needed to have a horse about the place!

Ennis got out of bed, and looked out of the window, grey, cold wind blowing, nothing to trouble him though.
He went to the battered bedroom closet, took out some underwear, an old shirt and a pair of jeans. The shirts were still there, his silent message of love from Jack, the most precious things he owned. two shirts that had taught him what love was. No, he thought, Jack had taught him what love was, the shirts were just a reminder to make sure he never forgot it!

Ennis dressed and went into the bare kitchen to put some coffee on. He wondered what today would bring; he was going to to look at some "in calf heifers"  later in the afternoon.As far as he knew the morning was his own.

He wondered if he would hear from his daughters today. There were times; times when he had longed to be with Jack, but had instead been with Alma, when he thought his early marriage had been the biggest mistake of his life, but he couldn't really convince himself of that now. Not when he saw his two fine strong daughters, and his precious grandchildren. Now that Jack was gone, they were the main source of love in his life, and he thanked God for them everyday.

Aa Ennis was cooking some ham and eggs for breakfast, the phone rang. It was his daughter Alma Jr, more like him than his ex wife he always thought, they had always been close. He hadn't always been there for her when she was a child, but somehow they seemed to understand each other. "Hi! Daddy, how are you?" said Alma. "Uh, me, I'm OK," Ennis almost grunted, he wasn't awake yet. "I've got a problem with Robert", Robert was her youngest son, "I'm sending him over to see you later," he'll tell you what it's about. I told him it was something you knew a lot about, I thought if anyone could advise him it would be you, what with me being on my own and all".
Alma's husband Kurt had died in an oil rig fire five years before. They had been happy together, she took it hard, but she coped, she had a hard life, but she brought her kids up well, and she never gave up.
Robert was her youngest boy, he was nineteen years old, and she had another boy, and an older girl. Ennis was close to all of them, but he had high hopes of Robert, he seemed to have a way with stock, just as he had as a young man, didn't have to be taught just came naturally.

It was later that morning when Ennis was cleaning up after seeing to the horses that he heard the sound of Robert's pick up on the gravel, the loud "thunk" of the door as he climbed out and closed it behind him.
Robert was tall and fair haired, a lot like Ennis to look at, he had Kurt's green eyes though. Ennis was pleased to see that. Kurt had been a good man, it seemed only fitting that there was some some part of him still left on this earth.
He knew Alma Jr  thought so.
"Hi! Grandpa, how are you?" "How are the horses?"
"They seem to be doing fine, how about you, your Ma said on the phone you had a problem." Robert winced, Ennis looked at him and said "that bad eh, come in the house, let's put some coffee on and you can tell me about it."
"Grandpa, I don't want to tell anyone about it, I don't want to talk about it, I'm only here because if I wasn't I know Ma will tell you, and it's probably better coming from me. I'll tell you what though, I don't think you'll be wanting much to do with me after this."
"I shouldn't bank on that, Rob, not much in this life I haven't seen. Come on in the house, I think we had better put some whiskey in that coffee."

Ennis and Robert walked towards the rear door of the house, removing their hats, and wiping the dust from their boots as they went inside. it seemed dark after the plains light outside, even though it was a blustery autumn day. Ennis made coffee in two thick china mugs. Robert pulled out one of the solid wooden kitchen chairs. Nothing fancy at Grandpa's he thought.
"Well boy, what you done? Robbed a bank?" "Worse, or at least you'll think so!" "God, Robert, you look terrified, what do you think I'm going to do to you?"
"You might hate me", Robert muttered. "I doubt it", said Ennis, pouring a generous slug of whiskey into both Robert's mug and his own.
Ennis rested his hand on his grandson's forearm, "come on, tell me, it can't be that bad."
Robert gulped, the whiskey was starting to kick in now, better do it and get it over with.
"Grandpa, do you know what the word 'gay' means?"
"Yeah! Reckon I do, it was 'queer' though in my day."
"Would you hate someone who was that way?"
No! Don't reckon I would."
"Why, Rob is that what you are?"

"Yes Grandpa, I think I must be, I do my best with women, but it just don't seem right."
"Anyway. I had my friend Mike over last night. Ma was out, gone to see her friend Molly's new baby or something. Mike and me, we started playing around, and then we started kissing, undoing buttons, Grandpa nothin' ever seemed so right. "

"Well then Ma walked in. I have never been so embarrassed in my life. Didn't know what to do with myself. Mike turned beetroot red, and shot off home as soon as he could, still tucking his shirt in as he headed for the door, left me to face Ma on my own."

Ennis gave Robert a slow smile. "What did she say?" "Well, she wasn't best pleased, but I expected her to give me a really good whipping, she didn't though, just said, "I'm goin' to get you to talk to your Granpda about this."

"I don't understand why she wanted me to come over here, but I knew she'd talk to you about it, and that's why I ended up here this morning.

"She said to ask you about Jack Twist!"

A cold icy fear gripped Ennis heart, an icy fear he used to feel for the greater part of the time, when he was a younger man, then it subsided, and was replaced by a warming glow. Alma Jr knew! She knew! How long had she known? She had still sent her son over to see him. She must have known for years, and yet she still loved and respected him.
If Alma Jr knew, then it was an odds on bet that Francine knew too, they told each other everything.
What was happening here?

A whole lot of things that Ennis had always believed just floated away after Jack died.
Was everything else just starting to float away too.
All of Ennis certainties came to hit him in the face.
He knew what he was, had always known since his and Jack's time up on Brokeback. He had never known lovemaking as it was with Jack. But for years he had tried to deny it to himself. When Jack died, he knew how much he had loved, and been loved by that man, he had to admit to himself then that he was "queer". But as far as his girls were concerned he had always hoped they didn't know.
Perhaps they had worked it out for themselves, they did meet Jack once, perhaps his ex wife had told them, she guessed, not difficult for a wife to guess a thing like that, but had she told his beloved girls?

"Robert has your Ma ever said anything to you about me and Jack?"
"No, don't think so". At least the whole family aren't talking about me then, thought Ennis wearily, what was it  Jack had said  "nobody's business but ours", too damn right it wasn't!
"Shall I tell you about Jack  then?"
"Listen to this good, then boy; me and Jack Twist loved each other for twenty years. There's never been anyone else for me, not Grandma Alma, not anyone.

Robert looked stunned; his own problems dwarfed by the revelations coming from the lips of this old man.
His own beloved Grandpa was gay.
It's a hard thing to take in for a young man; old people are not supposed to have sexual lives, let alone to have experienced the same thing that he was going through.

"What happened to Jack then, Grandpa?" Ennis became misty eyed at this, "He died Rob. Never knew for sure how it happened, his wife said it was an accident with a tyre rim, came off the wheel, and hit him in the face, choked  on his own blood at the roadside. I dunno, I always thought the queer haters got him. He lived down in Texas, we didn't see each other as often as we would have liked. He knew I hated it, but I know he saw other men; I think he got lonely when I wasn't with him. I think someone saw him one too many times and took a tyre iron to him.
I don't think the police would have looked into things properly then.
Not in 1983.
What's another dead queer?"

"Oh! Grandpa I didn't know!"
"Didn't you never wonder why I lived on my own?"
"I just thought you liked your own company."
"I do Rob, I just like to be by myself with  the animals, they don't judge.
But no one can ever replace Jack for me, never wanted anyone else."

Ennis poured a little more whiskey into his own and Rob's coffee.
Robert still looked shocked at his grandfathers revelations, but somehow relieved that he was not alone with his difficulties.
His mother had known Grandpa would understand.

Ennis gave him a slow smile, trying to be reassuring, "now this Mike, tell me about him, is he just a friend, or are there things you aren't telling me?"

Robert looked uncomfortable again, come on, I've told you things I've never told anyone, talk to me."
"It's hard to talk about Grandpa; I don't know what to say."

"Last night did it really just happen, or was it something you've been hoping on for a long time?"
"Oh Grandpa, I've been dreaming of it for ages, just didn't know until last night that he felt the same, was the same as me."
"So your Ma coming home, wasn't the best thing that ever happened to you?"
"You can say that again."
"Might have got really embarrassing if you had got further along with it", said Ennis smiling.
"Grandpa, I didn't come round to see you so you could laugh at me."
"Sorry Rob, I just remembered a few times with Jack when we wouldn't have wanted to be disturbed."
Ennis fixed Rob with a look, and said
"What's this Mike like, good looking?"
Robert smiled shyly.
"Oh yeah, he's good looking, makes me laugh a lot too."
"Well that seems like a good start!"

"You still need to be careful in that world out there. I know things are better now than they were in me and Jack's day. But Jack was killed, and other men were killed for being like us, when I was a boy."
Ennis was remembering being taken by his father to see the body of Earl, a rancher who had lived with another man down near Sage where he was brought up. He'd been beaten to death for it, Ennis wondered sometimes if his father had something to do with it. Ennis understood now that what the sight of that body had done to him, and he wasn't about to unload that on to the boy. Seeing that body had locked his heart with fear, had stopped him living with his beloved Jack all those years, when there was nothing he wanted more.
The sight of Earl's smashed and broken body still haunted him. the thought of Jack, beaten and smashed to death tightened his stomach into knots, but these days he tried to think of the good times.
Strange how when someone has been dead for a long time you start  remembering the happy times you had together, some of the pain goes out of it. Good thing too, if you are going to survive. 
He had his children and grandchildren, and Robert in particular this morning, to think of now.

"It frightens me that something could happen to you. Just be cautious, this isn't the big city. There are still a whole lot of ignorant and evil people around, especially in these little out of the way country communities."
"You want to make sure you don't  catch nothing too, we don't want to lose you, lost too many people what with Jack and your Daddy and all."

Robert decided to change the subject a little, he wasn't in the mood to start talking about sexual precautions now, he felt he had revealed more than enough about himself. Perhaps it was time to find out more about a grandfather he now realised had a whole new dimension to him he hadn't known about.
"Grandpa, tell me about Jack, what was he like, was he handsome?"
Ennis went into a reverie, some place of his own for a while, and then said,"handsomest man I ever saw! Dark hair, bluest eyes in the world, I still remember the first time I set eyes on him, wearing a blue shirt and jeans, I was your age then, didn't know I was queer, just thought he was the prettiest thing I ever saw. Hard for you, or me to imagine it now, but he said the same thing about me.
He was very kind too, looked after me, gave me a hug when I was down, that sort of thing, only person apart from your Ma, that really knew what made me tick.
We had some good laughs too; we just hit it off in every way.
I didn't know what to do when I met Jack, ranch hands are not supposed to feel that way about each other, even if they do sometimes.
I couldn't see round it, thoght I'd be going to hell for sure, but whenever I saw Jack, there was no resisting it, no resisting him.
In the end I knew there was no way I could keep my hands off him, or stop loving him.

I let him down though. i failed him, he wanted us to live together, I just  couldn't see how that could be. I was so frightened someone would find out about us, and one of us would get killed.
Well one of us did, and I wasn't there for him when he needed me. If I'd gone along with his plans, perhaps he'd still be alive now. I could have done it, I should have done it, we could have had such a sweet life together, all I've got now is my own company and you kids.

"You've never really wanted anyone else then Grandpa?"
No, nobody can replace Jack for me. I go to down to the bar in town sometimes, some good looking young men down there, sometimes I watch them play pool. Just pretty pictures to me though. I know I'm a silly old fool, but there's no replacing Jack for me."

"You said you and Jack never lived together."  "No, I wouldn't do it, too scared I suppose. I didn't want to be the joke of town. Didn't want to be dead."
"How did you keep it going then? "
"We just met up for a week or two every few months, went horse packing in the mountains, told our wives we were fishing buddies."
Think they might even have believed it for a while, at least I think Jack's wife did, don't know about Grandma Alma though. I think she always had her suspicions.
We didn't do too much fishing on those trips though, not when we hadn't seen each other for months. it was all we could do to wait until we got the Goddamn tent up". Ennis chuckled to himself as the memories came flooding back.

"Where did you meet him?"
"We herded sheep up on Brokeback Mountain one summer, 1963. Worked for a guy called Joe Aguirre, miserable old bastard. He's dead now. his son Andy took over the business; he's no better from what I've heard. Don't you go and work for him, not unless they've got another Jack Twist for you to go up there with, or are you thinking of taking Mike."
Ennis chuckled.
Robert thought he had never seen his Grandfather so relaxed.
"Might be an idea at that, Grandpa, at least Ma wouldn't find us up there."

Ennis looked a little more choked up, as he said, "best summer of my life, that time up on Brokeback with Jack. The sheep were a bit of work, but we were up there on our own, did our own cooking and washing. We talked and drank whiskey in the evenings, and then some nights when we could, we shared a tent, made love all night. Beautiful place, you could see for miles. I've never been so happy. Just me and Jack. I've wanted to be be back there with him every day since we came down. "

"Will you be seeing your Mike again? Or is he too embarrassed?
"I phoned him this morning, he's happy to see me, it's Ma he's worried about facing."

"Well, Rob, you could buy yourself a tent."

"Seriously, do you think this thing with Mike is going anywhere?"
"I don't know, I think it might."
"You boys are so different to us, another world. Me and Jack couldn't even admit to each other we was queer.
When I look back now, I don't know what we thought we were doing if we wasn't. but it was the fear, someone would find out, no one would speak to you; they'd all be laughing behind your backs.
I know I should have lived with him and taken the risk. At least we would have been able to look out for each other."

"You promise me you won't make the mistakes I did. I should have spent my life with Jack, if I had perhaps you'd be talking to two of us now. He tried to tell me, I wouldn't listen. I just couldn't see how it could be. I was as wrong about that as I have ever been about anything in my life."

But Grandpa, you're the first person I'd always come to if I wanted to know anything about anything. You know all about animals and trees, and birds, and everything that grows, I always thought you really understood life.

Ennis reached out and touched his grandson's hand, "That may be so, but it was Jack who really taught me about life. I used to lie to myself, told myself I wasn't queer, even tried going out with a woman again, I just wanted to be the same as everyboby else.
What did that acheive? I made myself miserable; I made her miserable, and nearly broke Jack's heart.
That's what you've got to realise Rob. We ain't the same as everybody else. Yes, there's millions like us, but we are just that little bit different, and some folks will hate you for it.
You've just got to be proud of what you are, don't have to shout about it, unless you want to, but it's no good pretending to be what you're not. It don't work, I should know."

"I don't think I ever heard you say so much as you have this morning, Grandpa."  "Oh, I'm OK once I get going", Ennis laughed, again, seemed to be thinking back once more.
"Robert, can I show you something, something I've never shown anyone else in my whole life. Something I got from Jack. His mother made sure I found them when I went up to see his folks after Jack died. "Sure Grandpa." Robert was curious, what on earth had Grandpa got to show him now; Ennis put his hands on his knees and pushed himself into a standing position. "Come with me," he led the way into his small bare bedroom. Robert noticed he had made the bed, but the room had no decorative touches, just a functional place to sleep.
Ennis went over to the closet where he kept his clothes, and opened the door, there suspended from a hanger were two old shirts and a postcard.
Robert looked more closely at the picture, it was old and faded, but he could clearly read the caption at the bottom. Brokeback Mountain, Wyoming.
Then he looked at the shirts, one hung inside the other, with the sleeves worked down inside each other. There were blood stains all along the sleeves.
Ennis had tears pouring down his face now.
Robert was a bit puzzled at the significance of all this, but was so moved by the state of his grandfather that he spoke very quietly.
"Explain this to me Grandpa", he said, resting a hand on the old mans arm.
That's the working shirts me and Jack  wore up on Brokeback. When we came down from the mountain I couldn't find mine, the plaid one, thought I'd left it up there. Me and Jack went our seperate ways then. I went back to Riverton, married your Grandma, Jack went rodeoing in Texas.
It was my fault. I was still trying to pretend nothing was happening.
I was a damn fool.
Well, four years later Jack found me and we started it all up again. Thank God!
After Jack died I went up to Lightning Flat to the ranch to see his people. His Ma wanted me to go up to his room, so I did, nearly broke my heart to see it. 
I found these two shirts, just  tucked at the end of his clothes closet, mine and his, blood all over the sleeves, where we had a fight on that last day on the mountain. I didn't want to leave him. He caught me on the nose, blood everywhere, he tried to mop me up with his shirt, what did I do, punched him and laid him out on his back.
Don't you ever do that with your Mike. I fretted about that for four years, thought it might be why he took so long to get in touch.
Anyways, I didn't worry too much about the lost shirt, but twenty years later, after Jack died, I found them in his closet, up at Lightning Flat.
He'd kept them for twenty years, as a souvenir of our time up there on that mountain. Of how much he loved me, right from the start, right to the end.
So I brought them home with me, his Ma seemed pleased I should have them.
I've treasured them ever since.
If I hadn't tried to fool myself, perhaps we would have been together now.
Ennis was weeping openly.
It was all my fault."

Robert put an arm round his grandfather's shoulder. "No one else has ever heard that story. I'd be glad if you didn't spread it around."
Robert didn't know what to say, his Grandpa still had tears rolling down his cheeks.
Ennis smiled shyly, even though he was still so distressed. "I am so happy you came to see me today Rob."
"You don't look it Grandpa; I thought it was me that had the problem when I come up here."
"Oh it's not a problem now, just so wonderful to have someone to talk to about Jack, someone who has some chance of understanding what I feel about it."

Ennis was starting to get himself together now. "I'm going to look at some heifers this afternoon, want a bite to eat and come down there with me?"
You don't hate me then," said Rob with a smile. "You know I don't!  Some people will though, you still gotta be careful. But don't  throw what you got away. I don't know if this Mike is the one for you, but when you find him you hang on to him! 
You can't ever get those wasted years back."

Do you want me to speak to your Ma, or will you tell her what we talked about? If you do it, don't tell her too much. It's between you and me, we got an understanding."
"Don't worry Grandpa, I'll do it."

"Mike from ranch people?"
"Yes Grandpa, he is."
"Would you like to come up again next week, and bring Mike?
I could show you both round if you think he'd be interested. "
"Well I could ask him."

Ennis turned on the stove and started to prepare some burgers and rolls for a quick bite to eat. He was humming to himself now, something he only ever did when he was feeling particularly content with life. His tears had dried now, leaving him with a happy if rather wistful glow of remembrance.
"Make some coffee Rob, while I do this."

Ennis looked through the window, and noticed that the day had lightened a little, the grey lowering clouds of earler,  just a little dispersed.

Ennis and Robert ate their lunch, and then donning their hats, and warm jackets started to walk down the rough dirt road to the ranch buildings. A keen wind was still blowing across the plains, but Ennis said "it didn't bother him none."
Robert was striding ahead on his long, strong legs. Ennis bringing up the rear, smiled quietly to himself. He looked fondly ahead to his young grandson, and he knew he would never be entrely on his own again, would never have to pretend quite so much to be something he wasn't.

As he strode along he said to himself and to no one in particular,

"Well I'll be damned!"