Ennis rolls down the long dirt driveway, one hand loosely clutching the steering wheel, his other hand holding a half-smoked cigarette between his fore- and middle fingers. The wheels of his rusty but faithful old truck kick up dirt in their tracks, the clouds of brown dust swirling haphazardly in the dry Wyoming summer afternoon. Behind him in the horizon, the sun is beginning to sink, the burnt colours of reds, orange and traces of purple spreading across the hazy sky like paint spilt from a paintbox.
Ahead of him in the distance, at the end of the long track, is a house; a little run-down from the harsh summers and the brittle winters. White paint is peeling off the weatherboards, there are a few missing tiles on the roof and the chimney has always looked a little crooked. The house stands in the middle of fields of dry grass, horses milling around listlessly in the distance, lazily swishing their tails to bat away the never-ending onslaught of flies. A couple of cows sleepily chewing cud are fenced into the next field, trying to find shade from the harsh sun under the only tree in the paddock; the tree so bereft of leaves it looks more like the skeleton of a hand.
Where Ennis lives, it's not a pretty place in any sense of the word. It's cheap, it's got nothing but the bare essentials, but Ennis doesn't care. It's not what a house looks like that matters; it's the fact that this is home.
This is Jack's home, too.
Swinging his truck through the open gate, Ennis trundles up to the side of the house and parks it up with a sharp crunch of gears and brakes next to Jack's beaten up truck. The heavy truck door groans loudly on its hinges as he pushes it open while he gathers his half-finished flask of soup, his crinkled packet of cigarettes and today's newspaper off the passenger-side seat before getting out. The dry heat of the afternoon feels like an assault on his sweat-caked skin and, after slamming the door shut, Ennis takes the final drag on his cigarette before tossing it to the ground, and squashing it with the heel of his boot.
Blowing the plume of blue-tinged smoke from his mouth, Ennis glances across the expanse of land, tipping back his hat with a nudge of his hand. Everyday was the same -- everyday, after coming home from a hard day's work down at the sheep station, he looks across the land and finds himself smiling briefly to himself.
Six years it's been since he met Jack Twist. They've been long years, hard years, terrifying years, yet they've been the most fulfilling years of his life. Long, hard and terrifying because it's not right for two men to be together, to live together, to love each other. But fulfilling because it doesn't matter how much he wrestled with himself and his sexuality, this is who he is.
Ennis wouldn't have it any other way.
His boots kick up dust as he strolls around to the front door. The door creaks on its hinges and the stuffiness of the small, cluttered house offers little relief from the heat outside. Kicking the door shut, Ennis walks straight into the kitchen, where Jack is lounging shirtless on one of the rickety kitchen chairs, nursing a cold beer in his hand. Ennis sees he's bathed in sweat and grit from a hard day's work down at the cattle station.
"Hey," Jack greets, smiling tiredly at him.
Ennis flicks away one of the flies that are lazily buzzing around from his face. "Hey," he replies gruffly. He tosses the newspaper and cigarettes on the scuffed laminated table, and thumps the flask down.
"Yer lookin' pretty damn tired," Jack remarks.
Ennis says nothing in response, as usual; he merely raises his brows in acknowledgment, pulling his hat from his head. There's a thick, dirty track of sweat along his hairline, and he raises his hand to wipe a flannel-sleeved arm across his forehead before he tosses his hat onto the table.
"Hard day down at the cattle station," Jack continues, watching Ennis. "So damn hot."
Ennis merely grunts in response as he wipes his hand over his face. His palm feels calloused from holding horse reins all day.
"Gotta beer in th'icebox, if yer want it."
Plucking the top few buttons on his dust-covered flannel shirt, Ennis nods as he makes his way around the table, casually setting a hand on Jack's shoulder and quickly squeezing it as he passes him. A beer retrieved from the loud, whiny icebox, Ennis screws the lid off and tosses it towards the sink before he takes a deep scull of the beer as he leans back against the icebox door.
"Gonna rain t'night, 'pparently," Jack says, watching Ennis drink the beer. "Maybe even storm."
Half the beer is gone by the time Ennis lowers the bottle. "Good," is all he says in response; he's always been a man of few words. Pushing away from the icebox, he walks back around Jack, his hand on his shoulder again, though this time he stops and leans down, giving a dry, chaste kiss to Jack's lips. He catches the glimmer of a smile that Jack gives him when he pulls away, though Ennis doesn't smile back. Instead, he slumps down on the chair adjacent to Jack and takes another long draught of his beer.
"Rain sure better hurry up an' git here, 'cos I sure as hell am sick a the damn heat," Ennis finally says around a tired yawn as he rubs his eyes with his fingers.
"It'll do them horses good," Jack agrees.
Ennis sculls back the last of the beer and then thumps the empty bottle on the table. "Yeah," he replies, flicking away another fly with a swipe of his hand.
He meets Jack's eyes and they look at each other for a long, silent moment, Jack offering Ennis a small smile and Ennis offering nothing back in return except a steadfast gaze, which is finally broken when Jack stands up and announces that he'd better herd the horses in as he tugs his shirt and hat back on.
"Be back soon, cowboy," Jack says, clapping Ennis on the shoulder before he takes up his hat and goes out into the sweltering twilight heat, where the dying rays of the sun is casting a mellow purple glow across the slowly darkening skies.
Ennis is too tired to move, but he gets up off his chair anyway and begins to make dinner -- boiled vegetables and a pound of steak each. He ain't much of a cook, but it's food all the same. Frying the steak on the slightly misshapen skillet, Ennis looks out of the dusty window and sees Jack in the distance, rounding the horses together in the field to take them into the stables.
This is how every day ends for them -- too tired to really talk, too tired to do much, too damn tired to even eat sometimes. Just like how it used to be up yonder Brokeback Mountain. Thing is, those days were so uncertain, because they had no clue when their time on the mountain would come to an end. But in many ways, their time on Brokeback Mountain was safe, because it wasn't the life they really lived. It was just them in their own little world that was only going to last as long as their time on Brokeback Mountain lasted.
They've made it their life, however; taken what they found on Brokeback Mountain and made it theirs, defying the odds of retribution for their decision. People don't like gay men living in their society, and there are times when Ennis wonders if it's really worth it -- if what they have is worth the imminent punishment of death they'd face if ever they were found out.
Jack returns a while later, covered in dirt-slicked sweat, and they share a quiet meal at the laminated kitchen table, Jack offering bursts of conversation and Ennis merely grunting or giving one-word answers in return. The food is gone quickly -- hard work makes them both hungry, it doesn't matter how hot it is -- and when the plates are clean of food and their stomach's satisfied, Ennis sits back in his chair, drinking another beer and smoking a cigarette as he watches Jack clumsily wash the dishes.
The rest of the evening is just as quiet, broken only by the distant rumble of a storm rolling in from the west. After giving himself a quick bathe to clean himself of the day's heat and sweat, Ennis blankly watches the black and white television in the dark, cluttered living room, smoking a cigarette, his fingers absently tracing the back of Jack's hand. Soon the sound from the television is drowned out by the rain falling heavy and hard on the roof, the dry spell of heat finally broken, at least until the rain ceases to fall.
They make the most of the cooler change in weather, retiring to bed where they kiss until Ennis finds himself slicking his cock with vegetable oil -- the only lubricant they have -- and burying himself deep inside Jack. They collapse in a tangle of sweaty limbs, breathing hard and heavily and when Ennis spoons his naked body up behind Jack, entwining their fingers together, he listens to the storm slowly fading away into the distance.
Their lives could have turned out so differently -- they could have gone separate ways, married, had children, done what every law-abiding man in Wyoming does. Sometimes Ennis finds himself wondering how his life would have been if he'd chosen that life -- if he'd chosen to go with Alma; chosen her over Jack.
Soon he finds his eyes heavy with tiredness and the last thought that crosses his mind before he succumbs to sleep is that what he has with Jack, he wouldn't have it any other way.