All I Got and All I Want: Chapter 1

By Zane Twist

Alternative Universe:

At their reunion in 1967, Ennis del Mar admitted that he should never have left Jack Twist out of his sights when they came down off Brokeback Mountain in August of 1963. After a dark night of soul-searching, Ennis agreed to ranch up with Jack. However, it took nearly three difficult years for their plans to come together, years that tested both their determination and their relationship. Both men divorced their wives, and, as Jack had anticipated, his father-in-law readily gave him a substantial sum of money to disappear, on condition that he have no further contact with the Newsome family, including Jack's own baby son. With L.D. Newsome's money behind them, they were able to convince a bank in Riverton to finance their purchase of a small, rundown spread outside Signal, where they set up the little cow and calf operation of Jack's dreams.

(For additional stories in this AU, see "No Hero" and "Sayin' 'I Do.'"—Z.T.)

August 1971

It was a warm evening in early August. The sun was still high, though it was steadily sinking toward the Wind River Mountains, to the west of the ranch. Ennis sat on the front porch floor, back against a post, one leg comfortably bent up at the knee, the other dangling over the edge of the porch. His shirt was open, the sleeves rolled up, to enjoy the warm evening breeze. Soon enough the summer weather would be replaced by the bleakness and cold of a Northern Plains winter. He exhaled the last smoke of his cigarette, stubbed the butt out on the porch floor.

He turned and looked out over the long, sloping pasture between the log-cabin ranch house and the road, and on to the pasture on the other side of the highway. It was pleasant to see the small remuda of horses grazing placidly between the house and the road—Jack's buckskin mare, Cheyenne, and his own chestnut stallion, Arapaho, among the others—and the small herd of Hereford cows and calves in the far pasture. The stock was all healthy, the new calves growing and thriving. It looked like it was going to be a good year. Ennis was satisfied.

He and Jack had owned the spread for not much more than a year. They had done a lot of work on the place, and there was still much to do. Despite the money from Jack's former father-in-law that they had used as a down payment, the ranch was mortgaged to the hilt and they were in debt up to their eyeballs. Probably it had only been old L.D. Newsome's willingness to "invest" in the ranch that had convinced the bank over in Riverton to give them the loans they needed to set up their cow and calf operation.

Aside from the work needed to set up the ranching operation, they had also done a great deal of work on the house. The old cabin now had a roof that kept out the rain, and the installation of electricity eliminated their reliance on kerosene and batteries for lighting. Also, they had replaced the old woodstove in the kitchen with a new gas range, fueled by liquid propane. They had completed the addition to the house that would become a bathroom; over the winter, when the ranch work was slow, they hoped to install the plumbing fixtures. Although it seemed they were eating a lot of canned beans and store-brand macaroni and cheese to make ends meet, still, they were getting by, and Ennis found he was actually enjoying himself working side by side with Jack every day.

On this evening it had been Ennis's turn to fix supper, so Jack was handling cleanup. Ennis's contemplation of the cattle in the far pasture was broken by the sound of the screen door opening. He looked up as Jack came through the door, a longneck in each hand. He handed one to Ennis, who smiled his thanks, tipped the bottle in salute to Jack, then took a swig of beer. Jack sat down on the porch by Ennis's booted foot, facing out toward the pasture. It had been warm in the kitchen, cleaning up after supper. Jack had his shirt open and untucked, the sleeves rolled up above his biceps.

As Jack sipped his beer, Ennis contemplated his partner's profile. He admired the fine, strong line of the nose, the delicate curve of the upper lip, the strong chin, the eyes startlingly blue against their frame of dark lashes and the tan of the face, the torso, glowing with the heat, sculpted from years of hard work, the trail of hair leading from the navel downward to where it disappeared into the waistline of Jack's jeans. As he studied his partner, Ennis unexpectedly felt a lump form in his throat. Jack felt himself stared at, turned and looked at Ennis. "What?" he said.

Embarrassed as always at being caught staring at Jack, Ennis momentarily glanced away. Before that lump in his throat could dissolve into tears, however, he reached over and took Jack by the arm. "C'mere," he said simply. Jack smiled, hoisted himself up, swung around, and settled in between Ennis's legs, the hard globes of his buttocks pressed against Ennis's crotch. Ennis kept an arm around Jack's waist, held him close. Jack leaned back against Ennis's chest, and they sipped their beers in comfortable and companionable silence. Ennis drained his beer, set the empty bottle on the porch. He rested his chin on Jack's shoulder, inhaled the musky, sweaty, slightly sweet scent of Jack.

Jack, for his part, felt himself grow drowsy, safe in the embrace of Ennis's strong, sinewy arms. He smiled, thought to himself how happy he was to be building a life with Ennis. Though his back was toward Ennis, in his mind he could see Ennis's moist brown eyes, the wide mouth that could make Ennis look like a mischievous little boy who was up to something when he smiled. Jack wanted it to be just like this, here on the porch this summer evening, always.

Just as Jack was about to doze off, Ennis spoke.



"Can I ask you somethin'?"


"You ever had a dream where it was like somethin' was after you, and you try to run, but you can't move your feet, like they're stuck in cement, or somethin'?"

"Is that what's been goin' on?" Jack asked.

"You know?" Ennis was surprised.

"Woke me up twice last week, thrashin' around in bed, and once this week already."

"And you didn't say nothin'?"

"Figured you'd tell me about it when you was ready."

Ennis leaned back against the porch post, and Jack reclined farther back against Ennis's chest. Ennis was quiet for a few minutes. Jack's sensitivity always amazed him. Then he began to speak.

"You remember a couple a weeks ago when we went into town? You got a haircut and I went into Sorenson's to pay the feed bill?"

"Sure enough."

"Well, when I went into Sorenson's, there was about a dozen guys in there, just standin' around chewin' the fat, and soon's I walked in, the whole place got real quiet-like."


"'So'? They all just stopped talkin' as soon as I walked in. They was all just standin' there lookin' at me."

Jack sat up, turned so that he could look at Ennis. "Yeah, 'so.' So what? Somebody walks in a room, it's natural to stop what you're doin' to see who it is."

Ennis was doubtful. "Yeah, well, nobody said anything the whole time I was in there 'cept Joe Sorenson while I was payin' him. Then when I was done payin' the bill and went back out on the street, just as I was pullin' the door shut, I heard some of 'em laughin'."

"Is that what's been botherin' you?"

"Well, I started havin' this dream a little while after that," Ennis admitted.

"That some body or some thing is comin' after you, and you can't run?"

"Well, no." Ennis looked uneasy.

"Well, then, what do you mean, Ennis?"

Ennis didn't answer right away. When he did, he spoke slowly and deliberately, looking Jack directly in the eye. "In my dream," he said, "it's not me that somethin's after. It's you."

"Me?" Jack was astonished.

"You. It's awful, Jack," Ennis said, his voice getting thick. "I can hear you yellin', like you're hurtin' real bad, and I'm tryin' a get to you, to help you, and I can't move." When he finished, his eyes were moist. He looked stricken. He turned away to stare off into the distance. "I'm tryin' a help you, and I can't move, …" he repeated, his voice trailing off.

"Aw, Ennis," Jack said. Reaching up with his right hand, he gently stroked Ennis's left cheek. "Ennis," Jack said quietly. "It's just a dream. It's just a bad dream, that's all."

Turning, Ennis reached up and took Jack's hand in his own. "Jack? You remember that story I told you when you first come back to Wyomin'? 'Bout Earl?"

"The guy your daddy showed you? The one that was beat to death with a tire iron? Sure, who could forget it? Why?"

Ennis leaned forward. Jack thought that he hadn't looked so serious since he agreed they should ranch up together. He took Jack's other hand in his, holding his partner by both hands. "Jack, I want you to promise me somethin'."

"Sure enough, Ennis. What?"

"I want you to promise me not to never go off by yourself, without me. Not into town, not off on the ranch here some place. Not nowhere. Promise me?"

"Ennis, that's crazy! Just because you been havin' a bad dream?"

"Please, Jack? Please promise me?" Ennis was becoming visibly upset.


Ennis cut him off. "Jack! Please promise me?" he repeated. Then, "If anything happened to you, I don't hardly know what I'd do. I couldn't hardly stand it." Ennis's voice was hoarse. "You're all I got, Jack. …"

Ordinarily never at a loss for words, Jack was speechless now. Ennis had never spoken like that to him before. He stared at his partner for some moments. Before he found his voice, he stood up; Ennis let go of his arms. Jack reached down, pulled Ennis to his feet, hugged him fiercely.

"Ennis, Ennis," he murmured quietly. "It's just a bad dream. Ain't nothin' goin' a happen to me."

His face hidden in Jack's neck, his voice muffled, Ennis repeated yet again, "Please, Jack, promise me?" Jack could feel him shaking a little. Leaning back, he looked in Ennis's eyes. He could see tears.

"All right," Jack said quietly. "If it'll make you feel better, I promise."

Now it was Ennis's turn to hug Jack fiercely, protectively. Jack heard him repeat, "If anything happened to you, I couldn't hardly stand it. You're all I got."

"It's all right, Ennis," Jack murmured. "You're all I got, too, cowboy. And all I want."

They stood for some minutes, quietly embracing. Then Jack sighed. Ennis looked at him, and Jack repeated, "Ain't nothin' goin' a happen to me." Then, he grinned at Ennis a little mischievously. "But I'll tell you what, cowboy," he purred. "You don't fuck me right this minute, goin' a be me gets after you with a tire iron."

Slowly a grin spread across Ennis's face. The nightmare was forgotten. Laughing, Jack turned abruptly and raced for the door, heading for the bedroom. Ennis was right on his heels. They left their empty beer bottles on the porch. The screen door banged shut behind them.

(To be continued. …)