This is a bit different from my usual story.
Just trying it out, so it's a one shot for now.
Pairing: Ennis and Jack
Disclaimer: Characters entirely belong to the lovely Annie Proulx, not mine.
Warning: I'm still my Happy Ever After self, haven't changed.
Warning #2: Just the usual bad grammar and some cussin' and stuff.
Late June, 1983
Before It's Too Late
Jack Twist was just breaking the seal on a fresh fifth of his favorite Kentucky bourbon. He sniffed the amber liquid appreciatively, but no smile came to his lips. He was going to get wasted again, why should tonight be any different than any other night these past two months?
His mind was still on his day. L.D. had been in fine form today. Told a group of customers that "Rodeo here, he's my best Combine salesman. My ONLY combine salesman in fact!" And then he'd laughed his ass off, till all the others laughed too, joining in even though they weren't sure why.
Sick of it, he was goddamn sick of it, and yet. What to do about it? Where else could he go? He had no more illusions about being a rodeo star, too old, too busted up. And his friend down the road? Piss, who was he tryin a kid, it was just something to pass the time. Funny thing though, he found he was lonelier being with him, than when he was alone.
Alone he could drift back, view those old sweet memories . . . shit, why doesn't Lureen answer the gooddamned phone? Or Bobby? Aw, let it ring. If it's anything important, they'll call back. Thank Hank, it finally stopped.
But as soon as the ringing stopped, it started up again. Just like that phone in the next room in the Siesta Motel. Now there was a time alright. And Jack began to drift off to 1967 when he and Ennis had . . .
Fuck! Guess he oughta go answer the damn thing, whoever is calling is sure not about to give up.
"Jack? It's me . ."
"Ennis? Hell, what's the matter? You all right? The girls? . . ."
"Everyone's fine now, bud. I just wanted to say August is fine. Can you still make it? I want to see you Jack. . . real bad. Please? I can't wait till November either."
"You just say the word, Cowboy."
"I'm saying the word, Jack. It's been . . . . need you, darlin'."
"I'll be there, whenever you say, Ennis."
"Then you ain't quittin me?"
"Shit, Ennis, how could I ever quit my own arm, or leg, or hand? You are as much a part o me, as they are. You know that, Cowboy."
"Mighty glad to hear that. I was worried you had a new life, you had a new friend, . . . "
"There ain't no one else in the world for me, Ennis. Ain't saying I hadn't tried getting over you. Can't do it. I'm stuck with you, and you're stuck with me. You hear?"
Jack could hear the smile in Ennis' voice when he said, "I hear ya."
"Jesus, Ennis, I'm getting hard, just hearing your voice."
"Yeah, me too, Jack"
"Well, take care a things, but think a me when you do, okay?"
"You know it, bud. And you do the same."
"Y'ain't gonna change your mind again, are ya?"
"No, Jack. I'm not. I gotta have you, now 'n always. No quittin."
Jack screwed the cap back on the bourbon and set it up on the shelf.
"Ennis? Where are you? I still want to talk, and I don't want all the cost a this call on you. Can I call you back somewhere? You're at Junior's house? Is it alright if I call there? What's that number? Okay, give me two minutes, maybe five. Bye."
Jack ran into his little half bath off his den and took a piss, washed his hands, ran his wet hands through his hair, brushed his teeth, and all the time he was doing these normal, everyday things, he was thinking 'Is this it? Is this really it? Is he gonna do it? Ohmygod, ohmygod. Don't get excited, Twist, it could all be a huge misunderstanding.'
With trembling fingers, Jack dialed the number Ennis gave him. "We're sorry, the number you have dialed . . " Jack almost went into a panic! 'What? How could . .uh, Ennis messed up the number. It's not 037, it's 307 if Junior still lives in Wyoming. Guess he was nervous too.' Jack tried again, and this time Ennis answered.
"Ennis, it's me. I'm back. You alright?"
"Yeah, guess you could say I'm more alright 'n I been for a long while."
"That's good. Me too. Ennis, where's Junior?"
"Oh, she's right here. She's fixing supper for her family and for me too. Says I gotta start eatin' and stop drinkin' . . . she's just making sure I start taking better care a myself."
"Can she hear what you are saying?"
"Probably, if she wants to. But she knows it all anyway, Jack. No more secrets. Both a my girls know about us, all the lonely years, and Alma confirmed it for them. Thought they'd hate me, but they don't Jack. They don't at all. They want me to live, and to be happy. They were very scared that I wouldn't . . . uh, live anymore. Didn't want to for so long. Didn't wanna try anymore to care about anything, without you."
"Friend, that's more words 'n you said in your whole life."
"Yeah, well, that's a fact, Jack. I ain't shut up since they made me stop drinking myself to death, and tell'em why I was so unhappy."
"Ennis, when you called tonight, you said August was good for you. Are you suggesting we get together for 9, 10 days, like we planned? And then go back to our same-oh, same-oh lives? Just like always?"
"No, Jack, I ain't. I wanta try, Jack. Try that sweet life, you're always telling me about. Have you changed your mind, bud?"
"NO AND HELL NO, Ennis! You name the place, you name the date, I'll be there, bag and baggage, and I ain't jokin."
Ennis couldn't reply for a time. Too relieved for words.
"Oh, Jack. I was so scared."
"Me too, baby."
Both quiet, contemplating how bad it could really be, without the other.
"Jack, Junior and Kurt's place is off a 789 just northeast a Lander about 5 miles. I'll be here. Get here as fast as you can, okay?"
"Well, Ennis, there ain't much here I need. I just need you. But I guess it wouldn't be right, leaving without talking to Lureen. So if it's gonna take me more 'n two, three days, I'll call you at that number you gave me tonight. Is that alright?"
"You bet, bud. Oh, and Junior's name is Rawlins now. She married Kurt Rawlins in June."
"He alright with alla this, too?"
"Jack, he's the son I never had. You'll be surprised."
Jack was quiet in his thoughts, so Ennis began again. "Well, guess I'll see you around, then, huh?
"You bet your sweet ass, you will. So you better be ready."
Ennis looked up to see Junior standing in the doorway, her hands on her hips and a stern look on her face. Then she raised one eyebrow.
"Uh Jack?" Ennis swallowed, "There's just one thing I been meanin' to tell you, for awhile . . . well, for about 20 years. I love you, Jack Twist."
"Jesus, Ennis, what did Junior do to you? I love you too, Ennis del Mar."
Jack looked up to see Lureen standing in the doorway, hands on her hips.