Nothing New Under The Sun Or Moon
Main characters belong to Annie Proulx and Brokeback Mountain.
The year in which this story is set is 1983. After their reunion in 1967 in this, my version of the story, Ennis and Jack took a chance with pay-off money from Lureen's old man and went up to the Twist's place in remote Lightning Flat and got it going again as a viable concern. The divorces of the two men went through and, as the years have passed both men have been able to see their children from time to time. The name of the old Twist place is now 'The J&E Ranch'.
I apologize for any inaccuracies as I'm not from Wyoming and certainly didn't know it in the 1980s. In my story Jack is still clean shaven and lovely – the moustache never existed.
Lloyd Barker, young foreman still in his twenties, was awoken very early on a fine summer's morning. He had his boss's old bedroom, while Mr. Del Mar and Mr. Twist had taken old ma and pa's bedroom further down the hall. The old ma slept downstairs now ever since the death of old pa a few years past – she was partially deaf. Sometimes the foreman wished he were deaf.
Now Lloyd was of a new generation but still a rarity in these parts: easy going, broad-minded, took people as he found them, and was no prude – but the noises coming from the main bedroom were beginning to make him sweat. He could hear the head of the bed banging against the thin partition wall, the occasional muffled profanity from Ennis, panting and grunting, with Jack's higher voice muttering words Lloyd couldn't make out. Then he heard Ennis call Jack's name followed shortly by Jack calling Ennis's name – after a while lots of laughter and snorting, and the sounds of the two men getting themselves ready for the day.
Lloyd would like a morning where he wasn't woken early, and an undisturbed night once in a while. He knew both men were almost forty years old and had been lovers for a long time, so he would have thought the sex would have calmed down a bit……..but it sure didn't seem like it.
Later that same day Jack was leaning against his truck watching Ennis (admiring his long legs) delegating and explaining work to be done, including on this outlying stretch of fencing. Jack knew a lot of the men didn't like he himself as he complained too much, but as he watched Ennis waving his arms and hands about, pointing at this and that, Jack thought he was too soft with the men.
Jack's gaze shifted onto their foreman who was listening intently – at least he had control over the men, young as he was. Jack was amazed at the likeness of the foreman to Ennis, even the way they stood was the same. Ennis didn't see it and confirmed they were not related, but nevertheless there they stood like two peas in a pod despite the age difference.
Jack's gaze shifted back to Ennis and, suddenly on this lovely day, he felt overcome with happiness to be living with him on their own ranch. Although twenty years had passed since they met and fell in love he still felt the same about him: he adored him.
With a sudden jolt, thinking on the sixteen years they'd been up at Lightning Flat together, he remembered it was time to leave – there was a sixteen year old to be picked up from the railroad station: his son Bobby.
An hour later Jack was squinting into the distance looking for his son whom he'd last seen about a year and a half ago. A young man alighted from the train and came towards him, but not recognising him and still far away, Jack continued to look around and behind him for his son.
'Hey! Daddy!' called the young man.
'Bobby? Well I'll be!' laughed Jack.
The tall, lithe and graceful young boy approached clad all in denim, carrying a large bag over one shoulder. Jack couldn't believe the change in his son – no trace of grandpa Newsome's looks now.
'Hi daddy', smiled Bobby dropping his bag and putting his arms around his father, Jack noticing how they were now level in height.
'Well I'll be, you sure sprung up there Bobby!' laughed Jack, hugging him back, gazing in disbelief then picking up the bag. 'You made good time from Texas. How you doin son?'
'I'm fine daddy', beamed his son.
'How's your momma?'
Bobby frowned slightly: 'Oh…ok'.
'Not married again?'
'No, no-one even on the horizon'.
'Uh huh – well come on then!'
They were soon back at the ranch because Jack showed off his new truck and made good speed. Bobby noticed a few more deserted and desolate ranches on the way from last time, but the J&E seemed to be thriving.
When they arrived old Mrs. Twist must have been waiting behind the door as she appeared just as the truck came to a halt.
'Hi grandma', half shouted Bobby knowing her hearing wasn't too good.
'You've grown!' she managed to say before the breath was squeezed out of her in a mighty hug.
As they all entered the kitchen Ennis and Lloyd were standing together looking at a list of feed clipped to a board held by Ennis – as they looked up Ennis dropped the board on the floor in surprise, Lloyd just gaped.
Ennis was completely taken aback, tried to hide his confusion by retrieving the clip board - but his breath was taken away, for Bobby was the spitting image of Jack as a teenager.
Lloyd, well Lloyd had never seen anyone like this, 'beautiful' came into his mind – reminded him of one of those angels he'd seen in a book he'd had as a child.
Mrs. Twist had made a high-time supper complete with her famous cherry cake, but everyone stood around the table staring in wonder at the new arrival.
'What d'ya think a ma boy now then?' asked Jack proudly.
'Well there's no mistaking who your daddy is', said Ennis, remembering the plain young boy he'd seen on the last visit.
'Hi uncle Enn', smiled Bobby.
Jack introduced Lloyd who always ate with the family, the other men eating and bunking in the log cabin.
'Hi', said Bobby, holding out a perfectly formed hand with its long tapering fingers.
Lloyd shook hands, speechless but managed to nod.
Everyone then sat down to their meal but Ennis and Lloyd continued to stare, never taking their eyes off Bobby as father, son and grandma talked away.
The foreman later didn't remember much about the meal – but he remembered listening to Bobby's Texan accent, his voice lilting and sweet like music, exotic to Lloyd's ears. He also remembered when he found out that Bobby was to share his bedroom – there being only two bedrooms in the ranch house.
Later in the evening when everyone had turned in, the extra bed was set up and Bobby had put away all his things – he sat at the window looking out at the dusk where his father had sat dreaming many times as a lonely youngster. Lloyd breathed in an all pervading scent of cinnamon, apple and almonds which filled the room – through the days that followed he never saw Bobby use cologne so Lloyd concluded it was Bobby's own natural scent – even that was lovely.
Lloyd was a good looking young man – had had quite a few girlfriends – never had any trouble attracting them either. Now, out of the blue, like the lightning Lightning Flat was known for, he had been struck by love and lust for this unusual, charismatic and utterly beautiful young boy. It wasn't that Bobby was effeminate – he wasn't – he was just….what was it?...a fine boy.
He regarded him sitting at the window, loose limbs splayed out, body slightly forward, resting elbows on his thighs, turned slightly away from him watching the darkening day.
His hair was a soft cloud of dark gossamer, almost black, but the ends curled like the petals of some exotic flower, nose straight and mouth with lips so soft and full, prone to smiling and laughter with immaculate teeth. Ah but his eyes, his eyes the most striking – the colour of a summer sky and fringed all about with long, dark lashes.
When Bobby stripped down and covered himself with only the thin sheet because of the heat of the night, Lloyd knew he was in for a long night. He also knew he was on dangerous ground as Bobby was so young. The sexual tension and energy which had pervaded the ranch house ever since he'd been here was now here in his own bedroom – dear God, how would he ever sleep?
Next morning Jack and his son saddled up the horses, walked them out into the cool morning air.
'So how's your momma – has she found anyone else yet?' asked Jack, probing, not satisfied with previous answers.
Bobby gave him a sideways glance under the brim of his hat – checked the horse – superb horse-rider like his mother – ' Daddy, there'll never be anyone else for her, she still talks about you and the first time you met!'
Jack nodded, feeling sad for her, he remembered her with great affection still.
There was silence for a long time then – 'What do you want to do, with your life? I mean have you thought about it?'
' Well…..I sure like being on the ranch here….I'd be a good help…..wouldn't mind getting into this business'
'What does your momma think'? asked Jack, remembering his son and Lureen didn't get along.
'Thinks I should finish schooling, but you know that ain't ma thing'.
Jack nodded, remembering the tutors they had hired for Bobby – there had always been problems.
'Well son, there's plenty of time to decide'.
Later they found a place by a little creek, had a picnic with food and drink old Mrs. Twist had provided. By then Jack realised there was something on Bobby's mind.
'When did you know?'
'When did I know what?'
Bobby blushed – 'Y'know….you and Uncle Enn'.
'Almost first time I saw him'.
'No, I don't mean that – when did you realise that girls weren't your thing?'
It was Jack's turn to blush and he put his head down. 'Well Bobby, guess I always know'd'.
There was silence then with only the babbling of the water in the creek.
'Daddy', said Bobby almost too softly to hear, 'Ah think ahm the same'.
'How do you know that?'
'Well how did you know that?' said Bobby turning to completely face his father.
'Ah get yer point Bobby – are ya sure?'
Softly again – 'Sure', said Bobby, 'But keep it quiet for now ok daddy?'
All of a sudden Jack was afraid for his son – wanting to tell him to please be careful in so many ways and for many reasons, but not wanting to frighten him. They talked further then until the heat of the day under the blistering sun forced them homeward.
During the rest of Bobby's stay and because of his interest in the ranch Bobby spent time with Jack and Ennis but also a lot of time with the foreman, helping, doing various tasks – Lloyd for his part was beside himself with love for young Bobby.
It wasn't just his looks which entranced – it was the whole package – he was lively, ready for a laugh, a live wire, in short - good company, also good hearted and a good horseman. Lloyd realised he had it bad – but what to do? Each night watching him in the narrow bed, his arms flung over his head, his angelic looks, were all a torment to Lloyd.
The end of Bobby's stay at the ranch came too soon. Lloyd who had a while back decided to leave this place lovely but isolated as it was, changed his mind on over-hearing a conversation between Bobby and Jack. He'd heard that Bobby was to spend more time up here and that hopefully in the end it would become a permanent arrangement.
After saying farewell to grandma and Ennis, Bobby came over to Lloyd and hugged him making Lloyd's legs tremble and his skin flush. He then watched the truck drive off into the distance, pushed his hat off his forehead – rubbed at the sweat there. He was in love, not with a girl but with a beautiful boy – suddenly the sun blazed down from behind a cloud, Lloyd turned on his heels and walked off, his heart felt light – he felt grateful to be alive and he was sure he was going to stay at the J&E, that was a certainty…..
He was unaware that beautiful blue eyes regarded him from the wing mirror of Jack Twist's truck, 'Let me love you', mouthed Bobby silently, unaware that his father Jack had once said this also to Ennis.
Much later in the soft evening Jack and Ennis were locked in their barn/stables. Jack was standing in the lamp light having stripped slowly for an appreciative Ennis. All was quiet outside, the only sound inside the nickering of the horses at the stable end and Ennis's heavy breathing.
'You're a fine looking man Jack Twist', rumbled Ennis beginning to unbuckle his belt buckle – and it was true: you would have to study Jack's face closely to realise he was nearer his forties than his twenties - but in this light he looked the same to Ennis as he had always done. For Ennis there was nothing and no-one on this earth to compare with Jack Twist.
'Point is cowboy, what ya goin ta do about it?' said Jack holding on to something above him, partly in shadow but so he was on display for Ennis, his eyes beautiful and enormous in the soft light.
With that Ennis quickly completed his own undressing, then tackled Jack, rushing him and rolling him down into the sweet smelling hay. Jack gave a surprised , ' Uff!', as the wind was knocked out of him and then started the giggling which Ennis loved so much as they began their naked wrestling in the low lamp light. Ennis always won, that is, Jack always surrendered gladly. As children they never had the opportunity for exuberant play in their grim and lonely lives – now they made up for it and more.
As their tussling stopped and Ennis had him trapped beneath him – Jack gazed up into the warm, loving eyes above him, and remembered how different this old barn used to be – it was a place of love now, hell so was the whole ranch, one time this was a place of hate where the old man took him to thrash him for some small failure to carry out a task properly – well away from his momma's hearing. All of John Twist's hopes for the future were centred on Jack, only child, only boy, and he considered him lacking – thought he'd lick him in to shape with a heavy hand and a belt.
'Ya still ma darlin' Jack after all these years', said Ennis, ' Ya know that don't ya?'
'I know it', murmured Jack, banishing the bad memories from his mind.
With that Ennis kissed the well-beloved mouth, then entered Jack with spit and slick only, but it was easy and Jack was waiting, ready and open for his man.
Ennis's large work–worn hands explored Jack as though this was their first time. Jack hung on, exploring his beautiful strong back and wrapping his long legs around Ennis's waist. Ennis's long fingers brought Jack to completion and shortly afterwards Ennis groaned and came within his darlin'.
Outside an owl hooted, the moon had risen, far off almost like a dream a coyote howled, like an echo of Brokeback. Inside the horses nuzzled one another and snuffled sleepily.
The two men were wrapped in each others arms and each others souls, dozing now – Jack felt happy and satisfied as sleep began to claim him, also happy at the prospect of seeing more of his son and being able to keep a fatherly eye on him. Silently then Jack and Ennis thanked God in heaven for fate that had brought them together to this – their sweet life.
At the same time all was quiet in the ranch house but Lloyd's night was still disturbed – with thoughts of a young and beautiful dark angel….