It was late one evening a few days after their return.
'Tell me again Ennis.'
'Tell you whut?' asked Ennis as he looked through a catalogue of saddles and other horse related equipment.
'Y'know….what y thought when y first saw me.'
'Jack, ah've told you that a hunderd… no, a thousand times afore', said Ennis putting down the catalogue and stretching.
'Jus tell me once again……ah like ta hear it', said Jack.
Defeated, still tired and drained from their 'vacation' in the mountains, Ennis gave up and sat down on one of the kitchen chairs.
'Ah saw this boy, long tall streak jump from the truck, made me kinda shy and excited all at the same time – then ah kept tryin a sneak a peek at him under ma hat – never seen no-one like him, ever.'
'Did ya think ah wus good lookin?' asked Jack knowing the answer full well.
'Best lookin thing ah ever seen', smiled Ennis.
'Aha!' said Jack and leant over and kissed Ennis softly and sensually on his beloved mouth.
Afterwards Ennis laughed up at Jack, even at his age Jack had kept his boyishness – always mischievous and cheerful, was the light of Ennis's life - but then as if to belie this:
'Glad yer sitting down Ennis ah've got ta ask your opinion on somethin – an it ain't easy.'
Ennis frowned, waited for what would come next.
'Lloyd told me somethin yesterday – and ah'm not sure what ta think', said Jack clearing his throat. 'Well, ah never told ya somethin about Bobby a while back either, promised ah'd tell no-one, but ah think now's the time with this somethin else an all'.
'Jack just tell me,' said Ennis exasperated.
'Lloyd and Bobby got a thang goin on', said Jack quickly.
Ennis got his meaning straightaway and he was shocked on all counts. Yes, Bobby had inherited Jack's extreme good looks, was a good boy too and he knew Jack was proud of him, and Bobby seemed a typical all American boy - Lloyd had had many girlfriends, Ennis knew that. Lloyd and Bobby together? He couldn't believe it.
After a while 'What d'you think on it?' asked Ennis.
'Ah'm scared Enn, just plain scared – whut if it gets out n someone decides ta have a go at ma son? Ah'm just plain scared.' Jack struggled with what he thought and said next, but this was Bobby the light of his life, 'Ah kinda hoped, thought, there'd be someone better for him anyhow – Lloyd is a foreman plain and simple, a country boy through an through, and that's all he'll ever be!' All his life Jack had looked for better and better things and wanted the good life for his son too.
'Lloyd's a good man', said Ennis, after a pause with his mind still reeling, 'sides we're country boys in case you forgot, an I ain't got a problem with that'. Later, trying to help, for he loved Jack and Bobby as the son he'd never had, Ennis said, ' Let's sleep on it……let's see what we think in the mornin'.
Upstairs Bobby was inside Lloyd's bedroom leaning against the door, Lloyd was on his hands and knees looking for the sewing needle he'd dropped sewing on a button to his shirt.
'Ah'm sure they're talkin on it downstairs……ah heard our names mentioned – ah can't believe you told ma old man without ma say so', grumbled Bobby showing a different side to his character, for unknown to all he'd inherited his grandpa Newsome's sense of propriety. Also from Jack he'd inherited touchiness and sensitivity, so he felt a sense of betrayal, a lack of understanding and a lack of respect from Lloyd, as though he were a silly little boy not worth consulting.
'Ah told y darlin, after Walt had a word with me an said we were makin everythin too obvious – which we were – ah had t tell your daddy afore any-one else did, that's all'.
'It's embarrassing too, ah don't think you should a done that.' Bobby looked down, then sighed –'It's done now, we'll see whut happens next'.
'Sure will babe – stop worrying it'll be o.k.' said the foreman and continued looking for the needle, hoping everything would be alright.
Lloyd wasn't so sure it would be alright for when he'd plucked up enough courage to tell Jack, figuring he would be sympathetic because of he and Ennis, Jack had been angry and plainly shocked but in the end didn't say all that much. The foreman had had to ask Jack about something anyway and the opportunity to tell him had presented itself, and as Lloyd wanted to help Bobby he went ahead and told Jack. Everything had back fired on him though and Bobby had been sulky ever since.
Next morning Jack and Ennis talked some more – but in the end Ennis said to' let be' and Jack hoped it would 'die a death' – nothing more was said.
The betrayal of their secret by Lloyd continued to rankle with Bobby, no matter how much he was besotted with the foreman – so when something happened a few weeks later, Bobby was all for his daddy's suggestion..
Lureen, Bobby's mother had had a fall from her horse which had been startled by something out on a ride – surprisingly for once his mother hadn't been able to regain control and had fallen sustaining several injuries. Jack suggested he and Bobby should go down to Texas (split the lovers up) to supervise Lureen's business concerns – well at least keep their eyes on the staff and to make sure she was taken care of properly. To Lloyd's dismay Bobby readily agreed, trying to teach his lover a lesson, and within a short time father and son were both gone from the ranch, leaving Lloyd devastated and pining for Bobby.
Ennis felt sorry for Lloyd, saw himself in him now, tried to keep him happy, nothing seemed to work.
When Jack returned without Bobby everything took a turn for the worst. Bobby was to stay in Texas for the foreseeable future to Jack's relief, though he missed him, and to Lloyd's great sorrow. Ennis who valued a good foreman was not so happy at the turn of events.
The days, weeks and months rolled by – Jack learned that Bobby was keeping private company with the well-heeled son of a friend of his ex wife – Lloyd unable to believe that Bobby would willingly stay for an extended period with his mother whom he disliked smelt a plot – and there was one: a plot by Jack and Lureen. In reaction Lloyd began dating any gal who was passable – Ennis was sure all would end badly.
As a couple of years rolled by Lloyd took to drink and dropped the easy women he had seemed partial to – Ennis worried and this time it was Jack who said 'let be' – but Ennis worried some more, tried to cheer Lloyd up, failed.
More time passed.
One summer's afternoon, sunny but with a cold breeze blowing, Lloyd was sitting on the old bench smoking, looking out on the waving grasslands which looked as he imagined the ocean would look. His headache from the previous night's drinking session was gone – but he felt drained and dead inside, felt sorrow – no word for him all these past years and no replies to his letters or calls. Jack who went down to Texas from time to time said Bobby never mentioned him.
Lloyd finished his smoke, leant forward and put his head in his hands - a figure of abject misery - he had work to do, had to try and rouse himself somehow. Into his mind came the memory of Bobby as he first saw him in the kitchen of the ranch - loveliest thing he'd ever seen.
'Hey! Hey!' a lively voice called from behind him. He turned and looked towards the stables, not believing what he was seeing. A young man tall and straight, well dressed was standing there, the sunlight making his dark hair shine.
At that Lloyd was up and running, saw Bobby run towards him – they collided and he lifted him up trembling, ' Darlin! Darlin!' Then they got as close to each other as they could, were both immediately aroused - stared into each others eyes hungrily, kissed long and hard then pulled apart and stared at each other again. The tears sprang from Lloyd's eyes, and Bobby sobbed – the last few years meant nothing he was back at the ranch and would remain so……he'd tried to do the right thing by his parents – hated in the end the boring well to do people he'd been told to get acquainted with……would stay..........had come home.