The Path.24 Epilogue

Word Count: 3,852
Genre: Brokeback Mountain Canon { A/U now }
Pairing: Ennis and Jack; Ennis' POV
Disclaimer: AP created'em, I just love bein with'em.

Feedback: Very much appreciated.

This is the Epilogue. You bet we'll visit these boys in their sweet life together in One Shots . . . from time to time.

Thanks to each of you for reading and caring about The Path. It has meant a lot to me to hear from you.

The Path.24 Epilogue

They barely made it; limping into Lincoln, Nebraska before the truck broke down again. Each time it conked out, they were able to get it going without too much delay. Ennis was pretty good with engines, and Jack was not too bad at improvising wire and string for a temporary fix, but eventually their options and their resources ran out.

This time they needed a part that had to come out of Kansas City.

"Three days" the man said, wiping his neck with a grease-covered rag, and spitting a stream of pungent brown juice onto the dusty earth before resuming chewing on the stub of his cigar.

He squinted at them, waiting for a nod or an agreement that they wanted him to go ahead, order the part, and fix the truck.

"How much again? For parts and labor? All of it?" Asked a concerned Jack.

The man stacked and re-stacked paperwork on his desk until he found the scribbled notes he'd made after giving Jack's truck a thorough going over. As totally disreputable as he looked, Hank was a damn fine mechanic and an honest man. They were lucky to have stumbled onto his place, though they didn't feel lucky at all at the moment.

"Hmmm, says here, $92.50 for the parts and shipping, and $45.00 for labor.

That'll be $137.50 total."

"And how long will it take, once the parts are here?" asked Jack.

"Two, three days, depending on what other work comes in between now and then. Kinda backed up now, as it is."

Ennis and Jack conferred quietly between themselves, periodically looking at Hank, but that much money was simply out of the question. Still, they needed the truck fixed, or they were stuck here in Lincoln with no prospects whatsoever.

Ennis said "Is there any way you could order the part for us, but let us do the work ourselves when it gets here? See, we're kinda strapped for cash. Only got a small grub stake, as it is. We can give you half down, and the rest when the part comes in. But uh, we'd need to do the work here in your shop, need some a your hydraulics."

"Got a idea. Let me see you what you can do. How 'bout this Chevy Coupe. What's it need?"

Ennis raised the hood and looked over the engine with his eagle eye. He noted stains and corrosion, then he crawled under and noted spots where it had leaked. "Needs a new water pump."

"Right on. What 'bout that there Dodge Ram?"

Again Ennis diagnosed the problem correctly, and when asked, he agreed that they could help Hank clear his backlog while waiting for their own part to come in.

"Well, Del Mar, I'll pay you what I pay Stan when he ain't in the drunk tank, and Twist I'll pay you to change oil, fix flats, pump gas, knock out dents and do some body work. I'm really in a bind here. My brother-in-law tore the livin hell outa his truck going over rocks and tree limbs – he's a forest ranger and volunteer fire fighter. Can't wait very long for his wheels. We got a deal?"

"We'll need a place to stay for a couple weeks then, where's a . . ."

"Never you mind about that. My wife and I and our three little'uns is bustin at the seams at our house. But my mother loves to have folks stay. She'll even feed you and do your laundry."

"We can't afford mu. . . "

"I could tell you were good, down to earth folks when you drove up. She'll charge you fair and square. Chances are, you'll leave Lincoln (if you still wanta leave) with a fixed up truck and money in your pockets . . more than when you got here. "

"When do we start?" They were smiling and breathing easier than they had for several days.

Hank shut the shop for lunch and took them to his mother's house. Once they were settled there, in two separate rooms, they walked over to Hank's shop and got the grand tour. He gave them coveralls to wear and the work began. It was getting dark when the phone rang on his piled up desk. It was his mother wondering if she should bring supper to them all at the shop.

Checking the clock, Hank blanched. "Didn't mean you had to work 24/7, fellas. Go eat supper and rest your bones. I'll see you in the morning at 7 sharp."

They were so busy with these new challenges that the time flew by.

At 10 am on the third day, the part they were waiting for came by UPS.

Hank called a coffee break, and they talked over the situation. By this time, Ennis and Jack would walk through fire for this man.

After spending the summer working for the Farm & Ranch Employment Service under Joe Aguirre, it was difficult to believe that any boss would treat them with respect for the work they did, and for being good, dependable people.

They were wrong about that and Hank proved it every day. He appreciated them and said so. He still had a backlog of jobs to work through, so he asked them if they would continue to work for him, and work on their truck after hours and on weekends. A schedule was agreed to, and they all went back to work. As this was Friday, he paid them at the end of the day for the days they'd worked, and thanked them again for helping him out of a bind.

Ennis suggested that they all three work on Hank's brother-in-law's truck together, and get it finished first, before they started on Jack's truck.

Again, they all agreed to the plan. The shop was closed on Saturday, so they devoted all their time to getting Randall's vehicle road-worthy again.

They took Sunday off to relax. Hank needed some family time and the boys needed to spend some time alone together.

The beds at Mrs. Timmons house were comfortable enough, but they were lonely. Once they'd tried to sleep together, but the squeaky bedsprings raised such a racket that they avoided trying that again. The trouble was, the lady of the house had sharp hearing and she never seemed to go out after dark.

Their only opportunity came on Sunday morning when she left for church. They climbed into Ennis' bed together and held each other tightly, they'd missed this so much. They quickly "did the deed" then cleaned up the sheets as best they could. If only she'd had a shower, but the one bathroom in the house was equipped with only a claw foot tub.

As they washed up, Ennis reached over and nuzzled Jack's neck, and then Jack turned and grabbed Ennis. They were writhing together, grinding and moaning, pushing up against the sink. "I can't stand this." moaned Jack, and he knelt and took Ennis in his mouth. He lovingly kissed, licked and sucked until Ennis' knees buckled under him. They were both on the bathroom floor then and out of their minds with desire. "Fuck me!" cried Jack in a whisper.

He raised his legs and wrapped them around Ennis' waist. Ennis' eyes were black with wanting, and he grabbed the hand lotion on the sink and lubed up.

Plunging in, he gave Jack and himself what they'd both been needing. When they came to their shuddering, crashing finish, they lay limply on the bath mat. Nearly dozing, sleepily kissing, they both decided they'd better clean up for real this time, and clear out before Mrs. Timmons came home.

Since they were without a vehicle, they walked around town. Seeing Lincoln was interesting because it was larger than any town they'd yet been in.

Walking down the street, Jack began to giggle. "Whut?" asked Ennis.

"Bet I still have bath mat marks on my back."

"Won't be the last time, bud, f'I have anything to say about it."

They bumped shoulders as they walked along the street, heads down, smiling.

Just two boys, not yet twenty, feeling the joy of knowing their life together was ahead of them.

After walking along the river awhile, they decided they were hungry. The casseroles that Hank's mother served were hearty and tasty, but when they bit into their first Nebraska corn fed steak, they were transported to heaven. Immediately, "Huskers" became their favorite restaurant.

They had a couple beers with their meal, then decided to walk off the apple pie ala mode they'd shared. As they strolled they noticed a small movie theater. The marquee offered a double feature and selected short subjects.

They weren't so much interested in seeing "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" as getting into a dark corner where they could kiss and fondle their mate. They bought some popcorn and some Jujubes, and found that dark corner. Jack had seen a couple movies in his life, but Ennis had never been to one before.

To their surprise, they munched popcorn and candy and became totally engrossed in the movie about the old west, starring James Stewart, John Wayne, and Lee Marvin. They held hands with the hand that wasn't popping Jujubes into their mouths.

The second movie, something about a beach party with someone named Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon was a snore to the eager lovers. They scootched down in their seats and kissed with mouths that still tasted like sweet cherry candy and salty popcorn. They groped each other until they were miserable, and tight in their pants. Finally Jack said, "I can't stand this." And he leaned over and unzipped Ennis' fly. He sucked him off with much slurping and moans, Ennis kicking the seat in front of him. When he came, all he could do was wheeze and try in vain to be quiet. When he recovered himself, he turned to Jack and kissed his mouth, tasting himself on his lips.

Ennis whispered into Jack's ear, "C'mere boy. Let me have you." And he reached over and unzipped Jacks pants, pulling his eager dick free. He leaned over Jack's seat, lovingly mouthing his cock and filling his nostrils with Jack's scent. When he took him into his mouth, he was gentle at first, and then began to show his need. Hungrily he sucked Jack off till those blues almost rolled back into his head. Jack came wave upon wave. Ennis swallowed it all, and licked him clean. When they settled their breathing, they kissed each other's faces before picking up all their trash and leaving the last row of the theater.

As Ennis and Jack stepped into the center aisle, they glanced over to the dark corner opposite where they'd been sitting. Two faces in the gloom, looking up just then, eyes at half mast . . the bigger guy, the one giving the blow job seemed to be in uniform. . . a forest ranger uniform.

"Guess we're not the only ones needing a bit of privacy tonight." And they gave it not another thought, but headed back to Mrs. Timmons house, and bed. They had a busy week coming up.

As they broke for coffee on Monday morning, they discussed the remaining work on the brother-in-law's truck. Another thirty minutes should do it, according to Hank. "I told him to come by at lunch time, it'll be ready."

"So, this Randall is your wife's brother?" asked Ennis.

"Naw, he's my sister's husband."

Ennis nodded. "Welp, guess I'll get back after it.

They were all deep into their jobs when the Ranger's car pulled up and a tall, clean-shaven man stepped out of the passenger side. He strolled in, glancing left and right to check on the whereabouts of his truck.

"Hey Hanky! My truck ready?"

"You call me that again, I'll take the tire iron to that new drive shaft myself!"

That got everyone's attention, and they all looked up laughing.

When Randall glanced at Jack, and then Ennis, he glared. "You ain't Stan, now are ya?"

Hank wiped his hands on a greasy rag as he walked over and introduced the three men. "Couldn'ta got your truck ready yet, hadn't been for these two good men. Each one's worth three a Stan." Saying that, he spit a stream of brown juice again. . . just missing everyone's shoes.

"Yeah, so you say. Where's my truck? I gotta get back. Can't pussyfoot around here all day."

Randall glared again at Ennis and Jack as he drove away.

"Was that him?"

"Yep, b'lieve so."

"Don't feel good about this. I think we should finish your truck and get on toward Kentucky. What say?"

"I agree. He could be trouble."

"Okay, let's get back to work . . unless you guys're ready for lunch. Who wants a ham sandwich, cookies and chips? My wife packed enough for all of us."

"Not me, I can go another hour or so before I stop . . in the middle a adjusting this carburetor."

"K, I can wait too."

The truck was finished by the end of the week, and they told Hank they'd be leaving soon. He tried in vain to entice them to stay on with him, but knew he had little chance of success. "You ever need jobs, all you gotta do is ask. If Kentucky don't work out, I mean."

"You told him we're going to Kentucky?"

"Yeah. Why?"

"I'da said somewhere else, is all."

"Yer Pa ain't gonna come lookin . . . do you think?"

"My Pa, or someone else. Randall. Anyone. It's nobody's business but our own."

They finished up the week, needing the extra pay, and left Lincoln behind, feeling kinda bittersweet about the parting, but the future beckoned.

The truck seemed to purr along, it was running so fine. By Sunday night they were pulling into Lexington; white fences gleaming in the twilight. Kentucky was warmer than Nebraska, and humid. They found a motel and fell into bed after a cooling shower. They made love in the morning before heading out for breakfast and the want ads.

Within days of their arrival in Lexington, Ennis impressed the head groom with his horse knowledge, and was able to get hired at Calumet Farms as a groom. He soon moved up to assistant to the head trainer. Within five years, Ennis was the Head Trainer, and was completely satisfied and happy in his element.

Jack tried out for a job with IBM out on New Circle Road. They were beginning to manufacture Selectric typewriters and they needed good assembly workers. Jack relished the orderliness of the work stations, the cleanliness of the plant, making something from nothing, and the regular paycheck. He excelled at whatever task he was given, and was promoted several times to positions with more and more responsibility. Within five years, he was manager of the shipping department, and he was still learning something new every day. He was completely satisfied and happy in his element.

Each of the boys was growing into a man with ideas for improving things, and a strength in the knowledge that they had chosen well when they decided to make their life together. They rented an old house out on the Paris Pike and saved their money until the day they could put a down payment on their own place.

Their property was small, sure, only a few acres. And needed lots of work, but it was theirs. They agonized about the perfect name for it; they finally settled on Mountain Haven, even though there were no mountain peaks in sight.

A quiet life is what they had, and that's just the way they liked it. After propping up the house, and updating the plumbing, they built a barn, and bought a cow and a couple chickens. Soon they added horses for each of them, and later, more cattle.

They liked to go riding of an evening after supper. They had good neighbors nearby who became lifelong friends.

The Whitlows lived on the farm just to the east of theirs. Mrs. Whitlow finally insisted they call her Marjorie, and her husband was Bradshaw. Their brood of five little Whitlows were like stair-steps, and the littlest one was a tow-headed girl named Penny. She was the light of Ennis and Jack's lives. Bradshaw could barbeque an army boot and make it come out tender and delicious. They shared many meals with these dear friends and neighbors.

The family to the west was the Koenigs. Their grandma and grandpa lived with them, as well as the parents and their three high school age kids. They became acquainted with the family when the oldest boy, Briley, egged Ennis and Jack's house their first Halloween out on the Versailles Road. That was a touchy beginning. But they worked it out, Briley spent two weeks with a brush, scrubbing down the side of their house. He never ratted out his buddies, so it all fell on his shoulders. Briley got used to hanging out there, and came back even after the house was sparkling clean. Ennis and Jack liked it so well, they hired him to scrub the other three sides.

The boy played football and baseball, and he could eat a whole pizza by himself. Ennis and Jack started going to Briley's games when they could. They became boosters and became a part of the larger community.

When Wendy the only Koenig girl, ran away from home, she ran to Ennis and Jack's house. When she got a boyfriend, they were the first ones she told. She asked them to chaperone her class hay ride, and they agreed.

The youngest Koenig boy was Kyle. He read Popular Science for fun. He never received a grade lower than an "A" in all four years of high school. Surprisingly, Kyle was the most constant visitor to Mountain Haven. He'd lie in the hayloft and watch Ennis tend to the horses, while conjuring up things to invent.

Jack played on the company softball league, and Ennis' co-workers had a bowling league. They socialized, individually and together, with both groups, and casually entertained a couple times a year.

As the years passed, the neighbor children went off to UK or to some other college, or they married and got jobs in town. They always came back, kept in touch. They brought their new spouses or their babies when that milestone had been reached.

Ennis' work brought him daily into contact with horses, providing him the joy of the peaceful life he'd always wanted. Jack's work gave him lots of people contact, coordination and a sense of a job well done at the end of the day.

Once in a storm, a tree fell over and injured Ennis' favorite horse. He had to put him down. In the mid-seventies, their well ran dry. Another time they were dismayed to find that termites had eaten away the support for one whole wall of their house. They had to stop right then and replace that wall, plus the roof, windows, doors and chimney. They took the opportunity to enlarge that side of the house, so it wasn't a total loss.

They had sicknesses, mostly minor. Friends died, Some of their ideas didn't turn out like they thought they would. But they had joys as well, and in all of those years they had each other.

In 2000, Delores wrote in their annual Christmas card that Hank was gone. He died peacefully in his bed on Memorial Day with all five kids at his bedside. She's remarried now; an old lady whose travels with her new husband might just bring her to Kentucky one of these fine days.

But every night of their lives, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, there is their soulmate by their side, to have and to hold.

It's 2009. Oh, they read the papers. Well, it's mostly on television and on Yahoo now that they get their news of the outside world. They are aware that many men and women are campaigning for marriage equality,

New England is leading the fight, and now the Supreme Court of Iowa has struck down the ban on same sex marriage. Residents and non-residents alike are welcome to get a gender neutral marriage license, and be married in a civil ceremony. Whether churches follow through is totally up to each one to decide.

Penny Whitlow DeRosiers was the first to call them when the news came out.

She had been speaking up for years, even in high school. But ever since she and Simon were married, it really struck her how unfair it was that this lifelong devoted couple wasn't and couldn't ever be married.

"It's getting closer Uncles. I'll gas up the SUV and drive you to Iowa myself if you want!"

Jack laughed, "Ennis says he wants to elope, but I can't figure out how to get the ladder under our first floor bedroom window!"

"Okay, joke if you like, but just let me know. Simon and the kids and I could be your witnesses."

The night Iowa opened those gates, Ennis and Jack could hardly sleep.

Folded together in bed after making love; though they were thoroughly satisfied, they were still restless.

"What d'ya thinka all this, Cowboy?"

"Dunno. Different."

"Sure is. Sure is."

"I hear all this about "Gay Marriage". How is it different from regular marriage?"

"Not sure 'bout that."

"What is Gay anyway? Are we Gay, Jack?"

"Well, prob'ly by some people's standards we are. Or Queer maybe."

"Queer means odd or different. I don't think we're queer. Ain't nobody more normal than us."

"Are we boring, then?"

"Never!"

"All I know is I love you, Cowboy. I'm privileged to have spent my life with you – up to now – and I only want that to continue forever – and a day. If Kentucky don't recognize that as a marriage, I really don't give a shit."

"Me neither."

"You awake, Ennis?"

"Ummm, no."

"What if they do?"

"Do what?"

"Recognize marriage between same sex couples. What then?"

"Hmmmm?"

"If the Commonwealth of Kentucky rules for all marriage – to be between two consenting adults - will you marry me, Ennis?"

Sitting up in bed, Ennis fluttered his eyelashes at Jack. "Oh my, this is so sudden!"

"Dumbass! Will ya?"

"Jack, You really think a piece a paper with our names on it is gonna make anything in our lives better?"

"No, I don't Ennis. But for all those men and women out there who maybe didn't get the chance to be together like we did, or maybe were afraid to take the chance, or were threatened or bashed or killed for trying to take the chance . . . I want it for their sake, Cowboy."

Nodding his graying blond head, "Hm."

"So all things being equal . . . and we know they ain't. Will ya marry me?"

"You bet!"

#

The End - The

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