Oh what a groggy morning they each had, but neither one regretted what had kept them up late the night before.

At work that Sunday, a few of the crew members noticed the cheerful, chatty mood that Ennis was in, but didn't think too much about it at first.

On Monday, Jenny called Junior. "Hey. You talked to dad lately?"

"Not since mid-week. Why, something wrong with him?"

"No, seems like something's right with him, though."

"What d'ya mean?"

"Well, last Friday he took the kids to the rodeo in Douglas, and they ran into an old friend of dad's. They stayed the night there. When they got back, he's all affectionate and chatty. It's really got me kinda spooked, Junior."

"Yeah. I can imagine. It wasn't that Cassie, was it? The one he dated for awhile?"

"No. That's the strange part. It was that Jack Twist, you know, the guy he used to go fishing with."

"Oh, shit! Mama used to carry on something awful about dad 'n him going off on their trips."

"Well, ya know what Junior? I don't care what it is making him happy. I'm not sure if I realized he liked to fish that much, but if he does, or if he just likes going fishing with this Jack guy, then I'm all for it. I've worried for too many years about him being alone and sad, that I'm ready for him to be in a good mood, and have friends and whatever it takes."

"I'm with you there, Jen. Our daddy is the hardest working, best man I can think of. . . he deserves a break. I for one hope it keeps up this way. I think I need some feed for the horses and goats. {wink, wink} I'll just stop by the warehouse tomorrow and see him. . . . .check this out for myself."

Junior had Kurt drop the twins at school so she could get an early start. There wasn't much traffic in Shoshoni, but the closer she got to Casper, the heavier it got.

When Junior walked in past a customer and a clerk checking off some 50# bags of feed on the huge floor scale, she spied her dad talking to a few of the workers in the back by his massive wooden desk. It was 9:45 a.m. by this time.

When he saw her, he smiled from ear to ear. The others noticed and waved at her, as they returned to their work. Junior got a kiss for her trouble, and hugged her dad mightily. He asked "What're you doin' here on a Tuesday?"

"Need some feed for the horses."

"Already? You oughta be fixed for another week or two."

"Can't I just come and get feed without getting the Third Degree too?"

"What's really up? Everything all right at your house?"

"Sure."

"Then what?"

"Uh. Jenny called. Said you were in a strange mood . . . a good mood, but . . ."

As she stammered out her concerns, Junior noticed her dad's face beginning to get pink. Is he Blushing?!

Ennis put his arm around his daughter's shoulders, turned her around toward his desk, and murmured "We don't wanna talk about this here, now do we?"

"Talk about what exactly? Have you met someone, dad? 'Cause if you have, that's great!"

Ennis called out to his foreman. "Going to lunch, you got it covered?"

Gary, the foreman, looked puzzled. It was only 10 a.m. "Sure, boss!"

Ennis pulled Junior along by the sleeve until they were outside.

"My truck. Now."

"Dad! What's going on with you?"

He pulled up at the drive through window and got two coffees and two muffins and then drove to the airfield lane park. He turned to look at his daughter. He fully looked into her eyes. He was scaring her.

"Dad, what?"

"All your life, I've dreaded this moment, when you would finally ask these questions. I knew I wouldn't lie to you, Junior, even though I lied to your mother. I couldn't do that to you."

Afraid, so afraid, she began to cry. The tears ran down her face and she didn't yet know why she was crying. Ennis began to cry too, but the tears were for her. Not for himself. He was afraid of her disappointment, her disgust when she heard the truth about him.

"In Douglas on Friday, I ran into my old friend, Jack Twist."

"I know, Jenny said . ."

"Junior, let me get this out, please don't interrupt or I won't be able to do this. So last Friday, I saw Jack again, it's been years . . .well I need to tell you. We were not just friends. We were always more than friends, we loved each other. Two men, we were in love. That's what I need to tell you. We still do, and now we refuse to be apart any more. We cannot do this any more."

"Oh my goodness, really dad? But you said something about all my life . . .?"

"Yes, we met in 1963, we herded sheep together that summer up on Brokeback Mountain, I was engaged to your mother already by that time."

"So you loved him before I was born. And yet you married mama? She wasn't pregnant, was she? The timing's not right."

"No, we hadn't done anything like that yet, no sex, I mean. But I felt I had to, I had given my word, you know. We were engaged and I thought it was the right thing to do. Keep my word."

"Oh my god."

"Well, in those days, it was worse than even it is now. Two men together, and all that. It's dangerous, especially out here in rural areas. Some big cities . . . well, that's neither here nor there, Jack and I are not big city people."

"Tell me all of it . . . start at the beginning."

So Ennis talked, their coffee got cold and Junior cried. Eventually they got stiff and chilly just sitting in that truck so she suggested they go to Ennis' house. They could not show their puffy faces and red swollen eyes back at the warehouse; though he did drop her at her truck on the way. She called in for him when they got to his house, and Gary said everything was under control; no problem.

They brewed a fresh pot of coffee and made several fried egg sandwiches and talked on through the early afternoon. Junior remembered some of what her dad was now telling her, but she had not known the significance of what she'd seen and heard. She had actually overheard her mother's accusation in the kitchen that Thanksgiving before her dad stomped out of Monroe's house – never to return again, by the way. But she hadn't known what "You don't go up there to fish," meant.

And finally, Ennis confessed that he had always drug his feet about making a commitment to Jack, even after he and Alma were divorced, because of the brutal killing he'd been shown when he was a child.

"I feared I would be putting us both in danger if we were to ranch up together like Jack always wanted us to. Earl and Rich couldn't protect each other, so I thought neither could we. What I realize only now is that they probably had forty years together, or more. That changes how I think about them."

Junior had never understood the reason for Jack's visit and for him to tear off in his truck like he did, but now it was all fitting together.

The afternoon wore on, Ennis related how it had all come to a head in 1983 with Jack giving up on him, and quitting him because he would not commit to seeing him more often nor living together. So that's the reason we have not seen each other these past thirteen years.

Junior was crying again, Ennis was crying too. "Oh daddy! Are you two going to be able to fix it?"

"Yes, we are. We have. We're going to be together, as soon as we figure out what and where. I'm going to Sterling this weekend so we can get started on our plans."

"And I'm the only one in the world who knows?"

"No. I doubt you are, little darlin', his son knew it when we met on Friday. He said "so you're The One?" Obviously, Jack had told him that there was someone special out there."

"What about Jenny?"

"I don't know how she'll take it, but I need to tell her now too."

Junior told her dad what Jenny had said to her on the phone:

"Well, ya know what Junior? I don't care what it is making him happy. I'm not sure if I realized he liked to fish that much, but if he does, or if he just likes going fishing with this Jack guy, then I'm all for it. I've worried for too many years about him being alone and sad, that I'm ready for him to be in a good mood, and have friends and whatever it takes."

And then she said, "We need to get her over here, now. How many times can you go through this?"

"Not many. You're right, let's call Jenny."

While Junior called her sister, Ennis plugged in the crock pot again and added another couple potatoes and carrots to a pot of water to quickly cook. Then he cracked open a couple tubes of biscuits and laid them out on cookie sheets. He decided that preheating the oven could wait till Jenny got there.

"She'll be here in a half hour or so. I'd like a beer now, dad."

Junior set the table for three, then paced and drank her beer. Ennis took several deep breaths and waited for his girl to get there. Junior was always "Junior", Jenny was "Jenny-girl" or just "girl". He heard her truck pull in and suddenly he had to pee. Oh, the body has its fight or flight mechanisms.

When she rushed in, she looked alarmed. "Now what's the matter over here?" she demanded.

Junior looked at her dad, and raised an eyebrow . . . like, are you telling this story, or am I?

Ennis cleared his throat. "I have something to tell you, Jenny, and until now I had no reason to - I thought. But now I must tell you and your sister and I finally want you to know the truth."

Jenny removed her coat and gloves and threw them across the couch. "Of course dad, what is it? Is it your health?"

All three found seats in the living area and Ennis began. "No, it is not my health. I've not been honest about who or what I am. Not with myself, with you nor your mother. Not with anyone."

"Junior told me you noticed a big change in me when I got back from the rodeo, and it's because I ran into Jack again. I thought I would never see him again, but I did, and now we have another chance."

"A chance, dad? A chance for what?"

"To be together, Jenny. We love each other. We always have. And I am not going to deny it any longer. So this is what I wanted to tell you girls."

Ennis talked some more, and with Jenny's questions and Junior's prompting, the whole entire story got told. From 1963 to 1996; all of it.

Jenny decided to have a beer too.

Then they ate biscuits and stew and rewound some old memories that they had never known the truth of, nor the whole story, until now. Both girls asked questions, and their dad answered honestly.

"So you don't hate me?"

The girls blinked. "Hate you? Whatever for? For sacrificing your life for what you believed was the right thing to do? Hell no. When will we see him again?"

Ennis started grinning. "I don't know. I'm supposed to go to Sterling this weekend so we can make plans, but I could have him come here the next weekend, meet with my family. Get this ball rolling in the right direction!"

"Yeah, do that! We don't want a sad sack for a daddy (or a grandpa) any longer, do we Junior?"

"No, we surely don't. Make him come here soon." And she smiled a big wide smile.

"What will you tell your kids and husbands?"

"Don't worry, dad, the truth will set you (and us) free."

Ennis put his head in his hands, "Really? Oh my gosh, no."

"The men are grown ups and will be okay with it, just as we are. The kids are kids and will grow up knowing the truth. It won't be a big deal, you'll see daddy."

Ennis called Jack that night at the pre-arranged time and shared his happy news. Jack was bowled over. Not that he thought the girls wouldn't understand, but that Ennis would ever step out of that closet, willingly. He could hardly wait for Thursday to get here. Ennis was driving in after work that night, and staying through Saturday at Jack's house in Sterling.

Jack had actually been working on plans to down-size his responsibilities ever since he and Ennis had found each other last week. Chances are, if he took on only one rodeo to manage, they could spend their days together.

He didn't really care what plans they made, as long as they made them together, and they could spend the rest of their lives waking up together each morning, and falling asleep each night in the same bed.

Bob was ready and willing to take on the whole central western district rodeo association from his dad. Perfect timing all the way around.

As it turned out, Ennis and Jack lived together near Barr Nunn in Ennis' house, and he kept his job at the warehouse for several years. At the same time, Jack managed the Wyoming State Rodeo Association, and Ennis traveled with him much of the time.

Both families gelled together amicably. Holidays were a hoot! Bob, Junior and Jenny were like the siblings they'd always wanted. Brady, Penny, Lucy, Timmy, Amy and Junior's twins Kurt Jr. and Meredith were cousins and happy to be so. When they had a family portrait made, they included the Twists, Tolers, Rawlins and Del Mars in one fabulously handsome group.

Lureen and Steve were frequent visitors and happy that Jack finally found peace with his beloved Ennis. Lu still considered Jack to be one of her very best friends, in spite of being her ex-husband.

Jack took up writing in his later years. One of his deepest regrets is that his mama never knew of his ultimate happiness. She passed away before he was lucky enough to pull together all the pieces of his life in just the way he wanted them.

Ennis continued to center his life around Jack, and vice versa. He has expanded his woodworking hobby, making furniture as well as whittling toys and small animals.

They traveled quite a bit before they decided it was just too much trouble to get their old bones around, what with their arthritis and all.

Now in January, 2013, they are both 68. They will turn 69 this year. They've decided to hell with what outsiders may think, and they are getting married. In February, the entire family will travel to Iowa, spend a week there, partying and celebrating and on Valentine's Day, February 14th, they will become husband and husband.

The Twist-Del Mar Family couldn't be happier!

The End