He went as far as he could with his plans to just up and disappear on his family, carefully leaving a way back "just in case."
Ennis’ old phone number over the laundromat had been disconnected and none of his postcards were answered, so Jack just assumed that Ennis would be waiting for him and leave hints in town where to find him.
Jack was so sure of himself that he called his parents to hint that his stormy marriage was breaking up and he might be moving up north there with a friend named Ennis to help with the Twist homestead. That would’ve been the third time he made that call… he hoped this time it’d stick.
When finally he could wait no longer, Twist nearly flew north in his truck; in fact at some railroad crossings, he actually left the ground. He was rushing to his man - his lover and had been rehearsing how he was going to make "Deke" real happy by leaving Lureen, but it’d cost the millionaire dearly. Jack’d would've left her for free, but Newsome didn’t have to know that.
Ennis at long last had come to his senses and left his wife; they’d finally be together like it should be, like it was meant to be. He was smiling so much his cheeks ached and he couldn’t help singing all the way north to Riverton.
He couldn’t find him.
After the divorce, Ennis had moved down to Signal to put some distance between him and Alma and got a job on the Stoutamire Ranch.
He rented an old run-down house at the far eastern edge of the spread. It wasn’t much, but as he was fond of saying, "If ya don’t have nothing, ya don’t need nothing." He'd have to put down permanent roots now in order to get visitation rights, which meant no more hopping from job to job on a whim.
It took a lot of hard work on the place before the court would let the girls stay there over weekends, and he was overjoyed at their being there with him at last.
Carl Stoutamire was so impressed, he gave Ennis five months rent for free in return for all the improvements to his property that had been made.
One morning Ennis went out back to tend the horses and discovered the rear driver’s side tire was flat on the Ford.
While in the barn, little Jenny came in carrying an old car magazine she’d found and showed her daddy an ad she’d discovered in the back “Cars and Trucks for sale” section.
“Honey, I cain’t afford no new truck,” he smiled.
“Look Daddy! It's just like yours!”
He smiled at his youngest, and after reading the ad, he frowned at it and then out through the shed doors at his truck.
Without his eyes leaving the pickup, he said, “Jenny, you’n Junior go through the paper ‘n pick out what movie ya wanna see tonight… Okay?”
She giggled and skipped her way back to the kitchen door.
Ennis shook his head dismissively and almost threw the old magazine away, but the picture recaptured his eye... then the familiar name in the ad.
Reading "Owner: Clarence Rand," brought a vision of a tall and wide jolly black man who fought him hard while negotiating the price of his pickup down. That was a man not easy to forget.
With a frown he muttered, "$5,000" to himself and exited the barn.
With a puzzled scowl, Ennis began pacing towards the Ford while rereading the ad.
Ennis reached his truck and opened the passenger door, hit the chrome button on the glove box, brought out the bill of sale and compared it with the ad.
LIKE NEW – 1966 Ford F-150 – Light blue & White - 115,110 original miles, like-new interior and exterior. Well taken care of, used only for freeway travel. Contact Clarence Rand for appointment (307) 555-2622. 8681 Clagdents Ct. Casper WY.
★★★★ Asking price best offer over $5,000. Must be seen to be believed! ★★★★
Previous owner: Clarence Rand
Owner’s address: 8581 Clagdents Ct. - Natrona County - Casper WY
Selling price: $750.00
Del Mar opened the hood and stared at the motor. It was dusty, caked with mud, but it’d never given him a lick of trouble… not one, so he never had to look in here, which was unusual.
He suddenly recalled buying new sparkplugs at 150,000 miles, and when he'd worked an old one out of its socket, it looked brand new. She didn’t drink oil like a truck that old neither.
He walked around it and noticed the bed was rusted and dented in a few places, the tailgate screamed on its hinges loudly when it was opened, but the cab was nearly perfect except where the paint was dull and oxidized as if the cargo bed come off a different truck.
He went to the passenger side utility compartment forward of the back wheel and pulled out the jack and tackle. Compared to the dusty and rusted compartment they came out of, the tools looked brand new.
Once he had the back end up off the ground and crawled underneath it, he found a dusty but brand-new looking spare tire. The comparison between the condition of the rear end differential and the rusty bed was stark in contrast. He pulled the wheel off to change the flat tire and found that it hid a new-looking brake drum and shoes.
Why the hell would someone…
“Daddy, we made breakfast!” called out proud Junior distracting him.
“In in a minute, lil' darlin’” he replied and after changing tires, he put everything back away and went towards the house frowning deep in thought.
As his hand touched the doorknob, he looked back at the pickup and remembered the many fights he'd gotten into with his best friend over Twist repeatedly offering to buy him a new truck.
Ennis muttered, “Jack fuckin’ Twist” under his breath. He’d punch the rich Texan in the mouth and hand the keys back to him, if he hadn’t grown so damned attached to the fuckin' thing.
At the kitchen table, he bit into partially burnt toast slices holding pan-fried baloney and a runny egg with melted cheese, and then nearly raw hashed browns. They were served with extreeeeemely strong and hot black coffee with a few grounds in it.
With his mind still on the truck, he decided to let sleeping dogs lie for once.
The ranchman winced as he took another sip from his cup, and complimented Junior and Jenny on how gooooood it was.
He lived for his girls’ smiles…
...That afternoon he’d fried up some trout he’d caught and had frozen on his last "fishing trip" with Jack, and the girls as usual loved it. He only got to see them one weekend a month and the time was precious to him.
After a nice day together teaching them how to ride horseback, he bundled them up in the truck on the earlier promise of a drive-in movie.
He was walking around to his door of the pickup when he heard a truck horn blaring away around the front of the house coming toward him and was astonished to see Jack pull up and jump out with his arms outspread.
Knowing the girls were watching, Ennis approached cautiously, darting his eyes at Jack towards his daughters, but Twist didn’t get the hint and rushed up to gave him an affectionate hug.
Ennis pulled away cautiously and asked, "What the hell are you doing here?"
"Hell, I drove fer hours up from Texas, asked a dozen people in Riverton where you’d moved to and that’s all ya gotta say?"
"Jack, I uh, you don’t understand, I…"
Jack stepped back and replied with a frown, "I got yer note about the divorce 'n all, 'n I figured that meant we…"
The look Ennis gave him froze Twist’s throat and del Mar’s eyes darted toward the truck again.
Shifting his arms so only one was around his shoulder, he guided Jack to the driver side of his old truck and gestured inward, saying, "Girls this is my old friend Jack; he’s a good fishin' 'n campin' buddy of mine."
Taken aback at his first sight of Ennis’ daughters, Jack simply said, "Hi."
They both stared, sort of stunned. As they’d grown up they’d heard fights through the bedroom wall between their parents about someone named Jack.
When the silence went a little too long, their father tersely said, "Say ‘hi’ girls,"
"Hi" they replied in unison as Ennis led him out of earshot.
Looking back at the girls, Jack continued, "I just figured that yer note meant that ya wanted to, that ya wanted me to… you know."
Ennis bowed his head, "Jack; I’m sorry… you know I am."
To Jack’s puzzled frown, he added, "I only get the girls once a month 'n I missed last month because of the roundup, so I…"
Something caught Ennis' eye out beyond the golden fields. A white Stoutamire Ranch pickup drove slowly by with two local men in it pointedly looking their way.
Ennis took a step backward and Jack followed his eyes and saw the men watching them too.
Twist nodded disappointment and said reluctantly, "Yeah, okay."
"Jack, if there was any way I could… Ya know I would,"
Jack realized that he wasn’t as important in Ennis’ life as he’d hoped he’d be, so he nodded again and turned to pace back to his truck.
As he opened the door, Ennis’ voice came from behind him at a distance, "I’ll see ya next month, right?"
Jack nodded and slammed his door, started the engine and gunned it backward, spitting gravel and dust, and was gone in moments.
The ache in Ennis’ heart was almost unbearable, because he missed Jack as much as Jack missed him.
He put on a happy smile and got in his pickup, "So what do my girls wanna see tonight?"
Jack sobbed heartbroken almost all the way back south. He was thankful he hadn’t gone too far with his plans and was so deep in thought that he missed the turn off home. So full was his heart with resentment and disillusionment, he couldn’t stand to see his wife and the life he didn’t want but would be stuck with probably the rest of his days, so he made a decision and headed toward Mexico.
It took him an hour or so to find a hustler who looked a lot like Ennis, and since Lureen thought he’d be gone a while, he spent the whole week with him.
Ennis was so sorry about the misunderstanding that he risked calling Jack’s home in Childress to apologize, but hung up when Lureen answered…
...Ennis wasn't being paranoid about being watched by his new boss and others; but not for the reason he assumed.
The locals didn't cotton to new problems in town, and it seems there was a quick-tempered local drunk of a man and his family by the name of Kyle del Mar that had lived there for pert near 8 years or so, and lots of folks wondered if newly-divorced Ennis was kin of the no-account troublemaker.
The brothers oddly never seemed to run into one and other since Ennis lived on a ranch in the outskirts, and Kyle moved from house to house in town. Since neither ever mentioned the other, they really didn't resemble each other after K.E. got a beer gut, and since Ennis was an introverted and responsible man who kept to himself, eventually everyone just assumed the names were a coincidence.
Ennis of course knew his brother was in town and would catch occasional glimpses of him, but their eyes never met, and neither sought out the other. After this many years, he doubted if Kyle would even recognize him since he was but a teenager when they parted ways.
One time, a lady store clerk addressed a woman with five misbehaving kids as "Mrs. del Mar," and Ennis curiously moved to get a closer look, smiling at how much they all resembled their daddy when he was a kid, but he never approached, nor spoke to her.
Oh there were close calls unawares when the two parked next to each other at stores, one would be arriving just as the other left, but that's as close as it came, and of course they used the same gas stations, hardware stores etc.
Ennis actually nodded or exchanged greetings with Joe Aguirre in town more than he'd ever catch glimpses of his brother Kyle.
He could never find his brother's phone number and address in the book. The ranch hand chose to have an unlisted phone number, while K.E. just barely kept his family fed and didn't have one most of the time because it was repeatedly disconnected.
Sometimes Ennis would cruise slowly past Aguirre's trailer or gaze up at Brokeback ever on the horizon...
A wrangler would invite him to go camping or hunting with him up there occasionally, but he never accepted
Don Rhoe occasionally would offer to let them use it for free, so they finally accepted and spent Christmas together for the first time, bagging an elk whose head they had mounted and put up on the wall there as a gift to him.
It was a good memory that they shared, but it wouldn’t last.
Ennis got poorer, Jack got richer, and it strained their relationship when Twist would offer to help financially no matter how small the amount, or even the gesture of buying a new saddle or some better boots for him.
The tension between them lingered for a long time after that and the years piled onto years for both men, but they still made time for their vacations together.
Ennis stuck to ranch work with Stoutamire but hired on here and there part time too, not getting much ahead but glad enough to be around stock again, free to drop things, quit if he had to, and go into the mountains with Jack on short notice.
With each passing year, Jack lost a tiny bit more hope. His trips to Mexico and most recently San Francisco became more frequent, but he needed love - Ennis' love - not just sex.
With each passing year, Twist's mind began seeking out someone to give him what del Mar wouldn't. He lost a little bit more optimism every time he drove through Signal on his way to his parents.
One Christmas he took Lureen and Bobby with him as a surprise to meet John and Martha only to find them not home and the house shut up tight. In a place where those remaining in Lightning Flat didn't lock their doors because no one was around, Jack's father had changed the locks.
Twist took it personally as an affront aimed directly at him by his parents.
After giving his wife and son a brief tour of the ranch he grew up on, they left the gifts at the kitchen door in a plastic garbage bag and drove back south.
Jack intentionally took a more easterly route after his wife asked if Ennis lived near Signal or Riverton and suggested they stop in and say hello.
That was one scene he definitely didn’t need to happen…
The years saw Ennis watching his girls gradually grow through their teens and he realized that the passage of time was moving too swiftly for him to keep up.
He’d date a woman now and again, but it never seemed to work out. As much as he hated to admit it, he’d always be comparing how he felt about Jack to how he felt about her and not many measured up... but he was tortured as to how to tell Jack he loved him.
He just assumed Jack would always be there.
Twist started to sense that and resentment began to build within him that del Mar took him for granted.
Paying the child support was rough on Ennis but he never missed one damned payment.
He was offered a permanent full-time job under the general manager on Carl Stoutamire’s ranch on the condition he quit all the other side work, and he began taking charge of the horses and managing roundups. It meant more money and was work he enjoyed, but it meant cutting down seeing Jack to only once in maybe seven or eight months.
The times were catching up to him too as Alma Junior and Jenny themselves went through the "unisex" trend, women’s rights movement and even the gay rights push. The girls grew their hair long and feathered like Farrah. Junior recently introduced a new boyfriend to him named Troy, who was on the high school baseball team. He had longer hair than she did.
One year Jack offered to take Ennis to San Francisco on vacation to experience men holding hands and kissing in public without shame but Ennis turned him down not feeling ready for that much "progress" just yet.
As modern culture began invading Wyoming, more and more young new-hire ranch hands wore their hair long too, snug bell-bottoms, and sported multi-colored clothing making Ennis feel even older and resenting Alma causing him to miss out on his own awakening and freedom.
If he expressed shock or wonder at it all, his daughters were quick to chastise him with an exasperated, "Oh Dad!"
Jack began to change with the times too, always talking about the stock market or investments, or the crazy economy. His sideburns grew even longer and his hair was about an inch shaggier than it used to be. Every other year he’d show up with a brand new and bigger pickup truck offering to sell Ennis his old one dirt-cheap… which made Ennis feel dirt-cheap, so he stuck to his ancient blue Ford... which had probably come from Jack too.
The only times he and Ennis were happy together were on their silent rides in the forests of the Tetons or the Big Horns on horseback. The single Christmas trip two years ago to Brokeback Mountain had spoiled Jack, but Ennis resisted going back to their mountain, so Jack stopped asking.
The two of them went to the incredibly tall Devils Tower to experience what little Bobby couldn’t stop talking about.
Two months later Ennis took the girls and the experience was incredible for everyone. Junior and Jenny’d pleaded with him to see it since watching "Close Encounters of the Third Kind at a theater in Riverton."
Ennis started wondering if people could tell he was "different" just by looking at him, but Jack told him he was just being paranoid and once even offered to help him move to Texas, but Ennis didn't want to leave his girls and didn't like the idea of them potentially living so close to Lureen.
His ego was too much part of his personality to admit he needed help from anyone - another gift from his father.
As his paranoia about being "found out" grew, he began seeing a young sexy waitress named Cassie Cartwright out of loneliness. He'd met her in Betsy’s one night and they became a regular couple in town. As they became good friends it even grew to a kind of love on his part to the point of him wanting to introduce her to his daughters...
L.D. mentioned how his son-in-law Jack Twist said he’d herded sheep up on Brokeback Mountain a couple of times, thinking he could drum some business out of the foreman since they had a mutual contact.
Aguirre grabbed the businessman’s elbow and steered him to a private room.
L.D. left the building half an hour later shaken.
Up in his hotel room he began making phone calls to an ex-police detective down in Houston he used to know...
...A week later, Jack came home and found his in-laws in the living room with Lureen and his son Bobby.
While greeting everyone in turn, he got around to his son playing with their living room phone and after giving him a hug the kid said, “Fuck you, Daddy,” plain as day.
The years of L.D. putting Twist down in front of his son flashed through Jack’s mind and he backhanded 11-year-old Bobby hard across the face.
Newsome and his wife got up and started protesting.
Angrily, Jack interrupted, “Is this how you teach your grandson to talk to his daddy?”
Twist grabbed his bawling son by the shoulder and took him into his study slamming the door behind them.
Shoving his disrespectful offspring into the chair opposite his desk, Jack sipped a little fine whisky to calm his nerves.
Twist looked across the desk at his frightened son and patiently asked. “Who told ya to say that to me, son?”
Jack huffed out a frustrated sigh, then looked at his child again. “Bobby, I will never no never punish ya if'n you tell me the truth.”
The kid whined, “I was playing a game, honest Daddy.”
“With yer Grandpa?”
“No; all by myself. When Mama ‘n them git to talkin’ ‘n all, it gits borin’, so I was playin’ a game with myself.”
Now completely lost, Jack shook his head and patiently asked, “I don’t understand son.”
“I was seein’ how many words I could make up out of our phone number, usin’ the letters on the buttons.”
Jack frowned over at the phone on his desk and after a moment realized that the corresponding letters on the number buttons for their phone number spelled F-U-C-K-Y-O-U.
Bobby watched his father rest both elbows on the desk and cover his face with his hands. What the boy could see of his daddy’s forehead had turned beet red and suddenly his shoulders began heaving up and down and Jack burst out laughing so hard he was crying.
“Cuh huh huh mere,” he gasped out at his boy, and Bobby went running to land on his daddy’s lap to get an affectionate kiss from his old man on the forehead.
While they shared a warm father and son hug, a soft knock was heard at the door.
Lureen poked her head in on a scene of fatherly love, “Ever’thing alright in here men?”
Jack laughed out, “Git yer ass in here woman ‘n close the door!”
With her back now against the door, Lureen waved a motherly index finger at her boy and put in her two cents, “Young man, that was a very disrespectful and rude thing ya said to yer daddy out there. That’s the kinda thing ya only say to people ya hate.”
Jack nodded at Bobby, “Yer mama’s right boy; you listen to what she says.”
Her two men looked at each other only seconds… then burst out laughing. Bobby fell overboard off his father’s lap and landed on the floor in a puddle of giggles, while Jack rested his forehead on the desk repeatedly pounding his fist on its surface.
Lureen stood there with her mouth gaping open, appalled and mystified.
Jack looked up at her and barely snickered out, “Come around here and look at this.”
When she did, he picked up the phone and showed her.
Out in the living room, the Newsomes were dumbfounded to hear their daughter suddenly scream, quickly followed by uncontrolled laughter…
Monroe’s full name was Monroe William Monroe and for some reason after they were married she insisted on referring to him as "Bill;" why was anyone’s guess. He told Ennis that he’d been fighting with Alma a lot lately because he thought that Ennis deserved more time with the girls and she didn't agree but wouldn't say why.
Always the good-natured one, Monroe put it down to the resentment and scorn of an ex-wife. They became instant friends and because of del Mar's irregular schedule Monroe agreed to allow him to take his "weekends" with the girls any time he wanted and even extend them when time and school permitted.
Something else must’ve happened between him and Alma.
Ennis didn’t know what, but he was glad of it. He smiled remembering what a bitch she was when she was pregnant both times and figured that’s probably what it was.
The beginning of November 1980, Ennis sent word to Jack that he’d be able to get the week of Thanksgiving off and they immediately made plans to spend it in the Tetons.
Jack joyfully started researching ways of surprising Ennis by roasting a turkey outdoors or if it was even safe (what with salmonella and all) or possible to cook it all the way through and started calling department stores and camping supply houses.
Jack, Lureen and Bobby had gone camping over Labor Day weekend at Lake Kemp, and while his wife didn’t really enjoy "roughing it," she saw a glow of pure fun and enjoyment in her husband out there and came to realize why his trips were so important to him.
Lately his wife seemed to understand about his occasional need to do "manly" things like hunting and fishing too. She knew he loved it, but she wouldn’t allow Bobby to tag along when he went up north because of both of their fears that he’d either wander off and get lost, or get hurt somehow.
His Thanksgiving project started looking too complicated, so he settled for pre-cooking a turkey at home, surprisingly enough with Lureen’s enthusiastic help and in separate containers went bread stuffing, yams, corn, gravy, dinner rolls and mashed potatoes he’d made all by himself and packed in dry-ice.
His plan was to just suddenly have the whole meal appear out of the blue roasting on a spit and warming over the campfire for Ennis.
He smiled in anticipation for a whole week just thinking about the look on his beloved horseman’s face when he saw it.
Jack suspected she actually seemed to want him to be with Ennis this holiday, but couldn’t figure out why.
When he’d puzzled back over it, it seemed as if this trip was actually her idea.
L.D. Newsome had other schemes for the holiday festivities.
Just as Jack had packed up his brand new dark blue Chevy Silverado, his father in law called and announced that he and his wife were inviting themselves to his house for Thanksgiving.
Lureen wasn’t all that concerned about her husband missing the holiday, but seizing the opportunity to meet the "mystery man" in Jack’s life, she suggested Ennis come down to Texas to have the holiday meal with them instead.
Maybe she was beginning to suspect that this "rancher friend" was actually another woman.
Jack said Ennis' old pickup truck probably couldn’t make the drive down and that was that. He’d just shorten the trip and be back in time for his in-laws.
Lately, except for occasional spats about how much he didn’t like Bobby’s tutor, Jack had been getting along well with Lureen after all the years of indifference. Twist began wondering if maybe a business disagreement she’d had with L.D. may have caused a little animosity between father and daughter.
Jack backed her up on her decision not to carry a line of expensive farm equipment that only a handful of ranchers would buy and they’d make very little profit on.
When Deke went ahead and ordered 5 units costing nearly a million dollars, Lureen called the manufacturer behind his back and canceled the order.
She and her father eventually made up, but Jack could tell that they were still pissed at each other.
Lureen’s mother Fayette, concerned about Bobby’s slow behavior and how he’d stare into space for long periods of time, backed Jack up about getting him a special tutor over last summer, though he didn’t approve of the overly religious one his mother-in-law had chosen.
Deke must’ve noticed his wife and daughter had seemed to side with Jack and the resentment was building up since school had started up again.
Jack figured Newsome was itching for a showdown with his son-in-law and Twist was in no mood to go back under his thumb, especially in front of his wife and son.
As soon the truck pulled away, Lureen got busy on the phone to a secretary neighbor of hers to tell her boss that her husband and just left…
...On the way up to the mountains Jack stopped off at a department store and bought a set of new carving knives and a fancy bone china serving set with a big and expensive sterling silver tray that he figured Lureen would like.
His wife loved expensive things that she could show off to her friends.
Twist was pulled over by the cops in a speed trap just north of town and appeared nervous. He said he was hurrying to Wyoming and he had a whole dinner prepared and stored in back and was worried it might not keep.
The cop asked to see and was impressed, but wanted the receipts for the pricey dinnerware, observing it was an odd choice to use on a camping trip.
Twist laughed and said it was to appease his wife for letting him go instead of staying home for the holiday and the married cop nodded knowingly and laughed.
After letting him off with just a warning, the officer sent him on his way.
As he pulled away, Jack let out a loud sigh of relief that the cop was too distracted to find a bagged up "souvenir" from Mexico in his armrest…
…Ennis was disappointed that their holiday had to be cut short but there was nothing to be done, so they made the best of it and had a good time despite themselves.
Jack and Ennis were back on good terms again after their fight about him not being able to see del Mar as much as he wanted to, so they went into it with their hopes high.
Speaking of "highs," it was the first time Jack shared some weed with Ennis.
Even when they were arguing it was fun while buzzed on marijuana, though his thoroughly stoned buddy did almost lose all of their campsite cookware after it took off floating downstream during a hazy and strange argument about he and his girls moving or not moving to Texas and Jack adopting them.
They had Jack's special meal Tuesday and spent practically all of Wednesday sleeping.
To show his appreciation Ennis was especially good in their sleeping bag on their last night on the mountain... or maybe it was just the entire week's supply of Mexican weed that they tried to smoke in just those last two days?
He noticed his wife had changed hair colors to a light blond that was nearly white. Rather than get into it with her, he barely mentioned it except to compliment how she looked, wanting to keep her on his side against her father.
Her face lit up when she saw the serving set and while his mother-in-law Fayette gushed over it, Lureen quickly reset the table with the new dinnerware.
Newsome took the attitude he always had; anything Jack gave his daughter was charity that came out of the old man’s pocket first whether Twist earned it himself through hard work or not.
Jack was initially taken back by the look of hostile contempt that his father-in-law shot him at first sight, but wrote it off to the old man’s usual mind-set.
Neither Jack nor Lureen knew about Deke's boyhood spent as a fake cripple in his father's religious salvation cons across the western U.S.
Unlike his sham of a preacher/con-man father though, L.D. did occasionally believe in God when it suited his mood, and the disgusting revelation from Joe Aguirre about his son-in-law on Brokeback was something that was never far from his thoughts. In fact on this holiday he was having a particularly hard time hiding how he felt about it.
Senior and Fayette sat in the living room watching football with Bobby.
Jack passed through the dining room, paused to admire the table, and shook his head at those goddamned awful lavender chairs, remembering his embarrassment every time they had company over for dinner.
Back when they first got married, if his meddling mother-in-law had had her way the place would be all purple and pink with the walls looking like they'd been hosed down with Pepto-Bismol.
Making an effort to go unnoticed, Twist retreated to his den and slipped his headphones on to listen to music for a few hours.
Around four, the inescapably wonderful aroma of roasted turkey reached his den as Lureen came in and got him. While Jack pulled the bird out of the oven and got things ready, she called everyone in to the festively set table.
Twist almost said something as he saw from the kitchen that Newsome had parked himself at the head of the table, but Lureen whispered in her father's ear while filling bowls with cream of turkey soup.
Even then, he only grudgingly moved when his usually stone-faced wife quietly prompted him too.
Par for the course.
Jack settled for listening to the football game on the TV out in the living room, paying attention just long enough to get the score before Lureen came in from serving and kissed him, thanking him again for the new table setting.
Twist smiled, at least he had her for an ally for a while, especially today.
Jack ladled some more drip juice from the bottom of the pan over the bird and then picked up the fancy turkey. With a prompt from his wife, he screwed a half-hearted smile on his face and as he entered the dining room called out "Heeeeeeeere we are!" trying to sound like Ed McMahon announcing Johnny Carson.
Jack prepared for an argument over who was going to say grace and give thanks for the meal.
As Lureen took her place at the table, Newsome swiftly stood up and grabbed the carving knives before Jack had even finished setting it down.
All thoughts of saying grace were immediately forgotten.
In a correcting tone and a smirk, Senior’s first words to Jack all afternoon were disrespectful. "Hold on Rodeo, the stud duck’ll do the carving around here."
Jack had expected him to pull something like that and rather than cause more friction than there was in the house already, had planned in advance to allow him the privilege.
Lureen at the other side of the table pursed her lips but said nothing as if she’d expected it too after her father tried to take over the head of the table.
While her husband muttered something about saving his father-in-law the trouble, Lureen calmed down and redirected the attitude she was about to give her father to her son instead.
Bobby’s eyes and attention were focused out of the dining room watching the TV in the living room with a blank stare on his face.
"Bobby," she correctively warned, "if ya don’t eat yer dinner, I’m gonna have to turn that TV off."
As his son began protesting in a spoiled voice about having to eat turkey for a whole week, Jack felt the need to reassert control in his own house.
Twist stood up saying as he passed by the kid’s chair, "Ah now you heard yer mama." Walking across the living room, he turned off the set and added, "You finish yer meal and then ya can watch the game."
Twist made a point of resting a reassuring hand on his wife’s shoulder in passing and she gave him an impish smile for standing his own ground.
Newsome watched resentfully as Jack returned to his chair at the head of the table.
When L.D. Newsome was in a room, he was in charge damn it! Before Jack even reseated himself, the old man put down the carving set and headed for the TV, flashing narrowed and determined eyes at his daughter as he passed.
Wanting to avert a holiday showdown, she asked "Daddy?"
Newsome ignored her.
This time in a warning tone, clearly indicating she’d side with her husband if he didn’t stop now, she repeated louder, "Daddy."
As the set came back on, Newsome smirked directly at Jack and announced, "Hell, ya don’t eat with yer eyes do ya?" then with a dig directly at Jack he added, "Ya want yer son to grow up to be a man don’t ya daughter?" and having gone that far cleared his throat at his son-in-law and added, "Boys should watch football."
The insult was clear and Jack avoided his wife’s eyes while fiddling with his suddenly tight wedding ring and quickly stood up. He’d be damned if he’d let that bastard insult him in his own house, in front of his own wife and son.
Getting up from the table, Jack quickly advanced back to the TV announcing in a barely controlled voice, "That boy is gonna finish eatin’ a meal that his mama spent over three hours cooking first!" then hit the button shutting it off, making a point of loudly slamming the little door closed hiding the set's controls and then stalked back toward his seat.
It was now obviously a face-off and Newsome was determined to assert his authority. Before Jack even took his seat, Deke had put the knives back down again and took a couple of determined steps with a smug look on his face back towards the living room.
Suddenly from behind him Jack’s enraged voice yelled, "Now you sit down, ya old son of a BITCH!"
Lureen’s mother’s eyes widened and her jaw dropped, not knowing whether to cheer or cower in fear at her husband's coming reaction.
Newsome froze in his tracks, his back to Jack hiding his reaction as Lureen held her breath in shock.
Just short of screaming it out, Jack announced to his surprisingly stunned father-in-law, "This is MY house, that is MY child, and you are MY guest... Now you sit yer ignorant ass down before I knock ya into next week!"
Jack held his breath and surveyed the room for allies.
Fayette swallowed hard.
Lureen had a wide-eyed "WHOA!!!!!!!!" look of alliance with her husband and had to bow her head to keep from cracking up at the expense of her father's pride.
Encouraged, Jack looked over and found that Bobby was still staring at the dark TV in a trance as if he hadn’t noticed any of it.
Daring to glance up at his father-in-law, Jack was as stunned at the look on L.D’s face.
Almost meekly, Newsome smoothly turned tail and sat back down beside his stone-faced wife.
Fighting to calm himself, Jack stood and grabbed the carving knives as Lureen gave Bobby a proud "See?" expression to her son indicating his father.
Obediently, Bobby picked up his spoon and started eating his soup.
The rest of the meal went in near silence, though half an hour into it the phone rang. Lureen answered it in a low voice out in the kitchen and after coming back to the table was noticeably friendlier with her husband.
Without knowing it, Jack had been right; she’d all but pushed him intentionally into spending thanksgiving with Ennis so she’d be able to tell for sure when their joint trail could be picked up.
The private detective reported that he indeed did go camping, and with a man who owned an old Ford truck registered in Signal Wyoming to a Mr. Ennis del Mar.
Well, at least it wasn't another woman; now if she could only figure out what was keeping him so preoccupied on those trips of his.
Jack knew he hadn’t heard the end of it from Deke Newsome…
...That night the Newsome Mansion received a late visitor. A private detective delivered an audio cassette of the phone tap his employer had ordered on his own daughter's house. Near the end of it, L.D. suddenly pulled off his headphones and frowned, then jotted down a name that sounded familiar. Deke wrote and said, "EEEEEEEnnis dellllll Marrrrrrrrr."
Aguirre and mentioned him; probably his faggot son-in-law's boyfriend.
The businessman reached over and picked up his phone...
Sitting between his girls and talking horses to them, he spent the meal telling jokes and trying not to be a sad daddy.
It was obvious that Alma didn’t like the idea at all but went along with it for the sake of the girls, who missed their doting father. She never smiled once through the whole meal.
Ennis saw she really was pregnant by about four or five months.
Over the loud clatter of the electric carving knife that Junior had bought her stepfather for his birthday last week, they had a nice dinner and though Monroe was polite, he mostly stayed quiet.
After the pumpkin pie, while the girls and Monroe watched a skating competition on TV, Alma got Ennis off in the kitchen and while she scraped plates into a bowl, said she worried about him living all alone and that he ought to get married again.
"Once burned," he said, leaning against the counter, feeling too big for the room.
He dug at her, so she decided to return the favor.
"You still go fishin' with that Jack Twist?"
"Not often… some," he replied reluctantly.
He thought she’d take the pattern off the plate she was scraping.
"Ya know," she said, and from her tone he knew something was coming, "I used to wonder how come you never brought any trouts home. You always said ya caught plenty 'n ya know how me 'n the girls like fish. So one time I got yer creel case open the night before ya went on one a yer little trips… price tag still on it after five years 'n I tied a note on the end of the line.
It said, ‘Hello Ennis, bring some fish home-love Alma.’ And then you come back looking all perky 'n said ya caught a bunch a browns 'n ate them up. Do ya remember? I looked in that case when I got a chance 'n there was my note still tied there 'n that line hadn’t touched water in its life."
"That don’t mean nothin' Alma," he warned in a low tone.
Alma realized suddenly she’d gotten in over her head and began breathing heavily in fear, tears dropping from her eyes, "Don’t lie, don’t try to fool me no more Ennis. I know what it means. Jack Twist? Jack Nasty - Jack NASTY. You didn’t go up there to fish you went up…"
"Shut up," he warned through gritted teeth, "You don’t know nothin' about it."
She’d overstepped his line. He seized her wrist and twisted; tears sprang and rolled, a dish clattered.
"I’m gonna yell fer Bill!"
"You fuckin go right ahead. Go on 'n fuckin’ yell. I’ll make him eat the fuckin floor 'n you too!" He gave another wrench that left her with a burning wrist bracelet.
Working his way loose of her, he fled the kitchen as she screamed repeatedly, "Get out, git out of this house!"
On his way through the living room he shoved his hat on backward, gave Monroe a stern warning look that kept him seated and slammed out the front door to the sound of Jenny and Alma Junior calling out from the porch after him, "Daddy? Bye Daddy! Daddy?"
In a rage, he drove through falling snow towards town and found a bar, but was too pissed to pay attention and crossed the street on foot right in front of an oncoming pickup that slid to a stop to avoid him.
Past caring, he tried to punch out the cussing driver and got his face pressed to the cold and wet street in a fight he couldn’t hope to win.
Rubbing his wounds, he picked himself up and went into the Black and Blue Eagle bar that night, got drunk, had a another short dirty fight and left.
He didn’t try to see his girls for a couple of months, figuring they would look him up when they got the sense and years to move out from Alma…
…Twist and del Mar were no longer young men with all of it before them.
Jack grew a "salt & pepper" mustache and had filled out through the shoulders and hams; Ennis stayed as lean as a clothes pole, stepped around in worn boots, jeans and shirts summer and winter, only adding a canvas coat in cold weather. A benign growth appeared on his eyelid and gave it a drooping appearance; a broken nose healed crooked.
Time passed and they faithfully continued their trips into the surrounding mountains together. They always made love, but never spoke the word and always there was never enough time.
Jack always willing to drop everything at a moment’s notice…
Ennis never willing to take a chance.
Down in Texas Lureen showed a skill for management and hard deals and she eventually took over the business completely, making Jack the General Manager.
Twist moved into L.D’s office and her father never set foot in the place again… which suited both of them fine.
While she wheeled and dealed, Jack went to stock and agricultural-machinery shows. He had some money now and found ways to spend it on his buying trips.
A little Texas accent flavored his sentences over the years, "cow" twisted into "kyow" and "wife" coming out as "wahf..."
Jack got pressure from Lureen, and Ennis got the very same grief from his daughters: They both needed to stop sounding like uneducated "hicks from the sticks."...
...In a big house up on a hill in Childress Texas, little Bobby Twist sat in his Grandpa Newsome's den alone.
The door opened and L.D. entered with a big smile. "Guess what Little Rodeo... can ya keep a really good secret?"
Bobby's face broke out with a big loving grin, "What?"
"Yer mama 'n daddy's gonna be on one of them hidden-camera TV courtroom shows. Them producers are lookin' for a little boy actor too, but yer daddy said no, 'cause you was too young 'n stupid, so I secretly fixed it so ya can be the star, but yer daddy don't know it. You think ya can do that; learn some lines and not be nervous when yer mama 'n daddy see ya starrin' up there?"
"SURE!!!" he gushed and ran to hug his beloved grandpa.
"Now, they's gonna act real mad at what yer sayin' and upset that yer lyin', but they're only actin' their parts like them Hollywood actors, so don't be scared of 'em and forgit yer lines."
"We'll sure show yer daddy you ain't too stupid to be a big Hollywood actor, now won't we?" he proclaimed, tickling his grandson into uncontrollable giggles...
...That night Jack and Lureen came home from a fancy dinner in town. Twist got out in the rain to raise the double-wide garage door only to discover Newsome's '38 Packard was gone.
Fayette called the next day and told her daughter that Deke had mysteriously begun selling off some of his real-estate assets...
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Important notice about this novel: This adaptation of the original short story was
written by Vernon "Jet" Gardner © 2005-2012 and contains enhanced versions of all of the original's events written by Annie Proulx, Larry McMurtry & Diana Ossana in red/black/green.
All text in blue written by Vernon "Jet" Gardner published here ©2005-2013.
Reproduction in any form or use of unique characters is
forbidden without permission of the author.