The Births, Lives, Times, Secrets and Deaths of Ennis del Mar and Jack Twist

Brokeback Mountain The Complete Novel 1943-2006 XXVII

Chapter 27 ~ If I Should Come To Know Them

Their place
Note: Text in red is quoted from the original short-story that was not included in the movie.
Images can be clicked on to e-n-l-a-r-g-e them.

Author's Note: I named the Proulx River after Annie to honor her.

Linda Higgons, the owner of Higgins Quik Stop Gas Gifts 'n Car Wash, eyed the stranger's out-of-state drivers license and jotted down notes on the sizable check he'd just written her. As she compared the face on the license to the man in front of her, he said, "This is a description of his truck and..."

Linda snorted, "Hell I know Ennis, ain't no need a'cause that boy's in here regular pert near twice a week."

The stranger politely tipped his hat and muttered, "Thanks." on his way out the door.

He paused and looked back at her sternly, "Ya ain't never seen me a day in yer life. The extra in that check is to see that it stays that-a-way."

She nodded and assured confidently, "I dealt with this kinda thing before; put yer mind at ease; he'll get what he deserves."

Moments later, the stout woman wrote down his license plate as he drove away, then called her burly mechanics out of the service bay, giving them instructions on what to do the next time Ennis del Mar showed up at her place...

...As planned, Jack and Ennis spent three cold days at a series of little icebound, no-name high lakes, then worked across into the Hail Strew River drainage, looking for some place warmer to spend their last vacation days.

Both knew where they were headed and they arrived the next morning. Jack had looked it up on a map once and discovered that the little stream that fed the Proulx River was called Pine Creek.

Ennis grinned and nodded, saying the name fit, and said it to himself a couple of times to fix it in his memory.

They found the same log bridge across it and the vista of Brokeback rising high above majestically covered with snow.

After setting up the tent, they rode up to where the sheep had been pastured and stood on the knoll where it all began.

After a night of making love like they had the first night twenty years ago, they headed for lower ground Monday morning.

Jack led the way to a place he’d discovered up here on a lonely trip by himself last year because Ennis never seemed lately to want to come to Brokeback until now.

This lower section of the tea-colored Proulx River was much wider and ran fast with snowmelt, a swirl of white rushing bubbles at every high rock, pool and setback. The tall lodgepole pines swayed stiffly as hawks argued overhead somewhere.

The horses drank and Jack dismounted, scooped icy water up in his hand, crystalline drops falling from his fingers, his mouth and chin glistening wet.

"Get beaver fever doin’ that," warned Ennis with a smile, then, "Good enough place," looking at a level piece of ground by the water with two or three stone fire rings from old hunting camps.

A sloping paddock rose behind the bench, protected by a stand of timber. There was plenty of dry wood. The incredible panorama of Brokeback’s peaks was beyond compare from the flat meadow they’d chosen.

They set up camp without saying much, settling the horses in the meadow.

Jack broke the seal on a bottle of whiskey, took a long, hot swallow, exhaled forcefully and declared, "That’s one of the two things I need right now."

He eyed his friend lovingly as he capped and tossed it to Ennis. Their tent was a more modern one with a kerosene heater and they made love through the night and into the morning.

Jack made Ennis promise that they’d come up to this very spot again in August. Jack had very special plans for a late birthday celebration since Ennis couldn't get away in June on his upcoming fortieth birthday... which just happened to be their twentieth anniversary since meeting on Brokeback.

It was even more important to Twist since they'd both completely forgotten their tenth back in 1973.

Ennis seemed to bristle at the mention of August, but despite his apparent reluctance, he smiled and agreed to.

From now on it’d be "their" place.

As they prepared to settle in for the night, each noticed the other seemed to have something weighing on their minds.

Ennis looked uphill in the dark with a sad remembrance expression on his face and softly said "Pine Creek…

$10,000 For Bait
The sun was setting as a very alive L.D. Newsome sat in a rented silver Lincoln Continental town car smoking a cigar. By the fancy dash clock he’d been waiting here half an hour.

All around him vehicles swarmed in and out of the Casper Wyoming grocery chain’s parking lot.

Five minutes passed and a brand new '83 brown Camaro Z28 pulled into the slot to his left with a hearty growl from its custom exhaust.

Leaving it idling, Kurt "Kirk" Kirkwood, an athletically handsome tall and well-built 22-year-old shaggy blond man wearing old tennis shoes, form-fitting jeans, a green jersey, and a John Deere baseball cap got out of the driver-side and came around to lean on his rear quarter panel opposite Newsome’s door.

Newsome had gotten a very good deal on that sporty Chevy for Kurt, the down payment and credit reference for which was considered a retainer for the two young men from Oklahoma to be at his beckon call. Kirkwood had decided to hold onto his old brown 1979 Z28 too, to drive on "jobs" for L.D. but he couldn't resist bringing the new one on this trip. Besides with Newsome you knew what would piss him off and it was a good idea to keep a spare... just in case.

A younger male brunette stranger, a little stockier than Kirk sat staring straight ahead in the suped-up Camaro’s passenger seat.

Several men had been put in the hospital, others maimed, and a couple were even killed just for the crime of pissing L.D. off and Kirkwood and his deadly partner were mainly responsible. The young hunk was good at his job and not a single scar or scratch marred his flawless shaved body.

His eye-catching physique was one of the most important tools of his lucrative trade and he knew it.

As L.D. hummed his window down, the stranger in Kirk's car did too.

The good-looking blond did the talking for them both. With a nod of his hat he said, "Hey there L.D., nice to see ya again."

Newsome looked out his window and up at the cocky grin on Kurt’s friendly face, "Well?"

The young man frowned, "You were serious? Ya goin' queer on me Mr. Newsome?"

L.D. was in no mood for jokes and his expression held a barely controlled temper and impatience.

Kirk shrugged, pulled the cap off his head and placed it on the car top behind him, reached to his waist and pulled the t-shirt up over his head and tossed it into the car on Cory's lap, and then combed his fingers through his golden hair to straighten it again.

Giving him grudging approval, he huffed and observed that the hair was a bit long, but that's how they wore it these days.

Kirkwood reached around and replaced the green cap on his head as the businessman reached over to his passenger seat and handed a bulging envelope out of the window.

Kurt took it and from the stack counted out 40 one-hundred-dollar bills. With a smirk he handed the $4,000 to Cory Baint, his friend and partner-in-crime around behind him in the car.

"When do we start?"

Newsome sneered, "I hear tell faggots are attracted to you like a bear to honey."

A flash of anger crossed Kirkwood's face, and then vanished considering the cash he was holding. Newsome was just getting him back for the "queer" remark.

As a teen Kurt often used his exceptional good looks and killer smile to lure unsuspecting fags into secluded alleys and bar bathrooms so that he and his buddies could ambush, rob and then beat the shit out of them for fun, profit and beer money. Kirkwood spent 6-months in juvenile detention for it.

Gradually, his well-practiced grin answered, "That's just one of my specialties; though they don't seem to enjoy the experience for too long after my buddies got a hold of 'em."

The masculine stud often bragged of keeping no less than two girlfriends at a time, and he had the muscled brawn and natural good looks that other guys envied to do it.

Kirkwood narcissistically added, "Ain't a man 'r woman can keep their eyes off me from between my nipples to my crotch... it's my stock 'n trade."

The rich man's stone face nodded. "That's what I'm a countin' on."

Newsome handed out an old newspaper clipping that only announced Jack’s arrest for molesting his son and the upcoming trial… but not why he was later found innocent or the result of the defamation suit that cost Deke his business, a quarter million and his reputation.

Kirk read it and going on the only facts he had, he nodded that that pervert Twist deserved a good beating, then handed it back saying, "Good enough reason… but then ya always have one, don’t ya?"

The brawny blond reached down and adjusted the denim-covered mound at his crotch.

Newsome’s eyes followed Kirkwood’s hand as it drifted up to caress his defined and hairless abs, and realized even he couldn’t keep his eyes of this Adonis for long and suffered a full-body shudder in disgust at himself.

Kurt grinned knowingly, “See?”

The rich man's stone face replied, "I need to convince his disbelievin’ old man that Jack Twist cain’t take his eyes off a ya ta prove he’s a queer; otherwise it’s a no-go."

Deke reached out and touched the money and the clipping in Kirkwood’s hand. "That’s my grandson they’re talkin’ about there. I want justice; he got off on a technicality," he said lying through his teeth.

Kurt replied, "Justice sometimes comes at a high price, L.D."

They'd been promised $8,000 and as Kirkwood counted the remaining bills, he discovered there was $2,000 extra. He casually shoved it in the pocket of his tight Levis without a word; Cory didn't have to know about the bonus.

Before he asked, Newsome told Kirk, "The extra’s because I want to see that son-of-a-bitch suffer bad first… I mean a lot."

Kirk nodded and looked at L.D. expectantly. A pair of bib overalls were handed out next, stacked on top of a pair of dark blue one-piece mechanic's coveralls. Atop those were two fake Wyoming driver's licenses.

Newsome started his car and replied, "Come on; we’ve got driving to do 'n we're losin' daylight."

The Continental swiftly moved to the parking lot exit with its left turn signal on. In the rearview mirror the shiny new Camaro Z28 rumbled up behind and when the light changed they headed north and then west.

Thanks to old man Twist’s heartbroken call last night, L.D. knew exactly when and where his prey would be in a couple of days…

You Gotta Better Idea?
...Tuesday morning the clouds came that Ennis had expected, a gray racer out of the West, a bar of darkness driving wind before it and small flakes. It faded after an hour into tender spring snow that heaped wet and heavy. By nightfall it had turned colder.

Jack and Ennis set up lawn chairs facing the water and passed a joint back and forth next to the fire burning late.

After about an hour, Twist had turned restless and was bitching about the cold, poking the flames with a stick and twisting the dial of the transistor radio until the batteries died.

Scanning the darkening sky, Jack's breath appeared before him like a fog as he commented, "Gonna snow fer sure tonight."

Ennis silently nodded, handing their third joint back to him.

Twist took a good deep toke passing it back and he let the smoke out slowly, "All this time 'n you ain’t never found no one to marry?"

Ennis said he’d been "putting the blocks" to a woman who worked part-time at the Wolf Ears bar in Signal where he was still working for Carl Stoutamire’s cow-and-calf outfit, but it wasn’t going anywhere and she had some problems he didn’t want. "She’s studying to be a nurse too, er something… I don’t know."

Jack admitted he’d had a thing going with the wife of a rancher down the road in Childress and for the last few months he’d sneak around expecting to get shot by Lureen or her husband Randy, catching his breath at the mention of the name, wishing he could inhale it back.

Not noticing, Ennis laughed a little and said he probably deserved it if one of them bagged him.

Jack bowed his head.

They’d have to leave early tomorrow for him to get to his parent’s by noon. If his father agreed, Randy was waiting in Riverton for his call to head north separately to Lightning Flat in a rental car where they’d meet up.

With his parents away on their retreat in Montana afterward, they’d have the place to themselves.

His aching wish that Ennis would come with him instead got more intense, making him sad. Unless he could talk this man into finally committing to their mutual and long-standing love, this would be the last time he’d ever see del Mar.

Jack had told himself that so many times before, but this time he knew he’d do it. It hurt too much to think he’d wasted his whole life hoping for this man that he loved. The heartache of the situation was just too much to bear any more.

After a long, long thoughtful pause, Jack admitted in pain and near tears, "I tell ya what…" Ennis looked over into his eyes. "…Sometimes I miss you so much, I can hardly stand it."

The horses nickered in the darkness beyond the fire’s circle of light. If Ennis had said anything to that, which was doubtful, it wasn’t heard, he just looked into the glow at the end of the joint and then silently across to the mountains.

Without getting up Jack threw deadwood on the fire, the sparks flying up with their truths and lies.

That night, Ennis was especially tender with Jack as they made love in the tent, both satisfied afterward to just hold each other in their arms till they fell asleep.

The next morning they talked about nothing and made love again, knowing it’d have to last a while before they could come back up here.

Jack pondered if it’d be their last time and at that moment would’ve sold his soul if Ennis would just admit he loved him. Twist suspected that a loveless life with Randall would be more misery than what he was feeling now.

Afterward, Ennis put his arm around Jack, pulled him close, fretting over how much he missed his daughters and how he only saw his girls about once a month, Alma, Jr. had grown to be a shy nineteen-year-old with his beanpole length, Jenny a little live-wire tomboy. "I used to wanna boy fer a kid," said Ennis, "but just got little girls."

"I didn’t want none of either kind," said Jack. "But fuck-all nothin’ has worked the way I wanted. Nothin' never come to my hand the right way."

Ennis pulled Jack into his strong arms. One thing never changed: the brilliant charge of their infrequent couplings was darkened by the sense of time flying, never enough time, never enough.

On the ride down the mountain trial, Jack weighed whether it was worth it to keep the relationship with Ennis going; after all he’d cheated on his wife with him, so why not cheat on Randall with him too?

An hour later at the Proulx River B public trailhead parking lot overlooking their mountain and Proulx Lake, with the horses loaded into the back of del Mar's truck, Ennis was ready to head back around the mountain to Signal, Jack up to Lightning Flat to see his folks for a few days.

Twist realized that if this was indeed their last meeting, his horse “Trusty” would be leaving with del Mar. Nodding to himself, he decided that if it came to that, Ennis could keep her.

As Jack loaded the camping equipment into his truck bed and pulled the rear driver's side door open, something fell out of his coat pocket.

Ennis bent down to pick it up, but Twist's hand reached it first. He tossed whatever it was through to the front passenger seat, shoved his saddle on the back seat, and then pushed the rear door shut.

It looked like a blank department store music cassette and del Mar could swear it had ENNIS written on the label in black magic marker, but he wasn't sure.

Jack opened the front door of his new truck and was about to get in, but hesitated... not wanting to initiate leaving this mountain and this man for possibly the last time.

Ennis knew it was now or never and leaned wearily against the door Jack had just closed, then said what he’d been putting off the whole week.

"There's somethin' I've been meaning to tell ya Bud," he sort of mumbled as casually as he could, digging his thumb nervously into one of Jack's new chrome door handles. "It's more'n likely that I won't be able to get away again 'til November after they've shipped stock 'n before winter-feedin’ starts."

"November? What in hell happened to August? Tell ya what, we said August, nine, ten days. Christ, Ennis! Whyn’t ya tell me this b'fore? Ya had a fuckin' week to say some little word about it. And why’s it we’re always in the friggin cold weather? We ought a do somethin’. We ought a go south. We ought a go to Mexico one day."

Jack slammed the door of his truck and began walking away from him toward the edge of the lake 10 yards away.

To his back Ennis replied, "Mexico? Jack, you know me. All the travellin’ I ever done is goin' round the coffeepot lookin' fer the handle. The trade off fer this week was August, that’s what’s the matter with August. Lighten up on me, Jack. We can hunt in November, kill us a nice elk. Try if I can get Don Wroe’s cabin again. We had a good time that year; remember?"

Jack turned around to face away from the sight of his beloved mountain peak and said with barely controlled anger, "Ya know friend, this is a goddamn bitch of a unsatisfactory situation. You used ta come away easy; now it’s like seein’ the damned Pope."

"Jack, I gotta work... Huh? Them earlier days I used ta just quit the jobs. You got a wife with money, a good job. You forget how it is bein’ broke all the time. Ya ever hear of child support? I been payin' out for years and got more to go. Let me tell ya, I cain’t quit this one... 'n I cain’t get the time off. It was tough gettin' this time... some a them late heifers is still calving. Ya don’t leave 'em. Ya don’t. Stoutamire raised hell about me takin' the week. I don’t blame him. He probably ain’t got a night’s sleep since I left. I told ya the trade-off was August... Ya got a better idea?"

"I did once." The tone was bitter and accusatory. He meant them getting their own ranch together. Ennis thought he was still talking about heading south.

Del Mar said nothing, straightened up slowly and rubbed at his forehead as a horse stamped in his metal truck bed.

He walked with slow deliberation toward Jack and his eyes narrowed suspiciously. "You been a cheatin’ on me in Mexico, Jack Fuckin’ Twist? Huh?"

Mexico was the place. He’d heard. He was cutting fence now, trespassing on verbal forbidden ground when he added between gritted teeth, "I heard what they got down there fer boys like you, Jack."

As Jack felt the resentment building he almost shouted, "US... ENNIS... BOYS LIKE US...: but he didn't. He burned and seethed with the wasted years of loving a man incapable of showing love back.

His thoughts flashed to Randy waiting for the call that’d start their life together. What Jack didn't know was that Randall had already foolishly called the elder Mr. and Mrs. Twist to thank them for opening their home up to Jack and himself, and praised them for their generous tolerance of their son’s homosexuality.

Twist gathered his courage; it was either split up forever or stay together. "Hell yes, I been to Mexico. Where’s the fuckin' problem?"

Braced for it all these years and here it came, late and unexpected.

A jealous rage began building in Ennis, a rage that he didn’t know was there because he wouldn’t let himself feel it all of these years, but now it was surfacing and almost out of control.

He paced up to Jack and stood, his face only inches from the man he just admitted to himself that he could lose.

"I’m a gonna say this to ya one time, Jack Twist," said Ennis between gritted teeth. "What I don’t know, all them THINGS," he spat out shoving Jack sharply, "I don’t know 'bout what you do in Mexico could get you killed if I should come to know them… 'n I ain’t foolin’."

Ennis turned away and began pacing down the bank toward his truck intending to leave before Jack could answer. Del Mar stopped and shuddered when he realized he’d just threatened to kill Twist!

"Try this one," yelled Jack at the top of his lungs, letting the years of resentment out, "and I’ll say it just one time.

Ennis suddenly turned around and angrily spat back, "Go ahead!"

Jack spun back around to take in the sky, the lake and the vista of Brokeback Mountain and suddenly couldn’t stand the sight of it.

Turning his back to it again, he replied in a frustrated yell, throwing both arms out and gesturing wildly, "Tell ya what, we could a had a good life together, a fuckin’ real good life. But you wouldn’t do it, Ennis, so what we got now is Brokeback Mountain." His voice raised almost an octave as he wheeled around to gesture at the beautiful mountaintop. His eyes began burning and his chest tightened to the point that he almost couldn't gather the breath to say, "Everythin’ built on that. It’s all we got, boy, FUCKIN' all, so I hope you know that, if ya don’t never know the rest."

Ennis turned his back to Jack.

In anger, Twist began stomping toward del Mar. A rush of adrenaline filled him as he felt the freedom to finally let out his unsaid feelings.

In a frustrated rage he shouted, "You count the damn few times we been together in twenty years. Measure the fuckin' short leash you keep me on, then ask me about Mexico and then tell me you’ll kill me fer needin' what we have together 'n not hardly never gettin' it. You got NO fuckin idea how bad it gets! God damn it all to Hell, Ennis, I’m not you. I can’t make it on a couple of high-altitude fucks once or twice a year!"

He turned and walked back up the bank to stand at the edge of the water. He felt the words coming, afraid they’d end it between them, but he knew what had to be said. He gave up fighting back his tears as he said it to the mountain while choking back a sob, "You’re too much fer me, Ennis, ya son of a whore-son bitch. I wish I knew how to quit you."

Like vast clouds of steam from thermal springs in winter the years of things unsaid and now unsayable admissions, declarations, shames, guilts, fears all rose around them like hungry wolves.

Ennis stood as if heart-shot, his face gray and deep-lined, grimacing, eyes screwed shut, fists clenched. He was always the one in control, he was always the one who was strong and through the hell he’d lived all these years there was always Jack, always Jack.

In his mind he hated that he needed anybody and the crashing blow that hit him was that he’d lied to himself, he didn’t think he could live without his… his lover.

Abruptly Ennis cried out in angry frustration like a bear that had been shot. "Then why don’t ya Jack? Why don’t ya jest leave me be? Yer the reason I’m like this; got nothin’ 'n no one, all alone. I, I cain’t stand this no more Jack, I just cain’t."

His voice was so deep in sorrow that it shocked Jack into looking back at him. Ennis stood glaring at Jack, pawing at a tear falling from his eye, trying to hide it with the brow of his hat.

In the blink of an eye everyone he’d ever loved that had unfairly left him appeared as if in a dream. His parents, his brother and sister, Michael, Alma, Junior and Jenny. If he allowed himself to love them they always, always abandoned him. He’d been so careful not to admit he loved Jack, terrified of losing him too, and now here it was… it didn’t work… it didn’t god-damned work… his whole life wasted on mistakenly thinking that indifference would keep the one thing he had left that he loved.

Then their eyes met and Ennis' knees began to cave as he sank towards the ground. His strength and manhood seemed to have left him and he burst into uncontrolled sobs at the thought of Jack leaving him too.

"Jesus," said Jack, "Ennis?" bounding toward him, trying to guess if it was a heart attack or the overflow of an incendiary rage.

Ennis was struggling back onto his feet and as Jack tried to extend his loving arms around him, del Mar shoved him away sharply. "Get the fuck off a me," he shouted, "Jest leave me be!"

Ignoring him, Twist fought him up to his feet, both of them clutching each other tightly. Jack had rarely seen Ennis cry before and was nearly in shock as the man he thought was made of stone and steel sobbed in his arms as they both sank back to their knees.

"I can’t hardly stand this no more, Jack" he blubbered again.

Then, just as fast as it started, it was over.

In an instant they were facing each other, though only a foot apart, it seemed like a hundred yards, as Ennis fell silent.

Twist could see that the emotions Ennis had held in for twenty years had torn him completely apart in trying to get them out, so he just stood there silently as del Mar turned his back to him, waited silently for a moment collecting himself and then headed to his truck without a look back.

While he silently watched Ennis finish packing his own saddle and fishing gear, Jack remembered and craved in a way he could neither help nor understand, the time that distant summer on Brokeback when Ennis had come up behind him and pulled him close, the silent embrace satisfying some shared and sexless hunger.

They had stood that way for a long time in front of the fire, its burning, tossing ruddy chunks of popping sparks, as the morning sun cast shadows of their bodies a single column against the rock.

Gently the young Ennis put his arms around young Jack’s shoulders tenderly.

The minutes ticked by from the watch on Ennis’ wrist, and from the sticks in the fire settling into coals. Ennis’ breath came slow and quiet, he hummed, rocked a little in the morning silence, punctuated by a horse snorting.

Jack leaned back against his man’s steady heartbeat, wanting to drown in his arms, as the vibrations of the humming like faint electricity and, while standing he fell into sleep that was not sleep but something else drowsy and tranced until Ennis, dredging up a rusty but still usable phrase from his childhood time before his mother died and said, "Time to hit the hay, my cowboy… I gotta go. Come on, yer sleepin' on yer feet like a horse," and gave Jack a shake, a push and went off without another word...

...Ennis realized he was due to accept a shipment of wild horses at Stoutamire's that his boss grudgingly delayed until this afternoon.

He should've been on the road a half an hour ago.

In frustration, he turned to see Jack standing in a dumbfounded daze, staring into the distance.


His friend gave no reaction. Unless del Mar hurried, he'd lose his job. As it was, Carl was already pissed off he wouldn't be there to supervise until today instead of last week.

Checking his watch, he gave up, banged his door shut, glanced back for a reaction and got none.

He had no choice - he hit the gas throwing dust... he'd have to mend fences later... if that was even possible.

...Jack heard young Ennis' spurs tremble as he mounted Cigar Butt and the words "See you tomorrow," and the horse’s shuddering snort and the grinding of hooves on stone.

Later, that dozy embrace solidified in his memory as the single moment of artless, charmed happiness in their separate and difficult lives. Nothing marred it, even the knowledge that Ennis would not then embrace him face to face at first because he did not want to see or feel that it was Jack that he held. And maybe, he thought, they’d never got much farther than that.

Let it be, let it be.

Coming out of that wonder filled memory, Jack realized that Ennis had wordlessly driven away and as his eyes focused, he watched the battered Ford with their horses aboard round a curve and disappear between the tall pines in a cloud of blowing dust.

No goodbyes, no nothing…

Was it finally over between them?

To Jack's mind "their place" would only hold hurt now. As a tear dropped from his eye, he gazed back up the mountain near the peak towards better days gone and whispered, "Pine Creek," and then choked back a sob...

One More Thing To Do
After admitting the Riverton gas station owner into their room thinking it was Jack at the door forgetting something, then getting beaten up, Randall thought that Twist must’ve found out somehow what his real motives were and arranged for the attack in revenge, leaving before it started.

On the other hand it could all just be coincidence, especially after he recognized the invader as the guy at the gas station across the way when he pulled out of the Siesta’s parking lot. The redneck could’ve just jumped him after seeing him kiss Twist.

There were too many damned variables, so he rearranged the order of the elaborate con he was pulling on Twist and backtracked to Signal to wait and see if anything was going to happen to Jack; that way he’d be here in town to take care of del Mar, and far enough away to have an alibi if everything went south.

In any case Malone aka Tanny was still a fugitive and needed money to get to Canada or maybe the East Coast before the manhunt got any closer to him. So far the new beard, phony last name and counterfeit wife seemed to have kept him below their radar, so he decided not to shave until he had a better handle on the situation.

He knew Twist had a stash somewhere here in town and had gone through Jack’s things a dozen or more times looking for clues, but frustratingly had found nothing. Lashawn had invited herself to the Twist’s home several times on the ruse of a friendly visit with her new friend Lureen, but had found nothing either one day while Jack’s wife took a shower.

He had no choice but to bide his time here, then head to Lightning Flat to mop things up, take care of Twist’s parents and maybe hide out at their place for a while in the middle of a ghost town with no police force after he disposed of them.

At the moment he was mad as hell because his sister wasn’t answering her phone.

Randall knew Ennis lived in Signal but not where. There was still one more thing he had to do in order to locate and silence Twist’s boyfriend, so he went out to the rental car and studied a map for the fastest way to Riverton, and hoped they had the papers he needed at their town hall without having to go to the county seat.

The fewer county officials or cops he had to deal with the better… They were looking for him in Idaho and he hoped they hadn’t expanded the search this far east yet…

...Almost home and already forty-five minutes behind schedule, Ennis was depressed and wrung out after circling the northern flanks of Brokeback Mt. National Forest and then entering the outskirts of Signal to its west. He pulled into Higgin's Quik Stop for gas and a hot cup of coffee. The pumps were vacant and as he shut off the engine, some of the things the two friends... the two lovers had said, and some of the things he was forced to face in himself hit him hard to the point that he was too emotionally and physically tired to move.

His shoulders slumped and he just sat there with his eyes burning, suddenly realizing that shortly come June he'd turn forty.

This is 1983?

Forty; my god; forty?! Damn it Ennis, yer fuckin' late as it is... get a move on mule; ya stupid old cuss!

Wondering why an attendant hadn't come out to pump his gas, he glanced over to his right to spy Linda inside at the register. She looked up, seemed to spot him, and suddenly yelled something, then circled her cashier's counter and came to stand at the door with her arms folded and a stern watchful expression crossed her face... probably to bitch out one of her guys for being too slow.

Out of nowhere two brawny men appeared in front of the pickup, both gripping deadly-looking long black tire irons. Out of the corner of his eye del Mar spotted two more running in his direction from the repair bays carrying something bulky and they disappeared behind his truck.

In panic he reached for the ignition switch, but he was distracted into looking back as the horses began bucking nervously behind him in their holding cage in the cargo bed.

Just then the tailgate loudly screeched down with a bang that shook the pickup.

Before del Mar could react further and defend himself, his door was yanked open...

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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/
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.


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