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

Brokeback Mountain The Complete Novel 1943-2006 II

Chapter 2 ~ Earl & Rich

Kyle Gambles His Ranch In The Name of Stupidity
While at the bank trying to get satisfaction, to his ignorant shock he became infuriated when he found out that a wealthy Negro farmer from New York had put a generous bid in for the Bowers Farm.

A recently divorced local gas station owner from Lakton Utah named Earl Lamb had also expressed interest in buying the property, so in desperation Kyle talked him into making a sizeable down payment.

The problem was Earl, who was in his fifties, didn’t have family to fall back on anymore to help run it and didn’t have enough cash for the offer Kyle had promised, so del Mar talked his ranch neighbors into selling tractors, plows and other equipment to loan Earl enough of a down payment on it and Kyle even put his own ranch up as collateral rather than have some damned Yankee nigger for a neighbor, especially one living in the very house his wife grew up in.

Francine was beside herself at his stupidity and backward thinking but could do nothing to stop him.

Within a week the deal was done, the papers were signed and Earl sold his gas station, using the proceeds to start an auto parts and repair shop across the road in what used to be Francine’s parents' barn and out buildings. In gratitude he leased 750 acres to Kyle for a dollar a year to cultivate, and allowed him to harvest her father’s existing crops for half the proceeds.

Since Earl no longer had a wife and kids to help farm or ranch it, within months the remaining land collected hundreds of wrecked automobiles and trucks bought for parts, scattered over the western half of the spread on what used to be productive wheat and cornfields. Along with the sounds of air wrenches and hammers came the strong smell of discarded oil, radiator dumpings and transmission fluid on the wind.

Earl still kept her parents' many horses there and allowed Frannie’s family to ride them whenever they wanted to in return for caring for them. He announced that he planned to do a little farming of his own the next year, and sent out word for help from the local kids looking to earn extra money in the spring.

Despite his many kindnesses, it still saddened Francine to see her former home turned into a junkyard, but racist Kyle and his ignorant neighbors didn’t care, considering the alternative.

With harvest season still going, Dead Horse Road started getting a steady stream of traffic in and out, and all the local ranchers promised to take their tractors, combines and other equipment in need of repair to Earl so he could pay them back faster and the bank wouldn’t foreclose on del Mar for putting his spread up as security on the risky note.

Sometimes Earl would work on people’s farm equipment for free as a goodwill gesture to the community.

The town of Sage showed its appreciation by awarding him a contract to work on its utility vehicles and police cars.

As a hot August turned into an unusually hot September Earl found his hands full with more cars than he’d ever expected in his first months of business, and while that was a blessing, he found himself short-handed.

He had a few high school teenagers who’d come and work on weekends, and one of his most promising trainee mechanics was a tall average-looking brunette sophomore with a lot of enthusiasm named Arthur Trent. Earl would only allow the young man to work after school if the boy could prove he’d done his homework first and was warned if he fell below a C average, he could only work weekends and if he fell below a D he was fired.

The regular crew had left for the evening and at the moment Art was alone in the middle bay of the shop and had an enormous ’48 Ford farm cargo truck up about halfway on the hydraulic lift with its nose pointing away from the wall of the sweltering converted barn. He’d watched his father change the brake shoes only once on their own Chevy pickup before, but was lost on this one.

Earl had been helping between doing a tune-up across the floor, but had to keep catching the phone in the office.

As you looked down between the two vehicles, Art was seated on a wooden stool wedged between the truck’s backend on the left and a ’51 Pontiac coupe behind him on the right. He'd removed the brake drum and was staring at the mechanized puzzle at eyelevel in wonder while referring to the printed instructions for the rear brake assembly trying to make heads or tails out of it.

He'd just pulled his T-shirt off in the heat, and wiped the sweat off of his face with it, put the diagram sheet down and began to undo an odd-shaped screw when suddenly the spring-loaded contraption surrounding the wheel hub sort of exploded little parts all over the place.

He needed to figure it out before his boss returned, because he didn’t want the kindly owner to be disappointed in him.

Down on his knees on the grimy floor trying to remember where each part came from, he didn’t notice he had company until an unexpected box fan pointed at him on a long extension cord suddenly hummed to life.

He stood up too fast and bumped his head on the underside of the truck. When he turned to apologize to Earl and thank him for the fan, he was confronted with the most handsome blond guy he’d ever seen in his life. The young muscular and grinning rancher who looked to be in his mid-twenties was naked in the heat from the waist up, his jeans loosely hanging at his hips. He was covered with sweat from toiling in his fields all day.

The stranger’s smile turned to a look of concern as Art froze holding the top of his head, with his eyes and jaw still gaping open at the sight of the shirtless newcomer.

Trent’s look of fascinated wonder turned to one of pain and he looked kind of dizzy.

The straw-haired man rushed over, grabbed him mightily under the armpits from behind and guided him to the shop stool.

Arthur winced as he rubbed the top of his head, “I think I stood up too fast, sir.”

The handsome guy laughed, “Ya reckon?” while using his fingers to comb through Art’s hair looking for cuts on the top of his scalp.

The teenager’s eyes couldn’t stop studying the friendly man’s well defined abdomen after he walked around to face him, and with a stammer Trent asked, “Is… uh is th-this yer truck?”

The guy frowned and gazed up at the big dusty Ford with puzzlement and chuckled, “Naw, I come over to see if Earl needed help and he asked me to check on ya. You sure yer okay?”

Art's heart was pounding and he was beginning to breath heavily and couldn’t understand why he wanted so badly to explore this incredibly good-looking man’s chest with his eyes, so he distracted himself by offering his right hand, “Arthur Trent, sir; I… I work here.”

The Adonis was completely oblivious to the effect he was having on the younger man's hormones. He reached out his fist, took young Trent’s hand and shook it, replying, “Ain’t no need fer the ‘sir’ kid, everyone who knows me around these parts calls me Kyle… Kyle del Mar. I own the ranch acrost the road there,” he said pointing vaguely off to the left.

Trent stammered out, “P-pleased to meet ya, Mr. uh Karl, uh Kyle.”

Unaware that the teen unwittingly had just fastened his first adolescent crush on him, Kyle laughed at the scattered components on the floor and within the next half hour or so, together they installed the new parts.

Kyle only instructed, making Arthur assemble it himself, so he’d remember how to do it next time, and stood in close with an occasional friendly affectionate arm around the boy’s shoulders like he always did with his sons, pointing here and there, giving help only when it was needed.

When they finished, the rancher gave the teen a loud slap on his bare back, grabbed him by the neck sideways, pulled his forehead to his chest, roughly rubbed the top of his head and tussled his hair, congratulating him on a job well done.

In no time at all, as with all young teen boys, Arthur wanted to be just like this older and incredibly attractive man who was nothing like his own father, and was falling hopelessly in love.

When Earl came over finally, Kyle gave Art all the credit for the work and they shook hands with invitations to the teenager to visit his ranch to go fishing some time, maybe to go with him to pick out some horses at an auction, or just to swim at his shoreline with his wife and three kids.

Earl noticed the teen’s inability to take his eyes off his handsome fair-haired neighbor and how Arthur studied Kyle’s strong back and hips longingly as Kyle walked home… and Earl remembered when he was that young.

He was sure Arthur would eventually grow out of the crush, as most young guys do…

…Despite their father’s being home from Korea now, K.E. continued to physically pick on his little brother. The youngster would bawl to his daddy's knee for help, and would be sternly told instead that real cowboys don’t cry. After a while Kyle finally gave up in frustration and taught Ennis how to fight off K.E. with his fists and some "gorilla warfare" tactics that'd even out the boy's size difference.

The net effect was that Ennis became reluctant to laugh or cry for fear of retribution and began to turn inward on himself emotionally.

Sometimes when he’d pout quietly to himself at night, Francine would come to his bed and sing him cowboy songs. Eventually Kyle put a stop to that; not wanting his son to become a “mama’s boy.”

Feeling like he was in a no-win situation, he’d ask his mama what she thought he should do about his big brother. Her only advice was the same as how she dealt with Kyle, “If ya can’t fix it Ennis, ya gotta stand it.”

Ennis’ New Bestest Friend
Late November brought heavy snow, so Earl bought an old snowplow for his tow truck and kept a long stretch of Dead Horse Road clear from their ranches west to Sage Street so that customers could get to his shop.

While he was at it, he kept Kyle’s long driveway clean too.

In December a twice-wounded Korean War buddy that Kyle owed his life to, wrote of his trouble finding a job in Utah because of his disability. Francine thought it’d be a wonderful idea for him to move across the road with Earl. He’d gain a business partner and besides, she was concerned about her neighbor being all-alone over there by himself.

Just before Christmas, Lieutenant Richard Sapro bought up half of the repair shop with his accumulated war pay and moved into Earl’s spare room to help run the business end of things and to revive part of the ranching operation managing raising cattle, breeding horses and doing light farming. He was welcomed with open arms by the community as a respected and twice-decorated war hero.

With the fresh influx of cash, Lamb hired Ennis' older sister Cornelia to do light household chores and occasional cooking for them.

He also hired additional local older teenaged boys as journeyman mechanics and the business grew to be well known across Wyoming, Idaho and Utah. They were taught a trade for free and he had a near endless and cheap labor source. To everyone’s relief, the loan was well on its way to being paid back too with Rich’s investment.

Earl was 52 and Rich was 29 and they resembled father and son more than business partners.

That Christmas marked the first visit of Rich’s married sister Amy Salisbury's family from Lakton Utah; a relatively close 25 miles due west of Sage. Her husband Sam was a schoolteacher there, just south of Bear Lake and they had a 7-year-old son Michael.

Ennis was the same age and he and Mike became instant buddies.

Amy announced that they’d be spending the coming summer there so that Sam could earn money working for Earl over the school's mid-year break helping with the ranch operation.

Through 1951 the del Mars became even better friends with the two pleasant bachelors after they kindly offered to let Kyle and his wife use their telephone when they found out that the couple didn’t have one of their own.

Eventually a utility cable was strung across the road giving the del Mars party-line service piggybacked off of Earl's business phone. It was done in return for Frannie taking daytime business calls to the shop when the mechanics were too busy to answer after five rings or were away from the office working on a car.

All Kyle had to do now was keep his wife from tying up the line gabbing with her friends. It was eventually agreed to that the del Mars would have full use of the line after the repair garage closed in the evening, since Earl already had a separate private phone number into his house for the two men's own use.

In gratitude, Rich and Earl were often invited over to the house together for dinner to share stories of the war and to play cards, or to fish out on the lake.

Amy and her family visited again during school’s spring break and Kyle, Rich, Sam, K.E., Ennis and Mike went hunting.

That was the boys’ first experience firing a rifle. Ennis loved it, but poor Michael got knocked on his ass from the kick of his daddy’s gun when it fired and was reluctant from then on.

Earl announced that with all the junked cars they were getting in daily, they’d probably need some help over the summer inventorying them by make, model and year, and then disassembling their smaller components for screws, brackets, bolts and part numbers.

The two boys jumped up and down begging for a chance to earn extra money. Kyle was skeptical as to whether his youngest was old enough for the responsibility of the job, and concerned that the boy might get hurt crawling into wrecked automobiles, but promised he’d think about the offer.

Ennis was briefly hesitant when he found out he’d have to get a tetanus shot… but only briefly.

K.E. proved to be a “chip off the ‘ol block” and was more interested in learning the ranching business from his father.

Until the end of the spring break when the Salisburys had to go home, Michael and Ennis were inseparable, either sleeping over at his grandparents’ former house or at the del Mars. Mike wasn’t like the kids at school and Ennis instantly considered him a second brother.

For the rest of April and May Ennis enthusiastically did extra chores, helped with spring-planting, and constantly waited on his injured father hand and foot to the point where an exasperated Kyle surrendered to all of the pleading, and promised him he could work over at Earl’s with Michael that summer; but only if he got good grades.

When June finally arrived, young Michael came east with his mother from Lakton and again often enjoyed sleepovers and fishing/camping outings with the del Mar boys. On one such trip, Arthur Trent came along. Kyle had befriended him during his frequent trips across the road.

Ennis got to fire his daddy’s Winchester again and discovered a real talent for shooting a rifle. Former expert Army sharpshooter Rich gave him lessons to improve his budding skills while Arthur bravely set up smaller, more distant, and more difficult targets to aim at.

As the del Mars got to know him, Arthur Trent turned out to be a typical friendly, popular and athletic high school teenager. He seemed to have trouble at home getting along with his family (as most teens did) and used any excuse to hang around Kyle when he wasn’t working on cars at Earl’s, dating his clinging girlfriend Peggy Sue, or coaching/captaining Sage High’s summer swim team tryouts for the next school year.

If Earl hadn’t hired him, he’d probably be working for Kyle tending the ranch.

One night around the campfire after listening to Arthur’s ghost stories and Kyle telling about his rodeo days, Ennis declared he wanted to be a broncobuster like his daddy. Kyle would hear none of it and told his boy, "I’m a stickin’ to raisin’ ropin’ horses, ‘stead of ridin’ ‘em. I know of only one rodeo hero in my time that wasn't a fuck-up, boy. Rodeoin's fer men who got nothin' to fall back on 'n believe you me, I'm glad I got out when I did."

Kyle’s slip of the tongue meant that for a week afterward, young Ennis insisted on calling everyone a “fuck up” until a few swats upside the head from Frannie put a stop to it.

After the constant grief he took from his brother, Ennis was happy that Mike was back, because K.E. was better behaved when the kid was around. The two boys usually both worked side-by-side at the repair garage disassembling and labeling parts, or harvesting small items for whatever was needed off of junked cars, as the older mechanics required them.

In an effort to toughen him up a bit, Kyle would drop over after a long day at his ranch, and set up arm wrestling contests between his youngest and Mike to see who was the strongest. Earl would drill a few cracked bolts from wrecked cars into one of his old wooden workbenches and the boys would race with wrenches to tighten them enough to snap the heads off.

On Ennis’ 8th birthday, Rich surprised both boys with identical brand-new bicycles parked out in the del Mar's front yard. They were a bonus for doing good jobs, and were both custom deluxe models, painted metal-flake blue by Earl, and they sparkled in the sunlight.

A day after the boys got them, Rich took them over to the garage and they added horns, head and taillights, and sturdy baskets on either side of the rear tire and in front of the handlebars for toting parts.

Michael came up with the idea of attaching cardboard strips to the frame that’d make them sound like motorbikes as they fluttered against the wheel spokes. For the rest of the summer they'd have races up and down Dead Horse Road when they weren’t riding into town to pick up small parts at the auto supply store.

Other times they’d ride their bikes together to Twin Creek Cove and fish for hours, or hike up this or that hill; just to see what was on the other side.

As a joke, the teenaged mechanics got Rich to have boy-sized dark blue mechanic’s work shirts made up for them with the kids’ names embroidered on the chests on little white ovals just like they had. They also featured Earl's business name and phone number in big letters emblazoned across the back so they could advertise his company when they went out running errands for him.

After closing up his classroom for the summer, Sam Salisbury arrived a week later.

The First Signs Of Success
Rich ran a newspaper ad announcing that he’d set aside three acres of unused farmland bordering the road so that the folks in town could come up and use little sectioned off portions of it to grow small private vegetable gardens for free. He even partially tore the fence down and marked it off with little signs attached to posts with twine, giving them easy access. In gratitude most gave him assorted tomatoes, potatoes, corn and beans as they ripened, and incidentally their car repair business.

The boys made even more money after being hired to haul water out to the little individual crop squares every day.

As a result the tool bays became as much a place for the local men to gather to play cards, drink cold pop and bullshit, as it was to fix automobiles.

K.E. had decided to stay on the ranch to work with his father and was beside himself with jealousy of how much fun his little brother was having.

One weekend Ennis and Mike had to be rescued... at Mike's house in Utah!

As with most people, Michael didn’t realize the vast difference in perceived distance between riding in a car at highway speeds and riding a bike or walking to the same place.

Just for fun, Michael had decided to show his new friend where they lived, so they packed a lunch and some water and attempted the 25-mile trip west to Lakton on their bikes and were too exhausted to return. Their fathers made sure that neither could walk right for a few days afterward.

The journey turned out to be a real eye-opener for Ennis, who’d never left Sage before. He witnessed the barren dry hills of that part of Utah/Wyoming for the first time, after youthfully thinking that everywhere was as lush and green as his home.

When summer started drawing to a close, Sam had to leave to prepare lesson plans for the coming semester; which meant Michael and his mother would be gone too. They had a big barbeque that last night, and the next day young Ennis went off by himself out of sight of his strict father, heartbroken and bitter because Mike was the first kid in a long time he’d actually allowed himself to openly laugh and be friends with.

That fall with the extra land Earl and Rich allowed him to use, Kyle took out a 2nd mortgage to buy a new tractor, some cattle and extra seed for next season.

After school started Ennis was allowed to work over at Earl’s only on the weekends and only if he’d done his homework. Since they didn't live all that far away, the Salisburys often made impromptu day trips on Saturdays to visit Earl and Rich, which meant Michael got to earn extra money too.

K.E. unexplainably took up where he left off again bullying his little brother souring Ennis' recent joyful disposition. Most took the change as typical boyhood jealousy that Ennis had such a good friend and his elder brother didn't.

Cornelia started eighth grade that year, with K.E. a year behind her and Ennis entered 3rd grade.

After a great harvest, and with winter closing in soon, Kyle signed on part-time over at Earl’s changing tires and doing odd jobs.

After snow set in, he’d help out plowing driveways and supply-store rear parking lots downtown with Rich’s crew. K.E. and Ennis made extra money shoveling sidewalks when their dad was assigned to clear someone’s driveway out. Wyoming was in for another bad winter that’d eventually last all through the following March.

Sam, Amy and Michael invited Ennis to spend Christmas at their house that year and he came home with the greatest gift of all... his smile was back. Earl and Rich had Christmas dinner with the del Mars.

The two men bought the family a second-hand but like-new Capehart-Farnsworth cabinet style radio with a built in record player. From then on there was happy music in the house interspersed with soap operas, The Lone Ranger, Jack Benny, and The Shadow.

A week later Rich talked an old Army buddy into selling Kyle his ’48 GMC pickup for almost nothing and he spent most of January fixing it up and painting it blue over at Earl’s.

With the early 1950’s economy beginning to boom, a city contract and good word spreading like wildfire, Earl and Rich’s business became even more well known in Utah, Idaho and Colorado, as well as across Wyoming. Rich estimated that their debts would be paid off five years early, which would free Kyle from his co-signature on their loan.

To celebrate, Earl bought a brand-new bright red 1952 Pontiac Chieftain convertible and he’d sometimes haul the del Mars to the local Methodist Church in it, or take local girls he and Rich had picked up on picnics at a park in town. The two men were soon known as the most eligible and sought-after bachelors in Sage.

The First Signs Of Trouble
With the cold war continuing to heat up, all the newspapers were filled with word of a paranoid Senator Joe McCarthy who began his communist and homosexual witch-hunts in Washington D.C. in the spring of ‘52. As a result, that Easter was spent without Kyle.

He’d gotten into a bar fight with a man in town who’d gone too far making fun of his lisp and called him a commie queer. The assault brought a six-month prison sentence but Earl used his business connection with the mayor to get it reduced to two.

Francine and young Cornelia made and served a holiday Easter ham in her old kitchen at Earl and Rich’s house. When Kyle came home in late May he had to make up for lost time and Ennis had to stay home and help on the ranch during planting season.

Alvin Corbett moved into town that spring, bought up, tore down 8 buildings in downtown Sage, and put up a GM/Chevy dealership. He offered fantastic deals on police cars if the city gave him their repair business, but the mayor was a man of his word and stuck with Earl… after all, the little town only needed two patrol cars anyway.

Alvy wasn’t too happy about that and got some cronies to spread lies around about shoddy work that his competitor was doing on cars. He also charged Earl near retail on parts that were needed on repairs, so Lamb just drove east into Diamondville for the more expensive ones, or relied on good used ones harvested from the wrecks he’d bought.

As June approached and Ennis turned nine, he couldn't wait for school to let out because he knew Mike would be coming to stay at Rich and Earl's for the summer with his family. He’d made another deal with his dad that if he got good grades he could work at the garage instead of in the fields and though it was a struggle, he succeeded in keeping a B average all through the rest of third grade.

K.E., who was twelve then, felt more like a grownup because he worked closely with his father while Kyle was in jail planning this season’s crops, and as a reward Earl was recruited to teach him how to drive the tractor.

With the expected extra income from the 750 acres Rich let Kyle use for a dollar a year, extra intenerate ranch hands were hired onto the del Mar spread.

Farm equipment from all over the area was hauled into the repair shop as the weather got warmer and Rich was strapped to hire new men to fill the overflow of business since he had his hands full steadily making their ranch/cattle/horse operation a success too.

Earl and Rich were swiftly becoming a major employer in Sage. Between constant livestock trucks and auto repair business, there was even talk in city hall of paving and widening Dead Horse Road... not exactly a good street address for a growing quarter horse breeder.

Rich began negotiations with Kyle to run a pipeline through his property to pump water from the lake to a tank that would feed a proposed fish hatchery the army vet had dreamed up. If the plans came to fruition, the city pledged to cover half of his costs to stock Lake Sage.

Amy, Sam and Mike arrived just in time to lend a hand, and Amy was even drafted to drive a supply truck into town on a regular basis for parts too big or heavy for the boys to handle on their bikes.

Ennis got a big kick out of telling everyone that he was the parts department manager when he answered their business phone and though he was only nine, he had an inventory of available parts kept in his head that even Earl would consult occasionally. As good as he became taking calls, he started getting frustrated because his voice hadn’t changed yet and people who called in kept addressing him as “Ma’am.”

1952 was a tough year for poor Kyle; the pathetic old soul turned 30. Frannie didn’t feel sorry for him at all since she was born on the same day he was and couldn’t figure what all the fuss was about. Tough work, day and night kept him firm and muscular and Rich insisted at his birthday party that he didn’t look a day over 25.

Cornelia insisted that her girlfriends in school would see him with his shirt off in town and envied her for having such a sexy blond hunk for a dad; which made him blush red.

In July when things started quieting down, the boys began taking off time to go on camping trips with Kyle and Rich.

Kyle’s young mechanic friend Arthur occasionally came along too. He’d begun teaching the boys basic car repairs under Earl’s watchful eye, and regularly joined Kyle fishing at his shoreline on the ranch. Kyle seemed to be a leveling influence, but the teenager seemed troubled about something that he couldn’t talk about.

Often K.E. acted jealous of the time the two spent together, and Frannie had to set him down and explain that Art was closer to Kyle’s age, so they were friends, where as Kyle was his daddy.

Ennis always came home with those hunting trips with a sore shoulder from the recoil his father’s rifle gave when he fired it.

His daddy was really proud that his young son actually managed to hit everything he aimed at, and at Arthur’s prompting Kyle promised that in a few years if he kept his grades up he’d get a proper hunting rifle of his very own for his birthday, and Trent cheerfully pledged to chip in for it too.

No Skinny-dipping Before 6PM!
In the hot summer months Rich bought some big fans that were placed on either side of the barn/garage for cross-flow ventilation, but they only helped a little.

Sweat-covered young muscular grease monkeys and mechanics often wandered around in the heat without shirts in just jeans, and eventually only cut-off denim shorts and work shoes despite the presence of female customers, and no one gave it a second thought.

In fact some young women seemed to bring their cars more often than necessary just to see the brawny show or an unusual number of damsels in distress would crop up with flat tires that only seemed to need reinflating instead of patched.

Rich noticed Arthur’s open fascination with Kyle and was going to say something to the teen about being careful, but Earl talked him out of it, saying it was just a phase and would probably pass. Rich disagreed; mentioning Trent’s “doe eyes” every time the handsome rancher came around, but Earl shrugged it off.

A big blue wooden farmer's water tank and pump were set up next to the garage to accommodate the extra water needed for the ranch's feed and vegetable crops. With the extra capacity he now had, Earl set up a big communal shower room with 5 spigots in the back of the barn just so his men could wash the oil, sweat and dirt off before they went home, or merely to cool off during a lunch or cigarette break.

Never one to go into anything by halves, over the summer Earl bought a huge aboveground pool that they could cool off in that was 30 feet in diameter and five feet deep.

Earl and Rich got into several arguments over that purchase, considering there was a big lake just across the road. Usually they’d end with Rich threatening to store his trout in it until they could get the permits to build his fish hatchery.

Sam quickly insisted on a no skinny-dipping rule during business hours in case of female customers… after the work finished around 6PM - an hour after closing time however, the pool was fair game for horseplay and “letting it all hang out” unless Amy objected, which she rarely did unless the teenaged mechanics were using it while she was inside the house.

Without Kyle knowing it, Arthur did some hyperventilating one very hot day when the handsome rancher of his adolescent fantasies decided to join in, and Trent excused himself from the pool early hiding his obvious reaction to the rancher's toned body… and as it turned out Kyle being hung like the proverbial horse.

It started becoming routine during the hot summer months to enjoy the freedom of private after-work skinny-dipping in the cool clean filtered pool; something they obviously couldn’t do in the lake.

Kyle let Ennis and K.E. join in once in a while, horsing around bare-assed with the young mechanics in water that didn’t smell like algae for a change, but just like Sam with Mike, del Mar forbade his sons to go in without an adult present.

Though the guys never mentioned it to their parents and friends, they never considered it anything more than good clean innocent fun… because that’s all it was.

After hearing of all this “freedom,” Frannie, Amy, and Cornelia did it too, whenever the men were safely out fishing or hunting somewhere. Amy began loving her “all over” tan that would eventually allow her to wear strapless gowns to school functions in the early fall with her husband, much to the envy of the other women in the PTA and teachers associations.

To the guys that worked there it wasn’t unusual to see Earl with his arm over Rich’s shoulders or vice versa. There were rare days when twice-wounded war hero Rich had a hard time walking on his shot up right leg; especially when rain was coming. Every guy there was more than happy to help him get around without a second thought. Some of the high school athletes even started hefting him like a barbell to show off to each other.

The old bullshitting pop-drinking card players who hung around would good-naturedly tease him to no end for sometimes walking like an old man.

In the midst of all that joy and fun, 1952 was also the year that rumors started flying around town. A local woman and her daughter had walked into the garage’s business office around 4:30 to ask about an estimate for a wheel alignment for her husband, and found a shirtless Earl in Rich’s arms in an intimate embrace, possibly after just kissing each other.

She gasped, rushed away, and thanked her lucky stars that her daughter had wandered off somewhere and hadn’t seen this immoral scene between two heathens...

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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.
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1 comment:

  1. Boy would I LOVE to have Rusty Joiner for a father! Good choice.