The following is fiction. The characters belong to Annie Proulx but the story is mine. The author is indebted to Ms. Proulx for the inspiration she provided with the writing of "Brokeback Mountain."You Don't Go Back
The story is copyrighted. The reader may download a copy for his/her own use, but republishing or archiving on other websites or newsgroups without the author's permission is strictly prohibited. All rights are reserved.
The following story contains references to men having strong emotional and physical feelings for members of their own sex. You shouldn't read it if you're below the age of consent in your community or if said community doesn't allow you to access such material.
The author would like to thank Drew Hunt for his inspiration. Without his love, friendship and editorial help the author would never have had the courage to even try to write stories such as these. Thanks also go to Tim Mead. His editorial help and encouragement have been invaluable.
This story is dedicated to the author's real life Ennis, who has been at his side through the highs and lows for over fifty years.
By Terry O'Reilly
Rick opens his eyes. For a moment he is disoriented. Then he remembers. He looks around the living room of the cabin on the mountain. He and Ennis had built this cabin just a year earlier. He sighs deeply and realizes he still holds a glass in his hand as he sits hunched down in the overstuffed chair in which he had fallen asleep. The glass is empty and the stain on his jeans reveals he has spilled his third glass of whiskey probably as he had drifted off. He pushes himself upright, sets the glass on the table next to his seat and puts his head in his hands and rubs his eyes. Rick has to piss. He gets up and walks to the bathroom and relieves himself. He turns and looks at his reflection in the mirror over the sink.
"How did this happen? How could this happen?" he asks himself out loud. "How could this happen?" he says again, pounding his hand on the vanity, causing the mirror to shake.
Rick walks back into the living room and to the big bay window. He looks out on the lake with the sun glistening on the water: seven twenty-three by his wristwatch. He stares vacantly at the lake and lets the sparkling ripples mesmerize him. Scenes from the previous night come back to him.
He and Ennis came home to their house in the valley after dinner and were in bed. They turned in early, eager to celebrate their anniversary. They had been together for six years. Six happy, fulfilled years. Ennis lay on his back smiling up at him. Rick was between his legs, they pressed their lips against each other. Rick was just about to complete their union when the doorbell rang.
"Damn," he exclaimed.
"Ignore it," Ennis said pulling him down and arching his back.
"What if its Junior?"
Ennis replied, "Junior would just come on in and yell, `Hey Daddy, Rick, ready or not here I come."'.
Now there was knocking - not loud but persistent.
Rick sighed. "Don't go away." He kissed Ennis on the nose, got out of bed, slipped on a pair of pajama bottoms and padded out of the bedroom.
"Git rid of the son of a bitch whoever it is and git back here." Ennis growled.
Rick switched on a light in the living room that was semi dark in the summer twilight. "Hold on, hold on I'm coming." The knocker had continued its persistent pounding. It was getting louder now.
He opened the door and switched on the porch light. "Yeah?"
The man on the porch looked totally perplexed. "Oh," he stammered, " I must have the wrong house. Sorry I bothered you." He turned to walk away.
"Who the fuck was that?" came Ennis' gruff voice as he walked up behind Rick.
The man on the porch froze. He turned around.
Rick looked at the man and then over his shoulder at his partner. Ennis' eyes were wide and the color was draining from his face.
"Oma God." Ennis staggered backward and lost his balance on the ottoman behind him. Rick turned and grabbed his arm to steady him. "Oma God!" He said again. "Jack!"
Rick sighs again and turns from the window, letting the scene fade. "Jack!" He shakes his head. "Jack Fuckin' Twist!" How many times had he heard Ennis refer to his old lover as Jack Fucking Twist? Rick would listen as Ennis, sometimes drunk sometimes sober, relived his time on Brokeback Mountain and the years following, during which he and Jack had struggled with their lives, marriages and relationships.
Rick knew from the start that Jack, even in death, had a strong hold on Ennis' heart. Now. . .
Well, now what? Hadn't he made a life with Ennis Del Mar? Hadn't it been his love for Ennis and Ennis's for him that had made Ennis strong enough to come to grips with who he was and what he really needed? Jack Twist hadn't done that.
Rick walks back into the bathroom, pisses again, strips and turns on the shower. He steps inside and leans his head against the stall wall. Once again, for probably the tenth time since Jack had appeared at their door the previous night, he begins to plead his case to whoever might be listening, reviewing his life with Ennis: a life that would be empty without him.
"Valley View Ranch and Riding Stable" the sign at the end of the lane read. Benny, Rick's grandson, was fairly vibrating in the passenger seat of Rick's silver F150 super cab.
"Here we are! Here we are!" He yelled.
Rick smiled. He finally had a kid who shared his passion for horses. Valley View was to be the new home for Ben's horse, whenever they found it. In the meantime they were going to get the boy some riding lessons. Rick had a horse boarded at a stable near his home but Ben needed a horse with a little less spirit to begin with. When they found one they would move it here. It was convenient to Ben's parents' home and had a good reputation even though it was a ways from where Rick lived.
They pulled in the parking area, got out of the truck and walked toward the barn. As they did a man emerged from the dark aisle way. He was tall and lean. He walked a bit hunched over. His boots were scuffed and he wore spurs. His cowboy hat was pulled down over his eyes. As he drew near the pair, he looked up and into Rick's deep blue eyes. Those dark brooding eyes seemed to bore into Rick. He took in the crooked smile. He fell in love.
"Ah, howdy," the man said. "I'm Ennis, Ennis Del Mar. I guess you must be the folks lookin' fer a horse and some lessons." He stuck out his hand for Ben to shake and then took Rick's. Rick didn't ever want to let go. He wanted to bend over and kiss that hand and then the man attached to it, to take him in his arms and make love to him.
"Well, I guess we might as well git goin'" the man called Ennis was saying. He turned and walked to the barn. Watching him walk away was pure heaven and hell all at once. Rick marveled at the masculine form he saw before him and was pained at any degree of separation. This was just nuts. But, he couldn't deny the way he felt. He loved this man who called himself Ennis Del Mar.
Rick watched the lesson. He never took his eyes off Ennis. At the end of the lesson Ennis came over to where Rick was standing and said something about Ben bein' a real natural, but the only thing Rick really heard was. "So, if he's gonna take more lessons, I'd be glad to teach `im and . . . .I hope you're gonna come back with `im if he does." He had said looking sideways at Rick.
"Yeow!" Rick calls out as the shower goes cold. He's rudely brought back to the present. He hastily soaps up and rinses off in the frigid spray and gratefully wraps a towel around himself as he steps out of the cubicle.
`Yeah, it was there right at the very start,' Rick reassures himself as he shaves with cold water at the sink. `He'd felt it too. It took `im awhile to admit it to me, but he finally told me he'd felt it, too.'
"Ya remember that first day ya brung Benny up for a lesson?" Rick was lying with his head on Ennis' chest, listening to the beating of the man's heart, playing with his chest hair, nibbling on his nipple.
"Yes sir," Rick replied.
"Well, you said you knew you loved me right there that day."
"Yes, I did." Rick said. "I know it sounds crazy but that's the God's truth."
"Don't sound crazy to me a'tall." Ennis rolled Rick off his chest and over on top of him, looking into his face, tracing the lines of his mouth with his forefinger. "I felt it, too. Felt it all durin' the lesson. Could hardly keep ma mind on teachin' that boy." Ennis chuckled at the memory.
"Didn't know what to do with them feelin's then. But, I do now."
Ennis smiled, then lowered his lips to Rick's.
Rick's thoughts continue as he gets dressed. ` So, why the fuck were you so noble last night? "Oh, you two need to get caught up. You have so much to talk about. This is such a shock. I'll just take myself out of the picture, go up to the cabin with ma tail between ma legs and let you two get reacquainted. Shit! I shoulda stayed there!" `What kind of dumb fuck are you, Rick Jensen? This is Jack Twist! He who was dead is now alive. He who Ennis always brings up in one way or another sometimes even when we been makin' love is here and here you are outta sight, outta mind, letting him have time alone with your man!' Rick always knew Jack was Ennis' first love and that he would never fully get over the way it had ended: ended without Jack ever knowing how Ennis had truly felt.
The memory of his coming up here and leaving Ennis and Jack to do. . . well, to do who knows what all night, brings to mind that Shadow is in the small, two horse barn. He had ridden Shadow up to the cabin from the farm. Both he and the horse knew the way even in the darkness. Riding up here was one of the things he and Ennis did a lot. Here on the mountain they both seemed to feel freer and protected. Rick heads for the barn deep in thought.
"I want ta show ya somethin'," Ennis said one morning about four years after they had bought and moved into Hidden Valley Farm.
"And, what might that be?" Rick responded, reaching around for the waistband of Ennis' boxers as Ennis brushed his teeth standing in front of the mirror in the bathroom.
"Quit, you damn pervert!" Ennis said, laughing and spitting toothpaste on the mirror as he danced away from Rick's probing hands. "This is somethin' new. You seen what's in them boxers plenty. Now let go or. . . don't...oh sheee-it."
Eventually Ennis got to show Rick his surprise, but not until after they had made love for the second time that morning.
Rick goes out to the barn, throws three flakes of hay into the manger of Shadow's stall, fills his water bucket and puts a scoop of sweet feed into the grain tray. He stands leaning against the doorframe listening to the sounds of morning on the mountain: hearing Ennis' words once more.
"And right here," Ennis was saying. "Right here is where we'll put the barn." Rick was holding the horses as Ennis paced off the outline of the building that he could see in his mind. "I figure only two stalls cuz this is gonna be our own private place. Only gonna be able to git here with horses and only us two. Whatda ya think?"
Rick had thought it was a great idea. He had said so to the happy, childlike man who had held him in his arms on the top of the mountain that day. Told him so in word and later in deed when they swam in the lake and made love on the shore. He knew in his heart that in some way Ennis was recreating Brokeback Mountain. But, he also knew they loved each other and he was willing to share Ennis with that memory.
"Not willin' to share him now, though. Not with a real live Jack Twist, not willin' to share him with Jack Nast. . . " He breaks off his sentence. He won't call Jack, Jack Nasty as Alma, Ennis' ex, had. He understands her pain, but he also understands how Ennis feels about Jack when she didn't.
"I can't hate him. No matter what." He throws this last outburst over his shoulder to Shadow, who is finishing his breakfast. Shadow raises his head but doesn't offer comment.
Rick returns to the house for his own breakfast. But, once he arrives in the kitchen, he has no appetite. Instead he goes back into the living room, retrieves the glass from the night before and pours himself a double from the bottle still on the table. He sits in the overstuffed chair and regards his "liquid breakfast."
`I `member some pretty nice breakfasts with Ennis,' he muses.
One in particular comes to mind.
"Ah, you been comin' up here pretty regular past few months," Ennis said. "Ya know for Ben's lessons and then uh . . . for uh them trail rides we been takin'" Ennis played with the scrambled eggs on his plate.
Ennis had been talkative that morning on their trail ride and through the first part of breakfast at the diner that they often frequented after a ride. This was unusual for the normally quiet, shy man. Now Ennis seemed nervous like someone who was not sure how to say what he wanted to say. . . not sure if he would even say it.
Rick nodded trying to prompt Ennis to continue.
"And well, I was uh. . . thinkin' that you got this horse boarded somewhere's. What's his name agin?
"Right, Shadow. . . and you come up here and rent a horse and pay for the ride. Well..."
Rick could tell that Ennis was rubbing his hand nervously on his thigh under the table, he was rocking back and forth slightly. "I thought maybe that um. . . you could move that Shadow horse up here and that'd save you a helluva lotta time and money. Well, maybe not money cuz you'd have ta pay board but you would save ya time." He said the last part of the sentence so fast as if he wouldn't have the courage to say it if he didn't.
Rick smiles to himself as he sits in the chair sipping his whiskey. That was an important moment he knows now. It was the opening he had been waiting for, hoping for: an indication of whether or not Ennis wanted a relationship. Ennis did want that relationship. He also understands how hard it must have been for Ennis to be open with him about his desires.
Rick remembers being so elated, so surprised that he hadn't responded immediately.
"Ah well, if you don't want. . . " Misinterpreting Rick's silence for rejection, Ennis began looking down at his eggs and hash browns, putting his hands on the table on either side of his plate.
"Oh, no, no, I think that it's a great idea!" Rick said reaching across the table and putting his hands on Ennis'. Both men stared down at the touching hands and then looked up into each others eyes. Ennis looked quickly around the diner and Rick pulled his hands away.
"Well... well, that's super then." Ennis was smiling now. "Let's get this breakfast done. Then I kin take ya over and show ya your stall and the tack room. I'm gonna see if I can get ya a break on the board and then we can check out the loft where I live. . . that is if you want. . . "
Ennis continued jabbering away, shoveling his breakfast into his mouth. Rick sat there with a warm feeling inside and a big smile on his face. Ennis wanted something to come of their friendship. He couldn't wait for a tour of the loft.
Rick gets up from the chair and starts to walk to the kitchen. He notices the red flashing light on the answering machine.
He immediately sets the glass down and hits the replay button, holding his breath hoping it isn't just some automated sales call.
"Hey, uh. . . mornin' Rick. Ah me'n Jack here is gonna go out for somethin' to eat. Thought you might like ta come with us. We got somethin' to tell you. Gimma a call. Its about nine."
Rick checks his watch. . . .. `Shit. . . nine thirty.' He dials the farmhouse number. While it rings he realizes Ennis had not ended his voice message with his usual `I love you, Bud.'
"Come on answer, don't be gone."
"Hi," his own voice comes over the line. "Ennis and Rick ain't home to talk with ya, we's probably out screwing around with horses or cows or somethin'. Or maybe we's jist screwing around." There's a slight pause, then, " But we'd like to return your call so. . . .."
Rick hangs up before the end of the recording.
Hurt and confused he picks up the glass and heads for the kitchen. He gets to the sink and absently rinses out the glass, placing it in the rack. He doesn't know what to make of Ennis' lack of his usual reassurance of his love. It had become his hallmark.
"Rick, I love you. I'm never gonna stop tellin' you that. I never said it to Jack. Never once and that was wrong o' me. But, I gonna say it to you now and every chance I get. I am so damn lucky to get another chance at lovin' someone like this."
Ennis had said that as they lay next to each other after their first time together. Laying naked in Ennis' arms in his tiny loft apartment over the stable at Valley View Ranch, Rick had responded with a kiss and tears. Tears fall again now as he stands at the sink.
He wipes them away with the back of his hand.
Suddenly he knows what he has to do. He makes a quick check of the cabin and heads out for the barn and Shadow. He's going to go down the mountain. He's going to see what's goin' on at Hidden Valley Farm.
* * * *
After putting Shadow, still saddled, in his stall in the main barn down in the valley, Rick heads for the house. He checks the garage as he walks by. Both his and Ennis' Blazers are there and the F 150 is parked in its usual place under the carport.
`Took Jack's . . . .. what ever,' he thinks. He hadn't even checked to see how the man had gotten to the farm in his haste to get away the previous night.
Rick stops on the wide front porch with his hand on the doorknob.
"Well, who's gonna carry who over the doorstep," he quipped to Ennis as they arrived at the door of the farmhouse on the day they were to move in.
"It shore as hell ain't gonna be you carryin' me," Ennis had replied and with a swift movement that caught Rick off guard, he picked him up and threw him over his shoulder like a sack of grain, kicking the door open as he did.
"Put me down you old fool. Your gonna throw your back out agin and then what!"
"I'll show you what!" Ennis replied laughing.
He takes a deep breath, lets the memory fade and steps inside. It is quiet as a church on Monday morning.
He walks through the living room listening to the mantel clock ticking rhythmically, sounding strangely loud in the empty house. Everything is in place. Rick walks down the hall past the kitchen. Looking in, there are two whiskey tumblers and two coffee mugs in the drainer next to the sink.
`Musta had a good old time last night.,' he thinks sardonically.
At the end of the hall he sticks his head in the guest room. His heart sinks. The bed is made. There is no sign anyone has slept there.
Rick looks in the only bathroom in the house, located between the two bedrooms. A duffle is on the floor. Shaving gear and a toothbrush he doesn't recognize are on the vanity. He takes a deep breath, which he releases through his nose.
The door to their room is ajar. He doesn't want to open it. He doesn't want to see evidence from an unmade bed of where Jack Twist had spent the night. He closes his eyes.
" Don't stop! Man, don't," Rick moaned when Ennis pulled out of him breaking their union as they made love that move in day.
Ennis carried Rick all the way down the hall and dumped him on the floor because the furniture was still on the truck. He then proceeded to undress as Rick lay on his back propped on his elbows watching. When Rick started to undress, Ennis stopped him.
"My job," he said softly, tenderly.
When they were both naked on the carpet Ennis prepared Rick for what was to come.
"Don't stop," Rick said again as Ennis pulled out.
"Don't intend to," Ennis replied as he straddled Rick and slipped Rick inside him.
"That better?" He said smiling. "We ain't never gonna be separated. One way or the other, me in you, you in me, we're gonna be together, always be one man."
Ennis continued to switch back and forth between the two unions, until Rick cried out as he filled Ennis with his seed. Ennis reunited himself with Rick and completed the tender yet passionate joining. Finally laying gently on top of Rick full length, Ennis covered him, neck, shoulder, face with kisses.
"Always gonna be one. Always gonna be one. Welcome home."
Rick pushes the door open. The bed is made. No evidence anyone has slept here either. No evidence that they haven't. Rick walks over and sits on the edge of the bed, his head in his hands, his elbows on his knees.
Ennis sat that way once before in his little apartment. They had just finished making love. They were still naked. Rick sat next to him. He sensed there had been something on Ennis' mind all evening. Ennis sighed deeply then spoke slowly and deliberately.
"I want to do it right this time. Last time with Jack I was too scared to do it and it cost me, us, Jack and me."
Rick listened. It seemed as if Ennis was more thinking out loud than talking to him.
"I'm still scared now. But, this time it ain't gonna stop me," he continued as he sat up straight and turned to look at Rick.
Locking his eyes on Rick's, he said, "I don't know if I'm queer or not, but I know I loved Jack and being with him. . . like this," he pointed to the bed behind them. "Just being with him anywhere, anyway, doing whatever, made me happier than anything."
Ennis took another deep breath. "And I love you the same way. I got me another chance to be happy agin and I ain't gonna let it slip by just cuz I'm scared. So, Rick, if you feel that same way, and I shore hope you do cuz this is gonna sound damn stupid if ya don't, could we get us a place here somewheres and . . . " Ennis closed his eyes like he was screwing up his courage then said, " and live together and be partners or whatever they call men like us." Ennis finished, opening his eyes, which took on a pleading look.
"That would make me `happier than anything.'" Rick responded echoing Ennis' earlier statement.
"Well, damn!" Ennis shouted. He stood up and pulled Rick to his feet and into his arms. "That means we must be. . . be. . . engaged! Then Ennis blushed at his own words and Rick laughed while kissing him.
"You laughing at me, boy!" Ennis said with a big smile.
"Yes, cowboy, I am. You are so damn special."
Rick lifts his head. He looks around the room. . . their room. "Damn you Jack Twist, why couldn't you jist stay dead!"
He gets up and walks out into the hallway. The sound of voices from the living room cause him to freeze where he stands.
"God its good ta have ya back." It's Ennis talking. Rick leans against the wall and closes his eyes. He doesn't want to hear this.
"Cowboy," comes Jack's voice, " when I was layin' in that hospital bed and that fuckin' LD was telling me he'd had you killed by the same bunch a fuckers that was supposed to kill me it `bout finished the job them bastards bungled. Then he tells me if I let Loureen know I was alive he would send them to finish the job for sure. Thinkin' you was dead . . well I didn't care no more anyways so I took the money he gave me to hush me up, it was a bunch, and just disappeared."
Despite the mixed emotions he feels , Rick can't help but be moved by the situation that had torn Ennis and Jack apart. Jack's scum of a father-in-law must have really hated him to go that far. The men in the other room continue. From the sound of it, it seems like they are replaying the same conversation over and over as if trying to convince themselves it's really happening.
"Then you come up here to sell your Dad's place after he dies and, shit, you run into Junior and Francine coming out of Monroe's grocery." Ennis is saying "How'd you recognize them? Ya only see'd them that once when they was. . . "
Here Ennis falters and Rick knows he is thinking of the time Jack had come to Wyoming after Ennis' divorce from Alma. Jack was expecting Ennis to accept his persistent plan of their living together on the old Twist ranch, only to be disappointed that Ennis couldn't be open about Jack and their relationship.
"They recognized me," Twist is saying now. "Don't that beat all. After all them years and them being just little kids at the time! Well, after we made our howdy dos and all I says how sorry I was to hear of your passing. Damn, they looked at me as if I had taken leave of my mind and Junior says, `Daddy ain't dead. He's livin' up in the valley north of Riverton.' Well, you know the rest. The one thing they didn't tell me about was Rick."
"Are you gonna tell Junior and Francine about us?" Rick asked Ennis as they drove in the truck behind the real estate agent's Cadillac on their way to see a small farm that was for sale in the valley.
"You gonna tell Stephen and Carla?" Ennis shot back, a little louder than Rick expected.
"Well, they kinda already know," Rick replied quietly. "I mean they know that I been takin' Ben up for riding lessons, that I moved ma horse fifty miles away jist ta go trail ridin' with you. I been staying up there almost every week end for over a year. Yeah, they kinda figured it out. Least ways they weren't surprised when I said we was gonna git a place together up in the valley."
"Do they know ma name?" Ennis looked uncomfortable.
"Yes, they know your damn name. Ennis, look, I don't want ya to do anything that is gonna make ya squirm but. . . doncha think it'd be better for it to come from you. I mean how ya gonna explain quittin' yore job and moving in with a man up near the mountain?"
"Okay, okay, I'll do it. I don't want to lose you like I did Jack for not standin' up to the truth. I'll do it. . . maybe next month."
"Alright, shit, alright."
They both laughed.
"Don't they know about you and Rick?" Jack asks.
"Oh yeah they know. I finally told `em. Rick kinda shamed me into it. I kinda skipped over the part about how we was intimate and all. They didn't need to know that. But, they kinda figured it out when they come up to see the place. Big mouth Rick says. "No, that's the guest room," when Jenny's little girl asked if it was my bedroom. Yep they kinda figured it out since we only got two fuckin' bedrooms."
"They not too happy about that part of it then?"
`No, don't reckon they are."
"And you?" Jack asks. "You okay with people knowing now?" There's a wistful tone to the question.
"Don't rightly care one way or `nother. Nobody's come after us with tire irons. . . so," Ennis chuckles. " I guess I'm ok with it. Jack I'm sorry that I couldn't when we was. . . "
He breaks off.
As if to change the subject, "I still can't believe it," Ennis says. "Can't believe that I can be standing here holdin' you in my arms agin. I shore have missed you Jack Fuckin' Twist."
That's more than Rick can take. He holds his breath, tries to muster up some courage and a gracious acceptance of the inevitable, but it's too much too ask. His world is crashing around him. He walks to the doorway to the living room and sees Jack and Ennis locked in an embrace.
"Excuse me." He says with a steely tone to his voice, trying valiantly to control his emotions. `I jist came down to see how you was doin' and I guess you is doin' jist fine."
Ennis and Jack break apart, startled at the sound of Rick's voice.
"Rick," Ennis starts, " you gotta hear this. . . "
Rick cuts across him. "I heard and seen enough for one mornin'"
He pushes past the men, ignoring both their pleas to listen to what they have to say. He heads out to the barn, pulls the still saddled Shadow out of his stall and gallops off toward the mountain, leaving Ennis running after him in the dust, calling his name.
By the time Rick reaches the cabin he's calmed down. He dismounts and leads Shadow into the barn. He's ridden him hard up the mountain and the summer heat has caused them both to sweat. He unsaddles the gray gelding and leads him to the wash stall. There he sprays luke warm water over the sweaty animal, raising a white foam of dissolved salts from his body. He wipes the water from his back and sides with a sweat scraper and walks him into his stall where he feeds him some hay and begins to groom him as he eats.
`It's gonna be okay,' he thinks. `I always knew Jack was his first and truest love. He never made no issue about keepin' that from me. Now he's back. I'll get over this.'
He leans his head against his horses shoulder.
"No, I won't!" He says out loud fighting to maintain his composure and not spill the tears that are threatening to leak from his eyes and roll down his cheeks. Shadow turns his head to Rick and tries to nuzzle him.
Rick hears a horse. He quickly puts the brushes away and heads out into the sunlight. Ennis is just dismounting.
"Rick. . . "
"I understand, Ennis. . . I really do. Jack's back and I understand. I always knew where I stood with Jack and you, so I truly do understand."
"No, you don't," Ennis starts.
"Yeah, yeah I do." Rick tries to sound casual. He turns and walks away toward the cabin so as not to let Ennis see the pain on his face. "So, its okay I . . . " he continues to walk away.
"Rick, Rick,. . . God Damn it! Listen to me!"
Ennis crosses the space between them in two strides. He grabs him by the shoulder and spins him around. Eyes full of concern and love hold Rick's.
"He's got a partner!"
Rick's mouth slowly opens in surprise.
"He's moved on, just like I did. When he found out I was alive he jist came to find me ta see me once more and well. . . get the past in the past."
Ennis smiles a sad but reassuring smile. "You don't go back, you know."
Rick just stares at Ennis for a full minute trying to comprehend what he's just heard. He looks at the face he loves so much, the deep brooding eyes, the wry smile, the crinkles around the mouth. "Oh," he whispers.
Ennis kisses him, turns him around and begins walking him to the house with an arm over his shoulder.
"You get y'rself in there and take a shower. You stink! I gonna put Red up and I'll be right in to join ya." He swats Rick on the butt to send him on his way.
Rick turns and stands at the top step on the porch, watching as Ennis walks back toward the paint horse that stands patiently where Ennis left him. Rick leans against the roof post, shaking his head and smiling. It's been quite an eighteen hours.
Ennis picks up the reins and leads the horse toward the barn. He catches sight of Rick on the porch and calls over his shoulder, "Oh yeah, Jack's guy? Name's Richard, too, just like you. Ain't that a hoot! We both got us a Dick! Now git, we got us some serious making up to do. "
Rick turns to the cabin laughing and hears Ennis' laughter as well.
All will be well on the mountain that day.