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Big Boots of Pain - Part 5


Winter locked Brokeback down, a mythical place of frozen sculpture, human concerns tiny in the vastness of white.

Ennis and Jack lived in the house, occasional excursions to the barn or the camp when the urge took them. Beds and clean bodies gave away to muck and pounding on splintered floors, over rails, or on ground so hard it bruised. Some urgency overtook them, some need to combat the lifelessness of the world outside. Although never said, the endless nothingness of snow became to them the endless nothingness of their lives lived away from Brokeback. Inside, wrestling and rolling, thrusting and ejaculating, licking and tasting, they were muck, sweat and the essence of life.

The cabin stood empty some weeks, but they didn’t move back. Ennis claimed it was too much effort. Jack wanted it kept for late bookings. Secretly, neither wanted the additional cleaning, allocation of those duties causing considerable friction between them.

Early December, ma got a letter from her sister. Given her loss, how sad she would be this time of year and other things always said, she was invited for two weeks over Christmas. She wouldn’t have gone, not liking her sister and not feeling any particular sadness, but the water froze in the pipes, her fingers ached too bad to sew, and her sister lived in Florida.

Suddenly and unexpectedly, Jack and Ennis had the house to themselves.

Jack returned late from taking ma to the airport. A six hour trip on bad roads, two hours just to do the last few miles onto Brokeback, and tiredness etched beneath the faint Texas scarring. Ennis had spent the day clearing snow and fixing pipes, the cold splitting skin on his hands till they bled.

Jack stamped boots on the porch and shed them. Dark inside, just a huge fire burning, Ennis’s feet stuck out one end of the couch. He was asleep, an arm thrown over his face, badly applied sticking plasters already peeling.

Jack’s eyes travelled slowly down the lean body. Ennis Del Mar. Still hard to believe. For twenty years he’d wanted something that could have been. But it had been denied him. That was worse than having no possibility of it at all. Ennis Del Mar had become for Jack a Holy Grail of happiness that if he strove hard enough he would obtain. And he had tried, year after year, willing to give everything up if Ennis Del Mar had but once said the word. Disappointment from silence nearly killed him. Ennis Del Mar held all the power. It was hard to believe it looking down at this tired, scruffy man with badly applied sticking plasters.

Jack leant over the couch and brushed the hair off Ennis’s forehead. “You asleep?”

Ennis breathed deeply and opened his eyes. Jack wondered if, for one moment, similar thoughts went through Ennis’s mind: how long they waited, how hard it was to believe that they were together now. He studied the tired face and concluded that Ennis probably did think these things. Maybe he felt guilt, too. Jack sincerely hoped so.

Ennis swung his legs down. “She git away okay?”

Jack nodded. “She’s more worried about us. What’s to eat?”

“Last I looked, the kitchen were over there.”

“Christ almighty, Ennis, I done drove since sunup. Ate crap on the road an’ I want something decent now.”

“I ain’t bin lyin’ around paintin’ my fucking nails, Twist. House don’t run itself!”

Jack nodded at the first aid attempts. “You okay?”

“I done worse.” He went to the kitchen, peeling off the bandages annoying him the most.

Jack heard an amused snort, went to see. Ennis indicated the refrigerator. “I don’t reckon we’re gonna starve, Twist.”

On every shelf neatly labelled bowls greeted Jack’s inspection. He pulled one out. “Share this with Ennis. Its not all for you Jack.”

Ennis poked him in the ribs, pretending to find fat, something that could now be said because it wasn’t there, which had not been said when it was.

Jack sighed and pulled Ennis into an embrace. Ennis eased away, but a few moments later, slid a hand around Jack’s neck and pulled him close.

Jack tipped his head back, rubbing against Ennis’s cheek. “Why you always do that?”


“Pull away from a hug.”

Ennis moved away. “What d’ya call that then, fool?”

Jack caught his arm. “Face to face, Ennis. We never fuck face to face neither.”

“Don’t start with me, Twist.”

“No one here but us, Ennis, an’ I know the things you say when you squirting your spunk up my ass, so don’t put on any fucking airs with me.”

“Nice mouth, Jack. Real nice.”

“Shit, Ennis, what is it with you? You ain’t got a little wife now you cain’t talk to about what you re’lly want! Ain’t nothing you kin say to me that’d embarrass me. I know you!”

Ennis pushed him to one side and made his escape. “You don’t know fuck about me, Jack Twist. Now, leave me be or you’ll be rattlin’ around this house by yerself tonight.”

Dinner was eaten in stony silence, not for the first time and they both reckoned it wouldn’t be the last. The food didn’t help. Warmed on the outside, both discovered lumps still frozen in the middle. Ennis pushed his away in disgust and lit a cigarette.

“Thought you were givin’ up.”

Ennis shrugged. “Life too short.”

“Will be m’be if you don’t give up.”

“Reckon we’ll both die young then.”

“I had one today, Ennis. One fucking cigarette.”

“That explains it then, because you in a right pissy mood, Twist.”

Jack leant back in his chair, regarding Ennis. “M’be. But m’be it’s because ‘a you. I’m gittin’ tired of it Ennis. I’m givin’ you fair warning: I’m gittin’ tired of it.”

“I’m goin’ out t’ the—.”

“Sit your ass down, Ennis! If ya take one more fucking step. I’m talkin’ to you!”

To Jack’s surprise, Ennis sat back down. His expression, though, did not invite confidences.

Jack combed his fingers through his hair. “Shit, Ennis, this ain’t the way we outta be talkin’ ‘bout this: you all angry now.”

“What you gotta say, Jack? Say it an’ I kin be on my way. One o’ us gotta think about the horses. They ain’t been fed yet.”

Jack gave him a look. “You the very devil sometimes, Ennis. Now you make me feel in the wrong.” He pushed his chair away from the table. “Jist go.”

Ennis watched him clearing the table with none of the urgency to leave that his previous declaration implied. Jack sat back down when he was done, pulled Ennis’s pack of cigarettes across, held up two fingers, and lit one. Blowing out a stream of smoke, he took his saucer and went to the couch, stretching his legs to the fire. He heard the screen door slam with weary resignation.

* * * * * * *

Ennis took a long time settling the horses, checking on feed, clearing ice from water. He was stiff with cold when he returned, not taking time to dress warmly. His hands ached and bled again; the house, uncomfortably warm, sent blood too quickly to frozen extremities. Jack was sitting crossed leg by the fire, whisky and cigarette in hand, writing. Ennis didn’t need to see the address on the letter. He made a lot of noise making coffee for one.

Not having Jack to talk with circumscribed Ennis’s evening as he neither read nor had hobbies other than Jack. He contented himself with sprawling on the couch picking at his ulcerated fingers. It paled as a fun activity after a few minutes. “Cain’t think what you fillin’ a whole page with, Twist. Ain’t nothin’ happenin’ on Brokeback worth mentionin’.”

“Ain’t tellin’ him about ‘bout Brokeback.”

Ennis stared at the lowered head, the fingers, the pursed lips. He stood and aimed a well-placed kick before goin’ upstairs. “Tell ‘im what a dumb fuck you are, Jack Twist.”

* * * * * * *

For the first time they used both beds. Ennis pushed the second one under the window and was asleep, or feigning it, when Jack came in.

He stripped off in the freezing room and lay under blankets that smelt of Ennis. Ennis turned over, revealing a pale shoulder under moonlight.

Jack ached to make up, but felt he was in the right so resisted exchanging his cold sheets for rumpled Ennis-warm ones.

Through the cold, in a voice that sounded cold until Jack listened more carefully, Ennis said, “How kin ya know me, Jack, when I don’t rightly know m’self?”

Jack then wished he’d left the conversation to this time and this place. The darkness welcomed confidences. He left the bed and Ennis was waiting for him.

There were apologies to make best made with lips and tongues not used for speaking, but when they were done, Jack murmured, ‘Time’s past when ya could call this something else, friend.”

Ennis was playing with Jack’s hair, combing the dark locks through his fingers. Jack could feel the way it snagged on blisters and calluses. “It ain’t jist you, Jack.” The effort of speaking made his fingers clench. “I never spoke to Alma ‘bout… bed… things neither. Shit, I cain’t do this.” He climbed awkwardly over Jack and went to fetch cigarettes. Jack had the sense, for once, not to mention the quitting. Ennis sat crossed legged on the end of the bed, leaning on the widow ledge, staring out on deadness. “How d’ people learn t’ say things? I niver even thought on it till I met Alma. An’ then there was you on this damn mountain. An’ believe me Jack, you weren’t askin’ for sweet talkin’ and romance. Had yer head turned by that fool in New York, if you ask me. I cain’t spell most ‘a what he tells ya.”

“Yer gittin’ cold.”

Ennis conceded the point and rejoined him under the blankets.

Jack took a deep breath. “None ‘a that explain why you cain’t face me when we fuck. Cain’t hug me neither. I’m tellin’ you, Ennis, jist so’s yer know, I take it personal that you cain’t.”

Ennis finished his cigarette with studied concentration, stubbed it out on some ice clinging to the inside of the glass then levered himself onto Jack. His eyes held some point on Jack’s belly. When they tired to rise, they dropped back down, frown lines, dragged as they lowered. Once, Jack would have held him and made it easy, turning for him and saying that it was all right. Not this time. He rubbed up Ennis’s bony back then bit into his lobe, drawing blood. The shock brought Ennis’s mouth to Jack’s and although he tried, kissing, his eyes were no longer private. Once his gaze found Jack’s it was more intimate than the kissing or lying naked against each other, belly to belly. All his life, Ennis’s eyes had been his words, telling his story for those who had the inclination to know. In the blue black light of moon on snow, their story was pained and fearful. Jack cupped one cheek, brushed his thumb over a closing lid, put Ennis’s fingers to his chest and held them, precious, to hair and nipple. “Two men, darlin’.”

Ennis’s mouth seized him as if he were disappearing, sucking hard, holding his head and cramming them together. It heated up, sweat pooling onto Jack’s belly, slip-sliding them sloppily together. Ennis’s eyes, closed to the taste of Jack’s mouth, opened and watched him even as they kissed and rubbed. He was still watching as he slid a hand beneath Jack’s leg to lift. Later, when it was done, Jack’s skin felt peeled from the power of Ennis’s regard.

They had gone at it in silence until lowering, panting hard, eyes still fixed on him, Ennis croaked, “Yer the pruttiest thing I ever fucked, Jack; cain’t think why I never enjoyed this afore.”

Jack moved Ennis’s hand to his belly. Ennis still watched Jack’s eyes as his cracked fingers worked. Jack was the first to look away with a cry and an arch that lifted them both. Sinking, Ennis breathed, “Shit, even pruttier then.”

Jack finally allowed Ennis to lie on his chest with his thoughts once more his own.

More spirited the horse, more gentle and slow you took the breaking.

Ennis was coming along just fine.

* * * * * * *

Work habits didn’t change overnight, even if they did.

Ennis rolled off Jack sometime before five, peeling more than rolling and stomped still half-asleep to piss in the sink.

Jack was already reaching for a shirt, and in the dark they stumbled down to boots and coats and the bitter cold.

Rising sun bled into the high places on Brokeback, God, a crazed painter with wild imagination.

Ennis stood in untied boots, coat loose staring up at the sight. Before Jack knew what hit him, snow in the face and Ennis hollering some nonsense that made his heart feel like the tops of the mountains.

They fought like the boys they had lost somewhere under women and work, Ennis faster and more accurate and seeming to enjoy more the wet damage he was doing to Jack.

Ennis used the barn for cover. Jack scooped up a handful and trod warily. Ennis was waiting for him around the corner, but no snow. He blinked in streaks of sun, dusting of freckles prominent. When Jack closed the space between them, Ennis hugged, awkward at first, but growing in ease. “See, ya damn fool, ain’t nothing in this.”

Jack tipped his hips forward, eliciting a grunt of discovery that there was more.

Jack’s snow-cold face, wet and raw, slid into the warmth of Ennis neck, just above the collar. Ennis arms tightened, rough-rubbed up to Jack’s neck, holding him on. Horses stamped in the barn, impatient for their attention. Birds alighted on the sacks of winterfeed. 

They were rocking gently to music of their own imagining, Ennis almost humming in his raspy throat, the same low plaintive sound he made to his horses or his girls when they were sick.

Then shivering set in and they pulled apart, laughing and punching at each other to send blood back to hands and feet.

“You wanna take a ride af’er breakfast, Jack? Be sweet ‘round the lake m’be. Not too much snow. Horses sure use it.”

“Let’s take some making fur breakfast an’ cook if we find a littl’ spot.”

“You kin fish fur us, Jack, like one a’ those Eskimo types. Give me time fur a little catch up sleep.” Jack’s prowess with the rod had not improved with practise.

* * * * * * *

By seven they were ready, Ennis laughing as he mounted. “This so good it don’t feel legal.”

They rode side by side until broken shoreline sent them up into trails through the woods, walking in snow and leading. They talked about the horses and the ranch, the cabin and the one they were planning to build. A third way round the lake the shoreline got the sun early and all day. Snow lay in patches and easy to clear they made camp. They cheated with the fire, unloading dry wood they’d carried. Coffee and bacon watered their mouths on the cold metallic air.

“Be Christmas in a few days.”

“I reckon.”

Jack pulled his knees up and wrapped his arms around them, wiping wet nose on his sleeve. “You plannin’ t’ do anythin’?”

Ennis considered this for a while, mixing thought with smoke from his first cigarette of the day. “Nope.”

“M’be jist a tree. Seen plen’y nice ones this mornin’.”

“Be jist as nice left where they are.”

Jack let it drop. He didn’t know himself what he’d do with a tree if they did dig one up.

* * * * * *

Starved of good sleep and belly full, Ennis stretched out in the cold sun, pulled his hat low and folded in upon himself.

Jack took tackle and bacon for bait and stood at the edge of the vast whiteness. He wasn’t easy stepping onto it, nothing he’d been told as a child, but something in his gut queasy. First step held like stone. Second one the same. He jumped up and down, figuring he’d take some ribbing and wet feet but nothing worse if it gave. He got no sense of water at all, just something vast and frozen and heavy with power. Slip-sliding and falling once or twice on a hip stiff from rodeoing, he went until Ennis was the size of his thumb. He covered him up. World without Ennis shivered him so he got down to the business of making a hole.

It was harder than he’d planned on and he didn’t rightly like using the sharp end of a tyre iron. Although he’d never told Ennis, never planned on doing so neither, he’d seen one of these being inserted where it shouldn’t ever go and the screams and pleading in foreign words for a mercy that weren’t coming came to him in dreams. Sometimes he wondered if the man had begged in English whether they’d have given him that mercy. Most times he reckoned not.

He was sweating hard and still only a shallow crater to show for all his work. He kicked at some loose ice for a while, cursing. Ennis was still the size of his thumb.

Snow covering the lake was beginning to melt, exposed and spread as it was to the sun. He took a skate to see how far he could go. Turned and skated another way. Tracks behind marked the lake, put his stamp on the world. On the next slide he fell and hit wet, his feet disappearing into the lake. Shock took his breath but, down, he was able to drag away from the horror. It boiled up through green slush like icy snot.

Heard a shout and as he climbed to his feet a hand seized his arm. “What the fuck ya doin’? You sonofabitch. Ya jist disappeared an’ I thought—.” No need for Ennis to finish. Jack had thought it too.

“Thought you were asleep.”

“I kin watch you an’ sleep.”

Jack returned to the hole, cat-curious and unable to resist. “What the fuck is it, Ennis? Must ‘a bin some debris caught when it froze m’be. That sunk and left this?”

Ennis squatted on lean haunches. “It God’s finger.”

Couldn’t have surprised Jack more. “Huh?”

“God looks down on the world an’ sees somethin’ he don’t like? Pokes a hot finger down to remind us sinners what we got waitin’ fur us.”

Jack squatted alongside, studied Ennis, not the hole. “I love you, Ennis. How kin love ever be sinnin’?”

Ennis raised an eyebrow, pulled his hat lower over his eyes. “Don’t do to love too much, Jack. God a jealous sonofabitch. Takes away what yer loves the most. Sticks his goddamned finger down frum heaven jist to remind us he watchin’.”

Jack’s heart started to pound back up to the speed it had been going when his feet went through. “Shit, friend, niver heard you talkin’ on this afore.”

“Yeah, well. Niver had time fur talkin’ on Brokeback afore. Too busy tryin’ t’ stop the days turnin’ over. Too busy tryin’ t’ remember all the things I were gonna tell ya. Every goddamned thing, Jack: Jack’ll like that; gotta remember t’ tell Jack that. Then it were meet an’ part an’ I don’t rightly remember the times between. What I do remember, we weren’t talkin’. Spent ma whole life thinkin’ on talkin’ an’ niver quite gittin’ there.”

“Be nice if ya made up fur lost time, Ennis. I’d think that real sweet.”

Ennis shrugged. “You git me started like last night, Jack Twist, an’ I’ll be talkin’ up a storm of nonsense ‘fore ya know it. Now, you gonna get those wet feet ‘a yourn back to the house, because we’ve got chores, cowboy, and in my ‘xperience, chores don’t never do themselves.”

* * * * * * *

That evening, they played cards on the floor in the front of the fire. Neither said it, but neither wanted to face the cold up top or the narrow cramped beds. Jack was thinking on a suggestion, but Ennis was fragile and he’d been jiggled some already that day.

“Thought I might sleep down here, Ennis. Brung the mattress. Shame to waste this fire.”

Ennis laid a card and took a swallow of whisky.

“Course, you’d be welcome to join.”

“M’be.” He glanced at the windows.

“Ma’s got good drapes, Ennis. Real thick.”

“I got eyes, Twist. I kin see that fur myself.” He flicked a dollar into the middle. “You playin’, cus yer mind sure ain’t on the game.”

Jack caught his wrist. “Nope. It ain’t.”

“Quit it.”

“Ain’t gonna. Thought m’be I’d gits me some more ‘a that sweet talk ‘a yours.”

“You can kiss my sweet ass and go wrung one out on yer lonesome. How’s that?”

Jack laughed. “That’s good, Ennis. You thinkin’ on me wrunin’ one out when ya said it?”

“Will you quit foolin’ round?”

“But were ya? I wanna know. How much you think on me, Ennis?”

“Spend most of the goddamned day thinkin’ what a fuck up you are, Twist, an’ puttin’ right all the things you do, like crap yer middle name.”

“So you thinkin’ on me all day. Tell me somethin’ you think ‘bout me.”

“I think you ain’t never gonna git that cabin built cus you an idiot.”

“Uh huh. An’ somethin’ else.”

“I think yer gittin’ fat a’gin like you was before I done wear some ‘a it off.”

“Yeah. An’ somethin’ else.”

“I think yer too big all round, Twist. Fill the world too much. Hole you leave’ll be awful big. Think I’ll jist fall in an’ follow where you go.” He kissed Jack slow with light flickering on saliva left in trails when they eased off to see eyes wide and widening. On cards and dollars, they paid their dues of kisses until kisses moved them on.

Jack scrabbled with belt and buckle and turned.

Ennis turned him back, slid the pants down to knees and lifted both legs, lying on them with Jack folded beneath.

One hand, nails scratching the backs of Jack’s thighs, and he was out then in, shock of the pleasure never dimming.

Ennis’s face pressed into Jack’s jeans. Jack’s boots drummed on his head. He grasped a handful, front of Jack’s shirt, and used it to hold so he could ram harder. They slid closer to the fire, anyways, faded denim knees of Ennis’s jeans ripping, rivets heating up and marking skin.

When Ennis finished, Jack was scarcely breathing, red, sweat soaked and fire warmed. He was crushed and the next day would bend, hands to knees and croak, “Jesus, Ennis, I’m done fur,” when his back hurt.

* * * * * * *

Drapes were not even closed, seemed like shutting doors after bolting was done. The moonlight liked the colour of the room, quilt-warm reds and blue of a summer’s day. Colour bled and blended like the two bodies on the dragged down mattress. Ennis, kissing Jack, his fingers opened up and bleeding again, his semen seeping out of where he’d sent it and wetting him, thought on blending. Seemed to him they were more than brothers.

Lips sore from stubble, they needed to quit the kissing, and Jack took the opportunity to say, “Might send a card to Toby an’ Martin. You wanna sign it an’ all?”


“Christmas, Ennis. Send ‘em a Christmas card.”

“Card cain’t do no harm.”

“But a tree would?”

“Huh? I swear, Jack Twist, if you used yer brain fur thinkin’ ‘bout useful things ‘stead ‘a tryin’ t’ twist me up in yer littl’ schemes we’d be rich men b’now.”

“I want a tree, Enins. That too much t’ ask?”

“’S your house.”

“That ain’t the point. Be prutty dumb t’ sit all by ma lonesome lookin’ at a tree. What ya gonna do fur Christmas if ya don’t git one?”

“I’m gonna git drunk fur three days an’ hope it goes away. Now, leave me be on this one, Jack. I’ve bin dancin’ t’ your tune enough, I reckon.”

The next day Jack drug a tree back behind his horse and stuck it in the living room.

* * * * * * *

The twenty-forth arrived and Ennis, good as his word, went in search of whisky. He knew there was a bottle in the cabin and one he’d put in the barn for emergencies. He reckoned those and one they were part through in the house would keep him just fine for the time he planned to be gone.

The one in the cabin was missing. The one in the barn was empty. The one in the house had less in than he remembered.

“I’m goin’ t’ town. You wanna come?”

Jack thought about presents and grinned. “Sure. I knew y’d come round.”


They drove in companionable silence because of the mistake, Jack picturing Texas-sized boxes, Ennis anxious that he would not be drunk enough come sun down.

Separating and promising to meet in the bar, Ennis headed for the liquor store.

* * * * * * *

When he entered the bar, Ennis hit the atmosphere like a dirt shoulder he’d hit too hard once in the truck. He felt slowed down and threatened, wanted to right a wheel that weren’t there to get back on track.

Jack was standing facing him, a big bull of man between them. Ennis, only seeing the back, thought LB and his blood froze. It froze even more when following Jack’s look the man turned.

Time had not changed Aguirre much and Ennis reckoned the same thought was on Aguirre’s mind as he studied him. “Well, Del Mar an’ all. I’ll be damned.”

Jack pushed past the big man. Ennis could smell Texas-fear and wondered if it were him or Jack. They hit the sidewalk and turned any direction away from the bar. “Hey. Twist.”

Jack stopped and folded his arms, head hung low. “I ain’t got no quarrel with you, old man. You leave m’ be.”

Aguirre strolled toward them. “You best wait up some there, sonny. Cain’t believe I run into the likes a’ you and peebrain here ag’in. Ennis fucking Del Mar, if I do remember rightly.” He saw the look that passed between them and the one thrown for possible listening ears as clear as if he’d seen it through his ten by fours. “M’be you ain’t usin’ that name now.”

Jack whirled around, not hearing anything from Ennis so taking the bull by its horns himself, wrestling it on his own. “I know the word fur you now, Aguirre. You a homophobic fuck. You ain’t got no—.”

Even the fist in his shirtfront brought no help from Ennis. “You hold on there, son, afore you say one more goddamned thing. You got no right t’ call me anything, and especially not that, if I’m suspectin’ what that mean. I niver had no problem with you an’ this pissant fuck up here dippin’ yer oars int’ any damn thing ya wanted, but I do have a problem when ya do it on my time. One thousand woollies you took up that summer, an’ you come down shy two hundred, and the ones ya did have weren’t the ones ya went up with. You was too busy wi’ yer friend here givin’ ya a one-gun salute. Yer selfish, Twist, an’ I ain’t got no time fur a man like that. Think more on yer cock than on yer duty, an’ I’m thinkin’ by the look ‘a yer friend here, he knows ‘xactly what I’m stayin’.” He let Jack go, dusted his hands. “I hopin’ we won’t be runnin’ into each other a’gin, Twist. Happy fucking Christmas.”

The drive back was silent except for the clink of Ennis’s bottles, which he’d begun on and drank steadily from as Jack drove.

Jack cast him glances, thinking on the packages he had in back. He’d noticed Ennis had none visible, although pockets were a possibility. He wanted to talk about Aguirre, the bad luck, the good luck. He wanted Ennis to laugh. He wanted Ennis, which struck him as odd seeing he was sitting there.

He unloaded, admired the tree for a while then went to find Ennis. One package held some shiny things and he knew, if he played Ennis right, he’d get some help in the hanging.

Ennis was by the lake, smoking and drinking, resting his weight on one hip, much bigger than thumb size now and growing.

“Cold out here, cowboy.”

“Won’t feel it soon.”

“I’m gonna cook. Bought a turkey an’ some trimmin’s.”

“Ain’t hungry.”

“But yer gonna be later. Com’on.”

“Leave me, Jack. I don’t want yer company t’night.”

Jack shuffled his feat in the snow, standing in Ennis’s tracks as he had all his life. “It’s Christmas, darlin’. Our furst together. Got you some—.”

“Don’t ya hear me, Jack?” Ennis pushed him hard, down in the snow and stood over him. “I cheated ‘em every Christmas, Jack, took their childhood from ‘em jist as sure as I took love from Alma. Every Christmas Jack, livin’ wi’ you in m’ head ‘stead of them, wishin’ they weren’t there s’ I could be with you. I was walkin’ around without them in my heart, Jack, because my heart was always too full ‘a you. Stole their littl’ Christmases Jack, an’ now what I got? Leave me be.”

Jack climbed to his feet. “Ennis, ya done got me. Ain’t a ghost now. You kin have yer Christmas wi’ me. What we both wanted all this time! Com’on, darlin’ gitting cold out here. Yer shiverin’.”

Ennis shrugged him off and stepped further into darkness. “Don’t need ya, Jack. I got God’s finger keepin’ me warm.”

The End.

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