Thursday, April 26, 2012

Gift of Exile (a Brokeback Mountain fanfic) Chapter 7

excerpt from Chapter 7:  In the course of getting more involved with his daughters' lives, Ennis reaches a cautious truce with Alma.  In the meantime, David begins calling him regularly.

In early September, he listened to the now-familiar voice telling about his first visit back to Georgia since moving to Duluth. Gramma Alex had died unexpectedly. “The way she’d have wanted it,” David said, his voice sounding fatigued. “She had a stroke, lingered in the hospital for a few days. I thanked Aunt Carol for bringing her to the wedding, that was the last time I saw her. Saw a lot of her when I was growing up, and I’d missed her since I moved North.”

I’m sorry to hear ‘bout that,” Ennis answered. “I just met her at the wedding but she was a nice lady.”

Yeah, she was my favorite relative, I wish I could’ve got there in time to say goodbye. But it might not’ve made any difference. The last day, they thought she was conscious but she just kept talking to herself, thought her son Kevin was there. I never met him, he died a long time ago.”

Ennis recalled the sweet, artless voice, telling him about her family. “She mentioned him when we were talkin’ at the wedding,” he ventured. “He was killed in Korea. She said she still thought of him as a young man.”

That so?” David was silent a few moments. “You think maybe she was talkin’ to him? Lotta my relatives at the funeral, they thought she just wasn’t in her right mind but I’d like to think she was. You believe in somethin’ more after you die?”

Ennis thought of Jack’s hand in his at the wedding. “Yeah I do, but who knows how it works. Not much way for us ta tell. Huh?”

I was raised Presbyterian,” David said, “they were all about Heaven ‘n Hell and who was going there and who wasn’t.”

Yeah I was taught that too.”

But it doesn’t make any sense. You could be the most mean, evil bastard in the world and you win the big prize after you go ‘cause you believed the right stuff about somethin’ that happened back in the Roman Empire? And what would you do in Heaven all day anyway?”

Ennis tried to recall his unmemorable Sunday School mornings. “Well, yer supposed ta be spendin’ all your time praisin’ God. That’s what they said anyway.”

Yeah, that’s what they taught us, too. But what sorta afterlife is that? Sounds to me like spendin’ eternity going to church. Would ya really want to spend eternity going to church?”

Don’t sound like much ta look forward to.”

I have an old school friend, Maggie – she believes in reincarnation,” David ventured. “Pretty convinced of it. Never have figured out if I believe that or not, but I gotta say it makes more sense than what we were taught.”

Isn’t that where you come back as a bird, or a cow or somethin’?”

No, that’s somethin’ else. It’s when you keep gettin’ reborn in another body. People talk about coming back as other people, having a bunch of different lives, but Maggie says it’s all one life, just different times ‘n’ places. I never have decided whether she’s right, but I’d sure rather think of meetin’ Gramma Alex again lookin’ like somebody else than her spending eternity sittin’ around kissin’ some god’s butt and listening to harp music. She’d hate that.”

It had been awhile since Ennis had been curious about anyone else’s life. He wondered about the woman David had just mentioned, if David liked both women and men but instead he just asked, “David, uh, how’d ya move to Minnesota? Didn’t like Georgia any more?”

David’s voice suddenly sounded cautious and strained. “Well, I went through a bad time, someone died… Maggie came down to visit me in Atlanta during that time, she lived there a few years but then moved back to Minnesota. Not her hometown though, she’s from a little place in the farm country, Madelia. I told her I was thinking of moving but hadn’t made any decision yet. And she offered me a place to stay in Duluth while I looked around, decided what I wanted to do. I slept on her couch for a month or so, finally wound up buying a share of a house she found that had got turned into two apartments. So she’s still a close neighbor.”

Nathan died, but without trying to understand it, Ennis knew not to ask about that at the moment. Even just listening to a voice over the phone he could feel a kinship with what he heard in David’s voice, something like a partially-healed wound just liberated from bandages. 

read the rest of Chapter 7 at Chapter 7:

Gift of Exile (a Brokeback Mountain fanfic) Chapter 6

excerpt from Chapter 6: Ennis spends more time with his daughters but is tormented by fantasies of what his life with Jack might have been.

He’d had only fleeting impressions of the run-down ranch in Lightning Flat on his way in. The house, he’d noticed, had needed painting and other repairs badly, although it looked solid and Jack’s mother had kept it scrupulously clean and freshly whitewashed inside. But Jack’s father’s words, though some of them had bled him out inside and forced tears to his eyes – the first he’d shown in front of strangers since childhood – had also made him notice details of the land and the house’s surroundings on the way out: “had some half-baked notion the two o’ you was gonna move up here, build a cabin, help run the place.” He’d looked at the barns, the cattle scattered about, the four mature cherry trees in back, and a flat spot with an ancient grove on a rise above a stream, about 100 feet from the house. He wouldn’t have noticed more than the rutted, pebbly road he was driving on if it hadn’t been for the Old Bastard’s words.

At least once a week, they had dinner with Jack’s mother and the Old Bastard, come what may. Her cooking, Jack was quick to admit, was light-years better than his and the Old Bastard had even become marginally more friendly since the efforts of two younger men working on the rundown ranch were starting to bear fruit. But Ennis was amazed at how skillfully Jack turned these prosaic occasions into opportunities to tease him. Even the shirt he usually wore to dinner in The House, as both of them referred to it.

Ennis had made a trip to Riverton a few months ago to see Jenny in her senior high school play, in which an actor had appeared wearing a ripped-up shirt damaged in an offstage brawl. He’d asked Jenny afterward if the costume people had made a different shirt for every performance, and she’d hooted. “Daddy, you must be the last person in the world to hear about Velcro!”

And he’d had to mention that to Jack. On his next trip to Gillette for supplies, Jack had taken a sky-blue cotton shirt with him and had the buttonholes replaced with Velcro, leaving the buttons for public view to hide how easy it was to rip the shirt off. He’d taken to wearing it to The House on these dinner occasions and would smile at Ennis innocently across the narrow table, fingers artlessly brushing the plackets and cuffs in between bites of Dorothy Twist’s macaroni and beef casserole. . Once Ennis tried kicking him under the table but the only result was “ouch! Watch it, Ennis”, after which Jack’s foot had stealthily crept forward to wedge against his own. Finally, to avoid looking at Jack, Ennis had complimented Mrs. Twist on the casserole – ‘ma’am’, he still called her, unable to say ‘Mother’ as yet – relieved that the uncomfortable pressure in his jeans wasn’t anything visible under the carefully patched tablecloth she brought out for these weekly dinners.

Another thunderstorm was moving slowly in as they walked back to the cabin later, the lightning that was as much a fixture here as wind throwing the clouds into sharp relief. But the walk was a short one, Jack purposely not hurrying, The door had hardly closed behind them before Ennis had pulled Jack to him, one hand on the back of Jack’s head as he kissed him and the other hand struggling with the snaps on his jeans; wondering why Jack didn’t have Velcro put on them as well. Then he yanked Jack’s modified shirt open, still turned on by the ripping sound it made; and pulling it off his shoulders fast enough that Jack had to pull apart the cuffs to keep them from ripping in earnest: “think you’re somethin’ doncha, Jack Twist?” “I’d say you think so,” Jack answered as he down at the edge of their bed, pulling off his boots and jeans and still looking at Ennis with that exaggerated innocence.

Ennis sat down behind him, running his hands up Jack’s sides, deliberately bypassing the nipples he knew were so sensitive. Instead, both his hands traveled down Jack’s unresisting arms, pulled them out slightly, moved back up the tender skin underneath from the wrist up to the elbow and then back down. As they did, Jack crossed his arms just under his shoulders as if hugging himself, which laid Ennis’ hands over his nipples. Ennis fingered them lightly with his left hand but only briefly, just long enough to feel Jack’s muscles tense. He was going to pay him back for that teasing at dinner. They had world enough now, and time.

His right hand moved down to Jack’s knee and languidly up the inside of the thigh, right hand cupping his balls and right thumb caressing them lightly and then moving forward a bit to trace up and down the now-throbbing vein in his cock. Jack was gasping now, head arched back and to one side, giving Ennis plenty of room for leisurely nibbles down the side of his neck before sinking his teeth lightly into Jack’s shoulder and sucking hard for a moment.

Jack’s body jerked forward as if Ennis’ mouth had been a hot piece of charcoal but Ennis had anticipated that and held his prey in place. “Tease me willya, Rodeo?” he whispered, but his own breath was getting ragged and the pressure on his own jeans more insistent. He released Jack and started to unzip his own Wranglers but Jack, less intent on teasing him now, turned around and speeded up the process by several seconds.

read the rest of Chapter 6 at

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Gift of Exile (a Brokeback Mountain fanfic), Chapter 5

excerpt from Chapter 5: Ennis and his new friend David go horseback riding. David tells Ennis about how his deceased best friend, stepbrother and lover Nathan came to live with his family, and Ennis and David discover an attraction to each other. 

“Damn, I’m sorry,” David said suddenly.  “We’re out ridin’ on a beautiful day, and here I am talkin’ about plane crashes.  I guess it’s been on my mind lately, it was exactly 22 years ago last week.”

Ennis thought for a moment.  “Hey, you really ride bareback sometimes, like ya said last night?”

“Sure, when I was growin’ up anyway.  Why, you thought I made it up?”

Ennis gave him a sidelong glance.  “Well, they were kinda givin’ you a hard time about your ridin’ last night,” he said a little archly. 

David took the bait, as he had guessed.  “Well, they’re your horses but I can prove it if you don’t believe me.”  Ennis gestured toward David’s horse, and David immediately started undoing the saddle, struggling with the unfamiliar straps and buckles.

“Here…” Ennis walked up next to him and quickly unfastened the saddle.  Standing on slightly sloping ground their feet touched and their arms and shoulders brushed against each other; and Ennis glanced over to find David already looking closely at him.

When they’d met two nights before they had both been wearing suits, with the conventional dark heavy fabric serving its intended function of smoothing out the slopes and angles of male bodies.  Now they were both wearing jeans, Ennis in the type of snapped cotton shirt he’d worn since his teens and David in a sweatshirt, a garment Ennis had never worn but which suddenly seemed improbably sensual to him.  The sleeves were pushed up slightly, enough to show the light growth of fine dark hair on the wrists above the squarish but fine-boned hands with their short spatulate fingers.  Ennis did not look down, but during their side-by-side rides he had already noticed, with awareness of it only half-surfacing, the compact legs and slightly rounded buttocks.  He suddenly wanted more than anything to slide his hand under the soft fabric and up David’s back and then down again.  His thoughts would have progressed further than that, but the realization in the same moment of his stiffening cock and of David frozen with one hand on the saddle, looking back at him, stopped them in their tracks.

“I’ll do it.”  David’s voice sounded somewhat shaky despite the casual words, but he turned and pulled the saddle off the horse’s back.  There was no anger nor fear nor hostility in his manner, just a hand put out to stop a slowly swinging door from opening any further.

Ennis untethered his own horse, the familiar action dispelling the momentary sense of the world having shifted subtly and of his suddenly being in some alien realm with all signs written in unreadable languages.  He swung himself up into the saddle and David stepped on the high end of the log to vault onto his horse’s back.  “Over t’ that fence and back?” he suggested as they rode back out in the sunlight, pointing to a single tree a hundred yards or so away.  Ennis nodded wordlessly, not trusting himself to answer at that moment, and they urged their horses into a canter.

Shaken as he was, he couldn’t resist glancing over.  David’s legs were clinging to his horse’s flanks as if he were shinnying up a fleshy tree, leaning back very slightly, his pelvis rocking rhythmically back and forth with the horse’s three-time gait.  He glanced over at Ennis and smiled triumphantly: “told ya!”   Ennis nodded, but did not look over at him again until they reached the tree.

read the rest of Chapter 5 at

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Gift of Exile (a Brokeback Mountain fanfic), Chapter 4

excerpt: Ennis and his new friend David escape the wedding reception to have a drink, and make plans to go horseback riding the next day.

It was still early but Ennis had known the Black and Blue Eagle would be busy. Riverton had grown a little since he and Alma had gotten married but it was a hard time to start a new business there right now, with the economy the way it was and more ranches folding, some bought up by absentee owners. Good times had come and gone, and there were still few other places to go on Saturday night. As he got out of his truck and watched David close the door of his anonymous-looking rental car, Ennis wondered how the hell he’d gotten into this: two men walking into the bar together and wearing suits at that. And one of “them….”

Queer. Say it. David’s cousin Charlene might not be anyone he’d want to spend even a few hours with but she’d made it clear in just two sentences. And he’d never been that, never had anything goin’ with any man but Jack. But Jack had…. You been to Mexico, Jack? … another one’s goin a come up here … some ranch neighbor a his from down in Texas. He walked through the bar making an effort to not look at anyone but threw a longing glance at a table in the corner, wondering if they’d attract less attention there or just look like they wanted to be alone with each other. David slid onto a barstool before he had a chance to find out, too late. Sitting at the bar, Ennis felt like a car dealership spotlight was only ten feet away and shining directly on them.

Hey Ennis, lookit you – almost didn’t know ya wearin’ a suit. Who’s your friend?” it was Vickie, owner of the place since her husband had died, she’d been here more than one Saturday night lately; sometimes out here talking to employees and customers and sometimes going through the tiny office in back, drawer by drawer. “Not friends, ma’am, cousins, as of a couple a’ hours ago anyway.” David answered before Ennis could even react, and it seemed like his Southern accent was suddenly stronger. “Ennis’ daughter got married this afternoon, prettiest bride I’ve seen in awhile. Things were startin’ to wind down, and we just needed somethin’ stronger ta drink than punch with lime sherbet.”

Vickie laughed and called to Roy, washing glasses at the other end of the bar, for two beers. “First ones on the house, nobody’s daughter gets married every day” she said. The searchlight had at least dimmed, more quickly than Ennis had thought it could. “So you’re from out of state?” she asked David.

Yes ma’am, I live in Minnesota now but I’m a good ol’ boy from Georgia. Macon,” David answered. “Never been this far west before.” He pulled a few dollar bills out of his pocket. “Would you have some change? I’d like some music with the beer, don’t seem to have any quarters.”

His drawling voice sounded affable and a little coaxing, but not blatant or aggressively salesman-friendly. He was leaning a little toward her, smiling slowly, eyes narrowed a little and focused on her face, but not getting too close, staying a respectful enough distance so that the impression was more of sociable interest than a conscious attempt to charm. Ennis found it oddly familiar, remembering his short conversation with David’s grandmother earlier. She’d had the same trick in conversation of seeming to pull the other person closer to her, by briefly seeming to draw an invisible and private circle around both of them. Pocketing the change Vickie gave him, David nodded to Roy as he put their drinks on the counter, went over to study the selections on the jukebox.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Gift of Exile (a Brokeback Mountain fanfic), Chapter 3

Excerpt from Chapter 3:  at his daughter's wedding reception, Ennis meets some guests from Georgia and Minnesota and makes an unexpected friend.

They were suddenly joined by a blonde woman of about 30, dressed in a bright pink suit. She smiled briefly at Ennis, a smile that was a notable achievement of both practice and dentistry although he thought immediately of his horses’ teeth coated in white paint. The fruity aroma of the cologne she was wearing was neither too strong nor cloying but it seemed to fit her nevertheless: a piece of delectable fruit still sweet and juicy but a little soft here and there, recently overripe.

Oh here you are, Gramma,” sitting down on the other side of Alexandria, the younger woman didn’t appear to even notice Ennis. “Well, this has been an interestin’ wedding, thank God I wasn’t one of the bridesmaids, what with those dresses, I mean, why in the world would she pick that shade of green? Made Luanne’s skin look like a piece of cheese somebody forgot in the refrigerator –“

Charlene,” Alexandria’s voice a little louder now, “I don’t believe you and Mr. del Mar had met. The bride’s father, Mr. del Mar, this is my granddaughter Charlene.” Suddenly wanting to find yet another escape route, Ennis nodded to her. She looked searchingly at him and he was conscious of his older suit, his weathered skin, the age that he knew had crept closer in the last year. “Well, your daughter is just beautiful, Mr. del Mar, I was tellin’ Curt just a few minutes ago.” She gave him another carefully orchestrated smile to match her voice and apparently dismissing him, turned to Alexandria again. “Can you believe the climate here, all that wind? Just two days and my skin feels like old newspaper.”

I know, dear,” Alexandria said evenly. “It was good of you and your Mama to come with me. I hadn’t seen Curt and Luanne in years, and I’m so glad David decided to come. I haven’t seen him since he moved North.”

Just as well he’s here, if you want to see him. I mean, we won’t be seeing David at his wedding anytime soon, not unless they change the laws and Nathan comes back to life.”

That’s none of your business, Charlene,” Alexandria said in a low, warning voice but Ennis scarcely heard. He looked down at the table, his face feeling too warm and his stomach slightly queasy.

Mama, I need you and Charlene to come with me,” a brisk woman’s voice said. She looked like an older version of Charlene but had an aura of authority about her. Ennis would have been reminded of some of the ladies he’d met at the few church events Alma had talked him into years ago, but all he could see was the man who was with her, the same man he’d half-mistaken for Jack a few minutes ago. “David was telling me the photographer is still here,” the woman continued to Alexandria, “and he suggested we have our pictures taken with Curt and the bride. Three generations.”

Not unless they change the laws and Nathan comes back to life”…. For a terrible moment, the old terror and nausea started to overcome him. One hand gripped the seat of the chair he was sitting on hard enough that his fingers ached; the old slapdown voice, struggling to override his pledges to Jack, started to work its way up: he knows in a minute everybody will know get it away from you now or you’ll catch it, queer faggot it was just Jack… Mechanically, he pushed himself up out of the chair, heard only a few words of the introduction, “my daughter Carol,” a quick handshake and then there was no avoiding it, David with his hand politely extended. Ennis took it briefly and for a moment he could feel every cell of his own right hand, clasping a man’s hand that was so different from Jack’s, a little darker and with short, blunt fingers, oddly like a surgeon’s hands.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Brokeback in Exile (a Brokeback Mountain fanfic), Chapter 2

Excerpt from Chapter 2 of my fanfic tribute to Brokeback Mountain: During Alma Junior's wedding ceremony, Ennis discovers that although Jack is physically dead he isn't gone or even very far away.  They silently exchange vows.  The entire chapter can be found at the link.

The minister asked Alma and Curt to join hands for reciting the marriage vows.

Jack and I should have said our vows to each other, he thought, momentarily forgetting whoever it was who apparently found him so interesting. That summer 21 years ago, with the crows and coyotes as witnesses…. After that second night together, with the firelight on his face, when he said ‘it’s alright’ and pulled me into his arms. Alma and Curt faced each other and the minister started reciting the standard words that everyone was already familiar with.

"I, Curt, take you, Alma…"

I, Ennis, take you Jack…

"to be my wedded wife…"

to be my beloved partner…

"to have and to hold from this day forward…."

to have and to hold, from the very beginning….

"for better, for worse…."

for better, for worse….

"for richer, for poorer…"

for richer, for poorer…

Ennis gasped and jumped as he suddenly felt a hand on his shoulder; causing both Alma and Monroe to give him puzzled looks. Without thinking, he shifted his weight in the pew and looked around quickly; but Alma’s mother and sister, in the pew behind him, were looking at Alma and Curt. Even before the unseen hand slipped down his left arm and clasped his left hand he knew, against all logic and common sense, whose it was. He shifted his left arm slightly so that his forearm was lying flat against Jack’s invisible one.

Chapter 2:

Interior of the church used as the setting for Ennis' wedding in the film

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Brokeback in Exile (Chapter 1)

Every once in awhile, a masterwork of creative art comes along that has a far-reaching effect beyond appreciation or entertainment.  For many of us, it was the gay tragic romance Brokeback Mountain. The film version of Annie Proulx's short story not only attracted a loyal following; it had a very real impact on the lives of its fans, especially gays but straights as well.  Some of these stories can be found in the book Beyond Brokeback, produced by members of the Dave Cullen Ultimate Brokeback Forum.

For some of us, expressing what the story and film meant has taken the form of fanfiction.  My own effort, Gift of Exile, has been in one-and-off progress since 2006.

The following is an excerpt; the entire chapter can be found at the link.


All that anyone at the ranch apparently noticed was that he’d taken no time off in the last year, volunteered for extra work more often, worked extended hours whenever he could.  And while Alma, Jr. had called, and stopped by occasionally, she was too consumed with planning her wedding to much notice his loss of weight or the traces of his regular restless nights.  But ever since Alma Junior's visit he’d increasingly felt like Jack was right at his elbow; like he’d be able to catch a glimpse of him if he just turned his head fast enough.  He didn’t believe in ghosts, never would, he told himself.  The erotic dreams he regularly had about Jack, the only sex life he’d had or wanted in the last year, sometimes ended with waking up to sticky sheets but never with Jack in the bed beside him.  No; it was just one of the drafts in the trailer that would brush against his hair in a way that reminded him of the way Jack used to nuzzle it.  Or the harder wind hitting the trailer at night, sounding like the moaning noises Jack used to make during their lovemaking that still made him hard just to think about.

But there were also the dreams that he didn’t look forward to: the soul-crushing, slow-motion nightmares of watching Jack being mercilessly clubbed to death.  Listening to the screams and muted crunching of broken bones, even smelling the blood, and finding that his feet seemed to be set in concrete blocks.  And his very throat frozen, unable even to yell at the evil men who would later play with their children, lie with their wives, sit serenely in church on Sunday.  With no one in the trailer to wake him up, the dream always had to run its course until he woke sobbing in grief and torment.  But in the past few months, he knew he could feel something brush across his face and the top of his head just before full wakefulness released him from the nightmare.

He wasn’t going to think of that today, he told himself as he shut the trailer door and walked toward his battered truck.  One appearance at a wedding wasn’t going to make up for the distance he’d kept between himself and his daughters when they were growing up, but Alma Junior had wanted him to walk her down the aisle, despite all that, not the stepfather who had been there every day since she was 12 years old.  She wasn’t going to regret that.

Chapter 1 at