Jack’s fingers drum against the steering wheel. His truck sputters along the dirt roads that line endless ranches. Cows sleep in fenced off patches of grass under the starry sky. Every rock and dip in the ground shakes the entire vehicle. Jack turned up the radio, singing loud. King of the road, Roger Miller. A perfectly appropriate song for the occasion.
Jack felt invincible. He was riding high from a victory in his last rodeo and bringing home a decent wad of prize money. Life in the rodeo wasn’t glamorous, but sometimes he got to ride bulls to the roaring approval of a captivated crowd and reap the rewards after he’d conquered the challenge. Besides, anything was better than being at home.
Home, however, was just where he was headed. Being a traveling bronc rider didn’t give him much in the way of a permanent address. As of now Ennis was sending him postcards at Lightning Flats. He wouldn’t miss a chance to see him. In between gigs Jack would go racing home to check the mail. Putting up with his father’s bitter griping was well worth a visit with Ennis Del Mar.
He pulled into the front yard at dusk. Nobody was awake. No surprise there. His parents were in bed by now, and thank god for that. Jack wouldn’t have to deal with John Twist’s bitching. The mail was left sitting on the counter in the kitchen. A coupon book and a bill and a postcard. Jack picked it out from the pile with a smile.
He flipped the card over eagerly, looking at the simple script on the back.
Gotta a little problem at home. Two little problems actually. Can’t make it out to Brokeback anytime soon. I’ll send you another card whenever I can.
All the joy from his rodeo victory was stolen from him in an instant. Jack’s fingers curled tight around the card, crumpling the thick paper in his grip. Hollow disappointment settled in. Indefinite time without Ennis seemed unbearable. Life without Ennis was barely tolerable even with the few visits he did get. His breaths shook out of his lungs. Tears stung his eyes.
He missed Ennis so much he could hardly stand it.
He couldn’t stand it.
The return address taunted him. Jack stared at it through the film of unshed tears. He knew where Ennis lived. He’d gone down and seen his girls and met his wife and seen the little apartment Ennis had set his family up in.
Months. Maybe more without Ennis.
He was back in his truck before he could finish the thought. Leaving without kissing his mama or fighting with his dad or even locking the door behind him. He was off to go see Ennis.