L’Ape musicale

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Annie Proulx


Qui lo speciale con interviste, locandina ed estratti video

Act I


Scene 1


[Exterior Aguirre’s trailer. Two .30-.30s lean against the wall. Brokeback Mountain dominates this and other scenes. Emanating from the mountain we sense an almost sub-sonic slow powerful breathing, feel a disturbing shudder, something primal and eerie with a profound antiquity that makes gnats of humans.]

[Helpful if Jack and Ennis wear different but distinctive shirts throughout the mountain scenes.]


[pronounced by Jack and Ennis as AG-wire]

Goddamn ranch kids! Late!

I said ‘be here ten-thirty sharp. Monday morning.’ Ten minutes late. If they ain’t here by eleven...

[Reflectively] God knows where I’ll find men to take their place.

[Spins around, looks at the mountain. He knows this piece of the earth too well. Turns away.]

Maybe they heard something about that mountain.

Maybe they won’t show.

Brokeback mountain, old and hard,

Knife blade rising from the earth.

Dark power.

[Turning to face the mountain]

Lightning, blizzard,

avalanche and flood,

storm and falling rock,

stones like skulls,

jet stream, lion’s claw,

An evil place

That kills men.


[Enters carrying his rodeo warbag. Hesitates to approach Aguirre who looks menacing.]

AGUIRRE [ostentatiously checking his watch]

You! Never keep me waiting! Are you Jack Twist, or— [he consults a paper from his shirt pocket] Ennis Del Mar?


[good natured, smiling]

I’m Jack. All-around hand, rodeo bull-rider [he shows his belt buckle], and now a sheep herder, I guess. [Aside] Just for the summer.


Where’s the other one, this Del Mar?


[Pointing] Somebody’s comin. Maybe it’s him.

[Enter Ennis carrying a feed-sack packed with his necessaries. He looks at Jack, at Aguirre.]


[consults his notes]

You Del Mar?

[Ennis nods.]


Didn’t you hear me? You deaf? Speak up!






You watch your step, mister. [He stares each of them down, then, mollified, continues.] This here is Jack. Jack’s the herder. Del Mar, you are the camp tender.

Here’s my rules. Break them and you’re fired.

[He tick off the rules on his fingers.]

Two camps. The main camp where the Forest Service says.

Keep the fire small.

Herder in the high camp with the sheep. Watch out for coyotes. Watch out for Forest Service. Every night. No fire up there!

[He picks up the .30-.30s, one at a time, throws one to Jack, the other to Ennis.]

Kill every coyote.

Kill every mountain lion.

Kill every fox.

Kill every eagle.

Kill everything that kills a sheep.

No whiskey.

No women.

No fights.

No goin to town.

No butcherin sheep.

Got it?


[Smiles brilliantly]

Yeah, got it, Mr. Aguirre. A to Z.

[Ennis nods]



Speak up!



Yeah! Got it!


Come back here at one o’clock. You go to the mountain.

[He gestures at Brokeback. All look at the mountain which shows a sky black with cloud and a flicker of lightning along the broken ridge. There is a rumble of thunder. Aguirre goes into his trailer and shuts the door.]

[Jack and Ennis look at each other expressionlessly.]


How about a beer? We got time to kill.

[They head down the street to the nearest bar.]


Scene 2

The nearest bar, The Spotted Longhorn, is an antique dark hole with wood tables and chairs, a by-gone ranch flavor about the place. Most of the fixtures are left-over from the 19th century—longhorns on the wall, sepia photographs of long-dead cowboys in wooly chaps, a bad painting of a nude behind the bar enlivened by a contemporary pin-up calendar. The female bartender is both motherly and salty, and could crack a drunk over the head with her Louisville Slugger and toss him out into the alley—without help. Jack and Ennis look around with approval.


Pretty good place. [Calls to the bartender] Two drafts. And a shot.

[They sit at a rickety table. Ennis tilts his chair back on two legs and it creaks warningly. The bartender shakes her head and Ennis restores the balance. The first drinks go down quickly and Jack signals for another round.]


Where you from?


[unable to dodge a direct question]

Sage. (pause) Wyoming.


Never heard of it. I’m from Lightnin Flats. (pause) Wyoming.


Never heard of it.

[They laugh and shake hands. The bartender brings the second round.]


My folks got a ranch near the Montana line.

I had to get out.

Your folks ranch people?


[Looks at Jack appraisingly throughout conversation.]

They was. Died in a car wreck.

Sister raised me.

Quit school to work and workin ever since. [drinks]

Army didn’t get you?


They can’t get no use out of me. Bad knees, busted ribs. Left leg busted three times.

(Pause) They can’t get no use out of me. [Tosses back the shot.]

You got a girl?



Alma. You?


Not right now. [Drinks beer.] I hit a run of bad luck, lost my truck. I’m broke. This sheep job will let me save money.


I’m savin up too. Me and Alma’s gettin married. Start a horse ranch, maybe.

BARTENDER [Obviously eavesdropping]

You guys workin for Aguirre? Up on Brokeback? [As if she didn’t know]


Just for the summer.


You want to bring plenty a whiskey.

It’s a bad mountain.

I seen crazy men come down end of the summer. Isolation.

Aguirre don’t let nobody take a day off.

Stay up with the sheep and the wind you go crazy.



He already told us his rules. ‘No whiskey’ is one a them.


What he don’t know won’t hurt him. [She holds up a quart of whiskey questioningly.]


Make it two.




Scene 3

[Two weeks later. On the mountain. Main camp. Lodgepole pines surround the camp with the big tent, cooking utensils, tin plates, stumps for seats, another for a table, crossbar nailed between two trees for a combination hitching rail and saddle rack. On an upper level stage left or right the pup tent is in darkness until needed.]

[Ennis at the campfire scraping something from a can into a frying pan. Jack enters far right.]


What’s for supper tonight, Hamburgers and onions?

Pork chops?

Fried chicken?

Sirloin steaks?

ENNIS [stirring the frying pan contents]

Canned spaghetti.


Ugh. Not again. You burn it this time?

[Ennis dishes up, hands Jack a plate. They sit on the stumps and eat.]


Sure wish we could go to town, have a good dinner, get drunk at that bar, tie one on. Talk to people. You don’t talk much.

[He pauses. Tests the water.]

Get laid.


Dream on.

Anyways, I ain’t much of a talker.


Today I seen a wolf or the biggest coyote in the world. Big as a cow. I shot at him twice.


[a questioning look] Get it?


Missed both times.


Coyote. Wolves is all wiped out.

[They scrape their dishes into the fire, dump plates in the enamel dishpan on the stump.]


I hate to go back to that damn little tent. [pause] See you tomorrow. [He reaches out, almost touches Ennis’s shoulder, thinks better of it and leaves.]


See you.

The main camp falls into darkness except for the glow of the fire and the shadowy figure of Ennis sitting silently at first, then beginning to hum and then sing scraps of an old lullaby from his

early childhood.


[fitting words to his private song]

Pretty lonesome down here. Dark. Dark. Moon ain’t up yet.

As the main camp darkens we see the pup tent, at a higher elevation, light into dim view. Jack approaches it wearily, lugging his saddle, shoves it in the tent. Before crawling in after it he stares down at Ennis’s distant campfire.


I can see his fire.

Wish I was down there.

No fire up here. Aguirre says.

No whiskey. Aguirre says. [pause]

Here’s to you, Aguirre.

[He takes a flask from inside his jacket, holds it up as though toasting Aguirre and drinks.]

Quiet. I don’t hear no wolves now. [Yawns.] Might as well sleep as sit in the dark.

I can see his fire.

[Crawls into the pup tent. Lights out.]


Scene 4

[Main camp a few days later. Evening. Ennis is cooking. Dinner seems to be burned toast on a stick. Jack enters, clearly fed up.]


Wolves got two sheep last night. I can’t shoot ‘em if it’s dark and I can’t see ‘em.


[handing him a tin plate of toast]

Coyotes. Wolves is wiped out.


[takes one bite of toast and throws his plate down.]

I am travelin four hours a day.

Come in for breakfast. Go back to the sheep.

Come in for supper. Go back to the sheep.

All night lookin for wolves.




I should be stayin here. All night.

In the main camp.

Aguirre got no right to make me do this.


You want to stay here? I wouldn’t mind sleepin up there.


That ain’t the point. Point is, we should both be in this camp.


We’ll switch. You cook breakfast. Can’t be no worse than me. See you tomorrow.

[Ennis gets his saddle from outside the big tent, leavesand we hear him ride away.]


[calling after him]

I know it’s your favorite dish, but don’t expect no burned toast!


Scene 5

[The next day, sunset, the main camp. Jack is peeling potatoes when Ennis comes in with a coyote hide.]


Shot him this mornin at first light. Big son of a bitch. Big as a wolf. [Grins at Jack.] But he’s a coyote.


How about a drink to celebrate?

[He picks up a bottle of whiskey from the stump and passes it to Ennis who takes big swallows. Jack puts the potatoes on the fire to cook. They sit near it and drink whiskey, smoke cigarettes and talk while the potatoes cook.]


I wanted to be a champion bull rider. That was my boyhood dream.

But I always known I had to get away.

I always known I was goin to leave.

From my window I could see a blue mountain.

Hundred miles away.

It was Brokeback Mountain. I saw it shake with storm.

I always known this mountain. And now I’m here.

[pause, then Jack speaks]


Your folks religious?


They was. Yours?


My mama’s Pentecostal. She walks with Jesus. My old man don’t walk with nothin. [pause]

Your folks treat you ok when you was a kid?


Pretty much. Yours?


My old man beat me black and blue until I was big enough to fight back.

He don’t mess with me now about nothin.

Pass me that bottle. [Takes a good slug, stretches, gets comfortable]

Ahh. You know, it’s pretty nice up here, aint it?


Like we’re on another world. The old world is way down there.

[cry of a redtailed hawk]


Starry nights.

ENNIS [Struck by a world-view thought]

We look down on them hawks.

We look down on them pine trees.

We’re like eagles, Jack.


This eagle could eat some of them potatoes.


They probly ain’t done.


Who the hell cares.


I do. Another few minutes, ok?

[The hawk cries again.]


Sounds like that hawk is sayin “Free. You are free.”


Up here we are free.

[They continue to drink. The fire burns low.]


I ever tell you how I come to get into bull-ridin?

ENNIS [yawning]



My dad never showed me a thing. He never once come to see me ride.


Yeah. You told me. [Suddenly] GODDAMN!

[Looks in the potato pot, pokes with a knife.]

Them potatoes is burned. [Hurls pot of potatoes away.]

Guess we drink whiskey for supper.


Fine with me. Moon’s comin up.

[A half-full moon rises behind the mountain’s shoulder. They pass the bottle back and forth. Jack gets up, staggers around, trips and falls next to Ennis, making body contact.]

ENNIS [Making no move to push him away.]

You must be drunk. I know I am. Too drunk to go up there. I’ll sleep by the fire…


That ain’t smart. Come in the tent. Plenty of room.


I’ll ride out at first light…


(throws hands up as though appealing to higher powers.)

Have it your own way. Freeze!

[He goes into the big tent. Ennis lies beside the dying fire. The light fades as the fire goes down until the stage is almost dark. Distant coyote howls. Time passes. The moon moves down the sky and the wind rises, its howl mixing with those of the coyotes. Brokeback begins to assert its power; we hear its deep snarl and a kind of eerie power seeps into the scene.]


[sitting up, shivering]


Cold to the bone!

Ice in my veins.

Freezin cold. So cold, so cold.

[In the dark the mountain’s power swells and throbs. Then the flap of the big tent is flung aside and Jack comes out. He yanks Ennis to his feet, wordlessly pulls him into the tent and the mountain goes with them.]


Git on in here!


Scene 6

[Main camp, the next morning. Painfully brilliant sunrise. The mountain is silent. Ennis comes out, pulls up his pants. He staggers toward the coffee pot, sloshes stale coffee around, feeds the fire and puts the left-over coffee on to heat. He has a hangover but what happened in the night is clearly remembered.]


Who am I now?

Who am I now?

What happened seemed right.

Our bodies are not different—[painfully, very slowly] and yet they are.

But I know it’s wrong.

He calms me, he touches me, he heals my loneliness.

But who am I now?

[Jack emerges slowly from the tent. He gets what is left of the coffee, goes to opposite side of stage. He too has a hangover, but elation shines through the pain. Ennis turns away, avoids looking at him.]


He was drunk.

And so was I.

But it was more than quick sex.

There was somethin more.

Somethin wild and


He’s got feelins for me.


It can’t happen again.

I’m goin to marry Alma.

Have children. Raise a family.


A kind of tenderness.

For me.


What happened seemed right.

But it won’t happen again.

I’ll ride away tonight, under the moon.


He could be The

Someone for me.

Tonight, under the moon…


He calms me, close to me, close, close.

[agitated] It can’t happen again.

JACK [turning to Ennis]

We got to talk about last night—

ENNIS [In turmoil, not wanting to look at Jack. Harshly.]

You better know somethin. I ain’t no queer.


Me neither. But I’m not sorry we done it. Are you?


I CANT TALK ABOUT THIS! Damn you! I’m goin to marry Alma!


Scene 7

[Wedding dress shop interior. Because it serves a rural area there are also ordinary dresses, shoes, stacks of jeans. The wedding dresses are few, segregated to a single rack. Alma, her mother and the saleswoman are clustered at the wedding dress rack. The saleswoman has a modified beehive hairdo, wears an out-of-fashion dress with an air of misplaced confidence. Alma and her mother are both dowdy. Alma, who has been trying on dresses, is in her slip.]


(pulling out a dress after checking the price tag.)

Alma, now try this one. (Holds up a rather homely long cotton dress with eyelet embroidery as its only decoration.)


[correcting the rubes]

That’s one of our bridesmaid dresses.

(Pulls out and holds up a cheesy rayon dress with a lumpy train and plastic seed pearls.)

This is a bridal gown.

MOTHER (looks at the price tag)

We’re only ranch people. That’s a lot of money for us.


It’s on sale. And it’s a girl’s Big Day. Try it on.

[Alma disappears behind the dressing room curtain.]


Is she marrying a local boy?


A nice young man. Ennis Del Mar.


What is his profession?

Is he a lawyer?

The son of a rancher? College student?

Does he work for the state?

Will they live in town?

MOTHER [dodging]

He comes from ranch people. Like us.

ALMA [behind the dressing room curtain.]

This is the one I want. I will marry Ennis in this dress. [Emerges, wearing the wedding dress.]

Only a few more months now—after he comes down from that mountain.



Just lovely on you. The perfect bride!

MOTHER [clutching ratty purse]

I don’t know—.


I want this dress.

SALESWOMAN [closing in for the kill]

I wish I had a camera to take her picture. And you won’t get it cheaper.

MOTHER. [Wishing she could sink through the floor.]

I don’t know. It’ll take all the money I’ve got.


I want this dress! Please, Mama.


I’ll throw in a veil. [Pulls a crumpled veil off a shelf.] Just dip it in warm water and let it dry overnight hanging up.


It’s a lot of money.

ALMA [near tears]

I never get nothin nice.


You want to do the right thing for your girl. [Unzips wedding dress, hands Alma her street dress which Alma pulls on.]

MOTHER [Alma’s mother rummages in her purses, carefully counts out and lays the money on the counter.]

That was going to buy new tires for Dad’s truck.


I got to have that dress.


The beautiful bride.


This was for the vet’s bill.


I want that dress.


The happiest day of your life!


This was for new jeans for the boys.

SALESWOMAN [putting dress into plastic bag. Speaks to Alma with professional syrupy tone.]

I wish you a sunny wedding day.

[MOTHER and ALMA exit, but stand outside the shop.]


That was embarrassin. What was wrong with the first dress? It was only forty-five dollars. It was pretty and youthful.


It was ugly. I want somethin nice. For the start of my new life. Mrs. Ennis Del Mar. For my escape from the ranch.


That ranch has supported you for eighteen years.


I sure didn’t pick to live there. I hate it! I want to live in town. I want to have a phone. A princess phone.


How does Ennis feel about town?

ALMA [disparagingly]

He wants his own ranch. He wants to raise horses. On that we don’t see eye to eye. I will change his mind. He will give in.


You’ll find out. You can take the boy out of the country…

ALMA [interrupting]

You wait and see. I won’t get stuck on any ranch.


It’s late. Come on. [Exits]

ALMA [increasingly rapid-fire delivery, works herself into a fury.]

I grew up on that ranch, seven boys and me. Men get to be the heroes.

Women pay the bills,

Cook for roundups.

Dishes three times a day.

Tend the garden. Can tomatoes, dig potatoes.

Chickens, eggs!

Blizzards and mud.

Laundry for ten and then start again.

And who gets the ranch? Not the worn-out wife.

The oldest boy inherits it all.

That’s a life I am leavin.


[off stage]





Scene 8

[Brokeback Mountain, late summer, sunset fading. On the high sleep-with-the-sheep tent site we see Aguirre’s silhouette with binoculars to his eyes. He is looking down at the main camp. What he sees is Jack, his back pressed against Ennis’s belly, folded in his embrace. Heavy cloud is moving in, the wind rising. Aguirre turns and we hear him galloping away toward the lower main camp.]

The lower main camp. By the time Aguirre gets here it is twilight and there is a fire. Jack, eyes closed, is still leaning against Ennis. For this scene they must wear distinctive shirts.]


[half-humming his old song, half-singing, low and loving]

Time to hit the hay, cowboy. And I can’t stay down here tonight. I got to go back up to the sheep. Ain’t you sleepy? Hmmmm, hmmm. You know I got to go.


I hear his heart beat.

Why can’t we be face to face?

Why can’t it be like this for us?

I hear his heart beat

For me. For me.


I don’t want to go.

I feel his warmth.

We can’t be face to face.

That would mean something bad.

This is wrong. This is wrong.

What is happening to me?

To me? To me?

ENNIS [to Jack]

You calm me, you calm me.

You heal the ache

of loneliness.

Close to me, close, close

you calm me. You. You.


I think you love me, Ennis.



Those soft words are not mine.

You don’t calm me.

Your closeness scares me, you disturb me,.

I cannot let you close to me.

You scare me.

JACK [Confident. Laughs. Extends his arms to Ennis who cannot resist and begins to move toward him drawn by the irresistible.]

[Sound of galloping hoofs and horse drawn up sharply, sound of someone dismounting in the half-dark. Jack and Ennis guiltily move apart and fuss with meaningless chores. Aguirre strides into the firelight. He would like to physically kick them off the mountain, but has to get the sheep down.]

AGUIRRE [Angry.]

Whitlaw calls me up and says you got my sheep mixed up with his. I go up to the high camp. Nobody there. I look down. I see something I should not see.


Then don’t spy. You won’t see the things you should not see.


[Slaps his leg in frustration, turns away. Agitated and flustered. Turns back to Jack and Ennis, takes refuge in giving orders.]

One a you get up to them sheep. RIGHT NOW. Supposed to be one a you up there every night. Not down here. All right. Tomorrow. All right. [Slaps his leg again.] I got to get my sheep down the mountain. Weather comin. Storm movin in. First snow on the way.

[We hear Brokeback muttering.]

Tomorrow we get the sheep down.

Six a.m. And that’ll be it for you two—[unspoken epithet].

Pick up your checks at the trailer.

And get the hell away from here. Away from me.

This goddamn mountain…

[He spits, leaves and we hear him ride away. Jack and Ennis stand motionless in the firelight. A long pause while Aguirre’s words sink in. The mountain’s deep damaging voice is faint but its power is intensifying as is the wind.]



I better get up there, I guess. [He picks up his saddle.]


Goddamn, Ennis. Think about it. This is our last night. Stay here.



Jack, I better go.


[intense emotion]

Ennis. Don’t you go up to them damn sheep.


[moves reluctantly toward horse, suddenly wheels and goes to Jack.]

You’re right. I’m stayin. Come on.

[Puts his arm over Jack’s shoulders. They go into the tent and the fire dies, the wind screeches and Brokeback Mountain booms.]


Scene 9

[Next morning, first light, main camp. The wind is blowing hard and the sky is dark blue-black. There is a rattle of hail. It’s cold. Jack crawls out of the tent pulling on his jacket, starts the fire, fills the coffee pot from a canteen, puts it on the fire.]

JACK [to the approaching storm]

It’s over, ain’t it!

It’s over.

[Pours coffee for Ennis emerging from tent dragging his feed-sack bag, packed now with his extra shirt and jeans. He is not wearing a jacket, only a shirt.]


It can’t be over.


Seems like it is, Jack.

JACK [making desperate last attempt to persuade]

Can’t we work somethin out?

You and me work somethin out.

My folks’ place, get it into shape? Build a little cabin?


Jack, I got to live a regular life. Alma’s waitin for me. Find a job. Like you just said, Jack, this is over. [determinedly] It’s got to be over.


I hear you talkin. But real life ain’t talk.

You and me been together all summer.

And I know that whatever you talk, you loved what we done. Together.


Son of a bitch! I told you, I AIN’T THAT WAY.

JACK [flat and hard]

I was there, Ennis.

[Ennis swings at Jack, coffee cups go flying, they fight, Ennis connects and Jack goes down. Jack puts his hand up to his bloody nose.]

ENNIS [alarmed and contrite]

Jack! Jesus, I’m sorry, Jack. [Tries to staunch the blood with his shirt sleeve. For a moment they hold each other, then pull apart.]


I guess that makes your point. It’s over.


Blood on my shirt. Where is my other shirt?

[He seems dazed, perhaps from the fight, perhaps because the summer and its dark, private nights are over.]

Jack, I’m sorry. I feel like hell.

[Jack stands stiffly still. Ennis bends over as if in pain for a few seconds, then grits his teeth and cowboys up. Rummages in his feed-sack bag and pulls out a wrinkled work shirt, puts it on, dropping the bloodied shirt on the ground. Ennis picks up his saddle and hurries offstage to put it

on his horse, to get away from saying goodby. Jack picks up the bloodied shirt and stuffs it into his rodeo war-bag.]

ENNIS [calls from off-stage, still trying to express regret]

Aguirre and his guys is comin up the trail. Jack, can you get that tent down by yourself?

JACK [still mopping at his bloody nose]



I’m sorry, Jack.




Well. See you around.



[Aside] What do I do now? Back to Texas and the rodeo, I guess.

Scene 10

[Farm machinery salesroom, Texas. This is an Allis Chalmers dealership. Lureen and her father, Hog-Boy Tyler, are in discussion. Through the window we see Jack outside, gabbing with a cowboy. They are laughing. Hog-Boy plays the Texas good-ol-boy to the hilt.]


[Coughs, chews on a big cigar. He has a thick Texas accent.]

Rodeo bullrider! Where do you find ‘em?

What happened to the guy that made dulcimers?

And the sanger? He was the worst sanger in the world. Never saw him small once. He had a main disposition.

This rodeo boy is puny. At least he ain’t some kind a mewsician. [coughs]

And you want me to give him a job?


He’s smart, Daddy. And I like him.

I know he’s a little rough,

but he can talk rodeo and ranch with anybody.

He’ll make ranchers feel big enough to buy a combine.

He’ll be a good salesman.

HOG-BOY [giving in]

Lord, I suppose love is bland. Not what I would a picked for my educated little gal. But I’ll give him a job and we’ll seebut don’t you do nothin dumb like marryin the son of a bitch. [He gets in her face.] Are you doin it with him? No, don’t answer. I couldn’t stand to know. Puny little weirdo. [coughs]

[He goes to the window and raps, catches Jack’s eye, beckons him inside.]

Git in here, boy.

[Sotto voce] You little shit.

[coughs spasmodically] I got to quit smokin.


Scene 11


[Interior Alma and Ennis’s apartment in Riverton. There is an outside stairway with a landing in front of the kitchen door. The place is a mess. There are dirty dishes in the skink, a laundry basket full of clothes. We can see into the back bedroom where a baby bawls and a toddler calls “Mama.” Alma is ironing.]

ALMA [irritably]

Where is he? [Looks at her wristwatch] I’m goin to be late to work. [Goes to pink princess phone, dials] Bill? It’s Alma. I’m waitin for Ennis to get back and take care of the girls. As soon as he gets here. Uh-huh. Yes. Well, that’s how he is.

[We hear a truck drive in. Ennis appears, climbs the stairs. The kitchen door opens.]

He’s comin in now. See you in ten minutes.

[Ennis comes slouching through the door, disheveled, dusty, hat mashed, shirt torn. He is holding his right wrist. Alma is tight-lipped.]

What kept you so long? I’m late for work.


Ah hell, I got in a fight with the new guy. I think I sprained my wrist.

ALMA [coldly]

Always fightin. You need a different job. A real job, not a ranch job. Baby needs changin and there’s hot dogs in the ice box for supper. [pause] There’s mail for you. On the bed.

[She goes out, slamming the door.]



[Goes into bedroom, source of the crying. Sings his old song with words for the babies.]

Daddy’s girls, pigtails and curls,

Daddy’s girls, rubies and pearls.

[The babies are quiet. Ennis comes out of the bedroom, sorting through the mail.]


Big sale at the feed store. Ain’t that great.

Telephone bill. I don’t know why in hell we need a telephone.

Water bill. On a ranch you got your own water.

A letter from[a pause as he tears the envelope open, reads quickly and silently] Christ, it’s from JACK TWIST!

[He reads it aloud, slowly, grinning, savoring every word.]


[Cross-fade to Jack’s voice]



Twenty-fourth! That’s next week.

[He is happy and grinning. Whirls in a tizzy, bumps into ironing board, seizes the iron, pulls his best shirt out of the basket and begins to iron it. He puts the iron aside, looks for paper and pencil, finds them and begins to write a reply.]

ENNIS [aloud, as he writes.]

Dear Jack. I will sure be glad to see you again. Hurry up!’

End Act I


Act II

Scene 1

[Del Mar apartment. Alma is tidying up. Ennis is wearing sharply creased, starched jeans, putting on his best striped shirt and slicking down his hair. Paces nervously, drinks beer, goes to window and peers down the street. He is extremely antsy.]


It’s so hot, let’s take your friend to the diner. They got that big ceilin fan.


[pacing nervously, looking out the window.]

Me and Jack will probly just go out and talk and get drunk. Four years is a long time since we was up on Brokeback chasin sheep. That’s a animal I never want to see or smell again.


And I’m supposed to sit here alone?



Catch up on the ironin. Anyway, Jack ain’t the restaurant type.

[Alma turns away, disappointed. They hear a vehicle engine. Ennis rushes to the window. A truck door slams.]


That’s him! [He strides across the room to the door, opens it and goes onto the landing. Jack is half-way up the stars, taking them two at a time.]


[voice muffled with emotion]

Jack! Jack! It’s you!


Son of a bitch!

[On the landing they take each other by the shoulders, then hug mightily. [Their mouths come together for the first time in an end-of-the-world kiss. As they sway and press against each other hotly the door opens a crack and Alma looks, shrinks back but does not close the door. Ennis sees her looking. He pulls away from Jack.]


[chest heaving, trying to put a good face on the scene.]

Alma, this is Jack Twist, Jack, this is Alma. [To Alma] Me and Jack ain’t seen each other in four years.


[very subdued]

Sure enough.

[From within a baby cries.]


You got a kid? [His voice is shaking. His hand touches that of Ennis. The audience can see this, but Alma cannot.]


Two little girls. Alma Jr. and Francine. Love them to pieces.

[Alma looks away at this statement.]


I got a boy. Eight months old. Tell you what, I married a cute little old Texas girl, Lureen. [His voice is trembling.]


Alma, me and Jack is goin out. Get a drink. Might not get back tonight we get drinkin and talkin.


[To Alma. Nervously. Wild to get away.]

Please to meet you.


[ignoring Jack whom she instinctively hates, pleadingly]


[Ennis and Jack run down the stairs and we hear the engine of Jack’s truck start up, drive away. Alma leans against the kitchen door. The toddler cries.]


Stuck again. I never get loose.

No fun, no breaks, just work and wait.

He gets to go out with his friend. Jack.

I thought this Jack would be a friend to both of us…

But he hardly said a word.

Didn’t look at me.

Didn’t smile.

No. No friend to me.


Scene 2

[Room interior, Motel Siesta. This is a cheap 1960s room with a soiled orange plastic chair, a velvet painting of a bullfighter on the wall, a creaky metal bed, plywood desk and chair. Jack and Ennis are in bed, gleaming with sweat, exhausted and spent, breathing deeply.]


I didn’t know. Swear to God I didn’t knowthat we was goin to get into this again.


[in disbelief.]

Yeah? The hell you didn’t.


[after a pause]

Yeah, I knew. Why I’m here. Red-lined it all the way, couldn’t drive fast enough. [Touches Ennis’s face.] We got to talk. About everything.


Four years!

I didn’t know where you was.

Four years!

I thought about you every day.

Figured I’d never hear your voice again

after four years.

I figured you was sore about that time I punched you.


I was. For about two days. I got back to rodeo. [a long beat] How I met Lureen. She went to college. Her old man’s got money. Owns a farm machinery business. I’m workin for him. And he’s sick. Got the lung cancer. Anyways, after Cody I’m gettin out of bull ridin while I can still walk.


[punching him lightly on the shoulder]

You seem in pretty good shape to me. Rough and tough.


Not bad yourself. [touches Ennis’s chest appraisingly.] Those four years I dreamed about you.

I thought about you.

Damn near went nuts thinkin about you. [Turns Ennis’s face toward him. Speaks gently.]

Listen, we both got wives and kids, we got to work out what happens next.

It’s a problem.

Old Brokeback got us good and it sure ain’t over.


I never should have let you out of my sights.

Too late by the time I knew it.

And now you are in Texas. Makes it worse.

I’m nothin much, Jack. I’m not very smart.

I’m in somethin way over my head.

I don’t know who the hell I am anymore. Since the mountain.


[takes a deep breath.]

Friend, we got us a fuckin situation here. I don’t know what we are goin to do.


[sits on the edge of the bed and pulls on his jeans. While he speaks he is putting on his shirt.]

Nothin we can do. Not now. Jack, I built up a life in them four years.


Every time I heard a hawk cry I thought about us up on the mountain.

They say Brokeback is a bad place.

But for us it was good.


[sitting down on the bed again, touching Jack]

I wish we never left there. [pause]

What happened back on the stairs[he jerks his head in the direction of the apartment], if that grabs on us in the wrong place we’ll be dead.


[upbeat, tender and eager all at once]

We can make something work. Ennis, I know we can.


[Perhaps Jack’s words interleaved]

You got some kind of power over me. You and that damn Brokeback. And I ain’t so sure that mountain was good. It done somethin to me. I can’t help it. It scares me, how I feel.

Jack, why do I have these feelins

not for Alma

but for you?

Why do my hands shake,

my breath come short?

Why can’t I say

what I want to say?

JACK [alternating between dreaminess and enthusiasm]

If we had us a little ranch somewhere, your horses,

it could be a sweet life.

Like I said, I’m gettin out of rodeo. I got some money saved up. We can do it.


Whoa, Jack. It ain’t goin a be that way. It can’t. I am caught in my own loop. I goddamn hate it that you are goin to drive away in the mornin and I am goin back to work. But if you can’t fix it, you got to stand it.

[Ennis gently pulls Jack closer.]

Jack, I wish we was up on the mountain again. Bad or good.

I hate this motel room.

I wish we was in the high country.

Pure cold water. Wind blowin.

The camp fire and the hawk below callin “free, we are free.”

Close to you.

Remember how them cloud shadows slid over us?

[Pause, both in a reverie of remembering.]


I miss the smell of pine trees. Owls hootin. [Imitates owl.]

ENNIS [laughing a little]

It wasn’t all good, Jack. Mosquitoes. And remember that lightnin storm?

JACK [appalled at the memory]

Hell yes! I thought we was done for.

ENNIS [serious.]

I thought God was after us. Never forget it. [Shakes this black thought off and becomes a little playful.]

Smoke in your eyes. Burned toast. Aguirre. [They laugh]


Let’s do it, Ennis. Get up in the mountains. Right now! Tonight. I’ll throw off the rodeo. You call Alma. You owe me that much. Give me somethin to go on.

[Ennis thinks about this. He gets up, walks to the phone. He picks up the phone tentatively, hangs up, makes a decision, then purposefully picks it up again and dials. Brusque.]

Alma. It’s me. Listen, I’m goin to take off with Jack for a couple days. Go up and fish the high lakes.



What? Just like that? What about me and the girls?



Alma, since we got married

I done everything you wanted

except take a town job.

We live in town and I hate that closed-in feelin.

You got your fancy telephone which I don’t never use.

I give you every dollar I make.

Right now I got to get outdoors away from—this place and all.



Your pay check don’t cover much. And you are usin that telephone you got no use for right this minute. Ennis, you are a big strong man but you are pretty worthless. I never should of married you. [hangs up.]


[to the dead telephone line]

I wish to God you never did.

[Hangs up, turns to Jack who has been dressing while Ennis was on the phone.]

Now what?


[pulling on his own boots]

Get your boots on and let’s go. We can get there by first light. It’s gonna be great. Alone in the mountains, just me and you way the hell out in the back of nowhere.


[a great light slowly dawning, seeing a resolution to their problems]

Jack, this ain’t no little thing that’s happenin here.

We can do this a couple times a year, be alone.


Out in the mountains.


Me and you.

This ain’t no little thing that’s happenin here.

Scene 3

[6 or 7 years later. The Del Mar apartment. Alma is sitting at the kitchen table paying bills. We hear a truck out back. Ennis, just back from a fishing trip with Jack, comes around the corner and climbs stairs to apartment. He is carrying tackle box, net, rod case. He is singing his little song, in a good mood. Enters.]


Hey Alma. [Looks around.] Where are the girls?


At Nana’s. I asked her to take them tonight so I can talk to you.


[Stiffens up. Does she know? Wary and uptight]

What about?


About you gettin a decent job.

What I make at Bill’s store don’t hardly keep us.

What you make don’t hardly pay for the clothes you ruin.

I want you to get out from ranch work.

Bill’s brother is high up with the power company and there is an openin for a lineman.

The pay is good, good benefits, they provide a uniform.


Lineman! Uniform!

Tell Jones to mind his own business. Why can’t anybody leave me be?

I like ranch work, I like livestock, I like horses. I told you that before we got married.

You ever hear that money ain’t everything?


With you it ain’t ANYthing.

The girls want the things their friends have. They’re smart, and pretty soon they’ll be in high

school. Maybe go to college. Where’s the money goin to come from?


I just walk in the house and you dump all this on me.


Well, sure, you’re all rested up from your nice fishin trip with your buddy, ain’t you? Catch any fish? Must be nice, take a little weekend vacation. Seems like you go fishin pretty often. It don’t seem fair, you go off with your friend and I sit here. Do you think that’s fair?


[Senses the animosity in Alma’s tone, seizes on the question about fish.]

That’s what we lived on. Fish for breakfast, dinner and supper.


[not to be diverted]

Do you think that’s fair, you goin off on these little trips?


No. No, I don’t. But you don’t like fishin or campin.


I sure do not.

I would like to go to Casper or Cheyenne or Billings,

go to the movies, eat out, see different people and different houses and sidewalks.

Do somethin different. This is a terrible life.


I’m sorry, Alma.

I wish I liked goin to town and the movies.

I wish I made more money. I wish I was different.

You don’t know how bad I wish I was different.


I been standin it, but I can’t stand it forever. Won’t you try for that job?


No. We got fence work next week. Then drive the cows up to the high pastures. And then...


[to the ceiling, long-suffering]

You are backing me into a corner, Ennis. I mean it.

Scene 4

[The farm machinery show room in Texas. Jack as sales manager, dressed snappily western, doing his stuff, glibly selling a tractor to a rancher. Lureen, a brisk businesswoman, watches. A colored enlargement of a photograph of Hog-Boy, draped in black crepe, hangs prominently on the wall. ]


[in hard sell mode with a farmer]

I know you like your old D19, but you’re gonna love the D21. [slowly] Very…Serious…Power.


It ain’t turbo-charged, though.


That’s right. BUT! It’s got the biggest engine out there. Over One…Hundred…Horsepower! Go up the side of a cliff with it. And here’s the deal. I got a used D-21 and all …..

[fade out. They walk outside and the deal is obviously clinched as they shake hands. Jack comes back in.]



Soon as I get this damn sale writ up I’m headin out for Cody.


When are you going to grow up and quit fooling with bullriding? It’s not like you’re the champion.


You used to like rodeo pretty good when you was barrel racin.


I did. But that was then. Things change.


I noticed.


I’ve got responsibilities now. Little Bobby, more and more of the business since Daddy died. Running the house.


[Finished with the paperwork and stuffing it into folder.]

Yeah, I know. And I been thinkin about hangin up my bull rope. Maybe after Cody. I want to make some real money.


That’s good to hear. So when will you be back?


[Tidies his desk.]

Couple days. Course somethin might come up. If somethin comes up I’ll give you a call.



Sure you will. Like the time I didn’t hear from you for a week. I hope you quit the rodeo. And the tom-catting around that goes with it. You’re a pretty good salesman, Jack. Since daddy died we’ve tripled business. Face it, Jack, thirty-one is too old to rodeo.


Sez you. Anyway, I can’t get excited about sellin to these poor old boys. I rather have a little ranch…..



Oh please, not that ‘little ranch’ again.


I’d give it a try. If I was on my own.

But not with you. You’re sure not the ranch type.


[stung and sarcastic]

Thanks for the compliment. Too bad you are not as good in bed as you are selling tractors.


(insulted and mad)

Are you back on that? It happens to everybody. Now and then.


Every time?


Maybe you’re not my type.


Yeah? What is your type? Some knock-kneed flatchested teenager? I saw you looking at Shirley that brings the sandwiches.


[laughs wildly.]

You’ll never know. [Grabs jacket and departs.]


[turning frequently to Hog-Boy’s portrait as she paces.]

Daddy, you were right.

I hoped Jack would learn to

speak well, not like a hick,

wear white shirts and tie. Read books.

Give up his rodeo ways.

He said he didn’t have much school.

He said he would change.

But he won’t give up the rodeo and his

fishing trips with rough friends.

I know he sleeps with the rodeo girls.

The wife always knows.

He comes home and doesn’t touch me.

Doesn’t touch me for weeks and weeks.

It isn’t fair, Daddy, it isn’t right.

[The ghost of Hog-Boy quivers in front of his portrait. Lureen shrieks and steps back. Hog-Boy’s sepulchral voice addresses Lureen.]

Daughter, don’t be scared, now.

You called and Ah answered. Ah can do that much.

And from where Ah am now Ah git a real dark look at that sidewinder.

Worse than you thank, and it aint buckle bunnies he’s messin with, neither.


Daddy! Daddy! I can’t believe this!


Better believe it. I only got a few seconds left. Ah will protect my little gal. Ah made some contacts here. See what Ah can do….

Scene 5

[Del Mar apartment. Alma and Ennis face each other across the room.]


I heard about a place I can run a few horses. Mr. Howard’s got——.


[interrupting defiantly]

Live out on that run-down old ranch? Never.

Forget it, Ennis. Never.

I can’t stand how we live. I just can’t do it any more.

There’s just not enough money, there’s not enough—.



What do you want me to do? Rob a bank?


Don’t interrupt. I been tryin to say this for years. I need a different life. There’s no fun, there’s no love, there’s no money. [pause]

Bill Jones and me want to be together.

I want a divorce.


I’m surprised we got this far. I won’t stand in your way. I’ll pay you as much as I can for the girls. Do what you want and I’ll sign the papers.


I’m glad you see it that way. I’m leavin right now and I’m takin the girls. We can fix up days for you to see them later. You been a good father.


I love them little girls.


I know you do. We’ll all have thanksgiving together. We’ll still be friends, Ennis.

[Alma leaves. Ennis sits at the kitchen table with his head in his hands. Slowly he brightens up, takes out his wallet pulls out a piece of folded paper, dials.]


Jack. It’s me.

JACK’S voice, [worried]

Ennis! What’s wrong? First time you ever called me.


[Uneasy, wishing he hadn’t called]

Called to let you know that me and Alma is gettin divorced. I thought you’d want to know. She just left, took my girls.

JACK’S voice

Oh my God, that’s terrific. That’s terrific! Oh my God.


[Their words overlap and tangle]

She plans to marry that grocery store guy. I guess I’ll be an ornery old bachelor now.

JACK’S voice

I’m on my way! Jesus, this is great news. [hangs up.]


[to a dead line]

No, no! Jack, you hear me? Do NOT come up here. Hello? Jack? Jack?

[eight hour interlude]

[Later. Evening, Ennis opening a can. Truck sound, Jack comes pounding up the stairs.]


Jack, I told you not to come.


No you didn’t.


Yes I did. But you hung up.


You’re gettin divorced, Ennis!

I came up to be with you. We’ll look at ranches. To buy. Be together. All the time.

Not just once in a while.


Tired of tellin you.

I can’t do it. I CAN NOT DO IT.

That part has not changed. It won’t never change. I don’t want to be like them—sissy guys they make jokes about. And I don’t want to be dead.


You said that before. What do you mean, ‘be dead’?


[Hesitates, then decides to dredge up the ugly and unforgettable memory.]

O.k., Jack. [Tells his story with great intensity, striving for moderation through monotone.]

Down home. There was these two old guys ranched together.

Little cow-calf operation like you keep wantin.

Earl and Rich.

Dad would pass a remark when he seen one of them.

Tough old birds, but kind of a local joke.

I was nine years old when they found Earl dead in a irrigation ditch. [He pauses.]

Earl and Rich.


Yeah? So what? Lots a ranchers drop dead in irrigation ditches.


Dad took me and my brother to get a look.

They’d took a tire iron to him.

Spurred him up, dragged him around so he was bloody pulp.

He was just a piece a dirty meat.

I didn’t understand. Dad said he done bad things with Rich.

He told us what them bad things was.



You seen that? Your dad showed that to you? When you was a little kid? Jesus! No wonder you’re so mule-headed about us.


It was his lesson not to be like Earl. Dad could be one of them that done it. Him and the neighbors. If he was alive and seen us doin what we do it might be us.

Two guys living together?

Earl and Rich? Jack and Ennis?

I can’t see it.

And I can’t do it.


You’re afraid, Ennis, ain’t you? You’re afraid of them people out there. Your neighbors and them people downtown? Hell, they’re just people. Plain, ordinary people.


Yeah, I’m afraid a them, but I ain’t afraid of nothin else. Jack, you don’t know what plain, ordinary people can do to somebody that ain’t. Like you.

[Then a wrenching admission. Subdued. First time he has admitted this.] And me.


I feel pretty damn ordinary. I’m as ordinary as anybody else.


You think so. Probly old Earl thought him and Rich was ordinary. But his good neighbors didn’t see it that way. [Pause] It’s a hell of a thing to kill a man, Jack, because he’s ‘plain, ordinary people’.


That was a long time ago. Things is changed now.


[bitter laugh]

Not here. Things never change here. They never will.


[Puts his arm around Ennis, speaks consolingly.]

Forget about that stuff. It’s goin a be all right, Ennis. Come on.

[Makes a move toward the bedroom. Ennis stops him and moves away.]


Off limits. That’s where Alma and me sleep. I mean slept.


[Sarcastic, jealous and hurt]

Already forget you are gettin divorced from her?


[trying to explain but getting deeper with every word]

It’s just the idea. Anyways, talkin about old Earl and Rich, I ain’t in the mood.


That’s a first. Sounds like me and Lureen.


Fact is, I don’t have no hard feelins for Alma.


What about MY feelins?


Nothin that happened—it wasn’t Alma’s fault. She’s a good person.


I can’t stand this.

[Jack leaves, in stairwell he leans on the wall, pounds his head against it three times, then clatters furiously down the stairs. Truck screeches away.]


Scene 6

Split stage, dining room, kitchen

[Alma & Bill’s dining room. The Thanksgiving dinner is over. Bill, Alma, Francine and Alma Jr., are still seated at the table.]


Too bad your daddy never showed up, but that’s how he is.

He drives that broken old truck.

He’s not dependable, like Bill.

He don’t take you to the movies and buy you popcorn, like Bill.

[Ennis enters hastily.]


Sorry I’m late. Truck wouldn’t start.

[He goes around the table, kisses daughters, shakes Bill Jones’s hand, comes to Alma and hands her the pink princess phone.]

I know you favored this thing. Remembered it when I was halfway here and turned around to get it. I can sure live without it. Anyway, I am moving to a trailer house out on the ranch. Got no use for it there.


Want some turkey?


I ain’t hungry. I fried some eggs. But I’ll help you clean up.

[Picks up dishes. Ennis and Alma carry dishes to the kitchen. Bill, Francine, Alma Jr. stay in the dining room and start a game of monopoly. Ennis sets a stack of dishes in the sink near Alma. ]

[The Jones kitchen. Angry duet, intensifying]


[A certain tension in her voice.]

Well. How are you, Ennis?


Ok, I guess.


Why don’t you get married again? It might be good for you. [pause, then urgenty]

For your own sake get married again, Ennis.


[Snorts derisively] Once burned…


You wasn’t burned. I was the one got burned.


[increasingly loud and angry]

What the hell do you mean, ‘you got burned’? Had your way about everthing. EVERTHING.

I give you the divorce. I pay you child support. I stay out of your way. I hardly ever see the kids.

So what do you mean, you got burned?


[furious but cold, the long-smothered knowledge erupting.]

You always blow up, don’t you? Just get mad.





Well, I can get mad, too. You think I am dumb, but maybe I am not so dumb.


[clenched teeth, trying not to shout]

I don’t think you are dumb.


All them fishin trips? You never brought any fish home. So once I tied a note on the end of the fishin line. It said ‘Bring some fish home, love, Alma.’

[She weeps a little at the memory of her naivete, then recovers her pent-up anger]

You told me you caught a whole mess of brown trouts. You ate them up. With him. Remember? When you went to work I looked. There was my note still tied on the end of the line. That fish line was never near water!


That don’t mean NOTHIN. I used one of Jack’s rods.


Don’t lie, don’t try to fool me, Ennis.

I KNOW what it means.

Jack Twist? Jack Nasty!

You and him—[chokes up] You and him…..



Shut up!


That’s why you don’t want to get married again. Why should you? You got HIM!




[He seizes her wrist and twists, she drops a dish, goes to her knees, but he continues to twist.]


[In a violent passion]

Shut up! Mind your own fuckin business. You don’t know nothin about it.


I’m gonna yell for Bill.


Go ahead. I’ll make him eat the floor. And you too!

[He shoves her, hard, and storms out of the kitchen. Bill Jones, alarmed by the shouting from the kitchen has risen and is advancing toward them. ]


Whoa! What’s goin on?

[Ennis rushes at Bill Jones, swings at him, misses, crashes out the door.]




Daddy, wait!


No. No!

Get back here Del Mar!


Scene 7


[May. Late afternoon. An older Jack has just finished making camp up in the mountains among the pines. There are a couple of stump seats, maybe a big log. Maybe a fire. He is waiting for Ennis. He is a little antsy. He looks at his watch, looks down the trail. Sits for a minute, then up and peering down the trail. Brightens when he sees Ennis below.]


Up here! Take the left fork.


[enters, throws down his gear.]

Dammit Jack, I missed you. I missed you pretty bad.

[They embrace, hug and kiss. Ennis pulls away abruptly, excuses himself, saying]

Still makes me nervous right out in broad daylight.

[He looks around at the camp site]

Nice with the creek just over there. Its runnin high with snow-melt. And noisy.

[jokingly] We can’t hear them bad guys sneak up on us.


Miles a blue sky. When I come in I seen a bear down-trail.


I seen his tracks. And yours.


I hope he don’t decide to join us.


[Stretches.] Feels good to be here. It’s been too long. I missed the smell of wood smoke in your hair, your shirt, on your skin. Missed bein close to you.

[Hugs Jack again inhaling his scent.]


Looked like he was comin right at me. But he crossed the trail and ran off. Better hang up the food tonight.


All the headaches go away when we get back in the mountains. It’s like we’re both kids again with the whole world in front of us. We can do anything. [sits on fallen log]


[sits close beside him, rolls a joint, lights and passes it to Ennis who takes a drag, passes it back etc.]

Jeez, I wish that was true.


Me too. But we’re o.k. Makin the best a what we got. How’s little Bobby doin?


Not so little any more. He’s taller than me. At that smart-guy stage.


I used a want a boy for a kid, but just got girls.



I didn’t want no kids of either kind, but fuck-all worked the way I wanted. Nothin ever come to my hand the right way.


Surprised to hear you say that. Compared to me you made out pretty good. You made a lot of money, Jack. Nice clothes, new truck. [laughs] Still married.

[Ennis slides his hand between Jack’s legs.]


You know what I mean. [pause, response to Ennis’s touch]

Oh yeah.

[They embrace, roll to the ground on the far side of the log.]

[The same camp. Jack and Ennis are packing up to leave.]


Here we go again, sayin goodby. This was one of the best times. Ennis, I wish—


[cutting off this too-familiar wish]

Headin back to Texas now?


Not yet. Guess I’ll go see my folks first. God, I can’t wait until our big horse trip in August.

Ten beautiful days. I’m goin a buy a new hat for the occasion.


[Uneasy, shifting around]

I been puttin off tellin you, Jack.

I can’t get away again until November.

After we ship stock.



November. NOVEMBER!

What in hell happened to August, to our horse trip?

We said AUGUST, ten days.

Christ, Ennis, whyn’t you tell me this before?

You had a fuckin week to say something about it.

And why do we always have to meet in the friggin cold weather?



Jack, Jack…


We ought a go south for a change. We ought a go to Mexico one time.


Mexico? Jack, all the travelin I ever done is goin around the coffee pot lookin for the handle.

I got to run the hay crew in August, that’s what happened to August.

Lighten up.

We can hunt in November. Get a nice elk?

[A very chill silence]


[icy, gathering himself for a showdown]

You know, friend, this is a goddamn bitch of a unsatisfactory situation.

You used to come away easy. Now it’s like seein the pope.


[Apologetically, but a little nettled]

Jack, I got to work. Them earlier times I used to quit the jobs.

You got money. You forget how it is bein broke all the time.

I need this job. I can’t quit it. And I can’t get loose in August.

This week that we just had was the trade-off for August. You got a better idea?


[bitter and accusatory]

I did once.

[Ennis walks away, turns and walks back until he is almost nose to nose with Jack.]



Mexico? Mexico. You been to Mexico, Jack?



Hell yes, I been. What’s the fuckin problem?


[clenched and threatening and even deadly]

I will say this to you one time, Jack, and I ain’t foolin.

[menacing pause]

What I don’t know,

all them things I don’t know

could get you killed

if I should come to know them.

JACK [fed up with the situation]

Try this one, and I’ll say it just one time.

We could of had a good life together,

a real good life.

You wouldn’t do it, Ennis.

What we got now is Brokeback Mountain.

It’s ALL we got boy, fuckin all.



No! It’s more than—


[not to be interrupted]

It’s ALL we got, Ennis.

I hope you know that if you don’t never know the rest.

Count them! The damn few times we been together in twenty years.

Then ask me about Mexico.

Then tell me you’ll kill me for needin it and not hardly never gettin it.

[low and intense]

You got no fuckin idea how bad it gets.

I’m not you!

I can’t make it on a couple a high-altitude fucks once or twice a year.


[ holds out hands to Jack who does not clasp them.]

Stop! No more. Jack, we always git along. We always look at each other and understand.


[Tense with anger]

Not this time.

[There is a long silence while they stare at each other.]



I’m rich enough, Ennis, we could buy a small ranch and some stock. Your goddamn horses. We could do it. But you won’t. It’s the same sorry situation. Don’t you think I got feelins?



Nobody knows better than me that you got feelins.

I wish I could do what you wanted.

I wish we lived in a different world.


We don’t have to stay here.


I belong here.

I don’t fit nowhere else.

I was born here and I belong to this place, whatever it is.

I can’t leave. Not even for you. Not even for us.


[with increasingly bitterness]

Nothin has changed. Nothin can change. [pause]

When I was a kid

I wanted to see the places of the world,

I wanted to go everywhere. To be happy.

I wanted to fall in love. [pause]

And I did. [pause] I did.

[with great intensity] I wish I knew how to quit you.


[devastated at hearing the worst possibility voiced]

Don’t never say that!

[He half-turns toward Jack, puts his hands out again, doubles over, collapses.]


No! No! Ennis, what’s wrong?

[Fearing heart-attack, Jack runs to him, kneels. On their knees they cling to each other, weep.]

I’m here. I’m here.

Close to you, close to you.


Scene 8

[Early autumn, downtown Riverton, in front of the post office. Townspeople—a few ranchers, a cowboy, mix of people, come out and go in. Ennis comes out, holding mail, magazines, paper, a few envelopes. A cowboy walks up.]


Hey Ennis, how you doin?


Good enough. You?


Just scrapin along. Stoutamire hirin?


Maybe in the spring. Calvin time. Fence work after the snow’s gone.


I’ll check in. You take care, now.


You bet.

[Stands at the bottom of the steps near the trash bin and sorts the mail, tossing flyers and catalogs away. He discovers the postcard he sent Jack the week before. Turns it over, looks at both sides, then sees the red stamped message across the address.]


[Puzzled, then, as he understands the meaning of the unusual word, devastated.]

Deceased? Deceased. DEAD! NO! NO! JACK, NO!

[He drops the card, wind blows it and he has to scramble on all fours and crawl around to retrieve it. Everyone has stopped and is looking at him.]


What is wrong with him?

Who is he?

Works for Stoutamire.

Bad news, bad news.

He keeps to himself.

Somethin not right.

He is a hard man.

Always gets in fights.

That’s him, always lookin for a fight.

Somethin different about him.

Bad news, bad news.

Somethin not right.

[During all this gawking and questioning Ennis shakes and trembles, near panic, spins looking for a phone. He sees the phone booth, goes to it, pulls out his wallet and finds Jack’s number. Drops the wallet, drops the post card again. Leans against the phone and tries to get control of himself.]


Somethin not right.

Nervous. He’s had bad news..

Who was his people?

Killed in a car wreck long ago.

Over in Sage. Del Mar!

Somethin not right. Long ago.

[They follow Ennis to the phone booth and eavsesdrop as much as they can, constantly shifting position. In the phone booth Ennis has calmed enough to dial Jack’s number. Lureen answers. We hear her cold little voice.]




[trembling voice]

Can I talk to Jack. I need to talk to Jack. Please!


[sinister, mocking]

Please. Please.


Who? Who is this?


Ennis Del Mar? His fishin buddy? We’re old friends. Please put him on.



Old friends. Old friends.


[in command]

I’m sorry to tell you this but Jack passed away in July.

An accident. Couldn’t notify his friends. Didn’t know how to get in touch.


[in pain, trying not to sob, keeping up the pretence they were just buddies]

What happened? How? I seen him in May and he was—[wrenches this word out] beautiful.


Beautiful. Beautiful.


A freak accident. They said he pumped up a tire on some back road. They said the rim flew up, broke his jaw and knocked him out. They said he drowned in his own blood. A lonesome road where nobody came by.


Oh God. Drowned in his own blood!


Drowned in blood. Drowned in blood.


Would have let you know but I didn’t have your address. [Pause] He was only thirty-nine years old.


[His voice steadier, mastery over self achieved]

Is he buried down there?


Buried down there? Buried down there?


He always said he wanted to be cremated, scatter his ashes on Brokeback Mountain.

I sent his ashes up to his folks.

I thought Brokeback Mountain was up there.



[choking up]

We herded sheep together one summer on Brokeback.

[We get the presence of Brokeback Mountain now.]


One summer on Brokeback. One summer on Brokeback.

Beautiful. Beautiful.


He said it was his special place.


His folks still up in Lightnin Flats?


Lightnin Flats. Lightnin Flats.


They’ll be there until they die. You get in touch with them. Maybe a good idea if his wishes were carried out.


I’m goin up there. Now.



Scene 9

[Twist kitchen downstairs. Very plain and poor country kitchen. Jack’s mother is fussing at the stove. The father sits at one end of the table, lord of all he commands. Ennis sits uneasily at the other end. A stairway leads to Jack’s old bedroom up above.]


Want some coffee, don’t you? Piece of cherry cake?


Thank you, ma’am, I’ll take a cup of coffee but I can’t eat no cake just now.

[Jack’s mother pours a cup of coffee for him. She gestures with the coffee pot toward her husband but he ignores her. The old man glares at Ennis, sits silently with his hands folded in front of him waiting for Ennis to speak.]


[taking a deep breath.]

I feel awful bad about Jack. Can’t begin to say how bad I feel. I known him a long time. [pause]

We was good friends. I come by to tell you that if you want me to carry his ashes up [pause] up to Brokeback Mountain like his wife says he wanted [pause] I’d be proud to do it.

[Long tense silence. Ennis clears his throat but says nothing more. He waits and we wait.]


[with venom. He’s got Ennis’s number.]

Tell you what.

I know where Brokeback Mountain is.

He thought he was too goddamn special to be buried in the family plot.


[ignoring her husband]

He used to come home every year.

He helped his daddy fix the fence and mow and all.

[Pause. She stares intently at Ennis. Gets the picture. Speaks gently to him and he understands she knows.]

I kept his room like it was when he was a boy. He slept there when he visited. You are welcome to go up in his room—if you want.



I can’t get no help out here.

Jack used to say [a cruel parody of Jack’s voice, whiny and babyish] ‘I’m goin to bring Ennis Del Mar up here and we will lick this ranch into shape.’

Half-baked idea the two of you was goin to help me run this place.

Like most a Jack’s ideas it never come to pass.

Next thing we know—


[stands, speaks to Jack’s mother]

Ma’am, I would like to see his room.

[She gestures wordlessly toward the stairway.]


[almost plaintively]

I can’t get no help out here.


Scene 10

[Jack’s small boyhood bedroom, clean as a pin but hot with the sun beating in. Jack’s narrow bed is against the wall. There is a small desk and chair, a few old magazine pictures on the wall. A window looks out on the dirt road. Ennis enters slowly as if in pain.]


[softly, looking through the window]

There’s old Brokeback in the west.

Jack, I know you looked out that window

a thousand times before you broke loose.

[He moves around the room, touching the furniture Jack had touched so many times. He goes to the closet, just a doorframe with a faded curtain on a string hung in front. He slides the curtain and looks inside. Jack’s boots are there, an old checkered wool hunting jacket, a few pair of jeans on wire hangers. He slides the curtain closed again and turns half away, then opens the curtain again and looks far inside. He reaches in and pulls out a shirt. He recognizes it as Jack’s old shirt from Brokeback days, holds it to his breast, buries his face in it. Then, very slowly holds it out and looks at it, sees there is another shirt inside, slowly draws out his own blood-stained shirt from the long-ago last day on the mountain and the breakup fight.]


Oh God. Jack. Your shirt. My shirt. Your blood.

All the years you kept these hid.

[overwhelmed by memory and longing begins to weep. Stops abruptly, afraid they will hear him downstairs. Folds the shirts together.]

We was always on the edge, always. Our life together. Our life apart. Now it’s too late and we’re both alone forever.

[Ennis goes down to the kitchen holding the shirts reverently. Looks at Jack’s mother questioningly. She nods.]


[Knowing Ennis badly needs something of Jack’s]

You take them.

I know Jack would want it so.

I think you was his only friend.

Life isn’t easy for us, it wasn’t easy for him.


Tell you what. We got a family plot and he’s goin in it. He ain’t goin up on Brokeback.


[walking to the door with Ennis]

You come again.

To see his room.

To remember Jack, to remember.



Scene 11

[Interior of Ennis’s ratty trailer on the current ranch where he works. He comes in wearily. Drapes the shirts over a chair back. Pours a glass of whiskey and tosses it back, deliberately pours another, picks up the shirts. What follows is the inarticulate man trying to express unspeakable grief. The shadow of pain spreads out like black oil.]


[holding the shirts]

This is what’s left, Jack. I got nothin else.

Two shirts, the same age now we was when we started.

Couple a postcards.

What I can remember.

No pictures. No letters.

Can’t even carry your ashes up to Brokeback.

Hard to take.

[sits at the table]

Jack, I’m choked up with love.

Love too late—my fault. My fault.

I can’t sleep. Bone tired, I can’t sleep.

Over and over them pictures go through my head.

Is it you or old Earl in the ditch?

Can’t talk to nobody about you. [pause] My secret.

Nobody knows even now.

There is a price for that secret. [pause]

When somethin bad happens a man with a secret can’t show pain.

Feels like my heart’s cut out, nothin there but a little stain a blood.

And if you can’t fix it you got to stand it. I know that.

[He rises, gets a wire hanger and puts the shirts on the hanger so that his shirt embraces Jack’s, a forlorn gesture. Gets hammer and nail and pounds nail three times into the wall.]

All them years I told you ‘No, No, No.’

I never give you nothin but ‘No.’

[he puts the hanger on the nail.]

I never give you nothin and I never said what you wanted me to say.

I only got one thing I can give you now.

[Long pause and this tumbles out.]

Jack, I swear.

I swear there will never be anybody but you.

It was only you in my life and it will always be only you.

Jack, I swear.


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