[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——.
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.
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.
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.
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.]
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