I'm dyin now so I guess there's no harm in tellin it. Wasn't like I really did nothin, anyways; 'cept maybe in my mind.

This was back in '62. Things were never rich, but I was still makin enough to keep Evelyn an' the kids fed an' happy. Or some hard country version of happy, anyway. I'd had plenty o' young hands out herdin for me before, and I wasn't never interested in more than a good work ethic or at least half a fuckin brain to do the job. But that was before Jack Twist walked into my trailer.

Ain't never really looked at men, but that boy had a face like...like God was tryin to prove somethin. I told him what I expected and he seemed happy to have a job. Didn't want to think too much at the time about why it was hard to look at 'im, or to stop lookin at 'im when I did. I gave him instructions and got him outta my trailer fast as I could. Wasn't that I didn't like him, because he was a good kid, I thought. It was that unsettlin thing I felt but couldn't put my finger on.

Turns out the boy was about as good at guardin sheep as I was at singin opera. Lost quite a few head that summer, most of 'em to lightnin, but still. Twist had a way of makin people soft, an' even though I shoulda taken some of my losses outta his pay, I gave him full salary. Told myself I was doin it because I didn't want John Twist down here with his shotgun callin me a thief. Maybe I just done it to get him gone quicker. Soon found out that it didn't matter how far away Jack Twist was; I'd never be rid of him.

Can't really explain it 'cept to say that that boy was in my head at times he had no reason to be. I'd be tryin to figure out numbers or tellin Evelyn what I wanted for supper or readin the goddamn paper, and there in front of me like some fuckin ghost was the face of that boy, with them eyes of his lookin at me. Sometimes it weren't just his face I saw...Twist had a kinda animal-like way of movin, graceful, you'd say, an' he was pretty fair built for a kid just old enough to vote. Boy was a lousy shepherd but he musta been workin at somethin on the ranch back home, is all I'm sayin.

Come the next summer, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry when I saw Jack Twist standin outside my trailer, along with another young hand who looked about as meek as a mouse. Any man in his right mind woulda sent Jack Twist packin that second summer, the minute he saw 'im again. But by then I wasn't in my right mind. I wish I could say I was tryin to prove he had no hold on me, that I could look 'im in the eye again and feel nothin this time, and that'd be my cure. Truth is I just liked him.

First night after seein him again he was in my dreams. I was watchin him with the glasses and he was out in the middle o' the sheep, standin shirtless in the rain, and lightnin kep' crashin down all around him. Now I know that dream don't make no sense 'cause I wouldn't wanna ride out to have a look in the middle of no storm, but it made even less sense that I woke up with a hardon.

Right then I understood one thing only, and that was that Jack Twist was bad news. I never shoulda hired him back on, and now the sumbitch was in my dreams as well as on my mind. It happened a coupla more times after that, not the same dream, but close enough, and once had been more than enough anyway. I was afraid to go check up on them two because if I saw Jack Twist the way he was in my dreams, I'da lost my mind for sure. Finally Evelyn noticed I wasn't sleepin so good and started askin me if everythin was goin okay. Course I told her it was just too stuffy in that damn bedroom and everythin was fine. The next day I went out an' had me a look on the mountain. I figured stayin away wasn't doin no good and maybe I'd stop havin them crazy dreams if I looked through the glasses for real and saw just what I ought to be seein, instead of....

It worked, too, at first. The new boy, Ennis, he was a hard worker and no nonsense. But he weren't the one watchin my sheep, damn fool that I am. So I went over and took a peek up on the high ground. I won't say I wasn't scared what I'd see, but I done it because it hadta be done. I think I held my breath until I saw the herd just movin slow and no sign o' Twist standing among 'em like some kinda lightnin rod. He was over by a crag packin up the pup tent. That was enough for me that day, and that night, I slept sound.

Next day, there he was again, in my head. Now I was seein him like in the dreams, only while I was up and around tryin to go about my business. That was no good at all. I thought to myself, I done tried everythin I can think of to stop this whatever it is, and sendin him away ain't gonna work neither 'cause I been sufferin since he left last year. Now what?

I decided to go watch him...them, again. This was 'bout a week after my first trip. Finally I spotted Twist comin in for breakfast at the camp. I watched him move, that black hat of his castin a shadow over his eyes, but I know his lips was curled up in a smile. He got to where I'da had to move myself to keep watchin' and instead I turned around and went back down, and was halfway back when I realized I was smilin, too.

There was plenty other work for me to be doin besides babysittin my babysitters, so I couldn't just go on up there every time that boy popped in my head. I was gettin used to thinkin of him all the time, truth be told. When I had another dream with him in it, a few nights later, it was different. I was standin at the foot of the mountain with him, and he was tellin me some kinda story, and when it was over I cried. Don't even ask me what the hell that was s'posed to mean.

I think I coulda lived with the dreams and the thoughts until they faded away, which I'm sure they'da done a little while after that boy was gone for good, if I hadn't come watching just when I did next. Now I been around and I ain't no fool; I knew what might happen when two young men was stuck up on the mountain together for too long. Sometimes us men'll do things to satisfy nature's urges that we wouldn't be known to do under normal circumstance. Fact is, I didn't really give a diddly shit what else went on as long as the work was done. So when I looked through them glasses and saw them boys foolin around, it wasn't what they done that surprised me. It was how they done it. And how it made me feel seein it.

Like I said, I'm dyin now, so ain't no point in pretendin no more. It ain't the fact that I damn near squirted in my pants, nor that I felt like I was invadin some privacy that never shoulda existed to begin with. What burned that boy inta my mind for permanent was the jolt I could only put one name to when it run through me: jealousy. I was watchin someone do what I musta been wishin I could do for more than a year. And there wasn't nothing mechanical about them, like scratchin an itch. They brought to mind the way I was with Evelyn, before we both got so tired of each other and the world. It was both the finest and the most godawful thing I ever laid eyes on.

After that, I had a hard time concentratin on much of anythin but this reaction of mine and what I was gonna do about it. Twist's mother called over wantin me to tell him about his uncle who was probably dyin, and that gave me another excuse to go up the mountain. Told myself I wasn't gonna watch this time, nor ever again, but you know I brought them glasses with me anyway. Didn't take long before I had 'em out and was settin back for a look around. It was well after dawn when I seen 'em both come outta that tent, which told me all I needed to know.

I wanted to scream, I was so furious at my own foolishness. How could I have ignored that unsettled feelin and let Twist go up on that mountain with the other one? Why didn't I send him away for the rotten shepherd he was, and save the other from him and those eyes? How much was my mistake gonna cost me, not just in lost stock but peace of mind? I had to go talk to Twist since I'd gone all the way up there, and I didn't think I'd be able to do it just then without lookin crazy. I spent an hour or so walking around the trail collectin myself before I finally approached him, and wouldn't you know it? once I was there, all my anger turned to somethin else. I told you, Jack Twist had a way of makin people soft. And hard.

The next week Evelyn told me she was pregnant again, and I couldn't hem and haw no more. I used the excuse of a storm to get them boys off the mountain and my damn stock away from peril before I lost any more. Let them boys know I wasn't happy with them but didn't tell anyone what I knew...until Twist came back to my trailer a third time.

Those dreams hadn't gone away, but I'd had some time to sorta come to terms with...everythin...and was feelin more rational. I knew there was a chance he'd come around, especially if he was lookin for the other one, so I had prepared myself. No way was I gonna hire that young man again, that was for sure. I didn't plan on sayin nothin else to him, but when he come out and asked me about Ennis, well, I knew he had no idea what a fool he'd made of me but I let him have it. Let him know everythin he done up there wasn't exactly secret, that is, and not appreciated. He took it pretty damn well.

Some time after that I heard he'd moved on, and that was good. It was too late to hope I'd ever be free of him, but at least I didn't have no reason to tell nobody else what happened. Only tellin you now 'cause you asked. Now let me be!

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