“You must not fight too often with one enemy, or you will teach him all your art
For Charlie Wade, a good day was receiving enough client checks in
the mail than he had bills to pay. His father left him the building where
he lived and worked, so he was fortunate. As long as he was able to pay
the accessed one thousand dollars a year in real estate taxes, the building
would continue to act as a place of refuge from the world. Charles Allen
Wade was a lawyer in a small West Texas town, that had seen its better
days come and go. To everyone he was known as Charlie Wade, or just
In his glory days he played wide receiver on the local high
school team, when for one shining moment, he and seventeen other boys
mattered to the rest of Texas. That was in his junior year when the team
won their first ten games of the season and seemed poised to make a run
at the Texas Small School State Title. That dream ended in the district fi-
nals when Manny Drummond blew out his knee and the team dropped a
heartbreaker 14-13 to Brownwood.
In Coleman, Texas those boys were heroes and the town which
had little to cheer about outside of football, adored them. Charlie was the
fleet footed receiver who could run like the wind and catch anything
thrown his way. Of course that was until Manny Drummond went down
and there was no one left to throw to him.
Coleman was like anywhere else, with its share of pretty girls,
and any one of them would go out with Charlie Wade. By the time he
had graduated high school, his father had already parted with over a
thousand dollars on two different occasions for abortions in Abilene. It
was often thought that Charlie left for college just in time, as several fath-
ers were looking to extract a pound of flesh from him over his gallivant-
Charlie received a scholarship from the University of Texas and
was anxious to continue with football and girls in the friendlier confines
of Austin. He wasn’t a big kid, as he stood only 5 foot 11 inches and
weighed 180 pounds. What he had was speed and the will to catch the
ball wherever it was thrown. Unfortunately for Charlie, one of the Texas
linebackers put an early end to his football career during a scrimmage,
with a jarring tackle on a throw that never should have been made. It
was a dangerous hit as the 225 pound linebacker who ran about as well
as Charlie, led with his helmet and caught him right under the chin. It
was a gruesome sight as Charlie lay on the ground shaking from the ter-
rible collision. He lost a tooth and severely lacerated his tongue, but the
collision also cracked his jaw and caused whiplash. It was the final play
in his short college football career.
For another year Charlie puttered around the school as the
coach honored his scholarship. Without football, Charlie kind of lost his
confidence. The injury healed and all looked normal, but his psyche was
damaged. By the end of his sophomore year his grades had suffered and
he headed back to Coleman. There he was still a hero to most of the town
people, with the exception of a few fathers. The local football team had
fallen on hard times and most people liked to talk about that memorable
season only a couple of years back. Finding life a little more enjoyable,
Charlie kind of picked up where he left off and mainly hung out with his
old high school buddies and started flirting with the local school girls.
When summer ended and his money was running out, Charlie
decided not to go back to school. This angered his father who had been
fronting money to Charlie all summer. In order to keep some peace at
home, Charlie agreed to work for a year and then go back to school. His
uncle had an oil well service company and agreed to take Charlie on as a
favor to his father. Charlie’s father was a respected lawyer in town, and
he had hoped that his only son would follow in his footsteps. The idea
didn’t bother Charlie, as he loved to listen to the countless stories about
the people around Coleman and their individual trials and tribulations.
Rough necking proved to be tougher than Charlie thought, and
it only took about a month of sixty hour weeks before he was ready to go
back to school. It was about that time that he started dating Tina Simms.
She was a sophomore in high school, but could have passed for a senior.
Her hair was dark brown and she had beautiful features and a slender
yet athletic figure. Her father owned an oilfield supply company outside
Coleman, and Charlie often made trips to the store to pick up supplies
for his uncle. At first they just flirted back and forth, and then Charlie
asked her to meet him out one night. He thought she was a senior and
had he known differently, he probably would have left her alone. Their
big first date was meeting out at a keg party that a few of his buddies
were hosting. It would be a night he would not forget.
The Coleman County sheriff caught wind of the party and sent
a few of his deputies out to break it up. One of the deputies, Roland
Simms, was Tina’s cousin. When the deputies arrived, they found a
bunch of the kids at the party were under age, Charlie and Tina among
them. That was when Charlie found out the truth about Tina Simms. Ro-
land grabbed Charlie by the shirt and threw him to the ground. He
threatened to kill him if he ever messed with his cousin again. Charlie
was a hothead and got off the ground and clocked Roland. The punch
knocked Roland clean unconscious and landed Charlie in jail. If it had
been anyone else besides Roland Simms, the matter would have been
handled quietly with a few apologies. Tina’s father didn’t take to kindly
to Charlie corrupting his daughter, especially with Charlie’s already tar-
nished reputation. Charlie’s father had to call in a bunch of favors to
keep him out of a ninety day jail sentence. It was right then that Charlie
decided to go back to school.
He enrolled back at Austin and stayed on the straight and nar-
row until he graduated. Charlie made it into law school by the skin of his
teeth and the help of a few more favors. Tina also enrolled in the uni-
versity and the two of them started seeing each other. Roland Simms
stayed on with the Sheriff’s Department and eventually would get elec-
ted to office. Tina continued to become more beautiful, or at least that’s
what Charlie thought. At one point the two of them talked about mar-
riage. Charlie was just finishing law school and was headed back to
Coleman to work with his father. Tina still had another year or so to fin-
When Charlie finished law school it was the proudest day of his
father’s life. His mother had died when Charlie was in high school and
his father had never remarried. So Charlie, the only child, received most
of his father’s attention. The law practice was doing so well that Bob
Wade was anxiously waiting for Charlie to come back to Coleman and
partner with him.
For the first year Charlie dug right in, and focused on learning
the practical side of small town law. On the weekends he would drive
down to Austin and spend time with Tina. After a while though, the
drive became too long to make on a weekly basis and his work schedule
was beginning to take its toll. Eventually the every week trip to Austin
turned into once a month. That’s when the letter came. Tina had found
someone else and was getting engaged. It was like a nail in his heart and
he immediately drove to Austin to change her mind. That meeting didn’t
go well as Tina was with her new boyfriend and now fiancé. His name
was Jack Stephens, and Charlie knew him all too well. Jack Stephens was
actually Jack Stephens the III. His father was one of the wealthiest men in
Abilene. They were rumored to be worth about a hundred million dol-
lars, and had made all of their money in oil.
Little Jack was majoring in Petroleum Engineering at Austin
and was the sole heir to the Stevens fortune. He drove a shiny new
BMW, and had no problem flaunting his wealth and position. Jack was a
handsome kid with a big mouth to go along with his wallet. He was busy
wining and dining Tina, and by the time Charlie could get to Austin to
talk some since into her, it was too late. The ring on her finger was three
and a half karats and it looked pretty secure. Jack and a few of his
friends made it clear to Charlie that Tina was his girl, and if he dared to
interfere, he would see to it that things got rough for him and his father.
Charlie made numerous attempts to contact Tina and talk her
out of the relationship. The more times he contacted her, the more clients
they lost. It started with his father’s largest corporate client in Abilene.
Pretty soon every major client they had in Abilene was going somewhere
else. It was hard to make a living from the people of Coleman alone, and
his father had always depended on the larger corporate clients in Abi-
lene. His father had always been able to attract some good clients be-
cause his rates were quite a bit less than the larger firms in the city, and
he provided sound legal advice and dedicated service. When clients left
there was never a good reason given, just that they preferred to use
someone more local.
A few months later Charlie’s father became very ill after suffer-
ing a severe stroke. He convalesced at the home, but was unable to re-
turn to work. A couple of years later he passed away. Charlie continued
to practice law in Coleman, but the economy there was slow and as a res-
ult business suffered. He never had the same disposition as his father,
and as a result, some of the more established clients didn’t take a real lik-
ing to Charlie. It was always his father’s way to carry on long winded
conversations with people. He knew about their families, friends, and
even their aches and pains. His father handled their divorces, wills, and
even kept a few people out of jail. If someone got in trouble in Coleman
there was really only one lawyer to call, and that was Bob Wade,
Charlie’s father. Now they were calling Charlie.
Eventually some of the clients from Abilene came back to
Charlie and business improved. The price of oil was hovering around
$80 bucks a barrel, and the oil fields were once again showing signs of
life. His cousin had taken over his uncle’s oil field service business and
would have been making a killing if he could find anyone to help him.
Marty Wade had grown up in the oil field and was comfortable getting
his hands dirty, but he was a rare breed in Coleman. Thank God for the
Mexicans, Marty used to say, as they were the only reliable hands he
could find. His father left him with three well service units that would
bring $2,000 a day if he had the people to run them. As it was he was
lucky to keep one crew going.
Occasionally Charlie would represent someone who would get
in a little scrape with the law and in need of a job. One call to Marty and
they were employed. The problem was that once these people got a little
money in their pocket, they were back in trouble again. Methamphetam-
ine use had become the largest problem facing employers in the area.
You had a lot of people getting rich making the stuff, and a lot of lives
ruined with people using it. The majority of Charlie’s business now dealt
with court appointed cases for people who couldn’t afford a lawyer. It
paid the bills, but not much else. The upside was that it gave Marty a
steady stream of fresh hands, and the county was paying Charlie’s
Charlie was rubbing his eyes as he prepared to make the long commute
to his office. It was approximately twelve steps down the stairs and into
the waiting room. He could hear his assistant Cheryl already talking on
the phone. The smell of freshly brewed coffee was filtering its way up to
his apartment. He looked down at his watch and was surprised to see it
was already eight-thirty. At ten o’clock he was expected in court to rep-
resent another Meth offender who had been caught shoplifting with the
drugs in his pocket. The judge didn’t take kindly to repeat offenders and
more than likely the man would have to do some hard time at the
County Correctional Facility, otherwise known as the farm. Charlie
quickly showered and threw on his slacks and a white denim shirt. In
Abilene, the judge would throw him out for dressing so casual, but in
Coleman he might be overdressed.
As he walked down the stairs and entered the waiting room,
Cheryl handed him a cup of coffee and three messages.
“You got court at ten o’clock sleepy head, almost thought I was
gonna have to go up there and wake you.”
The idea of Cheryl in his bedroom wasn’t all that bad a thought.
At forty she wasn’t all that bad looking, and she always wore tight fitting
blouses that left little to the imagination. She had flirted with him on
more than one occasion. Charlie was twenty-nine and still having a fair
amount of success with women in the area. He kind of made the rounds
between Santa Ana, Coleman, and Brownwood. Occasionally he’d run
up to Abilene and visit some of the local honky-tonks. Cheryl had started
with his father ten years ago after his old assistant took ill and passed
away. She was an efficient assistant and had her ear to the ground.
Charlie marveled at how she knew more about Coleman than the police.
If a crime needed to be solved, Cheryl was the person to talk to.
There wasn’t much of a middle class in Coleman; in fact Charlie
might have been the sole member. You either had money or you had
bills. Charlie had neither, and was somewhat satisfied to be independent
and debt free. Most of his friends were already on their way to the
American dream. A wife, two kids, a pickup, a mortgage, two weeks va-
cation, church on Sunday, and a job they were desperately trying to hold
on to. None of them could lay there hands on any money, but it all
looked good on the surface.
“You come up there and you might get a surprise,” he said to
“Ain’t nothing you got that would surprise someone like me,
“You’re probably right Cheryl, but people will surprise you
once in a while.”
“You better behave yourself young man, my boyfriend is com-
ing in today,” Cheryl said.
“You don’t remember nothing,” Cheryl said scolding Charlie.
Charlie kind of furrowed his brow and then it came back to
him. Cheryl had a boyfriend that needed some legal help on a contract or
“That’s right, you got some boy over by Mullin that you been
seeing. How’s that going by the way?”
“He’s a right nice man, and you’d do well to mind your man-
ners. Joe’s a church going man so please be nice. I told him you were a
good lawyer and would help him.”
“Don’t you worry Cheryl, when I get done with him…. Well
you know what I mean,” Charlie said as he walked out the door of the
office and out to the sidewalk.
Cheryl walked out of the door and yelled down the street at
him. “Don’t you stop at Floreens after court, he’s gonna be here at eleven
Charlie waved at her so she would know that he heard her
voice. The courthouse was two blocks away and an easy walk. Charlie
waved at several people on his way and talked with a few others. He
walked into the courthouse at five minutes to ten and saw his nervous
client sitting outside the courtroom. His wife was holding their baby and
sitting next to him. Gentry Collins was thirty-five years old and looked
fifty. The Meth was slowly draining his life away, and Charlie was think-
ing that the ninety days in jail just might be the right thing for Gentry.
The county had a program for addicts and while the farm was a terrible
place, the county did a good job of keeping drugs out.
“Hello Mr. Wade.” Gentry reached out his hand and shook
Charlie’s. For a skinny and beat up man, Gentry had a strong grip.
“Hello Gentry and hello mam,” Charlie said politely.
“Mr. Wade, we can’t afford for Gentry to be in no jail. Who’s
gonna take care of us?” The question came from Gentry’s wife Alice.
Charlie wouldn’t have known the answer two years ago, but having
handled so many of these cases, he felt like an expert.
“Now Alice, don’t you worry. They got a program at the farm.
If Gentry does the work and stays clean, I’ll petition to get him out in
thirty days. My cousin Marty can always use a good hand like Gentry.
He pays $18 an hour to people who will do the work. Now that’s enough
to take care of your family, but Gentry has to stay clean and do his time
the right way.”
“I appreciate that Mr. Wade, I really do, but we are behind on
all of our bills right now. Everything. They’re going to throw us out of
our trailer if I don’t get some rent paid. I could go to work right now, if
the judge would give me a second chance.”
“Ain’t much of a chance of that Gentry. Look, if they put you on
the farm, then Alice is eligible for county assistance. I’ll send a note over
today so they will expedite her check. She’d get a couple of thousand
dollars by next week. Now if you promise to pay me back, I’ll lend her
five hundred dollars against your first couple of checks working for my
cousin. You gotta promise me and your wife that you will stay clean and
finish that program,” Charlie said looking at Gentry.
Alice started weeping and hugged Charlie.
“You promise me Alice that you’ll stay away from that Meth
Their little baby boy was no more than a year old and he was so
How unfortunate to be born into the care of two hopeless
, Charlie thought to himself. She nodded her head as the
tears streamed down her cheek.
The judge did exactly as Charlie thought. He sentenced Gentry
to ninety days on the farm and offered him the Meth program. He left
early release open upon the recommendation of his program counselor.
On his way out of the courthouse Charlie stopped by the Family Services
department to let them know about Alice Collins. When he was done, he
looked at his watch.
, he thought to himself. It was already a quarter
past eleven and Cheryl would have his hide for being late. Fortunately
he was in court on real business, so she couldn’t be too mad.
As he walked in the door he saw Cheryl nervously pacing the
waiting room, and her look changed from worried to stern as Charlie
entered the office.
“Court, what’re you gonna do?” Charlie said as he shook his
“You didn’t have to spend twenty minutes in Family Services
talking to Wanda Graves did you? I could’ve got that done in two
“Sorry,” is all Charlie could say, still wondering how the rumor
mill operated so quickly in Coleman.
“Joe is in your office,” Cheryl said still looking menacingly at
“Also this came in for you. Thought you might be interested.
It’s an offer to settle that lawnmower case. They also called and said they
need an answer by the end of the day.”
Charlie looked down at the faxed offer in disbelief.
“Is this right?” he said half mumbling to himself.
“I told you they’d settle,” Cheryl said.
The amount was clear as day on the sheet of paper. One million
eight hundred thousand dollars. The case was almost two years old and
it looked like they would have to go to court. It should have settled long
before, but one of the witnesses passed away and the defendant’s insur-
ance company backed away.
“You’d better call Jesse Molina so I can give him the news.”
“I’m way ahead of you. This came in an hour ago. I already
called him and told him to expect a call from you. He said he’d be
“Well get him on the phone.”
Jesse Molina owned a small lawn care business in Abilene. Two years
back, one of his new riding lawnmowers threw a blade and it darn near
killed Jesse. It caught him just underneath his right ear and for a while it
looked like Jesse wouldn’t make it. He completely loss about half of his
ear and a small portion of his cheek. His hearing was all but gone and so
was his ability to work. Jesse’s disfigured face was a gruesome sight, and
it pained Charlie every time he set eyes on him. Even with two plastic
surgeries and more scheduled, there wasn’t much improvement.
Charlie was certain that any jury would take pity on Jesse, and
was surprised that the insurance company had allowed the case to ad-
vance so far into the court system. It was an open and shut case of pure
negligent liability on behalf of the dealership. The man who had as-
sembled the mower was a known drunk and had been on a binge that
day. There had been other instances where he had misassembled
products. The manufacturer was also on the hook, as the mower was
supposed to have been recalled due to a faulty crank shaft. Between the
loosely assembled mower blades and the faulty crank shaft design, poor
Jesse walked into the perfect storm.
Charlie had put in hours in the way of depositions, answering
motions, and court appearances. Everything about the case was pointing
toward a settlement, but nothing came. Now out of the blue, a settlement
offer. The settlement was cheap, Charlie surmised, but the timing was
perfect. The Molina’s were struggling financially, and it was certain the
insurance company was aware of the circumstances. In fact Charlie was
certain they were deliberately waiting it out to force the Molinas into
Charlie walked over to his office and could see a man sitting in
his guest chair kind of staring off into space. As Charlie walked in Joe
jumped up from the chair.
“I hope you don’t mind, Cheryl sat me in here and told me to
Charlie laughed. “Not at all, sorry I’m late. You didn’t read my
mail did you?”
Joe looked at Charlie almost embarrassed. “Oh no, of course
Charlie could see that Joe was nervous and didn’t understand
his sense of humor. “I’m joking, I’m Charlie Wade.” Charlie reached out
his hand to shake with Joe.
“I’m Joe Rollins. Nice to meet you.”
“Can you give me a minute Joe, as I need to take a call?”
“Oh sure, no problem.”
They both sat down and Joe was a bit more at ease. “Cheryl tells
me you’re from Mullin. Do you know Sam Casey?”
Joe shook his head indicating he did. “Yup,” is all that came out
of his mouth.
“I played football with him in high school, and I heard he
bought a little place down there,” said Charlie.
“Yup, about ten miles from me.”
“He’s on the phone,” Cheryl yelled in.
For the next ten minutes Charlie explained the offer to Jesse
Molina. He explained that they could go to court and probably win. That
the jury award could be quite substantial. He knew there was nothing he
would say that would change the outcome of this call. And frankly,
Charlie wasn’t sure he wanted it to. It had been a long two years for him
also, and the prospect of six hundred thousand dollars in his bank ac-
count, was starting to catch hold.
The end result was as expected. Jesse Molina would take the
money and return to Mexico. In the blink of an eye, both their lives
would be changed.
Joe wasn’t a real talkative type and Charlie was getting hungry for some
lunch. He intended to go down to Floreens Diner as it was taco day, and
she always had a mean taco bar set up. Charlie wanted to get there be-
fore noon or the locals might eat all the darn meat.
“Well what can I do for you Joe?” Charlie asked.
“I need a lawyer,” he said.
“Well OK, what for?” Charlie prodded Joe.
Joe reached into his pocket and pulled out an envelope that con-
tained about three sheets of paper. He was around five foot seven inches
and weighed a scant 130 pounds at best. Joe was probably getting on to-
ward fifty years of age. He was trying to picture Cheryl and Joe together
as they seemed like a real odd couple.
“I inherited my daddy’s ranch in Mullin about three years ago.
Now I don’t live there mind you, but it’s around 1,100 acres and it’s
prime hunting ground. So I found some guys from Dallas who wanted to
lease it out for hunting you see.”
Joe was rambling. Charlie’s stomach was growling as he
thought about the tacos. “Yes, ok” he muttered also nodding his head.
“You see these guys are willing to build a hunting cabin and
pay me some money. They say I can have the cabin as my own as long as
they can hunt several weeks a year. There is a lot of dear and birds on
Charlie only had two things on his mind, the money and food.
And food was beginning to take over.
“OK,” Charlie said patiently.
“They wanted to dig a water well for the place before they decided
where to build. So they hired a company out of Abilene to come in and
dig the well.”
“Are you hungry? I mean I’m sorry to interrupt.” Charlie said.
“No,” said Joe.
“Oh Ok, sorry. Go ahead and finish your story,” Charlie said
realizing that if the taco’s were gone he might not eat until dinner.
“Well this company from Abilene came out to dig the well. It
was kind of odd because they first dug on the south side of my property.
They went down about two thousand three hundred feet and hit salt
“Salt water?” Charlie asked. “I thought everything over there
was fresh water.”
“That was the strange thing about it. Usually people would
only dig about a thousand feet to get water. I know because my neighbor
to the east just dug a new well and he got fresh water at about a thou-
sand feet. Well they went to the other side of my property and dug an-
other well. This time they went down around a thousand feet and got
“Ok, that makes sense,” Charlie said wondering where this was
“Well anyway about a week later a man came out to my house
and said he worked for Stephens Oil, over there in Abilene. They said
they wanted to lease the acreage to do some drilling. That’s what these
Joe handed them to Charlie and he looked at them a moment.
They were standard lease documents, a little one sided for his taste, but
that would be normal. What was surprising to Charlie was the amount.
“They’re offering you two hundred thousand for the mineral rights?”
“Yes.” Joe nodded his head. “That’s why I’m here. I could really
use that money, but I want to make sure they aren’t getting title to my
land as it’s worth more than that. Plus I promised my daddy that I
would never sell it. He wants it to stay in the family.”
“No this is not a contract to sell the land, but it is a contract for
you to lease the mineral rights. It’s pretty standard stuff really, but it
needs a few modifications. Plus I think I can get you a better deal on the
royalties,” Charlie said.
Joe’s face lit up as Charlie spoke. “So I get to keep my land and
use it for whatever I want, and still get to keep the money?”
“That’s right,” said Charlie. “You can even sell the hunting
rights to those guys in Dallas if you want.”
“Oh, well they backed out,” said Joe. “I don’t know what
happened to them. They paid a lot of money digging those wells and
then decided not to do the deal. The hunting lease was only twenty thou-
sand for five years,” said Joe.
“That’s odd,” said Charlie. “Those wells would have cost five
times that amount of money. When does Stephens want you to sign?”
“I’m supposed to go to Abilene tomorrow night to close the
deal,” said Joe. “I’d like you to go with me, but I need to know how
much you charge for something like this?”
“My standard fee on a deal like this would be two percent of
the total transaction. I’ll get them to pay the fee. You and I will sign a
contract for representation and then I will get them to agree to pay for
closing costs as part of the deal. Plus I will fight to get you another five
percent in royalties. You never know, they may strike oil, and then you’ll
make quite a bit more money.”
“I’m not going to hold my breath, not much oil has ever been
found in San Saba County,” said Joe. “All we have over there is water
“Well in any case, they want this land for something. Why don’t
you stop by here tomorrow before you go up there. I’ll have papers for
you to sign, and then we’ll go up together if need be. It’s quite possible
we can get this done without making a trip to Abilene. By that time I will
have spoken to their attorney. That’ll give us time to fix up these terms
before you sign the documents.”
“That’s all there is to it?” asked Joe.
“Well pretty much,” said Charlie. “I’m a little confused about
“What’s that?” asked Joe.
“You’re sure that there are no producing wells near you?”
asked Charlie. “Plus it says here that you are the only rights holder. Is
that true? Did your daddy never lease that land to anyone?”
“No it’s virgin land, and it’s been in my family since 1930. My
daddy never let anyone drill on it, even though Stephens tried to offer
him money several times.”
“The reason I ask, is that this is a lot of money for virgin land
with no producing wells in the vicinity. Are you sure someone hasn’t
done some drilling around your acreage?”
“I would know if there was. I’m telling you, all we have up
there is water and granite,” said Joe.
“That’s odd,” Charlie paused. “I’ve seen a few of these leases
over the years. Especially the ones done by Stephens, and this is double
what they normally pay. That’s good for you, but people like that,”
Charlie paused. “Well they didn’t get rich by overpaying for leases.”
The two men looked at each other and then Charlie kind of
laughed. “What am I thinking? Take the money and laugh all the way to
Joe also laughed. “I could really use the money for my cousin.
He has cancer and no insurance. I would like to help him if I could. He
needs radiation and it is going to cost twenty thousand or so. I was going
to use the hunting money for that, and then this came along. My cousin
says it’s a gift from God, because I’m doing a good thing and all. I’m still
pinching myself actually.”
“Well, that’s great Joe. Leave the details to me and I’ll see you
They shook hands and Joe walked out and talked to Cheryl be-
fore he left the office. Cheryl walked in and noticed Charlie was just get-
ting off of the phone.
“Did you tell Alice Collins you would lend her five hundred
“Did she tell you I did?” asked Charlie.
“Yes she showed up here while you were talking to Joe.”
“Did you give her the money?” Charlie asked without looking
up from his notepad.
“Hell no. Not without asking you first. I told her I’d mail it once
I spoke with you,” she said proudly.
“So mail it,” he said.
“Sucker!” she said walking out of the office.
Charlie smiled as she said the words. “Hey Cheryl, you better
keep this guy. He actually has a heart.”
The mineral lease had been prepared by the outside counsel for Stephens
Oil. The lawyer who had prepared it was from one of the blue blood
firms that had been around Abilene for many years. The firm of Black
and Buck only represented the wealthy of Abilene. Their clients paid a
pretty penny for their services, but always got their moneys worth.
Charlie put the call into the associate that had prepared the lease and to
his surprise he was able to reach her directly. He had never dealt with
this particular lawyer on any legal matters in the past, so he got right
down to business.
“This is Charlie Wade out of Coleman, and I represent Mr.
Joseph Rollins of Mullin, Texas.”
“Hello Mr. Wade, I don’t believe we have met. I‘m Christine
Winters. I was unaware that Mr. Rollins had retained counsel.”
“He just left my office a little bit ago. I have a few questions on
this lease. Do you have time to talk about this?” Charlie asked expecting
that she would put him off.
“Well this isn’t really a good time, what kind of questions do
“Form issues mostly, but possibly a few contractual points,”
Charlie said prodding the other lawyer.
“It’s kind of late to be raising contractual issues as Mr. Rollins
has already agreed to everything. What form issues do you have?”
“It’ll be easier if I have my assistant scan the changes and let
you look at these separately. Then you can call me when you have time.
However we are up against a deadline as they wish to sign this tomor-
row. Plus it looks like the assignments are incorrect and you will want
to get them right. Your client is paying a lot of money for this lease,”
Charlie said trying to throw a dig or two in.
“I’ll look for the alterations Mr. Wade,” she said and abruptly
ended the call.
A little witch
, he said to himself. Charlie had a little game he
played with himself when he met someone new over the phone. He
always tried to guess their age. Well Christine Winters, I guess you are
thirty years old
. As he said it he wrote it in small numbers on the back of
the form. Next to the number he doodled the stick figure of a
. As he was finishing his artistic endeavors, Cheryl walked into his
“Do you have some documents for me to send over to Black
“How did you know?” asked Charlie.
“They just called and said you had some documents to fax over
and they gave me a phone number.”
“I just talked to her five minutes ago.”
“Well bring them in when you’re ready.”
“They’re right here,” he said handing her the documents. “They
go to a..”
“I know, Christine Winters. They told me.” Cheryl shrugged
her shoulders as she left his office.
, Charlie thought.
The rest of the afternoon went by quickly as Charlie had a dozen or so
active criminal cases he was working on and each one needed triple the
preparation than he had time to give them.
The same old thing, Meth,
he thought to himself. It was bowling night down in Brown-
wood and he was ready to call it a day. It would be a thirty-five minute
drive both ways, and the one home was always tough as he usually was
fighting the beer and shots he would drink during the three hours of
bowling. Of course there was always the chance he would finally score
with Anna Martinez, the nurse he had his eye on down in Brownwood.
Charlie had been subtly chasing her for weeks, but it was to no avail.
For some reason she wanted nothing to do with him, despite
the fact that he had seen her staring at him several times the past few
weeks. They even went dancing a few times as a large group, but Charlie
had been unable to seal the deal. At first he thought she might be mar-
ried, despite the absence of a ring. His inquiries had proved otherwise.
In fact she had no boyfriend or any love interests of any kind. Anna
Martinez worked at the hospital in Brownwood. She was twenty-five
years old and grew up in the area. Anna studied at a small junior college
before going to nursing school. For three years she worked the grave
yard shift at the hospital and only recently had been able to get switched
over to days.
Her family was quite large and most of them were still hanging
around Brownwood. She had six brothers and three sisters, and Anna
found herself right in the middle of the group. She was the first of the ten
children to finish college, and it was a fact that gave her great pride. But
it also made her feel somewhat disconnected from her brothers and sis-
ters. To some degree it went deeper than that. The Martinez family had
lived in Brownwood for years. Victor Martinez, Anna’s father, was born
in Brownwood. He had twelve brothers and sisters, all of whom lived
around the area. Anna’s mother, Lupe, was also born in Brownwood.
Her maiden name was Morales, and she had seven brothers and sisters.
Brownwood had a population of 30,000 people and to Anna Martinez it
seemed as if they were Mexican they were a relative of some sort.
She had met Charlie Wade and had conducted her own mini-in-
vestigation. When she heard he was a lawyer, Anna decided to stay
clear. She had a brother and a cousin in prison, and there had been so
many brushes with the law for members of her family that she didn’t
want to deal with explanations. For the most part her family lived good
productive lives, but there was always a fair amount of drama.
Anna was a very pretty girl as were her sisters. Her brothers of-
ten kidded Anna about her chunky body. The fact was, she was just a
solidly built woman and not skinny like a model. That was a trait that
ran in her family, and was noticeable in most of the women.
Anna bowled on a team with several of her friends, and a couple of her
cousins. It was her first year in the league and she had to admit it was
fun. Everyone drank and got a little crazy, and then they would head out
to a local watering hole and continue the party after they finished bowl-
ing. There was always a large group, and to Anna there was safety in
numbers. She had almost skipped the after bowling party, but her cousin
talked her into going. Charlie was watching her from across the bar as he
and his buddies had taken up residence near the pool tables.
The restrooms were closer to where Charlie was sitting, and
Anna had put it off as long as she could, but the beers were winning.
When she came out of the restroom there was Charlie, waiting.
“You are avoiding me.”
Anna, being caught off guard decided to stop and talk for a mo-
ment. “No I’m not.”
“You are prejudiced aren’t you?” asked Charlie.
“What?” she was surprised by the question.
“You know what I’m talking about, you don’t like good looking
white guys,” Charlie said, then wishing right away that he hadn’t.
“You’re a little full of yourself aren’t you?” she asked smiling.
“Actually I‘m kind of out of lines. So how do I get to know you
a little better?”
“Honesty, well that is a new quality,” she said. Anna had to ad-
mit that she kind of liked it.
“Can I be honest with you?” she asked.
“Do you dare?” he asked.
“That’s what I’m wondering.” Anna answered.
“You must be kidding, Anna. Half my day is spent representing
criminals, and those are the ones who aren’t in jail. The other half of my
day is spent trying to get honest people out of jail. I sit and worry all the
time that people will judge me. Most of the time, I hesitate to tell people
what I do. You’re a nurse. Taking care of people is the most honorable
thing you can do. What could you possibly tell me that would be negat-
ive other than, like most people, you detest lawyers?”
Charlie was a little surprised at how well he had delivered that line.
Then he realized something. It wasn’t a line at all, it was the truth.
Anna was a little taken back by Charlie’s comments. He was ac-
tually worried about what she would think of him.
Talk about turn about
she thought to herself. For the rest of the night she and Charlie talked.
What she found out was that he had represented two of her cousins in
Coleman and had actually helped one of them get a job. The fact that her
family was large and crazy, only interested him more as he was an only
child with very little family. Something else happened. Anna Martinez
became someone he wanted to know and not someone he wanted to
score. That was a first since Tina, and a feeling he kind of liked. Needless
to say, Charlie drove the thirty miles back to Coleman alone, but in high
Charlie fell dead to sleep the moment he hit the bed. When he woke, it
was to the sound of Cheryl yelling up at him.
“You got court in 30 minutes.”
Charlie looked at his watch and was a little surprised that he
had slept in so late. Court was actually in 45 minutes, at nine. He jumped
in the shower and then quickly put himself together. The closet was get-
ting a little grim as far as clean clothes were concerned. Charlie threw on
some khakis that looked decent, and a blue cotton dress shirt. He quickly
ran a brush through his short hair and made his way down the steps.
The coffee pot was empty, and that was the first bit of bad
“No coffee?” he asked Cheryl.
“We’re out,” she quickly answered.
“Well grab some petty cash and get some today,” Charlie said
as he walked over to his office.
“We’re out of cash,” she answered just as quickly again.
“Well you know what to do, go ahead and write a check…,” he
started to sit down at his desk. The check was already written and wait-
ing for his signature. Along side the check were the completed contracts
with changes for Joe Rollins. “When did these contracts get here?”
“They were in my email this morning,” Cheryl said. “They
made all the changes you requested and even bumped the royalty pay-
ment. That attorney also said they would have a check cut for closing
costs, which would include your fees when you arrived at the closing
“That bump in royalties should make your boyfriend happy,”
“Ain’t no oil over there anyway,” she countered and went on
about her work.
“Everybody keeps saying that,” Charlie mumbled as he
grabbed his briefcase.
“Has Jesse been in to sign those contracts?”
“Got here late last night after you left. Wants to know when he
might see that money.”
“Why don’t you run those contracts over to Brownwood,”
Charlie said. “I’m sure we’ll get that money today or tomorrow. “Give
them my wire information.”
“You better get going,” Cheryl pushed. “You don’t want to
keep Judge Hardin waiting.”
Charlie made his way to the courthouse not stopping to talk to
anyone. That was hard for him as it was a beautiful late winter day and
people were out and about. Judge Hardin was going to hear arguments
this morning on another tort case Charlie was involved with. His client
was suing the local grocery store for a slip fall accident that had occurred
about a year back. Normally Charlie would have represented the store
owner, but it had been bought by a larger chain store and they were us-
ing counsel out of Abilene.
The case should have been open and shut as the fall was cap-
tured on the store video surveillance system. His client Paul Rodriguez
slipped on some water that had been left by a sloppy cleaning person
only moments earlier. He landed clearly on his back and smacked his
head hard on the old tile floor. The main medical bills were paid by the
company, but Paul was asking for five hundred thousand due to loss of
work, pain and suffering. They could have asked for a heck of a lot more,
but his client was self-employed and there were some questions regard-
ing his legal status. If it had been anyone else in town, the company
would have settled for a hundred thousand and everyone would have
gone home happy. The company was holding out on an offer, and
Charlie had no idea why. Now they were arguing a silly motion over
some evidence and deposition testimony. The outcome of the motion
meant very little to the case, but as a lawyer you argued every point to
The firm from Abilene sent down two lawyers in suits to argue
in front of Judge Hardin. Charlie showed up in his khakis and dress
shirt. One of the opposing lawyers snickered as Charlie entered the
“They’d throw you out of court in Abilene if you showed up
like that counselor,” the other lawyer said to Charlie.
“Judge Hardin might throw you out for wearing a suit,” he
The Judge entered the courtroom in a pair of jeans and a white
denim snapped shirt. He took notice of the two lawyers from Abilene
and kind of rolled his eyes.
“Gentlemen, I trust you have briefs prepared?” the Judge
“Yes Your Honor,” they all said in unison and one of the law-
yers from Abilene practically raced up to hand the papers to the clerk.
Charlie walked his over and handed it to Dora, who had been Judge
Hardin’s clerk for about ten years. She and Charlie had attended high
school together and at one time been an item. She was now married with
two kids. He winked at her as he approached. She gave him a little smile
but tried not to be obvious.
“This is the defendant’s motion, so counselors please proceed,”
the Judge said as he leaned back in his leather chair.
For ten minutes the lawyers went on and on about the motion,
sighting three different cases that they believed made their point. Finally
the judge cut them off.
“OK, I see your point,” said the Judge. “Charlie do you have
anything to add?”
The Abilene lawyers were taken a back by the Judge’s demean-
or but did like the fact that he said that he saw their point. Charlie stood
up and addressed the Judge.
“This is a simple point of law Your Honor. As my brief says, the
testimony was obtained through a perfectly legal deposition. Counsel
was notified of the deposition in advance and elected not to attend, and
they were provided a record of the testimony. The witness was sworn in
under oath. That’s all I have to say on this matter.”
“Yes, Ok thank you Charlie,” said the Judge.
“I believe I am going to disallow the motion to suppress this de-
position testimony gentlemen. While the location is a bit odd, everything
appears to have been done in accordance with State Law.”
“I object Your Honor,” said the lead lawyer. “I think you should
take some time to think about this. At least read our briefs.”
“You object?” asked the Judge as he started to laugh. “We aren’t
in trial son.”
“Your Honor our motion to suppress is backed by a solid legal
argument. Your denial of our motion would not hold up in Appeals
“Counselor let me tell you something,” Judge Hardin began.
Charlie had heard this before. “You can appeal all the way up if you
choose. This motion of yours is a waste of this court’s time. I have this
case because Judge Horton, God rest his soul, died, and it was trans-
ferred to me. Now you know, and Mr. Wade knows that this motion is
just a tactic to draw this thing out so that your client can get a smaller
settlement. Not to speak of the fact that you get to charge your client
The Judge looked over at his clerk. “Dora you’re excused, and
strike that last sentence from the record please.”
“Yes Your Honor.” Dora picked up her recorder and left the
courtroom. Upon leaving she glanced over at Charlie.
“Now where were we? Charlie here has a video provided by
your client that clearly shows his client slipping and falling on a wet
floor. Now anyone will tell you that I am not one to make millionaires in
my courtroom. However I am not one to take kindly to lawyers coming
down here to Coleman County to play games with the law. My advice to
you boys is that you head over to Floreens and have some breakfast, and
see if you can work this out, because I am kind of tired of seeing this on
The Judge got up and walked out. Charlie looked over at the
lawyers and shrugged his shoulders.
“Floreens is right around the corner,” he said. “We’ll be in
touch counselor,” said the lead lawyer as he packed his briefcase.
“That’s fine, but I am a little tired of this being on my calendar,
and Mr. Rodriguez could use the money. Against my better judgment, I
am offering to settle this case for two hundred and fifty thousand. If you
don’t take the settlement, then I will file a motion for summary judg-
ment. After today I kind of like my chances,” Charlie added with a smile.
“Your client Mr. Wade is an illegal alien who has no real standing in
this court. If we were in Abilene, I could get a judge to throw this out.”
“You’re not in Abilene boys, and Mr. Rodriguez’s status is not
in question here. Pay him the money and let’s move on,” Charlie said as
he stood up to leave. “I’m giving you two days to get with me. Then we
go back to the Judge.”
The lawyers grabbed their bags and headed out of the
courtroom. Charlie made a bee-line over to Judge Hardin’s chambers.
“How did it go?” asked the Judge.
“We’ll see,” Charlie said.
“You know I can’t grant you summary judgment on this thing.
If you don’t settle we’ll have to go to trial and you’ll have to allow them
to present a defense.” The Judge leaned back after saying the words.
“I know Judge, but Rodriguez needs the money, and I’d like to
get it for him.”
“Wouldn’t hurt your pocket book none either,” said the Judge.
“Let’s go get some breakfast over at Floreens. I’m hungry.”
The little cafe was filled with the regular assortment of people. Floreen
was back in the kitchen helping and one of her nieces was taking orders.
The Judge ordered his usual eggs over easy with sausage and Charlie
ordered the flapjacks.
“Judge, have you ever heard of anyone hitting oil down around
Charlie new the Judge was a second generation oil man, and
would talk all day on the subject if you let him.
“Mullin?” the Judge asked.
“Yeah Mullin,” Charlie said.
The Judge kind of sat there a moment and rubbed his chin. “I
can’t remember anyone, but I don’t follow it much down there. Why do
“Oh nothing really, I just got a client who is selling a mineral
lease down there,” Charlie said as he poured some cream into his coffee.
“There ain’t no oil down there, just a bunch of hard rock and
water,” the Judge volunteered.
“I know that’s what everybody tells me,” Charlie said kind of
“How many acres your friend have?” asked the Judge.
“Eleven hundred acres. He says its good hunting ground.”
“Probably is,” said the Judge. “If you don’t mind me asking,
what is land bringing these days? It’s been a while since I bought any
“Lot more than I thought Judge, close to two hundred an acre
for the minerals. Three years and held by production.”
The Judge rolled his eyes at the thought. “Who the heck would
pay that much money for wildcat land?”
“The devil,” Charlie said.
The Judge shook his head. “You know about a month ago,
young Stephens came over and offered me a hundred thousand for my
well and acreage just over by Talpa. You know that damn well will make
five barrels a day and there are four or five good drilling locations on
that lease. I told that pompous little SOB it wasn’t enough money.”
Charlie shook his head as the judge spoke. “No-one has hit anything
over there near Mullin, and he is going to give you that kind of money?”
asked the Judge.
“Something doesn’t add up,” Charlie said.
“You darn right it doesn’t,” said the Judge.
“By the way, I think I settled that Molina case over in
“About damn time,” the Judge said.
“What’d you get?”
“They offered him a million eight.”
“Christ that’s a good offer.”
“I know, and Jesse’s already accepted.”
“Well hell boy, you hit the jackpot this week. You’re buying
breakfast this morning.”
“Sounds good,” Charlie smiled.
Then the Judge got serious. “You know, it’s good that you
“Why?” Charlie asked. “I mean I think I could have won this
thing in court easy.
“Maybe. But even if you won in court, they’d just appeal and
hold you up. The Supreme Court is starting to overturn some of these
large plaintiff’s verdicts. I’m surprised they offered, even with your case.
Hell they might have tried it and lost getting a jury to award your client
a huge amount of money, and then held the whole thing up on appeal.
No you did the right thing to take the money.”
Cheryl was pacing the office waiting for Charlie to get back. He could
see the worry on her face when he walked in the door.
“You left without your phone again,” she said.
“I’m sorry, what’s wrong?” Charlie asked as he came in the
“Alice Collins just called. Gentry disappeared last night and no
one knows where he’s at. Supposed to give himself up tonight at five.”
“Crap, just what I need right now,” Charlie said. “Give Ogilvy a
Ogilvy Carter was a reformed Meth addict and kind of jack of
all trades around Coleman. He worked with several of the churches
around town to help reform Meth addicts, and he would know all of the
“He’s on the phone,” said Cheryl.
“Ogilvy!” Charlie blurted out his name as he picked up the
“Hey Charlie. What’s up in the legal world today?”
“You know Gentry Collins?” he asked.
“Of course,” said Ogilvy.
“Well I think he’s trying to get his last smoke in until he goes
off to the program out at the farm. You still know the spots?”
“I know a few,” he said.
“Do you have some time to help me? If Gentry’s even a second
late turning himself in today, it will go rough for him.”
“Let me make a couple of calls and get right back to you,”
“Thanks,” said Charlie.
About ten minutes later Ogilvy called back. He had found
Gentry over at one of the area flop houses.
Evidently Gentry was pretty high. Fortunately he was out of money so
it would be just a matter of time for him to come off of the Meth. Ogilvy
said he would give him a couple of hours to calm down, and then he
would go get him. Cheryl called Alice to give her the news. It seemed as
if Alice wasn’t totally with it either, and might also be high. Ogilvy
agreed to bring Gentry over to the office, and Charlie would let him
crash on the couch until he had to turn himself in.
At two o’clock the lawyers from Brett and Stone called to respond to
Charlie’s offer to settle. To avoid a costly lawsuit that they knew they
could win, their client had authorized them to offer the Rodriguez’s
seventy-five thousand. That was an insult in Charlie’s mind, but he told
them he would contact his client and present the offer. What he feared
most was that the Rodriguez’s might be so inclined to take it. Charlie
would’ve settled for a hundred thousand a year ago, but they had
pushed him in and out of court for the past year and flooded him with
requests for documents and frivolous motions. He had taken the case on
a contingency, and would get paid a third plus another five grand for ex-
penses. After his strong statement in the courtroom he felt it might be a
good idea to actually prepare the summary judgment motion and then
try and negotiate the deal prior to the Judge’s ruling. He knew Judge
Hardin wouldn’t rule in his favor, but after oral arguments on the mo-
tion, the Judge might put the fear of God into the lawyers and that might
push the settlement higher.
, he thought to
Somehow he needed to hold Rodriguez off a few days
“The court sent over payment for Brooks, Hernandez, and
Collins this morning,” Cheryl said as she made the deposit. “All total
“Where is that Cooper check?” he asked Cheryl.
“You’ll have to personally go out and get that money from
those people. That’s just the way they are. You go out there and they’ll
pay you on the spot. Otherwise you’ll never see it. Your daddy had the
same problem,” Cheryl said as she was finishing up the deposit.
“I don’t want to go all the way out there, it’ll take a whole day,”
“By the way, your little Chiquita called,” Cheryl grumbled in
her own amusing way.
“What’re you talking about?” he asked.
“Anna. Isn’t she your little woman now?”
Charlie was a little flustered at the question and didn’t answer.
“She’s a friend, what did she want?”
“Said to call her later after work.”
“Call over to Brownwood and find out where we are on that
Molina wire. I’m sure he’ll be calling.”
“Like you’re not interested also,” Cheryl said. “Don’t forget
who got you that case.”
“How did we get that?” Charlie asked mockingly just to piss
“You know my pastor told the Molina family about you.”
Charlie knew what that meant. He had intended to give Cheryl
a bonus once the money arrived, but it wasn’t even in his account yet,
and she was already angling.
Gentry had been sleeping about an hour and was starting to stir a little.
Joe Rollins had arrived and was also sitting in Charlie’s office. Gentry
rolled over on the couch and opened his eyes.
“Hey Joe,” he said.
“Hello Gentry,” Joe said as if he had known him all his life.
“You two know each other?” asked Charlie.
“Sure,” said Gentry. “Joe’s ranch over in Mullin is right down
the road from my daddy’s old place.”
“Who owns your daddy’s old place?” asked Charlie.
“That SOB Jack Stephens bought it a few years back,” said
“The old man bought it?” asked Joe.
“No the kid,” Gentry said as he rubbed his forehead.
“What did he want it for?” asked Charlie.
“I don’t know, but he drilled three or four wells on the property
and then decided to lease it out to hunters. He never did get any oil.”
Gentry got up and walked over to the water cooler. He was a sight in his
dirty jeans and hooded sweatshirt.
“Ogilvy is here to take Gentry to the courthouse,” Cheryl said
as she noticed Charlie was talking to Gentry.
Gentry stood up and started to walk out of Charlie’s office.
Charlie kind of muttered his thoughts aloud for all to hear.
“Why would anyone want to lease oil rights over there?”
Gentry heard the remark and turned around. “Edgar Cayce of
“What did you say?” asked Charlie.
“Edgar Cayce, you know the Great American Prophet.” Gentry
rolled his eyes and left the office with Ogilvy.
“What am I doing listening to a drug addict?” Charlie asked Joe
after Gentry had left.
Joe laughed at the comment and the two of them focused back
in on the documents that were to be signed in just an hour or so.
Ogilvy walked Gentry down toward the Courthouse. The wind was a
little out of the North and it felt like some cooler weather was heading
there way. Ogilvy couldn’t help but notice the pickup truck parked
down the road from Charlie’s office. The man inside was just sitting in
the truck, but seemed intent on something. That by itself was nothing
out of the ordinary, but he had seen that truck in pretty much the same
place the day before.
“Come on,” he said to Gentry as he crossed the street. The path
he was on would take them right past that truck. Ogilvy was a naturally
curious type and was generally suspicious of strangers. When they
walked past the blue pickup, he saw what he was looking for. The man
in the car was looking down the street right at Charlie’s office, and he
had an earpiece with a cord attached to some device. Ogilvy tried to be
subtle as he and Gentry walked past. The plates on the truck were from
Taylor County, and the guy was probably from Abilene.
“You ever hear of Edgar Cayce?” Gentry asked Ogilvy.
He looked over at Gentry as if he hadn’t heard the question. His
eyes were still focused on the truck and the man in it.
“No,” Ogilvy answered the question all the while focusing on
“That’s why they want those properties. It’s all about those
“What predictions,” Ogilvy asked knowing that while Gentry
was a drug addict, he was not an idiot.
“My daddy told me about it years ago. Told me never to sell
that land we had, as it had oil on it. He said all the land had oil on it, just
under the granite.”
“Why did you sell it then?” asked Ogilvy.
“We needed the money and all. Besides it’s just scrub land any-
way. You can’t grow anything on it, and frankly with the baby and all, I
couldn’t afford the taxes.”
“You keep bringing up Cayce. Who’s Cayce?”
“It’s Edgar Cayce and he was a prophet. Back in the 1920’s he
told people while he was in a trance, that there was huge amounts of oil
in San Saba County.”
“Yeah a prophet. He used to go into a trance, and then people
would ask him questions. Somehow he had this psychic power to know
the answers. According to my daddy, Edgar Cayce predicted all kinds of
things. But they never found the oil he said was out there. I think Edgar
Cayce practically went broke looking for it.”
The deputy signed Gentry in and Ogilvy’s duties were officially
over. He walked back toward Charlie’s office and noticed the truck was
still parked about a block away. He was sure that the guy was watching
the office, and decided to go back and let Charlie know what was
At the office, Charlie and Joe Collins were still discussing the
paperwork to lease out the mineral rights to his old ranch. Joe was in the
process of signing the lease when Ogilvy walked in. Cheryl was waiting
around to notarize the documents. Ogilvy got Charlie’s attention and
motioned toward the back door of the office. Charlie looked a little con-
fused but he and Joe followed Ogilvy out the back door into the alley be-
hind the building.
When they got outside Ogilvy led them up the alley, and then
over to a side street that put them behind the truck.
“You see that truck?” Ogilvy asked.
Charlie looked over at the old blue pickup truck sitting just up
the street and across from his office.
“Who is it?” asked Charlie.
“I don’t know, but he was there yesterday, and when we
walked past him on the way to the courthouse, I could clearly see a little
cord dangling from his ear and some sort of electronic device in the front
seat. The truck has Abilene plates. I made note of the license plate in case
you want to check him out.”
“You think he is spying on my office?”
“Well there isn’t much on this street, and he seems to be looking
right at your front door,” Ogilvy said with certainty.
“Do you think this has anything to do with my deal?” Joe
“You know Joe, the more I think about your deal, the more
things don’t add up,” Charlie answered.
“Well, I know one thing, Gentry couldn’t stop talking about this
Edgar Cayce character,” Ogilvy chimed in.
“I still don’t know what that means,” Charlie said still looking
over at the truck.
“It’s weird stuff, but none the less, he seemed to know what he
was talking about.”
“Joe do you think you can wait another day to settle this deal, I
want to check on a couple of things?”
Charlie couldn’t believe someone would bug his office. Things
just didn’t make any sense. Right now nothing made any sense. Joe
looked a little unsure and didn’t answer immediately.
Joe kind of shook his head. “I guess another day won’t hurt, but not
much longer, I don’t want this deal to go away. You know I really need
“Look let’s go back to the office, and no matter what I say, just
go along with it. We’re going to find out who’s behind this once and for
all. Plus it’ll give me an extra day to make a couple of calls and check this
thing out a little.”
Joe shook his head and then Charlie looked over at Ogilvy.
“You free for a couple of days, because I need to have you look
into a few things?” Charlie asked.
“I got a couple of things going, but I can shake loose. What do
you have in mind?”
“I want you to do a little counter-surveillance. You still have
your contact over at the sheriff’s office?”
“You bet,” Ogilvy answered. “Well let’s start with the license
plate. Then why don’t you tail this guy and see where he goes.”
Ogilvy shook his head and stayed where he was. Charlie and
Joe walked back to the office. As they walked into the building, Charlie
motioned Joe to follow him back to his office. He figured if the place was
bugged, they certainly would place one in his office. Charlie winked at
Joe and then started talking.
“I think we should tell them we want more time to shop the
lease, before you take their offer.”
Joe kind of sat there for a second and then Charlie gave him a
look and he answered back.
“Ok, whatever you say, Charlie.”
“I think we need to look into this Edgar Cayce comment that
Gentry made. Maybe I’ll go out to the farm tomorrow and visit with him
a little. Plus I know some other people who might bid on this lease. I’ll
call Stephen’s lawyer and stall them a little. Why don’t you come back
tomorrow afternoon and let’s see what we have.”
“Ok Charlie, we’ll see you tomorrow.”
Charlie got up and motioned Joe to the back alley. Cheryl stared
at the two of them as if they’d lost their minds. Once in the alley Charlie
“There is a good chance they might have bugged your place, so
be careful what you say on the phone. I’ll call you later and touch base,”
Charlie said patting Joe on the back.
“I’m nervous Charlie. It seems like they’re going to a lot of
trouble over a small little oil lease. I just don’t want to do anything to
screw this up. My brother is counting on me.”
“Don’t worry Joe, we’ll figure this out by tomorrow. Now go
back in there and take Cheryl home. I know you to have plans tonight.”
“Yes we do. I’m taking her over to my church. We always have
a community dinner on Wednesday night.”
Ten minutes later Charlie was on the phone with Christine Win-
ters and he let her know that Joe Rollins was unable to get the docu-
ments signed today and that they would get it done tomorrow. Charlie
knew that if they were bugging his office, they would also know that Joe
certainly could’ve signed the papers. Needless to say Christine Winters
wasn’t happy about the delay and let Charlie know they wouldn’t wait
As he hung up the phone, Charlie kind of smiled as he knew
this would infuriate Jack Stephens. With all of that out of the way he fo-
cused in on what had been on his mind since early afternoon. He and
Anna had made plans to have dinner in Brownwood. Plus he was now
six hundred thousand dollars richer.
Jack Stephens received two phone calls. The first one was from the
private investigator, and the second from his lawyer, Christine Winters.
For years he had been accumulating leases in and around San Saba, and
in every case he had come up empty. Now that success was within his
grasp, a young lawyer, whose father he had buried long ago was now
trying to stand in his way.
What could he possibly know of Edgar Cayce and the endless
pool of oil that lay below the granite shelf that ran through parts of San
Saba County? For eighty years, first his family had quietly searched for
the perfect entry point where the largest cache of oil ever discovered in
the State of Texas would be found.
The Stephens were wealthy, but they were not the richest fam-
ily in Abilene. There were three or four others who had also made large
fortunes in the oil patch. Their production company boasted a daily pro-
duction output exceeding two thousand barrels of oil per day. Over the
years they had accumulated thousands of acres of prime producing land
throughout West Texas. Despite all of their successes and the millions of
dollars they had in their bank accounts, the Stephens were not satisfied.
It all started back in 1922 when Edgar Cayce, then known as the
greatest American prophet, traveled to Texas to provide advice to a busi-
nessman by the name of J.D. Thrash. He was an investor in the fabled
Sam Davis Oil Company and at the time, the company was struggling
and the investors were faced with the possibility of losing all of their
Edgar Cayce while in a hypnotic trance, described to the foot,
where oil could be found in one of the abandoned test wells owned by
the company. After hearing the advice of Cayce, the company re-entered
the well, and to the foot where Cayce had predicted, oil was found. Later
he made several other predictions on other leases owned by the com-
pany, and in each case, oil was found.
Cayce spent the next couple of years traveling the oil patch of
Texas and on one occasion he gave a reading at the home of John
Stevens, Jack’s Grandfather.
Jack Stevens opened his desk drawer and pulled out the old
leather-bound diary. The page was carefully marked with a yellow string
and he opened to the usual spot. The pages were yellowed with age, but
the handwriting was still very clear.
September 22, 1922
The great prophet Edgar Cayce dined with us this evening. It was a
wonderful time and the conversation touched on all of the marvelous journeys
Mr. Cayce had taken. At the urging of all of the guests Mr. Cayce agreed to give
a reading. His assistant, sat by his side as Mr. Cayce drifted off to sleep while ly-
ing on his back. His eyes fluttered, and then he began to mumble. His assistant
asked him a list of questions that had been written on a piece of paper after
Cayce had drifted off to sleep. One of the questions concerned the whereabouts of
the largest pool of oil in the State of Texas. I wrote down his answer in the exact
way in which he said it;
“This is in San Saba, in the vicinity of Rocky Pasture. There is produced in
the vicinity of the Rocky Pasture that trap, which may be really called the Moth-
er Pool, or that which has been and is the accumulation of ages, produced by this
uplift lying south of this country and vicinity. That if a 600 barrel a day well is
considered large, then this pool would be the largest ever discovered in the
State.” The well will produce 40,000 barrels a day for a long period of time.”
Every time he read it, he got a rush and now thanks to modern
seismic, he had found the Rocky Pasture and the Mother Pool of oil.
Right at that moment the phone rang. It woke him out of his trance. The
caller id told Jack Stephens that his son was calling. He reluctantly
answered the phone.
Charlie picked up Anna at the hospital and then they headed over to her
place so that she could change. Her brother had picked up her car during
the day, and performed some much needed repairs. Charlie thought she
looked sexy in her nurse’s uniform. He kept looking at her as he drove
her to her house.
“What are you looking at?”
“You,” he said. “I like the way you look in your uniform.”
She rolled her eyes.
“Why is it that men fanaticize about women in uniform, espe-
cially nurses? I mean how many X-rated movies have been made about
“Maybe a few too many.”
It took Anna twenty minutes to get ready and then they were
on their way to Rocky’s Place, a little steak house on the outskirts of
Brownwood. The place was a little busy, so they sat at the bar and
shared a drink. Anna ordered a cosmopolitan, and Charlie sucked on a
beer. Before they got a table, Anna was on her second drink, and was ob-
viously feeling more relaxed. Charlie loved the way she talked and the
way her brown eyes danced. She was different than he was, and maybe
that’s what attracted him to her. He loved the stories about her family
and all the drama they seemed to go through day after day. Anna’s skin
was a beautiful olive color and perfect in every way. She had a perfect
smile that showed a set of teeth that would’ve never needed and
The two of them wolfed down mouth-watering rib-eyes and
twice baked potatoes. They even had some room for Rocky’s peach cob-
bler which was especially good that evening.
Charlie drove Anna back to her place and for a moment as they
sat in the car, there was an awkward silence.
“I have to get up early,” Anna volunteered which kind of broke
In a way it was a relief to Charlie. However it brought him back to the
reality that he had some issues to work on with Jack Stephens.
“It’s ok,” Charlie said. “I kind of have a busy day also.”
Anna had a disappointed look on her face, as if Charlie had missed
“I didn’t mean you had to leave, just that we shouldn’t waste our time
“I’m sorry,” Charlie said. “The night has been so enjoyable, that I
nearly took my mind off of some business I have.”
“Come inside and I’ll make us some coffee and we can talk a little.”
Charlie didn’t have to be asked twice as he had really taken a liking to
Anna. For the next two hours they talked about everything. They talked
so much that neither of them remembered falling asleep on the sofa, and
they probably would’ve stayed that way all night, had it not been for
Charlie’s phone going off. The phone had kind of an irritating ring, and
it startled both of them out of their slumbers.
“Hello,” Charlie answered still not quite having gathered his senses.
“That you Charlie?”
Charlie could not make out the voice on the other end of the phone,
but it was eerily familiar.
“Yes this is Charlie Wade.”
“This is Sheriff Roland Simms.”
It all came back to him now. Charlie scowled as he now recognized the
voice on the other end of the phone.
“Yes sheriff, how can I help you?”
“Sorry to call you so late, but I thought you’d want to know.”
“Know what sheriff?”
“You have a client by the name of Gentry Collins?”
“Yes he was taken out to the farm today.”
“Well I hate to tell you this, but somehow he managed to escape.”
“Escape! How can that be? How could he have gotten out of that
Charlie was angry now and it showed in his tone with the sheriff.
“Look son, don’t you get attitude with me. I’m just the messenger
here. It’s your client who’s the drug addict.”
They both took a moment to cool off. Anna looked at Charlie wonder-
ing what was going on.
“Look we’re getting ready to call his wife, do you want to take care of
this? I mean if we can find him before morning, it’s no big deal. But he
can’t remain a fugitive for long.”
“I’m down in Brownwood, and it’ll take me forty-five minutes or so to
get over to my office.”
“It’s no rush Charlie, he’s just a drug addict. Hell you represent a
bunch of them. I don’t care if we find him or not. They’re letting the dogs
loose tonight though. If they find him, he’ll wish he never ran.”
The sheriff said this with absolutely no remorse or concern. Charlie
could hear the sarcasm dripping from the sheriff’s mouth and his first in-
clination was to knock that grin right off of the man’s face. He had done
it once and more than likely he would do it again. He looked over at
Anna and shrugged his shoulders. She knew he had to go.
He took a moment to explain to her about Gentry and then he put
himself together and started the 30 minute drive back to Coleman.
Anna seemed genuinely concerned about both Gentry’s family, and
Charlie, who seemed to be taking this pretty hard. Most women
might’ve had second thoughts, once they discovered what Charlie’s law
practice had truly become. There were a lot of Gentrys in the world, and
certainly more than their fair share around Coleman County Texas.
There was something that truly bothered Charlie. Gentry had gone to
one of the Meth houses in the area and got high, because as Ogilvy had
said, it was impossible to get the stuff into the farm. Charlie knew they
had unbeatable security out there and that they did everything they
could to keep drugs out of the place, as Meth was the number one prob-
lem facing most of the residents out at the farm. The county actually
prided itself on reforming people once they got into their program. He
could see it in Gentry’s eyes. The man wanted to quit. He was not going
Charlie looked at his watch and was surprised to see it was two
o’clock. So much for a good nights sleep he thought to himself. The high-
way was empty in front of him, but he could make out a distinct set of
headlights in his rear view mirror. It seemed as if the car had pulled out
behind him as he left Brownwood. Charlie kind of chuckled to himself as
he made light of all this cloak and dagger stuff.
He looked at his speedometer and it read seventy miles per hour and
it seemed as if the lights behind him were closing the gap. In fact as he
continued to look out his rear view mirror, the lights were coming up on
him fast. Out of instinct Charlie slowed down to let the other car pass.
There was no one on the road in front of him and so it would be easy for
the car to pass.
As the car came up on Charlie, he noticed it was a black four door
sedan, but he couldn’t get a handle on its make and model. Actually
Charlie really didn’t care as he thought it was just somebody in a big
hurry. The car pulled along side him and a window slowly opened.
There was a man who was sitting in the passenger seat and he was look-
ing directly at Charlie. His first thought was to speed up and get past the
guy, but that was futile as the car was now mirroring Charlie’s speed.
Finally the car sped up and got in front of Charlie. He was relieved un-
til he saw the gun pointed at the front end of his car. Then he saw the
flash and then the pop that his front tire made. The car spun out of con-
trol and Charlie did his best to slow down. With the front tire gone, he
quickly lost control and the car fish-tailed and then flipped off of the
road. It turned over five times before coming to rest in a ditch.
Charlie was fortunately wearing a seat-belt and other than some
bruises and cuts, would walk away relatively unscathed. As much as he
hated to do it, Charlie called the Sheriff and reported the incident. With-
in about thirty minutes there were no fewer than four police cars and an
ambulance on the sight.
The Sheriff insisted that Charlie go back to Brownwood and get
checked out. And after about an hour of questioning, the ambulance
hauled him back to Brownwood and Charlie was admitted into the
emergency room for observation. He had a horrible headache and his
shoulder had definitely been injured. There was a very noticeable gash
on his forehead, and his cheek was also showing redness as well as some
After what seemed like an eternity, the doctor finally declared him fit
enough to go home. Charlie put on his clothes and signed the necessary
release forms. He was ready to leave the hospital and get back to Cole-
man. As he was walking out of the emergency entrance doors he almost
ran into Anna as she was coming to work. The look on her face said it all,
as she could see that something dreadful had happened.
He kind of sighed and shrugged his shoulders. For the moment, he
wasn’t sure what to tell her. It was such a small town and it would only
be a matter of hours before everyone would know about it. She was
stunned when he told her that someone shot out his tire on the highway
on the way back to Coleman. Anna had a thousand questions, and
Charlie had no answers. The only good thing to come out of her seeing
him at the hospital was that Anna loaned him her car to get back to Cole-
man. Charlie promised to give her an update later in the day.
It was six in the morning and Charlie was exhausted, but there would
be no time to sleep as he had a full day ahead of him. His first stop
would be the sheriff’s office to finish answering questions about the
As he walked in the office he was surprised to see Roland Simms sit-
ting behind his desk. He didn’t look happy to see Charlie. There was a
file sitting in front of him, and something was obviously bothering him.
“How are you feeling?” the sheriff asked.
“I’ll be ok,” Charlie offered.
“You say someone shot at your front wheel?”
“That’s right sheriff. The guy passed me and then the passenger
turned and shot back at the tire.”
“Did you recognize them or the car?”
“No, I didn’t actually. And I didn’t catch the license plate either.”
“You’re lucky to be alive,” the sheriff said. “You know there was a
similar incident just outside of Barringer.”
“You think it was the same guys?” Charlie asked.
“We’re looking into it. By the way we called Gentry’s wife Alice. No
one was home. We still haven’t found him. I got half a dozen guys turn-
ing over the various flop houses. We’ll find him.”
“I can’t believe he actually escaped the place.”
“Hell it isn’t guarded that well,” Simms said. “It’s kind of an honor
farm and treatment center. We just try and keep the peace and keep the
Charlie wasn’t feeling all that good about the state of the sheriff’s in-
vestigation. It was almost as if nothing happened. He was trying to think
when the last time someone escaped out at the farm. Plus he was not
happy that Simms was taking his own shooting incident so lightly.
It was still early, and as Charlie walked back toward his office, he de-
cided to grab a bite at Floreens. Maybe some biscuits and gravy would
make him feel better.
There weren’t many people in Floreens as Charlie sat down. The typic-
al early morning crowd had gathered to eat before heading out to the oil
fields surrounding Coleman.
Charlie ordered the biscuits and gravy and some coffee. As he sat
there trying to gather his thoughts he noticed two men sitting by them-
selves off in the corner. They weren’t from Coleman because he didn’t
recognize them, and he new everyone. Charlie thought one of them
glanced over at him for a little too long.
He picked up his phone and dialed Ogilvy. Fortunately he answered
on the second ring, and was happy to hear Charlie’s voice.
“I heard about last night, you ok?”
“Yeah no worse for the wear.”
“The sheriff’s department said you had a blowout. Maybe you better
check your tires a little more often,” he said laughing.
“What the heck are you talking about? I didn’t have a blowout.
Someone shot my tires out.”
“What do you mean, Charlie?” Ogilvy was surprised.
“I mean that on the road between Brownwood and Coleman last night
at two o’clock, somebody trailed me out of Brownwood and then used a
gun and shot my front tire out.”
“My God Charlie, who was it?”
“I have no idea, but the sheriff is treating this like it was a nightly
The waitress brought Charlie’s food and he noticed the two men who
were eating in the rear of the restaurant were getting up to leave. As they
were walking out the door the same one looked back at Charlie. He kind
of flashed a smirk at him as if he knew something. Charlie was staring at
the guy and not listening to Ogilvy.
“Did you hear me Charlie?”
“What?” Charlie asked.
“About the guy in the pickup,” Ogilvy repeated.
“What about him?”
“He’s staying at the Western. His name is Chandler and I checked him
“What did you find out?” he had Charlie’s attention.
“He has his own PI business in Abilene. That’s all I know. There are
some guys I know who might know of him. I have some calls out. I
might know something more later.”
“I need you to do something else for me.”
“A couple of things. I need to know who got shot at in Barringer last
night. The sheriff said that another person was shot at last night.”
“Ok what else?” Ogilvy asked.
“They’re saying that Gentry escaped from the farm last night. How
can that happen?”
“I don’t believe it either,” Ogilvy said.
“Who do you know out there that you can trust?”
“There may be one guy I can talk to out there. You know, that is a
pretty tight bunch that run that place. They all run together. But there is
a new guy out there who is kind of a loner. You know there is someone
else out there that might know something.”
“Who?” Charlie asked.
“That girl you’re dating?”
“Yeah,” Charlie answered.
“She has a cousin that works out there. His name is Paul Morales.
They call him stubby, on account that he got part of his hand blown off a
few years ago shooting fireworks. He’s pretty tight with those guys, but
he works the night shift.”
“Find out what you can, will ya?”
“Of course,” he said. “Do you really think there is a connection
between you and Gentry? I mean look, Gentry was a drug user, and it’s
entirely possible it happened just like they said.”
“Maybe,” said Charlie. “However why did they tell you I had a
“I don’t know why, but when I went out to the farm to help look for
him last night, they told me you had an accident.”
“Wait a minute, you went out there?”
“Yeah, I went out about three in the morning. Why?”
“You went out to the farm?” Charlie furrowed his brow trying to put
the events of the night together.
“Of course I went to the farm. They called me because I was the one
who turned him in to the sheriff. That’s when I found out about your ac-
cident. No one said anything about you getting shot at.”
“Who called you?” Charlie asked Ogilvy.
“The sheriff, Roland Simms.”
“He called me also,” Charlie said and then sighed.
“Maybe you heard him wrong or something,” Ogilvy surmised.
“No, I heard him right,” Charlie said. “Keep your eyes open Ogilvy,
something stinks here.”
Charlie hung up the phone and settled in on his breakfast. He started
thinking about Gentry and what he said as he left the office.
Then he had repeated the name after Ogilvy had discovered the office
was bugged. Could he have possibly been indirectly responsible for
Gentry’s dissapearance? The thought dropped his spirits even more. In
fact, the thought that a simple oil lease could be responsible for this
much evil seemed unlikely. Yet the coincidences were beginning to pile
As Charlie left the restaurant, he could see Cheryl opening up the of-
fice down the street. The truck that had been there yesterday was gone.
, Charlie thought. By the time he had walked down
Probably sleeping in
the street and got to the office, Cheryl had coffee brewing. She took one
look at him and gasped.
“What happened to you?”
Charlie laughed at the question.
“You mean there is something that goes on around this town that you
don’t know about?”
“I heard about Gentry,” she said.
“Yeah, it’s very sad,” Charlie said.
“So what happened to you?”
“A little mishap on the highway last night. Someone thought it would
be funny to shoot out my tire while I was actually in the car traveling
seventy miles per hour. My car is totaled and frankly I’m pretty lucky
Cheryl shook her head at the notion.
“Well go up and get cleaned up. You got the Rodriguezs coming in
today. Actually this morning early. I think they’re going to take the
Charlie sighed at the thought, as he had hoped they would have the
ability to wait this out. It was not a fair settlement.
“Yeah I was afraid of that. Hey I’m gonna go shower, can you get my
cousin on the phone in about ten minutes. It’s important?”
“You go shower and I will track him down.”
It’s about as nice as Cheryl had been in a while
, Charlie thought. He
rushed upstairs to shower and change. He popped a few aspirin and
then hurriedly got ready for the business day. His shoulder still stung
from the accident, but other than that he was feeling ok. Fortunately
Cheryl had run his clothes over to the cleaners, and so he actually had
something to wear.
When he returned downstairs to the office, Ogilvy was waiting for
him. The usually calm man that Charlie was used to, looked very fidgety
“What’s wrong?” Charlie asked.
Ogilvy motioned to go outside. Even after everything that had
happened, Charlie had forgotten about the office being bugged. They
walked out to the back alley.
“Well first of all that truck is back again. Sitting right out on the street
big as day.”
“They’re bold aren’t they?”
“That’s not all,” Ogilvy said wide eyed.
“What?” Charlie asked.
“Well I called that guy I know out at the farm. Any way, we started
talking about our gardens and such, which happens to be how I know
him. Our wives belong to the same garden club and I know he loves to
spend time on his. To make a long story short, I asked him about Gentry.
I mean why not, the guy works out there.”
“Yeah, so what did he say?”
“That’s the crazy thing. He said he didn’t know anything about it.
Spoke right up without hesitation. He also said something else that was
“What?” Charlie was curious.
“He was out there until seven o’clock last night. Gentry wasn’t on the
bus with the other prisoners.”
“What! I mean are you sure?” asked Charlie.
“I couldn’t believe it myself. Gentry wasn’t on the bus that left
at five o’clock.”
“There must be some reasonable explanation for this,” Charlie
said trying to think of one.
“I called over to my buddy in the Sheriff’s Department. You
know to follow up on the other shooting like you asked.”
“Right,” Charlie said.
“Well, he said that there was no other shooting last night. He
also said that they’re pursuing your case as if you made the whole thing
“What?” Charlie said now getting angry.
“That’s right. Roland Simms has somebody looking into this
right now. They impounded your car and are looking for evidence.”
“Evidence of what?” asked Charlie.
“They said you might have hit another car or even a person and
are trying to cover the whole thing up. He has people out there right
now looking around the area for a body.”
“You gotta be kidding me?” Charlie was fuming. “I have a
mind to go down there right now and have it out with Simms. I’m sick of
“Maybe instead of doing that, you might want to think about
who’s pulling his strings.”
Charlie sat there for a moment and then it hit him.
“You think Stephens is controlling all of this?”
“Well, I know you and Roland Simms have some bad history,
but he’s never gone out of his way to make your life miserable. So why
“I don’t know, but I can’t believe it is over this lease.”
At that moment Cheryl yelled out to them from inside the of-
fice. His cousin was on the phone. Charlie raced back to his office and
took the call.
“Hey Cuz, how you doing,” Charlie asked.
“I’d be doing a lot better if I could keep some decent help.
When are you going to get some more guys?”
“Well I thought I had one for you yesterday, but he didn’t work
out so well. It’s a long story.”
“You know I can always use them,” his cousin said. “So what’s
up this morning?”
“I got a situation. This client of mine has some land over near
Mullen. Any way Jack Stephens is trying to lease out the acreage.”
“Over near Mullen?” his cousin asked.
“Yeah Mullen. He’s got eleven hundred acres and is looking to
get two hundred grand from the old man.”
“That’s crazy,” his cousin snapped. “No one is paying that kind
of money for acreage, not even if they have good seismic.”
At that moment Charlie remembered his office was bugged and
asked his cousin if he could call him right back. Charlie walked outside
and pulled out his cell phone. For the next hour they talked about the
deal. The more they talked the more his cousin thought there was
something strange going on. Then Charlie remembered about the water
wells. That’s when his cousin went crazy.
“Water wells. You get water out there at a hundred feet. Every-
one knows that. They drilled a well out there. They drilled an explorat-
ory well out there.”
“Are you kidding me?” Charlie asked. “That’s ballsy of them.”
“Well why not. It’s crazy but it’s been done before, and by Jack
Stephens himself. What better way to see if you want to lease some land,
then by drilling an exploratory well.”
“Are you talking about the old man?” Charlie asked.
“No the kid did it. Jack the III,” Marty said.
“I can’t believe this,” Charlie said.
“I bet he hired a wire line logger to come in there and log that
“What’s that mean,” Charlie asked showing his ignorance of the
“Well it’s a procedure that drillers use to see the different zones
they encounter after they reach depth. It tells them with some certainty
whether or not they have hydro-carbons.”
“Wouldn’t they need a permit to do this?” Charlie asked.
“I’m sure they had a permit to dig the water well, and as long
as they don’t try to produce oil out of it, then no harm no foul. However,
your client can certainly re-permit the well for production if there was oil
or gas there. That being said, if they got the mineral lease, then Stephens
could re-permit the well for hydro-carbons himself. It sounds fishy to
“Do you have time to look at it, if I can get you on that
“You know I’m just curious enough to do that. The problem is
I’m busy as heck right now. I’d have to pull a crew off another job.”
“How much will that cost you. Heck Charlie, just my labor
costs, I mean I’ll get the revenue back the next day. I’d just pull the crew
and we’d grab another well service unit from my yard. It’s a three man
crew, so ten hours at twenty per hour.”
“That’s about six hundred bucks. I think it’s worth it,” Charlie
“I need to know pretty quick as we were getting ready to head
out on a job.”
“I’ll call you back in ten minutes.”
Within ten minutes Cheryl was able to get a hold of Joe Rollins
and he agreed to let them come out and inspect the wells that had been
drilled on his place. Charlie was going to meet them out there as well.
His first order of business was to handle the Rodriquez family. They
were waiting in his office.
Half way embarrassed that he had left them waiting for so long
and the fact he was out talking in the alley, Charlie did his best to appear
as if he was focused in on the Rodriguez’s case and that everything was
under control. When in truth, things were a mess. His car was wrecked
and he had a large deductible, and quite possibly he was the target of
one of the most powerful and ruthless men in the area.
Other than that
things were going nicely
, Charlie thought to himself.
“They’ve offered seventy-five thousand,” Charlie stated matter
Paul Rodriguez’s wife was named Maria, but her English was
not much better than Paul’s. They decided to bring their son along so
that he could help with the communication in case things got
“How much will we get to keep if we agree to settle?” Paul
asked in pretty good English.
“About fifty thousand,” Charlie answered.
He could see that the amount of money actually excited them
and that they were ready to say yes.
“When would we get the money?” The son asked.
“Three days maybe less, it would depend upon the settlement
agreement,” Charlie said, as he was sure the grocery company would
“What do you think Mr. Wade?” asked Maria.
“I think if you could hold out another month we could get
double that amount. I haven’t even taken a deposition yet from the em-
ployee who was mopping the floor. That is set for next week. The guy no
longer works there and from what I can gather there is no love lost
between him and the company. He is ready to say that he mopped the
floor and forgot to place the precaution sign out. That’s pretty cut and
The Rodriguez’s kind of looked at each other and then at
Charlie. He could tell where it was going.
“I think we’ll take the settlement. We could really use the
money,” Paul said. “I hope you’re not upset with us Mr. Wade.”
“No don’t worry about it. I’ll tell them we are prepared to settle.
Do you mind if I take one more run at them for more money, and if it
doesn’t work, then I will settle for the seventy-five thousand?”
“How much will you ask for?” it was the son asking again.
Charlie paused for a moment and looked up at the ceiling.
“As much as I can get, maybe two hundred thousand.”
The Rodriguez’s looked surprised and bewildered.
“Do you think they would go for that?” asked the son.
“I think there is a chance they will pay more than what they’ve
offered,” Charlie said.
“Ok, but we would like to have this thing settled within the
week,” the son said.
With that the Rodriguez’s got up to leave. All of them very
thankful and humble. Charlie knew that the fifty thousand would prob-
ably go a long way into helping this family.
Charlie got on the phone and notified the lawyers from Brett
and Stone of the counter-offer. He would’ve liked to have spoken to
them in person, but neither lawyer picked up and Charlie was forced to
communicate this through their voice mail. He did his best to sound
forceful and to make them believe that this would all go badly for them
if they did not settle this right now, but the truth was the opposite. The
plaintiffs new just the kind of people they were dealing with in the
Rodriguezs. It was unlikely that they would come off of their offer very
much. Had it been a normal client with deeper pockets, those lawyers
would jump all over this settlement. The deposition would be damning
and in a court of law in front of a jury, it would be difficult to refute the
They were a long way from the courthouse on this one, and his
clients could not afford to wait for the court to declare them a winner,
even if it meant that they would see a whole lot more money. The expos-
ure was a hundred thousand in legal fees verses a verdict that could be
appealed. Even if the facts were so skewed in their favor, a jury might
not be as sympathetic and still grant a small award.
This case was about risk management all the way. In the legal
business, this was all about buying it for the fees. Their offer proved that.
Cheryl looked extremely concerned as Charlie prepared himself
to go out to the well.
“What’s wrong?” he asked her.
“There are a lot of rumors Charlie. People are saying that you
made the whole story up about the gunman shooting at you.”
She had a tear in her eye as she looked up at Charlie.
“You wouldn’t do that would you? I mean I’ve known you a
long time and I just can’t see you doing that.”
“Cheryl!” he paused. “You don’t even have to ask that question
“I’m sorry Charlie, of course not. It’s just that this is crazy.
Gentry missing up there at the farm and you getting shot at. It’s just
crazy. I’m scared.”
Charlie walked over and gave her a hug.
“It’s going to be ok. I gotta go now. You call me when those
guys from Brett and Stone call back.
Charlie looked back at her as he walked out the door. Her face
still had the same look of anxiety. There was not much he could do about
that right now.
Jack Stephens was sitting at the kitchen table enjoying a cup of coffee
and reading the paper. It was a ritual he had picked up once he hit sixty-
five. He always checked the obituaries to see who had died. Not that he
particularly cared about anyone, but some of the richer people in the
area were quite elderly and as such their fortunes would be split
amongst vulture like heirs and then his own standing might change. As
he figured it, he was the fourth richest man in the area.
Unfortunately for him, no one kicked the bucket overnight that
would elevate his social standing around Abilene. The phone rang which
kind of dragged him out of his so-called trance with the newspaper. It
was the detective with some news.
“This is Stephens,” he said with his typical tone.
“Hello sir, this is Chandler.”
“I know who it is,” he said in a condescending tone. “What do
you have for me?”
“Bad news I’m afraid.”
Stephens sighed deeply as he was getting tired of hearing bad
“It’s that Wade fella again. He and his cousin are going out to
inspect those wells on the Rollins place.”
Jack Stephens nearly jumped out of his chair when he heard the
“God Damn it!” he said emphatically. “I thought Roland was
going to hold him in jail.”
“Not yet, it looks like he might do that this afternoon. Until
then, it looks like they are going out to have a look at those wells.”
“Let me know if you hear anything else. Make sure someone is
out there watching them.”
Jack Stephens hung up the phone and slammed his fist on the
table. His next call was to Roland Simms and by the time he hung up,
Roland was motivated.
Marty Wade had just arrived and his crew was getting his rig set up.
Charlie parked Anna’s car over next to Joe Rollin’s pickup. Joe also
looked a little nervous and seeing Charlie and his bumps and bruises,
didn’t make him feel any better.
“Cheryl told me you had an accident. I’m surprised your out
and about today,” Joe said while at the same time reaching out his hand
to shake Charlie’s.
Marty also walked over to shake hands and he Charlie a long
“What’s up cuz?” Marty said looking at Charlie.
“What’re you thinking so far?” Charlie asked.
“This is just an open hole well. I can’t believe it. You see the
truck over there?”
“Yeah,” Charlie said looking over at a vehicle that looked like a
HAZMAT truck. “What is that?”
“Well I got crazy a while back and bought myself a wire line
unit, so that I can log wells.”
“What did that set you back?” Charlie asked.
“Not as much as you think. I traded one of my older pulling
units and gave a little cash for it.”
“So what will this thing tell us?”
“Well provided I don’t get it stuck in the hole, it will tell us just
how far they went down and if there are any hydro-carbons.”
Charlie smiled and nodded his head over at Joe.
It took Marty a couple of hours to get hooked up and Charlie
and Joe were starting to get a little bored. But finally they got the unit in
the hole and slowly let the wench drop it down.
The three of them were inside the truck looking at the control
panel. It was displaying all sorts of information and Marty was busy ex-
plaining it all as fast as he could. Joe was pretty sure they drilled the well
to 2,300 feet and Marty was going to see how far down the device would
“The key to this,” Marty paused as he looked at the control pan-
el. “Is not to get the tool stuck in the hole. Wow! what’s that?”
The monitor read 2,350 feet and the line was still dropping. It
continued all the way to 2,620 feet. At that point they hit bottom.
“Appears they went a little deeper than they told you.”
Marty folded his arms to his chest and stared at the screen. He
fooled with the controls and kind of scrolled back and forth over the last
“Look at this. They drilled right through the granite. It looks
like they hit solid hard rock about right here.” Marty was pointing at a
spot on the chart at 2,570 feet. “Then they continued to drill through an-
other 50 feet or so. It’s a good thing they did.”
“Why?” Joe said.
“You see those two lines right there?”
Joe and Charlie acknowledged the chart but really had no idea
what they were looking at.
“Well the last 10 feet is a column of wet sand. Very high poros-
ity to. I bet they either blew out a bit or, decided to just stop so as not to
give it away any further. If I hadn’t been curious, I would’ve just
stopped at 2,300 feet or so thinking I was near the bottom. Especially giv-
en the fact that I wouldn’t want to get my wire line tool stuck in the
“What does all of this mean?” asked Charlie?
“Well it means that Stephens punched through the granite and
hit a little trap of oil. I see about 9 feet on the log, but that’s only because
they stopped drilling. Who knows how much oil is there. The problem is
no-one has hit anything under that granite. So it will be difficult to gauge
what you got without producing it. Frankly I don’t know anyone who
has produced anything meaningful over here.”
“We know where they haven’t hit,” Joe said.
“What do you mean?” asked Marty.
“That acreage over there adjacent to the west side of this ranch
is owned by Stephens, and he drilled several wells over there. All of
them came up empty.”
“Yeah,” Charlie said. “That land used to be owned by Gentry
Collins and Stephens acquired it a few years ago.”
“What county is this?” asked Marty.
“San Saba,” Joe said.
“Why did I think this was Brown County?”
Marty walked out of the trailer and out toward the rig.
“How many collars do we have in the truck?” Marty asked one
of the crew.
“Two,” one of the men yelled back.
“Let’s get this thing out of the hole and get our reverse unit
One of the guys who had been kind of sitting around, jumped
up and headed over to another truck that contained another set of en-
gines and a small wench.
“What’re you gonna do?” asked Charlie.
“I’m gonna finish what they started.” Marty said with a sly
“You gonna drill?” asked Joe.
“Not really, I really can’t drill with this unit. What I can do is
kind of clean up a hole so that it can be plugged. But given the fact that
they are sitting on oil sand right now, if I can get enough weight on the
bit, then we could see how much actual oil sand we have.”
“Why wouldn’t they have done that?” asked Charlie.
“I know why,” Joe said.
Charlie and Marty both looked over at Joe. He kind of shrugged
“The drilling unit kind of blew the mud pump. I think it
happened when they tried to blow through that granite. They couldn’t
circulate any fluids and so they finally gave up. I was sitting out here
when it happened. Mostly I couldn’t believe how long it was taking
them, and how big a mess they made. You can see where they covered
the two pits. I was upset with this as it didn’t seem right. They finally
said they had found some salt water and were suspending things any
“Stephens must be crazy,” Marty said. “He could get into ten
ways of trouble for this stunt.”
“He must have had a strong suspicion that there was oil down
there,” Charlie said.
“How?” Joe asked.
“Maybe seismic acquisition. Otherwise I don’t know,” Marty
said scratching his head.
“Seismic?” Joe asked.
“Yeah, it’s possible,” Marty answered.
Joe looked a little strange as he heard the comment.
“You know, I did let a company conduct a seismic survey about
a year ago,” Joe said a little embarrassed.
Everyone looked at Joe as if he was a little crazy.
“Who was the company?” asked Marty.
“I can’t remember, but I have the paperwork back at the
“Well it doesn’t matter now, we’ll know soon enough first
hand,” Marty said as he walked off toward his crew.
It was getting past one o’clock and everyone was hungry. Charlie
agreed to go in to town and bring back some food. Plus he was looking
for an opportunity to check his messages as his phone wasn’t getting any
reception out at the ranch.
As he pulled out of the gate on to the county road he saw the
truck. It was sitting down the road a ways and pointed directly at an
area of the ranch where they were working. Charlie had half a mind to
go down and call the guy out. But decided against it. As he hit the high-
way his phone went off and it showed he had three messages.
The first one was Cheryl telling him to call the Brett and Stone lawyers
about the Rodriguez case. The second call was also Cheryl telling him to
call the office, and that it was urgent. The third call told him why it was
urgent. It was the sheriff’s department wanting him to come in for ques-
tioning regarding the shooting the night before. That call sounded eerily
Charlie called the sheriff’s department first as that seemed like the
most important. He knew the voice on the phone as one of the investigat-
ors. It was someone that Charlie had a personal relationship with as they
both were members of several civic organizations. His name was Ralph
Hill and he also was a life long resident of the area. When Charlie called,
Ralph Hill answered on the first ring. Hill had a gravelly voice and al-
ways answered the phone like he was mad.
“Hill,” he said in his normal tone.
“Hello Ralph, this is Charlie Wade.”
“Charlie, thanks for calling back.”
“Sure,” Charlie said. “What’s up Ralph?”
“Well Charlie, there are some things with your story from last night
that aren’t adding up. You know we had your car impounded last night
and our guys have been looking it over all day.”
“You guys are unbelievable. A guy gets shot and almost killed, and
now you are trying to turn the tables on me. What’s this all about?”
Charlie asked in an angry tone.
“I’m just the messenger Charlie, so don’t go shooting me. Sheriff
Simms was suspicious of your story and as a result he’s the one that has
dredged all of this up. He thinks you were drunk and tried to hide the
fact that you had a one car accident. We have a witness that called into
the sheriff’s department last night around two o’clock complaining about
a car that was driving erratically on the highway. The description of the
car they gave matches yours. They didn’t get a license number, but the
person described the car as a white Ford Taurus.”
“They’re lying,” Charlie said in disbelief.
“There’s more. They searched your car this morning in the impound
lot. They found fifteen empty beer cans and two additional cans that
hadn’t been opened.”
“This is unbelievable,” again Charlie was in disbelief. “I’ve lived here
my whole life. Why is this happening to me?”
“Charlie I’ve known you personally for a long time and all of this
seems crazy to me. I want to believe you, but we all have a job to do
here. The sheriff wants you to come in and surrender. It’ll save you the
trouble of us having to arrest you. Hopefully if your story checks out,
this will all blow over. The sheriff’s giving you until five o’clock to turn
Charlie hung up the phone and called Cheryl. As she picked up the
phone Charlie could tell she was crying.
“Cheryl,” he said.
She recognized his voice and tried to straighten up.
“This is all my fault Charlie.”
“No it’s not,” he said. “There are just some bad people out there.”
“None of this would’ve happened if I just would have told Joe to sign
the papers and take the money.”
“Well it’s too late for that now,” Charlie said. “I need some money out
of the account. Go down there and get me ten thousand dollars.”
“OK,” she said. Her voice was quivering and it was bothering Charlie
to hear her that way.
“I’m turning myself in this afternoon and I need you to bail me out.
Hopefully I get Judge Hardin. If I do, then I have a fighting chance for an
OR bond, otherwise if I get Judge Nance, it’ll take some money to get me
Cheryl kind of whimpered a yes. Charlie then called the lawyer at
Brett and Stone. To his surprise they offered one hundred and twenty-
five thousand, but said that was it, otherwise they continue on with the
case. Plus they wanted it signed within forty-eight hours. Charlie told
them to get the release together along with the settlement agreement and
he would get it done. The Rodriguezs would be thrilled, or so he hoped.
On his way back with food, he noticed as he turned into the ranch that
the truck that had been parked down the road was gone. As he drove up
to the rigs Charlie could tell that something else was wrong.
“We lost our tool in the hole,” was all Marty could say. “Gonna have
to fish it out.”
“How do you do that?” Charlie asked.
“Well it’s not easy. But it’s gonna throw us behind.”
Joe was pacing back and forth as Marty seemed to be growing more
and more frustrated with the situation.
“That’s an expensive tool, and I can’t leave it in the hole.”
One of his men had driven back to Coleman to grab some fishing
tools from the shop. That’s when Charlie told Joe and Marty about his
problems in Coleman.
“Do you suppose if I just sign the deal, this will all go away?” Joe
asked. “I never wanted any of this to happen.”
“It’s to late now Joe,” Charlie said. “You know I should have stood up
to Stephens a long time ago. Don’t you worry about it, this is all going to
work out. You just take care of Cheryl, she’s taking all of this pretty
“I’ve been thinking about this while you guys have been working. You
know Stephens offered me two hundred thousand. Obviously it’s worth
more than that. I never would’ve known this without you guys taking
such an interest. Charlie could’ve just rubberstamped the deal and
“What’re you getting at Joe?” Charlie asked.
“Well I was thinking that maybe the three of us could partner up on
“Charlie probably has the money to partner up, but I’m not in such
good shape,” Marty said.
“No I have something else in mind. Whatever we get over the original
offer, I say we split it three ways. I’d feel a lot better about things if we
had a fair deal. I mean look how much work and equipment Marty
brought over at the drop of a hat. That’s because of you Charlie. I never
could’ve made that happen.”
“Look Joe, I was thinking about something to. It is obvious Stephens
will make our life a living hell until he gets what he wants. It may be
even worse than that. He may resort to violence or some other type of
intimidation. Gentry’s missing, and we don’t have a good answer for
that. And look what happened to me.”
“Who’s Gentry?” Marty asked.
“He’s the client of mine who was going to work for you. He went
AWOL last night from the farm.” Charlie hated repeating the story as it
made him feel worse.
“Why would they hurt him?” Marty asked still not understanding any
of what was going on.
That’s when Joe chimed in.
“You think it has something to do with that Edgar Cayce stuff? I mean
if they did something to him over that, then it has to be about what you
said in the office.”
“What did you say in the office?” Marty wanted to know.
“My office is bugged, we think by Stephens. Before Gentry went off to
the farm, he started ranting about Edgar Cayce, some prophet, and that
was why Stephens was willing to overpay for the mineral rights. Any-
way our plan was to try and stall Stephens and see if we could get more
money out of him. So I told Joe and Ogilvy, loud enough so that who-
ever was listening could hear it, that we needed to investigate a few
things, including this Edgar Cayce deal. I was going to go out to the farm
and talk to Gentry about what he knew. Ogilvy had a few things to do,
and we were going to meet back today. That was until last night when
Gentry disappeared at the farm, and someone decided to shoot my tire
Marty crossed his arms and kind of stood their stoically looking out at
“You know if you stay in this business long enough, you see all kinds
of things. It’s like a gold rush, and the greed that’s embedded in all of
our hearts, just takes over.”
He sighed before continuing.
“If you want us as partners, I am fine with that, but I think we should
look at making some money here and getting out. More than likely when
I dig down and measure how many feet of oil is down there, we’ll dis-
cover that what we see is what we got. There’s no history on this depth
in this area, so only God knows what will come out of the ground. At
this point we haven’t even hit a whole lot of pressure because there’s
nothing burping up from all of this. If Stephens thinks there is oil here,
than no doubt he will pay a lot more than two hundred thousand for
these rights. Just don’t go thinking that you can outsmart him and drill
for it yourself. More often than not, it doesn’t work out. Take the money
Charlie and Joe shook their heads in agreement.
“You know I saw a truck over there watching us earlier. It’s not there
now, but it sure was when I drove into town,” Charlie said pointing over
to the location on the street.
“I don’t know,” said Marty. “That could’ve been anybody. People see
rigs they get excited in these parts.”
“Who’s this Edgar Cayce fellar?” Joe asked.
Marty shrugged his shoulders and looked at Charlie.
“I don’t know, but I’m getting ready to find out,” Charlie said.
“So do we have a deal?” Joe asked.
“Deal!” Marty and Charlie said in unison.
“So how long will it take you to fish that tool out of the hole?” Charlie
“Hard to say,” Marty said shrugging his shoulders. Sometimes we can
fish them right out and then other times, it takes a while. Give us a call
later. Go find out about Edgar Cayce, and see if you can get Stephens un-
der control. I still can’t believe he had anything to do with Gentry. That
would be a new low, even for him.”
As Charlie pulled out of the ranch, he noticed the truck was parked
down the road again. That put a thought into his head. The first thing he
did was call Cheryl and get the phone number for Stephen’s lawyer in
Abilene. He put a call into her and decided to wait on hold for her to
“Mr. Wade,” she said. “I’ve been expecting your call. Has your client
executed the documents?”
“No,” Charlie said not adding anything to the answer.
“Well is there a problem?” she asked a little irritated.
“Yes there is. He wants more money. We believe it’s worth more.”
“My client has been more than fair with his offer, I don’t think he’ll
“That’s fine, as I’m prepared to solicit other interested parties if need
be,” Charlie said blankly.
“I’m a little confused, Mr. Wade. A couple of days ago Mr. Rollins
seemed perfectly happy with the offer. We’ve even sweetened the deal to
cover your costs, and increased the royalties as you requested. This is
unproven land, what more do you want?”
“Maybe it’s not as unproven as you think.”
Charlie let that thought linger for a moment.
“I’ll pass your remarks to my client. However we’re not going to bid
against ourselves. If you have a number in mind, you should present it.”
“Well let me say this. The longer this goes the more information I will
have as to the true value of the lease. I believe your client will under-
stand this, even if you don’t. He has until five o’clock to come up with a
fair offer for the lease. After that we will continue to find out what we
can about the value of this lease. We may even choose to bring in third
parties to take a look at this.”
Charlie paused to see if he could get a response.
“Ok Mr. Wade, I’ll pass this on to my client. I can’t guarantee you a re-
Charlie laughed at the notion.
“Oh I think he’ll respond alright. Talk to you later counselor. By the
way, use this number when and if you respond.”
Christine Winters finished making a couple of notes on her pad. She was
not looking forward to making the call to Jack Stephens. There was
something peculiar going on between them and she felt like an outsider.
She hated this work and had always hoped for more in her law career.
She picked up the phone and called Jack Stephens and hoped that he
would not answer and she could leave a message. Her wish was not
Jack Stevens slammed the phone down after talking with Christine
Winters. Charlie Wade a Podunk lawyer was messing with his dream.
The nerve of the guy, he thought to himself.
He should’ve crushed that fam-
ily years ago when he had the chance. It was his own kid who picked the fight
with Charlie Wade. That wife of his wasn’t worth the trouble. They weren’t even
Jack Stevens snapped out of his thoughts and
sleeping together any more.
picked up the phone. He had to try and stay unemotional as there was a
lot at stake. The phone rang several times on the other end before the
“Roland!” this is Jack.
The two men talked for ten minutes and Roland mostly listened. Then
Jack Stephens made another call.
Charlie Wade had one more chance to do
the right thing, or his world would get more difficult.
Jack Stephens again
was lost in his thoughts.
Then he thought of his pathetic son. He had given him everything, the
finest education, cars, homes, and position. And as the sole heir, he
would stand to inherit all of the Stephens fortune. Jack Senior’s wife had
passed away several years earlier and now it was just the two of them.
Well the two of them and Tina, who was now the source of the problem.
Jack Senior remarried a young trophy wife, but they divorced quickly
when she realized that life might not be as rosy as she was led to believe.
Jack the III had become a real womanizer and made no secret of it. It
had cost his father over a million dollars in pay-offs just to keep his ille-
gitimate kids out of the picture. Plus Jack the III never worked much.
And when he did put his fingerprints on something, it turned out
Tina on the other hand was simply depressed. No one understood
why she hadn’t produced any children, but rumors were everywhere
that she had gone to Dallas for two abortions. She told people she had
miscarried, and that is how it was left between her and Jack, but others
continued to talk. Jack was rarely home, and so most of the time Tina,
was left alone in the stately house which sat adjacent the mansion occu-
pied by the patriarch, Jack Senior. In a weird sort of way Jack Senior took
pity on Tina, and the two were closer than people realized.
To occupy her loneliness, she often spent time in Houston and Dallas
visiting friends. She spent lavishly on herself and her friends, and at
times Jack the III would step in and threaten to pull her stipend. She
would pout and pretend to feel bad, and things would return to normal.
Tina continued to take trips and spend money.
Jack Senior scratched the hair on the back of his neck, which was
something he did when he was in deep thought. Maybe Tina would be
good for something after all. A small little smirk came over his face as he
picked up the phone.
Charlie’s phone buzzed as he made the Coleman city limits. It was
Christine Winters as he recognized the phone number from before.
“Hello Ms. Winters,” Charlie said.
“Mr. Wade this is Ted Somers. Ms. Winters is also here on the line. I
am one of the senior partners here at the firm.”
“Wow, I’m getting the royal treatment here.”
“Look Mr. Wade, we have been instructed to convey a new offer to
you. Our client has increased his offer to three hundred thousand, but
the offer must be accepted by five o’clock today.”
“Well I can answer that right now. We have another party who is pre-
pared to do much better than that. I can’t sell to Mr. Stephens for less
money that what we can get elsewhere. Certainly you understand that
Mr. Somers. However I will convey your offer to Mr. Rollins.”
“I understand you have some problems in Coleman, Mr. Wade. Is
there another associate from your firm we might discuss this with,
should your problems keep you from concluding this business?”
Somers said this in a very smug manner and it pissed Charlie off.
“We’ll talk later today counselor,” Charlie said. “Be prepared to
sweeten your offer. That’s if your client really wants this lease.”
“Mr. Wade I assure you that we are mere pawns in this game of chess
between Jack Stephens and your client. It is my understanding that your
client may have already spent some of this money. It would be a shame
if this deal were to completely go away as a result of mistaken greed on
the part of your client. As his attorney, I think you should let him know
that Mr. Stephens has offered well above the market price for unproven
“With all my heart, I will convey your concern to Mr. Rollins.”
“You do that sir and get back to us,” Somers said and then hung up
He exhaled loudly. Christine Winters looked a little confused.
“What trouble does Wade have in Coleman?” Somers asked.
“You know rumors. I heard he totaled his car last night and claimed
someone shot his tire out. The sheriff over there seems to think he
might’ve been drunk and made the whole thing up.”
“I don’t know the man,” she said. “But that seems unlikely.”
“Who knows,” Somers said. “I just figure we’d use it to our advantage.
Stephens really wants this lease. He can go higher, but if we can negoti-
ate it down, it’ll be a feather in our cap. Besides I know he doesn’t have
any one else on this deal. He’s just playing us.”
“How do you know that?” asked Winters.
“Don’t worry, I just do. No one would bid against Jack Stephens
around these parts.”
When Charlie walked back into the office Cheryl seemed as if she had
gathered herself and calmed down. She handed him a stack of messages
which included one from the Rodriguezs. That was a call he was looking
forward to making.
He turned on his computer and immediately started searching
for the name Edgar Cayce. To his surprise there were volumes of inform-
ation about the man. The reading was so interesting that Charlie became
trance-like in his endeavors.
For forty-three years of his adult life, Edgar Cayce demonstrated the
uncanny ability to put himself into some kind of self-induced sleep state
by lying down on a couch, closing his eyes, and folding his hands over
his stomach. This state of relaxation and meditation enabled him to place
his mind in contact with all time and space. From this state he could re-
spond to questions as diverse as “What are the secrets of the universe?”
to “How can I remove a wart?” His responses to these questions came to
be called “readings” and contain insights so valuable that even to this
day individuals have found practical help for everything from maintain-
ing a well-balanced diet and improving human relationships to
overcoming life-threatening illnesses and experiencing a closer walk
It appeared that Cayce had died more than sixty years ago, but there
were literally dozens of biographies written which chronicled his life.
The more Charlie read the more engrossed he became and he
wondered why he’d never heard of the man prior to this.
The wealth of information provided by Cayce in these readings were
extremely valuable and Charlie doubted that Edgar Cayce himself un-
derstood their impact on the contemporary world.
Sixty years ago who could have known that terms such as meditation, spiritu-
al growth, auras, soul mates, and holism, would have become household words
The majority of Edgar Cayce’s readings dealt with health maintenance
and the treatment of illness. Even to this day individuals have found
physical help from information given as long as a hundred years ago! Al-
though best known for this material, the sleeping Cayce did not seem to
be limited to concerns about the physical body. In fact, in their entirety
the readings discuss an astonishing number of different subjects. Charlie
read that there were over ten thousand such readings to be exact.
Charlie rubbed his eyes as he had been staring at the computer screen
for quite a while. The information about Edgar Cayce was fascinating,
but nothing pointed toward anything having to deal with there predica-
ment. It was at that moment Charlie stumbled on another article.
The discovery of oil in the Edwards formation of south-central
Texas in the year 1922 was the starting gun for a brand new trend of ex-
ploration and development. Credited with this trend is Edgar Byram
Davis, who pioneered the Edwards, and to the many other prospectors
who carried Edwards exploration from the Sabine to the Rio Grande.
Later gas discoveries in the Edwards established substantial reserves and
additional exploration opportunities.
The discovery of oil in the Edwards formation opened a chapter in
the history of the oil business, which was as important to Central Texas
as were the great discoveries at Spindletop for the Gulf Coast, Yates for
West Texas, and the Joiner-Daisy Bradford well for East Texas. As in all
the above cases, oil and gas discoveries in this province shot local life-
styles upward, from hard-scrabble farming in the country and subsist-
ence living in local towns to more comfortable and professional life-
styles, that even broached, in some cases, luxury. After the initial ex-
cesses of the boom days had subsided, cultural improvements and pro-
gress characterized local community life, and both the countryside and
urban centers continued to enjoy the benefits first introduced to the area
by Mother Oil.
As was the case throughout the oil patch, hundreds of ranchers were
able to keep their land in the family and prosper through the risk-taking
and efforts of great wildcatting pioneers and their modern brethren,
rather than suffer seeing their hard-earned assets disappear through
foreclosure into the maws of banks and financiers during and after the
The economic impact cannot be underestimated throughout the
main productive trend, extending from Caldwell to Webb County, a dis-
tance of one hundred and sixty-five miles and will continue way into the
future, so long as politicos and other assorted rascals leave well enough
alone. The story of oils discovery in the Edwards, like all oil and gas
plays, is laced with doubt, disappointment, dogged persistence, and
fabulous success. It had its inception in the mind of a man guided by a
firm faith in his vision. Although this interesting man passed to his heav-
enly reward in October 1951, he attained the status of a legend. Even
while living, his retiring attitude and deeply religious nature caused
most to regard him as a man of mystery. This remarkable individual
who first discovered oil in the Edwards was Edgar B. Davis, late a citizen
of Luling, Texas.
The saga of Edgar B. Davis should live because it stands out as a
unique story in the annals of the oil industry. Unlike the typical oil patch
stories that commonly abound of swashbuckling promoters discovering
oil by sheer luck, of poorboy wildcatters spending their last dollar to
bring in an elusive gusher, Edgar B. Davis stands out as a contrast to the
common rough and ready lot of the typical oil patch. Davis was a mem-
ber of an old New England family, reared with all the luxuries of the
prosperous gay nineties. He had traveled the world, associated with roy-
alty, played golf, excelled at bridge, loved music and art. Admitting to
no church affiliation, he nevertheless considered himself
Steward of the
, ordained to improve the lot of his fellow man.
This extraordinary individual left a promising business career at
thirty-five years of age as co-founder and sales executive of the Walkover
Shoe Company of Brockton, Massachusetts. In Singapore, he met a
Dutch rubber plantation manager who induced him to interest the Un-
ited States Rubber Company in cultivating rubber trees in Sumatra.
This proved to be a highly successful venture for Davis and resul-
ted in his acquiring four million dollars in rubber company stocks and
cash, a huge fortune in those days. Upon his return to New York he de-
clined an attractive offer to become president of the United States Rubber
Company, because he felt the job would confine his activities too much.
Instead, he betook it upon himself, at the age of fifty, to transplant him-
self from his luxurious New York lifestyle to the impoverished farming
community of Luling, Texas.
His immediate mission in doing so was to salvage whatever could be
retrieved from a seventy-five thousand dollar investment in a shaky
wildcat venture made by his elder brother and some associates. Little did
he realize where his decision to leave the city life would lead.
A true entrepreneur, fascinated by the idea of prospecting for oil,
and imbued with the impassioned desire to bring prosperity to the in-
habitants of his newly adopted home community, he acquired the in-
terests of his
brother and associates and dedicated himself wholly to his newfound
task of salvaging his wildcatting interests.
The first step led him to assume the lease obligations of the Texas
Southern Oil and Lease Syndicate in the Luling area. This syndicate had
assembled leases covering most of what are now the Salt Flat and Darst
Creek fields as well as about 85 percent of the Luling field. Many of these
leases had to be dropped for lack of finances, but the Luling block was
retained on the basis of a fault exposed in the San Marcos River and the
mapping of an inlier of lower Wilcox against it. The discovery of the
fault is credited to Vernon E. Woolsey; and additional work by him,
Carol E. Cook, Roy A. Dobbins and others resulted in definition of the
lower Wilcox inlier on this up-to-the-coast fault.
The Syndicate drilled its first well in 1920 on the Thompson lease in
the George C. Kimball survey, Caldwell County. It was abandoned as a
dry hole in the Buda Limestone, 150 feet above the Edwards, but shows
of oil and gas in the Eagleford provided encouragement for additional
Davis named his new enterprise, organized March 18, 1921, the
United North and South Oil Company, Inc
., as a Yankee gesture of friend-
ship toward the unrepentant parochial planters of this Southern com-
After taking over the holdings of Texas Southern Oil and Lease
Syndicate, he spudded a well on the Cartwright farm, about a quarter
mile closer to the surface fault trace than the Syndicate’s Thompson dry
hole. It had a small show of oil in the Edwards, as did the No. 2
Cartwright drilled about 500 feet up dip, although both were plugged as
dry holes. On May 5, 1921 the No. 3 Cartwright was spudded and was
plugged as a dry hole on June 16. The Cartwright No. 4 soon followed at
a nearby location and was also dry. Adding to the injury, the No. 2
Thompson proved to be a failure as well.
At this point, a desperate Davis sought out the great clairvoyant
Edgar Cayce. In a trance, Cayce described the underground geological
structure in detail for Davis. The resulting discovery, made on the basis
of Cayce’s revelation, also flew in the face of accepted geological wisdom
of the time. As Humble’s chief geologist, Wallace E. Pratt, a skeptic when
it came to looking for oil around faults, put it, “the hazards of explora-
tion in faulted territory are already widely appreciated.”
But, then, Pratt had not consulted Edgar Cayce! On the basis of
Cayce’s advice, Davis made a seventh location on the Rafael Rios 126
acre farm in the John Henry survey. The well was spudded June 19, 1922
and, on the hot afternoon of August 9, 1922, a depressed if not totally
discouraged group of three United North and South people, Edgar Dav-
is, Agnes Manford and W. F. Peale, sat watching the hypnotic rotary
grinding away at 2,100 feet. Just as Peale, at the wheel of their car, was
about to drive away, Miss Manford is reported to have pointed and
shouted “Look, Boys, Look!”
A black column was rising from Rafael Rios No. 1; the crew was
scattering. The column was rising higher, higher, like an aroused giant
black snake. Miss Manford and Peale quickly piled out of the car as the
black column rose higher, rising above the crown block and began to
spray the black, greasy stuff of which dreams were made and environ-
mental lawsuits in today’s world.
Peale and Miss Manford were a bit hysterical. For the charming
bachelor who had furnished so many pleasant evenings at cards or talk;
for the employer of Peale who had never looked back, never faltered,
never lost his beatific smile; for the strange man who seemed half of the
present material world and half of the heavenly world to come, they
And Davis himself? That gentle smile grew a bit more expansive
perhaps; he was quieter, if anything, and he retained that ever-present
dignity. Yes, the foreordained had come to pass, the Lord, through the
instrument of Edgar B. Davis, had achieved another objective, and in the
end Davis, drenched with oil, reminded his employees that he must go
To Luling went the oil-spattered trio and when the giant Davis
was asked if he wanted to go to the hotel to change clothes. He said, “No,
first to Mackey’s Drug Store.”
At Mackey’s, they called for J. R. Mackey, who had been sure Dav-
is was chasing a “will-o’-the-wisp” and had said so publicly many times.
Mackey came out, stared, threw up his hand and said with awe,
“The drinks are on me. Anything you want. Anything!”
Thus the story of Luling is, in a way, the story of Edgar B. Davis,
who would walk into a fiery furnace if his Lord ordered, yet belonged to
no church, who is Luling’s godfather, but who, at age 77 had never mar-
ried; the Yankee who had walked with princes and kings, but who spent
his happiest years among the descendants of Rebels who loved him.
On August 10, 1922, the Luling boom began, gaining momentum
slowly at first, because oilmen were skeptical of Edwards production.
Magnolia Petroleum Company, later to be known as Mobil and today
Exxon-Mobil, came forward with an offer to buy 1,000,000 barrels of oil
in the ground at 50 cents a barrel.
Davis and his associates accepted quickly and used the $500,000
to finance early development of the Luling field. Extension of the discov-
ery area 1.6 miles northeast was established on March 13, 1923, by the
Caldwell Oil Company No. 1 Hardeman, which made gas. In May 1923,
Royal Oil Company completed a well for over 1000 barrels a day on their
40 acre W. H. Tabor lease, later acquired by Grayburg Oil Company. This
extended the field 2 ½ miles northeast of the Rios No. 1 discovery well.
The rate of drilling increased after these extensions, and many wells
were completed with initial production of 1000 barrels a day or more.
By December 1924, the field had 391 producing wells, and by the
end of 1926, the total number of wells had increased to 502.
In the spring of 1926, display advertisements appeared on the fin-
ancial pages of several well-known newspapers stating that the Luling
Field properties of the United North and South Oil Company were for
sale. It is
reported that several major oil companies considered the deal and made
offers, but probably because the production was from limestone, and the
fact that many of the fabulous Mexican fields of the same type were sud-
denly beginning to make salt water, no trade was immediately consum-
mated. The Magnolia Petroleum Company, having bought the first pro-
duction from the field and with pipeline facilities in place, eventually
the advertised price of $12,100,000. The deal was consummated on June
11, 1926, on a basis of half cash and half in oil as produced.
That should have been the end of the saga of Edgar B. Davis. The
man, at age 56, had more money than any man would ever need. But the
strange New Englander recognized something that not many men do, an
obligation to those who help them make fortunes. And the benevolent,
unusual visionary went about it in a most unusual way. First he an-
nounced a barbecue to which Luling, Caldwell County, Guadalupe
employees, friends over the world and well…. practically everyone…
were invited. He bought a herd of beeves, all the soft drinks in central
Texas, imported entertainers from New York and purchased and cleared
100 acres of land white with cotton at harvest time for the jubilee.
“Come one, come all”, advertised Davis. And pretty near everyone
did, or so it seemed.
The most conservative estimates placed the crowd at 15,000 while
others looking at the sea of faces, swore not less than 40,000 were there.
And the 15,000 or 40,000 were not only fed but also electrified with
Every employee drew a bonus. Those who had been with him one year
drew 25 percent of total salaries paid them to date; two years brought 50
percent; and four years, 100 percent. Five men on his firm’s management
committee received checks for $200,000 each.
A couple of million was the conservative cost to Luling’s benefact-
or for bonuses alone. But there was more to come: A $50,000 golf course
later built on that $150,000 cleared cotton patch, a $50,000 athletic club-
house, a $150,000 total endowment for upkeep of both.
Something bigger was on the mind of the town’s benefactor who
later put into writing approximately what he said that day and which re-
veals the magnificent obsession of the man.
“Believing that the kind and generous Providence, who guides
the destinies of all humanity, directed me in the search for oil…” he
wrote, and believing that the wealth which has resulted has not come
through any virtue or ability of mine, but has been given to me in trust;
and desiring to discharge in some measure the trust which has reposed
in me; and in consideration of the opportunity which the resources of
Texas gave me; and of my interest in the welfare of the citizens of the
City of Luling, Caldwell, Guadalupe and Gonzales Counties;… and real-
izing the evils of the one-crop system ; and the hope through experi-
mental work in diversified crops of aiding the tillers of the land to secure
a larger return for their labor…” With such a promise the man who had
something of the ethereal in him proceeded to establish the Luling
Foundation for the benefit of agriculture with $1,000,000.
Much has been written about Edgar B. Davis and far more could
be written if the man of mystery had left written records or if he had
communicated more freely with his associates. One regrets to reveal that
Fate proved cruel in the end by removing the great man from the scene,
on October 10 1951, before the United North and South Development
Company was able to realize the second vast fortune Edgar B. Davis had
dreamed about. His complete saga when it is written will reveal a depth
of “FAITH” totally undeterred by difficulty.
Charlie looked at his watch, it was half-past four, which left him
about 30 minutes before he would need to surrender himself to Roland
Simms. The information he had found on the Internet was interesting,
and most certainly Edgar Cayce has been potentially instrumental in the
Luling oil rush back in the 1920’s, but there was nothing of significance
about this area. He decided to click on a few more links. It was more of
the same. And then he found what he was looking for. An article depict-
ing one of Edgar Cayce’s prophesies dealing with a large cache of oil in
San Saba County.
He clicked on the link and started to read. When he was done
Charlie clicked print and the three page article was slowly etching out on
his small little ink-jet. Out of instinct he picked up his phone and dialed
his cousin. Fortunately his cell service was better than Charlie’s as he
picked up instantly.
“How’s it going?” Charlie asked.
“We’re trying to fish it out now. Hopefully it won’t be to long.
What’ve you found out?”
“You’re not going to believe this,” Charlie started and then real-
ized he had forgotten about the bug. He got up and quickly went back
outside to the alley.
Then he continued;
“It seems as if this Edgar Cayce made uncanny predictions back
in the 1920’s that sparked the oil boom up around Luling. This guy was
amazing. He predicted the stock market crash in 1929, followed by the
Great Depression. I mean everything, Hitler, World War II. It’s quite a
story. But the main thing he predicted and it never came true at least to
this point, was that the largest well ever produced in the State of Texas,
would come from a place called Rocky Pasture in San Saba County
“Really?” is all Marty could say.
“There’s more. He targeted the depth at 2,600 feet exactly. His
estimated oil production from this well alone, was 70,000 barrels a day of
oil. He said it was trapped in an area under granite and would be known
as the Mother Pool of oil. Evidently he spent several years of his life and
several million dollars back in 1922 trying to find this oil reserve, but
never did. But it is clear he predicted it to be in San Saba County.”
“Your telling me that Jack Stephens is out buying up San Saba
land and mineral rights in search of a pool of oil that was prophesized by
a guy back in the 1920’s?” Marty asked incredulously.
“It would appear so,” said Charlie. “Tell Joe he counter-offered
$300,000 earlier this afternoon, and I turned him down. Now that I know
what he is after, I think it is time to have a little fun.”
“I wouldn’t Charlie, let’s just give this to him,” Marty said in a
nervous voice. “Any guy crazy enough to buy up land based upon a
myth, is crazy enough to do much worse.”
“Give it to him is just what I intend to do,” Charlie said. “How
many feet of oil would be needed to produce a well of that size?”
“I would hesitate to even guess,” Marty said. “It would be an
ocean of oil under this land and the next. The field would stretch several
miles. I’m not a geologist Charlie, so I wouldn’t even no how to calculate
this. One thing I will tell you though. This sand is as porous as I’ve ever
seen around these parts and frankly there appears to be a pretty good
gravity incline that if the granite had formed just right, could technically
trap a bunch of flowing oil in this area.”
“Well keep on doing what you’re doing, and I will work him
from this end,” Charlie said hanging up the phone.
He walked back inside his office and Charlie could see Cheryl
was giving him the
what’s going on
look. With a smile he looked at her
and put his finger to his mouth as if to tell her not to speak.
“Cheryl forward Marty’s call to my office.”
She looked a little dumb-founded but muttered an, “OK.”
Charlie went back into his office and started talking as if he was on the
“How deep have you drilled?”
“How many feet of oil sand do we have?”
“60 feet so far?”
“What’s wrong with the rig?”
“How long will it take to fix it?”
“They counter-offered $300,000.”
“I know that’s a bull crap offer.”
“Did you talk to that company over in Houston?”
“When can they be here?”
“I agree, I think we should put this out to bid and see what oth-
ers will give us. This looks like a decent well prospect, maybe even a de-
“Ok, go ahead and put Joe on.”
Cheryl walked in and looked at Charlie as if he had lost his
mind. Charlie went on with his charade.
“Hi Joe,” he started.
“No I didn’t find anything on Edgar Cayce, it looks like old
Gentry was just talking out of his head. However Stephens did counter-
“It was $300,000.”
Cheryl’s eyes got wide as she heard the number. She stayed in
the office as Charlie continued.
“I know that’s not enough money.”
“Marty and I think we should bring in a few companies to look
this thing over. He thinks it could be worth a ton of money. Millions
“I don’t think we should set a deadline on this thing Joe, if we
do it right someone will come in and pay a fair price for this. Stephens
had no right to drill those test wells. I have half a mind to turn him over
to the Railroad Commission and see about having his operators license
Charlie was thoroughly enjoying the charade and was hopeful
they were listening.
“Plus I know he has this sheriff on my back and I’m tired of it.”
“I’m not going to make this about me. Marty says he can get a
competing offer in a couple of days.”
“How many feet of pay do we have?”
Charlie mumbled something that would be difficult to hear
through a listening device. It was another attempt to confuse the detect-
ives and potentially Stephens.
“Wow, that’s incredible.” He said for the benefit of his listeners.
“That settles it, if Stephens wants this thing, he is going to have
to pay a lot more.”
“I know you want it sold.”
“What’s Marty think it is worth now that he has drilled a little
“A minimum of five million?”
“I’ll pass it on to them, but that’s a big jump.”
“Ok I’ll give him one more chance and then we put it out to bid.
Do you agree?”
“Ok good, we’ll talk later.”
Charlie looked at his watch and realized he had about five
minutes to make his next call and get over to the sheriff’s department.
Christine Walters was looking to call it a day when her phone rang.
“Hello counselor,” Charlie said.
“Mr. Wade, are you calling to accept out offer?”
“No I am calling to make a counter-offer. Your client has two
hours to make a reasonable offer or we move on to an open bid for this
“Are you crazy, Mr. Wade? I can’t guarantee you that I can
reach our client. It’s late in the day.”
“That’ll be his tough luck then. Look you tell him the following.
First of all I want Roland Simms off of my back. Secondly if he had any-
thing to do with Gentry Collins and his disappearance, then Gentry
better un-disappear. Thirdly, we know he drilled two test wells out on
that land. We also know that one of the wells has a zone in it that looks
like it might contain some oil. Marty thinks the land is worth closer to
$10 million given the fact that there is a nice looking oil sand and given
the fact that your client may have illegally drilled there. Mr. Rollins is
willing to overlook the illegal drilling provided Mr. Stephens will give
him a fair price. That being said, the amount to buy the lease just went
up to $10 million dollars. And tell your client, we are sure one of these
mid-majors will be more than happy to come up here and develop out
this field for more. My client has informed me that he will give Mr.
Stephen one more chance to make a fair offer.”
“You must be insane Mr. Wade. He will never pay that kind of
money for unproven land. Furthermore, your vicious claims sound more
like extortion and threats.”
“You just pass on the message Ms. Winters and we will see
what he does. Your client has drastically over-stepped his bounds on this
deal. That being said, it looks like he might have found a nice little patch
of oil. We’re not experts, but it looks like a lot of money. You see no one
has ever found oil in this area before. So we might be sitting on a sea of
oil for all we know. I told Mr. Rollins we need to do more due diligence
before deciding on an offer. He wants to sell now. Convey this to your
client, and get back to me by eight o’clock tonight or we walk.”
The sheriff’s office was a three minute walk from Charlie’s office. The
blue truck was just pulling away as Charlie left the building. Ordinarily
he might’ve been forced to stay in jail all night until a judge could be
found to set bail. Charlie knew that Judge Hardin had an evening dock-
et, so he would have an opportunity to make bail.
One of the deputies processed Charlie in, and from what he
could see, Roland Simms was nowhere to be found. The deputy knew
Charlie and felt embarrassed to have to go through this with him. After
an hour, Charlie was escorted to the courthouse, which was next door,
and given a seat in the front row.
Judge Hardin was already on the bench and hearing a suspen-
ded license case when Charlie entered the room. He gave Charlie and the
deputy a suspicious look but stayed on point with the man who was ask-
ing for leniency on his license.
The court room had a few onlookers, with the most troubling
being the reporter from the Register, Adam Brownlee. This was
something that Charlie had not thought about. Coleman was a small
place, and no doubt many people would no about this, but the thought
of the paper covering this story caused chills to run down his spine.
After several small cases had concluded, the district attorney for
Coleman County entered the courtroom.
“Excuse me your honor,” he started.
“Yes counselor,” Judge Hardin answered.
“Judge we have a prisoner that needs to have a hearing to de-
cide the matter of bail. If it please the court we would like to have this
matter heard before the court.”
Charlie never liked the district attorney. His name was Norman
Pruett and he had moved to Coleman from Brownwood about five years
earlier. They had been involved with several run ins over the years, and
as a result Charlie just didn’t trust him.
“Step forward and be heard,” the Judge ordered.
“Your honor, this is a bail hearing for the defendant Charles Al-
len Wade, a resident of Coleman, Texas. I have a file for you on this
“Ok,” the Judge said and waved Pruett forward with the file.
Judge Hardin took a moment to read the file and then shot a
quick glance at Charlie and then at Pruett.
“Proceed counselor,” the Judge ordered.
“Thank you, your honor. In this case the State of Texas is asking
for a $100,000 bond. We would accept 10% cash alternative.”
“You got to be kidding me,” Charlie said jumping out of his
chair. “That Skates kid committed a murder and you let him lose on
“Charlie!,” the Judge said. “Sit down you’ll have your chance in
Judge Hardin looked over at Pruett.
“Now why are you asking for such high bond?”
Pruett looked nervous, and Charlie could see he was out of his
“This is an unusual case your honor. Mr. Wade has the means
and where with all to flee before trial. These are very serious allegations
and Mr. Wade could be looking at some jail time. As a result the State be-
lieves the bail request is warranted.”
“Mr. Wade I am assuming you are representing yourself in this
“Yes your honor,” Charlie said as he stood up.
“Your honor, I am a life long resident of this county and a mem-
ber of the Bar. Not only would I never flee to escape a conviction, but I
intend to fight these erroneous charges and clear my name. I think being
shot at on the highway and totaling my car would be enough punish-
ment for what happened to me, but it seems as if the sheriff’s depart-
ment would like to make matters worse. It would’ve been nice if the
sheriff’s department would’ve spent some time looking for the perpetrat-
ors than harassing honest citizens.”
“That’s well and good Charlie, but I do need to hear your argu-
ment for bail.”
“I would like the court to grant me an OR bond until this case
comes to trial, that is if it ever does.” Charlie said the words and flashed
a nasty look over at Pruett.
Judge Hardin looked at both men and kind of smiled.
“I don’t believe Mr. Charlie Wade who has lived here all of his
life is a risk of flight. I mean come on counselor he has to be in my court
tomorrow to defend one of his clients. The preliminary hearing is set for
one week from. I am releasing Mr. Wade on his own recognizance as he
requests pending the preliminary hearing. At that point I will reevaluate
Both men thanked the Judge for his ruling.
“Oh and Mr. Pruett, you better have a case if you step in this
courtroom next week. I don’t take kindly to the sheriff’s department har-
assing upstanding people in this community. Do I make myself clear?”
“Yes your honor, and thank you,” Pruett said as he practically
raced out of the courtroom.
It took the sheriff’s department an hour to process Charlie out of jail and
return his belongings. The time had flown by and it was almost eight
Cheryl was waiting at the office and was pacing the floor wait-
ing for Charlie to get back. As he walked in the door he handed her the
$10,000 she had withdrawn from the bank.
“I didn’t need it after all. Any calls?”
She looked at him like he was kidding.
“That woman lawyer Christine Winters has called every fifteen
minutes for the last hour.”
“Joe and Marty. They wanted to know if you got out of jail.”
“Ok, is that it?”
“That girlfriend of yours called a little bit ago.”
For some reason Charlie had forgotten all about Anna. The fact
that he had her car might have been a good reason to call her. He was
starting to feel bad, when the phone rang.
“It’s that lawyer again,” Cheryl said.
“Ok put her through,” Charlie yelled from his office.
“Mr. Wade,” she started. She sounded a little nervous.
“Hello Ms. Winters, how are you?” Charlie said it as if he didn’t
have a care in the world.
“Fine thank you. Well let me get right to the point. Mr. Stephens
has authorized us to go to $1 million dollars for the lease.”
Charlie hung up the phone. A moment later Cheryl was yelling
at him about the lawyer being on the phone.
“Hello,” Charlie said calmly.
“Mr. Wade, did you hang up on me?”
“Yes I did. Your wasting my time Ms. Winters. I thought you
were a serious person.”
Charlie hung up again. A moment later the phone rang again.
“Hello,” Charlie said again. “Ms. Winters?”
“No Charlie, this is Ted Somers.”
“Ok, now we’re bring out the heavy artillery.”
“Mr. Wade, I don’t think you are taking this seriously. This is a
sizeable offer for unproven ground.”
“Mr. Somers, you’re wasting my time.”
Charlie hung up again. Like clockwork the phone rang one
“Hello, is this Mr. Somers?” Charlie said again kind of
“No Mr. Wade, this is Jack Stephens.”
His voice was eerie and menacing. Charlie sat up straight in his
“Well, this is a surprise,” Charlie said.
“Are you having fun at my expense Mr. Wade?”
“Actually no I’m not. I don’t take kindly to having my tires shot
at, and my clients kidnapped. Other than that it’s been a blast.”
“I heard about your car Mr. Wade, my condolences, I’m sure
that must have been a harrowing experience. As for your client, Mr.
Gentry Collins, I hear he is a habitual drug addict. I feel bad for his fam-
ily as it is a tragedy, but your inference that I had anything to do with
your car or Mr. Collins is misguided. I’m only interested in Mr. Rollin’s
“Well your offer is a little short,” Charlie said with a hint of
“How much does your client want for the lease Charlie?”
At that moment Charlie’s cell phone began to vibrate. He
looked down to see it was Marty calling.
“Can you hold on sir for a moment?”
Charlie put the call on hold and answered the cell phone.
“What’s up cuz? I got Stephens on the phone right now.”
“We got the tool out and I got the rig hooked up. Looks like we
have another foot or two is all of that sand. Probably not much of a well
“Are you sure?” Charlie asked.
“Well without spending a bunch more money, it’s difficult to know,
but I don’t really think we have a lot here. It’s one of those things that
you can’t tell from logs. You just have to complete the well and try and
produce to know for sure. We’re going to close up and call it a night.”
“Do me a favor. Hang out for another hour or so until I call you,”
“It’s been a long day Charlie, can’t this wait until tomorrow? The
crews pretty tired.”
“Trust me, you can make it worth their while. We’ve got several mil-
lion reasons to wait.”
Jack Stephens was getting impatient, and was not used to being put on
“Mr. Stephens?” Charlie picked up the call again.
“I’m not used to being put on hold son.”
“I’m sorry about that sir. The price is $10 million dollars. Not a penny
less. You know and I know what you think you have there, so let’s not
beat around the bush.”
“One million dollars and not a penny more,” Stephens said angrily.
“I can’t do that Mr. Stephens. You see it is most certainly worth a hun-
dred times that to you. Ten million dollars or I hang up and find another
buyer in the morning.”
Charlie’s heart was pounding as he said the words.
He had never played
much poker, but if this worked out, he might change professions
thought to himself.
Stephens said nothing on the other end of the phone .
“Ok Mr. Stephens we tried, I’m hanging up now.”
“I should’ve destroyed your father when I had the chance. Like a fool
I took pity on him because this was all about a woman. This is still about
a woman isn’t it Mr. Wade?”
“How is she doing these days?” Charlie asked.
“I wouldn’t know,” Stephens said, “I never see either of them that
much. This offer won’t be on the table forever.”
“Well send her my regards would you?”
“Send them yourself,” Stephens said gruffly and hung up the phone.
Charlie called his cousin and told him to call it a night. That was after a
lengthy update on his discussion with Jack Stephens.
“Well it looks like we have a million in the bank doesn’t it?” Marty
“Definitely,” Charlie said. “He’ll stew on it overnight and then come
to his senses. He tried to pull a fast one, and we caught him.”
“Something else bothers me though,” Marty said with an air of
“Well I don’t understand why if he was going to drill a well to 2,600
feet, and then he finds a little oil, why he’s pussy footing around.”
“You’re the oil guy, not me. What do you think?”
“I don’t know. Maybe we need another set of eyes on these logs.”
“Do you know someone?” Charlie asked.
“Possibly, but just about everyone has got business with Stephens, and
no one is going to risk getting their business chopped off. More than
likely we’ll need to find someone up around Fort Worth.”
“Make some calls and get back to me.”
“Oh and Charlie, one more thing.”
“Yeah,” Charlie said wanting to get off the phone.
“Joe sounded a little nervous. I think he’s needing that money sooner
than later. You might want to talk to him.”
Anna was pleased to hear Charlie’s voice and they agreed to meet in
Santa Anna for dinner. It was a good half way point. She was going to
borrow her sister’s car so that Charlie could keep hers another day. He
promised her he’d get something done soon.
Then he called Joe. Marty had been right about Joe’s state of
mind. Evidently he had given his brother the go ahead on the radiation
treatments and the clinic was clamoring for money. Joe needed twenty
grand as soon as he could get it.
Charlie wrote the check and gave it to Cheryl. It was a blimp in
his bank account after the huge windfall from the Morales case. In fact
the entire week, was looking good. The Rodriguez settlement would net
him another forty thousand. His little law practice had never seen that
type of money. And now he was about ready to take on one more big
score, he thought to himself as he climbed in the car to drive and meet
Santa Anna was a little community about half way between
Coleman and Brownwood. It had quaint little shops and two or three
restaurants. The steak place was about as good as anywhere.
Anna looked upbeat after a long day at the hospital and wanted
to hear everything about Charlie’s day. She was surprised to hear the
sheriff was pressing bogus charges against him.
“Why would someone shoot at your tires?” she asked.
“I really don’t know, but there are a lot of crazy things going
He went on to explain about Joe Rollins and how he and his
cousin were now partners. Then he got more honest than he cared to
about Tina and young Jack Stephens. About how the Stephens family
had tried to take down his fathers law practice and were now making
more threats toward Charlie.
“All of this over oil?” she asked.
“They must be crazy,” Charlie said. “Evidently the old man is a
real believer in this guy named Edgar Cayce. Any way they’ve been
secretly buying up oil leases all around San Saba county in hopes of find-
ing this mythical pool of oil.”
“Do you think it’s there?” Anna asked now curious.
“No and neither does my cousin. But you know, the fact that
Stephen’s believes makes this worth pursuing. This Cayce fella was
“I’ve never heard of him,” Anna said frowning.
“I don’t think he’s written about in any history books, but def-
initely the guy had some sort of mojo.”
“Mojo!” Anna laughed.
“You know what I mean.”
“You know my aunt Carmen believes in witches and such. She
calls them brujas.”
“ I know the word,” Charlie said proudly trying to show off his
“Oh do you now Mr. Wade,” Anna said with a devilish smile.
“Well kind of,” he said now a little less sure of himself.
Anna began to tell a story when Charlie noticed three men walk
into the restaurant. Normally he wouldn’t have thought anything of it,
but he was facing the window and they seemed to stop and look in be-
fore entering. One of them sort of pointed toward Anna and Charlie as
they peered in the window. He was sure of that as there were only two
other tables with customers, and they were on the other side of the room.
As the men entered they took a table about ten feet from where
Anna and Charlie were seated. One of them, the largest of the three,
walked close enough past their table so as to get a good long look at
Charlie. It was noticeable enough that Anna stopped talking.
“Do you know him?” she asked.
“No,” Charlie said. “But his face looks familiar. It’s probably
Anna continued to talk, but Charlie focused on the three men.
They ordered beers and seemed engrossed in their conversation. Then it
First it was a joke said loud enough for Anna and Charlie to hear. It was
an ethnic joke about a Mexican. Given the company, it was not funny.
Then the men went on and began throwing out racial slurs. Complaining
about how Mexicans were destroying the country.
The situation was becoming more difficult for Charlie, and
Anna was also disturbed by the comments. Finally after several minutes
of abuse Charlie spoke out. Anna grabbed his arm to stop him, but in
West Texas, there was a code, and these men had gone to far.
He stood up and approached the table and the man who had
been doing most of the talking looked up. He was about Charlie’s size
with the other two being much broader.
“What do you want?” the talker asked Charlie.
“Do you think you might hold it down, we’re trying to eat.”
“Oh sure,” he said with sarcasm dripping out of his mouth.
“I have a question for you?”
Charlie knew this wasn’t going to be good, but he listened
“Were from out of town. Your lady there is pretty attractive.
Where can we get Putas like that around here?”
Charlie was about to grab the guy, but Anna was already
throwing her glass of beer at him from there table. The large guy who
had checked them out earlier jumped from his chair and immediately
went for Charlie. The loud mouth who was now wet from the beer also
got up. Charlie was agile, but his shoulder was still soar from the acci-
dent. He managed to get between Anna and the three men.
“Back up Anna,” he said while he motioned with his arms.
One of the patrons who had been sitting on the other side of the
restaurant took off for the door.
“I’m calling the police,” the waitress yelled as the three men
squared off against Charlie.
Charlie decided he’d get a blow in first and see if he could gain
an advantage. The big guy started toward him. He through a round
house that missed Charlie and momentarily through him off balance.
Seeing an opportunity, Charlie kicked the man full force with
his steel toed boots right to the side of his knee. The man groaned as the
force of the sharp blow pushed his knee in the wrong direction and the
weight of the man collapsed down. He then sent a right hand to the
mans jaw. His punch hit home and blood came flying out.
The other two moved in quickly and Charlie tried to fight them
off but after a minute or two they had Charlie subdued. Anna and the
two waitresses along with the cook who was also a woman, were stand-
ing back out of the way. Anna had thrown a beer bottle at one of the
men, but it missed its intended target and did no damage. Charlie yelled
at her to get back and she did.
With a three to one advantage the men took turns punching at
Charlie and he was pretty well beaten. The big man who was now limp-
ing from the blow to his knee and bleeding from the mouth was angling
for a real clean shot. To that point he had only landed a few glancing
To his credit, Charlie was still flailing away and making contact
with the other two. Finally one of them managed a clean shot to Charlie’s
rib cage, and he crumbled to the ground. He was coughing and trying to
catch his breath when one of the men hit him with a clean right hook to
Charlie collapsed to the floor now in a semi-conscious state. The
big man yelled to pick him up. Which they did. Anna was screaming to
let him go and the loud mouth looked at her with venom.
“This is what happens to people who don’t mind their
They were holding Charlie up. His head was drooping and his
mouth was flowing blood.
“What do you say now lawyer boy?” the big man yelled as he
started to throw another punch.
It was a man’s voice by the door. His shotgun was pointed at
the big man ready to hit Charlie. Anna recognized him as the man who
had run out when the trouble started.
“Let him down.”
“Get out of here old man, this is none of your concern,” the
loud mouth said.
“I’m gonna count to three. When I’m done, you three better be
out of here.”
“You ain’t gonna do nothing old man,” the loud mouth spoke
The three men watched in disbelief as the old man started to
count. All the while the shotgun remained pointed at the three of them.
“You can’t get us all with that thing,” the big man said.
“Maybe not, but it’ll be fun trying,” he paused. “Two.”
The three men walked away from Charlie who was now groan-
ing on the floor. They walked toward the door and the old man yielded
to let them pass. The big man was seriously limping as he got to the
door. They left without any further commotion.
Anna rushed to Charlie who was sprawled out on the floor.
“You better call an ambulance, he looks pretty bad,” the man
with the gun said.
Charlie kind of came to and muttered that he was OK and to
just give him a minute. Anna would have none of it. Her cousin was an
EMT in Brownwood, and an ambulance was dispatched.
An hour later Charlie was being x-rayed and fixed up in the
Emergency Room at the hospital in Brownwood.
“Hi Anna,” the doctor said as he entered the examining room.
“Hello Doctor Patel,” she said with a half hearted smile.
“Mr. Wade,” you should be getting a quantity discount.
Normally people don’t come here two nights in a row.”
Charlie looked down at the floor as the doctor spoke.
“I suppose this isn’t funny. Bumps, bruises, contusions, but
luckily no serious damage. You’ll heal.”
“Thanks,” Charlie said.
“Where did the other guys go?”
Charlie shrugged at the question.
“There were three of them, and they started it,” Anna said.
“You might want to take it easy Mr. Wade. Those ribs are going
to be sore for a while. I’m going to write a script for some pain medica-
tion. Use it if you need it.”
“Thanks,” Charlie said as he was putting his shirt on.
“Your staying at my place tonight,” Anna said. “I’ll drive you
back to the car in Santa Anna in the morning.”
“No argument from me,” Charlie said.
“We weren’t going to hurt him too bad until he practically tore up
“I just wanted you to send a message, nothing more.”
“Is your daddy pissed?” the loud mouth asked.
“He’s always pissed. Don’t worry about him, in a few years I’ll
be calling all the shots around here.
Jack the III was feeling his oats. His daddy told him to take of
this problem, and so he would. He’d beat Charlie Wade before and he’d
beat him again.
Tina walked out on the back veranda where the four men were
talking. She was radiant dressed in a tight pair of jeans and a low cut top.
The loud mouth couldn’t help but gawk at her as she stood there. Jack
the III was a
, he thought to himself. Why would he waste his time
on some of the sleazes in Abilene when he had that waiting at home.
“Tina doll, would you fetch us some more whiskey from the
bar?” Jack the III ordered more than asked.
She flipped him off and headed back inside not really paying
much attention, or so they thought. A moment later she appeared with a
fresh bottle and walked over to the table.
“What happened to you?” she asked the loud mouth, who had
blood on his shirt and a cut on his lip.
“Nothing, just a little misunderstanding with a guy from
When she heard the word Coleman, Tina perked up.
“Who in Coleman?” she asked.
The loud mouth looked over at Jack the III as if seeking permis-
sion to talk, and realizing he probably said too much already. Jack the III
just shook his head.
“Who did you fight with in Coleman?” Tina yelled at Jack the
“Come on guys, let’s get out of here,” Jack the III said and got
up from the table.
“Where are you going?” Tina asked.
“Why do you care?”
“I don’t,” Tina said and headed back to the house.
Jack the III laughed as she headed back to the house.
“Hell in a couple of years, when I own all of this, I’ll dump her on the
side of the road and find someone else. She’s been nothing but trouble
since the day I married her. Shit, she can’t even deliver me a kid.”
Jack the III grabbed the bottle of whiskey and headed out with the
“You got any blow?” he asked the loud mouth. “You know how those
strippers like blow.”
Charlie slept like a baby despite all of his injuries and everything else go-
ing on in his life. Cheryl was waiting with coffee as he got to the office.
“I heard all about it,” she said.
“Word travels,” Charlie said.
“Joe’s worried. He wants you to call him first thing.”
That was the last thing Charlie wanted to hear. Over the last
forty-eight hours he’d lost his car and almost his life, and Joe’s
he thought to himself.
“I’ll call him in a bit, but I got court this morning.”
“No you don’t, Judge Hardin already called and said he was
postponing your clients hearing for a week.”
“Why’d he do that?” Charlie asked.
“Why do you think stupid?” Cheryl asked.
“Well good then, I’m going over to Floreens to have some
“You go right ahead Charlie, but you better call Joe when you
Charlie climbed the stairs to his apartment to get a fresh change
of clothes. As he looked in the mirror he was even a little mortified at
how he looked. He actually felt a whole lot better after a nights sleep.
The bruises would heal, but he wanted another shot at the loud mouth
guy who started the whole thing.
He kind of drifted off into his own thoughts when he heard
Cheryl yell up at him.
“You got a visitor.”
“Who is it,” he yelled down.
“You better get down here,” is all she said.
Charlie slipped on his boots and headed back down to the
“Where,” he said to Cheryl as no one was sitting in the small
“In your office,” Cheryl said and pointed at the same time.
Charlie looked over toward his office and his heart almost
stopped as he saw who it was.
“What the hell were you thinking about last night?” Jack Senior was
“Hey you were having some trouble with Charlie Wade so I
thought I would send him a message.”
“You thought what?”
“You know, I thought he needed a reminder about who he’s
“You’re gonna screw this up, and it’s gonna end up costing us a
whole lot more money.”
“Look daddy, I’m just playing hard ball with the guy. I’ve seen
you do it before. What’s the problem?”
“I’m calling the shots here you fool. Hard ball, this guys a law-
yer, not some farmer who doesn’t know any better. You need to stay out
Jack the III stood there and took another fifteen minutes of his
fathers tirade. But inside he was burning up. His wife didn’t respect him,
and now his father was treating him like a child.
“One more thing,” Jack Senior paused. “What is this about two
wells being drilled on the Rollins property?”
“He gave us permission to drill a couple of water wells, that’s
“Does he know it was you that was behind the hunting deal?”
“No way, I assure you. I used those guys from Dallas on that
job. I just funded the venture. None of it can be traced back to us.”
“Is it true you drilled to 2,600 feet?”
“Yeah, why does it matter? We’re gonna own this anyway.
Besides it’d be cheaper to know the depth of the granite before hand
rather than after.”
“Because they’re screaming about it right now. They’re not stu-
pid. They know the difference between a water well and an oil well.
Besides the seismic already told us where the granite was.”
Jack Senior was red in the face and staring down his son.
“Rollins didn’t seem to care, he was excited about the hunting
deal. I think this Wade guy is just trying to poison this thing.”
“Oh you think that’s changed now. He turned down a million
bucks. I’d say he’s more than poisoning the deal. He now says he wants
ten million dollars. According to the seismic, this and the Cooper place
are the key properties, but there are others we want to acquire. If we
have to overpay for this one, the price will only go up for the others.”
“Nothing has changed daddy. They’ll end up selling for the
$250,000 that we previously agreed to. Just leave it to me and let me get
“You stay out of it. I have another plan in place. Let’s see if it
works. I can’t afford any more of your meddling.”
“What are you doing here?” Charlie asked the question still in shock that
Tina was sitting in his office.
She looked beautiful as she was wearing a nice pair of jeans and
a white blouse that was leaving little to the imagination.
“Is that all you can say to me?”
“I don’t know what to say to you, how long has it been?”
“Aren’t you ever going to forgive me,” Tina said pouting. She
kind of curled her lower lip which even after everything that’s
happened, it still made Charlie wilt.
“Look Tina, I’d love to play catch up, but I have a busy day
ahead of me. What brings you here?”
“I was worried about you. I wanted to make sure you were
Charlie sighed as she said the words. He didn’t trust her, but
his old feelings were being dredged up.
“Why wouldn’t I be?”
“Well I heard some things, and well, I was worried.”
“As you can see, just a few bumps and bruises, but the doctor
says I’ll heal.”
Tina knew how to flirt with her eyes and she was doing it now.
She looked Charlie up and down and the more she looked, the more
nervous he got.
“I admit that other than that small shiner, you don’t look bad.
In fact you look great.”
It wasn’t the fact that she said it, but more how she said it. She
made it obvious that she had some sort of attraction for him.
“You look good also, so I guess you can go back to your man-
sion now,” Charlie said with complete disdain for her.
“You mean I just look good? Is that the best you can do?”
“Look Tina, I don’t have time for this. What is it you want?”
Then it struck him. The bugs. Charlie got up and ran to his win-
dow. The truck wasn’t there. He went back to his desk and took a deep
Charlie grabbed her arm and took her out to the back alley.
“This place is bugged. I think by your father-in-law. So he prob-
ably knows you’re here.”
“Of course he knows I’m here. He asked me to come.”
“What do you mean?” Charlie asked a little befuddled.
“I mean he asked me to come here and talk some sense into
“Oh you mean the guys in the restaurant didn’t get the job
done, so now he is sending you here to rip my heart out?”
“Look when he asked me to come talk to you, I was excited. I
mean my life is pretty miserable, and I’ve often wanted to call you. But I
didn’t want to make things worse. Besides the guys in the restaurant
were sent by my husband. The old man was pissed about it. Don’t hold
that against Jack Senior.”
“Those people tried to ruin our practice. On top of that, my
father’s health went down hill at the same time. I’m sure the stress from
what was happening at the time, had a lot to do with his health. I want to
crush those people, and nothing will change that. And now you’re one of
“Bullshit Charlie,” Tina was angered. “You wouldn’t leave it
alone. Why? I had made my mind up, and you wouldn’t stop. You
caused much of this. Sure they could’ve stopped, but you could’ve also.
You’re just as hard headed as they are.”
“It doesn’t matter Tina. That was a long time ago, and things
are different now. I’m tired of these people trying to bully their way into
what they want. They didn’t have to bully you. Hell they just bought
you. Hook line and sinker. You get what you deserve.”
“You’re right Charlie, they bought me. But I have my reasons
now. I’m sure you wouldn’t understand, but believe me I’ve got my
“It’s your life, do what ever you want. You tell Stephens that I
won’t be intimidated. The next time they try something, they better not
“Just take their money, and move on with your life Charlie.
Take my advice, these people are crazy.”
“I found a guy to read those logs,” Marty said over the phone.
“Who is he and when can he start?” Charlie asked.
“His name is Brandon Roberts, and he can start immediately.
He’s on his way down. It’s going to cost a little bit of money.”
“How much?” Charlie asked.
“Ten grand. But he’ll spend the next week looking these things
over. Can we hold these guys off that long.”
“Maybe, but I think Joe is getting cold feet. Plus I ran into a
couple of their henchmen last night. There were three of them, and they
did a little number on me.”
“Shit Charlie, is this worth it?”
“Yeah, I think so. They obviously want this thing, so I say make
It’s not worth losing your life over. Plus have you heard any-
thing from your client, Gentry?”
“Nothing. Plus it looks life his wife is also missing. No one seen
hide nor hair of either of them.”
“You think they ran?”
“I think maybe someone knows the answer to that question, but
my guess is that we won’t see Gentry or Alice for some time.”
“You talk to Joe this morning?” Marty asked.
“Yeah, he’s coming by the office.”
“Well, let me know how that goes. I’ll call you after I meet with
Charlie hung up the phone and realized the growling in his
stomach was due to the fact that he’d skipped breakfast. It was now go-
ing on eleven o’clock and he decided to run down to Floreens to get an
early lunch. Joe was coming around noon and he didn’t know how long
that might go.
The streets were empty and so was Floreens. Charlie ordered
the chicken fried steak and mashed potatoes and begin to salivate at the
thought of satisfying his hunger.
At that moment Judge Hardin entered the diner. He noticed
Charlie sitting alone and pulled up a seat at his table.
“Jesus Charlie, you’ve had a hell of a couple days.”
“You act like this is my fault or something. You know who’s be-
“Of course, but all I’m saying is.”
“I know, the same thing everyone is. Take the money and quit
fighting the system.”
“No that’s not what I meant,” the judge paused. “I’m glad
you’re standing up to these people.”
Charlie shook his head in agreement.
“What I meant is that I’ve seen a lot of what these people are
capable of. Most people just step aside and let them take what they want.
In this case I think you got them scared. I’ve never seen the sheriffs de-
partment get involved. I know Roland Simms, and while he’s no saint,
I’ve never seen him so blatantly hostile before. I mean the last three days
has seen them shoot your tires out, arrest you, and now beat you up.
What do you think is next?”
“Now they’re trying to use sex,” Charlie said.
“Sex?” the Judge asked. “How do you mean?”
“I mean Tina was on my doorstep first thing this morning
telling me to give this thing up.”
“Tina, what did she want?”
“I told you she wanted me to take the money and run.”
“How is it your money? I thought the lease belonged to that
guy in Mullin.”
“You are behind the times Judge, much has happened in two
days. Anyway, Marty and I are his partners now. You know Stephens
had the nerve to drill two wells over there without permission.”
“What!” the Judge proclaimed. “How!”
“They went in there and had some guys pose as hunters look-
ing to rent some land and potentially build a lodge. Joe gave them the
permission to drill a couple of water wells. On one of them they drilled
2,500 hundred feet or more. Actually they may have hit some oil.”
“There’s no oil at 2,500 hundred feet over there. That’s pure
granite. No one has ever hit oil in San Saba. Not even Edgar Cayce,” the
Judge said as he stabbed a piece of chicken fried steak.
“Edgar Cayce. Did you say Edgar Cayce?”
“Yeah I did, what about it?”
“Well it seems as if old man Stephens has an affinity for Edgar
The Judge started laughing. “You must be kidding right?”
“No I’m serious. I think that’s what’s behind this whole thing. I
think he’s buying up property all around San Saba looking for the great
Mother Pool of oil.”
“Hell Cayce himself couldn’t find it, and he thought he knew
where it was,” the Judge said snickering again.
“I’m telling you Judge, something is going on and I think it has
everything to do with Edgar Cayce,” Charlie said in such a way that the
Judge stopped laughing.
“If you’re right Charlie, then you better be careful. If these
people are that crazy, then there is no telling what they might do.”
Joe was waiting for Charlie in his office. He looked extremely nervous
and Charlie knew that this was going to have to end sooner than later.
“What’s up partner?” Charlie asked trying to be upbeat.
“Charlie, I talked to my pastor this morning, and he thinks we
should just let Stephens have the lease before someone else gets hurt.”
“What do you mean before someone else gets hurt. I’ve been
hurt. It’s a little late for that.”
“Well I’d like to settle this now. I understand he offered a mil-
lion dollars. That’s more than any of us ever could’ve imagined. You and
Marty would each make over $250,000. What more do we want. We won.
Let’s take this and run.”
“I can’t do that Joe, not now. I need to know why he wants it so
badly. He’ll pay more, I know it.”
“That’s a risk I can’t afford to take. My church can’t afford it
“What do you mean your church?” Charlie asked.
“I mean I pledged to give them ten percent of anything I make
from this. Now that the amount is up to $50,000 well the church has an
interest. We’re going to break ground on that new pre-school for the
kids. That money will go along way to getting that started. Pastor Martin
called this a gift from heaven. He says we’re being greedy and that God
could take all of this away from us if we’re not careful.”
Charlie just shook his head as he listened to Joe talk. Now the
pastor was getting involved.
Who was next
, Charlie thought to himself.
Then he had a thought.
“What if there was another way, Joe. A way where you got your
money and were off the hook?”
“Sure I guess that would be alright,” Joe said. “What do you
have in mind?”
Charlie hesitated a moment not sure he wanted to say the next
“How about you sell it to me for $500,000 flat and Marty and I
will work a deal to sell it to Stephens. Then your church has their money
and you have yours?”
Joe sat in amazement as Charlie’s offer sank in.
“Do you have that kind of money?”
As he watched the bank teller hand the check to Joe, Charlie realized that
he had not been able to hold onto the money for more than four days. It
was kind of a sinking feeling in his stomach as Joe drove off. Now it was
completely in his court to deal with Stephens.
The geologist had started his work but it was going to take a few days
before he would be able to render an opinion. The Railroad Commission
kept a file of every well that had been legally drilled in San Saba County
since 1950. The geologist would spend the week looking at all of the
wells that had been drilled in the area and compare them to the log
Marty had run on the Rollins ranch.
When Marty heard the news from Charlie that he had
bought Joe out of the deal, he all of the sudden got very nervous.
“Let’s not make this into a ven-
detta Charlie,” Marty said full well knowing the words would fall on
“No worries here,” Charlie said.
Cheryl was pleased that Joe had his money, and now was more
at ease to watch Charlie hang himself. Ted Somers called one more time
to let Charlie know that the offer was soon to be rescinded. Charlie took
the matter well and just figured that Jack Senior was playing more
games with him.
The afternoon was fairly calm, so Charlie ventured over to the
Ford dealership and picked out a two year old pickup. He had always
wanted one, and the price was right. He wrote the check and his bank ac-
count was another $18,000 lighter. Now he could at least give Anna her
car back. Not that she was asking, but he probably had intruded long
Anna’s brother was bringing her up to Coleman and they had
plans to enjoy some nice Bar BQ at Big Daddys. It was an institution
around Coleman and it had been a while since he had eaten there. Anna
had never had the pleasure, and was quite eager to give it a try. Actually
she was really quite taken with Charlie and would have said yes to just
Big Daddys was a small place and as a result they sat elbow to
elbow with the rest of the crowd that had shuffled in to try the pulled
pork and beans. Charlie was subdued and quiet, and thus the conversa-
“What’s wrong,” she asked him.
Charlie kind of smiled and acted like everything was fine, but
his mind was on the strange meeting with Tina, and the fact that he had
emptied his financial security over a long time feud.
“I got a visit today from an old girl friend.”
“Really,” Anna said smiling. “Should I be jealous?”
“I don’t think so, but it was a strange visit.”
Anna’s face turned into a small frown. “Why what happened?”
Charlie sighed and questioned how much he should tell her.
Then he decided to tell her everything. So for the next thirty minutes
Charlie spilled his soul about Tina Simms and his running feud with the
Stephens family. They talked so long that Big Daddy himself had to tell
them to leave, as they were closing.
They drove in silence for the fifteen minute ride back to Cole-
man. When they arrived at Charlie’s office, he invited Anna in.
“So this is where all this high powered legal work happens,”
she said kind of poking fun at Charlie.
“It depends upon what you call high powered,” Charlie said
with a laugh. “Come on upstairs I’ll give you the grand tour of the
He grabbed two beers from the refrigerator and they headed
up. There was a picture hanging near the bottom of the stairs.
“Is that your father?” Anna asked.
Charlie nodded. “Yes, that is the founder of this great Coleman
The apartment was a mess, and Charlie was a little embarrassed
at how it looked.
“Let’s go up to the roof so you can see the entire view.”
For the next thirty minutes they sat on a couple of lawn chairs
and drank their beer. The West Texas sky was full of stars and even more
beautiful than normal. Anna cozied up to Charlie and they kissed ever so
gently. Then their hands started to explore. It didn’t take long before
they were back in his bedroom with their clothes off. He liked the way
she felt and the tension of the last few days melted away in their
impassioned love making. And love was what it was. Somehow in a
short period of time, the two had become extraordinarily comfortable.
“Do you mind if I stay the night?”
“I wasn’t planning on you leaving,” Charlie said. “That’s a
“Probably,” Anna said. “You never know. I didn’t want you to
feel crowded. We’ve been seeing a lot of each other.”
“I was hoping you wouldn’t,” Charlie admitted.
Anna jumped on him and they started kissing again. After a
while they dropped off to sleep.
“What were you doing over there?” Jack the III was already drunk from
an afternoon of whiskey drinking with his crew.
“What are you talking about?” Tina tried to keep her cool.
Jack the III started laughing. It was a vile guttural laugh that
sent chills down Tina’s back. She was caught off guard by the question,
and she wasn’t sure how much he knew.
“OK fine, I was over there. What is it to you anyway?”
Jack the III got up from his chair and stumbled toward her.
“You stay away from him.”
“What are you jealous or something?” Tina was pushing him.
“Does he threaten your manhood?”
“You’re my wife and if you’re not careful, that could be
“Are you threatening to divorce me Jack?” Tina was acting con-
fident and it clearly annoyed Jack the III.
“No Tina,” Jack was laughing again. “There are lots of ways to
end a marriage that have nothing to do with divorce.”
“Our marriage ended years ago, so once again your threats
don’t bother me. I’m here for the same reasons you are. We’re both suck-
ing off of the tit of your father. If you really want to know why I went to
see Charlie Wade, go ask your father. He’s the one that sent me.”
“What are you talking about?” Jack the III was angry.
“You go ask him. I just do what I’m told. Besides Charlie Wade
hates me as much as you do. So I’m sure my visit had little
“You stay away from him, I’m warning you. Don’t forget who’ll
be running this family and the money after he’s gone.”
“Again Jack, your threats don’t bother me. I’ll be running this
family after he’s gone. You’ll be too drunk or busy with your whores to
take care of things. But don’t worry, I’ve learned a lot watching the great
Jack Stephens trample people. I’m sure I can do his legacy proud.”
Jack the III started to leave the room. Tina yelled after him and
delivered one last jab.
“By the way Jack, I’ll screw him if I want. And everyone will
know that your wife is screwing your worst enemy. I could see it in his
eyes. He still wanted me. I think I’ll go back tomorrow and the next
Before she could get the words out Jack the III turned and star-
ted toward her. Many times before he’d beat her in his fits of rage. She
wanted to see how far she could push him. As he got closer she backed
up a little. He should’ve seen it coming, but his drunken senses didn’t al-
low it. First it was the mace that hit him in the face and burned his eyes
and skin. Then it was her stun stick that knocked him down.
Jack the III laid on the ground moaning. He was drunk and
beaten. Tina had won this round, but he knew there would be another
and he’d be ready the next time. Once Jack the III hit the ground, Tina re-
treated to her private bedroom and bolted the door shut. She knew he’d
sleep it off and then try and apologize the next morning. And like so
many other times, she would accept his apology, and the two would con-
tinue their charade of a marriage.
Tina had long ago given up on any idea of a happy marriage
with Jack the III. She would never have his child, and eventually it was
obvious that Jack and her would have to split. He needed an heir to his
fortune, and right now, the Stephens name was doomed to end with
him. Then another thought entered her mind, a devious thought. She
smiled as she sat behind the door listening for Jack the III.
It could work
she thought to herself.
“It looks like Wade has hired a geologist to look at those wells,” Ted
Somers said as he bit into a sweet roll. “I can’t believe the nerve your son
had in doing that. Your whole plan could come unraveled.”
“Has he responded at all to the counter-offers?” Jack Senior
“Nothing. Now it looks like he is digging in his heals. The
longer this goes, the tougher it’s going to get.”
“What the hell does this guy want? I raised my bid to a million
dollars and he acts like I’m insulting him.”
“He thinks you’re responsible for his missing client, his
wrecked car, and now the attack at the restaurant. I know you said you
didn’t have anything to do with the car, but why beat him up?”
“That’s my stupid son. They got a beef going back to college.
His wife and Wade were sweethearts until Jack decided to throw money
at her. I told him to leave it alone, but he wanted something he couldn’t
have and now that he has her, he doesn’t want her. It’s crazy. I made
some mistakes back then. I punished his father by turning some of his
corporate clients away. Hell some of them went with your firm.”
“Well you may never get that land now that Wade controls it.
He bought out Joe Rollins for $500,000 and God knows what he’s up to
“I’m more concerned about the geologist. Who is he?”
“His name is Brandon Roberts, and he is out of Fort Worth.
Works mostly for the majors, but somehow they coaxed him to come
down and look at this. I guess no one around here would cross you and
take the work.”
“Is he any good?” Jack Senior asked.
“The people I talked to believe he’s very good and very thor-
ough. One other problem also.”
“What’s that?” Jack Senior asked impatiently.
“My contact said he is an expert at reading these faults and
Jack Senior rolled his eyes and looked away. “I spent $20,000 to
make Gentry go away. We’ll never see him again. Or if we do, it’ll be too
late. Can you get to this geologist? We can’t let this Wade fella get too
much information. Hell I still have more leases to buy. If people get wind
that there might be a large amount of oil out there.”
“The mid majors will be all over it,” Somers said. “I’ll take care
of the geologist.”
“Hell that’s the least of our problems. The speculators will get
in there first, and then it will be a bidding war,” Jack Senior paused. “I
spent a ton of money on that seismic, and the Rollins place may be the
key to the whole strategy. I would’ve bought it first, but the old man
would never allow anyone on that land. Joe’s different. I knew he’d jump
at the money. I’ve spent millions on leases all over that place. But our
geologists tell us that the Rollins property is one of the prime spots. Were
not going to know until we get in there and drill.”
“Well we got the Simpson lease, and were close on the Reyn-
olds and Holt properties.”
“What’s the holdup?” Stephens asked.
“Lot of mineral holders on both. The owners are in agreement,
but there are hundreds of interested parties on both of these, and they’re
spread out. I’ve got half my staff doing nothing but division order work
right now. Everyone’s been contacted and agreed. Now were shuffling
“What about the other lease, you know the old man. Cooper?”
Jack Senior asked looking over his glasses.
Well rested Charlie decided to take a break from the law and go out and
collect some money. Don Cooper had been a client of his father for years
and now he was Charlie’s client.
lived out near Rollins place about a 45 minute drive. Charlie never called
before driving out, he’d just show up. Don’s wife Margaret would al-
ways have something cooking, and there was no way of escaping
without a meal. The Cooper’s were back woods people with money.
Charlie handled all of their corporate business which ranged from ranch-
ing to oil equipment. The Coopers owned multiple tracks of land as well
as a feed store and an equipment maintenance business. There place
looked like a junk yard, but as the saying went, one man’s junk is anoth-
er’s treasure. That was definitely true with the Coopers.
They paid nothing for cars, tractors, rigs, and anything else with
an engine. They’d fix it up and sit on it until someone needed something.
Then they’d sell it at a price somewhat less than showroom new. There
was no negotiating with Don Cooper or any of his boys. When he paid
his bill it was usually in cash. Don looked like he was always on the
verge of death. He smoked three packs of unfiltered every day, and was
skinny as a rail. His sons were just like him. They all had houses and
families scattered about his 2,000 acre ranch.
As Charlie drove through the front gate and on to the Cooper
property, one of the boys, Jimmy, walked up to Charlie’s truck. He
didn’t recognize Charlie at first, but as he got closer to the truck, he gave
Charlie a smile. He was carrying his rifle slung over his shoulder. It was
always a troubling sight. Don Cooper carried a colt 45 on his hip. All the
Coopers carried guns of some sort. Don said they kept the guns handy to
shoot the rattlers when they came across them.
The rumors about the Cooper family were much different. Most
people believed that Don Cooper had millions of dollars tucked away
out at that ranch. Word had it that one night a small little group of
crooks tried to sneak on to the ranch looking for the money. Don Cooper
always worked out of a small little shack that served as an office, and
most believed there was a hidden safe where all the money was kept.
The three men went to ransacking the office when the Coopers showed
No charges were ever filed, but those men were delivered in the
back of a truck, shot to death, to the San Saba County Sheriffs Depart-
ment. The truck they drove out there, which had been hidden off the
road, was never recovered. Some ACLU lawyers showed up and tried to
pressure the county to press charges against the Coopers. That didn’t go
so well either. There cars were stolen and one of the lawyers beat up by
unknown assailants. The cars which were rented, were never recovered.
The Coopers never went looking for trouble, and no one really
wanted to mess with them. As long as you went to their place to do legit-
imate business, everything was fine.
Jimmy walked up to the truck as Charlie slowed and rolled
down his window. He was the spitting image of his father, wiry but
tough as nails. Jimmy was twenty-five and the youngest of the three
boys. Charlie attended his wedding six months earlier.
“Hi Jimmy,” Charlie said pleasantly.
“Hello Charlie,” Jimmy said as he spit a brown glob on the
ground next to the truck. His cheek was billowed out where his chewing
tobacco was wedged.
“Daddys at the office. You know the way.”
“Nice to see you, how’s your bride?”
“She’s good, we got ourselves a little one coming in about six
months. She’ll be at dinner. You can say high then.”
Charlie drove up the makeshift road about a half mile. He knew
the way by heart as he had made the trip numerous times. As he ap-
proached the shack, Don Cooper exited with a cigarette hanging from his
mouth and the Colt 45 on his hip.
He parked the truck and climbed out. Don walked up to him
and stretched out his nicotine stained hand.
“This is a nice surprise Charlie, how are ya?”
“I’m good Don, how are you?”
“Oh you know me, nothing changes much. The doctors say I
need to stop smoking or I’ll die. So I just smoke more. Don’t think any of
these diploma carrying assholes know what the hell their talking about.
Present company excluded.”
“Oh hell Don,” Charlie started. “I don’t think I’d disagree with
you one bit.”
“Well come on in and let’s visit a bit. Momma’s got dinner
cooking. Meatloaf, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, corn on the
cob, and cobbler.”
“That sounds good.”
“What happened to that 18 wheeler that was sitting out there a
few months ago?” Charlie asked.
“I sold that thing to a boy over in Santa Anna. He gave me
$30,000 for it. We put that together out of scrap here in the yard. Make a
damn good truck for that boy. Little Donny fixed that up real nice.”
Charlie snickered at the thought of little Donny. He was the ab-
solute opposite of Don Cooper. Little Donny was six foot two and
weighed three hundred pounds. He would’ve been a hell of a nose tackle
in football, but he blew his knees out his junior year in high school and
gave it up.
“Sounds like business is good then?” Charlie asked as they
entered the makeshift office.
“Just like anything else, there’s good days and bad days. Right
now, people are getting rid of stuff, so I am buying a whole lot a junk.
Come on out here and let me show you.”
That was fine with Charlie as the office smelt of stale cigarettes,
and it was enough to gag a person. Out in front of the office was twenty
acres of open lot which contained any number of different type of car or
machine. The place was full of stuff, and Charlie had no idea if any of it
was worth anything.
“You see that over there,” Don pointed at a backhoe parked
about a hundred feet away. “That’s an International model. Brand new it
goes for $20,000. You know what I got in it?”
“No how much,” Charlie asked not really caring to know.
“A couple hundred dollars. Some guy traded it in to the Inter-
national dealer in Coleman and it needed a lot of work. He bought a new
one and the dealer didn’t want this one, so they gave it to me for two
hundred dollars if I’d come and get it. Well hell, Little Donny fixed it up
with some spare parts we had here and it works like new. That’ll bring
ten thousand dollars when I sell it. Won’t be tomorrow, but someday
somebody will walk on this lot and need something like that, and I’ll sell
For the next twenty minutes Don went over every piece of
equipment he had on his lot. It was impressive, Charlie thought. What
was more impressive was his maintenance shed. He had two lifts and a
full wench. There were more tools in there then any shop he’d ever seen.
Even more so the place was clean as a whistle. It would put some of
those car dealerships to shame.
Then he walked Charlie over to another section.
“Now this is the expensive stuff.”
Charlie recognized some of it. Mostly old oil rigs, service units,
pump jacks, storage bins, and other miscellaneous equipment.
“You see that rig over there?”
Charlie shook his head.
“That’s an old drilling rig with a mud pump. It’s mounted on a
trailer. All you need is a semi to pull it away. That rig will bring two
hundred thousand. Hell brand new, it would cost close to a million
bucks. I got that off an old estate sale a few years back. Nobody wanted
it, because the oil field is dead. I’ve had two or three people out this
week to look at it. I think I gave ten thousand for that.”
“It looks to me like you know how to invest. How long will you
have to hold this stuff?” Charlie laughed at his own question.
“You know it doesn’t matter to me if its two weeks or ten years.
I know someday just about everything on this place will eventually sell.”
“I have no doubt that it will Don,” Charlie said.
“You know, you’re a lot like your daddy.”
Charlie blushed a little as he felt that was a compliment.
“Thanks, no one has ever told me that before.”
“He used to come out a couple of times a year and we’d drink
some moonshine, and swap stories. You know he was a real rebel as a
kid. He had a mean streak in him to. Didn’t take shit off anybody.”
“I had no idea,” Charlie said as he listened for more.
“He and that brother of his, you know the one who had that oil
service company. They’d go out on Saturday nights just looking for
trouble. More often than not, they’d find it. I think finally your grandpa
had enough with getting them out of jail, because out of nowhere your
daddy changed. He went to college and then law school. Hell I never
graduated high school. I boosted a couple of cars and got thrown in
county for ninety days. Blew my opportunity. So I figured out a way I
could make some money. My family had this land, and we’ve done OK.
My grandpa bought it back in 1900 for fifty cents and acre. That was
quite a bit back then. Been in our family ever since.”
“I guess you’ve seen about everything in this county.”
“Shit boy if it happened, I saw it.”
At that moment Don Coopers phone rang. He listened for a mo-
ment, and then grunted something that Charlie couldn’t make out.
The main house on the Cooper ranch was nothing to get excited about. It
was a three bedroom ranch with a large kitchen and a big room for din-
ing. There was a huge table set for about nine people and then a small
one set for the children. All the Cooper boys were there including their
wives and children. It was quite a sight, and hard to believe they could
pull it off every day.
They all sat down and then joined hands as Don Cooper led
them in a short prayer. Moments later the food was passed around and
everyone ate. Margaret Cooper had prepared a feast and the meatloaf
was the best Charlie had ever eaten. By the time they had finished their
peach cobbler, Charlie’s belly was aching.
“Come on,” Don said to the men. “Let’s go down to the lake
and cast a few.”
Nobody argued as whatever Don said went. The women stayed
behind and cleaned up after the meal. The lake was on the other end of
their property and so they climbed into two trucks. There was a small
makeshift shed next to the lake that housed the fishing gear. Don put a
purple plastic worm on Charlie’s line and the two of them walked the
shore a bit.
“You fish much Charlie?”
“No, I don’t get much of a chance. I like to though.”
“Throw it out there and then reel it quick and then let the bait
settle down. If your line tightens, then set that hook. These large mouth
are tricky and you won’t feel them bite unless they swallow the hook,
otherwise they’ll just nibble and run. We got some big ones in here.”
The two men fished for about ten minutes while the sons
worked the bank about hundred feet to the south. Charlie recognized the
land to the south as the Rollins ranch.
“I didn’t know you were adjacent to the Rollins ranch.”
“For about ninety years now,” Cooper said with the cigarette
dangling from his lips.
A moment later Don Cooper had a fish on the line. It was jumping and
fighting. Don’s pull was bent in a nice semi-circle at the top, and he
slowly and methodically played the fish out and then landed him. As if
he had done it a million times, he took the hook out of the largemouth’s
lip and then returned the fish to the lake.
“About three pounds,” Don said. “That’s small potatoes for in here.”
Charlie thought otherwise as the fish was as large as he’d ever caught.
Just that moment Little Donny pulled a fish out of the lake. It was a mon-
“How big is that one,” Charlie yelled.
“Six pounds,” Jimmy yelled back.
Before they were done, all of them caught several largemouth, all
between three and six pounds. Finally they put the poles up and headed
back to the office. When they arrived Don Cooper led the group in and
everyone sat around the eight foot Formica top table.
Don Cooper pulled out a huge quart bottle of whiskey and put it in the
center and then passed around five glasses. Jimmy filled the glasses and
then they all drank. Jimmy filled the glasses again, and this time Don
made a small toast to Charlie’s dad, and they drank again.
Charlie could feel a buzz from the whiskey and he admittedly felt
“I got a little business to talk Charlie,” Don said nodding at his boys.
“You bet Don,” Charlie said.
Charlie was wondering just what kind of business he was wanting to
“You know that tire store just outside Coleman?”
“Yeah, you mean the one that went out of business?”
“That’s the one.”
“What about it,” Charlie asked.
“Well they owed me some money for a few things they picked up.”
“What kind of things?”
“Some old tire changers and a couple of diesel generators. They were
supposed to give me twenty thousand dollars.”
“I think they owe a lot of people money,” Charlie said. “The banks
talking about a sale.”
“That’s are stuff in there and I want it back,” Don said.
“I thought you only took cash on delivery, how did those guys get into
you like that?” Charlie asked.
Little Donny had a funny look on his face after Charlie asked the ques-
tion. “They were friends of mine and I let them have it on credit.”
“You big dummy,” Don said. “I wouldn’t let Charlie have credit.” He
looked over and gave Charlie a wink. “Other than us going over there an
just taking our stuff back, is there anything you can do to help?”
“Is there an invoice or something?” Charlie asked.
“No we don’t send invoices to people. They never even asked for
one,” Little Donny said.
“Well I have an idea. I’ll prepare an affidavit saying the stuff was on
loan to these guys and not part of their equipment. I’ll get them to sign it,
and then get permission from the bank to let you go over to get it.”
The all looked at each other, and then at Don. Then as if being given a
blessing from the Pope, Don nodded his head in agreement.
“Jimmy reach in the drawer and grabbed the envelope addressed to
Charlie knew that would be his check. Always neatly made out for the
right amount. Never a question about the bill. Then Charlie had a
“You guys ever been contacted about leasing out your land to Steph-
Everyone had an odd look on their face but no one said anything.
“Why?” Don asked.
“They tried to lease the Rollins place. I thought they might try to con-
“They did,” Don said.
“What did you do?” Charlie asked.
“Nothing, you know that I don’t reply to mail. If they want to do busi-
ness, they need to come out here. That’s the way we operate.”
Charlie chuckled at the thought of Jack Stephens Senior sitting across
from Don Cooper.
“Besides if I was to do any business with Jack Stephens I’d have you
sitting next to me.”
“Well I bought that lease from Joe Rollins, and Stephens has been after
it for a while. I think he believes there’s a pool of oil somewhere in San
Saba County and he’s been buying up leases left and right.”
“Nobody’s found any oil yet,” Jimmy said. “Hell they drilled on this
land back in the 1920’s.”
“On this land?” Charlie said pointing at the ground.
“Hell yeah,” Jimmy said. “Three or four holes on this property alone.
They drilled them open hole. Hell the Railroad Commission doesn’t even
no about them. Crap they didn’t plug a one of them. They’re sitting out
there just to the south of our lake.”
“Here?” Charlie again pointed out toward the direction of the lake.
“Who drilled them?”
“A man named Edgar Cayce?” Don said. “I still got the papers which
describe the lease arrangement. He leased this from my grandpa back in
1922. He never hit oil.”
“Can I see those papers?” Charlie asked.
Don got up and headed over to an old file cabinet next to his desk. He
pulled out a key from his pocket, and opened up the bottom drawer. He
thumbed through a few files until he found what he was looking for.
“Here it is!”
Charlie looked it over for a few moments. It seemed authentic enough.
The parchment was thicker than most modern paper stocks, and though
it was extremely yellowed, the signatures and contract were pretty easy
to read. As sure as he was sitting there, Edgar Cayce’s signature was on
that document, along with one Earl Cooper, who Charlie figured to be
Could this be the famous well that Cayce thought would
produce the Mother Pool of oil?
A million thoughts were running through Charlie’s mind. “Have you
ever plugged those wells?” Charlie asked.
“Hell no,” Jimmy said. “That would cost a lot of money. Plus we’d
have to notify the Railroad Commission. We don’t want those guys out
“What do you guys know about Cayce?”
“My daddy said he was a wacko, but my grandpa said he was a for-
tune teller of sorts. People would ask him things while he slept and then
he’d give them answers. I think my daddy didn’t like him because his
daddy damn near went broke drilling oil wells with him.”
“You know he predicted the largest well in the State of Texas would
come out of San Saba County. A lot of people went broke, including your
grandpa, trying to find that oil. No one has found it yet, but Jack Steph-
ens is looking for it. Has anyone ever seen that lease?” Charlie asked.
“Hell no,” Don said. “It was in my daddy’s records when he died, and
I thought I’d better keep it. The damn thing expired sixty years ago, but
you never know with people. That was back before we filed these things
in court houses and such.”
“How’d you like to make a million dollars at the expense of Jack
Stephens?” Charlie asked with a devious smile.
All Don Cooper could do was give Charlie a nicotine laced smile. He
was way ahead of him, and had a pretty good idea about what Charlie
Charlie had formulated a plan and he and Cooper were ready to execute
it. It was dumb luck that Don Cooper had such a document, and even
luckier that Charlie thought to ask him about Stephens.
There was no doubt Stephens had invested millions buying up
leases and exploring for the Cayce prophesy. Stephens had to be frus-
trated by his lack of success. The more misses he had the more places he
tried to buy. In fact it sounded as if he’d tried to lease just about every
available acre on the West end of the county.
Now that Charlie had Cooper in with him, there was every
reason to believe they could force Stephens to pay stupid money to ac-
quire that last two properties. Now they needed to play up this Cayce
lease on the Cooper property. He was sure that Jack Stephens would go
out of his mind if he knew Cayce had actually drilled wells on the Coop-
er land, and missed. The issue wasn’t telling him, but how to tell him.
Stephens needed to believe that he knew something Charlie didn’t.
Stephens was no dummy
, Charlie thought to himself. It was abso-
lutely important that he believed he knew more than Charlie. Now it
was up to Don Cooper to do his job.
As he reached his office there was a strange car parked in front.
It was a Mercedes convertible, and Charlie had no idea who it belonged
to. There was no light in front of the building and the tinted windows
obscured the drivers face.
He parked his truck in front of the office and headed for the
front door. Anna had called earlier and she was going to hit the sack
early. Charlie was a free man, but the excitement of the long day at the
Coopers, coupled by his new plan, and he figured he’d grab a beer out of
the refrigerator and settle in on the roof.
As he got to the front entrance the driver of the Mercedes
opened the car door. At first Charlie didn’t make out the person, and
couldn’t tell if it was a man or a woman. Then a second later as the
driver of the car stood up and approached him, he knew exactly who it
“You see them?”
“Yeah, that car matches the description given by the woman in
Barringer,” the deputy answered.
“Let’s follow for a few miles, but make sure we stay back a little
and not draw too much attention.”
The deputy pulled out on to the road and began to accelerate.
The car they were following was a 2006 Mercury and it matched the de-
scription given by a woman who had been fired upon in Barringer, TX.
Sheriff Randy Cox had been tracking this person for about a month, after
several Brown County residents reported similar incidents.
He’d requested information from the Coleman County Sheriffs
Department about a similar incident earlier in the week, but they were
slow in responding.
They’d been riding under cover in an unmarked police cruiser
for several nights, but their efforts to this point had been in vane.
“He’s speeding up,” the deputy reported.
“Stay a safe distance behind, but mirror their speed. I don’t
want to lose this guy,” the sheriff ordered.
The Mercury was approaching another car that was going much
slower. “There going to pass that car, “ the sheriff observed.
“I know, I know,” the deputy said and sped up to keep pace.
Then they saw the flash come from the Mercury and the other
car, which looked like a small Toyota, started to swerve and came to a
stop on the shoulder.
The deputy punched the accelerator and the unmarked jumped
from 70 mph to 100 in nothing flat. The Mercury responded in kind and
was also traveling at near 100 mph trying to pull away. Within 30
seconds the deputy had the cruiser directly behind the Mercury. That’s
when the passenger in the Mercury fired back at them. The bullet hit the
hood and ricocheted against the windshield causing the glass to splinter.
“Son of a bitch!” the sheriff screamed. The red flashing light
was placed on the dashboard and the siren was screaming as they chased
The deputy called in the pursuit and unbeknownst to the fugit-
ives in the Mercury, they were heading toward a roadblock five miles
ahead. A Coleman County deputy happened to be on patrol and in a dir-
ect path of the fleeing Mercury. The deputy placed a spike strip across
the highway, and then positioned his car about a hundred feet diagonal
across the highway.
He could see the vehicle approaching at a high rate of speed
and it wasn’t slowing.
“Stop,” he yelled as the car headed right for the spike strip. The
tires made a sickening pop as they hit the strip at 90 mph and the driver
tried to avoid the Sheriff’s vehicle by swerving toward the shoulder.
With functioning tires they might have made the maneuver, but
on rims alone, the car couldn’t hold the line and it ended up flipping nu-
merous times as it tumbled down an embankment coming to rest upside
down at the bottom of the hill.
The Deputy got there seconds ahead of the pursuing Brown
County Sheriff. His gun was drawn and pointed at one of the suspects
who tried to limp away from the car.
“Halt!” he yelled as the man tried to escape on foot. The driver
of the car fired a shot at the Deputy and all hell broke loose. All three of-
ficers fired in unison at the driver side window. Two shots caught the
driver who fired the weapon, and the wounds were fatal.
The fleeing passenger dropped to the ground and surrendered.
He was later booked by Roland Simms the Coleman County Sheriff, and
within two hours he confessed to seven different shooting incidents, in-
cluding the attack on Charlie’s car.
News traveled fast and the local Coleman newspaper ran a spe-
cial edition detailing the high speed chase, and the ultimate capture of
one of the suspects.
The driver’s name was David Wright of Barringer, Texas. He
was 21 years of age, a white male with a criminal background. The
Brownwood Hospital Medical Staff pronounced him DOA.
The passenger was Alan Bell, of Abilene, Texas. He was 18
years old and also a white male.
The charges against Charles Wade would be dropped first thing
the next morning, and Sheriff Roland Simms would have a great deal of
explaining to do. As the Brownwood newspaper was reporting the lack
of cooperation from the Coleman County Sheriffs Department during the
investigation of the multiple car attacks.
Charlie wasn’t expecting a late night visitor, and so when Tina climbed
out of the Mercedes, his whole world kind of stopped.
“I don’t see or hear from you in years and now I get two visits in a
“Hello Charlie,” Tina said.
Charlie looked up and down the street looking for the surveillance
team, but the streets were empty and quiet.
“So what are you doing here.”
“I didn’t like the way our conversation ended the other day, so I
thought we’d have a second go.”
“Come on Tina, you’re a married woman. Even though I can’t stand
your husband, and would like nothing more than get him back for the
heartache you both caused me, this just isn’t gonna happen. Not now.”
“Who says I want anything from you. Can we just talk for a while. Can
you do that for me?”
Charlie signed and looked around. “Look park your car in the alley. I
don’t want any problems and neither do you. I’ll let you in through the
Two minutes later Charlie and Tina were up on the roof. Charlie was
drinking a beer, and Tina had a bottle of water.
“So what’s there to talk about?”
“Why haven’t you married Charlie?”
Charlie sighed again.
, he thought to himself.
What a question
“Why? Do you think I’m mooning over you? There have been other
women since you. In fact I’m seeing a nice woman right now. The more I
see her, the more I like her.”
“I know about her,” Tina said. “Do you love her?”
“It’s way to early for that,” Charlie said. “Look if you came here to feel
better about yourself, then let me help you. You still look beautiful in fact
you are even more beautiful than before. You still do it to me. I am
nervous right now. I want to take you and forget about everything that’s
happened. Does that help you?”
“Why don’t you then?” Tina asked without moving from her chair.
She was sitting four or five feet from Charlie and facing him. Her expres-
sion never changed from her face as Charlie talked.
“Then what? We live happily ever after?”
“Why not?” she asked. “Is it so hard for you to be happy?”
“I am happy Tina. What makes you think I’m not happy?”
“I guess because you’ve been alone for so long. I guess because I’m un-
happy, I thought maybe you were like me.”
“How can you compare me to you. I’d never sell my soul to marry
someone like Stephens.”
“Is that what you think I did?”
“Yeah I do. What do you call it?”
“I was young Charlie and when I met him, well he was bigger than
life, and I was bored and tired of being ignored. Sure I was immature,
but that was then. If you don’t think I have regrets, you’re crazy. But you
know something, I did this for you and your father.”
“What do you mean you did this for us. Did you not understand how
much I suffered, and what this did to my fathers health and business?”
“Before we got married, I caught Jack with another woman. She was a
stripper that worked a club in Austin. I threatened to break off the en-
gagement, and I even through the ring back at him.”
“So why didn’t you?”
“A couple days later after I’d cooled off, Jack came by my apartment. I
thought he’d try and apologize and win me back. He did a little, but I
could tell he wasn’t sincere. So when I didn’t react well to his effort of
humility, he made a threat. It scared me.”
Charlie rolled his eyes. “What threat?”
“He told me how he’d killed a man up in Ft. Worth. It was over some
money, but he didn’t go into any details. Then he told me how his father
was slowly destroying your fathers law practice and that it would only
get worse. He said he’d kill you if I walked away.”
“You expect me to believe that?”
“Believe what you want Charlie. He promised me that he’d quit whor-
ing if I’d take him back.”
Tina took out a newspaper clipping and gave it to Charlie.
Charlie grabbed the clipping. The more he read, the more he was sur-
prised. Jack Stephens actually killed a man in a reported bar fight in Ft.
Worth back around the time he met Tina. For some reason the charges
were dropped and he walked away from it.
“His daddy bought him out of it. Supposedly laid a big fat bribe on the
district attorney. He snuck up on the guy from behind and clubbed him
with a tire iron. It wasn’t even a fair fight.”
“Anyway that scared me. I mean what kind of person kills someone
like that? He convinced me that he would change and for a while he did.
But about a year after we were married, he was at it again. This time it
was some stripper in Abilene. I heard she had to get an abortion. I got
mad at him and threatened to divorce him.’
“So why didn’t you?” Charlie asked.
“My cousin was running for sheriff and my father was having some
business troubles. Jack Senior told me he’d help them both if I’d recon-
sider. So I gave him yet another chance. But it never stopped and finally I
just gave in to it. Jack Senior owns half of my fathers business and won’t
let him out if it. He also owns my cousin. I guess he owns me to, as I get
all the money I need, and as long as I keep my mouth shut, the money
“Word has it, that you can’t have babies. Is that true?” Charlie
“They think it is, but its not. I had an abortion in Dallas a couple
of years ago. Jack got me pregnant one night after we both got drunk. I
secretly got an abortion. I’m not having one of his kids. Anyway I’ve told
Jack that I have some physical problems.”
“Why hadn’t he checked it out himself?”
“I paid a doctor in Abilene some money to tell him that I did. So
far he hasn’t questioned it. But he hates me because he can’t give his
daddy a grandchild. Eventually he’s going to dump me for someone
who can, but I know he’s waiting for Jack Senior to die.”
“Is Jack Senior sick or something?”
“No,” Tina said smiling through her tears. “Hell I think he’s as
healthy as his son. Tried to do me one night when Jack was out. I had to
fight him off.”
“So why don’t you just leave? Is it worth all of this?”
“No, but I’d leave empty handed and frankly, I’ve had money
for so long, I don’t know what I’d do without it.”
“They’d have to give you something. It’s not like you’d leave
“Jack told me that he’d make my life miserable if I tried to go
after his money. Besides, he doesn’t have any. It’s all in his daddy’s
name. Even our house is owned by his daddy. I might get some alimony
or something, but until Jack Senior dies, I’m out of luck.”
“So why are you here?”
“Because frankly, despite everything, you’re the most level
headed person I know who they don’t own,” Tina stopped. “Why did
you think I came here to sleep with you or something?”
Charlie didn’t know what to think and the conversation hadn’t
done anything to change his mind about Tina or the Stephens.
“So how can I help you?”
“Maybe I can work the old man from the inside. He’s already
offered me money if I can get you to sell to him.”
“How much did he offer you?”
“Two hundred and fifty thousand if you sold to him at a million
“Why does he want the property? I mean what do you know
about his plan? He’s been buying up leases in San Saba County for the
last five years.”
“I don’t know much Charlie. What I do know is that Jack Senior
believes with all his heart, that there is an ocean of oil somewhere in San
Saba County. I don’t know anything about the oil business, but I did
over hear him and my Jack talking about it one night.”
“An ocean of oil?” Charlie asked.
“That’s what he said. An ocean of oil. I believe he said it would
dwarf anything else ever discovered in Texas.”
“How does he know?”
“I don’t know Charlie, he certainly wouldn’t tell me. But for
some reason he is really focused on that Rollins lease, which you now
own. I know he’s not happy you’re holding things up.”
“So he sent you over here to talk me into selling to him?”
“Yeah he sent me over here to sleep with you and try and talk
you into it. Then he said he’d give me the money so that I could walk
away and start over. He knows about Jack and I. Believe me the two of
them rarely talk, except my Jack still has some responsibilities around
there. He was the one who was suppose to secure those last few leases. I
heard them arguing the other night. Supposedly Jack overstepped his
bounds a little when he drilled those wells on the Rollins place. But I also
think they found out something about that lease by drilling those wells. I
really don’t know. Hell maybe you are sitting on an ocean of oil. If you
are, will you take care of me?” Tina asked winking at Charlie.
“For some reason, I believe you. Maybe there is a way you can
“You mean other than sleep with you,” Tina said pouting.
“Yes, other than sleep with me. Maybe you could snoop around
a little. Anything could be helpful. Maybe if I can extract enough out of
the old man, I can make it worth your while. Maybe even more than the
old man is willing to do.”
“What do you want to know?”
“I want to know why he thinks there is an ocean of oil under
that land. Something a little more concrete than a legend.”
“What do you mean a legend?”
“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you,” Charlie said as he re-
turned with a couple of beers.
Tina grabbed her beer and took a large swig. “Trying to get me
drunk and take advantage?”
“No, just being hospitable.”
“Oh because I was going to tell you that you don’t need to get
me drunk,” she said in a sly voice.
Charlie didn’t say anything so Tina ignored the rejection and
“So what wouldn’t I believe?”
Charlie paused not sure if he should say anything more. “I
think that Jack Senior is doing all of this because of some crazy predic-
tion made by a dead prophet.”
“What?” Tina sounded surprised. “Why do you think that?”
“Just a feeling I have about something I learned. Nothing else
seems to make much sense. Anyway I need to know who the geologist is
or anyone else that’s advising him. Maybe Jack the III knows
Tina crinkled her face in disapproval when Charlie mentioned
Jack the III. “I doubt that idiot knows anything, but I’ll snoop around a
little. Who was the prophet?”
“His name was Edgar Cayce. He supposedly made some pre-
dictions about San Saba County and a large oil discovery. But he made
the predictions back in the 1920’s. The oil was never discovered despite
many attempts by Cayce and his investors.”
“OK,” Tina said. “So I help you and you help me, right?”
“If you want out of there, I’ll help make it happen.”
There eyes met. Charlie could sense some desperation in Tina’s
“This will work out Tina.”
“Easy for you to say, you’re not the one who has to deal with
these people. I’ve had to lock my self in a room on more than one
occasion to get away from my husband. When he gets drunk, he turns
violent. I bought a gun, and I swear if he hits me again, I’ll kill him.”
“Where does he think you are tonight?”
“Dallas, visiting some friends.”
“Won’t he check on you?”
“Are you kidding?” Tina laughed. “I’ve actually gone up there
ten times over the last year, and he’s never checked or even asked. He’s
too busy with his whores in Abilene.”
“Where are you gonna stay?”
Tina looked at Charlie and he knew instantly what that meant.
“I don’t think it would be a good idea, plus Cheryl gets here early. She’ll
tell the whole town.”
“I’ll leave early, no one will know. You’re not going to save
yourself entirely for your girlfriend are you?”
“It might surprise you Tina, but we’ve only been together
“You mean to tell me you’ve only had sex once?”
“That’s right, why is that so hard to believe?”
“Hell you wouldn’t stay away from me when we were together.
I kind of liked it that way,” Tina winked.
“You can stay, but you gotta behave, and be out of here early in
the morning,” Charlie said sternly.
Tina kind of frowned at his insistence on being good, but
smiled and headed for his bedroom. Charlie loaned her a shirt and as she
walked out of the bathroom, her figure outlined the t-shirt. Her breasts
were just as he remembered. Other than a few pounds around her waist,
Tina had a spectacular figure. It had been quite but he remembered
everything about her body.
They climbed into bed and Charlie quickly turned his back
away from Tina in an attempt to ward off her advances. She snuggled to
him and he could feel her breath on his neck. The smooth skin from her
legs brushed up against his and it instantly aroused him. Tina could
since Charlie’s state of mind and subtly continued her seduction. Finally
she reached around him and explored him, similar to the way she did
when they were together many years before. She kissed his neck slowly
and methodically. Finally Charlie turned to face her in the bed.
He was overcome, and he kissed her passionately. Over and
over feasting on lips as if he was starved. All of his emotions pouring out
of him. She had unlocked something he had suppressed for a long time.
There bodies fused together and they made love for hours. The next
thing he knew, Cheryl was yelling up at him from the office. Worried,
Charlie instantly reached for Tina, but she was nowhere to be found.
Cheryl yelled up one more time and Charlie finally answered.
On his dresser he found a note. It was simple and to the point.
I guess we both needed last night. I’ll do my best for you, as I
know you will for me. I still love you.
Don Cooper wasted no time in following through on his part of the plan.
Though it was hastily put together out at his ranch, they all believed it
had a great chance of working. To Don money was money. Stephens had
offered about $100,000 which was substantially less than the Rollins
lease. The main reason was there was far less developmental acreage on
his ranch. The lake for one, was an issue and then part of the acreage was
just unsuitable and held a very low probability of success. That being
said, part of the acreage was prime, and was specifically targeted by
Edgar Cayce back in the 1920’s. In Charlie’s opinion that would make a
big difference to Stephens, if he was truly chasing that myth.
Christine Winters had sent the original letter to Don Cooper
and it had been three months without a reply. That didn’t surprise any-
one, as the Coopers were known to be difficult business people. The
$100,000 offer was fair, but a only a starting point for a negotiation.
When her phone rang and it was Don Cooper, she leaped to
“Hello Mr. Cooper. How can I help you this morning,” She
asked trying to be coy.
“Well I’m responding to the letter your firm sent me regarding
“Of course,” she said still playing it cool.
“Well I’m not one to do business through the mail or over the
phone, but I’d be interested in discussing this with Mr. Stephens directly.
Perhaps he’d find the time to visit my ranch.”
“Mr. Stephens is a very busy man, he usually delegates these
matters to us.”
“Oh I’m sure that he is, and I won’t disturb him further, good
day Ms. Winters,” Don said trying to elicit a response.
Christine Winters almost jumped through the phone. “Hold on
Mr. Cooper, certainly there is something we can talk about here.”
“No offense Ms. Winters. I’m kind of a no nonsense guy, and
don’t care for negotiating with lawyers. No offense meant. But I find it
easier if I’m talking directly to the man with the money. It just seems to
go better and faster that way. Now I’ve been approached by someone
else about this land and they offered more than Mr. Stephens. I told him
the same thing. He needs to come out and talk to me directly. He’s com-
ing out tomorrow. Who ever gets here first, and makes an offer that I can
live with, gets the deal. Plus I might have a few things of keen interest to
the person who gets this lease. But the only way Mr. Stephens will know,
is if he takes a meeting. I have some time at four o’clock. If he wants it,
he’ll be here. Otherwise I’ll assume he doesn’t. He’ll need to bring a
check if he wants to do business.”
Christine Winters hung up the phone and called Ted Somers.
Charlie said virtually nothing to Cheryl as he hurried out the door and
down to the courthouse. It was a light legal day, as he had another meth
client to deal with. His client Billy Ray Edwards, was an out of work ma-
chinist who got addicted to the stuff a few months ago and saw his entire
life implode. If anyone needed help it was Billy Ray. Charlie had known
him in school, but had little contact with him since.
A year ago Billy Ray was making twenty dollars an hour, had a
nice wife and child, and a good life. Now he was unemployed doing odd
jobs. His wife of three years moved back with her parents, and their
house with two mortgages, was on the market with few prospects. It was
a classic sad story and there were just too many of them around
Unable to make bail, Billy Ray was dressed in his jail house cov-
eralls. He’d been caught carrying the drugs while shoplifting. It was the
second shoplifting charge in two months, and things had escalated. This
time he actually tried to make off with some jewelry at the local store.
Just reached in the case and grabbed it. No one knew where he was go-
ing with it, but it was rumored that some of the local meth dealers would
trade stolen goods for drugs. A nice watch worth a hundred dollars
would get you one two hour pop of meth. A real nice watch might get
you a whole weekends worth. It was the seediest of businesses and
Charlie had seen more than his share of it.
The police had tried to get Billy Ray to roll over on the dealer,
but he was worried for his wife and child, as threats had been made. So
Billy would just take his punishment. As Charlie sat with a couple other
attorneys in the court room he glanced over at Billy Ray. He was a shell
of what he once was. A beaten man.
“Billy Ray Edwards,” the bailiff called his case.
Judge Howard was hearing the docket and he was known to be
a no nonsense judge. Fortunately this was an easy case to handle.
Charlie rose and walked over to the Judge.
“If the court pleases, may I have a word with my client.”
The Judge was irritated by this as usually these meetings were
held away from the court room so as not to waste time.
“I can put you at the end of the docket counselor if you prefer?”
the Judge asked.
“No sir, this will only take a few seconds. I just want to clarify
something with my client.”
“You got a minute counselor.”
Charlie and Billy Ray huddled up for a short talk.
“You sure you don’t want to roll over on your supplier?”
“I can’t Charlie. He’ll hurt my wife and kid. I just know he will.
I’ll just do the time.”
“OK, I say we wave the preliminary hearing and cut a deal with
the District Attorney. I think I can get them to plead your case to a mis-
demeanor. But you’ll need to do ninety days at the farm, and enter their
program. Is that Ok with you.”
“What about my family?”
“Isn’t she living with her folks right now?”
“Yeah but she needs money.”
“She’ll qualify for a little aid from the county, but because you
committed a theft, it’ll be limited. Look I’ll see what I can do. I’ll talk to
social services, but you need to break this habit and get your life
“OK, I’ll take the deal,” Billy Ray said.
Charlie stood up and approached the Judge.
“Your Honor, my client wishes to waive his preliminary hear-
ing, and we’re not asking for any modification to bail.”
It was that simple. The Judge marked the file accordingly.
Twenty minutes later while eating flapjacks at Floreens, he and the pro-
secuting attorney, cut the deal. Billy Ray would be charge with misde-
meanor theft, and also possession of illegal narcotics, another misde-
meanor. He would spend ninety days on the farm and be admitted to the
program. The wheels of justice had turned.
For his work on the case, Charlie would be paid a thousand dol-
lars. It was a flat rate, and paid by the county. Charlie had spent less than
two hours on the case.
, Charlie thought to himself.
It hardly deserved that
The clerk identified Billy Ray as did another customer. They found the
jewelry on him, and he admitted taking the jewelry to the arresting
All of that had been a mere diversion from what was really on
his mind. Tina’s visit and their subsequent night of passion, had him
totally confused. He really cared for Anna, and they had been getting on
nicely, but then how could he explain his behavior with Tina. Once they
started he couldn’t stop. For once there was something that happened in
town that Cheryl hadn’t heard about.
, Charlie thought to him-
self. The last thing he wanted now was a lecture from Cheryl.
When Charlie returned to his office, Cheryl gave him the news that Don
Cooper had called. The message was short and to the point. He’d sched-
uled the appointment.
“Call County Services and see if we can get some help for Billy
Ray’s wife,” Charlie said.
“You want me to do that?” Cheryl asked.
“Yes I do.”
“But you usually do that. I don’t know what to say.”
“Damn it Cheryl just call them and tell them the story!”
Charlie realized at that moment, that he hadn’t even told Cheryl
the story. He also realized that he needed to get away from the office and
get his head on straight.
“I’m sorry. I’ll drop by there myself after lunch.”
“What’s eating you this morning? Figured you’d be in a good
mood after last night.”
Charlie stopped in his tracks. “What do you mean about last
“Well you had an all-nighter with Tina Stephens.”
“How’d you know?”
“She was leaving this morning as I got here. Saw her pull away
in her Mercedes convertible. I just figured that she had been with you all
night, since you were still asleep. Figured you two were celebrating the
fact that they caught those two guys. Well at least one of them. The oth-
“Wait a minute Cheryl, stop. You lost me here.”
“You mean you don’t know?”
“Know what?” Charlie asked.
She started laughing almost hysterically. “Here I thought you
were celebrating. When all along you were just having a fling with your
“I’m not getting any of this Cheryl. What would I be
“They caught the guy who shot up your car. He confessed to
everything. I got the paper right here. The Brown County Sheriff said
Roland knew all along about the shootings.”
“That bastard Roland, I have a good mind to go over there and
punch him out,” Charlie said.
“What would his cousin Tina think if you did that?”
“Please Cheryl, please keep this thing about Tina to yourself,”
“I swear I won’t tell anybody else.”
“Anybody else, who’d you tell already?”
“Doris, why’d you tell her?”
Charlie was in a state of panic, as Doris White was the biggest
gossip in the city, and worked over at the Sheriffs Department.
His shoulders drooped as heard the news. Then he looked a
little closer at Cheryl and could see she was enjoying the entire ordeal.
“You didn’t really tell anyone did you?”
“All these years working in this office and you have to ask me
that. I hear things, but I don’t tell people any more than they already
know. I’m hurt that you’d think different.”
“I don’t really,” Charlie said looking for an out. “It’s the
“Look it’s none of my business, but I’d stay clear of Tina Steph-
ens if I were you. That husband of hers is crazy and there’s no telling
what he would do if he found out. And what about your little Mexican
girl friend? I thought she had some potential.”
“She does,” Charlie pleaded.
“Then what are you doing sleeping with Tina?”
“Should I tell him to forget it?”
“No!,” Jack Senior said. “I’ll meet with him. I want that lease.”
“Who else would be offering to lease that land?” Somers asked.
“I’m sure it’s Charlie Wade. He probably thinks if he can get
that land leased ahead of me, that he can then extract more out of me for
both pieces. Did Cooper say how much he was offered?”
“According to Christine, all he said was that he’d been contac-
ted by someone and they were planning on meeting tomorrow. He also
said that he’d do business with the first person who was prepared to pay
him. We don’t know much about this Don Cooper, what do you know?”
“He’s a nut. I can tell you that much. He and his family live
back on their ranch like it was the old west. They’re scavengers, but
they’ve managed to do quite well for themselves. Occasionally when we
can’t find what we need from our traditional suppliers, we’ll trade with
them. He’s always difficult to deal with and doesn’t negotiate. I am
frankly surprised he called at all.”
“What do you mean, they live like it was the old west?”
Stephens laughed at the question from his high priced lawyer.
He was the best when it came to legal matters, but utterly worthless in
dealing with a man like Don Cooper.
“I mean his whole family carries guns. A few years back some
people tried to rob them. The next day he dropped off three dead bodies
at the sheriff’s office.”
The thought sent chills down Somer’s neck. “That’s preposter-
ous. Didn’t they press charges?”
“I think they thought about it for a while, but they couldn’t get anyone
to go out there and arrest them. Besides, there’s not a jury in that county
that’d convict them. People have a thing about walking on to a man’s
land. It wasn’t that long ago they hung cattle thieves.”
“I’m glad it’s you going out there and not me,” Somers said
“What’re you talking about?” Stephens said laughing. “I’m go-
ing to need someone to handle the paperwork. I’m not coming back
empty handed. We’ll swing by to pick you up at three o’clock. Maybe
you should get a change of clothes. I don’t think Don Cooper will be im-
pressed with your silk stockings and business suit.”
Tina stood outside the door listening to Jack Senior talk to his
lawyer. She had been waiting so that she could come in and give him a
status report. So he would be gone after three o’clock.
Just the break I
, she thought to herself.
She had her blouse unbuttoned far enough for Jack Senior to get
a little look at her breasts. She needed to keep him happy in case her
little deal with Charlie was a bust.
Jack Senior left at half past two to pick up his lawyer and then take the
hour long ride to San Saba County. Tina slid into his office undetected
and began to look around. She had a pad of paper and began to take
notes. None of it made a lot of sense to her, but it might to Charlie. For-
tunately Jack Senior had a copier on the far end of his office, and Tina
was able to make some duplicates of things left out on Jack Senior’s desk.
She was looking for anything that said San Saba or Rollins.
After going through everything on his desk she tried the file cabinet. To
her dismay it was locked. But she remembered Jack the III telling her
where the old man kept a key. It was right where he said it was, on top
of his old liquor cabinet.
The file cabinet had four drawers and they were all crammed
full of papers and files. She looked around for a good ten minutes until
she found what she was looking for. It was a fairly thick folder marked
Seismic – San Saba
. It was too thick to copy and much of the file contained
large maps which needed to be unfolded and laid out. Then she saw a
. Both files seemed like something Charlie
Geology – San Saba
would want to see. Tina decided to take the files and then return them
after she could get them copied. She closed up the file cabinet, locked it,
and then returned the key to its hiding place.
A couple of moments later she was back in her car and getting
ready to leave. She looked around the huge estate and saw a few work-
ers, but no sign of anyone important.
She slid the files into her car and started the engine. That’s
when she realized that her purse was still inside the office. Tina quickly
looked around and seeing the coast was clear, headed back for the house.
Once inside she scurried to the office to grab her purse. One of
the hands drove up as she was coming back out of the house. When he
saw her leaving, he called out to her.
“What the hell you doing in there?”
“I left my purse in there earlier when I went to see Jack Senior.”
“How’d you get in there?”
“I’ve got a key of course. What’s it to you?”
“Jack Senior doesn’t like people snooping around when he’s
gone. I’m supposed to keep an eye on things, but I had to go down to the
stables to check on something. He’s not going to be happy knowing
you’ve been in there.”
“I wouldn’t worry about it, I’m in there all the time. Plus you
can see that all I have is my purse.”
“The ranch hand looked her over for a second, then backed off.”
“If you don’t mind, I’m running late for an appointment,” Tina
“Sure,” the man said.
Tina drove off and in her rearview mirror she could see the man
staring at her car.
This can’t be good
, she thought to herself.
As they reached the front gate of the Cooper ranch, Jimmy Cooper met
them with his rifle strapped on his back. The black GMC Yukon pulled
up to where Jimmy was standing. His pickup was blocking the road that
led to the office.
Jimmy walked up to the driver side window. The driver who
worked for Stephens, rolled it down so they could talk.
“Mr. Stephens to you,” the driver said in a hostile tone.
Jimmy spit some chew on the ground next to the front tire.
“Who are the rest of these fellas?” Jimmy asked politely.
Jack Stephens spoke. “I have my son, he is in the front passen-
ger seat. The driver also works for me. The other gentleman in the back
is my lawyer.”
Jimmy spat again on the ground next to the car. “Any of you all carry
“What’s it to you,” the driver asked trying to be
Jimmy grabbed open the door and in one quick motion drug the
driver out of the car and threw him to the ground. He put his size eleven
left boot right on the mans chest and pointed his rifle down at him.
“Now I’m not going to ask again, is any one carrying a gun?”
Ted Somers looked on in shock as he was totally unprepared for
what he was seeing.
“Know young man, no one is carrying a gun,” Jack Senior said
trying to calm the situation. “Now can you let my driver up so that we
can follow you to meet your father?”
Jimmy let the man up by lifting his heel off his chest. He
jumped to his feet and was ready for a fight.
“Not now Greg, we’re guests here,” Jack Senior said.
The driver dusted himself off and climbed back in the car. He
didn’t say anything more, but he never took his eyes off of Jimmy.
“Follow me,” Jimmy said.
Jimmy climbed into his pickup and wheeled it around and then
down the road. The Stephens delegation followed him to the office
where the rest of the Coopers were waiting. As they arrived, Jack Steph-
ens Senior climbed out of the car followed by the rest of his group. He
saw Don Cooper come out of the office. He didn’t know him well, but
each of them knew the other by sight.
“Hello Mr. Cooper,” Stephens said.
“Mr. Stephens, it’s nice to see you.”
Don Cooper was calm and collected as all of the introductions
were made. Everyone made their way into the stinky office where Little
Donny served everyone whiskey. Ted Somers asked for a bottle of water,
of which Don Cooper handed him a paper cup filled from a dispenser.
The look on Somer’s face made everyone laugh.
“Should we get down to business?” Jack Senior asked after the
group had commenced with a little small talk.
“Sure,” Don said.
Everyone took a seat around the large table that was situated in
the middle of the room.
“Well if you don’t mind, I’ll get right to it,” Jack Senior said. “I
made a very fair offer to you to lease the western half of your land. Do
you have any questions?”
“No, we don’t,” Don said looking first at his boys and then at
“Well, I have a check here to sign and some papers assigning
me those lease rights. I’m ready to do this, so what’s your answer?”
“My answer is no,” Don said.
“How much do you want?” Stephens asked.
“A lot more than your offering, I can tell you that,” Don said.
“I’ve made you a fair offer, and I don’t think I can go any
“Well I’m sure you’ll go much higher when I show you what I
“I can’t imagine you would have anything that would convince
me to pay you more than the one hundred thousand I already offered.
But I’m willing to listen.”
Don Cooper reached over on his desk and grabbed a folder he
had prepared. He threw it on the table in front of Jack Stephens.
“Take a look at that,” Don said.
Jack Senior started thumbing his way through the file. Most of it
was insignificant records and an old journal that his grandfather had
kept. Then he saw the lease. He opened it and laid it on the table so that
both Somers and his son could see the document. His eyes became wide
as he read it and digested the information.
“This can’t be true,” Jack Senior said. “Does this look authentic
Somers studied the document closely. He looked at the parch-
ment, the wording, and the signatures.
“I’d say it probably is?”
“Where are the wells that were drilled?” Jack Senior asked.
“Toward the west side of the ranch near the lake and close to
the Rollins property.”
“Who else knows about this?” asked Stephens.
“No one,” Don said. “But if you don’t make me a better offer,
the gentleman I’m meeting tomorrow, will know and he’ll have a chance
to buy it.”
“Who are you meeting with if you don’t mind me asking?” Jack
Senior posed the question but was pretty sure he knew the answer.
“A lawyer over in Coleman. I think his name is Wade. He called
me the other day and asked if I’d be interested in leasing.”
“What did you tell him?” Jack the III asked.
“I told him that for fifty years no one could care less about this
property. Now in the space of two months, two different people want to
pay big money to lease the property. I told him that someone knows
something that I don’t.”
“How did he respond to that?”
“He just said that since he has the Rollins place, maybe he
should lease this one also.”
Jack the III looked over at Jack Senior. He could see what his
father was thinking.
“He doesn’t have the kind of money or resources to drill and
develop the oil that might be there, so why would you want to lease to
him? The name of the game over the long run is royalties,” Jack Senior
said it firmly to make a point.
“I know why you want this place, and why he wants this place.
I think he wants it because he knows you want them both. And I’m
pretty sure I know why you want it.”
“I’m just an oil producer,” Jack Senior said. “I buy and sell
leases every week. It’s just part of the business.”
“Well you’re not going to buy this lease for less than a million
dollars,” Don said. “You see those documents tell me everything I need
to know about your intentions. You’re looking for the oil that Edgar
Cayce never found. That’s why your buying up these leases. I saw those
men running seismic up on the Rollins lease. But I know something you
“What’s that?” Jack Senior asked.
“My grandfather almost went broke hunting for oil with Edgar
Cayce. The prophet believed that there is a huge pool of oil being
trapped by the granite which is underneath all of this ground around
here. Edgar Cayce believed it and my grandfather believed it. They just
never were able to find it. I think you believe it. And I think with all of
the fancy technology available to you, that you’ll find it.”
“So let me do it and we’ll all get rich.” Jack Senior said.
“Why don’t you just pay me the money and see what you can
“Charlie Wade doesn’t have that kind of money, so why are
you trying to bleed me?”
“Look Mr. Stephens, I’ve told you my price, you can take it or
leave it. In fact if you don’t take it I have a mind to use one of those
drilling rigs I have on my lot and go after that oil myself. Hell all I got to
do is poke a half a dozen 2,600 foot holes in the ground. I’ve got the
equipment to do it. If I find the oil, one of those big oil companies will
come down here and pay me millions for it. Hell they may even pay me
a billion. All I’m trying to do is cut out the middle man. If Wade buys it
from me he still tried to sell it to you for a profit. Maybe both leases are
worth more together than separate. I don’t really care. I’m only inter-
ested in getting paid.”
“One million dollars for the lease. And we hold it forever so
long as we find oil and produce it. Do we have a deal?” Jack Senior
“I’ll sign that as soon as your lawyer over there can put it to-
gether,” Don Cooper said without changing his expression.
Ted Somers opened his brief case and pulled out the standard
form lease assignment. It had already been dated.
“Mr. Cooper if you’ll sign here,” Somers said pointing his
skinny finger at the underlined space on the lease.
Don Cooper took the pen from Somers. It was a Mont Blanc,
and it was a very unique one at that. “This is a nice pen. Can I keep it?”
Somers stammered, “Ah..my wife gave me that pen.”
“Give him the pen damn it!” Jack Senior ordered.
“Where’s the check?” Little Donny asked.
Stephens pulled the blank check out of his pocket and filled it
out. He handed it over to Don Cooper, who in turn signed the assign-
ment and handed it to Somers. The two men shook hands and the deal
The Stephens entourage headed for the door. As Jack Senior got there
he turned to face the Coopers. “Would you really have drilled those
“Hell yes,” Don Cooper said.
“I would’ve liked to have seen that,” Jack the III said mockingly.
“Mr. Stephens,” Don Cooper called after him before he climbed into
“Yes Mr. Cooper,” he said with a sigh.
“That Rollins land used to be part of our property. My grandfather
deeded it over to a man named Flint in 1924 to get rid of a debt. Then
Flint sold it a few years later to the Rollins family. Cayce and my grand-
father drilled three or four wells over there before they went broke.
They’re all open hole. I don’t know the story behind it, but I know he
was fixated on both places. Thought you might want to know that.”
Stephens climbed into the back of the Yukon and drove off. Don
Cooper looked over at his boys and broke out a big toothy smile.
“Our banker’s gonna shit when he sees this check!”
“Thank God for Charlie Wade,” Jimmy said. “He played this
“I thought I did pretty good,” Don said lighting up a cigarette.
“Hell boys break out the shine and lets do some night fishing. And listen
to me good. None of you tell your wives about this. Money’s a funny
thing. It makes women crazy.”
It took Charlie a couple of hours to take care of the tire store matter, and
now he needed the bank to open the doors so that the Coopers could re-
trieve their items. Since the bank was out quite a bit of money, they were
not just going to
, Charlie thought.
Ted Justice was the Vice President who had the unenviable task
of cleaning up the mess. It was his mess because he made the loan to the
White brothers who owned the store.
Charlie found Ted sitting behind his desk looking at the inter-
net. His father had always had a negative opinion of bankers and
Charlie’s wasn’t much different. They acted as if they had the weight of
the world on every decision.
“Hey Charlie,” Ted greeted him with a normal handshake and
smile. “Looks like things are going well for you.”
“Normal ups and downs of small town law,” Charlie said.
“So what can I do for you?” Ted asked.
“I’m here to talk to you about the White Brothers Tire Store.”
“Oh that,” Ted said rolling his eyes. “Do you represent a credit-
or or something?’
“No,” Charlie said quickly. “One of my clients has some equip-
ment over there that they loaned the Whites. They just want to get it
“A couple of tire machines and generators,” Charlie said.
“Bullshit,” Ted said.
Charlie was surprised at the bankers strong come back. “I don’t
understand your comment,” Charlie said.
“What is it you don’t understand?” Ted said.
“I have a sworn affidavit here that says that equipment was on
loan. It’s signed by both of the White brothers.”
Charlie showed Ted the affidavit. He looked at it for a few
seconds and then laughed. “This is bullshit!”
“So you’re saying you won’t turn this equipment over to the
“Not a chance Charlie. The White’s have no credibility, and the
bank is way under water on this loan. Everything in there is going to be
sold to satisfy the loan.”
“I’ll just file a restraining order with the court. In fact I’ll do it
today. Then we’ll have a hearing, and you’ll lose.”
“I don’t think so Charlie,” Ted said.
“You don’t have an invoice, so you can’t prove the Coopers are
creditors. Consignment law is very simple in Texas. That equipment is
going back to the Coopers. Now you want to spend more money on at-
torney fees, that’s your business. I was hoping we’d take care of this
“The Whites listed Cooper Salvage as a creditor. They’re unse-
cured and as such, out in the cold until we get our money. That’s not
likely to happen,” Ted said with a forced smile.
“It’s a common mistake made by people when they don’t un-
derstand consignment law. That’s why I took the time to get an affi-
davit,” Charlie said smiling.
The Whites had been only too happy to sign the affidavit as
they feared the Coopers and potential retribution. Charlie knew he was
pushing the envelope, but wanted to get this done without the Coopers
extracting street justice. The Coopers lived by the old code, they didn’t
understand things like liens and bankruptcy.
“If you want that equipment Charlie, then you’re going to have
to go to court,” The banker said also ending the meeting.
Ted Justice was cordial but firm in his final remarks to Charlie.
By law, Charlie knew the bank had the upper hand. He’d have to poten-
tially haul the White Brothers into court where they’d have to perjure
themselves to avoid the Coopers, and then face potential fallout from the
bank. They were in a no win situation, but would probably lie and face
the wrath of the bank over the Coopers.
Charlie hated the entire situation. Both parties were right. The
bank legally and the Coopers ethically. The bank didn’t care about eth-
ics, and the Coopers usually had their own way of interpreting the law.
He decided he would file the restraining order and try and
delay this a little, maybe find a compromise. It was obvious Ted Justice
was already hung out to dry on the matter, maybe there was a way to
make everyone happy. It was doubtful, but as Charlie’s father used to
when in doubt, stall
When Charlie got back to his office he had a surprise waiting for him. It
was a package of materials.
“Your old girl friend dropped this off for you.”
“Who?” Charlie asked.
“Tina Stephens,” Cheryl said. “What do you have her doing,
spying?” she whispered trying not to say something that could be picked
up from the bugs that had been planted.
“Of course not,” Charlie said in a low voice. All the while
knowing that was exactly what Tina was doing.
“Did she drop it off?” Charlie asked.
“No,” Cheryl said. “It was a courier out of Abilene. “I’m tired of
whispering, when you gonna hire someone to get rid of these darn
Charlie grabbed the bundle and headed for his office. He closed
his door, which was unusual. He knew it would piss Cheryl off, but he
needed to see the materials in private away from prying eyes. It wasn’t
that Cheryl was disloyal, just the opposite, but what Tina was doing was
stretching the ethical boundaries, and he didn’t want to hear anything
more from Cheryl.
The package contained all sorts of information. There were sev-
eral large files of geologists reports, and other technical information. All
of it was interesting and it was apparent that Jack Stephens was going to
great lengths to find oil in San Saba County. He had performed no fewer
than twenty different seismic surveys on various properties, including
the Rollins ranch.
Charlie wasn’t technical enough to understand it all, but he
knew someone who was. He called his cousin Marty and they agreed to
meet with the Geologist later in the day to go over the documents. Tina
had definitely done her part. Charlie wondered how she had managed to
pull it all together so quickly.
Jack Stephens would be really
if he knew his precious
files were in his hands, Charlie thought to himself.
As he continued mulling over the documents he hoped that
Tina hadn’t compromised herself too much in obtaining the information.
Tina was caught off guard by the early return of Jack Senior and Jack the
III. She had the files stuffed in her car, but hadn’t been able to return
them to Jack Senior’s file cabinet. She was a nervous wreck as she paced
the floor of her house.
After some thinking she decided to call Jack the III and see what
they were doing.
“Hey darling,” he answered in good spirits.
“I saw you all pull up at Jack Senior’s place, what’re you
“We’re just having a drink with daddy on the patio.”
“What’re you doing for dinner?” she asked. It was a little
strange as the two had barely spoken in a week, and now she was asking
him about dinner.
“I’m going into town with some of the boys, but I won’t be that
“What about your daddy, is he going to?”
“Yeah we all are,” Jack the III said. “You want to come?”
“No,” she said. “I’m tired so I think I’ll just grab a sandwich
“OK,” Jack the III said. “Maybe we can catch up on some things
a little later.”
Tina knew what that meant. He didn’t sleep with her often, but
occasionally he thought he needed to do his husbandly duties. Tina
hated it, but let him have his way. “Sure that’d be nice,” was all she
Fifteen minutes later Tina watched them leave from Jack Seni-
or’s home and head for Abilene. That was her
, to get the files
back. It was just starting to get dark as she pulled up in front of the
house. She looked around for the ranch hand who’d been looking after
the place earlier, but there was no sign of his truck. Tina grabbed the
files and quickly walked to the front door. She opened it with her key
and slipped in. The house was quiet but lit. She moved quickly to the
back office, which was empty, and made her way to the file cabinet. To
her dismay it was open. She slid the files back in place and left the door
the same way she found it.
Tina began to wonder. All sorts of bad
Why was the door opened?
thoughts drifted through her mind. Certainly they would’ve said
something to her, if they suspected something.
In a rush she hurried back to her car and drove back to her
house. She was sure no one had seen her. She ate a sandwich and then
put on her nightgown and watched television. Jack the III would be
home soon and her nightmare would begin again.
“Tomorrow we get the last property and then start drilling,” Jack Senior
“What are you going to offer him?” Jack the III asked.
“I’m going to up my offer to two and a half million, but if I have
to go higher I will. It’s the last and possibly most important property. We
can’t start drilling along the fault until we have everything. It would be
disastrous. We could lose over half the oil. Plus the Rollins property rep-
resents the key passageway for our project. All of these leases grant us
easements to run a pipe to haul the oil.”
The men were smiling as Jack Senior laid out his plan. It was
something he started two years earlier and now phase one was nearing
completion. Jack the III was not happy. He didn’t like the fact that Jack
Senior seemed hell bent to spend his last dollar in pursuit of some myth.
It had been one thing when the family’s fortune was rapidly growing,
but oil production was falling off everywhere, and they hadn’t found
any new production in years. There expenses were higher than ever, and
the Cayce project had cost them in excess of ten million dollars already.
Jack the III knew exactly how much money they had and how
much was coming in. He didn’t much care for the oil business, and one
day his daddy would be gone. Unbeknownst to his father he’d had their
properties appraised by an independent broker in the area. They were by
far the largest oil producer left in Abilene. Many people estimated their
fortune to be over a hundred million. Jack the III knew different. Over
the years the old man had invested foolishly on several land deals and
most of that money was gone. In total the family was down to about
twenty five million dollars in liquid assets. Now he was getting ready to
spend another two to five million to acquire the Rollins lease.
Then Jack Senior would continue this folly by spending ten mil-
lion drilling wells. All in search of oil that probably didn’t exist.
“I came in this world with nothing and if I have to, I’ll leave
with nothing,” Jack Senior yelled out boisterously to the group.
They all loved the go for broke attitude and wildcat spirit,
which got the Stephens family where they were today.
Jack the III pretended to smile and went along with the hoopla.
He had some ideas of his own hanging out there that needed funding.
One of his buddies from college needed funds to expand his biotech
company. Another was interested in a partner to invest in hamburger
franchises. Jack the III had promised five million for the biotech com-
pany. Jack Senior had instantly squashed the idea. The five million
would turn into a hundred million, Jack the III thought to himself.
“You don’t know anything about investments,” Jack Senior had
told his son. “You only know how to spend money. You leave the invest-
ing to me. Someday all of this will be yours.”
Jack watched the old man invest. Five million in the Caymans
on a real estate project, now worthless. Ten million on race horses, now
worthless. Let’s not forget his trophy wife of six months who took him
for another five million. Everything the man had done outside of oil had
lost money. He knew how lucky they’d been. One large discovery
twenty years earlier changed everything for them. It had actually been a
mistake. A lease his grandfather had acquired was about to expire and
his father needed to drill a couple of wells. The family was down to
about a million in assets and it was a risky move to drill on the unproven
Jack Senior went ahead and drilled. He enlisted the aid of a top
geologist and they narrowed the locations to a couple of spots. The first
well didn’t come in, but the second did. That is when they discovered
the Callahan field, named after the original land owner. They pulled two
million barrels of oil out of that field over twenty years, but the sur-
rounding leases pulled double that amount. It made hundreds of people
rich along with the Stephens. The family expanded out and continued
drilling, and other discoveries were made. None of them would even re-
motely match the Callahan. Jack Senior’s ego grew larger with every bar-
rel they produced. He was a player on every oil deal in the area. He out-
bid everyone for leases, but most of the time he was only able to make a
paltry return. The easy oil in West Texas had been found and produced.
The Callahan field was a fluke and Jack the III knew it.
When things got tough for the oil patch around Abilene, that’s
when Jack Senior got interested in the Cayce oil. His father had been a
wildcatter for years and was keenly interested in Cayce. He like so many
spent most of his money looking for the mythical oil pool. Jack Senior
had watched his father pursue the Cayce legend and now he was con-
. At least that’s what Jack the III thought.
Somehow Jack the III had to put a stop to this. Otherwise there
would be nothing left. They couldn’t afford to spend another fifteen mil-
lion or more chasing the Cayce legend.
This needed to end somehow
thought to himself.
The geologist shot it to them straight. “It’s a fool journey.”
The package of materials that Tina had dropped off only solidi-
fied what the geologist had figured out.
“You can tell by where they have bought leases, just what
they’re thinking. He’s concentrated all of his effort in this area right here
in San Saba County.”
The geologist was pointing to a yellow section of the map he’d
cut and pasted together.
“I’ve been studying this area for years. The Cayce myth is an in-
teresting story. He believed a large pool of oil existed and the granite ac-
ted as a huge trap for this oil. It’s possible that it does exist. But not
likely. There were a lot of holes poked in the ground over the years and
no one even sniffed at oil.”
“What about our well, it looks like we have oil there.”
“I don’t think so,” the geologist said sadly. “I’m betting you
have mostly salt water there. You may have traces of hydrocarbons in
certain areas, but nothing suited for commercial oil production.”
Charlie looked crestfallen.
“Look Charlie,” the geologist said. “You have an offer for a mil-
lion dollars, take it and run. I would say you have a one and a hundred
chance of finding oil onthat property.”
“Well I’m sure I can still sell it. Stephens just paid a million for
the Cooper land adjacent to the east.”
“A million for that?” the geologist asked.
“Yeah. Cooper actually has an old lease signed by Cayce him-
self. They drilled half a dozen wells in and around these properties.”
“So you’re saying that the Cooper land is the original Rocky
Pasture spoken about in the Cayce predictions?’
“Yeah it appears so,” Charlie said.
“Well it’s no wonder that Stephens wants it. Most people be-
lieve that the equipment back in the 1920’s was just not capable of effect-
ively breaking through the granite. It just took too long and cost too
much money. Mind you, I’m not one of those people in that camp, but it
does make logical sense. If he has the Cooper lease, then why would he
pay more for yours?”
“The Cooper land used to be both pieces. They sold the Rollins
half off to cover debts from the drilling with Cayce.”
“That’s quite a story,” the geologist said smiling. “Well I’d bet
my bottom dollar that he’s planning on drilling possibly a hundred wells
to 2,600 feet to find the exact location where you push through the gran-
ite. If you believe the legend, then the oil sits exactly at the location
where the push through point is right at 2,600 feet. That’s where the oil
would be trapped. Actually there could be quite a large natural gas cap
formed on top of that trap that could provide a lot of pressure once the
area was exposed. The initial flow rate would be incredible, almost
“Wasn’t our push through point right at 2,600 feet?” Charlie
“Yeah it was,” Marty answered. “But that would go for most of
the land in around there.”
The three men sat in silence for a couple of moments while
Marty paid there bill. All of them had finished their beverage and no one
really felt like continuing. “Sell it Charlie, it’s the wise thing to do.”
“Who are you calling daddy?” Jack the III asked.
“A geologist,” Jack Senior said.
“Who?” he asked.
“Don’t worry about it,” Jack Senior said mockingly.
“This is Stephens.”
“Good Evening Mr. Stephens,” the geologist answered.
“You meet with the Wades?”
“They just left a couple of minutes ago.”
“So what information did Tina give them?”
“Nothing important. Some old geological data and a few seis-
mic reports. Nothing they’d understand. I think you’ll find him ready to
sell. I didn’t taint it too much, but just enough so that he’d think twice
about going it alone. I did just what Mr. Somers asked. By the way it
looks like you might be on too something. Very interesting seismic
“Excellent,” Jack Senior said grinning widely. “Mr. Somers will
be taking care of you on this.”
“He already has. Thank you sir.”
Jack Senior hung up the phone and began dialing a second
“Who you calling now?” Jack the III asked.
“That Wade fella,” Jack Senior answered.
“Why don’t you wait till morning,” Jack the III said trying to
slow his father down.
‘I’ve been waiting for years, and I’m not waiting any longer.”
He caught Charlie driving home from his meeting with Marty
and the geologist. When Charlie’s phone rang, he thought it’d be Anna,
but he didn’t recognize the number.
“Hello,” Charlie said reluctantly.
“Hello Mr. Wade.”
Charlie recognized the voice as Jack Senior, despite the fact that
he’d only heard it one other time.
“Good evening Mr. Stephens.”
“Well let me get right to the point. I want to buy that Rollins
lease. I’m willing to raise my offer to a million and a half if you’ll sign
the papers in the morning.”
“What’s the hurry?” Charlie asked trying to be coy.
“Don’t fence with me Mr. Wade, I’m in no mood. I don’t even
need your land anymore. But it does serve as a convenience for what I’m
trying to do. Now what’s it gonna be?”
“I’ll tell you what,” Charlie said. “I’ll sell it to you for three mil-
lion. And I’ll sign the papers first thing in the morning.”
Jack Senior got excited, because he knew that this deal was get-
ting done. “Three million huh?” he said.
Jack the III cringed as he heard the number. He started shaking
his head and rolling his eyes. “Don’t do it daddy. Let’s give it some more
“Well do we have a deal at three million,” Charlie asked, his
“Two and a half and you sign by nine o’clock in the morning.
That’s my final offer. You say no and you’ll never hear from me again
about this property.” Now Jack Senior’s heart was pounding. He’d
bluffed and now it was Wade’s turn to answer the bet.
Charlie was nervous. What if he really would walk away. It
wasn’t worth the risk. Two and half million was a ton of money. It was
“I agree,” Charlie said hesitantly. “I assume Mr. Somers will be
sending the papers in the morning?”
“You assumed correctly. Good night Mr. Wade.”
Marty breathed a huge sigh of relief after Charlie called him with the
news. Sure he had just made a lot of money, but he was more concerned
with Charlie’s half a million dollar investment.
Charlie would get two million and Marty would get the rest. It
was a fair deal and the money would come in handy.
After the call to Marty, Charlie phoned Anna. She didn’t an-
swer on the first try. So he called again.
“Hello,” it was Anna.
“It’s good to hear your voice,” Charlie said.
There was dead air on the other end of the phone. “You there
“Yeah I’m here.”
“Is something wrong?”
“What do you think?”
“I don’t know,” Charlie said trying to understand what was
“You don’t know?” Anna said.
“No I don’t. What’s wrong?”
“I really don’t want to talk to you Charlie.”
Charlie was brought down from his high and now was strug-
gling to figure out what was wrong with Anna.
“Did I do something?”
“Did you do something?” she repeated his words. “You’re un-
believable. Did you do something? I don’t know Charlie, did you do
It was like a question fired back at him from nowhere. He
couldn’t figure out what had happened. Then it hit him. Tina. Somehow
Anna knew about Tina and the night before.
“It’s not what you think,” he said.
“What do you mean it’s not what I think?” she asked.
“It was an accident. Something that will never happen again. It
was just one night. It meant nothing.”
Anna started to laugh. “I’m kidding Charlie. I’m certain you
will probably stand me up again, but I hope not.”
That’s when it hit him. They’d had a date and he’d completely
forgot about it. The relief in his voice was a dead give away and Anna
picked up on it. “I’m sorry Anna, I just forgot. I got busy with other
things and well.”
“What did you mean when you said it meant nothing?”
“Well,” Charlie was stammering. “You know me standing you
up and all,” he said trying to lie.
“Something happened last night Charlie, didn’t it.”
Charlie wanted to lie but couldn’t. He didn’t want to do that to
her. But the truth was worse. He hesitated.
“Yeah something happened last night. It was a big mistake.”
“Another woman?” Anna asked with anger in her voice as she
anticipated the answer.
“Yes. It was Tina.”
He could barely get the words out when she screamed at him.
“I don’t want to hear any more. I thought you were different. But you’re
just a jerk like the rest of the men around here. Don’t’ call me again.”
Anna hung up.
Jack the III knelt silently outside the bedroom of Jack Senior. It had been
about fifteen minutes and he could hear the labored snoring coming
from the bedroom. It was loud and rhythmic. This would be easy he
thought to himself. It hadn’t been the first time he contemplated this
course of action. Prior to his father marrying the young trophy bride,
Jack the III had almost done it then.
The Chloroform was readily available as they used it on the
cattle and horses on occasion. It was odorless and virtually undetectable.
He had the rag and it was wet with the chemical. Jack the III crept
quietly into the bedroom. Jack Senior never moved or changed his snor-
ing pattern. Jack the III looked at his father sleeping peacefully, snoring
away. He’d been happy at dinner. But he’d never even considered his
Jack the III had a life of pent up feelings and tears welled in his
eyes. He couldn’t let his father throw away their entire net worth on a
fools journey. There was no way he would allow him to make a million-
aire of Charlie Wade, his hated enemy. He would scoff at Wade and buy
the lease for a pittance, if at all. Then he would trample the man like a
Jack the III was hovering directly over his father. He took the
rag and placed it over Jack Senior’s nose and mouth. All at once Jack
Senior’s eyes opened wide staring helplessly at his son. The chemical is
making him numb but he can’t catch his breath. Jack the III can see the
desperation in his father’s eyes and almost backs away. But he’s come to
far to turn back now. He starts to think about the money and power he’ll
inherit. Jack Senior stops fighting and the last breath of life leaves his
Jack the III backs away and pulls the covers up around his fath-
er’s chest. Jack Senior’s eyes are still wide open with the shock of his
sudden death approaching.
“I’m sorry father, it just had to be this way. Your sixty-five
years old. You had a good run. Now it’s my turn to take the reigns. It’ll
be a hell of a funeral. All of Abilene will come to pay homage to Jack
Stephens Senior, the great wildcatter.”
Tina heard Jack the III come in from the garage. He was not trying to be
quiet at all. In fact he was making a lot of racket.
As he came in her room he laid on the bed next to her. She rose
up to face him, as he just laid there and looked at her.
“What’s wrong Jack?”
He smiled at her. It was the same smile he used when
something good had happened. Kind of the cat that swallowed the ca-
“Nothing,” he said. “Just thought I might spend some quality
time with my wife.”
“It’s late Jack, I’m tired.”
“I think it’s time you let me back into our bedroom.”
“Are you drunk Jack? Did you strike out tonight with your
whores or something?”
Jack wheeled his hand around and smacked her on the right
cheek. It wasn’t a hard smack, but it got her attention.
“Asshole, who do you think you are hitting me?”
“I got your attention now don’t I?”
“Screw you,” Tina said. “Get the hell out of here or I’ll call your
daddy. He’s not going to take to kindly to you hitting me.”
“You know darling, I’ve never understood the relationship
you’ve had with my daddy. He’s always called you a calculating whore.
But you always threaten to call him when things get a little tough here.”
“Tough here. Is that what you call abusing your wife? You
know he tried to take me one time. Planted a big kiss on me. It was right
after that divorce to that bitch he married. You know the one you liked
so well. He said he knew you didn’t touch me, and that he’d be more
than happy to step in.”
“You lousy lying whore,” Jack screamed. “You’ll regret the day
you said those words.”
“I think I just might take your daddy up on his offer. He’s more
of a man than you’ll ever be. You’re a laughing stock around here.”
Jack started after Tina, but she was too fast. She got to the bath-
room and managed to lock herself in. Jack was infuriated and began
banging the door. He then started to slam the whole weight of his body
against it. After a few tries the lock gave way and he burst through.
“Hello darling,” he said.
Jack the III grabbed Tina by the arm and through her into bed.
He began to kiss her on the neck and his hands began to rip off her
nightgown. When she was naked on the bed he stripped his own clothes
off and began to force himself on her. Tina tried to fight him off but he
was to strong. Twice he hit her and the last blow almost knocked her out.
Her head was throbbing and she could feel him trying to penetrate her.
He’d never tried this before, and she couldn’t escape his grip.
“Please Jack stop,” she cried.
He didn’t stop and finally she gave in and let him have his way.
When he was done, Jack got off of her and stood up.
“In the future you better remember who the boss is. I guarantee
that you’ll see things different tomorrow. Otherwise I’ll throw your ass
to the street.”
Tina got up and went back to the bathroom. Her face was
already showing signs of bruising from the multiple blows she had taken
from Jack. Tina went back into the closet and found what she was look-
ing for. A year earlier she had purchased a hand gun for protection.
She’d even taken lessons on how to use it. Rarely did she carry it, but it
was always loaded and ready in case she needed it.
She’d had enough of him. Jack Senior would take care of her,
and no court in the land would convict her after seeing her face and
hearing her story of abuse. He’d opened the door for her to get rid of
him now. The whole thing came together in her head. It was perfect. She
needed to provoke him one more time.
Tina walked back into her bedroom with the gun hidden be-
hind her back. Jack was in the kitchen doing something. She could hear
him clamoring around.
“Hey Jack,” she yelled. “Is that the best you got?”
He came rushing back in the room from the kitchen.
“What did you say darling?”
“I said is that the best you got?”
“Please I’m a little tired maybe we can do this again tomorrow,”
he said laughing.
“Charlie Wade can do it twice,” she countered.
Jack turned back to face her. The very words made him cringe.
“What did you say?”
“You heard me. He did me twice last night,” she said laughing.
“And now your daddy’s about to make him rich.”
If anything Jack the III was predictable. He started at her again.
This time though Tina was ready. As he got close enough to hit her, she
pulled the gun and took a shot at him.
The echo reverberated through the house and blood splattered
as the bullet entered and exited Jack the III’s shoulder area, splintering
his collar bone. The bullet then found the mirror on the dresser drawers
directly behind him. It shattered and the glass fragments went
“You crazy bitch,” he yelled. “Where did you get that?”
Tina fired again, except this time she hit him dead center in the
chest. Jack the III dropped to the floor and blood began to ooze from the
wound. He was coughing up blood and trying to get air. Tina looked at
him in disgust as he whimpered on the floor begging for a miracle. A
moment later Jack the III was dead.
Charlie had a sleepless night as he couldn’t get his mind off of Anna. The
only solace he had was the fact that he’d probably gotten one over on
Jack Stephens and he’d soon be rich. After a quick shower he was in his
office working. Cheryl came through the door right at eight o’clock.
“Did you hear the news?”
“What news?” he asked.
“Don’t you ever turn on the radio or television?”
“I didn’t this morning,” he admitted. “Why what happened?”
“It’s terrible,” Cheryl started.
“What’s terrible?” Charlie asked.
“Jack Stephens,” Cheryl started.
“What about him?”
“He’s dead,” Cheryl said.
“What do you mean he’s dead? Which one’s dead?”
“Both of them.”
Charlie got on the phone and called Ogilvy. He’d no all the de-
tails that weren’t on the radio.
“That’s right Charlie, they’re both dead. The old man had a
heart attack or something, but the real shocker is that Tina shot and
killed Jack the III. Supposedly he beat her then raped her.”
Charlie couldn’t believe his ears. “Tina killed him?” Charlie
mumbled the words.
“Yeah two shots, one to the shoulder and then the second one
to the chest. The police are looking into the death of the old man, there
might be something suspicious in the way he died. It’s a circus in Abi-
lene right now.”
Her family’s up there and they already got her a lawyer who’s
handling the press.
“I can’t believe it,” Charlie said.
“It looks like Tina just hit the mother load. No children, and
she’s the sole heir. I guess she’s had it kind of rough with Jack the III. I
don’t think this was the first time he beat her,” Ogilvy said before
Charlie sat down at his desk and closed his eyes. He wondered
what would become of the deal he’d made the night before with Jack
Senior. In a sense he was now really in limbo.
Three weeks had passed and most of the hoopla surrounding the death
of the Stephens family had passed. Tina was given a pass by the district
attorney as they had found proof that Jack the III had killed Jack Senior.
The police found the Chloroform and there were traces of the chemical
both on Jack the III and Jack Senior.
It was also clear that Tina had been forcibly raped and beaten.
No charges were brought for her killing Jack the III.
The coroner determined that Jack Senior died first and his legal will
clearly passed his estate to Jack the III and his wife Tina. When Jack the
III died, that clearly left Tina as the sole heir. It would take a little time to
clear all of the legal hurdles, but Tina would end up with everything.
Christine Winters who was now representing Tina, arranged a meet-
ing with Charlie, so as to tied up any unfinished business. They met at
her office in Abilene. Tina and her were waiting as Charlie arrived.
Tina was wearing jeans and a white cotton blouse. She looked radiant
and totally unfathomed by what had happened. They hadn’t spoke since
the night at his office, though Charlie had reached a couple of times.
“Good morning Mr. Wade,” Winters said as she motioned for him to
take a seat at the table across from Tina and her. Charlie declined coffee
and the meeting got started.
“So what can we do for you Charlie?” Tina started.
“Well,” Charlie paused. “There is the outstanding issue concerning the
“Ms. Stephens is no longer interested in pursuing the leasing of the
property. Certainly you can understand that?” Winters said dryly.
“It was Jack Seniors wishes to have that lease. He offered me two and
half million for it the night he died. We consummated a deal. I know he
called your office and talked to Ted Somers about it.”
“Yes he mentioned it too Mr. Somers, but as you know Mr. Wade, a
deal is only deal when the paperwork is signed and money exchanged.
Ms. Stephens no longer wishes to acquire the lease.”
“Is that right Tina? You have no interest in doing the right thing and
honoring a dead man’s wishes?”
“Charlie,” Tina started. “What would I do with it. I have thirty leases
in San Saba County that my geologist says Jack Senior overpaid for. Why
would I want another one? I’m getting out of the oil business Charlie.
I’m selling the entire company to one of the mid-majors. Let them deal
with all of this. I’m selling everything Charlie. The land, houses, cars and
“I’m surprised. What’re you going to do?”
“I’m leaving West Texas forever. I’m going to take the money and do
something good with it. Philanthropy. I haven’t decided yet, but
“We do have an offer for you,” Winter’s said.
“What’s that?” Charlie asked.
“Ms. Stephens is offering you six hundred thousand dollars in full set-
tlement of this Rollins deal. Of course you’ll need to sign a full release.
Would you be willing to except that?”
Charlie sighed and scratched his head. It was funny how that number
matched the amounts he’d forwarded to acquire it.
Hell yes he’d accept
he thought to himself.
“Yes I would.”
“Good,” the lawyer said. She opened a file and pulled out a two page
agreement where Charlie and Tina agreed to release each other from any
claims that might arise out of the transaction. They both signed and
Christine Winters handed Charlie the check.
“Well Charlie, you get the lease and your money back. All in all a
pretty good day I’d say,” Winters said.
“Thanks,” he said. Looking at Tina.
“Christine, do you mind if I have a word with Mr. Wade alone?”
“Not at all. We’re done here. Please take your time Ms. Stephens.”
Christine got up with a sly smile on her face. “By the way, Mr. Wade.
It’s been a pleasure meeting you. Maybe we’ll meet again.”
Charlie nodded and Christine Winters left the room. Tina got up and
walked over to Charlie and took a seat next to him. She began to stroke
his hair and neck.
“She’s a real witch, isn’t she?”
“You know it’s funny you say that.”
“I’m really sorry for everything Charlie.”
“I’m sorry to,” he said.
“I am leaving Abilene. I think I’m going to Africa and set up a
“What brought that on?” he asked.
“I don’t know, it’s something I always wanted to do. They need help
and suddenly I have the means. Do you want to come with me?”
Charlie just sat there staring at Tina. “What do you mean come with
“I think you know what I mean?”
“Yeah,” she said smiling. “Africa.”
“You know there was a time when I would’ve gone anywhere with
you,” he said.
“I’ll always love you Charlie. I hope you can forgive me.”
“Tina I have one question. Tell me you didn’t set all of this up. Tell me
you didn’t murder Jack the III. Not that he probably didn’t deserve it.”
Tina said nothing at first. “I can’t lie to you Charlie. The world’s a bet-
ter place without Jack the III.”
Tina kissed Charlie one more time on his lips and then they hugged.
“If you ever get to Africa, you know, look me up.”
They left the office together and as they reached the street, Charlie
could see Tina’s convertible parked in the lot next to the building. It was
the opposite way. He looked at her one last time and headed the oppos-
ite way toward his truck.
“Hey Charlie,” Tina yelled back.
“Yeah,” he yelled back.
“Whatever happened to that girl, I think her name was Anna, right?”
“Right,” he said.
“Well what happened?” Tina insisted.
Charlie shrugged his shoulders. “It didn’t work out.”
“Maybe you should call her. Give her a chance. Everyone deserves to
Charlie smiled and shook his head. He watched Tina climb in her car
and drive away. Her blonde hair was waving as the car disappeared in
the distance. “It’s over,” he said to himself. “It’s finally over.”
Anna generally left the hospital to take lunch as she hated the usual gos-
sip and complaining that occurred in the hospital cafeteria. It was a
beautiful day and she thought she’d take a walk.
As she exited the hospital she saw him sitting on a bench near the side-
walk. He saw her at the same time, and got up. Charlie didn’t approach
her instantly as he waited to see what Anna would do. When she didn’t
move from her spot, he decided to walk toward her.
“Hi,” he said.
“What are you doing here?”
“I wanted to talk to you,” he said.
“What’s there to talk about Charlie?”
“I want to start over. I want another chance.”
“Let’s walk,” she said.
For the next five minutes they walked in silence. Then when they were
away from the hospital and by themselves Anna stopped.
“I met Tina.”
“You what, when?” Charlie said in a startled voice.
“She came to see me about a week ago.”
“What did she say?”
“She said that she loved you, and that she trapped you that night.”
Charlie looked down at the sidewalk as he remembered that fateful
night at his office.
“What else did she say?”
“She said that she was leaving the area, going to Africa. She said she
was sorry for interfering. But then she said something else.”
“She said she was going to look in your eyes and ask you to go with
her. And if you said yes, that she knew you still loved her the way you
did in college.”
“What else did she say?” Charlie asked.
“She said that if you came to see me, that I should listen. It meant that
you loved me. She asked me to forgive you.”
Charlie shook his head in disbelief.
“Why didn’t you go Charlie?” Anna asked. “All that money and she’s
a beautiful woman. Who could blame you?”
“Some things aren’t met to be Anna. I’m a West Texas boy, I always
will be. Something happened between you and I.”
Anna looked at her watch and noticed that she had ten minutes to get
back to the hospital. “I gotta go back to work.”
“So where are we then?” he asked her.
“Well I’m going to be starving when I get off work. Maybe we could
“I’ll be here waiting,” Charlie said.
“I have a better idea,” she said. “I think we should go finish that din-
ner we started in Santa Anna.”
“Seven O’clock then?” he asked.
Anna shook her head in agreement. Charlie reached down to hug her
and she embraced him also. Then she looked up at him.
“I never thought I’d see you again. My mother said a rosary because
she knew I was sad. Now you’re here.”
“I’m here,” Charlie said smiling.
“It’s Marty,” Cheryl yelled at Charlie who was still in bed. Anna was
next to him also not moving very fast. It was her day off, but Charlie had
plenty of work to do. For three weeks they had barely left each others
side and things were going well.
“What’s Marty want?” Anna asked wiping the sleep out of her eyes.
“Hell if I know,” Charlie said as he reached for the phone.
“Hey Cuz,” Charlie said groggily.
“Charlie you need to meet me at the Rollins ranch right away.”
“Why what’s up?” he asked sitting up in bed.
“You’re not going to believe this,” Marty said excitedly.
“What,” Charlie asked.
“Just get out here.”
Charlie hung up the phone and looked at Anna.
“What?” she said.
“Something out at the Rollins ranch, Marty wants me to come out
“Can I come with you?” she asked.
“Yeah,” Charlie said. “That’d be nice.”
Cheryl was waiting at the bottom of the steps with a couple of Styro-
foam cups filled with coffee.
“Thanks Cheryl, you’re an angel,” Anna said.
“Don’t thank her too much,” Charlie said. “She’ll get a big head. Hey
we’re heading over to Joe’s ranch. Do you know what’s going on?”
“No,” Cheryl said.
“Well that’s a first,” Charlie shot back.
As they headed for the door Cheryl yelled out. “Hey did you hear
about the tire store?”
“No, what happened?” Charlie asked with a smile.
“Someone took off with a couple of tire machines and generators last
night,” Cheryl said rolling her eyes.
“Imagine that,” Charlie said chuckling.
It was a thirty minute drive out to the Rollins ranch and Charlie made
it in about twenty. When he got there he saw Marty’s crew and his ser-
vice unit already there.
“What’s going on?” Anna asked.
“I don’t know,” Charlie said as they drove up to the crew.
When they got out of the car they both could smell it. As they walked
up to them Charlie noticed the ground was black in all directions.
“What happened?” Charlie asked Marty. Joe was also there looking
“You know that only a city slicker lawyer would ask such a dumb
question,” Marty said to Anna.
“Come on Marty, what’s going on?”
“Oil is what’s going on.”
“Where did it come from?”
“I was out here yesterday looking around,” Joe said. “Anyway I no-
ticed that it was seeping out on the ground from the hole. It wasn’t a lot,
but it was continual. So I called Marty. They came out last night and sat
the temporary tank up to collect the oil. It’s kind of a bio-hazard if it
leaks out everywhere.”
Charlie looked a little perplexed.
“Come here,” Marty grabbed Charlie by the arm. “This is a one hun-
dred barrel tank. I use it for water or mud when we’re drilling. It’s al-
most full. Anyway I capped the hole to keep it from making a mess.”
“Are you telling me that we got a hundred barrels of oil in one night.”
“That’s exactly what I’m telling you. It’s free flowing without us even
perforating. It’s like Jed Clampett or something. I’ve never seen this hap-
“Where did it come from?” Charlie asked.
“I’m betting that it seeped through the sand and that the gas pressure
behind it has caused a small perforation where they cut through the
“A hundred barrels, wow, it’s a good thing you got here when you
did. It would’ve made a big mess.”
“Forget the mess Charlie. What do you think is gonna happen when
we actually open this thing up?”
Tina had spent six months setting up her mission. It had cost her about
half of what she’d inherited to build a school, water plant, and hospital.
They were all makeshift structures imported from the United States. Des-
pite their tent like appearance, they were very sturdy and served their
purposes. It had cost a fortune to ship them and then have them de-
livered and built.
Instantly though the village began to do better. There were medical
supplies, food, and clean water as well as full time volunteer physicians.
Her money would not last forever, but Tina was hoping her work would
seed the generosity of others. At any given time there were over a hun-
dred sick people being cared for in the makeshift hospital. The doctors
were flown in from the United States and served two weeks at a time.
Most of them volunteered through church organizations and they al-
ways brought with them needed supplies and drugs. While conditions
had improved, there was much more to do.
Tina lived in a small tent that was equipped with a generator that ran
on diesel, and provided electricity to a refrigerator and hot plate. The
diesel was brought in daily from the tribesmen who charged them twice
the market rate. Most of the time they were able to barter with fresh wa-
ter in exchange. The village had dredged out an irrigation channel which
brought the water in from a small river a half mile away, and then it was
purified through the treatment plant that had been built. As soon as the
water plant was operating incidents of parasitical disease decreased.
The funds however were depleting and Tina was down to around ten
million dollars. By any standard it was a lot of money, but it would not
sustain the needs of the village. She had written letters to many churches
and organizations asking for help. A video was made and shown at
many of the local churches and schools in West Texas. Tina was a hero
too many, and it was heart warming to see what she had done with the
riches she had inherited.
Charlie and Anna, now married, were more than aware of what Tina
But it was with great surprise when Tina received the telegram from
Coleman, Texas. It was a very short note and she read it in the privacy of
We owe you for the happiness we have found in our life. Your will to
succeed has sparked a will to help among many in and around Coleman. So it is
with great satisfaction that we are able to inform you that the sum of thirty mil-
lion dollars has been deposited this day in the name of your charity.
Good luck and God Bless you. Our thoughts and prayers will be with
Charlie and Anna Wade, Marty Wade, and the good people of Coleman,
From the same author on Feedbooks
YOU CAN WE CAN
A short inspirational that just might change the way think and feel
about things. You Can We Can is a grass roots movement that will
instantly transform your way of thinking and living.
Food for the mind