What was it about this guy? He wasn’t the man in the room that made the most money that was easy to see. His attire belied whatever status nice attire affords a man. The old Dodge pickup in the muddy part of the driveway surely didn’t advertise any celebrity. He spoke quietly, almost bashfully whenever a question was aimed his way, yet most of the other men wanted to speak with him, or at least be within his sphere of conversation.
The older women, not really old but more mature and dignified than any of the roving wild herd of divorcees, slinked by like housecats on a potent strain of catnip. He drawled out the ‘yes mam’s’ and’ honeys’ like they were the currency of the day. From the looks of things he would be cashing in his chips sometime this evening too. It was easy to see that the moneyed women at the event knew the value of a battered Resistol and an equally worn pair of ropers.
The youngsters ran about and pestered him from time to time until one of the parents would swat them away or he himself would send them off on an impossible dare or mission. The teenagers only wanted a nod of encouragement or just a remembrance of their name from him.
Still, whatever quality it was, was hard to pinpoint. How could she get inside the circle without being too obvious? What notion or quest would help her penetrate the tight-knit circle that had grown to two deep by now? She couldn’t just force herself on him or into the fray. That would just be rude. She didn’t have the luxury of time to grow older and more refined like the ranch ladies vying for ’shotgun’ in the old Dodge.
He already had a beer, and besides, she didn’t want to just be a waitress. What circumstance would at least get her introduced to this man, maybe old enough to be her father but from the pattern of his speech, and the cut of his clothes she surmised he wasn’t that far along. She would just have to lie in wait and take advantage of whatever opportunity offered itself.
She was chatted up a while by a local-yokel if there ever was one. A banker from out in the area of the hill country that spouted new subdivisions with cutesy sounding names like, Heritage Ridge or Mustang Run. He loaned San Antonio doctors money so they could go play cowboy a few weekends a year at their cookie cutter ranchettes. Five to eight acres apiece, nothing so big as you couldn’t handle it, but big enough to run a quarter horse or two if the mood hit you. Poor Mr. Bankerman, she mused in her mind, you got the costume but measured against the man in the circle you’re way out of your element. She shifted her stance partly to keep the late evening west Texas sunset from blinding her but mostly to keep a vigil on the man holding sway in the growing group off to the left.
That’s when she noticed he was gone! Where was he? She’d only been caught up with Mr. Compounding Interest Rate for a few minutes, so she thought. Hell, there he was, he was right on top of her. “Evenin’ Ted,” with a nod was all he spoke to Mr. Savings and Loan. “ Howdy ‘mam” with a direct look into the eyes and a quick tip of the Resistol’s brim comprised the greeting she got. Short, sincere, honest and heartfelt as any introduction she had ever had before. He was walking toward the big house with two men that looked like old friends or partners. And so, that was that, the man she was so enthralled with for the entire evening had come and gone and she was taken so by surprise that she couldn’t mount a proper comeback or introduce herself. She could have kicked Mr. Two Points over Prime right in the nuts for blowing her one chance until she noticed he was just as angry as she was about not being able to converse with the ‘big-guy’.
Her moment for glory seemingly passed, she asked ‘Ted’, “ Who is that man?”