(Go here for our previous episode. Click here to return to the first chapter of our Rite Aid Award-winning serialization of this unexpurgated long-lost classic from the battered IBM Selectric of Larry Winchester.)
The time: an evening in early September, 1969.
The place: the Johnstone ranch, several miles outside of a town called Disdain...
(Continued here, just in case something happens.)
The nice young couple pulled their Buick Riviera up near the yard and got out. Shyly they approached the now rather noisy barbecue. The fellow wore a bright plaid cotton sport jacket, a blue tie, blue slacks, and brown penny-loafers. The young woman was in a blue gingham shirtwaist with a modest string of pearls, a white angora cardigan with only the top button fastened, and on her feet were a pair of sensible white mules.
Over the laughter and the talking and the popping and sizzling of the roasting beef an already half-drunk mariachi band stationed under a lone dead box-elder sang a song in Spanish about a pistolero who kills an evil ranchero.
Big Jake (who understood little Spanish) saw the young couple and came on over, a beef rib in one hand and a bottle of Michelob in the other. He was all dressed up for Saturday night with a dashing Indian silk “neck square” peeking through the Mao collar of his white Arnel-and-rayon twill fly-front jacket with double-flapped side-pockets, over navy Orlon-and-wool bonded jersey slacks. An 18-kt gold-plated lariat cord hung from his neck and ran through a hundred-peso gold-piece slide on his massive hearty chest. On his head was a white ten-gallon Stetson and on his feet were red and gold patent-leather Tony Lama cowboy boots.
“Don’t tell me,” called Big Jake, “-- the Baxters!”
“Yes, sir,” said the young guy. “This is Phyllis, and I’m Chad.”
“Chad ‘n’ Phyllis! Pleased to meetcha! I’m Jake Johnstone -- call me 'Big Jake'.”
Big Jake stuck the Michelob bottle into the paw that held the rib, and he put out his free hand. The young fellow took the hand, Big Jake gave him his customary death-grip shake, and after a painful half-a-minute the fellow pulled his hand away, waving it in the air and smiling sheepishly.
“Sorry, Tad, don’t know my own strength. Come on and meet the folks.”
Chad wiped his sticky hand on some Kleenex he took from his pocket, and Jake introduced him and Phyllis (as “Brad and Phyllis”) to all the other guests and to Hope and even to some of the hired help. Chad and Phyllis had heard about the ranch in town and they had telephoned Big Jake just that afternoon to see if there were any vacancies. Jake had told them there sure were and had invited them to come right on out and have some barbecue.
They seemed an eminently boring young couple and after a few moments no one paid them any mind. It was almost as if they weren’t even there.