It was a cold Saturday morning when I got the call from Pat. “Don’t go to the store today, come out to the ranch.” Pat had a party ranch just south of town, with horses, hogs, a big corral and a full bar. Although he would entertain at his place in town, indeed one of the three clubs he had, he preferred to have guests meet him at the ranch. The people he associated with liked the privacy. This particular day Pat had a family tragedy. His son in law had slipped at his job in a candle factory and fell into a vat of boiling wax.
“Netta’s all upset,” he said, “We’ve got her at the house, under sedation. The boy don’t look good.” So, me and my brother drove out to the ranch. We made sure the bar was serviced, the horses ready for the little girls, and hosed the hogs down. Soon concerned friends and family began to show. Pat had an awning set up near the horses with a table under it and one by one the guests expressed their sympathy for the unfortunate event.
Netta and her husband had a rocky marriage. Money was tight, and tempers flew, sometimes there were physical events and she’d run home for the weekend, whereupon her husband would follow, have a family meeting and all would be resolved, until next time. Lately the boy had been putting his nose to the grindstone and trying to climb out of the financial hole. He was forbidden to work for Pat, but strings were pulled and the candle factory was indeed a good lick.
All through the day, and into the night friends came out to the ranch to stand by Pat. Some were ladies, and more than a few children, but more than a few wore cheap suits and looked like someone had mismatched their nose in a botched plastic surgery attempt. As midnight drew near my brother and I drove Pat in his Cadillac back to his main house. He invited us in and made drinks in the little bar room he had set up. Then a call came, and we braced for the worse.
“Hello, yeah, you’re sure? No, I’m ok. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
As Pat hung up he had this look on his face, as if he was trying to absorb it all. I asked him if there was anything I could do. He took a drink, looked at us and said, “He lived! Five full minutes in boiling wax and he lived.” Daddy’s little girl is always daddy’s little girl.
Simple Ol’ Boy From Austin