If this looks familiar to you -- it should. I'm moving many of my one-shots to this account.

for James Dean


Ain't the world ironic? The "great Bick Benedict"---oh, boy, what a joke. He wanted to give me twelve thousand instead of a spit of land worth a hundred times that. And the darnedest thing is, he would've kept moving cattle around on it til the day he died. The "great Bick Benedict" can go to Hell and take his cows with him. I'm richer right now than he'll ever dream he can be.

They all think I'm so stupid---Bick and all his fancy advisors and friends. They think I'm so simple, well---just 'cause a fella can't always say just what he wants to say don't make him stupid. I'd get so mad at that stuck-up son of a bitch, and I wanted so bad just to tell him off. But every time I saw him, I lost the words I wanted to say, and just stuttered like a moron. Well, not today. Today's the day he gets what's been comin' to him for a long time. I know what I'm gonna say, and I'm gonna say it, right to his face. And I'm so rich now, he'll have to sit and take it, just like I had to sit and take it from him. I'm so rich now, and he'll have to see it. They'll all have to see how rich I am, Bick, and his fancy advisors and friends, and Leslie. . . .

I never knew quite what to say to her, either. I always wanted to tell her how beautiful she was, and how sweet and kind, and how much I love her. . . I still can't really tell her that, can I? But, oh boy, am I gonna let her know how pretty she is right in front of that old Benedict. It used to take all my courage to tell her she was pretty when we were alone, but now---what can ol' Bick do to a rich guy like me? If I mosied right on up and kissed her, what's the most he could do? You can't kill a rich man; can't lay one finger on him. You just sit there and boil and stew---I oughtta know. A little bit a boilin' might bring his head back down to size and do him good. Those Benedicts always were too big for their britches.

Five-hundred-thousand acres---what the hell difference does that make to me? Four square inches 'a my place's worth more than all that, and every last cow, too. Ol' Bick's time is done. The cheating, lying ways of the Benedicts don't amount to nothing, after all. The name "Jett Rink"'s gonna mean more than "Jordan Benedict" ever did or will. The kings of Texas are gonna have to make room for one more. "All hail Jett, the lucky cowhand."

Lucky, maybe. Prospecting's just a game of luck, anyhow. But I think there's something to Ol' Luz, God rest her soul, and there always was. Luz knew what I wanted, and I think she knew what I needed, too. I needed a little spit 'a land with a lot 'a irony, and that's exactly what she gave me. Folks said Luz mighta had a little bit of romance for me, but I think they're wrong. I don't think romance was what Luz wanted. She wanted a son, without havin' to go through all that courtin', and love-making, and pregnancy, and labor---she just wanted somebody to leave a little piece of herself to. And I think she saw that in me.

But I ain't no Benedict, no matter what Luz saw me as. I thought the world 'a Luz, but she was an exception in her family. Leslie's an exception, too, but she ain't a born-Benedict. It ain't fair. Leslie shoulda been my wife. I woulda been better for her. Bick don't appreciate untamed things with their own minds---he wants everything his own way. He's always gotta be boss. He don't deserve Leslie--a woman with a mind to do her own things. He don't deserve a woman with a mind at all. I never used to deserve Leslie, either. I was too poor, I had nothing to offer her, but now...

Maybe Leslie'll see how much she means to me. Maybe she'll want to leave Bick and marry me, like people do in the movie pictures. But I don't think she will. I want her to---I want her to so bad, but she won't. She wouldn't leave Bick Benedict for a millionaire--not for a prince, not for a king, not for anyone. Like I said, just because a fella can't always say what's in his mind don't mean he's stupid. I ain't stupid. I know she loves him. I don't know why she loves him, but she does.

I may never have Leslie, but I'll have everything else that's Bick's. Someone needs to knock him off his high horse. Someone needs to show him he's not the only boss in Texas. Someone needs to show him he doesn't got everything under control. Someone needs to slap irony in his face.

And that someone is gonna be me.