After I drove away from the J Bar J Oil and Cattle Ranch, and after settling Duke in the back seat of my beautiful pink Cadillac, I drove without seeing the road due to mental exhaustion from Daddy Oil and Cattle person back at the Roger Ranch near Tulsa. Time always healed and this Roger rodeo healing started about twenty miles outside his golden gates. My senses and peace had started to return. Man it had been a long trip and not what I had expected. But then, seems life doesn't always give us what we expect contrary to the belief of some. Especially in the Bible Belt. Those folks say to claim it and call it in! Believe and ye shall receive. I didn't want to say hogwash, so I just said to myself that it seemed to happen more in the area of hit or miss in my life book. Those same folks would tell you it did not happen very well for you or me because we had done something wrong. Spoke wrong, prayed wrong, or moved too fast. That's right. Guilt. But wait, there is no guilt with God. And at that precise moment I saw a sign that said, HOUSTON - 476 miles. In that split second, with no forethought or prayer, I hit my blinker lever and made tracks for Houston. I figured on looking up my best friend from grade school. Might sound silly but Duke and I had no particular place to hang so Houston it was. And I needed a for real rest from the Roger ordeal.
I had stopped at a Big Boy Restaurant and got Duke and I a burger and fries along with a large Dr. Pepper. Water for Duke of course. Although somehow I had a feeling he could go for a cold one considering his life with big old Uncle Biggs. Stopping for the burgers also gave me some time to ask the locals exactly which highways would get me to big city Houston considering the only map I had was Route 66 to Los Angeles. Plus I needed to let Duke relieve himself once more before we began tooling the highways. It would be at least ten hours before we hit Houston. And so it was,
the Indian Nation Turnpike at 75 mph between I-40, US62, and US75 near Henryetta and US 69 south of McAlester then onto I-45 toward Dallas. I was on my way.
It was then I realized my impulsiveness had left the horse in the barn and I was the cart who jumped the gun leaving myself all alone on a Texas highway in the middle of nowheresville. And in the midst of my minnie mental breakdown due to the rotten Roger ordeal I hadn't even thought to call my friend in Houston. What if she were out of town? What if she didn't wish to have a large dog along with an old friend deposit themselves on her doorstep. Or vice a versa. God I was so lame!
Duke and I had driven about five hours when I decided to stop for the night. We had come to a small town in Northeast Texas called Longview. I pulled into a small motel and instructed Duke to lay low in the back seat while I registered us a room far in the back so I could sneak Duker in and out considering no dogs were allowed. This time I got us a nicer motel with a built on restaurant. Must have been privately owned as I did not recognize the name "Antlers" as any chain I had ever heard of back in Wisconsin. Not like a Motel 6 for sure. No one met me at the door to carry my luggage or my dog. Abd as for names the strange names of cities and streets I had noticed the past few hours, besides "The Antlers," there was Checotah, Eufaula, Okmulgee, and so on. I was in Indian Territory indeed. Actually the names were rather interesting. And if I hadn't mentioned it, my mother was born in Tulsa. That is all that need be said on that subject.
I was told by the motel owner from behind his secluded little window where I could see they lived as well as ran the business, that I was to park in the designated spot marked Room 11 at which time I was handed the keys to my room. I figured I would wait until after dark to take Duke for a run. In the meantime he frolicked off and on the bed like a pup while I showered.
We ran for a long ways that night. I believe the running was another way of clearing out the old spoiled Roger from my mind. Man, that was like a bad movie that I needed to forget. Yet as I ran I remembered there had been good that came out of it. Duke! While on that run where the adrenalin replaced anger I began to realize Mr. J. B. daddy oilpants only did what he was used to doing. Taking over everyone around him. That is when I suddenly knew why and how Roger must have been raised and why he could never look me in the eye. And why he seemed afraid all the time. And maybe why he ran away. Maybe I was in the right place at the right time back on that Highway in Illinois when I picked up that "thumber" heading south. Maybe all this pain helped bring that family back to some reasonable senses. And at that precise moment in time the term, "Meanwhile back at the ranch," fit right in. I guess Duke was a fair exchange in the end after all. Back at the motel Duke and I watched some television and then we slept like we didn't have a care in the world. I guess we didn't.
When I awoke the following morning I made a phone call to my old friend Pamela Wilkinson. She was pleased to hear from me and offered her home for a couple nights. I felt a "let me clue you in" warning twinge of impending do not overstay your welcome. That was big, but I told Duke not to worry, we had only driven ten hours out of our way to see her. That is when a memory from the old days flashed back to me that she was the one in gradeschool who told me to dress up in cowboy clothes for the next school day. She said she was going to also, that we would be twins. Girls that age loved dressing alike. When the next day came she was wearing a pretty new outfit and I was decked to the mountaintops in hat, boots, snapbuttoned plaid western shirt, an authentic long horned steer bolo tie that belonged to my Granddaddy, a fringed skirt, and to top that all off my little brothers double pearl handed six guns belted around my waist. I could not have stood out more if I had rode a bull into class. Or came in singing Davy Davy Crocket, King of the Wild Frontier! I hated her.
We arrived at her apartment complex later that day. She greeted us politely as she showed me around her nifty unit. Then she excused herself saying she had to go meet a friend. That she might be back later and then again might not. She gave me a sweet southern hug and left the building. There I was again, in a dang selfmade cardboard box. Not to mention I thought I saw fringes on my shirt. And if I had those pearly white six guns hanging on my hips I might have conked her with one of them. What a rude crude hot dog she turned out to be. Now what? At least that was what the noise in my head was saying.
At that point I wandered around her gloriously decorated apartment with my mouth hanging open. She had antiques everywhere. Silk ferns adorned the top of her 19th century hand carved wardrobe. Another room appeared to be a work room where she made jewelry. Very exquisite silver and brass rings and collage necklaces. She informed me people from other lands sent her stones, gems, and various other treasures she incorporated into her line. The following day several woman came to purchase items from her collection. Her necklaces sold for $250.00 each not to mention the rings. Okay so maybe Duke and I were out of our league.
Pamela had become pregnant and quit school at a very young age. She had given her child to her in-laws and moved on to have another child with a very wealthy man who retained custody of her second child. They divorced, hence the furnishings and fine jewelry collection. Me. In my background I just had Harper and a couple of crumby parents, one being dead. Oh yeah, and the real estate boss, and the town surgeon, and one of the school principals I had affairs with. I called that looking for love in all the wrong places. Those were best left behind anyway. I did have Duke, my pink hog and a pocket full of enough money for a few travels yet. I had decided to hang lose a couple days at Pamela's and after that I wasn't sure. I still hated her. She was so pretty. Another memory flash came to my mind after our initial meeting the day before. In the old days of grade school her and I would have fainting contests at recess. After we fainted we laid still on the ground waiting to see how many boys would run to help us. You got it! They would all run to Pamela carefully picking her up just like when Roy Rogers would pick up Dale Evans every time she got hurt. Me, I just laid there in the dirt all by myself with one eye open checking to see if anyone was coming. She had the long beautiful blonde hair and I had the fuzzy short hair because my mother wanted me to look like Shirley Temple. Another memory socking it to me!
Later that day Pamela informed me a good friend of hers had offered to take Duke for the evening if I wanted to check out some clubs in Houston. For instance, Mickey Gilley's Club. Or maybe I would like to try the mechanical bullriding which was a big deal at just about any club in the city. She then dropped a major bomb on my brain by asking me if I had any western clothes along. I almost had a fainting spell. No no, I mean, I about had a cow. Between the cowboy clothes and the thought of fainting memories I nearly lost all my whereabouts. After gathering my senses and hoping she could not see the pictures directly inside my brain of all the boys running to her long blonde hair while I laid in the dirt with one eye open.....I told her I did not have such attire with me. But I did have appropriate dance hall clothes. She took me to her closet and showed me her collection of western boots of various colors, also shirts, rodeo suits, and so on. I was aghast. If I knew anything at all it was that I would get me a pair of pink cowgirl boots by weeks end. After all those thoughts and after all was said, we dropped Duke off and headed for the hottest country dancehall in Houston..... Fool's Gold.