Friday, April 5, 2013

Post Eighteen - Decisions and Memories - Estacado Heart (c) 2013 J. Scott Vernon DRAFT

Post Eighteen - Decisions and Memories - Estacado Heart     (c) 2013 J. Scott Vernon DRAFT

Returning from Texas, Tucker felt relief. Mace felt proud. His son would still have a chance to play ball at a high level and get a good education. His conversation with the coach helped feel good about the trip. He knew the down side would be seeing his son move half way across the country and not being able to attend all of his games. He committed to seeing several each year and certainly attend any championship games the Aggies would play. He called the General and thanked him for helping Tucker get into A&M. 

While at A&M, Tucker visited with Dr. Turner and several students in the Animal Science Department. He also visited with Dr. Williams in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. Both were enlightening. The vibe in the Kleburg Building was a bit western. Lots of starched jeans, cowboy hats shaped like taco shells and an abundance of pretty Texas women. The Vet School didn't look like what he expected, not that he expected much, he'd never set foot on a vet school campus before. Dr. Williams, an old school vet with a flat-top haircut, big hands and a scratchy, bourbon voice seemed nice enough. He was a large animal vet who owned his own set of cows he ran just north of Bastrop, Texas. He reminded Tucker of Dr. Vosberg back home. A bit gruff and very knowledgeable. Tucker liked him and enjoyed visiting with him as he took him and Mace on a tour. He told him getting into Vet School would not be easy, but if Tucker did well in his undergraduate program, it was possible. 

As they walked around, Tucker noticed lots of girls and a few guys who looked pale. The girls didn't look like the ones in Kleburg. They were plain. Smart. He asked Dr. Williams what most of the students wanted to do when they graduated, "large animals or small animals?" Dr. Williams, with a slight grunt, said, "pets. Big money stuff. Most want to return to Dallas or Houston where they came from and save the puppies and kittens while getting rich at the same time." "Really?" asked Tucker. "Yep. The rest are horse girls with visions of saving Secretariat or working on a cutting horse ranch," said Dr. Williams,  "not many want to preg check cows and push uterine prolapses back in."  Tucker couldn't imagine Dr. Williams preg checking cows with his big hands and massive forearms. And, he couldn't imagine himself in the Vet School at A&M. In his mind, he saw himself in Kleburg with the girls who looked like they knew their way around a branding iron and a good time. He would major in Animal Science. Dr. Turner would support his admission if he posted good grades in his final semester of high school and could enroll in the late summer session. What Tucker didn't know was that Dr. Turner played on the '58 Aggie baseball team and already had a phone conversation with Coach Chandler and the General. Again, Agggies take care of Aggies - including potential Aggies with a .378 batting average and a rifle arm.

The rest of Tucker's senior year was a blur. He was ready to move on. His summer would be abbreviated by his move to Texas in early August. He wanted to make the best of his final days in the Central Valley. Graduation was bittersweet and all the guys on the Tigers varsity team would be going separate ways. But not before one big blowout party at the Harter's Slough. There would be no Sober Grad night for this bunch of jocks and the girls who tied their futures to the prospect of life as a big league wife or girlfriend. They had collateral no teenage boy could refuse. Teenage love is expressed in many ways - sometimes in the bed of a '78 GMC at midnight on a ditch bank with Kieth Whitley singing "When You Say Nothing At All" on the radio.

The party at the Slough was supposed to be a secret among the seniors. Instead, half the town showed up. Cars and trucks were everywhere. Someone had started a big bonfire with old pallets stolen from behind the Simplot fertilizer plant on the edge of town. Music of all kinds was competing for attention. Some punks were playing DEVO from a boombox. George Jones could be heard wailing from Casey Tipton's speakers he put on the cab of his truck. Springsteen was lamenting his "Glory Days" at full blast from Kimberly Coffman's black '78 Pontiac Trans Am. With the t-tops removed from her car, the Boss was winning the battle of the bands. 

Budweiser flowed like water over the Niagara Falls. Bartles and James wine coolers were a hit with the girls. Some of the country boys favored Southern Comfort and Jack Daniels from pint bottles. A few goth-like kids showed up wearing black leather jackets with spikes and wandered around in a haze. Who knew what they enjoyed? The smell of weed was in the air. Everybody assumed it was supplied by Marty Van Logan and Lance Silva. They graduated a couple of years before, never left town, worked at the tire plant and still partied with the high school kids. Their arrested development was not lost on Tucker. He was happy to be leaving these guys behind.

He wasn't as excited about moving away from Lori Bettencourt. They had gone to school together since 5th grade and she lived down the road from him on her family's dairy. They were like brother and sister, now. It hadn't always been that way. As freshmen they helped each other navigate the growing pains of their adolescent bodies. At first it was awkward, accidental. Lori had broken up with Tommy Taylor, a junior with a habit of lying.  Lori ran to Tucker's house.

She sought comfort with Tucker and would cry on his shoulder. Tucker was a good listener and didn't mind Lori's drama-filled exaggeration. He didn't really have feelings for her but noticed that her body had changed from a plump, soft girl in eight grade to a curvy, taller more athletic looking girl over the summer. Her olive skin was soft, flawless. She did not suffer the pimpled complection of her peers. She had played softball on a traveling team and the innings on the field had a positive effect on her body. Her hormones did the rest. 

Her breast had grown like juicy peaches seemingly overnight. Perky with cleavage that peaked from beneath her tight tank top her breasts drew Tucker's eyes. Her bra was white and sheer. Her face had thinned and her legs had responded to the running she did while playing - tan and muscular.  He saw her differently than ever before. His mind wandered as she slaughtered Tommy with her words, her tears pouring down her cheeks. Not knowing for sure what to do, Tucker reached out and pulled her close. Her face buried in his chest. She sobbed and wrapped her arms tightly around Tucker's waist. He could not stop his body's response. Lori felt his urge, her tears subsided. Tommy didn't seem so special anymore. Her attention span had shifted quickly. She looked up. Their eyes met and together they would make the tack room at Tucker's barn their special place as they fumbled their way into teenage bliss and freshman year.  


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Post Seventeen - Exploration - Estacado Heart (c) 2013 J. Scott Vernon DRAFT

Post Seventeen - Exploration - Estacado Heart (c)2013 J. Scott Vernon DRAFT

Mr. Jackson stood from his desk and walked over to the computer Kaci was cussing. The new program, Pagemaker 1.9, wasn't easy to learn on the new MacIntosh, but it was better than anything else they had to work with while developing the Yellow Jacket Yearbook. The students enjoyed it much more than Word Perfect or the new MicroSoft Word. It could do cool things graphically, intuitively. Kids liked placing pictures and the ability to draw circles and boxes. They drew lots of boxes. The clunky square mouse took getting use to and tracking the little arrow was different than finding a nondescript blinking cursor.

Kaci was having difficulty getting a Yellow Jacket clip art onto the ad she was designing. Mr. Jackson leaned over her shoulder and took the mouse in his hand. Just as he did that Kaci caught a wiff of his scent. He didn't wear cologne, nor deodorant. He didn't smell of body order. It wasn't unpleasant. It wasn't like the Old Spice scent of the other male teachers and it wasn't the overwhelming bouquet of the boys who bathed themselves in Calvin Klien's Obsession to cover the locker room's systemic stench. It was different. Natural. She had not smelled a man like that before.

He began to move the mouse around and said,"I see the problem. You have the clip art directory disk in the disk drive. You need to eject it and insert ClipArt Disk number 23 in the disk drive. The image you want is on that disk."

Kaci wasn't listening as Mr. Jackson provided technical assistance. She had closed her eyes gently and inhaled. Mr. Jackson's natural, musky scent floated across her nostrils. She absorbed him in a momentary escape. As Mr. Jackson touched her shoulder and said,"You're good to go, just place the image from the disk 23. Make sure it is a bit mapped file,"  Kaci shuddered, her mind, again, wandered to a different place. A place she knew little about, but longed to explore. "Oh, ok, what do I need to do?" she said. He patiently explained again.

Dusk was settling on Llano. Katy Jo had left a hour earlier. She and Hank were meeting at Dairy Queen before she went home. Their rendezvous were becoming more frequent. Her parents did not know of her exploits with a boy - yet nearly everyone at school knew the truth. What they did not know, they made up. Small town gossip.

Kaci had made good progress and finished the full-page ad for Ratliff Chevy-Buick. It was a productive session and she was tired. Kaci shut the computer down and told Mr. Jackson how much she accomplished. He was impressed. "Good job," he said, "You are workhorse. I don't know what I would do without you on the yearbook staff." Kaci smiled and took another deep breath. "See ya tomorrow Mr. Jackson," she said as she walked out of the classroom.

The parking lot was empty. Only her ranch truck and Mr. Jackson's tan 1988 Volvo 240 DL sat under a lone spotlight coming from the top of the gymnasium. As Kaci turned the switch to start her truck, nothing. Not a sound. The old tired battery was dead. Kaci hit the steering wheel in frustration. She was no mechanic and didn't know what to do. The guys at the ranch always took care of the vehicles. All she ever did was put gas in the truck from the 500 gallon tank they had by the ranch shop. She never cared the cost. Dad took care of her.

She returned to the classroom where Mr. Jackson was straightening the desks and erasing the chalkboard. He too was finished for the day. He was ready to get home to his small rented house, light up a joint and drift into his own special euphoria. It was his daily routine. On the weekends he would often return to Austin and catch up with friends on Sixth Street, listen to music and smoke the really good stuff. He felt alive in Austin.

"Mr. Jackson, my truck won't start," she said. "Really? What's wrong with it?" he said.  He wasn't very mechanical at all, except when it came to computers. He was a peace-loving, dope smoking, English teaching nerd. He was not a mechanic. He did offer a suggestion.

"Is your battery dead?"

"I don't know," said Kaci, "Maybe."

"I don't have any jumper cables. Do you?" he asked.

"Not here. We have some at the ranch," Kaci said.

"Well that won't do you much good. Probably just as well. I am not sure how to use them safely anyway," confessed Mr. Jackson. "I can give you a ride home, you can get your truck tomorrow."

Kaci didn't think long about the offer and said, "Really, you would do that? Cool." The excitement of being close to him, smelling his scent was palpable. Her palms began to sweat.

"Yes, let's go," said Mr. Jackson. No one in Llano drove a car like his. It was a box on wheels. Most everybody else drove pick-ups and 4-wheel drive flatbeds with headache racks. Some had wenches on the front bumpers. Most all had hay, t-posts, barbed wire and a dog in the back. Mr. Jackson had a pine tree hanging from his rear-view mirror. He had a stack of books in the back seat.

As Kaci got in she noticed it right away. The car didn't smell like a pine tree at all. It had a different aroma. A staleness of smoke and weed. In the ashtray were the remnants of a joint. Kaci had never smoked weed but she knew what it smelled like. She had smelled it be for when she gathered at the river with her friends. It wasn't something that captured her imagination. She declined all offers for a toke from her friends.

Mr. Jackson noticed Kaci saw the joint in the ashtray but made no attempt to hide it. He simply said, "It helps me relax." Kaci nodded in understanding. She watched how difficult it was to manage the students in the yearbook class. She might smoke weed too if she had to put up with some of the knotheads put in the class by the counselors.

"Have you ever tried it," asked Mr. Jackson. "No," she said, "but its cool, I don't care if people smoke dope." Mr. Jackson smiled. He appreciated her non-judgmental outlook.  Mr. Jackson said "Do you mind?" as he reached for the joint. "Nope," she said as he pulled it to his lips and lit the end and took a big drag. He closed his eyes, held his breathe and leaned back in his seat. Another day was over.

When Mr. Jackson exhaled smoke filled the car. Kaci inhaled, then coughed. And laughed.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Post Sixteen - Cows and College

Post Sixteen - Money Man - Estacado Heart (c) 2013 J. Scott Vernon

There they ordered hamburgers and Tijuana fries. Old  enough to drink, Vondale opted not to at the coach's request and ordered a Coke. Cooter ordered a chocolate milkshake with his hamburger. Tucker followed their lead and thought is was weird that they could even be in the Dixie Chicken in the first place. It was more of a bar than a restaurant and he certainly wasn't old enough by California standards. Texas, ever the independent state, didn't adopt the federal drinking laws until it was forced to by the federal government. Minors could be in bars if food was served.

The trio sat at wooden tables that had be carved on by many Aggies through the years. For the middle of the day, there seemed to be a bunch of students hanging out drinking beer and playing dominoes. When they saw Vondale, somewhat of a student celebrity as an athlete, several students came to their table to say "gig 'em." Vondale was humble. He smiled and returned their greeting, "Gig 'em." 

Tucker asked, "What the hell does gig ' em mean?" Cooter said, "It's our way of saying good luck or go get 'em." Tucker nodded yet still found it humorous.

They talked about A&M and baseball. Vondale and Cooter each had their personal perspectives. Vondale spoke of his academic experience more than about baseball. Cooter talked about the "damn fine Texas women" more than about school or baseball. Oddly, he was not particularly gifted in any of those subjects. Tucker appreciated both ends of the conversation and said, "all the girls seem friendly." Vondale had a steady girlfriend and didn't offer an opinion, he was happy with Laticia Jones, a shapely business major from Killeen. As homely as Cooter was, he couldn't add much real experience with the girls except for the one time he got laid in his dorm room after a night of drinking. Cooter had lied and told Sheila Taggert, a freshman from Luckenbach, that he was the starting catcher and would probably be drafted by the Houston Astros at the end of the season. Impressed and drunk, she believed him. It was the previous year and Sheila dropped out not long after their tryst. Cooter hadn't been with a girl since; he missed Sheila. Badly.

Tucker was enjoying his time with the guys and felt comfortable about coming to Texas A&M but wasn't sure what his major might be in the fall if he got in. He thought someday he could be a veterinarian. He had doctored plenty of cows, calves and horses back home. He spent a couple weeks one summer with the local cow vet Dr.Vosberg preg checking dairy cows and drawing blood for Bangs testing. Tucker had also successfully replaced a rectal prolapse on one of his commercial cows. He liked the work, but that was all he knew about the profession.

When the three of them returned to the Coach's office, Mace and the Coach were finishing up their conversation. The men were at ease, shaking hands and sharing a laugh about the hapless Texas Rangers. Tucker's prospects looked good. The Coach said he could get Tucker admitted with an "athletic special" exemption but reiterated he didn' t have any scholarships for him next year.

After spending the afternoon talking to folks in the agriculture college Tucker decided to major in animal science. That was the closest thing he could think of to being a veterinarian. Having never gone to college Mace couldn't offer much advice so he concurred. Tucker's life on the farm could come in handy in college.

Tucker would be a Texas Aggie.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Estacado Heart - Fiction

Estacado Heart is a fictional story. That's it. Some will like it, some won't. It might get a little wild at times. It you offend easily stop here. Do not read the rest of the story. For those hanging on, thanks. I hope you enjoy the story.

Things are heating up in Texas.


Post Fifteen - Secrets

Post Fifteen - Secrets - Estacado Heart - (c) 2013 J. Scott Vernon DRAFT

School was buzzing with stories from Kaci's 18th birthday party. The girls were giddy with praise about the southwestern veggie salad, the decorations, the white twinkle lights that streamed from the large beams over the patio and the little chocolate party favors wrapped in colorful mesh Jaylene had prepared for Kaci to give to her guests. They gushed of "how sweet" it was to be part of such a joyous occasion and how they would all be best friends forever. Kaci smiled and accepted the compliments with grace but privately thought, "it was just a party and once I graduate, I'm out of here, friends or no friends." She wasn't one to get caught up in the adolescent hyperbole. She loved her friends but had greater ambitions than to live and die in Llano working as an insurance clerk for Dr. Jasper or whatever the other girls aspired to in school.

The boys had different stories from the party. They talked of tits and ass in ways only known to high school boys. The guys were crude. Each girl was rated on a scale of one to ten. Desperate as they were, the boys scored all the girls pretty generously. Except for poor Amelia. Her flat chest and skinny legs left little for the boys to judge. She scored a four. Hector Gomez called "bullchit" and gave her a nine. He liked her.

Kaci scored well. Her mother Jaylene scored a ten. She was the standard by which the boys judged. The boys' imaginations ran wild. They had visions of being with a supermodel, however, their courage dissipated when Jaylene would offer them more sweet tea or lemonade. They would get tongue tied, avert their eyes from her chest and manage a meager, "yes ma'am."

As the school day progressed Kaci would learn more about her party than she expected. Katy Jo confessed that her and Hank, had hooked up behind the pool house. She giggled and told Kaci that Hank was "all man" and fumbled for several minutes with the knot on the back of her bikini. Once he liberated her ample bosom he acted like a newborn calf to its mother's udder. He rooted around and his lips smacked with pure joy. Katy Jo wasn't certain how it was supposed to feel, so she closed her eyes and run her fingers through his black hair. She was ready to go to the next level when she heard everybody begin to sing happy birthday. Hurriedly she and Hank dressed, straightened their hair and got back to the party. They had remnants of grass and gravel stuck to their knees.  Their lust would have to express itself another time.

In fifth period Yearbook class,  Mr. Jackson teased Kaci about her party. He had overheard some of the boys talking in the quad area during lunch. They were bragging about having beer hidden in the toolboxes across the bed of their trucks. During the party the would sneak out and shotgun a beer or two. By the end of the party they were buzzed. Hector was drunk and tried to fondle Amelia in the jacuzzi. She did not resist, she had little to protect. Izzy made sure to get Hector home after the party. They were cousins and having a beer or two wasn't frowned upon in their families. Cerveza was to them what wine would be to Italians, it was a part of their culture. His dad and uncles would drink lots of beer at the end of a hard day at work. At times they would get into fist fights and the sheriff would be called out. Nothing ever came of their squabbles.

Kaci wasn't surprised at this revelation and told Mr. Jackson, "I know, I had a couple of shots of my parent's Bacardi rum myself. It was a good time! You should of been there!"

Mr. Jackson said, "Yes, that could have been fun. You are legally an adult now Kaci. Life is just beginning and you have much to learn. Explore. Be brave. Let your spirit shine." She liked how Mr. Jackson could excite her inner thoughts, her dreams, her emotions. She too wanted to blossom and experience life untethered. For a young woman in a small town she felt constricted. She had a more global perspective of what was possible. She did not share the rigors of conservative thoughts. Though not a flaming liberal, she was well grounded by her rural environment, she had a free spirit and a willingness to be her own person. She would chart her own path no matter how rocky or twisted it might become. Springtime germinated the seeds of her desires. Her soul was irrigated with occasional contraband wine from her parent's abundant wine cellar. Mr. Jackson's weed would bring her world into a hazy, euphoric focus.

She hadn't intended on staying so late working on the yearbook. She wanted to finish a few more ads so she could keep on deadline. Katy Jo and her were the only ones left as the sun went down. The other students had left at 5:00 o'clock. Mr. Jackson remained at his desk reading copy. Katy Jo fretted about picture placement and the spelling of names. Kaci - hunched over, her eyes squinting, her right hand moving the mouse around - was designing ads and staring at the little screen on the MacIntosh. Uncertain of how to place a graphic, she called Mr. Jackson over....

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Post Fourteen - Dixie Chicken - Estacado Heart

Dixie Chicken - Estacado Heart (c) 2013 J. Scott Vernon DRAFT

A military man in uniform will get your attention, especially when that man is an Army general standing in your doorway. Tom Chandler, the legendary Aggie coach welcomed General Schroeder into his cramped office at Olsen Field.

The two had met before when the university's Athletic Oversight Committee welcomed all the Aggie coaches to share information about their respective programs. It was a brief and cordial meeting on a chilly winter day and coach Chandler wore a suit to the meeting. He was uncomfortable and the knot of his tie was a bit big. Its length too short. He preferred wearing a baseball cap and his coach's uniform. The coach didn't often wear a suit and tie. The general struck a commanding presence in his fitted Army Green uniform. His left chest was full of service medals that told the story of his 39 year military experience. It had been years since he was a foot soldier, but he maintained an active exercise regime. He stayed Army ready. He favored a flat top haircut. Schroeder was quick to put civilians at ease with a firm handshake and a big toothy smile. His Texas drawl was smooth, deep and inviting.

On this day the coach was at ease in his practice baseball uniform. His Aggie baseball cap sat on his desk atop a pile of papers. Along the bill were white sweat stains that were inescapable in the oppressive heat and humidity of College Station. Coach Chandler's face was tan from his cheeks to his chin. The crow's feet  around his eyes evident. His white forehead was in sharp contrast to the rest of his tanned face. He spend his days in the sun.

The general was dressed in a more relaxed fashion as well. He had on his Battle Dress Uniform (BDU) - camouflaged fatigues. He too was more comfortable in his BDUs than in his dress uniform, particularly on the sultry days of a Texas spring. The Corp Cadets enjoyed seeing their Commandant dressed in his fatigues.

Schroeder got right to the point. He told the coach about his friend Mace's son Tucker in California. The general didn't expect any special treatment, but asked if the coach had any room for Tucker on his roster if he could get him in to A&M. It was a shot in the dark this late in the process. National signing day had come and gone and the coach had awarded all of his scholarship spots. Coach knew about Tucker. He told Herman they scouted him last year and considered sending him a recruiting letter but changed their minds when they heard UT was after him. Plus, they found a kid in Georgia who was a great shortstop with a big bat. Besides, Austin had more to offer a California kid - bigger city, more bars, faster women and live music - stuff guys liked. He didn't think College Station would be exciting enough for one of those liberals from the west coast. Frankly, the coach was surprised nobody picked up Tucker and that he didn't go any higher in the draft.

"If I recall he was a top prospect and a decent student," said Coach. "Yep, 3.5, 3.6 something like that, put all his marbles in the draft," said Herman, "he'll probably major in farming or ag stuff, he is a farm kid."

"Ok, I'll take a look at him," said Coach, "but no promises."

He was willing to let him walk-on and tryout in the fall if he got into school. There would be no scholarship nor guarantee and he'd like to meet Tucker in person. It would have to happen soon. The championship  playoffs were coming up soon. The prospect of making the College World Series demands the attention of every program in the country during the spring.

Herman said "fair enough."

When Herman returned to his office on the other side of campus,  he gave Mace a call. "Mace, get your ass on a plane and bring Tucker with you. Coach Chandler wants to meet him. He may have a shot." Mace was excited, at least Tucker would be in college and if he'd play to his potential he could earn a scholarship. It was better than going to the West Hills Community College in God forsaken Coalinga. Well almost, it was, afterall, College Station.

Tucker had known his dad was going to call his friend at Texas A&M, but he didn't expect things to happen so quickly. He was just looking forward to the end of the school year. His dad booked tickets on Delta Airlines out of Fresno for the following Thursday.

They flew into Houston Intercontinental Airport arriving in the late afternoon. Years later the airport would be renamed George Bush Intercontinental Airport after the first Bush president, H.W. Bush. They rented a car and drove the 100 miles through Conroe, Montgomery and Navasota. It was a nice drive with lots of trees on the two lane road until they reached Texas Highway 6, a smooth road that would lead them into College Station.

They stayed on the south edge of town and ate BBQ at C&J Barbeque. Mace and Tucker both enjoyed the tender, smokey brisket, a hunk of cheddar cheese and fried okra. The tea was really sweet. There wasn't anything quite like it in California and the BBQ sauce was unique. They were used to dry rubbed tri-tip beef. No sauce.

The next morning they walked around campus until their 11:00 o'clock meeting with the coach. They bought some Aggie ball caps in the bookstore at the Memorial Student Union. It was a warm day and Tucker was dressed in his starched Wrangler 13mwz jeans, brown lizard roper boots and a close fitting white Locoste polo shirt. His athletic shoulders looked wider, his biceps more pronounced. He had a fresh haircut, but his wavy brown hair still touched the back of his shirt collar. A tad long for Texas. His sideburns stretched to the tip of his earlobe. He didn't care for the pearl snap button shirts with the western yokes favored by the "wannabe cowboys" back home at school.  He thought the snuff can ring in their back pockets looked ridiculous. So did the tips of their colorful nylon braided belts hanging down their leg. He figured they were overcompensating for their "smallness." He didn't have the same problem. He wore a three-piece silver and gold western belt set on a brown hand carved leather belt. He dipped Copenhagen when he played baseball, but he didn't want the girls to know. You would not find a snuff can ring in Tucker's back pockets.

The A&M campus was big and Mace was awed by the tradition, history and size of the school. Tucker was more wild-eyed. The Texas girls looked hot and they all said "howdy" to him. He felt more confident as more girls passed. He put his shoulders back a little further each time. Even the guys said "howdy" and he thought to himself, "they don't look like homosexuals." That threw him off a bit. Maybe they were just friendlier in Texas. Tucker knew it was a military school but he was surprised at how many guys were walking around in uniform. The Corp Cadets seemed to be everywhere.

When they got to the Coach's office there were a couple of guys hanging around in the hallway. Coach Chandler greeted Mace and Tucker with a firm handshake and a "howdy." Tucker wondered, "do they all say this?" It wouldn't be until later when he found out that saying "howdy" to folks was an Aggie tradition. They had lots of traditions in Aggieland. The coach talked a while about the baseball program and offered no assurances Tucker would make the team, although he did say since talking to the General, he took another look at their old scouting report. He was impressed with Tucker's numbers.

The Coach called out to the guys in the hallway to come in his office. "Guys, this is Tucker, the shortstop from California.  "Tucker this is Vondale Wilson our leftfielder and Jimbo Collins one of our catchers." They offered a non-committal handshake. Jimbo said, "You can call me Cooter." Again Tucker thought to himself, "And I thought Jimbo as a redneck name, but Cooter takes the cake." The coach had asked them to take Tucker to lunch while he visited with Mace.

Vondale was a big black guy from the Ninth Ward in New Orleans. He had muscles on top of muscles. He was raised by his grandmother and she was elated her "grandbaby" was getting out of the projects. She worried about all the drugs and violence he was subjected to growing up poor. His bat and his SAT score were his ticket out of the hell hole of the Big Easy. Vondale was a smart, polite manchild. He was a junior, majored in Finance with a 3.4 gpa and a .328 batting average. This season he already had 14 dingers, including one 460 feet long. Dressed in black basketball like shorts with "Aggie Baseball" embroidered on the left leg and a black sleeveless workout shirt, he made Tucker look small. He was certain to play pro ball. He would get to "the show." To him baseball was a means to an end, ultimately he wanted to be a land developer back home Louisiana and knew his degree in Finance would come in handy if he signed a big contract in the pros. Vondale was no man's fool.

Cooter was a piece. He had green bug eyes, curly red hair, freckles, a crooked smile and big ears. He was quick to laugh and tell off color jokes. He looked small for a catcher. His Aggie ballcap was pulled down tight and it made his ears stick out even more. He had on grey sweatpants, a wrinkled maroon t-shirt with "Aggie Football" silkscreened on the front in white. It was well worn and the seams were tattered. Cooter was from Mason, Texas and majored in Natural Resource Management. The only resource management he knew was to chum deer with a sack of corn and then shoot 'em from his deer stand tied up in a tree. He liked to deer hunt and hunting was easy in the Hill Country. There wasn't a need to entice the deer with extra feed, but Cooter wasn't the most ambitious of hunters. He liked to laugh and say "I'm a shooter, rhymes with Cooter, I kill 'em, you chill 'em." He had a 2.3 gpa and limited playing time. He was used mostly to catch the relief pitchers in the bullpen. Now in his third year, his prospects of becoming a starting catcher were slim. He didn't really mind. He knew he was going back to Mason after college. He was having fun. His family had a big ranch and conducted expensive guided hunts for legislators out of Austin and bankers from Dallas. In fact, it was a former Aggie in the governor's office that helped get him into A&M to begin with. Aggies help Aggies.

Vondale and Cooter took Tucker to the iconic Dixie Chicken restaurant across the street from campus for lunch. Calling it a restaurant was stretch. It was another Aggie tradition. It smelled of stale beer, urine and grease. It had pool tables and most of the students were playing "bones" - dominoes and drinking Lonestar beer by the pitcher. Jerry Jeff Walker music was blaring through the speakers. They cooked greasy burgers in the back and had a live rattlesnake behind a glass case in the wall.

There they...

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Post Thirteen - Estacado Heart - Awakening

Post Twelve -  Estacado Heart - Awakening

A Capricorn, Kaci's 18th birthday was early in January. She deferred having a birthday party until the infinity pool her parents were having installed was finished in the spring. The salt water pool made of granite, that was plentiful on the Edwards Plateau in West Texas, created a dramatic effect that would include a waterfall and a diving platform. When lit by the pool lights and reflected off the sparkling water the Precambrian rock of pink and copper colors came to life. All that was left to do was to install the surrounding deck and native landscaping.

In the meantime her dad asked if she would like a new car for her ascent into the adult world. One of his attorney friends was upgrading and had a like-new candy apple red BMW 325i convertible for sale. With only 9,000 miles on the two-year old car he thought it would be perfect for Kaci.

Again, she deferred. For the past year and a half she was completely satisfied to drive one of the old ranch trucks, a 1976 Ford F-250. She did not mind the huge brush grill that wrapped around the front, nor did the big crease in the tailgate, from a dropped bale of hay, bother her. Green shoots of oat hay were growing in the bed from the remnant oat seeds left behind from feeding cows out of the back of the truck. She didn't care. Although she wished the ripped seats were in a little better shape. Jumping in and out of the truck with side-cutters in his back pockets, her dad ripped the clothe seats often. Kaci installed a saddle blanket seat cover to hide the carnage. The truck was beat to hell, but she felt safe driving it anywhere she wanted to go - on the ranch or in town.

Spring break was fun and the pace quickened as the end of the school year approached. TheYellow Jacket yearbook was coming together but Mr. Jackson's ambitious goal was beginning to weigh on the class. They were worried they would run out of time and not make the deadlines set by Jostens to get it published. Afterschool sessions became commonplace. A core group of students, including Kaci and Katy Jo, worked diligently yet they were having fun. The environment was much looser than during the school day and Mr. Jackson seemed even more laid back than he was in 5th period Yearbook. He spent more time talking about his eccentric personal life and sharing crazy stories of his days (and nights) at UT.  He was no saint.

Kaci had her birthday party by the pool on May Day weekend. Two dozen of her friends, guys and girls, showed up. Izzy, John Allen and the rest of the guys spent most of their time doing flips off the rock diving platform. Each dive was a competition. The girls their time laying around, working on their tans and reading gossip magazines. 

Jaylyn fretted over the decorations, food and a big batch of sweet tea she made for the occasion. Harold fretted over the sight of his daughter and her friends  in their skimpy bikinis. He wondered aloud to Jaylyn, "Good God, do these kids have no modesty? The swimsuits barely cover their asses!" Jaylyn laughed and said relax, they were just being girls. 

Jaylyn had more liberal views of a woman's sexuality than Harold. Her worldly experiences taught her that America was a pretty uptight country. She favored a more European view of sex. Her relationship with Kaci was very open, they could talk about anything. As Kaci matured, Jaylyn talked freely about what to expect from her changing body. And about men.  Jaylyn told Kaci how she had lost her virginity on the a beach in the Cayman Islands when she was there on a modeling job. His name was Javier. She could not remember his last name. He was a photographer's grip from Spain. While he fancied himself a lover, Jaylyn told Kaci her first time was far from the fantasy she expected. It was messy and gritty. It hurt. Jaylyn harbors no guilt from the experience but she warned Kaci to be patient with her body. 

Harold's approach to having "the talk" with Kaci's younger brother Cameron was to put everything in cow breeding terms. Cameron understood the basics. He got the rest of "the facts" from his buddies at jr. high school and those damn corny filmstrips Mr. Larkin showed in health class. There was lots of suppressed laughter.

Kaci wore a bikini that resembled the Texas state flag. The Lonestar on the top was strategically placed over her right breast. There was another star at her crotch. It was tiny and creeped up the crack of her cellulite free ass. Her legs look longer than normal. Her breast were ample, firm.

The boys could not help but sneak peaks and swore their allegiance to the flag. They, by God, were proud of Texas. Seeing Kaci wear the flag so well, the boys would have gladly reenacted the Alamo to protect Her from any assault on her independence. 

The other girls, by all measures, were cute, their nubile young bodies hard and fit. Katy Jo was an exception, but that did not prevent her from wearing her little bikini. She was, to the extent any high school girl could be, secure with her body. Overweight, her belly covered the top of her bikini bottoms. She had the classic muffin top. Her butt could not be contained by the limited fabric that struggled against its seams. Her large, round breast poured over the top of her bikini and escaped out of the sides.

The boys didn't mind. Any view of female flesh in Llano was a welcome sight to these country boys. They would have to jump in the pool from time-to-time to disguise their excitement that grew at random times throughout the day. Hell, Katy Jo could of had three tits and a hammer toe and the boys would not care. They were enjoying the side boob shots and the occasional full ass wedgey the girls would pick out each time they got up from the lounge chairs to get more tea.

Life was good and Kaci was excited her friends had such a great time at her party. That night she laid in bed tired and reflective. She thought to herself, "I am 18 now. An adult. Wow" She wondered what it would be like to be with a man.  Her hands slowly explored  her womanhood. Her pulse quickened. Her back began to arch. She closed her eyes and let out a quiet moan. She was a woman.