Dirty Money

By: Jessica Clare



“We’re not?” The suit frowns, gazing around him.

The man’s stupider than dirt. I glance over at Clay and the other boys, but they’re all looking at me with amusement. Clearly, this is my problem. I roll my dowsing rods between my hands again. “No digging today. You see any equipment?”

He turns. He actually turns and looks around. Like he wouldn’t see a fucking rig from a fucking mile away. They ain’t exactly stealthy pieces of equipment. Off to one side, my brother Clay snorts and presses a hand over his face, trying to hide his laughter.

I glance at my watch. Five more minutes. Damn. That means this idiot’s gonna sit here in front of me for five more minutes, looking for a rig that ain’t here.

The suit finally turns and looks at me again. “If we’re not digging, what are we doing here?”

I hold up the dowsing rods. “We’re picking where we drill.”

The suit stares at the rods I’m holding, then looks me right in the eye. Then, he looks away over at Clay and the others. “Does your boss know that you’re using sticks for this?”

“It’s called dowsing,” I correct him. He’s got a snotty tone in his voice I like even less than what I’ve heard so far. “And it works.”

“Listen,” he says, clutching his briefcase to his chest and wiping at his forehead again. “I realize that Mr. Price had a big hit on oil—”

“So I hear.” Really, this would be amusing if it wasn’t so damn insulting.

“And I know they call him Spindletop, because he found a well that rivals that one—”

“Hundred thousand barrels a day,” I agree. I know this story well. It’s my damn story.

“And I realize that maybe because he came from working oil that he doesn’t mind if you do things in a haphazard fashion,” he continues, his lip curling as he looks over at me. “But Mr. Bates is not as foolhardy with his money and his time, and I’m here to see that Mr. Price doesn’t waste either of them.”

“Uh-huh,” I say slowly.

He stares at me, waiting for an answer.

I check my watch. Two minutes until the top of the hour. Close enough. I hop off the end of the truck bed and nod at Clay. “Wanna get started?”

“Still got two minutes,” Clay says.

“Two minutes?” the suit asks. “Two minutes for what? Is Mr. Price going to show up?” And the idiot turns and looks around again.

“Bad juju if we don’t start at the top of the hour.” Clay smirks over at me. “And we need all the good juju we can get ’round here.”

“Our juju’s already bad,” I say, rubbing the dowsing rods with an oil-soaked cloth like I always do, so they get the scent of what they’re looking for. “Might as well get this dog and pony show going.”

“Shouldn’t we wait for Mr. Price? My employer won’t be happy about this dowsing—”

I’ve about had enough of this peckerhead. I step forward, and the man retreats like I’m gonna raise a fist. “You want Boone Price?” I ask him.

The suit nods, cringing.

I shove a thumb at my chest. “I’m Boone fucking Price. And if I wanna fucking dowse for oil, I’m gonna dowse for oil. Understand?”

The man’s mouth drops open. Then shuts. Then opens again. He eyeballs me, then the rods in my hand, as if he doesn’t quite believe it.

Hell of a day I’m having.

***

By the time we leave the worksite, I’m in a foul mood. Worse than foul. I should go home and shower the West Texas dust off of me, but I can’t stop thinking about the dickface in the suit and how he was such an ass to me. I don’t know why it’s galling me so much, but I can’t get past it. I’m still pissed about it when I climb into my truck and Clay sits in the passenger seat and starts yammering about the day. He’s in a good mood—of course he is. Ain’t nothing that bothers Clay for long. Me, I’m the one that stresses the fuck out over everything.

And the lack of respect I’m getting right now? It fucking bothers me.

I tear down the highway, only half listening to Clay laugh and tell jokes about what the guys said. About what I did today. I’m not paying attention. All I can think about is Bates. Bates sending his little pencil-dick company man to try to get me set up “proper.” Like I don’t know what I’m doing. Like I’m the one that doesn’t have money.

Like I’m the one that’s the needy party.

Fuck that shit. I don’t need anyone.

By the time we get to the outskirts of the city, Clay’s yawning and mentioning beer. I give my brother a narrow-eyed look and a nod, then grab my phone off the dashboard. I dial Bates.

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