A wagon pulled by two tired horses appeared on the main street of a small town. Behind the driver was a tarp stretched across a hillock of boxes, ropes criss-crossed to hold a load in place. The driver reigned the rig to the livery area, unharnessed the horses, gave them some grain and water, tied them up and moved toward the general store two streets away.
He was stopped half way along the raised board walk by another man sitting outside of a saloon, chair tilted back against the wall seemingly half awake, half asleep.
“Hey Jacob, you forget who your friends are?”
The wagon driver stopped; bent to look under the fellow’s hat and laughed, “Sam, my god, Sam, How the hell are you?”
“Why I’m just fine Jacob, better yet for seeing you. Do you have time for a drink, something to eat, a visit?”
“You know I do, only I have some business to attend to right this moment, let me finish and we’ll have a meal together and catch up, shall we? About an hour? Will that work?”
Steaks, potatoes, beer. They ordered the same. Jacob asked,” what have you been doing with yourself, Sam – all these years, what is it now, twenty?”
”No wait, don’t tell me,” said Sam. “I’ll break the spell.”
After a moment Sam said “ I never moved very far from here, you know, just looking for opportunities to make a little money, have some fun, get ahead. Came close to a big win, oh… about four years ago, but well, luck always seems to flirt then move off when I get too close.” They both laughed.
“What about you? Where have you been” asked Sam.
“So yes you stayed I guess, and I moved off, way off actually, two hundred miles north, out of the valley completely, to the frontier, you know, a crazy place on the frontier, only I learned pretty fast that I couldn’t out crazy the crazies, so I started a hauling business. The crazies can speculate, mine for gold or homestead and farm, so I noticed that they needed to get stuff in and out of the area and I was just the guy to do it, one trip in and one trip out, then two then three, well it wasn’t glamorous, but it worked. Now I have ten wagons, and they just go in and out loaded both ways, normally anyway.”
“Ten, my god! Where did you get the money for ten wagons, rob a bank?”
“No, I had to borrow some money for the first wagon, drove it myself for two years, paying back the loan first then saved enough for another wagon, then bought the second and so on, you know ten years or so and I was an over night success!”
Both men laughed.
Sam said,” Jacob, that just doesn’t sound like you, you were always a little nuts, one load in and one load out? Ten years, twenty years, load after load, how did you stand it?”
“Stand what?” asked Jacob.
“God, the tedium, the boredom?”
“Well, first of all, when you borrow a bunch of money and the banker wants his money back, you don’t think much about boredom, you think how good it will be to get him off your back. Then when you own one wagon free and clear and are putting a little money in your pants you begin to think how nice it would be to have two wagons earning for you. I kept thinking that all the way up to ten. I have yet to be bored by any of it, believe me.”
Sam jerked his head as if to shake a fly off his nose. “Yeah, well can’t say I’m not happy for you Jacob, but golly, where is the adventure, where’s that gambler fellah I used to know, the one who would bet on anything?”
“Well, I guess he stayed here with you Sam.” They both laughed again.
Then Sam said, “Yup, I do like the feel of a good bet, $10 right on the horse’s nose, let her rip and see how goes.” He paused for a moment, then said “You know there was a hell of a chance to get some land where the train tracks were supposed to go. So I took a flier but the tracks went somewhere else, then there was a load of furs I bought sight unseen only to discover that they were moldy and not worth much of anything. I know there are winners and losers and if any of my investments had ever hit, well I would have been able to buy all ten of your wagons and have money left over for a house on a hill in the best part of town. Only, well like I said, close but never quite in the basket, no, but boy what a haul I could have made.”
Jacob shook his head, smiled at his old friend and pushed his plate forward a couple of inches toward the center of the table, wiped his mouth with the napkin, tossed it on the plate and winked. “Sam, Sam, Sam. I really do wish you could have hit on one of those deals. You’d look good living on the top of the hill running this town.”
Sam smiled, pursed his lips and said: “you know Jacob, I do have something brewing. Do you think you might be interested in a venture that could make us both really rich?”