Kenneth Jack Sutton had been a rancher in South Texas all of his life.
And on one late October afternoon in 2007, that life which spanned 67 years, one loving wife, three children, 400 head of cattle and six thousand acres of land, ended.
He died as he was born—with a South Texas sunset illuminating the room.
His devoted wife, Lizzie was at his side. She kissed him goodbye for the last time, then went into the living room to tell the assemblage of family and friends that her husband—their father, brother, uncle and friend was gone. Tragically, cancer had won both the battle and the war.
He was buried on the ranch, next to his father, his mother and his brother who’d had been killed in Vietnam in 1967.
Lizzie missed Jack, but knew that her life had to go on, because the ranch had to go on. There were six thousand acres of land that needed tending and Jack left all of it to her.
Now, as women go, Lizzie was typically Texan; warm, supportive…fearless and strong, but she’d spent her life with Jack as his wife, not his ranching partner. She raised kids, not cattle. She needed to learn about ranching and she had to do it fast.
Jimmy Dale Parnham had been the the ranch foreman for decades. He knew the land like the back of his hand, but he’d told Jack months before his death that he intended on retiring. Jack’s death didn’t change his opinion. Four of the eight Mexican brazeros who worked the ranch, had moved on to find work in San Antonio.
There were only four workers hands left and that was hardly enough to take care of a ranch that size.
So, Lizzie’s first order of business was to hire new hands, plus she needed to hire a new ranch foreman. She placed an ad in the newspaper. Two cowboys applied for the job.
She sat in ranch office sizing up the prospects. The first candidate was tall and thin, disheveled in appearance; his eyes were bloodshot. Lizzie got the feeling that he enjoyed his “drink” a little too much. The other man who applied for the position was unusually neat for a cowboy. He was clean, too…fastidious. Lizzie saw that he was manly, but there was a softer side to this cowpoke. She got the feeling he was gay.
Oddly enough, no one else applied for the position–just those two men.
She realized she had few options. So, she thought long and hard about it and decided to hire the gay man. She figured it would be safer to have him around the house than a drunk.
Rick Stallings proved to be a hard worker. He’d worked several ranches in West Texas and knew how to handle a horse and cattle. He put in 10 hours a day and his knowledge of ranching was a huge benefit to Lizzie.
In the year following Jack’s death, the ranch was actually doing better than it ever had. Lizzie knew Rick was a huge part of it’s success. His homosexuality had never been discussed. Nor did it matter. Rick was a godsend.
Several weeks later, a cold front blew through one Friday afternoon and temperatures dropped significantly. It was chilly. Rick had finished work and stopped by the house to discuss what had been accomplished that day. Lizzie offered the 34 year old cowboy a beer. They stood in the kitchen and after addressing ranching business, Lizzie said to him, “Rick, I really want to thank you. For everything. You’ve really done a good job, and the ranch looks great. We’re making money. I couldn’t have done this without you. I hope you know that. You’ve been a huge asset to me and this ranch. But you’re also a young man, still in your prime. As your boss, I order you to take the truck in to Laredo and you find something to do. Go have a good time. Kick up your heels. You deserve it!”
“Well thank you, Mizz Lizzie. It’s been a while since I’ve seen the lights of city. Tell you what—I’m going to go shower and get dressed and then I think I’ll follow your suggestion!”. He drank the last of his beer, threw the bottle in the trash then left the kitchen.
Lizzie heard him in his bathroom, singing as he showered.
He returned home around 2:30 in the morning and noticed a faint light coming from the living room. He walked through the front door and into the living room where he found the rancher’s widow seductively wrapped in a blanket, sitting by a roaring fire. There were candles everywhere. She quietly called him over to her.
Rick stood before her as she slowly sipped her wine. “You know Rick, it’s been over a year now since Jack died. I miss him terribly.”
“Yes ma’am, Mizz Lizzie. I know it must be hard.”
“But as I’ve told you, having you here has made all the difference.”
“Thank you Ma’am. I’m glad I can help.”
She rubbed her finger around the rim of her wine goblet several times, then slowly dipped her finger into her liquid and raised it to her mouth. She then licked the trickles of fermented grape juice. Her tongue encircled her long, slender digit. Her eyes, never left Rick’s. The widow slowly removed her finger from her mouth and tossed her long brown hair. “To be honest Rick, a woman like me has needs and right now, I really need you to take off my blouse”.
Ricky stood there motionless; silent.
“Come on now, cowboy. You heard me”.
Ricky knew he had no choice. He did as his female boss instructed.
“Good, that’s right. Now, take off my blue jean skirt.”
Her hair fell playfully into her face. She made no attempt to brush it free.
“Now, remove my bra and panties”.
Rick was nervous, but he complied. His movements were slow and methodical. Again, her eyes never left his.
The widow took a deep, sultry breath. “And finally, my stiletto pumps.”
He removed them.
And when he did, she leaned into him, looked at him sternly with narrowed eyes and said, “Now, listen up, Bitch…if you EVER wear my clothes into town again, YOU’RE FIRED!!!!”‘