I wuz in the area six years back when I ran into that ole Swede promoter, Ferd Smedberg. He offered to buy me a Jack and branch water if I’d hear him out on a money-makin' opportunity he was workin' on. Well, seein's how I’m as tight as a bull’s behind at fly time, I’d listen to almost anyone for a free snort of whiskey. So, the two of us bellied up to thePagasaw Saloon to wet our whistles.
Smedberg started by tellin' me how he had convinced some local land owner into givin' him an option on his ranch for three years for next to nothin'. He told the old rancher he was willin' to buy his ranch for a really big price, and let him keep grazin' it for free, but he needed a bit of time to put things together. Ferd said that’s where I’d come in.
Travis Buck Kingman III.
He explained he was needin' a little bit of scratch to keep the old rancher in place, 'cuz the rancher was started to think Ferd wasn’t gonna follow thru and he wanted a little e pluribus unum as a sign of Ferd’s good faith. Seems Ferd had to come up with a hundred large in brown bag money real quick like or he was gonna lose the deal.
Knowin Ferd Smedberg for quite some time, I asked him if everything was above board and what kinda contract we needed. Ferd said, “Why sure, I’m a handshake kinda guy, so we don’t need nothin' in writin'."
What Ferd was offerin' me was a 100% return on my $100,000 if I was willing to loan it to him for one year. Hell, I ain’t no Wall Street Banker, but that kinda return on my money was sure better than I’d been doin' with the cow-calf show.
As Ferd explained things, he needed that $100,000 to keep the rancher happy and to grease a couple other folks involved in getting the ranch sold. Ferd went on to say he was set tomake a million dollars, tax-free, when he closed on the deal... that’s why he was willin to cut me in for a hundred of it. He said he had laid the groundwork nearly ten years earlier and he was finally close to hittin' the jackpot.
I asked him how he was gonna get the money to buy the ranch and Ferd said, "Hell,I’m gonna end up selling the place to them water district folks, 'cuz I’ve got them convinced they have to git it for a water storage lake or else they’ll run outa water with all the growth goin' on in the area."
He told me how he had greased the water engineers and the bonding company to write up a bunch of phony reports and projections, so the water district could fool the locals and borrow the money real cheap from the state.
He even figgered out how to get the money without needin' no approval from the local folks. They’d wanted to name the lake Smedberg Reservoir after him, but Ferd said he was too humble for that, and he convinced them to call it Dry Gulp Lake.
He went on to say how he sweetened the deal for the old rancher in exchange for gettin suitcase money deposited in his off-shore account, outa reach of the tax man and everyone else.
I asked Ferd if it was all legal and he said, “Heck, with all I done for this area, nobody would ever question a thing!”
Besides, he said he had researched the tax and banking privacy laws for the island country of Vanatu and they didn’t allow non-depositors to even look at any banking records. He had a contact in the banking department of the country, a fellar by the name of Hadji and Ferd said he had everythin' set up. He said he’d even have my money deposited over there for me at no cost, all safe and sound.
It sounded almost too good to be true.
Well, I kinda smelled a bit of a rat, but, dang, I had just lost a bundle of money when Taco Bell canceled the contract with me over some tainted pink slime come outta our slaughterhouse in Muleshoe, and I needed the scratch. Besides, I thought to myself, Ferd Smedberg was an attorney and surely he wouldn’t put me into something outside the law. Furthermore, he was a Veteran and I knowed him when he was a Town Judge and on the Swedish Bleeding Deacons Church Board there in Pagosa Springs... and also he told me he had 20 or so respectable partners in his RV Park business in town... so, I thought it was probably okay to trust him with my money.
I drove back to Muleshoe, Texas to take the $100,000 outa my bank down there. Ferd had set up to have me meet him in the alley behind the Old Adobe. He said it would be best not to bring that much cash into his building 'cuz of the drinkin' that went on downstairs — he didn’t wanna risk me getting mugged or anything.
Well, I got into town a bit early so I stopped in to the Pagasaw Saloon to have a snort or two. I got to swappin' stories with a sheep rancher from Chromo and with Curly the bartender, and before I knowed it, I was two hours late for my meetin' with Ferd.
I got in my truck and pulled into the alley when the flashing red lights come on behind me...
Read Part Two...