The Gambler: Meet the Characters of Borger: Last Dance at Sundown

Review: A story that unmasks an unruly town during an unruly time, written with the spirit and power of a novel.

Was Asa Boger a visionary?

He was a builder of towns.

Or was he a gambling man?

He found he could make a sizable amount of money building new towns in Oklahoma as long as they were located next to an oilfield.

It wasn’t easy.

The towns made him rich.

They broke him.

But Asa Borger was determined to try one more time.

His aunt had written and said she was cooking for a crew trying to find oil in the Panhandle of Texas.

He knew he had one more chance.

But where was the drilling rig?

Was there oil?

Or just a dry hole?

He headed to Texas.

Asa Borger was ready to gamble one last time.

*

Asa Borger

ASA BORGER KNOWS what he’s looking for. But can he find it? He swallows the bitter taste that Cromwell left in his mouth, climbs out of his Studebaker, and looks around him. His map tells him he’s in Hutchinson County. But he could be anywhere or nowhere. Nothing breaks his line of sight in any direction. The landscape hardly ever changes. The prairie is as flat as a griddle, the ground fractured only by dry arroyos, scattered rock canyons, buttes carved by rain, wind and time, grasses leaning against the wind, a few hills rising in the distance. They look blue in the cold mist of a February morning.

A highland bluff rising sharply off the prairie catches his attention. Map says it’s known as Antelope Peak. There’s a peak all right, but it’s a far cry from any mountain top he’s ever seen before. The only sound is one of silence and maybe the gentle hum of sudden wind gusts dancing across the plains. Asa is as alone as he has ever been.

What now?

 Where is it?

 Where is the oil?

 Where are the wildcatters?

 Where is the dull whine and grind of a drill bit battling its way through earth and rocks?

 He hasn’t seen a single rig.

All is calm. A chill works its way between his shoulder blades. A light frost glistens atop the grasses. It’s been a hard ride. Borger has gone for miles and miles and seen nothing but miles and miles. He turns in the direction of Antelope Peak, a mound shaped like a cone. It is the only discernible landmark he has found. He eases his way up the slope and toward the summit.

No trail.

Short ride.

Man does not spend a lot of time on Antelope Peak.

He has almost given up hope.

He stops.

His heart trembles.

He has no reason to look any farther.

There it is.

Tall.

And splintered.

He’s been searching for days.

He’s been searching in vain.

He’s searching no longer.

It’s barely visible.

But it’s unmistakable.

It’s as beautiful as any sight he’s ever seen in his life.

A wooden oil derrick rises above the prairie.

There is only one.

But one is enough, provided, of course, the drill bit is not chewing its way through earth dried by too many droughts, as long as it has broken into a pool of oil, and the pool runs deep, and the pool runs wide with oil as black as the cloud of the Great Depression that hangs like a noose above them all.

Borger looks around him, and he no longer feels the cold fingers of a mid-winter chill touching the back of his neck.

Only moments ago, Asa Borger had gazed upon an unbroken prairie.

Now he sees a town.

Please click HERE to find Borger: Last Dance at Sundown on Amazon.

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