Of course, I didn't tell him the truth about how I'd gotten it! I merely fibbed. Told him that I had seen sunlight reflecting off something on the ground, and I halted Buck in order to dismount and pick it up.
Imagine my partial sense of disappointment when he told me it was just a tie clasp.
"A tie clasp?!" I had echoed.
"Oh, yeah! For one of them shoestring ties they used to wear, back in the 19th century. Afore bow ties came along."
He took me to the souvenir shop, in the lobby of the ranch house, and showed me what he meant. So, I bought one such shoe string and laced it through the tie clasp like the foreman showed me. And, when I looked at my reflection, back in the privacy of my room, I couldn't help smiling to myself. I looked like a clone of J.R. Ewing from the old DALLAS series!
Minus eighteen inches, a custom-tailored business suit, and a beautiful woman on each arm.
Anyway, the last day of my summer vacation came all too soon, and I headed back to L.A. When I reported to work, the next morning (wearing my new shoestring tie, of course), I found the whole place abuzz with excitement. So, I asked the guy in the cube next to mine what was up.
"Ms. Towne-Kerr just signed a contract with Elizabeth's Enigma. Our models get to show off their lingerie, this coming spring! Including those potential newbies."
"What potential newbies?" I replied.
"Doesn't that dude ranch get basic cable?" he demanded: "Those two hotties who became the first women to snow-board down Mt. Everest, last winter! Ms. Towne-Kerr is trying to talk them into modeling careers!! And, if she succeeds, they'd wear the lion's share of the lingerie at the spring preview in NYC."
With a shrug, I walked past him and re-entered my cube for the first time in two weeks. But, the moment I was alone, I activated my desk-top computer and googled these women I had been told about. It turns out their names were Sarah Lee Baker and Julie Kamanawanaleia. With Sarah being a blue-eyed blonde "ski bunny," from Boise, Idaho. While Julie was a Sino-Hawaiian surfing champ from Honolulu!
Together, they had trained a whole year to surpass the world record of that Japanese downhill skier, Yuchimura, whose 1970 descent of Mount Everest had been turned into an Oscar-winning documentary. And with the successful accomplishment of their feat having been turned into an Oscar-nominated documentary, in its own right, the ensuing publicity had prompted Geraldine Towne-Kerr to approach these ladies with her offer.
Imagine her shocked astonishment at their initial reluctance to accept it!!
"We want to be admired for our abilities, Ms. Towne-Kerr," Sarah had explained: "Not just our looks."
Julie had nodded in agreement. But, much as I might silently applaud such good sense, I have to admit: Ms. Towne-Kerr did not get to where she was, in the male-dominated business world, by taking "no" for an answer. So, she managed to talk Julie and Sarah into a compromise.
"A trial photo-shoot, with the two of you wearing bikinis! If you don't think the resulting pictures do you justice, then I'll respect your decision and order the limo to take you back to your hotel. What do you say?"
Well, they obviously agreed to that much. And, after the first thirty minutes, a rest break was called.
"Hey! You!" Ms. Towne-Kerr called to me, as she came walking by my cube: "Get these mineral waters to Studio One, pronto!! I have to finish assuring Elizabeth's Engima I can sign these two up as lingerie models."
I nodded, without protest, and marched calmly towards the room where the mock photo-shoot was taking place. An opened bottle of water in each of my hands. And, as I entered, I was momentarily dumbfounded.
Julie was wearing a fire-engine red bikini. While Sarah wore one of sky-blue. And, in my humble opinion?
THEY LOOKED GREAT!
That's when Armand, the photographer, noticed me.
"Well? Don't just stand there, trying to catch flies with your mouth. Give these ladies their mineral water!"
"Oh, right. Sorry!"
I blushed as Julie and Sarah (who, even in their barefeet, towered over me by six inches) giggled. And, in partially looking away in embarrassment, I caused my own downfall. Literally!
I tripped over one of the floodlight cords, and fell flat on my stomach. The mineral water spraying upward into my face. And, with the floodlight concerned landing right on top of me!! This was followed by a loud buzzing sound; a painful series of convulsions through out my body; and a wave of blackness that swept over me like a tidal wave.