Artificial Intelligence driven Marketing Communications
Wicked Wildcatters: When revenge is not enough is a story that I’ve been working on for over a year. We all have busy schedules, so this book is intended to be a quick read. My vision is that this is just the beginning of a Wicked Wildcatters series. With your help we can share Lee’s tale with the world.
Wicked Wildcatters is an exciting and humorous 100 page plus novel about the early days of Big Oil in Texas when there were few regulations and even fewer scruples in dealing and double-dealing with companies and bureaucrats.
Lee and Hank, college roommates and majors in petroleum engineering at the University of Oklahoma, go into the oil business with the help of Hank’s Uncle Dave, a rancher in West Texas. Dave suspects that Value oil is poaching oil from his ranch and wants to make them pay for it.
With Lee and Hank’s help, he succeeds, which provides seed money to start their own oil company. Value Oil goes into the refinery business, but continue their shortcuts and dirty dealing, causing a major environmental disaster that affects Hank personally. Can they put a stop to it, and will it put Value Oil out of business?
It was almost like a dream; following the 1956 year-end triple sports MVP award ceremony at the high school’s swimming pool, three of Lee Hillcrest’s teammates delivered a stinging but good-natured roasting. When they finished, they began taunting Lee to come up to the front to say something, and they got the crowd to join in with “Speech, Speech, Speech.”
Lee, never shy and always a quick wit, seized the opportunity and joined his three teammates at the podium. “Thank you all, my parents, coaches, and especially you, my teammates, who, truth be told, had you not been second best, I wouldn’t have won this award without you.”
As the crowd broke out in laughter, the three teammates picked up Lee and threw him into the pool. After getting out of the pool and drying off, Lee realized he didn’t have much time; the bus left in 2 hours.
“Tickets please,” the bus driver called out. Lee handed him the wet and slightly crumpled one-way ticket. The driver tore off the stub, looked up, and hollered, “Well, I’ll be! It’s Lee Hillcrest. You’re Lee Hillcrest!”
Lee, befuddled, replied, “Yes, sir.”
“Folks,” the driver squawked over the intercom, “we have a celebrity on board, Lee Hillcrest, the best dang athlete to ever come from these parts.” The driver leaned back, covered microphone and whispered, “Son, you can sit anywhere you want but the back is where you can stretch your legs. You have a long ride ahead of you.”
Embarrassed, his face flushed, Lee ambled down the aisle. As he passed each row he would hear, “Congratulations,” “Make us proud,” “Show them what you got”!
Lee found a place to sit on the last row, the seat drowned in the smell of diesel fuel from the rusty old 1950s Greyhound Bus. This is going to be a long and smelly ride, he thought. The brakes let out a “Ssss” and the bus lurched forward. Is this happening? Am I really leaving Midland? Lee lowered his window and tried to catch his breath. As he exhaled, he caught a glimpse of a faded yellow bullet-dimpled sign, “Midland City Limits. Y’all Come Back.”
When Lee stepped onto that Greyhound, it was a big deal for the Hillcrests. It meant the family had a future. Lee was the only child of Agnes and James Hillcrest. Agnes and Jim were high school sweethearts who married during the great depression. Although the nation’s conditions improved, their personal fortunes didn’t. One of Jim’s proudest moments was the day he closed on a small two-bedroom manufactured shotgun house, next to the railroad tracks. Now his son had a safe place to rest his head in this sleepy West Texas town.
Although bright, Lee was no scholar. What he lacked in wealth and study habits he made up for in strength and stamina. His good looks and affable charm were only exceeded by his God-given talent. Lee stood over six feet tall with broad shoulders, long muscular arms, legs as thick as bricks, and feet the size of paddles. Lee was, by any standard, a remarkable athlete. There weren’t many students like Lee who were offered a full-ride swimming scholarship their freshman year. In Midland, Lee Hillcrest was a swimming legend.
Though a great athlete, Lee believed there was more to life than swimming. He wanted to be a successful businessman. A man admired in the community not for his trophies and medals but for his business prowess. More specifically, he wanted to be an “Oil Man.”
This dream was not an epiphany. Midland, Texas sat on one of the largest oil reserves in the world. Drilling for crude was “The” business in Texas and Oklahoma, and Lee lived in oil’s shadow his whole adolescent life. The local football and baseball team were sponsored by a wildcatter. The library was built by a petroleum company. Even the high school mascot was a “Roughneck.” Everything around him, familiar to him, had something to do with oil. Lee knew that in order to get into the business, he needed to learn as much as he could, as quickly as possible. The only way to do that was, go to college.
Because the University of Oklahoma wanted Lee Hillcrest on their team, they had done their research. When it came time for the recruiter to meet with the Hillcrests, he didn’t talk about winning national championships, but instead highlighted the attributes of the OU Petroleum and Geological Engineering Department. As he waved a professionally prepared flyer in the air, the OU coach said, “Son, all you need to do is read this, and call me in the morning.”
Lee couldn’t wait, picked up the pamphlet, and read:
“OU petroleum engineers work to develop new technologies for improved oil and gas recovery. A career in petroleum engineering provides new experiences and, because of the global operations, plenty of opportunity to experience a vast array of unique places and cultures…”
Lee stopped reading. His finger traced back to, “plenty of opportunity to experience a vast array of unique places and cultures…” he paused again for a second, and reread, “unique places and cultures.” Did that mean a college degree would land him a job in a “unique” place like San Antonio, Dallas, or even Houston? The coach was right, Lee’s mind was made up. It was time to pack his bags. “Boomer Sooner!”
Lee slept for most of the 400-mile bus ride to Norman, Oklahoma. The hiss of the brakes and the lurch forward meant the bus arrived in Norman, Oklahoma. Lee staggered down the few short steps and rubbed his face. As his eyes cleared, the first thing he saw was a sign, “Mr. Lee Hillcrest.”
Lee walked toward the placard as it slowly began to lower like a car window to reveal the prettiest girl he had ever seen. Beautiful green eyes, long, thick auburn hair, about 5’4″, 115 pounds, and a rack and a half on a sculptured body that would make Venus blush with envy.
A soft petite voice said, “Hello, Lee, Welcome to the University of Oklahoma. My name is Leigh. I’ll be your hostess.”
“Lay? I mean “Lee? Wait, but I’m Lee? What?” Lee stammered.
“Yup,” she said, giggling. “Your accent is funny; let me guess, West Texas.”
“I’M SORRY!” Lee, raised his voice in irony and tried to act irritated. “This will never work! They sent someone to make fun of me on my first day on campus?!” he grumbled as deeply as he could.
The innocent girl covered her face and began to sob deeply. Lee felt like a dagger had been plunged into his heart. He put his hands on the shoulders of the sobbing hostess and pleaded, “No, no, I, I was just kidding. Please forgive me; I was—”
The sweet Sooner suddenly dropped her hands from her face, smiled, laughed, and said, “Gotcha.”
“Dang,” Lee gushed with relief. “You sure did. I’ll never kid around like that with you again.”
“Oh, I doubt that’s true. Now come with me, Leigh said, I have to report this to the school protocol board.”
“Oh no! Please, I—” Lee said in panicked voice.
“Hey, I’m kidding with ya. You started it,” Leigh said, laughing.
“Okay, Okay, you got me.” As Lee spoke those words, he thought, I am going to marry this girl.
After a short walk around the neatly manicured south oval, the couple approached the Athletic Department where two large athletic-looking men were standing by the door.
Leigh started the introductions, “Lee Hillcrest, I’d like you to meet Athletic Director Tom Pollard, and you remember swimming Coach Jason Gerard. “By the way,” she continued, “Mr. Hillcrest thinks I should change my name.”
Lee interrupted, “Oh no, really, I—”
“Gotcha again,” chided Leigh.
The Director and the coach looked puzzled, and before they could say anything, Leigh responded, “It’s an inside joke,” poking Lee in the arm.
After a casual visit with Pollard and Gerard, Lee was introduced to the entire athletic staff whose names flew by him like mile markers on a highway. It seemed like the staff already knew everything about him.
At the end of the tour, Lee was taken to the trophy room where the names of 31 OU All American Swimmers through 1955 were proudly displayed, covering the wall. At first, he felt a little intimidated, but as he looked more closely at the names, the winning times for their best race was posted. His personal bests were much faster in every stroke. No wonder the royal treatment.
As Lee walked to his new dorm room with Leigh, he asked, “Do you mind my asking what your middle name is?”
“Ann,” Leigh replied.
“Pretty,” Lee said. “May I call you Leighann?”
Leigh’s face flushed red. “I would love that; only my father calls me Leighann.”
Lee, a little embarrassed, said, “Leighann it is.”
Lee was expecting a closet-sized bare-bones space, much like he had back in Midland. To his surprise the door opened to a spacious room, well-appointed and freshly painted with all new furnishings. There were two of everything. Two desks, two dressers, and two beds. Surprise number two. He hadn’t thought about it, but, of course, he had a roommate.
“Lee, this is your roommate,” Leigh began, “Freshman Henry Walker. Henry, meet Lee Hillcrest.”
“Hi, Lee, I go by Hank.” Hank was good-looking, about 5’9″, dark brown hair, with olive complexion and sky-blue eyes.
“Lee, I’m going to let you and Hank get to know each other,” the bubbly hostess announced. “In about an hour, I’ll return to give you a quick tour of the campus, and then we’ll eat dinner. By the way, I’ll be your personal guide for the next 3 days. I hope you don’t mind?” Lee grinned ear to ear and gave his new roommate Hank a thumbs up.
Hank and Lee chatted as they unpacked and organized their things, and it was evident that the two young men would become good friends, despite their differences. They were opposite in just about every way. Whereas, Lee was gregarious, Hank was reserved. Lee was a people person, and Hank was more of a loner. Lee was a sports nut, and Hank was studious. Lee came from a low-income family, and Hank’s parents and grandparents were well off. The two freshmen complemented one another. Despite their differences, they had the same drive for success.
Lee, as usual, did most of the talking. Hank, as was his nature, listened carefully and finally said, “Why did you choose OU?”
Without a moment’s hesitation, Lee replied, “Because, I have a plan. I want to own and manage my own oil drilling company, Oklahoma is the oil drilling capital of the world, and OU has the world’s best Petroleum and Geological Engineering Department.” He thought, I sound like recruiter.
Hank smiled and said, “That’s crazy; I have the same dream. But I like the business side of oil.”
Lee burst out, “Get outta here!”
“It’s true,” Hank continued. “I don’t care so much about finding black gold as I do about investing the dollars it creates.”
“Well,” Lee added, “We have a few years to talk about it, but first things first; before we become icons in the oil business, we need be legends with the ladies. And I heard the best way to do that is to join a fraternity. Look at these pamphlets.”
End of Chapter One
The money being raised here will allow me to finish the book. This is a very personal project and I would like to do as much as I can by myself with the guidance from experienced publishers.
The first draft of the book is written but I still need input from developmental, copy and proof editors. I already have the cover design but need formatting for print and ebook publishing. I will continue to devote my full attention to this project.
The money will also cover the cost of printing the book, as well as pay for the awesome Kickstarter rewards and some miscellaneous Kickstarter fees.
I will seek out a publisher for my book once the story is complete. My goal is to self-publish a special Kickstarter limited edition version for you and then later publish nationally.
Limited Edition Wicked Wildcatters Sticker
Pre-public release PDF version Wicked Wildcatter
Limited Edition Wicked Wildcatters Bottle Opener Keychain
Pre-public release paperback Wicked Wildcatters
Possible stretch goals include Tee Shirts, audio book and illustrations.
Risks are low. As with all Kickstarter projects, there is always a risk of delay in delivering some of the rewards, but I’ve been careful to give myself MORE time than I think I’ll need – so I hope I’ll have some, or all, of the rewards out SOONER than listed.