Three weeks after they struck oil in Titusville, PA, Louis Alts decided to become a prospector. He cut a branch from the willow that grew outside his bedroom and announced over eggs and bacon, "I'm going into prospecting."
His father looked at him. "You're a farmer, not a doodle-bugger."
But his mother, a forward-looking woman, nodded. "Look for where the earth weeps," she said, patting his hand. "Begin your search there."
After mopping up the last of the yellow from his plate with a piece of buttered toast, Louis wiped his face, shoved back his chair, and stood. He stepped into the back yard, saddled up Nellie and tied on his bedroll.
Nine days of hard riding brought him to the front porch of Miss Mae's Boardinghouse. Looking at her ivory skin and her slender hips, Louis immediately fell in love. He read the rules, signed the guestbook, and paid twenty-four dollars for two weeks.
For six days, he walked the land, looking for the telltale seep and following it, holding the ends of the sticks in each hand, watching for the telltale dip that indicated something of promise below the surface. Every evening he returned to the boardinghouse dejected.
"Damnation," Louis said, on the seventh evening, sinking into a rocker before snapping his stick across his knee and throwing it to the porch floor.
Miss Mae was at the door in an instant. "Mr. Altz." Her voice was sharp.
He look up.
"You need to refine your crude or pack up your belongings and leave."
Louis stared, lowered his head, as if in prayer. Removed his hat as an afterthought. "I apologize, ma'am."
Louis never did find oil. But he did find himself a wife in Miss Mae. Every evening, after he finished his evening chores, he sat on the front porch for a spell, watching the sun settle down into the horizon, minding his manners under Mae's watchful eye.
Louis died a pauper.
But some might say he struck it rich.
This was written for this week's Trifecta Writing Challenge. The word was crude.Kelly Garriott Waite on Google+