would have admitted the stock deal right off and accused Sharp of trying to frame me. Instead, they go around trying to cover up a deal that’s recorded in black and white in a hundred places. That Rush McGinty’s a complete fool. He’s the one that got Mutscher in all this trouble.” Now the telephones were ringing furiously from every side. He looked at them and then at me. “I guess this is going to have to be it,” he said with a boyish smile. “Right,” I said, and I left him with a carefree wave. I actually felt far from carefree. Ben Barnes had dazzled and confounded me, elated and depressed me. I wandered through the Senate chamber and out onto the second floor of the rotunda. I leaned over the railing and stared down at the Lone Star of Texas. Thoughts were bouncing against each other in my mind, seeking conflicting outlets in action. 10 The Texas Observer I had just gone through a pleasant chat with a bright, amiable man of my own age. In the right time and place, we could easily be good friends. So maybe I should just go back, invite him over for a beer and forget about politics. Then again, I had seen something very frightening in Ben Barnes a morality which condemns a public official for getting caught at corruption rather than for committing the corruption in the first place. Barnes had also revealed to me a lust for office which apparently knew no bounds and a peculiar sort of innocence which led him to believe that at the age of 33 he could resist the mighty forces which were gaining control of him. It was a dangerous combination. Perhaps I had some duty to warn the public of such a man. Or maybe the warning should go to Barnes himself: “Wake up, man! You can’t continue to love people when you scorn serving their interests. You can’t be a leader when you allow yourself to be used as a political pawn and a celebrity-for-hire. You can’t remain above corruption while mingling with the corrupt.” Then again, maybe Barnes’ impossible dream would come to pass. Maybe Ben Barnes was the one man who could use his Texas bankers as stepping stones to some summit where he would shed them like a mail vest he no longer needed, draw his sword and set out in quest of the love of his peers. Oh, well. Behind me, Barnes was already on the telephone with his big campaign contributors, soliciting pledges for the primaries 12 months away. And two floors above me, in Ralph Wayne’s office, bright young people were burrowing through thousands of little green cards and churning out early solicitations for the Barnes bandwagon. The wheels were greased and turning and it would take a mighty force indeed to slow them down or alter the course which Ben Barnes and his entourage had charted years before. TEXAS WESTERN PRESS THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT EL PASO proudly announces ilroy Bode’s SKETCH.BOOK II Portraits in Nostalgia “Elroy is a perfectionist, miniaturist of reality, painter of the moment in time and place. Texas Sketchbook is the finest book of its genre known to me published in the United States.” Ronnie Dugger The Texas Observer Price S5.00 AVAILABLE: Texas Observer Bookstore, Austin Texas Western Press, El Paso or through your local bookstore
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