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El Paso, had seen Lajitas once years ago, but hadn’t been back until deciding on a whim that what he really wanted to do today was buy a town. But Steve Smith can not yet declare himself the Law West of Terlingua. Still to come, following a ten-minute mariachi interlude, was the “combinations” phase of the auction, which would allow any and all bidders the opportunity to make offers on all three parcels. One ne’er-do-well, Mr. 905, offered a paltry $660,000 before retreating into silence. Then things got interesting, as the previously mute Mr. 151 tossed his hat in the ring from the back of the room. Egged on most efficaciously by Eddie Haynes and his Stepford Husband minions scattered around the room \(“Tomorrow’s too late,” yells one; “It’s only money,” pipes up anprice to more than $3.5 million. Back and forth it goes, Mr. 151 raising it by $25,000 or $50,000 and Mr. 124, a.k.a. Steve Smith, calling him. When Mr. 151 bids $3.8 million, it appears he might have it. Eddie Haynes pleads for another $50,000 in the pot, but Steve Smith seems to have had enough. Then Haynes reaches into his bag of tricks: he bangs his gavel once twice. No peep from Smith. A beat passes. Another. Still no peep. Haynes: “Let’s take a five-minute break and bring the boys back in for another number.” During the cooling-off period, word surfaces that Mr. 151 is a San Francisco-based hotelier named Manou Mobedshahi. He is guzzling bottled water and attempting to wring his hands from his wrists, but otherwise appears poised to consummate the deal. When play resumes, however, Smith finds his nerve anew. Back and forth the bidding goes. Smith offers $3.9 million. Mobedshahi tosses another $25,000 in the pot; Smith matches him. Finally, at the thin-air price of $3.95 million, Manou Mobedshahi folds. He stands up, walks across the crowded saloon to his opponent, and concedes the battle with a handshake. “It’s yours. Do justice to it,” he tells Smith. “It’s a fantastic property.” Mobedshahi returns to his table, where he accepts condolences. “All right,” says Eddie Haynes, regaining the floor and sounding the end of era in the neo-Old West. “We’re going once, three million nine hundred and fifty thousand dollars. Do I hear any increase?” Hearing none, and none again on the second and third calls, Eddie Haynes brings down the gavel. “Ladies and gentlemen,” he says, looking directly at a beaming Walter Mischer, “we have sold the property.” Bill Adler, the Observer’s Big Bend Bureau Chief spends valuable reporting time contemplating desert sunsets, small reptiles, and minor league baseball. ANDERSON & COMPANY COFFEE TEA SPICES TWO JEFFERSON SQUARE AUSTIN, TEXAS 78731 512-45;-1533 Send me your list. Name Street City Zip * * * * * * * * * * * tdM HarperCollinsPublishers “Some say we need a third party. I wish we had a second one.” More political subversion from JIM HIGHTOWER “No nominee should be allowed loose at a fundraiser until he has promised that when he takes the oath next January his hand will be on this book!” Bill Moyers TAKE BACK YOUR VOTE IF THE GODS HAD MEANT US TO VOTE THEY WOULD HAVE WEN US CAN DATES IIM HIGHTOWER nof s *We ittMMaltsitt U MINI Raw 04640MM:A MARCH 17, 2000 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 39