Smoke fills the screen and slowly begins to clear, revealing what appears to be a devastating accident scene on some unknown, rural highway. Two badly damaged cars lay on their side in the middle of the road. A tanker truck is overturned in the bar ditch, leaking fuel. The two car’s drivers stagger around, trying to regain their bearings. Suddenly, a dinosaur—a tyrannosaurus rex—enters from screen left. The staggering drivers flee while the T-Rex charges toward the tanker truck, bites down hard on the tank, lifts it in the air and shakes it violently from side to side.
A man in a three-piece, pin-striped suit and smoking a cigar strolls into the scene and stops in front of the dinosaur still thrashing the tank in his powerful jaws. “I’m Rex Taylor, and if you’ve been injured in an accident, you need to call me,” he yells while staring angrily into the camera. He takes one last puff on the cigar, tosses it over his shoulder and begins walking toward the camera. The cigar ignites the fuel spilled from the crash, engulfing the dinosaur, tanker and rig in flames. Rex continues to walk calmly toward the camera while the entire scene explodes behind him. He doesn’t stop walking until his crotch blackens the screen. It is then that the words “If you’ve been wrecked, call the T-Rex,” and the firm’s phone number appears on the screen. The commercials ends with a giant dinosaur claw ripping away the slogan and number.
The commercial was the brainchild of a much younger Rex Taylor and had been running on local television in Lubbock and surrounding areas for years. Because of his aggressive approach, flair for the dramatic and over-the-top cinematography experiment, Rex had become the area’s most successful personal injury attorney. And it had cost him nearly everything.
Rex’s wife of twenty years left him nearly two years ago after never successfully convincing Rex to prioritize her and their two boys. There was always another dinner, another trial, and another hospital to visit to scare up more clients. He was never home, never at the boys’ soccer games, and never available for her emotionally. So she left. She and the boys moved to Amarillo and Rex was left all alone in their big, marble laden house in Ransom Canyon.
Jarrell had known Rex since he was just a little boy. He and Jarrell’s oldest son Danny went to school together in Abernathy and both played on the football, basketball and baseball teams in junior high and high school. Danny and Rex had remained friends, albeit intermittently as they ran in different social circles—Danny in the Dairy Queen coffee-with-the-boys set while Rex preferred the country clubs or his private Jones Stadium suite, where he attended every football game and his iconic (yet annoying) commercial ran on the new video screen during time-outs.
It was through Danny that Rex learned about Evelyn and the injuries she sustained during her late-night scuffle with Roy. On Monday morning, Rex visited Evelyn and Jarrell at the hospital. “I brought you some flowers, Mrs. Robertson,” Rex said quietly as he stood over her bed. “Oh, Rex, you shouldn’t have,” Evelyn replied, sleepily. Rex set the vase on the window and sat down in one of the hard chairs underneath the television hanging high on the hospital wall. After a few minutes of small talk, Rex asked Jarrrell if he was hungry. “Get him out of here, please,” Evelyn begged. “Let’s go to Josie’s,” Rex said. Jarrell nodded, rose and kissed Evelyn on the forehead. “I’ll be right back,” he said. I’ll be here,” she said.
Jarrell and Rex settled into a booth at Josie’s and waited for their meal. After finishing one basket of chips and salsa, the waitress brought out their plates. Both had ordered breakfast burritos stuffed with eggs, bacon and potatoes and smothered in queso. A true, West Texas staple.
“Are you dating anyone?” Jarrell asked. “Yeah sorta,” Rex replied. “I’ve been using one of those dating apps, Tinder, or whatever, and I met someone a few nights ago.”
“What do you mean you met someone and what the hell is a tinder?” Jarrell asked.
“I mean I met someone,” Rex said. “I met her in the Wal-Mart parking lot.”
“What?” Jarrell asked, incredulously.
“I was at home watching Stranger Things on Netflix and had a few drinks. So I started screwing around on my phone and started chatting with one of ‘em. She asked me to meet her at the Wal-Mart parking lot, told me she drove a silver Jeep Cherokee. I’d had just enough to drink to think that was a good idea, so I headed that way.”
“When I got there, sure enough, there was that silver Jeep. So I pulled up beside her and got in. We talked for a little while. She’s going through a divorce and I think her ex might’ve been inside Wal-Mart, shopping. It was kinda weird.”
“You’re gonna get yourself killed,” Jarrell said.
“I know, I know,” Rex said. “I don’t know what I was thinking.”
“She was wearing sweat pants,” Rex said and took a bite of his burrito.
“So I guess you wanna talk about my Roy problem,” Jarrell asked.
“Yeah, let’s sue his ass,” Rex said. “Let’s take him for everything he’s got.”
“That’s the problem,” Jarrell answered, “he ain’t got nothing.”
“T-Rex!” shouted two kids in Tech shirts. They approached the table holding their arms close to their chests and hop-running in an attempt to mimic the legendary dinosaur. “Hey fellas,” Rex said, thanks for the shout-out.” The Tech kids gave Rex a high-five and returned to their table. “We love you, man!” they yelled.
Alone again with their burritos, Rex and Jarrell continued their discussion. “I guess you’re right,” Rex said. “We wouldn’t get much from him.” Jarrell dipped a chip into the queso remaining on his plate and ate it. “I talked to the sheriff but he’s no use. Said there’s nothing he can do unless he catches Roy doing something wrong. He still has legal custody of the boy.”
“There is something we can do,” Rex said.
“What do you have in mind?” Jarrell asked.
In the course of Rex’s time building his firm into the South Plains premier litigious power, he had come across more than his fair share of less than desirable characters. Sitting at breakfast and seeing Jarrell’s tired eyes, Rex ran through a mental rolodex of those that might be able to help, in whatever way necessary.
“We’ll get that baby back, Jarrell,” Rex said. “We’ll get him back.”