“He’s pretty much the ultimate landman. I mean, if he gets hired, he’s going to take all of our jobs. He’ll bill for at least 10 days, per day.”
“I heard that he got 200 leases and 150 affidavits signed in one day.”
“In his hometown, they moved the statue of Chuck Norris to make room for a statue of Jim Malloy.”
The Ballad of Jim Malloy started as a joke. Over a couple of weeks it grew into something much bigger. He became a legend, not by his own doing. By the time we realized what had happened, it was too late to stop it. The train had left the station. The stories continued to get more outlandish. Our broker was talking about hiring the man. Our crew chief asked us if he was really “that good.” (He’s more than “that good” was the only acceptable answer, obviously). Here’s how it all began.
I was working somewhere around the vaguely defined area of “East Texas” on a job that I didn’t want to do for a broker that I did not want to work for. He had zero respect for the people working for him and made it very clear that everyone was replaceable. It’s hard to ask us to work harder for less money when you also treat us like shit, and that’s a lesson I hope I never forget when all of you dumb fucks are working for me in the future. Just kidding. Making the best of the situation, because things were pretty slow at that point in time, I was glad to have the work. One of the few positives about that job was the crew I worked with. Somewhere around 20-30 any given week, and I am fortunate to call about 10 of them friends still.
There were a couple of solid landmen, a few ass sucking leeches, an absolutely over the top ambitious (douche) crew chief (with less experience than almost anyone else on the crew), some warm bodies that rotated in and out, a couple old timers that also rotated in and out, and a good core of fellow beer drinkers. At least once a week we would grill out in the hotel parking lot, play poker, and at least 3 nights a week we would go out for beers or drinks somewhere in town. There weren’t many options, so we ended up at the same couple of spots a lot. One of the benefits of a small town is that we got to know everyone, and it was a rare occasion to get through a week without all is us being invited to a birthday party, homecoming party, going away party, or something of the sort.
Our office was on the second floor of a building across the street from the courthouse, and we had two sides of the main breezeway/hallway. As you came to the top of the stairs, to your right was the runsheet/title side of the office, and to your left was the curative/leasing side. There were about 6 offices in the runsheet/title side and about 4 on the curative/leasing side. This building was old and had some really interesting windows in the interior walls between offices. Some of the light switches controlled lights in completely different rooms, and a couple of spots in the floor felt like if you jumped up and down you’d be able to crash right through. The very front room of the runsheet/title side (at the front of the building, down a long hallway) is what I always referred to as “the chicken coop.” That’s where my desk was first located, since no other space was available.
My back faced the hallway, so everyone in our side of the office could see whatever I was working on. It was usually guns or crypto charts. Most of the people in my office must have thought I was looking at stock charts or something, but I was actually looking at or creating my own completely off the wall amateur technical analysis bullshit to confirm my ideas. One of my screens always had our runsheet/map app open…it might just be partly obscured. The ladies in the chicken coop were older, but very nice once you got past the hard exterior. There was only one other guy in the chicken coop, and he was a solid landman, but kind of kept to himself about things not land related, except politically incorrect jokes. I didn’t mind being in there, but hoped it wouldn’t last long…
The first day I was in the office I was assigned to cursory/mineral title, and my team lead was Lil Red. Our actual crew chief wasn’t in the office that day, so Lil Red was my only contact in the chain of command. I was initially impressed with how fast she could speak without taking a breath, but then I realized that she did everything fast. Later, after I got to know her, I saw that she drove fast, drank fast, smoked fast, and worked fast. She knew her shit though, and after a bit of explaining what she needed me to do I got my assignment, and I spent most of the day in the courthouse verifying third party leases. I briefly met her boyfriend Bud, who seemed like a pretty cool laid back guy with a weird go-tee, and another one of their friends, Chief Whiteclaw.
It took two weeks or so for us to “squad up.” The fact that they were the only other people on our crew anywhere close to my age might have had something to do with it…we also were the instigators for every happy hour, and sometimes the only participants. Chief Whiteclaw and I had previously worked for the same broker, some years before, but were in adjacent counties and never crossed paths. We knew all of the same common characters from that crew though, so it was easy to get acquainted. Bud and I had worked in the same county at one point in time but as far as I recall had never met (we probably drank a couple of beers at the beer joint together) and Lil Red was a completely new character to me.
After a couple of months, my desk had moved across the hallway to the curative/leasing side of the office and we had a pretty regular routine. Since Mondays were travel days a lot of the crew showed up around lunchtime. One Monday afternoon I was sitting at my desk next to Chief Whiteclaw, and the other landman in our office, Ranger, was talking about how he had heard our crew would be hiring some more people. Our office had a door leading into the curative team lead’s office which she shared with her husband and one other very strange but extremely knowledgeable guy. The curative team lead (and her husband, who worked for her…strange, I know) were Pentecostals. Honestly, I had heard the word before but had no idea what they were other than a religious sect of Christianity. It was a few weeks after meeting them that someone told me the whole deal, which immediately explained a couple of curious things…they didn’t ever curse, she always wore skirts down below her knees and had her hair up in a bun or ponytail, their kids weren’t allowed to eat sugar (probably just a weird thing not necessarily Pentecostal), and they were VERY close with their fellow churchgoers (a lot of whom eventually got hired onto our crew…more on that later).
Chief Whiteclaw jokingly responded to Ranger by saying “God I hope they don’t hire Jim Malloy…” Ranger pushed back from his desk a bit and turned around in his chair, “Why? Who’s this Jim Malloy guy? What’s his deal?” Ranger was a procurement guy for some Army Special Forces unit for a long time and was naturally inquisitive and suspicious about any “unknowns.” We always joked that whenever the broker was late paying us, Ranger was going to be the one to stage our protest outside the office wearing full riot gear and lobbing teargas grenades into the building to clear out any scabs that crossed our picket line and tried to keep working. Ranger joked that if our checks were more than 4 weeks late, the grenades wouldn’t be teargas…I can only hope he was serious. That’s when I chimed in, “Only one of the greatest landmen of all time…pretty much everyone in the business has heard of Jim Malloy. I’ve never met the guy, but every crew I’ve worked on had at least a couple of people that knew him. He’s a fucking legend.” We all kind of laughed, but the joke continued to grow from there. Chief Whiteclaw added, “pretty much. We’re not even joking, the guy is a legend. I worked with him for a little while about 3 years ago…”
“Sounds like there is more to this story, what happened on that job?” We had Ranger’s full attention now, which was impressive because he usually partook in conversations while continuing to stare at his computer monitors…so you always knew he was listening but never knew when he would join the conversation. Chief Whiteclaw took over the narrative, “it was all good when he got hired, we had plenty of work and there were close to 100 people working on the job. The client was happy and was drilling wells like crazy, so we had a lot of people buying leases and the majority of us were running title and doing curative. About a month after they hired Jim to be on the leasing team, they let go of 5 out of the 20 people. Their production stayed the same…because Jim was out there, smoking J’s and slaying hoes…as the saying goes. Anyways, Jim Malloy kicked things into high gear a couple of weeks after that first cut. They let go of another 5 people. Which meant there were only 10 out of the original 20 people on the leasing team from when he got hired. No other cuts were made, so it wasn’t the client slowing down…it was Jim speeding up. 3 months into the job, there were only 5 people still in that part of the office and they were all basically processing paperwork trying to keep up with Jim’s warp speed Blitzkreig leasing.” By the end of the afternoon Ranger knew it was a joke, but was quick on the uptake and kept things going. Bud popped his head into our office late in the afternoon, “Bees tonight?”
We usually went to dinner at Applebees on Monday nights since most of the bars around town were closed. This particular Applebees was not up to the same snuff as an Applebees in a larger town, it was pretty shitty, but they had a decent Happy Hour and we were friends with the bartender Brandy, so she hooked us up. She made jello shots and would randomly decide that we “needed to pick things up a lil bit!” I’m sure they had everclear in them…which, yeah, picks things up quite a lot. That night it was me, Chief Whiteclaw, Lil Red, Bud, and uncharacteristically Ranger showed up that evening. He had like 7 kids and usually kept to himself for dinners, preferring to heat something up at the hotel. After a couple of the jello shots from our bartender friend Brandy, the subject of Jim Malloy came up. Ranger perked up, “honestly, guys, I only showed up here tonight to hear more about this Jim Malloy guy. He sounds like a real badass motherfucker. You guys really think he’s going to replace all our jobs if he gets hired?” Bud and Lil Red worked on the runsheet/title side of the hall but had overheard people walking around their side of the office talking about Jim Malloy that afternoon. This was the point where Chief Whiteclaw and I had drank just enough to really get into it, and we laid it on HEAVY. By the time we left Applebees, Bud knew it was a joke too. We still had Lil Red going though.
Me and the Chief sat there drinking and carrying on about Jim Malloy for another couple of hours. Jello shots kept appearing, and everyone in the damn bar was listening as we continued to grow the Legend of Jim Malloy. People started buying us beers to keep us going. “Shit man, he saved an entire busload of elderly ladies AND a bunch of baby kittens on his way to work, EVERY day for a week straight!” “I heard he looked into Jennifer Aniston’s eyes once, and her panties fell right on the ground.” “He was the original lead singer in Def Leppard, but he was so badass they had to tone it down.” “They sent him out to lease up an Indian tribe’s reservation one time, and he came back with a whole new peace treaty that gave the United States government all the land!” “If environmentalists want to stop climate change they’re going to have to stop Jim Malloy first. Pretty sure normal bullets won’t work on him though. Gonna need something more hardcore.” “Did you know he DOESN’T put his pants on the same way as everyone else each morning? I don’t know how he does it, but it’s not ordinary I can tell you that.” “He bills for a day and half EVERYDAY, but he only has to work about two hours. THAT’S HOW GOOD HE IS!” A couple of the bar flies asked “who’s this guy ya’ll are talking about?” We replied in unison, “JIM MALLOY!” Fuck, people were toasting to his health and wellbeing…
The next day was a normal hungover day at the office until later in the afternoon. We had gone to lunch at a little restaurant about a half hour out of town, and I had to get two beers down before I felt normal. Once we got back to the office it was a struggle just to stay awake, until something strange happened. The curative team lead walked into our office and said, “hey, ya’ll have worked with a guy named Jim Malloy before?” Chief Whiteclaw and I looked at each other before I responded, “I only know him by reputation…” To which Chief Whiteclaw added, “Yeah we worked together on the same crew for a few months, but we worked on different parts of the job so I only know him a little bit…why?” She looked at us for a second and said, “no reason, his name came up in the Houston office. Just asking.” At this point we were not sure if she had just overheard us the day before, and was in her odd Pentecostal way trying to make a joke about it. She had never asked us about any potential hires before, so it seemed odd…except that we had really turned Jim into a hell of a landman, at least by reputation. Unfortunately, according to Chief Whiteclaw, Jim was a pretty average landman…so in the really strange unlikely event he actually got hired, he could never live up to the expectations we had already set for him…regardless, after the curative team lead went back into her office, she left the door open.
Ranger took up the torch this time with, “oh GREAT, if they hire Jim Malloy we’ll all be out of jobs within a week!” Told you he was a quick study. Proud of that guy! We all got to laughing as the curative team lead walked over and closed the door to her office. That’s when things got absurd. We put James Baloy on the same pedestal as Chuck Norris, which EVERYONE should have known was a complete joke because are you fucking serious, Chuck Norris would roundhouse kick the fuck out of Jim Malloy and everyone else in our office (with ONE roundhouse kick). We literally put him on a pedestal. “Did you hear about the statue they have of Jim Malloy in the downtown square in Cuero?” “Yeah, they actually moved that statue of Chuck Norris to make room for Jim Malloy’s statue. It was a big deal.” “The Jim Malloy parade is the biggest parade in 4 counties every year. They might rename DeWitt County after him.” I’m pretty sure most people in the office knew or suspected that this was all a joke, but the rumors persisted regardless. By the end of the week our broker was telling the crew chief and team leads that Jim Malloy was going to be one of the new hires.
The next week when we came into the office, one of the team leads from the runsheet/title office came by and asked “when is Jim Malloy starting? I thought he was going to be here this week…” She was not part of our inner circle and generally stayed out of the typical office gossip/rumor mill, so it was surprising to hear her talking about Jim Malloy. At that point we all had to pause for a second, not sure if the joke had gone too far. How do you roll something like that back once the train has already left the station? We awkwardly discussed the possibility after the team lead left that our joke was grossly misunderstood. By making the legend so absurdly huge we assumed that everyone knew it was a joke. You know what happens when you assume though…Chief Whiteclaw leaned back in his chair and said, “Well, I’ll tell you one thing, if Jim Malloy does get hired after all the shit we’ve been saying, he’s got a pretty big reputation to live up to…”