He was wrong, happily, for judgment was swiftly approaching. The Fort Stockton plowboys laid down their instruments. Two amateur chili makers from Abilene who had been distributing free bowls of red under a tent in the shade of an adobe ruin stood at attention. Daisy F. Adams said this was the most dramatic thing she had witnessed since they no-billed Whet Thompson for gunning down a wetback at his front gate. In grand silence the three judges stood blindfolded on the porch. And while Matchmaker Tom Tierney did a vote-by-vote over the public address, they tasted.
Mrs. Stillwell voted for No. 2, giving Smith the lead. Floyd Schneider made it one-all, lining himself with Fowler.
Then an extraordinary thing happened. Tie-breaker Witts allowed someone to guide a spoon of chili to his mouth, and promptly spit it all over the referee's foot. Then he went into convulsions. He rammed a white handkerchief down his throat as though he were cleaning a rifle barrel, and in an agonizing whisper Witts pronounced himself unable to go on.
"I have to see a doctor," Witts explained. "I declare a one-year moratorium in the world championship chili con carne cook off."
The world will never know which bowl of chili maimed Witts. Texans take the chauvinistic view, assuming it was Smith's batch with the Kimbell-brand pinto beans and a tart sweetness like Walter Jetton's barbecue sauce with a sprinkle of chili powder added. Smith says flatly that Witts was stricken "by that vile scalding mud Texans call chili."
The world may not even care.
What CASI has in mind is a rematch one year to the day in Mount Kisco, N.Y., but then Smith won't be in Mount Kisco, N.Y. one year from now. He will be in Alpine. He was enchanted by the country where his lynching was to take place, so he bought a piece of land not far from Sul Ross State College. Soupy Smith is building a home in the Big Bend.