Saturday, July 28, 2012

like the wind

We'd gone to fetch fence and stakes to surround the twenty foot hole where the twelve inch pipe lay. A hundred and fifty pounds of pressurized gas within, we had to do a "hot" tie-in the next day; squeeze and purge the pipe of remaining gas to add an intersect from a far off well to the main line. Anything could happen. A stray spark, deadly hydrogen sulfide, carbon monoxide or the odorless, tasteless gas in the line itself might get you. Instant immolation or asphyxiation, assuming tons of clay and earth didn't suddenly bury you alive first.

You hear the bosses and foremen talk about taking a chewing out from their betters "like a man" from time to time. How do you take that sudden realization of your impending doom? With honor and dignity or scream like a little girl as you piss your pants?

Josh was driving that one-ton dualie back to the oil derrick's pad. As we traversed the dirt road across the mounds and hills of the prairie, he began to pick up speed. The nineteen year old from Florida had more gumption than most his age, I'll testify to that, but with perhaps a few less brain cells at his disposal. Formerly the whipping boy of this crew of Bakken roughnecks, I had taken his place, which pleased him to no end.

As we gained speed the truck began to leave the ground over the high spots, taking us airborne for precious seconds. I'd raise my head to see if anyone was coming the other way despite knowing, no matter what, it would be too late if they were. I didn't have on my seat belt, either, so I held tight to the hand grabs and moved my butt like I was mounted on a runaway steed. Josh's eyes were wide and bright above his leering mug.

"We're doin' a hundred miles an hour!" he croaked with glee.

I restrained myself from checking the speedometer and just watched the telephone poles go by like sticks in a tornado. It was then I let loose a hearty laugh, deep from within my gut.

a cock pheasant
flushed from the high grass-
wind across the prairie

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