As if there weren't enough projects on the table, while I was having lunch yesterday, my guest dropped another idea on me. Good Lord! The last thing I need is another WIP.! I could continue to rant about current circumstances or stop whining and post what's been written so far.Yeah. Think I'll opt for the second.
East of Tulsa, Oklahoma
Monday morning 6:30am
God. It’s going to be another hot one. Yesterday’s temp hit 105. Today, the forecast called for 110! The only thing that made it bearable was being paid $12.00. Might not seem like much today but back then, that would buy a month’s worth a fuel and a week’s worth of beer.
Daryl McCall pulled up in the new company pick-up.
“Boys. We’re burning daylight. You guys need to move four thousand yards today and it ain’t happening standing around smoking. So, if you don’t want to find your ass walking down the road, I suggest you get those machines and your asses moving.” He got back in his truck and tore off, in a red cloud of dust.
Micky Rourke, my foreman, took one last drag from his smoke, one more sip of coffee from his tin cup then barked out the day’s orders.
“Jimmy, Ray and Cobb. I want you running the scrapers today.” Each one of them groaned. See, running a scraper is the worse job you could have. Yeah, the money was great, but try spending ten hours looking backwards ninety percent of the time, covered in dust, sweating your balls off. You got it. No fucking fun no matter what it pays. “Billy, Jack and Moe. You three are on the D 9’s. Sam and Willie, you boys get the water trucks. It’s hard enough working this heat but it’s even worse when we can’t see what we’re doing. So, keep the water coming and the dust down. Any questions?” None. “Good. Let’s fire up the iron and start moving pay dirt.”
This is the best part of the morning. Nothing like the sweet smell of burning diesel to get the blood pumping. My girl friend, Rita always bitched how I smelled like a petroleum plant. I’d slap her ass and tell her, “Honey, that’s the smell of money. If you don’t like, I’m sure I can find someone else who would appreciate it.”
* * *
I was on my tenth load of the day, hating each and every moment. I know Sam and Willie were doing the best they could keeping the grade wet, but it’s a losing battle. Even though each water wagon held five thousand gallons, the sun and dirt were soaking it up faster than they could drop it. Days like this always had me wondering why I’d accepted operator pay so quick. Oh, that’s right: gas, smokes and beer.
I lined up and began the next pass. I waited for Billy to set the blade against the rear bumper plate then shoot out a plume of black smoke or give me a wave to start. Guess he was feeling bored. Instead of giving the customary signs, when he made contact with the bumper he shifted up two gears and opened his engine up. Before I could yell out one cuss word, he’d jack-knifed my trailer. I hoped out jumping mad.
“You dumb son-of-a-bitch. What the hell’s the matter with you?”
His reply. He spit out a long string of chewing tobacco juice then gave me the finger.
“Yeah. Fuck you too, Billy!”
He smiled revealing maybe six, brown teeth.
“Quite your whining, boy.”
I climbed back in the open cab and straightened my rig up. I turned around, gave him the finger and dropped into gear. He responded in kind.
At the time, I didn’t think much about the minor depression and the white coloring of the clay I was approaching. Lot of times when we’re moving dirt, a rock formation will crop up or even a few discarded boulders got in the way and were crushed, causing the odd coloring.
I looked back at the paddles, watching the endless mounds of dirt climb up the ladder and fall into the bed.
I could tell I’d hit the patch of rock as the white material started climbing the ladder. And then it hit me. The smell. I threw the second it hit my nose.
I started waving for Billy to pull back. Didn’t need to. He’d stopped five yards ago and was puking out his lunch and chew.
We walked away from our units trying to figure out what the hell we’d hit. Before we got a chance to swap notes Daryl came barreling in our direction. He jumped out his truck mad as hell.
“What the hell you two morons doing? You think it’s time for a water break? The only break is going to be your tail bone when my boot hits your collective asses.”
The wind took a slight turn as he chewed us out. “I’ve had it with…” He threw up. “What the hell have you two done?”
“Boss,” I replied. “I don’t know. But it’s gotta be bad if Billy’s throwing up. Hell, I didn’t think anything could smell as bad as him.”
“Agree.” All three of us tried to force out a smile.
“Well, we need to see what you two uncovered. Before we do, let’s see what I’ve got to cover our noses.” The best he could come up with three oil rags covered in diesel.
We stared at him with apprehension.
“It’s this or brave it on your own.”
We didn’t ask any questions.
By this time, the other operators had shut down curious as to what was going on.
The three of us walked over to spot. The rags were helping but not one hundred percent.
“Jimmy. Turn off the paddles, lift the belly and move up about twenty yards. Billy. Once he’s pulled up, I want you to try and level off the spot.” We nodded and completed our tasks. I had it easier since the wind was blowing in my face. Billy and Daryl, not so much. They must have heaved two more times.
By this time, all the other guys were closing in to have a better look.
Daryl still couldn’t see what we’d found, so told Billy to get off the dozer. He’d do it himself. He circled around the spot so he’d have the wind as an ally. He moved over the spot, lowered the blade and backed up.
What came next still gives me nightmares. Two partially decomposed arms and a leg emerged from the ground.
* * *
This is only a rough draft. All thoughts and comments are appreciated.