160 / 365 – Watched


They’re drilling a new well, south of where we’ve been working. It’s almost an hour’s drive from the apartment we’ve been renting. We have to get up earlier. This morning Myers was hung over and I could barely get him up. I didn’t think we were going to make it. He slept half the way there, even on the roughest parts of the roads, like when it dipped down into a draw and the road turned into a stream bed.

I think we were on Indian land. After awhile the farms started to look different. Poorer, I guess. Not these big farms with five or six grain bins and big metal sheds and lots of equipment parked. They were small houses, yards full of old cars, or clusters of houses. That’s where the roads got bad.

I was following directions that were like the kind of directions my granddad used to give. Y’know, like, “Turn left after you get to the top of the big hill and you see one big box elder tree that’s standing there all by itself, and then go down a mile or maybe two until you pass a little lean-to shed that’s falling over, then look for a road curve sign …” That kind of thing. One of the guys had a little box, a GPS he called it, and it would tell you where you were. He said, “You’re gonna need one of these.” I asked him how much it was and he said it cost him a couple hundred dollars in Denver and I said, “They don’t pay me enough to buy a thing like that.” But this morning I wasn’t sure.

I’ll learn the roads. We finally did find it. I had missed one turn and we had had to go back and find the route again, but we weren’t the last ones to get there. Myers woke up right before we came over the last hill and saw the crew out ahead. I didn’t know he was awake until he said, “Coffee, I need coffee.” There was a cup in the console that had gotten cold already but he drank it up. He said, “God, that’s awful,” but he was really sucking it down.

There was a cluster of little houses not even a hundred yards from where they had graded the land flat for us to work. I wanted to say, “What is this, someone’s backyard?” But you don’t say that. That’s one of the things you don’t talk about, except maybe joking with your buddy off where no one can hear. Today was about unloading. There were flatbeds circled around, loaded down with pipe, with steel rails, with some of the pumps and tanks. Helping get it off with the forklifts and cranes and set down on wooden blocks and ties. I kept looking back up at the house. About mid-morning two kids wandered down the hill. Two girls. One was barefoot and her bright yellow shirt had a big stain on it. The other had on a t-shirt with a big American flag and bright running shoes. Their hair was sticking out all over. It looked like what Myers hair would have looked like if it was long, after the night he had. They stood back and watched us. Nobody said anything. I got the idea that we’re just supposed to pretend they’re not there. We’re just out here by ourselves, doing our job. We’re not on anybody’s land. We just happened to be driving around and we found this place and we’re pretty sure there’s gas somewhere way down below the surface. That’s kind of our story, and we just go at our work. But I kept looking up and the girls were still watching.


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