On the north side of Belfield, Tracy was anxiously awaiting his package from United Express. He had ordered the college catalogue for NYU in New York City. Tracy felt like he was always waiting, waiting, waiting. Even for things that he ordered on the internet that could have just as easily been delivered by regular mail, and for less money, he didn’t want to wait. Everything in his life going so slowly and taking forever. Everything around here is painfully slow.
Tracy had graduated from Belfield High School two years ago, and he couldn’t wait to get out of that school, and out of Belfield. Why was he still here? Coercion and bribery.
This oil boom that began in 2006 was the first time that his family and relatives had the chance to make money since the last oil boom ended in 1983. It was explained to him by his father numerous times, “Look, these oil booms last about seven years, that’s it. Our family can make enough money in this oil boom to get everyone set for a long time. We need you, and your brothers and sisters to stay here and work together as a family while this money is here to be made. After this oil boom is over, you can go and do what you want, and you’ll have the money to be able to do what you want.”
Tracy had to work every day at his parent’s and grandparent’s family business, which operated as an oil field service company during the oil booms, and as a trucking, heavy equipment, excavating, demolition, construction company when there wasn’t an oil boom going on. In other words, when there wasn’t an oil boom, they did whatever work they could get, which wasn’t a lot in the Belfield area. His grandfather, Tom Sr., had started the company, and from the beginning he had his son, Tom Jr., working with him. He named the company “TnT”, and local people called it TnT, T&T, or TT, construction, trucking, or oil field service.
On some days, like today, Tracy had to work in the office as dispatcher and handle equipment and material deliveries that came to the company yard. Some days Tracy had to tow a big gooseneck trailer with pipe or equipment out to an oil field location. Other days he was installing cattle guards, installing containment barriers around tanks, or repairing and replacing Ajax motors that ran pump jacks. His father did not want to let Tracy go, because for one, Tracy knew where everything was. Tracy knew where all of the oil field locations were, and how to get there. Very few of the people working in the oil field knew the oil field locations like Tracy. And secondly, Tracy had worked with his father and brothers when he was a teenager doing this work, and Tracy was just too experienced and knowledgeable to be allowed to leave right now.
Not long after Rob had pulled out onto Highway 85 with his United Express delivery van and was heading north, Rob’s cell phone began to beep due to several missed phone calls. All the missed calls were from Rob’s supervisor Gary at United Express in Dickinson, and Rob could guess why. Rob had been expecting the possibility that the GPS tracking unit in his delivery van not sending a signal back to United Express for about half an hour might be a problem. But Rob had two back up plans in case this happened.
Rob telephoned Gary back at United Express, and the first thing that Gary said was, “Where have you been and what have you been doing?” Rob explained that he had to make a delivery southwest of Belfield, and when he got about eight miles from Highway 85, the front driver’s side tire went flat, it had a screw in it. Gary said, “Why didn’t you telephone us?” Rob replied that there was no cell phone coverage to be able to call anyone, an oil field service truck came by after about ten minutes, they had a compressor, they were able to put enough air in his tire for him to make his delivery, and now he was back on the road.
What could Gary say? Gary knew that there was very poor cell phone coverage out in the badlands, and under the circumstances, it was pretty good luck that Rob was able to get his delivery van tire pumped up and get out of there on his own. Gary said, “How is the tire now?” Rob said, “It’s holding air, I can get a can of Fix-a-Flat at NAPA in Belfield and add air if I need to. I think I can finish my deliveries today.” Gary said O.K., good, keep going then. Gary planned on looking at that driver’s side front tire when Rob got back to Dickinson. Rob turned onto the next nearest farm road, stopped, looked around, got out, quickly found a rock the size of his hand, took the wood screw out of his knee pocket in his cargo pants, and pounded the wood screw into the driver’s side front tire. Rob did stop at NAPA in Belfield to buy a can of Fix-a-Flat, he might actually need it now.
(The characters in this novel are fictional, and are not based on real or actual persons. The events in this novel are fictional. Any resemblance to real or actual persons, or actual events, is entirely coincidental.)