Rachel drove her bright blue Jeep Wrangler on Old Highway 10 to Dickinson. She had gotten this Jeep in the summer after her junior year in high school. She had learned to drive using her mother and father’s trucks, but after she could drive O.K., her mother and father wanted her to have her own good reliable vehicle so that she could drive both herself and her sister to school in Belfield. Her parents made a very large down payment on the Jeep, so that Rachel would be able to afford the monthly payments, and begin establishing a good credit history.
In North Dakota, on some days in the winter, it is 20 degrees below zero degrees Fahrenheit, with high winds, and heavy snow fall, blizzard conditions. In blizzard conditions, it is hard to tell where the road is, where the edge of pavement is, and it is easy to drive off the road. If you have four-wheel drive, you can get back on the road and make it to where you are going. Most people in North Dakota try to have a four-wheel drive vehicle, especially for their wives and daughters.
When the oil boom began in 2006, many rural families were approached by oil company “land men” offering to lease the mineral rights from the family in order to be able to drill an oil well on their property. Even adjacent land owners who did not actually have an oil well on their property, were legally entitled to a share of the oil well revenue when the oil well began producing. In many rural areas, an oil well on just one farm property, could mean that the farmer who owned that land, his adjacent neighbors, and each of their adult children, and adult grandchildren, might end up receiving some money when the oil well began producing. Some of this money was distributed according to specific legal requirements, some through family agreements, and some through the whim of the family patriarch or matriarch.
This oil revenue money that trickled down through the families that had lived and farmed in western North Dakota for many years, was why Rachel, many of the students in Rachel’s high school, and many of the students in other rural high schools, had $20,000 to $30,000 trucks, Jeeps, and SUVs. It was not the the families were showing off, it was that they wanted their kids to be able to go to and from school, to and from their friends’ homes, safely, without getting stuck, without breaking down, and without mom and dad having to come and get them.
Rachel arrived at the Prairie Hills Mall in Dickinson shortly before 2:00 p.m. She worked at the cosmetics counter at Herbergers, which is the only upscale department store in the Mall, or Dickinson for that matter. Any person who is a business professional, or someone who has a wedding to go to, an important event, or a date, can buy any dress clothes that they needed in Herbergers. From the Montanna border to the west, and from the Wyoming and South Dakota border to the south, Herbergers was the closest, and only store, to buy business and dress clothing, and accessories.
Rachel liked working at the cosmetics counter. It was fun to her and not difficult. She saw many of her friends from high school, Belfield, Dickinson, and Dickinson State University. Often times when she got off work at 9:00 p.m., she would go to Applebees across the street with her friends and coworkers. If it was Friday night or Saturday night, she and her friends and coworkers might go to El Sombrero across the street, Don Pedros, Players Club, or if it got past midnight Paragon Bowling Alley which stays open 24 hours on the weekend.
Rachel was not usually able to get into the bars in Dickinson because she was still only 20 years old. In some of the restaurants that she went to with her friends, if her friends were all over 21, and the server did not object when drink orders were placed, she was able to order a mixed drink with her friends. On weekends, Rachel and her girlfriends always knew about at least several parties going on, whether in Belfield, South Heart, Dickinson, or New England.
This was the most care free time of Rachel’s life. Her mother and father did not ask her to do anything. She no longer had the stress of the DSU nursing program. She did not have to get up in the morning. Her job was easy and fun, much of work was spent socializing with people who would invite her to go places after work.
(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.)