May 23, 2012


Well, I made it. You would have been proud of me. I told you last week that we were heading for the bucking horse sale in Miles. We were to have a pickup load. Shirley and I, Shirley’s sister and her husband, and my dad. Dad is 86 and had missed the last few sales, so he was pretty excited.
Then Lynn cancelled out. Then his wife wouldn’t go. Then Shirley wouldn’t go without her sister. Then Dad wouldn’t go cause I might stay up late and play cards. So Sunday morning, I packed up the sleeper pickup and headed west.
Now the sleeper pickup is an older Dodge that has a DOT approved sleeper on it. I mean it is a cool deal. Door on the side. Back seat makes into a bed. So I assured Shirley that all I would need is my pillow and a blanket. I could party like crazy, play cards all night, crawl in that sleeper and be home for harvest!
Anyway, I’m on my way west. Just past Glendive, I see these two fellas walking pretty slow headed west. They are carrying big packs and steps are pretty short. There are not many outfits that have room for two guys with 100 pound packs and a German Shepherd dog. But I did. So I pulled over, told them to throw their bags in back, one guy jumped in the sleeper, and the other in the front seat with me. The dog could go in the sleeper, too. There’s been worse in there.
They load up and I have to crack the window a little. They haven’t had much of a chance to clean up the last couple of years. They have been on the road. The guy with the crooked face is covered with tattoos. Well, all the skin I could see had tattoos. I didn’t check him completely out, but his hands and wrists were completely tattooed. From his fingers to above his wrists. He had purple spots all over his face. Like pox, only it was tattoos. I hope. He had a big CM, like a cattle brand on one cheek. I think it was a tarantula, or possibly a huge wood tick, on his neck. Kind of slurred his words, but seemed like an all right guy. Said he was from Brooklyn Park, but hadn’t been back since he had gotten into trouble as a kid. I kept my eyes to the road and nodded. I didn’t really want to know about the trouble.
The guy and the dog in the sleeper kept digging around in his bag. I figured he was looking for his knife or his gun. I set the mirror so I could watch him. The dog growled at me. I quickly put the mirror back in place. I don’t like mad dogs.
They said they were heading for Billings, then west to Butte, and finally to Helena. I asked if they had worked in the oil fields. The guy in the sleeper said he had years ago but he said that was no life. You spend all your money on pickups and houses and when the boom went bust, you would have all those payments to make and no job. I guess there is nothing like being a free man on the road. Except you get a little hungry, and hot, or cold, and your feet get sore. They were going to put cardboard in their shoes when they got to Miles City.
One of them wondered out loud how Montana got the name “Big Sky Country.” I assured them when I let them out in Miles City, that by the time they walked to Billings, they would have it figured out.
Oh, yeah, and I made it home by dark. It’s scary out there alone.