Chief and his friend were
inspecting their flat bed trucks. These were the trucks used for hauling
oil field pipe. Big rumbling trucks were the armor of the road warriors
and there could be no nicks in their helmet. Brakes were at the top of
the list for safety. The thought of rolling over a family because the
brakes failed is of paramount concern for the drivers. Windshield
wipers, lights, a fire extinguisher, flares and other safety equipment
must all be in working condition.
Securing the cargo of the
long, heavy, oil field pipe was necessarily and one of high priorities,
too. A pipe flying off could become a rocket to shoot all the way
through a passenger car.
“Everything is in order
here,” Chief picked up his walkie talkie and reported to the dispatcher
in the warehouse.
His friend was taking a
short haul and would be going alone this morning. Sometimes they rode
together on the long hauls so one could sleep while the other one drove.
On these long hauls there were no stops except for food, and pit stops.
“Say, Chief! Are you
going to look in on Gwen and the kids?”
Chief was double checking
to see how securely the pipes were tied down but he stopped in the
middle of doing that.
“You know, I’m not so
sure it’s a good idea to spend time with your wife while you’re gone.”
Chief was determined to not get in over his head.
“Oh well. I guess you
know about Sally.” Chief’s friend was candid with him.
“Well, no! No, I don’t.
What is that all about?” Chief was now standing across from the man so
he could look him directly in the eye.
“Yeah, well! What can I
say? Things happen, you know. Push comes to shove I’m not giving Sally
up. She’s not just another woman in the next town. We are as tight as a
hand in a glove. I love ‘er. I do.”
The information was news
to Chief. He was more than a little depressed to think Gwen was in this
predicament. What would she do? What about her kids? All that was on his
mind when he walked up to her door that evening.
There was supper on the
table. Kitty, the youngest jumped down from her chair and ran to Weldon.
“Chief! Chief! We thought
you weren’t coming.the little girl threw her arms around one of his
legs. That was all she could manage to get her arms around. He reached
down and picked her up as easily as someone might pick up a rag doll.
“He Kiddo! What ‘cha been
doin’? Have you been a good girl today?”
Weldon loved kids and had
plenty experience with his cousins, enough to know what to do to please
“Quinsy’s been pickin’ on
me.” The little girl was tattling on her brother.
“Quinsy’s awfully brave!
I think I’d be scared to pick on you.
Weldon had a way of
talking a kid out of their problems.
“I helped your old man
get his rig ready for the road, this morning.”
Weldon turned his
attention to Gwen.
Gwen tilted her head to
one side for just an instant and then she looked directly at Weldon.
“Did he say how long he was going to be on the road this time? Or did he
tell you how long he’d be at Sally’s?”
Weldon was sitting at the
table by this time, his plate piled high with mashed potatoes swimming
in gravy, chicken fried stead, hot rolls and a chocolate cake for
dessert. He held his fork in mid air and his big round eyes were
fastened on Gwen’s.
“Good golly, Gal! Now you
put me on the spot.” Weldon didn’t know whether to open his mouth or
close it. How was it this woman could so easily drop a bit of
information as though she were trumping someone’s hand at the game of
“You men think the wife
is so stupid. There isn’t much we don’t know, one way or another. You
know there is always someone who just loves to spill the beans to us.
Women are like that. It’s their way of bringing someone down who is
trying extra hard. Something like, ‘you think you’re so smart, well,
guess what I know.’ What is so sickening is that you guys, think you can
fool us that easily. My husband is about as careful as a bull in a
parlor. There’s some cheap perfume on his shirt, a bit of make-up too,
and he’s so anxious to get away from here the man hardly has time to
kiss his girls good-bye, let alone, me.
Weldon made no comment,
as was his way. His blood was one half Osage but he may as well been a
full Native as far as his personality that could be stoic. Here he was
between a rock and a hard place. The rock was his buddy but here in this
kitchen, this was the hard place.When he was confused, undecided, or
distraught he often turned to some silly situation to relieve the
tension. A popular song was playing on the radio. The music came
originally from an opera and he could lip sink every word. There was a
part when the singer held a note for a long time. Weldon was saying the
words, silently to that song and the long note with every bit of the
look of an Italian opera singer, with head thrown back, mouth shaped in
a perfect circle, and arms thrown out.
“Oh you!” Gwen was
laughing and her heavy heart was lifted for a while. For the time she
had forgotten about her husband on the prowl and Weldon covered his
Buddies back, but how long could he do that?