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By Donna Flood
Chapter 31 - Buddies on the Road

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 them.

“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 Pitch?

“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?

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