LSO DRILLING SITE
July 11, Wednesday
It took Charlie all of five seconds to understand why having Gerald Bentley around elicited a chorus of laments across the audible spectrum. The man was sarcastic, critical, and arrogant. A few years older, shorter, and stockier than his brother, his hair was lighter color, albeit greying, but more of it, compared to Bob's classic comb-over.
He chuckled to himself. Generally, a much nicer scalp.
While there was no question the man knew the oil business inside-out, his sardonic manner put everyone on edge. It was as if he were purposely trying to push someone into making a mistake so he could either rip him to shreds or fire him on the spot.
He even hollered at someone for failing to close the door on one of the porta-potties, claiming details were critical to any job, including taking a dump.
Bob introduced them, explaining how he found the seep and subsequent deposit. Charlie stood firm as Gerald looked him up and down.
Was it skepticism? Or racism? Doubts should resolve when he was proven right. Not much he could do if he just hated Indians, though Bob told him when they first met their grandmother was Cherokee.
"That seep ain't enough to cover all y'all's paychecks by a long shot," the man snorted. "This new dig better produce a dozen super tankers' worth. We get more crankcase oil leakin' from our truck fleet daily than we'll ever get from that there puddle."
While Charlie knew what was there, it was clear everyone else was painfully aware if the new dig failed they'd be heading for the unemployment line within forty-eight hours.
While mud logger, Ben, had Larry as a second shift replacement, there was no one to cover for Charlie. So far he hadn't worked with Larry, who was more animated than his counterpart and not particularly friendly.
Unlike Ben, he was clean shaven, blond hair unstyled in a classic oil patch mullet, while his grey eyes radiated confidence. He waved his hand indifferently at the situation, saying he'd do fine when Charlie was off-shift, tone implying he didn't need him at all.
Shifts ran 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., so Trey scheduled Charlie noon to midnight, thus covering half of each mud logger's shift. Otherwise, he'd be on-call. Shift changes were best described as organized confusion. As each replacement arrived, the men handed off officially with a fist bump or high five.
The track-mounted rig arrived from Fort Worth that morning. It was far more imposing than the deuce and a half's set-up, its bulldozer-style tracks designed to get just about anywhere.
The new dig started on-time at 19:00. Big Dick positioned the rig over Charlie's circle of stones, which Trey ceremoniously swept aside while the crew took up their positions around the new location.
Larry was on-shift, he and Charlie using radios for real-time communication to coordinate what showed up on LWD versus the mud log. The lab was a hundred feet to the west, where mud samples and the inevitable core would be hauled by the roustabout.
The jacks were down, tower elevated, rig flanked by a pipe truck and water tanker, all ready to go. A diesel symphony chattered in readiness as Charlie stood with Trey and Big Dick, awaiting the big moment. His nose wrinkled at the smell of exhaust carried by the afternoon breeze. The driller's eyes fixed on the toolpusher, awaiting his signal to begin.
"Well, Littlewolf," Trey yelled above the din. "We can't break ground without a name. What do y'all say we call it?"
Charlie balked. "Uh, I don't know," he yelled back. "I, uh, forgot about that." His gut contracted at the lie. Actually he hadn't, only hoped Trey had.
A miasma of emotion churned in his chest. Bryan's words years before, "When you name it, you claim it" slammed his mind. Naming an animal, a car, or a canoe was one thing. Something about claiming this violation of the Earth Mother terrified him, making him accountable.
Yet, the situation truly was his doing.
His thoughts bounced like arrows missing their mark.
"Nomen est omen, Littlewolf," Trey prompted. "Good name, good results."
Badger popped into his head.
Badger lived underground. He could protect the Earth Mother.
"Mahahkoe," he said.
"What's that? Some fancy-ass Indian name?" Trey asked.
"Cheyenne for badger. Who lives underground."
"Alrighty. I like it. Mean-ass little critters. Mahahkoe it is."
Charlie gritted his teeth as Big Dick gave the signal to the driller standing at the control panel to proceed.
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