The Debate

My first day on the oil well patch was also my last. I made it as far as the camp, which was nothing more than 4 50-foot mobile trailers set in a square pattern in a desolate gravel pit near Brooks Alberta. I was debating with myself if I really wanted the job in the first place. The debate didn’t last long.

I was introduced to the Roughneck John Crell by the Foreman Ronnie Earl.

“John will show you around while I look for your paperwork. “

John Crell stuck out his huge right hand and smiled, “You can call me Johnny.”

He was about 6’5″ and weighed and 240 pounds, I figured and not much older than 25 years.  He gave off an air of confidence and a bright, warm smile. “Come on.” He motioned me to follow him. We rounded a corner; he pointed. “There is the bathroom and the showers.” A few more steps and another corner, and we were in what looked like a kitchen. Johnny turned and stuck his face in mine. He almost whispered. “Take this job, and I’ll kill you.”

I think I smiled, but I don’t know.

“Jesus Johnny… usually, I need to get to know someone at least 10 minutes before they threaten me with death .”

He smiled and looked around to see if anyone was close enough to hear him before he spoke again.

“I’m not kidding… don’t say you weren’t warned.”

I passed by the foreman and said, ” This isn’t for me, Mr. Earl.”

He shrugged and shook his head,

“We’re having a hard time finding people.”

I studied the look on Johnny’s face as I said. “No doubt. “

I wasn’t sure if I was looking into the eyes of a very large and dangerous psychopath or if Mr Crell was just having a really bad day. I didn’t stick around to find out. The road to Banff is a beautiful drive.

Dennis Mantin

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