Joe Taught Me That
Ruel Black was raised in the rough environs of North American oil fields by his father. When his father is killed, Ruel is sent to live with the woman who abandoned him when he was five hours old. Having to overcome inadequate education and non-existent social skills, he struggles to find his place in a setting as foreign to him as living on Mars. A sometimes humorous sometimes poignant story of how a teenage boy tries to adjust to a new 'normal' without losing himself.
" I WATCHED THE BACKHOE gouge into the frozen North Dakota ground. I could still feel the bass grumble of the tractor trailer sliding on the icy road, still hear the screech of brakes as Joe tried to avoid the collision, still see the load of twenty-four-inch pipes slipping their tie downs and falling onto Joe’s truck, killing the best bouncer and worst father in North Dakota.
Two nights ago, I had stood outside the B Street Bar, waiting for Joe to relieve me from my shift as bouncer, and watched helplessly as his truck disappeared under the clanking, grinding load of metal. Now I watched the roaring yellow machine dig a hole big enough to entomb Joe’s simple pine coffin, the only one I could afford, even after cleaning out our savings. Joe and I worked hard, made enough to keep a roof over our heads, food in our stomachs, and clothes on our back. There wasn’t a lot left for niceties like a funeral.
I missed him so bad my gut hurt, but I didn’t let it show — Joe taught me that.
Six hours after I took all our savings to plant my father in an icy, unmarked grave, I listened in a black fury as the cops informed me I was too young to live alone, and they were shipping me and all my worldly goods off to my next of kin. Shit. I had no worldly good, and I didn’t know I had a next of kin, but they dug through records until they found one.
Eleanore Ruel Weatherby.
My mother whom I had never met. Who after that little twelve pound six ounce detour she had taken when she was sixteen, had returned to her perfect upper crust life then gone on to college and gotten a perfect 4.0. Who had married a widower law-enforcement professional ten years her senior who had three perfect daughters. Who had promptly started churning out perfectly beautiful brown-haired brown-eyed baby girls, her own little mini-mes. Who had become the perfect wife of the sheriff in a small Wyoming town. Who hadn’t told her perfect husband about her single mistake fourteen years earlier. Who didn’t know I was coming.
- The Perfect Prologue, Joe Taught Me That
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