Photo by Steven Kelly
Sponsored by [Magpie Tales]
Going For It
There were times when Dozer sorely wished he could simply clear a path through traffic like he used to do through Monett Cubs, Aurora Hound Dawgs and Mt. Vernon Mountaineers while playing fullback for the Cassville Wildcats during high school. Oh yeah, those were some glorious days on the gridiron under Friday night lights, and the nickname he was given stuck.
A perfect safety record over the 25 years Dozer had spent behind the wheel of a big rig served as proof that he had resisted the urges to knock rolling roadblocks out of his way, but it had been close a few times.
Oh how he hated the fact that he had taken this load. For it involved 10 drops of extremely perishable ice cream, and making it even worse was that it was a government load going to different military installations along a route of 1,947 miles. Every delivery was required to be made exactly on time or face a severe reduction in the transportation price—maybe even the loss of the contract, altogether!
No, there was never enough time allowed for a load like this, and there were no shortcuts to be made once a trucker arrived at the front gate. Nonetheless, Dozer really didn’t blame the personnel at the military bases. For with all of the regulations they were required to observe, it can sometimes take over two hours just to drop off a couple of pallets of items, and when it came to foodstuffs, where a much closer inspection of the delivered items is required, a couple of hours is actually rather fast. Subsequently, lost time had to be made up on the road, and here he was behind a station wagon with Ohio plates 80 miles northwest of Miles City, Montana.
Refusing the load would have meant having to find another job, but there were at least a dozen other trucking companies desperately wanting to prove just how much they would appreciate Dozer working for them. However, that was just not his way of taking care of problems.
Besides, someone had to deliver the load. After all, who knows what kind of war might break out if some general is deprived of his daily allotment of rocky road?
Dozer had no idea what the station wagon was doing so far off of the interstate. For there was nothing special to see in that particular part of the state, and he certainly would not be on this road if it was not for the few Air Force personnel still assigned to an old Minuteman missile complex around 20 miles farther along the way.
From what Dozer could see, it did not look like anyone in the station wagon was looking to hire on as a ranch hand. Although, he had seen around 50 miles back where the kids in the backseat might be rather entertaining at sheep riding in a rodeo. He supposed that one of the adults could be assigned to the Air Force installation, but with kids around, that seemed rather far-fetched.
Oh, but Dozer did know a thing or two about truck driving, and he remembered that there would be a passing lane coming up pretty quick. With this stretch of the two-lane road running through rolling hills, along with oncoming traffic being fairly steady, it was just too dangerous to try to pass a slow-moving vehicle on a regular part of the highway, but if he could time his running start just right, he could zip his 70 foot-long rig past the tourists without inconveniencing them one little bit.
Jason was really regretting his decision to forego travel on the interstate in favor of taking back-roads so that his family could get the most out of their vacation to the birthplace of grunge rock, Seattle, Washington. Granted, getting a closer look at the Rocky Mountains sure seemed like a good idea at the time, but there had been no mountains to be seen so far. Yeah, his wife had tried to convince him that there would not be much for mountains until they reached the western part of Montana, but she was always trying to convince him about something.
At least the kids were finally sound asleep and quiet. Who knew that boredom has its advantages?
Adding all the more to Jason’s irritation was that big yellow Peterbilt approaching from the rear at a fairly high rate of speed. When he saw the passing lane, he stayed to the left, and when the truck tried passing them on the right, Jason romped down on the gas. After all, he and his family were on vacation, and he did not want some tractor-trailer blocking their first view of the Rocky Mountains ahead of them.
Despite seeing such many times over the course of 17 years as a Montana State Trooper, Peter could never quite get used to the sight of the crumpled remains of a family vacation that had went terribly wrong. It had not taken much of an investigation to determine that this was another case of some yahoo refusing to yield the right of way, which resulted in their vehicle being run over by the trailer tandems of a big rig, and the horrified look on the trucker’s face made it quite clear that he was not at fault.
“No, that guy was not trying to justify anything,” Peter mumbled to himself as he finished writing his initial report. He wished he could include the reason why the family of four from Ohio was out there in such a desolate place to start with.
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