After spending a few hours running errands and talking to friends on Thursday, the time to scuttle home came. I loaded up Ridge and pointed the Explorer, away from Elk City and toward our life on the open range in Cheyenne. The trip started out uneventful, as they do every Tuesday and Thursday. I decided to drove home the back way, through winding county roads, rather than the highway. I don't know why I do, I just like the scenery I suppose.
Not far outside of Elk City, a utility pickup was stopped in the middle of the road. The air on the sides of the truck was in that blurry wave that frequents the sides of charcoal grills and, I don't know, most other kinds of FUCKING FIRE. Just as I stopped, two guys bailed out and hustled to the back for a fire extinguisher. Clearly something in the back of their truck was ablaze. Before these two could get the extingusher going, a fiery bit of debris flew onto the dry, brittle grass of the nearby pasture. The two men dropped their fire extinguisher and ran quickly to the expanding flames, trying in vain to stomp it out. With Oklahoma in the middle of a
drought, these two thinking this would help is like thinking a b.b. gun can stop a freight train. Needless to say, it was fucking on.
I immediately got out my cell phone and dialed 9-1-1 and, before the dispatcher could patch me through to the fire department, the fire had burned at least two or three acres. I mean, this bitch was up in smoke like a hay stack.
After the sea of flames had spread like rapid flood waters over the pasture, the two men gave up their defeated campaign of stomping it out. They walked quickly away from the blazing truck and the even hotter field. I pulled my car around, rolled down the window and told them I had already called the fire department.
And that's when I realized that this was one of my old friend's big brother. I've known this guy most of my life and, bless his heart, his life has always been some bizarre mix of a reality television show and one of those skit comedy shows. In other words, you just never know what the hell is gonna happen in any day in the life of Bobby.
After I told him I made the emergency call, he thanked me. Because Ridge was in the backseat, overrunning with the pure excitement only a near disaster can bring an adventurous 4 year old boy, I felt like staying at a wildfire would just be, I don't know, bad parenting. Bobby agreed that I probably should get out of Dodge since the welding equipment that had started the fire in his truck were still in it. I asked Bobby if he and his co-worker wanted me to take them somewhere, perhaps a place not going up in smoke. But, he was shackled to the responsibility of staying out there with his work truck until the fire department arrived. I tried for a moment to persuade him, but he was staying the course.
So, as I turned around, I hoped the fire department would get this under control faster than some other wildfires that have raged in Oklahoma under these dry, dusty conditions. But apart from my concern, I couldn't help giggle at the thought of Bobby, with all his many mishaps, had in part started a wildfire right in front of my disbelieving eyes.