Just us and a big rock. Junior went up to it and put his hands on it. He
was small compared to it. It was probably the result of some glacier coming through during the Ice Age we’d read about in our geology courses.
I had seen gravel deposits and cobbles before, but nothing this big. Glacial till was sometimes left behind when the glacier finally melted. This
rock was biblical in dimensions, primordial and dense, not something
I would have suspected nature had deposited there. A bigger force than
that had caused this thing to appear on our subgrade.
“It’s just across the job limit,” Junior said and smiled. He had an egg-
shaped face with a smile full of irregular teeth. I loved watching him
smile. His hands kept going across the rock’s oval surface as he pointed
to a slope stake I had set months ago, marking the end of our job. It was
still there. “And look here,” he said, scraping his hand across a blemish in
the rock’s face. “This is where their cat lifted it up, out of the ground and
began pushing it our way. Now look back here,” he said, walking south
to where he supposed it had been unearthed by Brown & Lambrecht’s
equipment. “It’s been all smoothed out. They covered their tracks. So a
dozer pushed it out, and later on they sent a blade in to make the clay
look smooth. They want us to take care of burying this monster or at
least getting rid of it. Brown & Lambrecht sure put it here.”
“Can we just bury it?” I asked.
“Why us?” Junior replied. “Why not them? It belongs to them.”
“Oh,” I said, thinking he was probably right. In my mind I figured we
could just send one of our bulldozers, or one of Ryan’s, to bury it and be
done with it. That was not how Junior saw it, though.
“Or we could tell Ryan it’s his now.” Junior smiled. “That might be
fun, too. This is about as close to fine-grading they get.” He was referring to our earthmoving subcontractor, Ryan, who had trouble grading
the dirt close enough to suit Junior. They did “mass excavation,” which
meant they liked to leave cleanup to us, even though their contract with
us said otherwise. Everything was more or less contractual. Palumbo
had a contract with the Tollway, which was building the road. Ryan was
a sub of Palumbo. Palumbo “subbed out” the dirt to Ryan with detailed
written instructions as to how to move it. It was like my relationship with
Palumbo. You could even argue I was a sub, though I wasn’t. Palumbo
told me what to do, and I did it. If I didn’t do it, I would no longer be a
sub. I would be fired. Everything was contractual. Ryan couldn’t fine-grade; though. Ryan didn’t listen. Ryan went their own way. It would be
fun to shove the boulder on them.