Our next stop was someone else the rock belonged to—Ryan. He
was sitting in his pickup watching a small scraper fine-grade the clay
between Maple and Jackson. The scraper was assisted by a small end
loader. Junior shook his head. “Watchmakers,” he said with his Mediterranean contempt. The scraper went slowly along the subgrade, receiving
hand signals from a laborer to cut or fill any number of inches. When
the cut was really small, the loader took over. We watched for five minutes. The silhouette in Ryan’s truck didn’t move. It was Ryan. Junior and
I pulled up alongside.
“Good afternoon,” Junior shouted.
The figure in the pickup straightened up. “Good morning, Junior,”
“Did you see that thing?” Junior asked.
“What thing?” Ryan asked quizzically. He had a toothpick in his
mouth that shifted from side to side as he talked. His face was blank. He
knew exactly what Junior was talking about. I could tell by the angle of
“That big rock at the end of the job.”
“You didn’t see it?”
“Yeah,” Ryan said, smiling. “I guess I did. What about it?”
“Want to go look at it?”
“Sure,” Ryan said, turning the key in his ignition.
“Want to get in here and ride with us?” Junior asked.
“No, I’ll follow you.”
Junior nodded, and we headed south. “He wouldn’t get in our car.
Never get in anyone else’s car when they ask you to go look at some-
thing.” Junior looked at me, first in the eye, then up and down. “Well,
you can, though.” I didn’t know what that meant.
We all got out of our vehicles beside the boulder. “That rock has your
name on it,” Junior told Ryan.
“It’s not scraper dirt, Junior,” Ryan said. “It’d fit in the right size truck,
though.” Ryan’s toothpick shifted slightly from side to side. Ryan was referring to their subcontract that said they only moved scraper dirt—dirt
moved onsite, dirt not requiring haul-off or haul-in. We owned the rest
of it, which was known as truck dirt. Truck dirt was more expensive
than scraper dirt.
“You could break it up,” Junior said.