Greetings From Williston, North Dakota
Credit: Michael Christopher Brown
The night before i leave, Kathy Walton leaves me a bill for $1,800 on my pillow. In a shocking coincidence, she makes my bed for the first time. She tries to roust the truckers from the basement to pose for a picture before I go. Only two or three trickle upstairs. The nuke guy is one of them. Weeks later, I research his service-academy past, and there's no record of anyone with his name graduating from his alma mater. Apparently, reinvention is part of the boomtown experience as well.

I pop into El Rancho for breakfast before heading back out to see Joe one last time. I order some eggs and hit the bathroom. There's a guy in the next stall, mud caked on his boots. He's on the phone.

"Mac, I can't make it to work. My car broke down. I called you. Did I leave a message? No, but Mac, I swear I called. Yeah, I'll be there tomorrow. Thanks, Mac."

I hold off flushing so as not to interrupt this gilded symphony of horseshit. But then I hear another noise, the unmistakable sound of something being snorted off an arm. I flush and try to get the hell out of there. Too late, my new friend is popping out of his stall.

He's not wearing a shirt and smells awful. He gives me a high-five and slips his shirt back on. It's probably the drugs, but I'd like to think he's psyched for a day off the rig. Last I see he is sashaying down the street in his oil-drenched jeans. And that seemed like a good place to leave it. I call Joe and make my excuses. It's time to get gone. I drive 90 mph until I hit the Montana line. Goodbye, boomtown.