Spring cleaning meant we got into the closets and really cleaned them out, hauled stuff to the thrift store and filled trash cans to the top.  And then, to fetch just one last bag on a top shelf, my husband climbed up, fell and tore his left rotator cuff.  He was in physical therapy for a time, but the family doc has him scheduled for an MRI this week and postponed PT until we see the orthopedic doctor and discover what’s next. Surgery is possibly looming.
Therefore, we had some free days we hadn’t expected and I got to finish a book called “Back Side of a Blue Moon” written by Caleb Pirtle III. It’s about a desolate Texas town that a con man rolls into and tries to make it an oil boom place.  There’s romance, murder, everything you can want in this book and written beautifully, as always, by Caleb.

Richard, husband of author, with his “broken wing”.

I was telling my husband, sitting across the room in a sling, about this book because I thought he might enjoy it. To my surprise, he has a story of his own about oil fields. When he was 18 or 19 years old, he worked as a rough-neck on an oil rig, just south of Meade, KS. This rig ran 24/7 for 7 days a week and was staffed by three 8-hour shifts. It was never, ever shut off.
My husband worked the night shift from 8:00 PM to 4:00 AM and, at the time, there was a lot of snow on the ground.  He and another rough-neck were half way up the derrick with the ram rod (leader of the team) getting ready to pull the drill out and change it because it wasn’t boring well.  They did this with a strong metal cable on a huge winch because those drills weigh around 20 tons. The pipe has to come out before the drill and as one pipe came out of the hole, it was swinging hard on the metal cable.  It smacked the guy standing right next to my husband, knocked him completely off the derrick and a good distance out into the snow below.  It almost killed him.
How lucky was my husband not to have also been hit.  The author of “Back Side of a Blue Moon” said he grew up on an oil field in Texas and they kept ambulances running around the clock.  It’s a high paying, but very dangerous job that makes a “broken wing”seem like not much of a big deal at all.

Author Jackie Taylor Zortman

Jackie is the author of award winning FOOTPRINTS IN THE FROST and WE ARE DIFFERENT NOW.  She’s a charter member of the Public Safety Writers Association and a member of the  Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. Coming soon – SNOW ANGEL.  For more about her books, click the “About” button at the top of the page.

About jtzortman

Author of "WE ARE DIFFERENT NOW" - A Grandparent's Journey Through Grief, first place award winning novel "FOOTPRINTS IN THE FROST" and award-winning novel "SNOW ANGEL". Contributing author to anthologies "Felons, Flames & Ambulance Rides", "American Blue", "Recipes by the Book: Oak Tree Authors Cook" and "The Centennial Book of The National Society of Daughters of the Union 1861-1865". Numerous articles, poems and short stories published since 1990. Charter Member of the Public Safety Writers Association and member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. Winner of ten writing awards. I live in a quaint Colorado mountain tourist town with my husband and Siamese cat. When deeps snows blanket the terrain and spectacular views from my windows, it becomes the perfect spot in which to write.
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  1. sharonervin says:

    Now and then my husband of 53 years mentions an event in his life that I’ve never heard about. Nosy, I always pursue the lead. This oil rig story from your spouse sounds like one of those. It sounds like you wonder how in the world you missed it. Life is full of surprises.


    • jtzortman says:

      I knew he’d worked on an oil rig back then, but didn’t know this particular story. He’s got lots of interesting stories, being a cop for 42 years – both homicide and Chief. He also raced cars professionally the first year he graduated high school.


  2. mmgornell says:

    What a great post, Jackie! Having known several people with rotator cuff issues, Richards gets plenty of “poor babies” and well wishes from me. And I must say, the two of you have led such interesting lives. Nice visiting with you today up in the mountains!


    • jtzortman says:

      Thank you, Mad. This is actually Richard’s second rotator cuff issue, so he’s an old pro with it. I know he hurts worse than he’ll admit, but the MRI is coming up this week and maybe we’ll get to the fix soon. He appreciates you giving him lots of sympathy, though. Can’t have too much of that kind of stuff. 🙂


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