—Your brother said you’re going to Harvard.
—At the end of the summer.
—What are you working here for?
—So I have enough money to get me there. I’d like to buy a laptop too.
But I found myself asking the same question my last three weeks on the floor when I added stretching my hamstrings and lower back on any ridge that could hold up my legs and lying on the picnic table in the break room, to my post-cast routine of changing shirts in front of the air conditioner. I packed my lunch with ibuprofen for four pills every four hours, consuming them faithfully at the beginning, twice during, and at the end of the shift.
Josh continued to bunk with Jake and me and did his best to include us in non-steel-related chaos. On Saturday morning we got on the road early. Josh didn’t enter the biggest rodeo in the world every year. His bull was in the first section of the matinee show at the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo, and we had about seven hours to cover on Interstate 80 to get there from Provo. With no problems we’d arrive with enough time for him to conduct his necessary rituals behind the chutes before his ride. You can see a lot of Wyoming in seven hours, and we did. The road trip didn’t faze me. I was used to taking day trips with Jeremy and Josh to rodeos in small towns throughout Idaho and Utah all my teenage years growing up with them. Heavens, I had spent enough time on the road I could have read every great Russian novel twice. Instead I listened to Chris LeDoux and George Strait and Alabama and whoever else’s cassette tape was in the car, and I tried to snooze. Combining the time on the road with the hours at rodeos over the years, I could have read every classic novel written and still not missed a second of Jeremy and Josh’s bull rides.
The drive to Cheyenne passed as expected for a long run. We rolled into the arena and parked between pickup trucks, and I stepped out and did the same thing I always did at every rodeo. I found a bathroom to relieve myself. Even though I didn’t compete I was nervous the entire time I sat in the stands up until the announcer called Jeremy or Josh’s name, and then through their attempt at eight seconds of glory. After a sturdy pee, right away I started asking God to bless them with safety, which intensified as I repeated the request faster and faster the closer it got to their rides.
The first section of the bulls rolled around and Josh’s bull was in one of the first chutes. The grandstands were as tall and long as any rodeo’s that I’d seen, and they were packed. Josh had drawn a bucker and it flung him high into the air shortly after it kicked out of the chute. He wasn’t hurt as he stumbled out of the arena. I left my seat and loped around the chutes until he appeared a few minutes later.
—Had a good one, he said smiling and shaking his head.