WITCH HUNT June 24th
An account of day four of the last shift:
6:00 a.m. - Wake up, it is sunny, make food.
7:00 a.m. - Walk to foreman's truck, can't find foreman's truck, remember it broke down in the rainstorm yesterday.
7:10 a.m. - Find foreman, ask him what truck to go in.
7:25 to 9:45 a.m. - Long drive to the block, listen to new Weezer album I bought on last day off, it sucks, listen to new Lil Wayne album I also bought, it rules.
9:45 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. - Planting, swampy trenches, heavy stock, having a hard time making money.
3:10 p.m. - Scott, company checker for Sundance Forestry, the company that contracts my company to plant the trees, comes into my land, throws four plots, I ask him how the trees are looking, says they are good on density, pretty good on microsite selection, asks me to plant higher-up spots on trenches, walks into Yossef's piece, directly adjacent.
3:11 p.m. - Planting trees, I hear Scott call ‘CAM,’ with rising pitch, like a mother who has found her children's mess and is calling to scold them, Yossef walks over muttering about density in the accommodating tone he takes with company checkers, Cam walks over, I assume Yossef has gone way too tight in his trenches, because he is flying today, bagging out 540 trees for every 405 I put in.
3:12 p.m. - I see Scott picking up bundles of trees, around 75, that had been hidden under a log in Yossef's peice, my immediate reaction is to plant a line in the opposing direction.
3:14 p.m. - I am called over to Yossef's piece and told there were trees stashed, Yossef insisting he did not do it, Scott in absolute full-on anger mode with accusing eyes saying he is rounding up everybody who has been anywhere near this land today, and that whoever did this will come out with it and be fired before leaving the block today, or else.
3:16 p.m. - Mark Large, his girlfriend Jessie, Yossef and I, as well as two rookies: Vanessa, a hard worker in her early twenties who reminds me of Marla Singer from Fight Club and has taken to following me around and observing my technique; and Kathi, who had been scolding me twenty minutes earlier for telling her to fuck off the day before (wearing spandex pants and a sports bra) - we are drawn into a circle, the six of us who were working near Yossef's land.
3:20 p.m. - We are lectured by Scott about the severity of this problem, he is sick to his stomach, he says, and the person who did it would have to come forth, lest we all be fired, and I feel a little bit sick.
3:22 p.m. - Silence
3:24 p.m. - We all agree there was nobody else in or around Yossef's land, and that the trees were stashed today, and that therefore it had to be one of us, sitting in a circle with our bags off in the middle of the block.
3:30 p.m. - Reminding myself I haven't done anything wrong.
3:40 p.m. - Crew boss Cam goes back to running trees, his reputation and his company on the line, Cam Parks (‘Parksy’), a managerial big guy from camp, nice guy, comes to see us and give us his word about the graveness of our situation, Scott and Parksy go away to talk, it is very clear that we will not be allowed to leave until someone comes forth, and that it will not be good enough for someone to just take the fall - the responsible party must come forth, or we will all be fired.
3:45 p.m. to 4:20 p.m. - I am cleaning my boots to keep myself busy and avoid eye contact with anyone. Whenever someone speaks up it is to address the mystery person in our midst, like: ‘Whoever it is just has to be a man and step up, because they are wasting my time and my day, and we are all fucked if you don't just come out,’ people look around at each other -- who looks guilty? who could have done this? would Yossef stash trees in his own piece? wouldn't that be a little bit stupid for a guy with so much experience who has planted so many trees before and can plant 75 trees in about five minutes anyways? but how could anyone else have done it? did they sneak in there and put them under a log there? and if so, does this mean they have malicious intentions toward Yossef? and who would have malicious intentions towards Yossef? and when would they have done this? and how could Yossed not notice another person walking around in his land? and how guilty do I look, as a person relatively new, who keeps to himself and plants big numbers, who was planting right beside Yossef, who lost his job earlier in the season at another company for reasons we can't be completely sure of?
4:30 p.m. - What behaviors indicate guilt? How should I act?
4:45 p.m. - Scott comes back, tells us that our whole crew will be fired if the person does not step forth, like 14 people, and Cam, part owner of the company will lose his job, and likely his future in the industry, I can’t imagine Cam doing any other kind of work.
4:50 p.m. - People talk about taking the fall, Yossef says he will volunteer, it is his piece, he says, he is crying, I saw his driver’s license at the liquor store the other day, he is 43 years old, Kathi is hugging him, his emotions make him look guilty to me.
4:55 p.m. - I say ‘Yossef, if you did this, then come forth, and if you didn't then shut the fuck up, a fall guy doesn't help us,’ we are all tainted now, all of us, until we know beyond a doubt who this was, I deduce that most people suspect I stashed the trees, but I did not, it was clearly Yossef, but the blowback from Yossef being fired for stashing would be enormous, how many trees has he stashed this year? I knew it, I knew it all along, I knew by the way he worked his land and the way he disappeared on the block for long amounts of time, I knew he was stashing all season, I will not take the fall for him, I hope others won’t either.
5:00 p.m. - Nothing, thinking about truth and God, feeling assured and strong.
5:20 p.m. - I suggest that Cam and Scott conduct private interviews, they do, we all talk to them for about 10 minutes and then return to the group, they ask more personal questions, like who you think did it, I am honest, they threaten to fire everyone, I tell Scott this is `McCarthyism` and ‘you will only end up raising the stakes and getting a false confession, and the stakes in terms of humility are probably too high for anyone to come out anymore,’ he doesn't trust me, I can see in his body language, Cam Stewart is in my land throwing plots, looking for trees? though I swear before God and on my mother's grave
5:25 pm - Cam Stewart is still in my land, and I am considering the likelihood that he will plant stashed trees somewhere in my land to save Yossef and his reputation
6:00 p.m. - We rebundle the stashed trees and walk to the quad trail where we sit down, Cam, with everything on the line and electric eyes, stares dead at me and asks if I did it and I put my hand on my heart and say no, he has already counted Yossef out, as has everyone else in the company, his reputation being too good and the stashing being too amateurish, Cam says he thinks it was a rookie, which leaves Vanessa and Kathi
6:15 p.m. - Cam tells Vanessa and Kathi he thinks it is one of them, Vanessa immediately breaks down into tears and moans ‘no,’ moaning and sobbing ‘no, no, no,’ Kathi looks at him slowly and with her chin lowered says ‘I would never do something so disrespectful,’ which is ridiculous since Kathi has totally disrespected me on several occasions, Vanessa becomes angry angry angry and calls her mom on a cell phone (the block is close to town), marching around near the van, exasperated, crying, Kathi silent, Yossef saying he will leave the company regardless of the outcome
6:30 p.m. - We leave the block, I have two beers and give one to Cam Stewart and he shotguns the beer right there on the block and we walk away, toward the vehicles, on the way passing a gas compression plant, something that takes the raw gas and separates it into the good and the bad, expels the bad and sends the good down the pipeline
8:00 p.m. - Check into a motel in Edson, Alberta, go to a strip club with Cam, who happens to have lost his wallet, destroyed his truck, had his lunch eaten by a dog, stuck a quad in a swamp and twisted his ankle earlier in the day, a naked woman kneels on the stage talking to some roughnecks, she is the last dancer of the night and we have missed her show, Cam, 31 years old, is carded and doesn’t have his wallet so we can’t stay, we buy off-sales, I buy he waits, several roughnecks try to pick a fight with him outside calling him a fucking faggot, Cam is laughing like a total maniac, like someone with absolutely nothing to lose completely unafraid and almost challenging them, I tell him we should go
11:59 p.m. - Spend time with crew, drinking and talking, wondering whose head will roll and if it will be mine and if so how I would ever find another job after being fired twice in the same season, knowing that I am in a good position because of the amount of trees I plant, politically, but worried, thinking Yossef stashed the trees but maybe Kathi will be made to take the fall, she doesn’t like planting anyways, Yossef is seen as a major asset to the entire company, he can’t be fired, his work can’t be questioned, he’s guilty though, Kathi addresses me across the hotel room and everybody becomes silent, she says ‘I know it was you,’ I say ‘you’re wrong,’ she says ‘well who was it then?’ and I get up and leave the room and go to bed.