I leave the Midland-Odessa airport and get onto Farm Road 1788, long and straight like all roads in West Texas, an asphalt dagger cutting through mile after mile of mesquite until you just fall off the end of the earth. There is only a trickle of cars on the road, which is a little surprising since I am not totally in the middle of nowhere yet. Maybe that’s because it’s a Sunday. Fifty miles remain until I reach Kermit, to visit Boobie Miles. That’s his home now, perhaps temporarily, given his peripatetic wanderings since I first wrote about him in 1990 in the book Friday Night Lights. I hope he stays in Kermit forever, the fairy dust no longer in his eyes. “What if? is a big fucking headache,” he will tell me later in his distinctive mix of West Texas rural black and rap phraseology, which strikes me as poetry, the speech of a man much smarter and far more self-aware than the football animal he was made out to be in high school in Odessa.
He has a job now on an oil-field crew that travels the state from Alpine to Kilgore. Sometimes he’ll be on the road for three days at a time, but the showers are hot and the crew chief spends his own money to cook up barbecue. Boobie makes twelve bucks an hour, and with the spigot of the boom turned back on in Texas, he is getting plenty of hours.
He has a girlfriend named La Donna, whom he has known for close to a decade and now lives with in Kermit. She works two jobs, and her daddy is a preacher at Holy Light, over in Monahans. She mea...