Okay, I'll try this. I'm always up for a challenge. Good old Dive challenged all of his readers to continue our own version of a story following his writing prompt. The writing prompt was the fifth sentence or something on page 56 of whatever book was closest to him at the time. The first paragraph is just that. The rest is mine. I cannot explain where I came up with this, but here goes:
"And again next day a thinly populated sky, losing its blue to the heat, would melt overhead, and Lo would clamour for a drink, and her cheeks would hollow vigorously over the straw, and the car inside would be a furnace when we got in again, and the road shimmered ahead, with a remote car changing its shape mirage-like in the surface glare, and seeming to hang for a moment, old-fashionedly square and high, in the hot haze."
These August days could wear on even the best of us. Whoever they were? We certainly were not dealt that hand in life. After the mine closed it was like starting all over again. As old Harv used to say, “You has to go where the work is”.
“Leroy, how much further is it to Cleve-LAND? My back is hurtin an I’m damn thirsty. “
It was hot. It was damned hot. Up in the mountains you could feel the air move. In these flatlands nothing moved. I haven’t seen a human or an animal for I don’t know how long. I shade my eyes and look hard, trying to find a service station, an oasis in this strange land of brown and yellow nothingness. Hell, I’d settle to find a patch of green shade where we could pee and stretch our legs. No mountain streams around these parts.
It occurs to me that I might never go home.
No matter how hot it got, Pine Tar Cove always cooled at night. The mine was cool as well. We started early in the morning before the sun got too hot. We was down in the depths during the worst of it. Once you took the trolley into the mine you lost your sense of time. It was black. The smell was of recently struck matches and wet moss. I could hear a constant trickle of water, but that helped cool me. I liked the sounds, the smells, the constants. It was familiar and comfortable somehow. I did my job. I never complained. People need coal for heat. I was providing a service AND I was damn good at it. I could do this for the rest of my life.
Until June 11th that was.
Shaft #27 collapsed. Two men died. Peter Harrell and Marley Scott. Both of them were fathers. They left behind widows with small children.
Shortly after, some official- lookin people with plastic badges came in and said the mine was in “violation”. Some violation of working conditions. These people screwed up their faces andlooked at us like we were shit. Who the fuck were they to judge us? They bein in some suits and shit, doesn’t make them any better.
Leroy, I need a drink!”
Lo is eight months pregnant with our first child. I have to find a stop.
I keep looking for a familiar sign. After about thirty miles of tedious earth tones, I see a green dinosaur. A Sinclair station. I slow the old Impala and guide her into the pumping area.
A young pockmarked man makes his way to the car.. He has greasy black hair and seems to think he ’s all that. Even I, an unemployed coal-miner from Tennessee thinks he is an ugly man. He props his arm on the roof of the car to see us better. He looks at us sideways and says. “Where you folks headed?”
“Cleveland” I say.
“I hear they got jobs up there.”
“Yeah, the Ford Plant in Elyria, just outside of Cleveland is looking for assembly line workers.”
“I hear Ford’s a great company if you can get in. You got people up there? It helps if you know someone. Is your woman okay? She doesn’t look well.”
I turn and look at Lo. She looks pale. She hasn’t been complaining too much but then again I’ve been lost in my thoughts. I turn and realize she’s hurtin.
“Lo, you okay?”
“I’ve got some cramps. I think the baby is comin…”
Shit. I have no experience in this.