Dig Out Your Soul

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Seven hours into his nine-hour shift at Y & T Coal Mine number 14, Carson Blune wiped black sweat from his brow for the first time. To get filthy film off his face, thick gray gloves were removed and tucked inside the chest of his matching gray coveralls. He took off his safety glasses and pulled his respirator down to his chin. It took sixty-two seconds to get relief.

He counted everything. From the number of beeps on his geiger counter, to the times his foreman, Freddie Gorman, hummed the Me and Bobbie McGee lyric, “Kentucky coal mines to the California sun” he always kept an internal ledger.

The immobile heat of the tunnel and the sinister echo of the gas lines scared Carson, even on the third anniversary of taking the position of Mainline Supervisor. Freddie’s massive right hand clasped his right shoulder.

“Three years C.B.! I didn’t think your candy ass would make three damn weeks.”

Carson tolerated Freddie, an eighteen-year miner other men in the company respected who had helped Carson become good at his job. Freddie only smelled of beer after lunch.

“C.B., for a sumbitch without a speck of dirt under your nails when you walked in here, you’ve made a decent buttysitter.”

Miners called each other “buttys” and Carson their sitter. Freddie’s harsh tone grated on Carson more than coal dust. Distancing himself from the dependency of mining’s good pay, he’d taken solace in an email telling him he’d been hired as a high school English teacher three counties away.

“Freddie, when did the fireboss say to call for inspection.”

Freddie turned around and muttered over his shoulder..

“Three-thirty.”

Carson grabbed his co-worker’s left arm, pulling them to the entrance as an explosion shook the mine. Carson counted to ten then realized his gloves and glasses were gone. He dug dirt mounds from his face and saw the sarcastic four-foot tall handmade sign.

The Dark Side Of The Moon, Kentucky.

“Damn it Freddie, it’s three-thirty-five! And I quit!”

*****blogger’s note****

Due to time constraints and other crap. I decided to combine prompts. Inside these 333 words is the Trifecta Writing’s one word SINISTER http://www.trifectawritingchallenge.com/ and my Scriptic Collective challenge – Cheney at http://writerewriteread.com gave me this prompt: Write about what it’s like on the dark side of the moon.
I gave kgwaite at http://writinginthemarginsburstingattheseams.blogspot.com/ this prompt: Little hand says it’s time to rock and roll.
Please go read their great pieces.

I stayed away from the Pink Floyd after deliberating for four days. Instead I went with the title of the last Oasis album, Dig Out Your Soul, which comes from the song To Be Where’s There’s Life.

23 thoughts on “Dig Out Your Soul

  1. Oh man, and the inside of a coal mine would indeed be the dark side of a moon. I love the miner lingo.

    Two notes, one minor, one not.

    Minor (miner, minor, yuck yuck)
    “Carson tolerated Freddie, an eighteen-year miner other men in the company respected and had helped Carson become good at his job. ” — Madame Syntax suggests “who” in place of “and”

    Not minor
    “he’d took” should be “he’d taken” – especially if Carson is off to teach English after this last little prank.

  2. I am curious as to why he counts everything. A bit of OCD? It’s the little details like that make your characters so fascinating. You always leave me wanting more!

    Small typo: You hit the ‘j’ key in the word ‘taken’ instead of the ‘k’, where you talk about his teaching job.

  3. karen

    I love how he counts everything, I count stuff all the time, just to occupy certain spaces of time. I would totally count in a job like that, just to get me through the stress and the day.

    Great characters once again, Lance. And a totally different take on the prompt.

      • karen

        Well done, then. I love Pink Floyd. Probably a little bit too much, particularly the song about the Pict grooving away in the Cave, which I haven’t heard forever, and Comfortably Numb, which takes me all the way back to Grade 4.

  4. I know you probably get tired of the gushing, but Lance, your story telling skills are unbelievable! This… I felt like you really knee about coal miners, I felt like I was there, in so fee words you created an entire setting! Great job.

  5. Growing up in Appalachia, I have great respect for miners, but it is such a dangerous and dirty job. I can’t imagine working so far underground, way too claustrophobic.

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