Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The Giant of Juno Falls (part 1)

Jesse S. Mitchell

The television set was on in the last house on the edge of Heart Attack Valley, it was on and silent, flickering between dimensions, the rough rhino hide growl of the morning news, grit and grimy concrete, busted rock and Nagasaki-bloom, and the smooth silk of corporate-caste sales, the siren calls, the soft soft tones.
So, Noah looked back and forth and at times, behind himself, at the wall and out the window.  He watched the whole world unravel, confident though that he would never see the end of it, the weave and tangle too intense, the ball of string far too large.  He was in no danger of oblivion.  And that is precious knowledge, reassurance to a young boy, and sometimes even he speculated that perhaps the world really was a beautiful place, sometimes he was absolutely sure of it.
But mostly his doubts on the matter were as dark and thick and shadowy as the coal dust grunge that covered over everything in the hill country where he lived.
He knew that usually things were harsh and mostly people had to work hard and had short miserable lives.  He was no romantic.  Ten years old and already the world had gnawed this skin thick.  He understood things about life.  He understood things about death.  And he knew that the place for stories and wonder and joy was a very small one, a dip or crack in the hard mantle of planet Earth.  But still, that tiny divot is what most occupied Noah’s mind, that is where he liked to live.  He was blessed.  That feeling is a blessing.  A miracle.  And he thought, maybe he would just stay there forever, in that niche market for beautiful things, just stay there surrounded, preoccupied and never need another anything ever.
The TV continued to buzz back and forth and sometimes the sound would come back, screamingly, punctuating the quiet trembling in the valley.  Been a lot of tremors lately, falling rocks, slides, the reception is never good with all the quivering, no radio or TV at all for days usually, best enjoy what you can get.  All kinds of theories, all sorts of stories as to why.  A lot of answers for everything around this part of the country, depending on who you asked, you get a different one.

Probably too much dynamiting, maybe the tunnels crumbling a bit.  But Noah had his own answers to the tremors and the rock-slide shivering. And his answer was different than all the rest especially.  But one thing is certain: the mines are always trouble, tragedy everywhere.  Best enjoy what you can get, live the day.

Noah’s father came clopping in the backdoor, loud heavy feet nearly stomping through the floor before he got the boots off, dusty dark, muddy, awful thick soled, steel toed, frayed ugly boots.  The man sat on a bench beside the door and perfectly arranged the boots and their long tattered laces, took off his big coat, rubbed his face.  Noah looked back away from the TV screen.
“Morning, Dad.”
His father nodded.  His eyes were all red and raw.  They always were, every morning, burning out of his tired face, and after all, it is the washed out yellow of pale early dawn that burns eyes the most.  Imagine the worst, most violent light, imagine a lifetime underground in the purple veins of darkness black-gold mining for the bright shine of stars, imagine the lungs choked and full of smoke and dust, imagine the busted knuckles and the whole long nights of mile deep hard work.  Imagine that and imagine the light of morning or afternoon, the sun shining daytime, and imagine the paycheck folded in your pocket, the paycheck that never goes anywhere and never, never ever, covers all seven days of the week.  
Imagine the raw eyes.  Noah’s father’s eyes were raw but not as raw as that, but they should have been, but no, a little light, right there in the middle in the big wide pupils, a tiny little candle flicker still jumped.  Noah saw it.  That is a blessing.  That feeling is a blessing.  A miracle.  He turned back to the television as his father made his way through the house, patted Noah on the shoulder and made his way to the bedroom and the bed for some well earned sleep.  

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