The Blackest Black I’ve Ever Been In
On that awful night, I broke into Brad’s room, removed three large
Arsenic crystals from his rock, and swallowed them. After coming home and
finding his room broken into, Brad came down to see if I knew anything
about what had happened. He discovered his rock along side my empty
bottle. C.S. arrived shortly after Brad called her, and the two of
them woke me up. Brad immediately called his doctor friend, and to
both his and my amazement, the doctor told Brad that that amount of
unrefined digested Arsenic would not be lethal. I guess I was lucky,
but, at the time, I didn’t feel lucky.
After I recovered, I moved out of the Syndicate and back into the house
at 5 Cliff. The short, of the rather long story, was that I did my best to prove
to C.S. that things could be different. I wanted to marry her. I told her
I would pay for her divorce. She liked that idea, but she wouldn’t
commit. She said, “We’ll give it some time, and see how things go.” As
far as I was concerned that was a reprieve. Before the week was out, I
applied for a mining job in Lead, the mile high mining town above Deadwood.
When the Homestake Goldmine hired me things were looking up.
Working in the mine was a new experience for me. On my first day on
the job, I crowded into an elevator with forty miners. We dropped 4700
feet. That was pretty close to the bottom of the mine. Most of the
miners got out above me. I hopped on the miniature train and the guy
dropped me off at the end of the line. I was told to go into a stope
(a small tunnel that forked away from the main tracks) and look for
water seepage. The only water I could find was running in the
pissditch (literal and metaphorical) and that was normal.
I was psychologically prepared for that duty, but being abandoned
within the bowels of the earth was another story altogether.
After an hour with no train in sight, I started walking down the main
tunnel. Blue lights gave off enough dim light, so I could turn off my
headlamp. Back in the stope, where there were no blue lights, I turned
off my headgear, and it turned into the blackest black I had ever been
in. When the train finally did arrive, the driver was mad because I
had left my spot. By the time we got back to where the other miners
were, my shift was half over. Apparently, the other miners were happy
to see me. They were fighting amongst themselves to see who would get
me. Nobody wanted to work with a guy who might flip out. Abandoning
new hires in the mine’s darkest corners was common procedure, and I had
passed the test.