“What do we do?” Theo asked Jim.
“I need the keys to that Jeep. My gold filled rocks are in there and I can get back to town. I’m just not sure how to go about it.” Jim’s thinking was muddled by fear, fatigue, and hunger.
“You need the keys, I’ll go get them.” Theo said and began walking towards the mine entrance.
“Woah, whoa there buddy” Jim pulled him back. “You can’t just waltz in there and ask for the keys. They’d probably shoot you on sight.”
Theo shakes his head and pulls out of his grip, “I can do it, it’s a knocker’s specialty. Watch…” Then he blended himself with the sand and rocks he stood upon, becoming practically invisible.
“Well, carry on then Sir.” Jim said, impressed. “Just be careful, I’ll wait here.”
Theo balled up and rolled into the unlit portion of the parking lot. Creeping slowly he made it to the main entrance. There was a man sitting on a bench in front of an office trailer, covered head to toe in red dust and smoking a cigarette. To his left was a no smoking sign and it made Theo smile. The times and methods changed but miners remained the same; reckless hardworking men. Breathing the dust and minerals in the air gave Theo flashbacks to the glory days of his old mine.
Thinking that the workers might have lockers in the building, he climbed up to a darkened window and tried to open it. It wouldn’t budge an inch. Deciding on another route he walked around the trailer and hung off the back of the staircase leading into the office. When the man smoking tossed his cigarette to the ground and walked up the stairs, Theo waited for his time.
The dust covered man flung the door open and Theo pulled himself up onto the stairs and followed at his heels into the room. There was no one inside. Theo’s skin goosebumped immediately, it was at least thirty degrees cooler in the trailer compared to the warmth outside. Walking quickly to the corner of the office, he hid behind a large potted palm and waited for the man to leave. He noted there were five gray standing lockers along the far wall and a messy, paper filled desk to his right.
The worker poured water from a giant upturned bottle and then sat and stared at the tiny flat box similar to Jim’s machine. Theo thought that there must have been a lot of technology advancements since his old mine closed in nineteen sixty-three.
“I don’t care Steve!” A man’s voice yelled right outside the door. A submissive voice answered, but Theo couldn’t make out the man’s words with his low talking. He made sure to camouflage himself to match the pastel flower wallpaper and stood perfectly still.
He heard the door fly open and two new men entered the room. The smell of gold on the largest man made Theo’s mouth water. The scent filled the room and he had to remind himself to listen to their conversation.
“You have the most to lose, that’s true, but if you keep your damned mouth shut, there won’t be anything to worry about.” The large man shouted at the thin sweet faced man; Steve presumably. Men that behaved like Steve couldn’t take pressure, Theo thought. He knew from centuries of watching different types of men work. The big guy was a bully, that was obvious.
Steve spoke up again, “George, I just keep thinking of the poor guys family and them not knowing what happened to him. And…and…and.. what.. what if we get caught, I can’t go to jail!” His stuttering showed his level of anxiety on the subject.
“Look you little piss ant! I know you didn’t pull the trigger or light the match, but you were there and you went to work like nothing happened. I don’t remember you crying and putting up a fight when you were helping to load that gold into the jeep. So, you’re in this shit just as deep as we are. You’re straight up an accessory to murder. But, if you can’t take a little guilt and want to squeal, go on ahead. You’ll be someone’s sweet little bitch for those long prison nights. Go on give em’ a call, and lube your ass while you’re at it, because you’re gonna need it buddy.” By the end of his obscene rant George’s face was beet red, he stormed out and slammed the door behind him.
Steve plopped down in a chair next to guy Theo had followed in, putting his elbows on his knees and face in his hands. The man was torn, obviously. But he wouldn’t snitch, Theo thought, his type just lived with the guilt until they couldn’t stand to live anymore. The man patted Steve on the back and got up, tossing his paper cup into the trash. “If it helps with your guilt, we woulda done what we done whether you was here or not. You not bein here wouldn’t of changed the result. You got me?”
“Thanks Jo, for trying to make me feel better. I’ll be okay. Will you tell George I’ll be okay? I won’t say anything.”
“Good thinkin to get that clear with him. You don’t wanna to be having an accident. You know, like Billy did last year.” Steve bobbed his head sadly and followed Jo out the door.
Theo couldn’t believe the deadly drama going on in this mine. He giggled at the possibilities for entertainment. Before anyone else stormed in, Theo hurried over to the lockers. He was surprised that they were all unlocked but guessed that with all the murder going on people wouldn’t dare to steal someones wallet. He easily found both sets of keys.
As he jumped down from a locker, he bumped the box attached to the key ring. An awful alarm woop wooped from the parking lot, it repeated over and over. Theo pushed every button he could on both key sets. Now there were two different alarms going off. He could hear shouting coming from outside. He took the chance of being seen and jumped to unlatch and swing open the door. First thing, he scurried under the metal frame stairs. Then he watched as four men dragged Jim out from underneath the white truck.
More to come…..