Gordon close his jacket and stared down at his feet, "I think maybe we should take that number off of the die,mates," he said.
Mali shook her head at him, "Don't judge...," she looked up at Parker imploringly.
"Parker," he whispered.
"You can't judge Parker for doing what we asked him to. This is a gathering of travelers, not a parade of personal anxieties,"
"Oh come off it lady, I was just looking out for him. Whose turn is it?"
Joe raised his hand and caught the die as it was thrown to him. He held it for a moment, admiring its smooth surface and sloppily painted indentations. He quietly asked it for a five or a three, threw it lightly onto the ground and opened his eyes to a one.
"Little fucker," he said under his breath.
"Your story is about a little fucker? Intriguing. Go on," said Gordon smiling.
My story is rather short, but it goes something like this.
A long time ago there was a man sitting on a bucket outside of a coal mine. He was eating the lunch that his wife had packed and thinking about how he couldn't wait to get home to her that night when his shift was done. He pictured her as he bit into the hard crust as she had looked the night before, sitting on their front porch drinking thick iced tea and combing their daughter's hair with a wide toothed brush. The miner became so enraptured by the thought of her that he nearly missed the bell calling all those at lunch back into the mines, barely making it onto the last elevator down in time to start his shift again.
Hours went by like years as he thought of her, carelessly handling the tools of his trade and filling bucket after bucket with coal he never remembered cutting. It surprised him how, after so many years of sharing a bed with her there was still so much passion. He decided then and there to take the rest of the day off and go to see her.
When he reached the elevator and was getting on, a terrible rumbling high above in the hill sent shock waves down through the mines, collapsing the coal-heavy walls and burying many of the tunnels. The miner was thrown by falling debris into a small cavity near the elevator and thrown into pitch darkness. The air was thin and unfulfilling to his lungs, just opening his mouth to gasp for it caused loose silt and dust to clot on his tongue, sapping the moisture. He thought of her.
Would she be taken care of? Would the mine give her the things she needed to buy food with? Would she meet someone else? The questions incensed him, filling him with anger at the cruelty of the things the world has wrought. How could anything all powerful and omnipotent allow for a loving family to be destroyed so carelessly? He started to cry.
A sound like the grinding of gears roused him from his despair and he realized that it was the sound of the elevator working on the cables to go up and down. He couldn't be buried too deeply if, having been so close to the elevator, it was still working. In the darkness he fought hard to cut a path through the soil, stopping to gasp for air and to listen for the sound of the gears, forcing his hands into the loose dirt and pressing it back around him. After what seemed like an eternity of digging his hands broke out of the ground into the cool open air and he took huge gulps of its freshness.
Despite the imploring co-workers who begged him to see a physician, the miner took the first elevator he could to the top and started to run towards his home. He had no idea how long he ran, but when his strength finally gave out he was so close to his home that he could see the porch.
He hauled himself to his feet, every muscle protesting the movements he begged of them. He just had to see her, to wrap his arms around her waist and lose himself among the flowers of her dress. He held that thought in the iron grip of his mind, coaxing everything his body had left in it to get home. When he got there he called out but no one came running. The miner went inside to the cool dark, so reminiscent of the mine that it chilled him, and up to his bedroom. He threw open the door, wishing just to fall into bed and sleep while he waited for his family to return. That was when he found his wife in bed with another man, their startled faces being the last thing he saw before dropping to his knees and passing out. The End.
Joe finished his story and the rest remained in silence. Most of the rest.
"Worst bloody goddamn story I've ever heard mate. Honestly," Gordon spouted but no one said anything to dispute him this time.
"Its about how life isn't worth living because everything you love will leave you," Joe rebuked, screwing up his face at Gordon, "My dad used to tell me that one when I was young,"
"Jesus Christ," Gordon said with a breathy laugh, "can we start walking yet?"