NaNoWriMo winding down. I’ve been doing edits on what I wrote on the first 22 days – which was when I passed the 50,000 word mark. Going back through that first week when I fighting to get to 2000 words a day and adding to them till they were all over 2200 at least. I put in geographic info I didn’t then have about the lay out of my invented mining town, physical descriptions of characters who became more important after they were first introduced. Seeded info that would become more needed later so that it didn’t suddenly jump out.
I’ll keep at this tweaking till the end of the month. Past years I pretty much laid the work to rest when I passed that 50,000 mark. So I’m trying something new this year by keeping on pushing to the end of days. I will put it to rest till the spring so that what is there can simmer in my subconscious.
I’ve been trying to get back into my usual morning flash writing – which has been 90% poetry but that flow hasn’t come as quickly as it has in the past – such is life. In the new year I’m going to tackle, what I’m calling the Bradbury – Ray Bradbury – and try to write a complete story every week. I’ve been productive with flash fiction so it’s time to push that to the next level to see where that leads to.
Birk and Jake Malone sat near the back with another of their lane way neighbors Jim McKlusky. Birk had never felt at ease when there were too many people talking at the same time. Seeing all these men not on the colliery site was almost like seeing some of them for the first time. So Digger Johnny didn’t always wear that same denim coverall and canvas coat all the time. He looked like a different person in a clean white shirt and grey trousers, held up by striped suspenders. If it weren’t for the heavy work boots Birk would have taken him for a store clerk.
Two of the union men were going along the aisles and talking to miners quietly.
“Good to see you here tonight b’ys” one of them shook Birk’s hand. “We’re feeling that this time we can make a difference.”
“We’ve heard that before.” Jim McKlusky said. “Birk here might be too young to remember the strike of 1918. What the fluenza didn’t kill starvation nearly did.”
The meeting got started with William Gregory, the union rep, reading off the contract demands, none of which management was will to discuss.
The men in the back row around Birk whispered furtively back and forth with comments about what was being said on stage. Having Alf Landon there added to the seriousness of the situation. No one was pleased to hear that here’d be government support for strike action.
He looked around for Clancy but didn’t spot him. His side of the room was the most restless and resistant to the fact that the strike would commence at midnight that night.
“Lets get some fresh air.” Clancy tapped him on the shoulder.
They went out to the front steps of the hall and there were several other men out there smoking. He and Clancy shared the last of the Manny cigarettes.
“You know what burns me up?” said one of the miners outside the hall. “The fact that we have to meet here in this mick hall.”
“Not as if we have anything over our side of the town.” one of them said. “Fraid they’ll get their boots dusty in Mudtown.”
“Can’t expect to do this at the pluck me either.” another said.
The men laughed. “If’n they did they would dock our pay for the wear and rear on the floor boards.”
“Yeh I know that but it’s not as if we get anything from Rome to keep up appearance like the good Father does.” the first man said.
“Like that niece o’his. Looks good even with that bump on her face.”
“Who you think did that t’her.”
“Maybe she did to herself.” Clancy said.
“Yeh. Tripping in the church on those things they kneel on and hitting face on one of Jesus’s hands.”
The men laughed.
“I know what a smack looks like.” one of the men said. “Gives my missus enough of them.” He added knowingly. “Only way to keep ‘em in line.”
“Shows you care enough for ’em too.” another said.
“So you think she’s … got some bloke from around here?”
“I heared she has a past, you know, from Boston. Maybe the good Father had to keep her from going back. Y’ know bring the hand of God to bare.”
“A priest? Nah.”
“Remember Father Peterson. Coached us in hockey one year. Man he wouldn’t hesitate to give any of a good kick in the arse if we didn’t do what we was told. He didn’t care if was orange or mick either. We have more bruises from him than we ever got on the ice.”
“Yeh, but that was b’ys.”
“Doesn’t matter to me now. I just want them at the mine to play fair by us.” the first guy said. “No more playing favorites with the micks. Right Birk.”
“What?” Birk had been listening but not paying heed. From where he and Clancy stood they had a clear view of Lillian sitting by the tea trolly.
“You like getting left in the pit while that Manny O’Dowell gets set up in the rake yard?”
“No!” Getting above ground was the hope of many of the miners. Did matter where they worked or even the work was harder.
“Better get back inside.” Clancy said. “Looks like things is getting to the important stuff.”
“Only important stuff is how much strike pay we can expect when we goes out.”
When they went back in Birk saw that Blackie had arrived. Men were standing to ask questions about the strike or make statements of their particular concerns.
Jim jabbed him the ribs and whispered. “Say something about playing favorites.”
Birk stood. All eyes the room where on him. He feet got hot and he was slightly dizzy. He didn’t recognize his own voice as he spoke and when he finished he didn’t even know what he had said.
“Good on ye, lad. That’ll get those micks in a stir.” Jim said.
There were angry responses from the other side of the room. If there was an answer from any of the speakers to what he said he didn’t hear them. He did hear Seldon from the company store say there’d be no credit if wasn’t working. When Father Patrick forced them to say the Our Father he got up walked out with Blackie and Clancy.