She was a Miner, 49er

Actually 50 would have fit her better, but Lola was not one to stand on circumstance. I never would have remembered about her mining adventure, if it hadn’t been for that pan, she used to use for her obsession that concerned her conviction of gold lying in the sands of our backyard, falling off the shelf in the bathroom, when I was out doing my morning duties.

There I lie, with those tiny birds chirping and swirling over my head, when a vision struck me. There was a woman, of course, waving to someone, who could have resembled me, as I stood on a pathway winding around a rather steepish mountain, leading to a shaft decorated with “Keep Out. All Buggerheads and their relatives. This means you, and you too!”

I used to stand there a while and let those warnings sink into my head. What if she thought I was a Buggerhead today? I might as well resign myself to the fact that living and loving Lola was a dangerous profession, even before I entered the mine with its low-hanging beams and non-OSHA approved lighting.

Lola was looking drop-dead sexy today with her mining hat apparel. Her dungarees were very stylish, with their matching pickax and jackhammer ensemble. She could have had her way with me right then and there, but it might have to be done the Lola-Way anyway. “Do you just want to be down and dirty, or did you think about romance before sex?”

OK. I admit to not thinking romance again, but out in the Bush where I felt I had put a few too many wannigans on the old temple for anyone’s good, then when the urge struck me, I’d better answer the call, before I was forgotten away at some old folk’s home, gumming my oatmeal, and dreaming of someone, I used to know called Lola.

“All right then” she announced, while I still was considering my options. The Alaskan sun was still low on the horizon, but I could still see the Caribou Herds grazing in the distance. I wondered how it would be, when we finally struck it rich? Would Lola lose it all in a Strip-Poker game in town, or would we suddenly realize that we were only together to get rich, then we’d part company with her riding off into the sunset on the back of her pet Caribou, while I’d be flying south with the rest of the Snowbirds.

“Enough of your self-pity” she’d announce, breaking and entering into my thoughts, while I wondered about the circumstances that had brought us to this “God Forsaken Mountain” somewhere in the Bush, on the Slope, being Inside and definitely not Outside.

Down in the mine, Lola was humming her favorite song, ” Dwelt a miner, forty-niner, and his daughter Clementine” then she’d usually shed a tear, before having to blow her nose and kick the dirt, cursing the day her father left her for that woman from the sex work industry. He’d just call her Clementine, which was a handy thing with that being her name and all, and would sing that song, while Lola would sit in his pickup truck heading into town to buy the week’s provisions.

Lola would stop working and light herself a cigarette, containing anything other than tobacco, I might just add, and have herself a good think while I searched for a new vein to try my luck upon.

“He told me for years and years, that he’d struck the Mother Lode. The only thing he’d struck, was when he went whoring in town with Clementine, no less”. She would get that hard and determined look on her face, before continuing with her story. “He’d come home to Mom and me and show us a dirty-looking bag filled with his treasures. Lo and behold the times when he’d dump them out onto the table, for all the world to see: Moose Nuggets enough to buy us a proper house, one with running water, sos Mom could try to wash some of the grey out of her hair”.

I’d never heard about her father and Moose Nuggets before now. Just imagining my hands encased in a pile of fresh Moose Nuggets would have been a dream come true. Moose Nuggets to bath in, akin to throwing sawbucks into the air and running about as they fell upon me. Moose Nuggets to deal out to the poor folk in town. “Hey Sonny. Fancy a Moose Nugget?” With his little eyes lighting up knowing that he could feed his 9 brothers and sisters for a whole month with just one Moose Nugget in his pocket. Just one!

I could imagine how Clementine’s eyes lit up as well, when her Sugar Daddy showed up on her doorstep, having just shooed the last customer out the back door, giving her time to gussy herself up a bit before her Prince Charming arrived!

The next moment will be burned into my memory for as long as I live. Knowing Lola, that might be for years to come, or the few minutes I had before the TNT exploded before me.

Lola just stood up and looked around, sizing up her life and times. I managed to move out of harm’s way, with the knowledge that her guns were outside the shaft, lest one of the sparks from the firing pin would ignite some stray whiff of gas while we were considering shooting some of the local rats for fun and entertainment, while using a few quality minutes on our OSHA-approved coffee break.

She took out another match, along with a stick of TNT. It had her father’s name written on it in red lipstick, the kind that Clementine used to use. “Here is to your dream Daddy” she murmured while lighting the fuse and running for the entrance.

We managed to get out in time, with my cowering behind our mining cart, but Lola just stood up as if nothing in this life could do her any harm. It started with a low rumbling, not unlike the Caribou when their mating rituals were in full swing, but gave way to a tremendous “BANG” which shook the surrounding countryside, scattering white rabbits from their holes, both left and right.

When I stood up, after the dust had settled, Lola was seen just staring at what used to be the mine entrance, now just a pile of stones, and splintery wood pieces.

“Well”, she said as if it were something that happened every day, “That was that”.

We walked down the hill towards the Willy’s with me not knowing what to say or do. Lola’s expression, however, gave way to a smile and a breath of relief, knowing that she’d buried her father’s memory, and his dream, not hers, for good.

I pulled an Elephant Toothpick out of my pocket and started twirling it about, when she finally found words again.

“Well, Bunky, what shall we do now?”

Lola really knew how to turn a phrase. We just got to driving to points unknown, knowing that we’d figure out something to do together. As long as we had one another along with 20-30 firearms, who knows how far we’d come.

How far indeed…..

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