Set in the 1890s in the Honey Rock Mine, on Little Canyon Mountain south of Canyon City, Oregon, Warm Gold is a story of miners who are struggling to find gold–who, by braving their fears, discover the Motherlode.
They would go deep where the gold lay, but the shaft is unsafe. All the men are so impoverished that they would risk falling in the shaft just to find even a trace of high grade ore. But Wray Loope, the hoistman, won’t let them. And so the men struggle on the main level and go to bed hungry, night after night.
Meanwhile, Sollinger, a convict, has come to mine not just gold and silver, but of something more salient: His father, whom he never knew. He can’t find him. He’s been searching all over the West and was on his way to Coloma, California, when he became too sick to continue. So he’s stuck in the Honey Rock where instead, he mines something which he had not planned on, something that consumes him: a young miner named Julius Arslanian, who has banished himself deep inside the mine, mining alone in perfect darkness, as some miners of that age could do, struggling with his own worth as he searches for his own father, who had disappeared inside it in 1878, during the Bannock War. Sollinger and Arslanian form a father-son bond of a weight heavier than the gold they seek. But Wray Loope will stop at nothing to scare them off, as well as all the other miners in the Honey Rock, before they strike it rich.
Warm Gold is a story of impoverished men who are hoping that despite the odds, they’ll discover something of worth. It’s a story of an abandoned father and an abandoned son striving against the pressures of the mine to find inside each other and inside themselves a Motherlode of unlimited worth–enough to save not only themselves, but the town of Canyon City.
Warm Gold is currently available as a paperback or ebook on Amazon.
~ Boston ~
A gold nugget lay before him, drawing him into the light. As he gazed, his arteries throbbed and his spine tingled for the story written in it, one of love and fear and the opening of his soul. “This was my—” He tried to speak, but his throat tore. “Why didn’t he—”
“Yes, this was your father’s. And now it’s yours.”
Rub’s heart thumped so hard it welted his breastbone. “How is it mine?”
“Your father’s desire is that you have it. I’m delivering it to you from his hand. If you take it now, you can go to him. I’ll take you to him myself.”
“Is it okay?” He looked anxiously at a third story window of the brothel.
“Yes, boy. This heavy ticket stub is yours.”
“No, it’s not.” His long eyelashes flicked droplets of water down his cheeks.
The old peddler smiled, coughing into his handkerchief. “I’m telling you the truth, child. This nugget was your father’s. He’s waiting for you now. I’ll take you.”
He closed his eyes. Held his breath. In its depth and marring it was more beautiful than anything he’d imagined in his twelve years. Cupping his dirty hands, he broke the light at the mouth of his scrap metal cave and extended them into the alleyway to receive the nugget from the decaying peddler.
But as the old man was about to drop it into his palms, Rub jerked. He smacked his face on a steel cog, scraping grime off his cheek. The peddler reached to support him, but Rub scooted away to the rear of the cave, mashing himself into the base of a brick wall—this home between the brothel and a brick factory in some forgotten, abandoned borough of Boston.
The two regarded the other for a moment—the old peddler peering in, his raw cheeks disappearing into the swath of his beard; Rub squinting back. His face was smudged with grime, as if the Artist who’d painted him had got his tone wrong and wanted to start over. But his sapphire eyes, like lanterns set in ore, burned with the hope of discovery. “Where is he?”
“He’s in a gold mine.”
“A gold mine?” His jaw loosened, lacking air. From a stash he brandished yellowed newspaper, the cartoon of a mine and its gold radiant before prospectors tangled together as they clawed for the Motherlode. “This gold mine?”
“No, I’ve seen that before. It’s from the California Gold Rush. Son, I’ll tell you. There is a different gold mine. One you have seen only hinted at in this city. You must understand that I’m speaking of a gold mine where your life and imagination are free.”
Rub writhed to angle himself in the light in the mouth of his cave. The veins in his neck strained. He opened his mouth but when he tried to speak, searing pain whistled through it from the tooth he’d chipped trying to gnaw rust off the bolts. His tender voice rushed into the alleyway. “What’s he look like? What’s his name? Did he name me? What gold mine?”
“I’ll tell you. Son, but listen. It’s taken me over a decade to find you.”
The thick sunshine dug at the cave and the boy. He felt the pull of the nugget again, like the pull of the moon. It was pulling his conscience from him, tempting him to destroy it; or to steal it from the peddler and sprint from the alleyway, from Boston, from the cityfolk who had forgotten him, away from the marching soldiers and the gunshots and sabers, from the yellow, rotting teeth—until he himself was destroyed, falling like a withered leaf. He wiped his cheek, smearing tears. Inching to the mouth, he again extended his hand.
In the warm autumn light the peddler stood by his side. “Into this gold mine, this extraordinary gold mine,” he said, “we’ll go together. This is my promise.” His eyes glimmered with kindness.
And yet at the same moment as before, Rub faltered. He told himself that it was too far from the safety of this darkness. Too risky. Too dangerous. Too bathed in light. Pangs shot through him, maddening him as his body twisted to free itself to touch the nugget, even as he knew, deep in, it was wrong. “Can I please see him?”
“You can. In time. But understand the gift of this nugget. It is for you and you alone. It’s what miners call a keepsake nugget. And it demands a promise. One from the nugget. One from you. The promise you must make is that you will carry it with you until you find your father. And the promise of this nugget is that you will find him.”
His welted eyes poured open in their suffering. “But where is he?”
The old peddler’s chest swelled. His eyes flowed as if bathed in a tunnel of light. “This nugget is not the same one smudged in ink in your yellowed newspaper, son, but from a street paved in gold—the same one you’ve heard preached about in the streets of Boston. Haven’t you heard them speak?”
He tilted the nugget in and out of the sun. “He’s in the land of romantic grace.”
Rub was lost in the golden luminescence, too beautiful to pen or paint in words, dangling before him like a seed from heaven. He whispered, “Where?”… Buy it here on Amazon