Ghosts of Gannaway
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177 pages

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Ghost whispers echo through the mines of Gannaway. They have a story to tell. It’s the story of a town torn apart by greed, pollution and vanity, by racial discord between the Native Americans and the invading miners, by the Great Depression, by the violent union strikes of the 1930’s. That’s not all that brought Gannaway to its knees, though. Not by a long shot. Because something—else—lives in the deserted tunnels of the mine, something dark and evil. Something that breathes life into the Ghosts of Gannaway.



Publié par
Date de parution 01 juillet 2015
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781772996555
Langue English

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0032€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.


By Stuart R. West
Digital ISBNs
EPUB 978-1-77299-655-5
MOBI 978-1-77299-656-2
WEB 978-1-77299-657-9
Amazon Print 978-1-77299-652-4

Copyright 2015 by Stuart R. West
Cover art by Michelle Lee
All rights reserved. Without limiting therights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publicationmay be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system,or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic,mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without theprior written permission of both the copyright owner and the abovepublisher of this book.
I’d like to dedicate this book to the few, the proudand the stubborn residents of Picher, Oklahoma, who still reside inthe wasteland that Gannaway, Kansas is based on.
Also, a big shout-out to Gail Roughton Branan for herinvaluable advice, support and words of wisdom.
Finally, I’d like to acknowledge Oklahoman author,Larry G. Johnson, whose book, Tar Creek, provided me with the sadhistory of Picher, Oklahoma, and the fate that befell the onceprosperous mining town.
Chapter One
Something looked off about Karl, no doubtabout it. Tommy Donnelly saw it in Karl’s eyes the minute they gotin line. Not the usual red-eyed glassiness that accompanies miners’fondness for moonshine, either. Karl’s gaze flicked back and forth,unfocused and yellow like a desert lizard’s eyes.
Tommy didn’t know Karl well. Just byreputation and his daddy’s mining tales. An old-time roof-trimmer,Karl’s responsibilities included clearing loose rocks, making themines safe for the other men. Apparently he’d been in the minessince before the turn of the century. But on this gray Kansasmorning, Karl stayed to himself, mumbling. He stared into the dirtlike he was prospecting for gold. Hardly in keeping with whatTommy’d heard about this legendary miner.
Truth to tell, though, as it was Tommy’sfirst day in the mines, Karl’s odd behavior just set him more onedge.
Big Ed took it all in stride, of course, ashe did everything. He chuckled deep within his formidable belly.“Kid, first day jitters? Stay by my side and you’ll be fine.”
“Thanks, Ed. Guess I’m just gettin’ my feetunderneath me.”
“That so?”
“That’s so.” Tommy forced a weak smile. Itdidn’t make him feel much better, but the fact Big Ed had taken himunder his wing gave him a small cushion of comfort. Tommy’s daddywould’ve wanted it that way. It bothered him no end that Big Eddidn’t think Karl’s behavior seemed peculiar. But maybe that’s theway Karl always acted.
The line of denim-clad, ruddy faced mensnaked across the grounds. The closer Tommy came to the pullderrick, the more his stomach flip-flopped. Watching the mendisappear into the earth in a large bucket increased hisanxiety.
Big Ed picked at his teethwith a dirty fingernail. “ Pfft, pfft,pfft!” Big Ed launched his excavated oraldebris onto the ground.
“Tommy, you’re gonna start as a dummy. Italked to the ground boss, told him I want you. You’ll carry mydrill bits. You do good, show you’re a man who ain’t afraid towork, you’ll move up to mucker in no time.”
Karl lifted an eyebrow,appraising Tommy as if seeing him for the first time. “They’re downthere. Told me what I gotta do.” He staredat Tommy, waiting for a response.
Big Ed ignored him. Tommy followed Ed’slead.
“All greenhorns gotta start somewhere, kid.”Ed raised his voice to be heard over Karl’s muttering.
“They come to me, no matter the time, day ornight, they talk to me, tell me what I gotta do…”
They were next. Tommy hoped Karl would godown in the bucket in a different grouping. No such luck. Luckwasn’t on his side today. Never a good thing for miners.
Jim Reaper, a particularly taciturn man wholived up to his name, was hoister man today. The empty bucketclanged down in the shaft as Jim cranked the hoist handle. Everytime the bucket banged into the shaft’s wooden walls, Tommy’s heartjumped right along with it.
Big Ed let out a long sigh and climbed theplatform. The boards creaked beneath his weight with every step. Hegrabbed the cable and swung a leg up and over the bucket’s rim.“Come on, kid.” He jerked his chin toward Tommy.
Tommy stepped up onto theplatform. Karl followed behind him. Closely . So close Tommy felt Karl’sbreath on the back of his neck. Ed reached out a helping hand andTommy hopped in. Karl gripped the bucket’s rim and gave it aspin.
“Come on, Karl,” said Ed. “Quit horsin’around. Time to get into the mines.”
Karl’s lips pulled back, showcasing hisyellow-toothed smile. He looked around at his surroundings, lost, aman awakened from a dream. It rattled Tommy, but at least Karl’dstopped babbling.
Didn’t take long, though, for Karl to shrugoff sanity and resume his on-going private conversation. He turned,asked a question of someone not there, laughed at an unheardresponse. Finally, he hopped into the bucket, his long legs neatlyclearing the rim.
The bucket rocked back and forth over theshaft’s collar. The bail holding the cable hook above them groaned.The gaping opening sat at about 12 feet wide by 12 feet across. Thedarkness reminded Tommy of the hole in the ground they put hisdaddy in when he passed. Miners work underground, die underground,get put back there again when all’s said and done.
“All right,” said Jim. It was more adeclaration than a question, but Big Ed nodded anyway. Tommygrabbed the cable, a tenuous lifeline at best.
Karl stared at Tommy, hiseyes dull. Rather, he looked right through him. “They won’t let me rest, gotta do what they say…”
“God damn, Karl!” said Ed. “You liquored upor the devil on fire inside your belly?” Karl didn’t answer. Hejust gave a lop-sided, lazy man’s grin.
The square of skylight shrank as they loweredinto the ground. A few torches lit up the shaft wall’s cribbing ofstrategically placed 2” x 6’ timbers.
The light played across Karl’s face, shadowsobscuring his eyes. Ed hummed a mostly melody-free ditty, somethingTommy didn’t recognize. When Karl fell silent again, Tommy couldn’thelp but steal glances at him. His stillness unsettled Tommy morethan the constant mumbling.
Karl’s arms shot up. He lurched toward Tommy.The bucket rocked, bashed into the walls. Tommy stumbled, his backagainst the bucket’s rim.
“ Karl!” Ed roared. “Jesus Christ!”
Karl shot Ed a puzzled look,then reached a trembling hand toward Tommy. He stroked Tommy’sshoulder like petting a mining mule. “Itain’t time yet,” Karl said. “Not yet, they tole me…”
“Sorry, kid,” said Ed. He glared at Karl. “Heain’t usually like this.”
Echoes rose above and sank below as thebucket landed on a wooden platform four hundred feet below ground.Water bubbled and churned below the wood planks. Tommy couldn’tdistinguish the sump-pump from the pulse pounding in his ears.
Tommy hopped out of the bucket first. Hedidn’t want to spend any more time with Karl than he had to. Edmust’ve had the same thought. He hefted himself out with surprisingspeed for a man his size. Karl dawdled behind as Tommy and Edwalked down the drift,.
Ed clapped a hand on Tommy’s back. “Time tolight ‘em up.” He struck a long wooden match and held it to thelamp on Tommy’s helmet. “Gotta be careful with fire down here,kid.” Welcome light illuminated the dark drift. The match hissedout in a puddle at Ed’s feet. “You’re lucky, boy. Wasn’t too longago, we made do with cloth helmets. Didn’t protect us worthnothin’. Damn Gannaway was one of the last mine owners in thetri-state area to give us hard helmets.”
Their boots squelched through the water.Using the steel rails as guides, they walked toward the light.After three hundred feet or so, the drift opened into a largestope, already mined and hollowed out for the most part. Artificialorange lantern light painted the cavern’s walls. Carefully chiseledpillars of un-mined rock braced the cavern roof for support.Nothing looked particularly steady. Boisterous voices greetedthem.
“Big Ed! Who’s the dummy with you?”
“Is he outta his momma’s diapers yet?”
“Ground Boss,” said Ed, to a sweaty, shortround man, “this is Tommy, my new dummy. Matthew’s boy.”
The man’s eyes brightened. “Matthew was agood man and a better miner. If you’re half the miner he was, son,you’ll do just fine down here. Call me Ground Boss. Or sir.”
“Yes, sir.”
Against the wall, a manstood on a tall ladder, twenty-five feet above the cavern floor.Two miners pulled attached guide ropes taut. The ladder man stabbeda ten foot long spear into the rock above him. “Look out below!” heyelled. Clump. Loose rocks rained down from the ceiling.
“ They tell me what to do…” Karl brushedpast them, drowning out the Ground Boss’s instructi

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