The Rockcrusher Brothers: The Best Things, by Joshua Klug

 A pick and a shovel.  A pick and a shovel.  The smell of fresh ore and the taste of dust.  A pick and a shovel.  The crack and the crumble; the scrape and the bang.  Ahh, the cart, full laden with ore.  A pick and a shovel.  The cart on the track . . .  .  Squeaky wheel gets the kick!  A pick and a shovel.  A pick and a shovel.


            Proast bolted upright in bed.  Drool laced his thick, chest-length bronze beard.  “I’m up.  I’m up.”  He shook his head to clear the grogginess.

            His brother, Belcher, pressed a foaming stone mug into his hands.  “Yer breakfast.”

            Proast raised it in thanks and then blew the foam off onto the floor.  His thick stubby fingers gripped the hard mug; his dirt encrusted fingernails leaving streaks on its surface.  He pursed his fat lips expectantly and drained the mug.

            He smacked his lips and wiped his beard with his free hand.  “That was the ‘37 yeh durned lollard!”  Proast’s belch echoed off of the stone walls of their single room home.  “Yeh know the ‘37’s a dinner ale.”

            Belcher pointed a stout finger at the most expensive article they owned as he grabbed another full mug off the squat table in the middle of their room.  He pointed at the ancient timepiece crafted by their great-great-great-great grandfather that sat atop their fireplace.  It read 5:00 o’clock.

            “Oi!  I’m late!”  Proast threw off his covers and scrambled around looking for his tools.  He was still fully clothed from the night before.

            Belcher grabbed him by the shoulders and hauled him to the floor.  “Yer so late yeh already missed yer shift.”


            Belcher offered his own grimy hand to help Proast back to his feet.  “Yeh must’ve had five kegs in yeh when yeh stumbled in last night.”

            Proast thought hard, trying to remember the night before as Belcher stoked the fire in the fireplace.  Proast lost his train of thought and scanned the room for his gear.  “Did I at least bring back me pick and shovel?”

            “Bah!”  Belcher stood up and drained his ale.  “Yeh came in just like yeh are now.  I had to pull yer weight today.”  He belched through his foamy beard.  “And tomorrow,” he jabbed a stubby thumb into his own chest, “I’m the one taking the day off.”

            “Aye, but yeh know I’d do it for yeh, anyway.”  Proast slammed his fist to his shoulder with pride.  “I’m a Rockcrusher.”

            Belcher refilled his own mug and sat down on his bed across from Proast’s.  “If that were the case, yeh’d not have missed yer shift.  Ain’t nothing better than the smell of fresh ore.”

            Proast refilled his mug, too, and raised it in mock respect to his older brother.  “Ahh, yer close, ain’t nothing better than a ’26, and yeh know it!”  He drained his second mug and placed the empty container on the table.  He crawled back into bed.  “Now, if yeh don’t mind, yeh woke me from one of the best dreams I’ve had in a long time.”

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