When you first arrive in the Valley of Plenty, you are given the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior. You are given a small cup of water laced with gasoline to wash the soot from your teeth. You are given a mothballed quilt, a bar of homemade soap, a mousetrap but no cheese. In the Great Room, some old folks in rocking chairs try to nod off in front of the fire, but a fat cousin in footy pajamas tickles their earlobes with a bloody chicken feather. All night long a puzzle of grey snow lifts off the pines, and beneath your pillow, machines clang to the chuff of blood, to bones vibrating, a chorus of whistling piercing the smallest tunnels in the ear. At the edge of your sleep, the miners rise and walk off through the trees, their bright lamps bobbing like an orrery among the branches before they click them off. They turn up the collars of their coats and pass around a little flask before climbing into a car propped on cinderblocks. They drive all night just to make it back home.
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