Coal Miner Pt. 04byDG Hear©
I want to thank my editors, LadyCibelle and Techsan, who always make my story a much better read. You probably should read the first three parts of this story first.
Chapter 5: The Demolition
On Monday morning, I headed to work and it was Mike, Joe and I who were going to set the explosives. It was funny, when we got there, there were only three protesters. After all, this was Earth Day and a week ago, there were twenty protesters bothering us. Maybe my talk did some good.
These three probably were just there to watch us. A few hours from now, there would probably be hundreds of people watching the actual explosion. We had a chain link fence to keep people as far away from the area as possible. There were a dozen warning signs posted also. We didn't want to take any chances of anyone getting hurt.
It was a very delicate operation, and I was lowered into several holes to place the explosive charges. It was unbelievable how many underground shafts were under this strip mine. It was a very dangerous area. That is why it needed to be caved in, less someone would later be involved in an accidental cave-in if the ground were to give-way
We were done in time for lunch and went to get a bite to eat. We completely locked up the area and went to lunch. We had about four hours before we would do our actual demolition for the TV cameras. People like to watch the explosion. We wanted to show them we cared and how we reclaimed the area afterwards; the grading and planting of trees.
We were at the dining tent when we heard a woman calling for help. She was running toward our tent saying her friends fell in the hole. We had no idea what she was talking about. We told her to slow down so we could understand her. It was the female student who was picketing with two other male friends. We finally figured out what she was saying.
After we left our demolition site, her two friends climbed the fence to get a closer look at the site. She heard them scream and disappear. She thought they might have fallen into one of the wells.
Joe, Mike and I jumped up, got in our six wheeler with the girl, and told her to point out exactly where she saw her friends go down. It was the area that we would be caving-in. I got out of the cart and walked slowly over to where she thought they had fallen in. The ground there was very soft and I crawled over to the opening.
The girl told me that the boys were Jason and Brad, so I called out to them. "Jason, Brad, can you hear me?"
A few seconds later, I heard a voice. "Help me, get me out of here. We're trapped in this hole and can't get out."
"Calm down. We're here to help you but it's going to take some time. Are you Jason or Brad?"
"I'm Jason. Brad isn't moving. I think he might be dead."
"Easy now, Jason, you're in panic mode. You need to calm down. Can you feel if Brad has a pulse? You can feel it by his neck or his wrist. Will you do that for me, please?"
"Yes, I feel a pulse but he isn't moving."
"Ok, he's just unconscious. He'll be alright." I really had no idea if he was alright or not but I couldn't let Jason get any worse."
I sent Mike and Joe after the crane and told them to take the girl to the guards until the police arrived. We needed to know exactly what happened. I told Jason that it would be a while until the guys came back with the crane but I would stay there with him and talk to him.
I was able to shine a flashlight down the hole and see the two boys. I know they were two college students but they were acting like kids. They sure lacked common sense. We found out later that they were both drinking beer all night and were still drinking this morning. They had told each other how brave they were and weren't afraid to see how far they could go near the demolition site. The girl with them told them how immature they were but they went anyway.
Being drunk probably helped break their fall seeing they were so relaxed. I had asked Jason if he had anything broken or was bleeding. He said he didn't think so but he felt numb.
They had fallen about thirty feet. I was hoping that between being drunk and maybe bumping his head that Brad might be alright too.
I heard Jason say, "Aw, shit!"
"What is it, Jason? Are you okay?"
He slurred out the words, "I pissed myself. Please get me out of here."
"It will just be a few more minutes, Jason. Please do your best to keep calm."
Mike and Joe were back with the crane. Joe got it as close as he could. Because of the weight of it, he was about thirty yards from the hole. He lowered the boom to where I was. I stood up, put a harness around my chest, and hooked it up to the lowering chain. The only problem was there wasn't much room in the hole. I would have to lower myself and put another harness on the boys.
Mike helped me get ready. I put on a set of headphones so I could keep in contact with Joe who was operating the crane. I put on a hard hat and took another one down with me as well as another halter. I was slowly lowered into the hole. I looked at the sides as I went down. There were two very loose beams that bothered me; if they were to fall into the hole, they could kill us.
I wanted to get the unconscious Brad out first but drunken Jason was still in panic mode, so I put the hard-hat and harness on him first. He was more of a hindrance than a help. I told him to be still and not move around while he was being pulled up. Also, he should make sure he didn't touch the sides of the well. I didn't want him kicking loose any beams.
I told Joe to go ahead and lift Jason out of the hole. It was a few minutes later when I told Joe to send down the harness and hard hat for Brad. Joe told me that there was a large crowd of people outside the fence. Apparently, the TV station caught wind of the story and was already set up filming.
Mike said that they had checked out Jason and he was bruised a little from the fall but otherwise was fine but drunk. He also told me that he did more than piss himself. I heard Mike give a slight laugh.
I wasn't sure what to do about Brad. Since he was unconscious and I wasn't a doctor, he could have a neck injury or internal injuries. Lifting him by a harness without a basket stretcher could be fatal to him. I called up to Mike and Joe and told them to send down a basket stretcher instead of a harness. The mining company has them available for emergencies. It would take a little longer to go get one but better safe than sorry.
Joe lowered the basket. When I received it, I cautiously rolled an unconscious Brad into it. I did my best to strap him in so he wouldn't be able to move. I figured he was just drunk but couldn't take any chances. It didn't look like he had anything broken. I told Joe to go ahead and pull him out.
As he was being pulled out, he began to come to or wake up and started kicking about. He had no idea where he was or what was happening to him. I yelled to him to stop kicking but he was drunk and scared.
He was moving way to much and the stretcher hit one of the loose beams and it came crashing down. I screamed out as it hit the lower part of my leg. "AHHGGG!"
"Rob, are you okay?" I heard both Joe and Mike yell out.
"No, I'm not. This stretcher knocked a beam loose and I'm sure it broke my leg. The pain will be here shortly. Get this kid out. Mike, I'm sorry, fellow, but you will need to come down and get this beam off me. I can't budge it.
Chapter 6: The Conclusion.
I saw Mike coming down with a separate chain to wrap around the beam. He secured it and told Joe to raise it very slowly, because it was on my leg and that my leg was broken. We watched as the beam was raised and moved out of sight. As the beam was raised, I felt the searing pain in my leg.
The basket stretcher came back down. Mike helped me into the stretcher. After fastening me in the basket Mike told Joe that we would be coming up together so he could control the movement of the basket. Joe pulled us both out at the same time. This wasn't usually the way we brought people out, but Mike wanted to get me out as soon as possible and to keep the basket away from the other beams.
When we got out, there were paramedics waiting for us. There were crowds of people gathered cheering for Mike and me. I could feel the throbbing in my lower leg. I looked over at the crowd of cheering spectators and saw my two daughters and behind them was their mother waiting and crying. Once the paramedics got my leg stabilized for the trip to the hospital, my family came to me.
I looked over at Brenda who was crying. She said, "I might have not been here for you last time but I'm here for you now." She even gave me a kiss before I was taken to the hospital.
The paramedics gave me drugs for the pain and I passed out. It was late that evening before I remembered anything. I do know from the hospital staff that my daughters and Brenda were there the whole day. I wasn't sure what to do or think.
Brenda came in as soon as they let her. I asked her about the two boys and she said that they were both bruised but otherwise were fine. They were two drunken students that just didn't have any common sense.
She turned the TV on the news channel and said they were playing this all day. I saw a film of the boys being pulled out and then Mike and me together. According to the news, I was a hero for saving the students and Mike was a hero for going after me. I looked over at Brenda and she still had tears in her eyes.
I started to get more visitors so she stepped out for a few minutes. Mike and Joe both stopped in and told me they finished the demolition after I was taken to the hospital. The dozers and graders were already leveling off the land. The tree planting crews would start tomorrow. They told me that because of the accident, people were still at the site looking at the grounds.
I thanked both guys for saving me. They told me that it was just part of the job, and laughed. They truly were real friends that I've known most of my life. Mike looked at me. I knew he wanted to say something.
"Come out with it, Mike. What do you have to say?"
"Brenda was there from the minute she heard you were in the pit. I've never interfered in your affairs, but I have to tell you that this woman loves you. That's all I've got to say."
From anyone else I would have gotten pissed at them, but I knew Mike too well. He always was one guy I totally respected.
I thanked the guys for coming and they told me they would be around to see me. According to the doctors, I would be off for quite a few months. I had no idea how long it would be but I didn't much care about having my leg in the air like this.
Cheryl and Sue came in next. They kissed and hugged me and told me everything would be fine. They were working out the plans. All I had to do was get well. I remember telling them thank you but I honestly had no idea what they were talking about. My sister Betty and her husband were there to see me and we talked about my new hero status. It was starting to get embarrassing.
Visiting hours were about over and Brenda came back into the room. I looked at her as she sat down in the chair and pulled an ottoman to her legs and covered her legs with a small comforter.
"Brenda, visiting hours are over. What are you doing?"
She smiled at me. "I talked with the doctor and he said I could stay here tonight. I told him I was your wife and showed him we had the same last name."
"Why don't you go home to your big comfortable bed instead of sleeping in a chair?"
"Because you're here, if you really have to know. Now try to get some sleep. You'll probably have a lot of visitors tomorrow."
I didn't argue with her or say anything. I just closed my eyes and went to sleep. I thought I heard the words, "I love you" before falling asleep.
When I awoke the next morning, I saw a smiling Brenda drinking a cup of coffee. "Good morning, Sleepy Head," she said. "How are you feeling? Anything I can get you?"
"Your coffee sure does smell good," I replied. "My leg hurts and is damn near numb. I can't turn or anything but I guess I'll have to live with it for awhile."
I found myself talking to her like an old friend. Must have been the drugs, I thought. She went and got me a cup of coffee and a straw. She told me the way I was laying I'd spill it all over myself. She even put in a couple of ice cubes so I wouldn't burn my mouth.
I asked her about her work and she told me she told her boss that I was hurt when she left yesterday and said she would be off for a couple of days. We were talking about the accident when my breakfast arrived. The nurse had to scoot me up in a sitting position so I could eat. She did lower my leg a little. It hurt like hell and it took everything I had not to scream out.
Shortly after I finished eating, the doctor came in and explained my condition. My leg around the calf area was crushed and my ankle area was sprained again but it didn't make much difference at this point. I would be in the hospital for a week to make sure it was healing properly and it would have to stay raised up in a sling.
He told me that it would probably stay in some type of cast for two to three months in which I would have to stay off of it. After that, I would be going through physical therapy until it was strong again. He had put two pins in my leg.
"Doc, what about work and going to the bathroom?" I inquired.
"Well, as far as work is concerned, you won't be going back for five or six months depending on your healing. As far as the restroom goes, you can urinate in the bottle. As for a bowel movement, that's one of the reasons you'll be in the hospital for a week. You will need help. Once you go home you can use the bottle for urinating in and use crutches to make it to the rest room unless you have a porta-potty like we do here."
I couldn't help seeing the little smirk on Brenda's face. She knew I was one of those guys that tried to do everything himself and there was no way I could handle all of this. I really was concerned. I was sitting there thinking about my living dilemma when Cheryl and Sue arrived.
"Hi, Dad," they both said. Then Cheryl started talking and asking me how I was doing. They never failed to give me a hug and a kiss.
Brenda told the girls that, while they were there, she was going to go home, take a shower, and clean up. She told them she would be back in a couple of hours. "Rob, don't forget to behave and do what you're told. I'll see you in a couple of hours. If you need anything, I'm sure Cheryl and Sue will help you out." She squeezed my hand and smiled at me and left.
For some reason I thought she would lean over and kiss me. I didn't know what my problem was. The girls were talking to me and Sue said that I looked like I had a problem. Damn. These girls were as smart as their mother. "What is it, Dad? Maybe we can help. That's what we're here for," said Cheryl.
"Well, if you have to know; the doctor told me I would be here for about a week and then I'd probably be bedridden for a couple of weeks and on crutches for at least a few months. I'm just not sure how I'm going to do it."
"Dad," said Sue. "We told you yesterday not to worry because we got you covered. Don't you ever listen to us?" she smiled.
"I remember you saying it but I didn't have any idea what you were talking about. Are you guys looking for a nurse or someone to help me out? I honestly don't know if I can handle this situation alone."
"Dad, you're moving back in with mom," said Sue.
"What? No way! You girls know how I feel about that. No, I can't do it. Besides your mother would have a hissy fit if I was staying at her place. I hardly think she would go along with that."
"Dad, it was mom's idea. She explained it to us and it makes the most sense. The day you're released from the hospital you'll be going to mom's. She is having a room set up for you with one of those porta-pots like you have here. She has already applied for two weeks' vacation to help get you through the critical time. After that, either Cheryl or I will be there during the day with you, and Mom said she'll take care of you in the evenings," said Sue.
"I don't know, girls. Isn't there some other way?" I asked.
"No, Dad, there isn't. You can't be left by yourself and we can't afford a nurse twenty-four hours a day. What's the matter, Dad, afraid of Mom?" smiled Cheryl.
"No, I'm not afraid of your mother. Look, we're not getting back together. As soon as I'm able to walk, I'm going back to my apartment. Do you understand?" I asked.
"Yeah, right, Dad, we understand," said Sue.
For some reason Mike's word list for women came into my mind. The way Sue said "Right" sure sounded like it should be on that list. I don't think her right meant right.
The girls changed the subject and started telling me about my grandkids. They told me how I would see them most every day while I was staying at their mom's house. That part made me happy. I loved watching them play but I knew I wouldn't be able to hold them for a while.
While we were talking, two women who I didn't know walked in. "Are you Mr. Mathais?" they asked.
"Yes, ladies, what can I do for you?"
One of them spoke. "I'm Betty Porter, Jason's mother, and this is Marsha Watts. She's Brad's mother. We just wanted to stop in and thank you for saving our sons' life. We're so sorry for the way they acted and of course endangering your life. We want you to know that we are going to punish them when they come home. We're going to take away everything they own."
"Thank you, ladies. You might want to find out where they are getting their alcohol. After all, they are only nineteen and were quite drunk. If they weren't drinking, I'm sure they wouldn't have acted the way they did. I want to thank you both for coming in to see me. I know that wasn't easy."
I introduced them to Cheryl and Sue and they apologized to them also. They all talked for a few minutes and then the ladies left. I had a number of visitors all day long. After Brenda came back, the girls went home to take care of their own families.
I should mention that the boys were found guilty of trespassing. The company did file charges but said the penalty should be community service. The judge went along with the idea and gave both boys sixty hours of community service. They are planting trees for our company. They were also told if they were found drinking again, they would serve six months in jail.
A little while later when Brenda came back, I told her I had a problem and Brenda asked me what it was. I told her I had to take a dump and had no idea what to do. I sure didn't want to shit my bed. Brenda went out and got a male nurse who came in and lowered my leg and was going to help me sit on the Porta-pot. I asked Brenda if she would leave the room for a few minutes. She gave me one of those 'you've got to be kidding' stares, pulled the curtain, and closed the door.
My leg hurt like hell trying to maneuver myself on the pot. I was sure glad I had the nurse there to help. I was a little embarrassed but the nurse said I'd get used to it. I finally got my ass wiped and the nurse helped me back into bed. Brenda came back in while the nurse emptied the pot into the toilet.
That's when I asked her if she was sure she wanted me in her house. I knew that it would have to be her to help me in the situations like this. I had to admit that I wouldn't be able to move around till my leg healed.
"Rob, you are going to need help. We both know that and so do the girls. Yes, I am willing to help take care of you and help you get back on your feet," she told me.
"I hate to bring this up but you know I'm not going to remarry you, don't you?"
She looked at me and answered, "Sure, that's fine." She then said she was going to get a cup of coffee.