A coal town and a woman starts her pick up truck with rust on the hood. Country music blares and it's the old kind. The one with real pain attached and real singing and reality; it soothes her better than any bath or ice cream pint.
A coal mine and a man seeps into the black. Minus the light on his helmet, he dies a little more everyday. The shaft brings him back into the earth with the chills and the coughing. He wonders his life in strobes of memory. The worker protests, the food on the table, the kids that don't love him that much because he's always angry when he gets home. He has the right as much as everyone else. As much as the stains on his lungs, he lights another cigarette, and drinks more whiskey than he did in his 20's.
A piece of coal in a stocking for a son who deserves it. He wasn't a good kid this year. Take away the cynicism, the education, the teasing, atheism, nihilism, and the homosexuality, and maybe you'd have someone a bit better. The sad part is that his parents actually gave him coal. What a horrible joke for a holiday he doesn't celebrate. All he knows is that all the barricades on the closet door are locking him up inside. He's losing emotions and love and feelings because his true nature is repressed under the weight of his own mind. He takes the coal and clenches the dust in his hand, between his fingertips.
Coal is on a train heading towards the west coast, towards the power plants. It has no intrinsic value or thoughts. Yet to personify one piece of coal, it talks and feels like a human. And all the other coal are horrible pieces of rock with their own opinions not knowing the imminent, or worse still, knowing it and not shutting up about it. The one coal crushed under his brothers and sisters awaits the pretty flame, even though the train uses himself to transport himself.
A canary with three kids and a wife. Trapped in a coal mine. It chokes and wonders as the dust surrounds, why it even tried. No more flying in the sun or hearing the childish chirps. Only darkness and other people here who won't help his life prolong any further. Their lights shine and laugh at him.
The man after eight hours in the mine finds the canary. No longer yellow but black. It looks like a fantasy creature from the books he read. He stares into its glass eyes for a second wondering how long it took. The bird is perfected in its demise and the man picks it up to take home or maybe to the taxidermist.
Three hours after grocery shopping the woman heads home in her rustbucket truck. The first song to come on is "Crazy" by Patsy Cline. The woman starts crying. Each tear back to the sea, to the sewer, to the sun. She wants to live without struggle but the dreams are in the pipes. The driveway arrives with a home that doesn't deserve the effort. Her son is watching comedy news and doing nothing with his life. Her husband will be home soon and the coldness from the mine will be too. She shivers. Then questions whether if it's from anticipation or disgust.
The son is forced to change the channel because it's Christmas and the mother wants to watch "It's a Wonderful Life". All the son can hear his James Stewart saying "I want to live again!" and it stumbles through him as he stumbles to his room. He's been drinking since two this afternoon right after his mom left, vodka and Dr. Pepper. The inebriation only makes his bed more smooth and cool. He sleeps violently.
The father finally returns home and shows his wife the dead canary. She screams and tells the man he's a monster. He knows he's not, he just the thought the bird looked cool, yet she tells him to throw the bird away, it's not worth anything. The television clicks off and the wife runs to her room. The man only heads to his back porch. The whiskey sitting by the rocking chair and the new albeit absent moon. The man lays the canary at his feet and wonders if he should pray for soulless creatures. He clasps his hands together but can't commit the act. The whiskey cringes his face.
The son awakes to hear balling, his mom and father in ghosting unison. Their wails haunt the premises. He hears the confusion and sips it. The vodka comes out from under his bed and he starts taking straight shots. The next thing he knows his own beautiful, pathetic weeping joins the orchestra like a piccolo to the brass. The coal sits on his dresser.
The woman continues to watch the television, but it's a thirteen inch sitting on a chair. Horrible picture but words are clear and crisp.
The man will take the canary to the taxidermist and put it on his mantle.
The son writes a story about the town and his life. Memoirs scattered from a young mind of West Virginia.
The coal continues on the train.