Coal Dust

by C.J. Baty

The Legend of the Ghost Train continues:

1930’s Harlan County Kentucky

Boone Douglas and Tucker Winchester are from different worlds, both knew that being homosexual could be a death sentence in this backwoods hell. Their love blossomed in spite of everything.

Two men find love, during a difficult time for the Appalachian states, where many lived in poverty. They struggled, working long days in coal mines for pennies. There were also hostilities between mining companies and the unions who wanted to rally the mine workers. There’s a reason it’s called Bloody Harlan County.

A greedy man, a cave full of miners, and two lovers suffered the worst fate imaginable.

 

Present

Craig Waterson, a descendant of Tucker, fell down an abandoned air shift leading to a caved in mine. He dreamed or walked through the past seeing Boone and Tucker fall in love, then lose everything. When he awoke, he discovered that Tucker’s ghost had followed him to the present with a request.

Craig, Tucker, and Doug Harper, Boone’s great nephew, work together to recover the remains of the miners who were killed in the Copperhead Mining Accident. Many secrets have to be uncovered before Boone and Tucker can find peace or Craig and Doug can find their own happily ever after.

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Pairings: M-M
Heat Level: 4
Romantic Content: 5
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: 26-35
Protagonist 2 Age: 26-35
Tropes: Class Differences, Forbidden Love, Slow Burning Love
Word Count: 51700
Setting: Harlan County, Kentucky, Coal Mines
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Same Universe / Various Characters
Excerpt:

Seeing the crowd inside and outside the bar, most of them holding a beer in their hands, he was glad he’d decided not to drink tonight. He was going to need a clear head to keep things from getting out of line. He looked the crowd over and was relieved to not see Daniel anywhere. There were others here that needed to be home with their families but didn’t see it that way.

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The unions promised better wages, health insurance, more paid time off, and a lot more. Boone didn’t know how they could make those kinds of promises. The company’s weren’t just going to cave. Surely the miners knew this. To the side of the bar, under a streetlamp, Boone saw several of the youngest miners, some just boys, huddled together talking and passing a cigarette around. Once in a while, an older man would bring a beer over and the boys would each take a sip until the bottle was empty. They shouldn’t be here, and they shouldn’t be going to the meeting either. Boone had a bad feeling about them being involved with this.

Inside, looking around the bar, Boone could see that a bunch of hot heads were creating arguments, rousing the men up so that by the time they got to the meeting tempers would be flying.

“Well, if it isn’t Mister Cool.”

Boone knew this man worked on a different crew and that he had been a troublemaker all long. He ignored the man and went to search for any men from his own crew. Most of them were crowded around a table in the far corner. He was glad to see that they seemed level headed at this point.

“Hey, Boone,” Jake Blanton called out. “We didn’t think you would be coming to this. Daniel said you told him not to come.”

“I told him to stay home with his family. I would think some of you should have done the same,” Boone answered.

Billy Blanton, Jake’s younger brother, said, “We’re doing this for them. They deserve better than what we’re able to make working for the company.”

He wasn’t drunk, but he was angry. Boone couldn’t deny what he was saying. Their families did deserve better and so did the men. Those boys outside, they deserved better than pennies a day to do a job that would more than likely kill them before they reached their twenties.

“You’re right, but is this the way to do it?” Boone pointed his hand in the direction of the men getting louder and drunker by the moment.

“I don’t know,” Jake said. “But I want to hear what them union men have to say.”

“Then let’s pray everyone keeps their head and don’t let the drink control what they say and do,” Boone said.

He suddenly wondered how these men were paying for all this beer and whiskey. Most of them could barely afford a beer or two on payday, but tonight the alcohol was flowing freely.

“I’ll be back,” he said to the Blanton brothers and the others at the table.

Boone went to the bar and leaned across to get Red’s attention.

“Hey, Red.”

“What’s up, Boone? Haven’t seen you in here for a while. Thought maybe you were on the wagon now.”

“No, just been too busy,” Boone answered and put a quarter on the bar. He waited for Red to bring him a beer before he spoke again. “So, who’s paying for all this tonight?”

Red eyed him suspiciously, then replied, “Culpepper was in here earlier today and said to keep a running tab and he’d cover it.”

Boone kept his face calm. No reason to alert Red to the alarm that sounded in his head at those words.

“Ah. Guess I can have my quarter back then,” he laughed and reached his hand out. Red snatched the coin off the bar.

“Let’s call it a tip.”

Someone shouted over the noise in the bar, “Let’s go!”

The crowd of men made their way out of Red’s and packed into cars and trucks. The boys who were huddled under the streetlamp came running and jumped into any open space they could find. Boone’s stomach churned and bile rose in his throat. He followed after the crowd slowly.

COLLAPSE

About the Author

CJ Baty lives with her very patient husband and two encouraging adult children. The recent move to include a second home in Tennessee has fulfilled one of her life long dreams. The mountains have always provided her with inspiration and a soothing balm to the stresses of everyday life.

The dream of writing her own stories started in high school but was left on the back burner of life until her son introduced her to Fan Fiction and encouraged her to give it a try. She found that her passion for telling a story was still there and writing them down to share with others was much more thrilling than she had ever expected. Publishing her own stories has been a highlight in her life. It just goes to prove, you are never too old to follow your dreams!


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