by Bob Hazlett
“I quit”, Vern said, crawling from the tunnel, dragging his ore sack behind him.
“Yea. You say that at least once a week”, replied Sparky looking up from his grazing.
Vern and his donkey Sparky had been prospecting the hills in the Gila National Forest for years, with just enough success to barely stay alive. Vern often wondered if Sparky really could talk or if he was hallucinating. Alone in the mountains most of the time, what Sparky said usually made sense, so it didn’t matter much which was true.
“Today, I mean it ole buddy. I’m really done”, Vern whispered in Sparky’s ear as he pulled the whiskey bottle out of the gear sack.
Sometimes Vern mined with a pick and shovel in the mountain crags. Sometimes he would pan in the mountain streams. Today, Vern spent the day deep in a tunnel near the ghost town of Kelly, New Mexico.
“Vern, you’re scarin me. You’ve been in that tunnel all day and you look funny.”, Sparky shot back with fear in his eyes, “We don’t have enough pay dirt for a week’s worth of groceries. You can’t quit.”
Vern flopped down on the ground, leaning against the ore sack. With a big smile, he took a long draw on the whiskey bottle.
“Vern! I don’t want to spend the night in these hills with you passed out drunk. Stop drinking and tell me what is really going on.”
Vern rolled over and pulled a chunk of ore the size of a basketball from the ore sack. The gold flecks glistened in the late day sun.
“… and there’s more in there.”
“Oh my!”, exclaimed Sparky, “Can I have some of that whiskey?”
Word Count: 284
Flash Fiction Prompt: Include the line: “Tell me what is really going on.”