The wind whipped his beard and the blowing sand stung his sun and wind leathered face as he kneeled down and picked up the rock. He looked see if it had the right color, a trace of a vein, a fleck of gold, anything to give him hope. It of course had nothing, but he knew this area had already played out.
He stood up and looked towards the setting sun, figuring that this was as good a place as any to set up camp for the night. He didn’t see the beauty of the sunset now, as he did when he was younger. Numb to the bright red, pink, and orange hues that the desert sunset gave, it was just a sunset now. He took the rope to Joseph, his old mule and tied it to a thick Creosote Bush, then tied a feed bag with the last of the oats on to Joseph’s head. He was careful to take care of Joseph, the cantankerous old beast carried all his provisions, including his water. If Joseph wondered off or was injured, he might not make it out of the desert alive.
As he settled down for the night, eating some old jerky and drinking warm, stale water, he thought about the next town he could get supplies and news. He would be there by the end of the next day and would see if their were any new strikes in the area. He didn’t hold out much hope though, he hadn’t heard of any new strikes in years. The big companies owned all the mines now and most everyone he knew had died or gone off to some hospital in the Southern cities.
This was all he knew, all he knew how to be, and he would keep doing it until the buzzards took him.
As he settled in for the evening, a plane went screaming overhead disturbing his reflections. Joseph brayed and bucked, but soon settled back down in to his oats. Jets he thought, last time he had been in town he had seen one streak overhead and asked the woman at the store what it was. She said it was a new type of plane being tested at over at Muroc, it was called a Jet.
He remembered when the Corum family first settled that area, it had been big news when they had brought the post office in. He thought about times gone by as he drifted off and 60 years of prospecting the desert rolled through his brain as he slept.