The Miners

Tssssssss. He sucks his finger to suppress the stinging sensation. The furnace is open while he flicks the once-round burnt bread into brown bags. He stands in the street, in front of a sign saying Bob’s. There, a bin, bulging with debris, stands. He flings the black buns in and looks down the road. There, a pack of them roams. Their faces Kiwi, their clothes a painter’s canvas gone coo-coo. Their hands, coarse like scourers, pull trolleys burdened with tchotchkes chucked out by ungrateful children and yuppies whose cheques still clear. They are miners. Except they don’t go digging for gold or diamonds to earn a living. They search the streets for something to salvage then sell. A faulty kettle or a pair of metal hangers thrown out because they are bent. All of this helps them rustle up Randelas. The Miners approach Bob’s house. He shakes his head and retreats inside. They flick the bin’s lid and see paper packets the shade of sand. The scent is scintillating. A beggar bends to bite one before the baker barks back. “Che pad, get out of the way,” says the tall one, peeping into the container and meeting with piping hot pastries. Then he asks the other miners: “How much did you make?” They look at each other. Every one tight-fisted with coins earned from selling found wares and shifts at the robots. “Vokol, nothing,” someone offers when others fail. A Volkswagen bakkie has been following them. For a while, it’s fun to make it wait as The Miners dig in dustbins, with their trolleys blocking the road. While deciding whether they should eat the buns or try to sell them, the tall one looks up to find his face square with the flickering lights of the car. “Fuck!” He falls. All the Tall One could see was the withering VW on the bakkie’s grill. If he had to guess, he would say it was a ’92 model. But he didn’t have to. There were more pressing matters on his mind. The rest of the Miners huddled around him as one Read More …