Excerpt from ‘Miner Indiscretions’ – by Jon Ardeman

To order a copy of “Miner Indiscretions”: http://amzn.to/2hMreNl

Since graduating Jon Ardeman’s geological career has been in many guises; in exploration, mining, consultancy, conservation and research. He has worked as a National Park guide, a nature warden looking after tadpoles and orchids, as a researcher digging up cow shed floors looking for Ordovician brachiopods and preparing dinosaur bones for a museum display. Enthused by these experiences, Jon sought further adventures, and headed to Africa where he worked as a geologist on various mines for more than a decade.

He returned to university and after a few years of academic research and consultancy, Jon went back to mining and precious metal exploration. His travels have taken him from the Arctic to the Equator, from North America and Siberia, to Europe, Australia, Asia and back to Africa.

During this time, Jon wrote several “mystery and imagination” short stories for magazines and competitions, but his inspiration for a first novel ‘Miner Indiscretions’ came from get-togethers with fellow prospectors and miners; with the story embellished by imagination, cold beer, a hint of the supernatural and – of course – dreams of African gold! The author is married with several children and now resides in Hertfordshire, England.

Overview

A hilarious, action-packed story following Timothy, who starts his career as a junior geologist on a modern deep gold mine in South Africa. Unexpectedly and ignominiously dismissed from this post; he manages to get a new job exploring for gold on the dilapidated Yellow Snake Mine in rural KwaZulu-Natal.

All is not as it seems and faced with closure of the rundown old mine, he joins with the eccentric locals in a series of desperate scams and highly illegal schemes to try to reprieve the mine. Timothy struggles through encounters with African wildlife, consultants, riots, ghosts, floods, government officials, explosions and a very frustrating sex life in an attempt to find some actual gold in time to save the unique tight-knit community.

Excerpt 5

There was a knock on Timothy’s bedroom door. “Can I come in?” It was Gary, one of the consultants staying at the mine guesthouse. Before Timothy could reply, Gary opened the door and wafted in, wearing a silk dressing gown. “I’ve got a teensy-weensy secret, so I hope you don’t mind, but I need a favour.”

Timothy gulped. Gary sat on the edge of Timothy’s bed. “I’ve always been afraid of spiders and there’s an absolute monster in the bathroom. I want to take a shower but I simply can’t with that brute lurking there! Won’t you chase it away for me?”

“Why not ask one of your colleagues?” “Oh, I couldn’t possibly ask them, silly! I’d be a laughing stock.” “So it’s okay to ask a stranger?” Timothy grumbled uncharitably.

“Now then, Timmy, a stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet!”  “I’ll get rid of the spider, but never, ever, call me ‘Timmy’ again. Got that?”

“Absolutely dear!” Timothy rolled his eyes heavenwards, rolled back the sheets, rolled up a copy a man’s magazine and headed towards the bathroom. The spider was occupying the shower. Most of it. The spider was large. It was hairy. It had no intention of going anywhere. Hitting it with a copy of “The-Biggest-Boobs-In-Bloemfontein!” was not likely to encourage it to leave peacefully.

“Do something,” pleaded Gary from the hallway. Timothy knew how St. George might have felt rescuing damsels from dragons. “Fetch me a beer mug from the kitchen, will you?” he said over his shoulder.

“You’re not going to try and catch it?” “No, I’m going to get it drunk,” snapped Timothy sarcastically. When he received the glass, he tried to flick the spider into it with the magazine.

In response, the spider lumbered over to the corner of the shower and squatted where Timothy couldn’t get the glass underneath it. It ignored Timothy’s verbal coaxing to jump into the mug. The spider’s poor grasp of the English language was to cost it dearly.

Maria the house keeper was walking past and wondered what the commotion was about. She peered around a white-faced Gary who had anchored himself to the doorframe. She strode in, flicked the spider from the wall with her hand and then stood on it. When Maria put her foot down on something, it generally stayed down. Even so, spiders that have evolved alongside huge African quadrupeds are made of strong stuff. The spider played dead.

To the accompaniment of disgusted squeals from Gary, Maria picked up the limp spider and dropped it into the beer mug. “That might have been a rare species!” Timothy protested.

“Even more rare now,” said Maria and departed.”Courageous and sensitive!” said Gary in admiration. “Yes, just go and take your shower.”

“I mean it! You didn’t laugh when I said I was terrified of spiders.”  “No problem,” said Timothy dismissively and returned to his bedroom.

Gary followed him. “First, one good turn deserves another,” Gary insisted and closed the bedroom door behind him. He noted Timothy’s alarm and hurried on, “Another little secret, that’s all. You know Helen, the demure redhead? She’s not what she seems,” he confided. “Don’t tell me,” Timothy sighed, “She’s not really a personal assistant, she’s the chief consultant’s mistress.”

“No, she’s his daughter. Despite her little act she has a B.Comm and an MBA in business studies. She bats her eyelashes, coos in that little girl voice and has businessmen, spilling their guts out to her in half-an-hour. She’s done a lot of due diligence work on mining companies and ore reserves. ‘Helen of Troy ounces’ the Financial Times nicknamed her. She believes that a business should be run as a business.” Gary paused to let it sink in. “Even in the mining business!”

Timothy was aghast. Run a mine as if it were a business? Everyone knew that a mine was an end in itself. Profits and losses and bottom lines were inconvenient terms invented by soulless accountants. They had no concept of the feeling of love and pride in a mine. No true mining man would dream of closing a mine because it made a loss once in a while.

If there was still some rock left – it was still a mine. The Yellow Snake Mine was teetering on the brink, not because of its almost uninterrupted loss making record, but because it had all but run out of gold to mine at further losses. If ‘Business-Woman-of-the-Year’ contender got her teeth into Yellow Snake Mine – No! The thought was too horrible to contemplate.

“She wants the Yellow Snake Mine run like a real business? A gold mine?” queried Timothy in horror. “Ridiculous! A mine is like a work of art that’s taken years to create! You can’t put a dollar and cents figure on it!”

“I’m telling you, she can!” confirmed Gary. “Really? I’ll need to warn the others.”

Reproduced with permission of Jon Ardeman. For other information on Jon Ardeman’s books, geology and odd observations: https://www.facebook.com/jon.t.ardeman

 

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