Purple and wide. Sometimes yellow, pink some would say. Roiling, bumpy, a costumey pastiche of cauterized flesh on flesh. In the pit, where the bars are two-hundred-fifty feet (still white hot, snagging on the old, old rollers), the guys sometimes walk away from a month’s worth of raking carrying a design like they hired someone to burn their lineage into their forearms in a forgotten hieroglyph.
Sometimes we get cut in awkward places, I mean, like, now-just-how-in-the-living-hell-did-you-end-up . . . ? And sometimes we need stitched up, but we’re not even sure if we brushed up against anything sharp, like being at the mill is reason enough to bleed, like just one more pain on top of another on top of a whole pile, a life, a religion of pain.
Doug comes into the Corner Pocket while we’re shooting pool one day, slams the world’s littlest manila envelope on the bar and says, “Buy a drink for the guy just lost his last tooth?” A couple months shy of his fortieth birthday.
We don’t get sent to shrinks, nobody thought that far ahead. But, like I say, you can see the neon lights of the Corner Pocket from the breakrooms of three different departments, and, though it’s a short stretch from the shower to that stool, you can do a damned awful lot of recovering once you get there.