POTTSVILLE, Pa. — Sunbury Press has released Joe Tarone’s short story collection “A Pale Horse and 40 Other Tales.”
About the Book:
Two boys trapped in a collapsing coal mine, embraced only by pitch-black darkness and the sickening squeal of timber being slowly crushed–how could anyone find humor in such a situation? Well, “George’s Priority”, the first little story in “A Pale Horse and 40 Other Tales,” does.
And how could a sprout from an old sassafras stump give a life lesson from father to son? Again, a little story—titled “Sassafras”—just might do it.
What of the statuesque woman whose siren-like scream of “DON’T TOUCH ME,” stopped a wedding reception cold? Even the orchestra, shocked by the scream, stopped! What was her problem? What became of her? Perhaps “Don’t Touch Me” might answer those questions.
“To Kill A Friend” is a story of how beauty often attracts the ugliest of acts. It is one of the few stories in “A Pale Horse and 40 Other Tales” that is not a happy story. Most of the others stand a good chance of making you smile.
When I went to elementary school, I had to walk only three or four hundred feet to get to school—that’s how close the school was to my home. Consequently, I was able to go home for lunch. It was a part of the day that I shared alone with my mother because my dad and my Uncle Tony (who lived with us) were working, and my sister was in high school. The high school was located in a different town. Mother always had a nice lunch prepared for me. Sometimes, particularly if it was a cold day, she made potato soup. That was my favorite.
On this particular day, I was surprised to find my dad and my uncle were at home at lunchtime. “What’s wrong,” I asked. “Why are you home?”
“The mine is squeezing,” my dad said. “We got out fast. So fast that I left my lunch can in the mine.”
My dad and my uncle operated a little mine. It was not a “bootleg hole.” Those were illegal mines on somebody’s property without the permission of the landowner. My dad and my uncle had leased the land and paid the landowner—the Girard Estate—a royalty on every ton that they mined. Their operation was completely legal. I was too young to realize how serious the mine’s squeezing was, both from a danger standpoint and from the effect it might have on our family’s income.
After school that day, I told my friend George about my dad and uncle having to run out of their mine so fast that my dad left his lunch can behind. Becoming excited, George asked, “So the lunch is still in the mine?” George was always hungry and he could be very persuasive. It wasn’t very long until he had me convinced that we should retrieve the lunch can. We sneaked some candles and matches from one of our homes and off we went, down to the mine.
The mine sloped downward at a very slight angle. It was open. It seemed OK. It seemed perfectly safe to us. We went in about forty feet. George was intrigued with the sound of our voices and the echo they produced bouncing off the face of the coal. He gave a loud, Tarzan-like yell. That was a mistake! The vibration that it caused was enough to make the ceiling—the top rock—fall! Darkness. Complete blackness. Total darkness. Dust that I couldn’t see, but that I felt rushing over me—clinging to me, coating me. The rush of dust-filled air had blown our candles out. It had, in fact, ripped the candle right out of my hand. Breathing was very difficult. The silence was awful. The dark and the silence—it was a living nightmare. Occasionally I heard a rock rolling from the top of the pile of fallen rock that now blocked our exit from the mine. I coughed. “Are you OK?” I asked, needing desperately to know that George was OK; that he was conscious; that I was not alone.
“Can’t breathe,” I heard his weak and frightened voice say.
About the author:
Joe was graduated from Penn State with a degree in Finance. He lived in Philadelphia and eventually moved to Chester County to work for a small scientific instrument manufacturer which, shortly after his employment there, was acquired by Hewlett Packard. After several years in finance with HP, Joe made a major career change and became a Personnel Administrator.
His first book, Some Stones Shine, depicts a decade in his father’s life in the early 20th century. In it, Tarone has succeeded in describing what life was like in a Coal Region family almost one hundred years ago.
His second book, The Mega-Bite Murders, although obviously a work of fiction, inhabits an environment built upon Joe’s background in the computer and human resource areas.
Caught Up In It, his third book, is a sequel to The Mega-Bite Murders. In it, two supernatural beings set out to eliminate greed in the world. Sometimes humorous, mostly serious, Caught Up In It, in it’s closing pages reveals something that could be a surprise to readers of The Mega-Bite Murders.
Upon his retirement from HP, Joe returned to Pennsylvania’s Schuylkill County where he continues to write. He has served as an auditor in West Mahanoy Township, and as president of the Shenandoah Valley School Board. He now lives in Raven Run, the anthracite mining village in which he grew up.
A Pale Horse and 40 Other Tales
Authored by Joe Tarone
List Price: $14.95
5.5″ x 8.5″ (13.97 x 21.59 cm)
Black & White on Cream paper
Sunbury Press, Inc.
BISAC: Fiction / Short Stories
Also available on Kindle and Nook
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