Blood. There is blood, everywhere. The boy presses a thin left hand over the hole in his leg, the red spattered pick and his missed target swim in a shallow red pool at his side. Where a minute ago, his work station cluttered a low, scratched metal table, suddenly there are hands. The older men eye the boy with sighs and exhausted pity. He shouldn't be here, a few grumble. Too young, too weak for this work. From the floor, the boy floats beneath the crowd of bunched up towel cloth and firm hands. There is nothing left to hear, to feel.
Both eyes dry, the boy watches a gloved hand grip the iron poker. In the fire for a minute, it gathers everything red from the flames, and comes close to be something warm, something promising.
The room is a quiet smell of flesh. The tall black point pulls on the boys thigh in a thundering squeal through his limbs. The reds mesh together, until there is skin.
The clutter of men disperse with too firm pats on the back, and the boy is alone. A scrap of orange towel taped to his leg, dried blood on his shoes and hands and tools.
An angry foremen barks his way towards the boy. His sudden eyes, in front of the boys. Two cements hands drop the pick onto the boy's limp palms.
Work he warns, work or leave.
Both legs crippled at his side, the boy takes a dull silver sheet from the stack on the table, he pairs is squarely with the gold metal fitting, and he pounds. And he pounds, and he pounds.
The blood caked under his fingernails, chipping off with every firm jolt of his newly made skin and twelve year old bones.