A diamond mine is in many ways just an industrialized version of hope. Workers sweat in the darkness for the chance at surviving another day or two with a few spare dollars in their pockets. From their toil, the reward is the occasional sparkly prize. But even that doesn’t look like much more than occasionally shiny gravel until it has been cleaned, graded, cut, and polished.
At the end of the day, the product has value because it is rare and hard to find.
A value that the cartels reinforce through campaigns of intimidation against any who would find markets for the stones outside of their control.
The mine might as well be Pandora’s box. Wars break out over it. Men fight tooth and nail to control it. Lives are spent with abandon in its depths.
fear of death adds spice
to a life well lived although
fear must be groundless
Joe watched the water rise, and for a moment was nearly as nervous as the audience. It was ever thus. The essence of the trick was that there was no trick: he really did escape from the shackles, chains, and cuffs. Or he could do it that way if he was a fool. Joe was no fool.
By the time the water reached his knees, his hands were free. Not that the audience could tell, he knew it was important that they believe him trapped and certain to die.
Hence the dramatic music, the curtain shielding him from view in his “final moments”, and all the other trappings for the stage.
His favorite ending to the escape was to hop out of the water as soon as he was hidden from view, then settle down with a newspaper in the cheap seats to wait while a shadow puppet show plays out of his apparent drowning. At the peak of the frenzy, as the audience is screaming for someone to do something, a pin spot focused on the tank from behind would suddenly reveal that the tank was empty.
The curtain would drop to reveal that there was nothing left in the tank but a pile of chains at the bottom and a few fish swimming in circles.
Joe enjoyed listening to the stunned realization sweeping across the audience that he hadn’t died in front of them. Did he vanish? Did he become a fish? Was anything what it seemed?
Joe stepped forwards, dropping the coat and newspaper that had concealed him from casual discovery, and accepted the applause that he was due.
The tension was so thick you could cut it with a knife as the last lock was fastened and shackle applied before the tank began to fill around Joe.
When the water first began to flow, a susurration washed across the audience, as they realized that he was serious about this stunt. The water swiftly covered his ankles and the standard issue prison shackles attaching the together, along with the chain that ran from the shackle bar, through a loop in the floor, and off into the flies overhead. One link at a time, the water filled the tank. With each link, the seriousness of his predicament became clearer.
Once the water was a foot or so deep, a cloth screen began to rise. Initially the cloth was fairly opaque, but splashes of water had created translucent patches.
Joe remained still as the cold water continued to fill the phone booth-sized tank. Soon it had reached his knees, bound together by rope. As a small symbol of hope, there was a large knife clenched between his knees. The knife was placed handle down, making it nearly certain that it would fall to the tank bottom before he could get a grip on it.
Steadily the water flowed.
Soon it reached Joe’s wrists, shackled behind him.
Joe was in a pickle.
The water rose. Now it reached his elbows.
The audience could hardly breathe.
The curtain reached its full height moments after the water began to overflow the tank. Joe cast a distorted shadow on the cloth as he struggled. His shadow seemed to be getting the worst of the deal.