Back at the clearing, dusk had started to overtake the situation. Thanks to an open window and a number of wide cracks in the aging ship lap siding, I would still be able to hear and see what was going on in the shack.
Uriah with Whit behind him for moral support and Pearlie Mae following dutifully behind, tried to gently push the wooden door open. It opened with a loud grating sound.
Gingerly stepping inside the shack their eyes slowly adjusting to the darkness, they finally focused on a shadowy figure. Sitting alongside a row of bins and cobbled up tables, a clean-shaven dark-skinned bald guy in bib overalls squinted at them. The sun immediately brightened the dim interior. Whit, Pearlie Mae and Uriah’s shadows stood in sharp contrast to the otherwise unlit room of the inner sanctum of the Society’s local headquarters. Focusing pupils, expanding and contracting, it took a long time for the four of them to actually see each other.
“What y’all want? said the shadow.
“Powder.” stuttered Uriah. Y’all got black powder?”
“Yeah, black gun powder.” Whit elaborated.
“Let’s see your membership number.”
“We ain’t got no number.”
“No number, . . ., no gun powder. As a matter of fact, without a number y’all better get yo’ah asses’ outa here, now!” This is a closed and private non-profit concern, for members only!”
“Now wait a damn minute here. We didn’t come all this way on an errand of mercy for our teacher, just to have y’all chase us out.” voice rising and demanding, Uriah was once more asserting his leadership role in this momentous mission.
“Yeah, mission of mercy.” seconded Whit.
“What the hell kind of teacher would send two ignoramuses like y’all to some place like this Society of Explosive Specialists on a mission of any kind, let alone one having anything to do with mercy?”
According to Uriah later, this shadowy bastard was getting damn near as wordy as Mr. Early. Still demanding, but now in a more conciliatory manner, Uriah said,
“Maybe y’all wouldn’t mind telling us just how to go about getting one of those magic numbers that we so desperately need to get the powder we have to have to accomplish our teacher’s directed mission of mercy?”
Breedlaw paused in the argument and slowly reflected on an earlier time when he himself had been a young, loud, belligerent and argumentative uncontested candidate running for the position known as the best asshole around. Somehow, Uriah’s tone of voice and body language stuck a note of understanding and empathy for these two misfits.
“Well, he, said slowly, maybe we can work something out so as fix your needs for powder and our groups rules.” Ya see, as I said, the society is a non-profit bunch and they have to be very careful of who they do business with.”
Uriah nudged Whit in the ribs to make sure he didn’t say anything to interrupt Breedlaw’s ruminating.
“Since you say it’s a mission of mercy yur on and if ya don’t need a lot of gunpowder, I think I can look the other way on the rules this one time. But, remember, this is a one shot deal, never to be done again no way, no how, never!”
In his limited world with its panoply of problems and purposes, Breedlaw had come to the conclusion that, although not begging for it, some things just flat out needed to be blown up. Somewhere in the recesses of his brain, Breedlaw was reminded that some smartass like these three irritating intruders had once asked him,
“Where’d that name Breedlaw come from? Your family must have had a humorous streak.”
“Well, he had slowly replied, on the rez, if you’re not purebred, you’re a breed.”
“ya mean like a horse?” was the stupid response.
“Yep, like a Thoroughbred. There’s pride in purity, dumbo. If you’re not pure enough to be proud, you learn to take pride in other things, a like being smart or mean and sometimes just being smart and mean.”
“And since your sorry ass needs to know; my granddad was a cross between a Watutsi and a Cherokee and my Grandma was Scotch-Irish. When she got older, us cross bred youngsters used to ask her how that happened.”
She always said, “It was because your Grandad was surely a beautiful big black man and I was a wayward woman, way ahead of my time.”
“Her hearty cackle would fill the room, so I guess you’re right, there was a lot of humor in the family.”
Satisfied that his momentary reverie had softened the current negotiations and getting back to the business at hand, Breedlaw turned to Uriah and asked,
“Now then, how much money you got?”