“I got three dollars and Whit’s got two. Now’s the time for you to pitch in Pearlie Mae. How much you got?”, was Uriah’s slimy reply.
To ask her for money after the she had accepted the terms of her involvement with this exercise in criminal endeavor seemed like a breach of contract to me.
“You told me to keep my mouth shut and besides I think this whole thing about this being a mission of mercy is just bullshit, so I got nothing of a financial nature to contribute to it.” was Pearlie Mae’s astute reply.
“I knew that bringing her along was big mistake.” mumbled Whit.
Reluctantly, Uriah said, “Well then, Mr. Breedlaw, we got five dollars. How much powder can we get for that?”
“Enough to blow yur asses off, for sure. I don’t know what you two thought you could walk outta here carrying this powder in, but maybe I can find a bag or a box or somethin’ safer than your pants pockets”, Breedlaw chuckled.
Rustling around under one of the bins he came up with an empty two-quart milk carton. Using an old-fashioned balance scale, he poured, slow and cautiously and brought the 2-pound weight to a balance. Deftly pouring the powder from the bin into the milk carton without spilling a grain, he sealed it with duct tape.
“This stuff is dangerous even if you know what yur doin’” he said.
“We can handle it.” Uriah assured him.
“We got detailed plans, too, boasted Whit. We’re gonna blow hell outta that old eyesore building at the top of the rise in the middle of the valley.”
Uriah kicked him in the shins and stomped on his battered left boot. With the milk carton in one hand and the other aimed at the latch, he lurched nervously towards the door. He was trying to hard to herd, drag or chase Whit outside the shack before he could give away any more of their plan.
“Let’s git outta here, for he changes his mind again, Dimwhit.”
As I told you, I was peering at this tableaux of treachery in the making through the only window in the walls of the rural satellite office of The Society of Explosive Specialists to see the light of day. And I could see only one door in the whole damn place. By listening intently through the cracks and knowing now what the grand plan was, I suddenly realized that the door that was closing behind the three of them was indeed an opening through which there was no return.
I don’t know if all kids are as oblivious of time as I am, so I don’t know when I found out about the Huntrager’s and Burchfields. My granddad as a survivor of the Civil War was always rambling on about this one or that one, where they came from and where they went or might have gone if they had known what was good for them. So, sometime, somehow, somewhere I had heard that Uriah and Whit’s ancestors, had been removed for debt and bad behavior from the groups of normal folks they had previously been a part of. They were eventually exported from the old country. After crossing the Atlantic in mid winter they were unceremoniously dropped off on the southeast coastline of the territory now known as the State of Georgia. Making their way out of the swampy recesses of the landing, they plodded in a northwesterly direction looking for dry land and a place that would let them settle with their meager possessions.
What they eventually found was the valley and ridges of the lower Southern Piedmont region. The valley soils in much of Georgia, particularly in the Northwest portion, developed into materials weathered from granite. The rocks are black, white and gray and low in natural fertility. The climate of warm temperatures and high rainfall has weathered the rocks over the years. What is left after the heavy rains leached out the bases is composed of mostly iron, aluminum and silica and the iron content that gives the soil a red color for which the state is known. These washed and dried out soils, are made up of iron oxides laying in convex landforms that resemble corneas of red dirt. Organic matter content is low in most of the soil so it would eventually welcome the burial of the folks who didn’t survive the sea voyage and the trek to higher ground.
I had met the progeny of these social misfits when I was about ten, but at the time of this scary moment, I was twelve, and given the scope and magnitude of what they were setting out to accomplish, it felt more like two years of sweating blood accompanied by painful bubbles of methane in my stomach and the intimidating smell of bullshit. The smell and substance of the moment was overwhelming.
Armed and dangerous, Uriah, Whit and Pearlie Mae set off for the valley; one step closer to our collective moment of truth.