In tandem they set out for home with Uriah and the package of destruction in the lead and Whit, Pearlie Mae and me, way in the back dragging up the rear. Like a column of ducks. we wound down the meandering trail leading back to the Valley.
As the first drops of rain squall hit them, they were in sight of the lean-two shelter. Running to beat hell, they sprinted the last few yards. Out of breath, panting and sweating they collapsed on the bare ground.
Lucky for me the tree I chose to hide beside offered enough cover from the rain and was close enough so I could still hear them.
“I kept the powder dry, said Uriah. I stuck it up under my shirt and fastened it with my belt buckle.”
“Yep. Ya look like yer about to give birth. Some sort of alien blockhead baby.” chuckled Whit.
“OK, smartass, It’ll be yer turn to carry this dangerous payload shit after we get outta this rain.” said Uriah.
“I think I’ve figured out how.”, said Uriah.
“To set it off, blow it up, make it go bang, stupid”
“Oh, yeah? Well at least I know enuff to go slow when ya don’t know what yer doin. Since yer in such a damn big rush, what exackly have you figured out?”
“We don’t have that much time, Dickdum. Tomorrow’s Sunday and the school building will be full of all those superstitious ignorasses showing up for their weekly pain and passion. We sure as hell don’t want to blow it up before during or after that if we can’t get it done on Saturday.”
The constant drizzle of the rain and their mumbling had almost put me to sleep. In that hazy time between being awake and not quite asleep, Uriah’s talking about Sunday mornings reminded me of last summer and the church revival meetings.
Mr. Doubtly or Reverend Doubtly as he preferred to be called, was a stubby, silver-haired Methodist preacher who at least once a year launched a month long series of indoor evangelical tent revival meetings. I guess he felt the need to bolster the flock or at least increase the money that these country folks could muster up on Sunday mornings. He always loudly proclaimed and reiterated the benefits of reflection, retribution, repentance and salvation offered to all who came forward and made the right choice. He would ask over and over again, “Have you found Jesus?”
Uriah was known for muttering, “I din’t know he was lost”, which was followed by Whit’s grunt and snort.
Many were called, but few were chosen. Of course many back-sliders came, again year after year, to the Reverends great satisfaction.
Last year, although I was more or less required to be there, at age twelve I finally felt out of place.
I remember sitting in the pew and telling whatever Gods there might be, to either show themselves directly to me or get the hell out of my way and not trouble my mind with unfounded fears.
It went something like this, “Speak now and strike me dead where I sit or forget about being important to me!” With those words ringing in my sleepy ears, I woke up hearing,
“Where dja think we ought to put the powder keg? asked Whit. We don’t want it to just sit there, burn and fizzle out. A really big boom is what we’re shooting for.”
“I been trying to figure that out.” said Uriah. Under the porch or in the stove or up by the blackboard.” The porch would work out okay, I guess, but the stove might be easier to set off. We sure as hell don’t want to be anywhere close when it blows up.”
“It’id blow that old stove to smithereens and I ‘member Early said that more guys died from scrapnel than go deaf from the blast,” said Whit.
“I wisht it’ed stop this gawd-damned downpour.” muttered Uriah, lost in his own thoughts,
“Why dontja do like your Ma used to say, wish in one hand – shit in the tother – and see which one gets full the fastest”, chuckled Whit.
“Well, I guess the right one won this time, Goofy. It looks like it’s clearing up, so let’s move out.”