“Well maybe he’ll not stick around and we can wait him out. It’s Sunday.”
“Let’s ask him.”
“Are you nuts? He’ll blow the whistle on us for sure, if he finds out what were up to.”
As Jubal Early got closer to the school, with combination of some intuitive sensory radar and his intrinsically suspicious nature and imagination, I’m sure he realizes he is in the presence of perdition in the making. Hesitating and with great reluctance, Early apparently resigns himself to accept the responsibility of the confrontation. He senses now that the deadly duo has the power and potential for their mutual destruction. Relying on his experiences as a police negotiator in a previous existence, he begins to search through his menu of mental manipulations
“You are in charge, Uriah, It’s yer call to make. Whatya want?”
His mind moving at the pace of a drunken snail, he digs up, “Always end in a question with a slight lift to the end of the last word; use if and then, never use but, and always connect sequences with and.”
Trying hard to be convincing, Early’s words were warm and soft as fresh dung falling in a pasture full of contented cows., like contented politicians standing in clusters with no apparent intent to move until something like food was offered to interest them. Maybe a bull with a quicky romp and a promise of procreation, or a Judas goat to lead them to their ultimate destination to be milked, fucked or killed for the benefit of those who feed them.
Safe in their suicidal stronghold, Uriah considered the situation. His mind clogged and constipated more or less with thoughts that had ceased to move like a sewer main with more shit than it had been designed to handle.
Uriah had always heard and remembered the words, “Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory.”
Giving away to someone else, shrugging off and dismissing whatever power, authority and glory might have been his legacy. Waiting for whoever was in possession of the guts and balls to take the helm and steerage for his personal benefit and that of the others in the group and with Whit sitting on the milk carton filled with the black powder, Uriah was coming to the obvious conclusion that this was destined to be their ditch of last resort.
Early, likewise was laying behind a large log that was within hollering distance of the two, but hoping that he was safely out of range of any mayhem that might be in their plans.
Once again drawing on his short-term experiences as a negotiator in matters like this, Early yelled,
“Uriah, I know you are in charge here.”
“Yer damned right, I am” was Uriah’s slow response.
I guess that since Whit was the one sitting on the powder, Uriah was feeling a renewed sense of ignorance and stupidity. In this suicidal stronghold he was definitely in charge of their future and anyone else who might be unlucky enough to get in the way of this righteous endeavor.
With all the arrogance that only the ignorant can muster, Whit yelled,
“We’ll let you know, as soon as we’ve figured it out, past the blast.”
“For Christ’s sake shut the fuck up, Whit” whispered Uriah. “Whydja always settle for being a jerk when with a little more effort you could be a real asshole.”
Early’s quiet response was an uttered thought that had bothered him from the start of this blip in his boring life. “If you guys want me to walk on water, ya gotta stop making waves.” Two memories flooded his thinking; a coward dies a thousand times, a brave man only once and practice makes perfect. For Christ’s sake whoever said that dying bravely is better than dying in disgrace.
Like it or not, I began to realize that I was about to be an unwilling and unplanned part of something I would rather not be. With what precious time I might have left, I began looking across the valley for something of significance that could possibly merit this moment of truth. My gaze couldn’t miss the only rise. The one hill was like a boil erupting in the middle of a neglected belly button. The entire valley was a geonomaly, infected with the good, the bad and the indifferent. It was not only the highest piece of ground in the valley, but by virtue of a hot and humid climate, the erosion of the once in awhile rainstorm, it had been rendered essentially bald.
When the WPA money rolled in to provide work for the unwashed masses, the hill became the only place to put a school building. Since the population qualified as being both broke and unschooled they had built a one-room brick schoolhouse, Twenty five student seats, a blackboard, a table and chair for a teacher and a pot-bellied wood stove completed the inside.
As Early resumed the negotiations, I think he finally realized and resigned himself to the fact that Uriah and Whit were not only the slowest burning but also not the brightest candles in the menorah of his mind. This Passover was about to become like one that had never happened.
With stealth and cunning way beyond his mental agility, Whit managed to execute Ukiah’s plan. Leaving a clean, dry and soon to be efficient trail of gunpowder from ground zero plus six yards, he put the payload in the pot-bellied stove. Cautiously retracing his path, he flopped back into their makeshift foxhole.
“Done”, He mutters.
“Good!” replies Uriah.
“Well?” said Early from behind the log, “What’s next on your list, Uriah?”