Circle Eleven

“Our heads are fogged and clogged with all yer gawd-damned story tellin’!, said Uriah. We figured if we got rid of the place where you do it, ya might just be able to quit.”

“Quit what, Uriah?” Early was playing for time.

“All your contrary religious mumbo-jumbo!” Uriah was losing what little patience he had left.

“Don’t make me happy with a dead sparrow, Uriah”, offered Early. Being caught off balance but still focused on the task, Uriah shouted,

“What the hell does mean?”

“What have you got when you got a dead sparrow, Uriah?” It can’t fly

and it’s too, small to eat, right”

Butting in as usual, “So?”, was Whit’s dazed response to this latest delay.

“Well it’s sort of like owning a hole in the ground

where there used to be something of value.”, was Early’s response.

I thought what the hell does he mean with that? This must surely be

Early’s last ditch effort to delay the inevitable.

Watching Whit’s progress from behind the log,

Early’s mind was struggling to get ahead of the plan

without knowing exactly what it might be.

“Oh, I get it. It’s some of the same old bullshit.” said Uriah.

“Well, I’m saying, for the last time, it’s nothin’ personal.” Whit added.

Then with his grimy hands shaking with fear and excitement, Uriah quickly struck the match on the closest dry rock he could find and lit the trail of gun-powder. In this cataclysmic senseless scene of ultimate disaster, Uriah turned and ran down the rise and Whit came tumbling after.

Then I saw Jubal Early, spotted with mud, horn-rimmed glasses askew, stand up behind the log gazing at the old school building that had been his bully pulpit for the last six months. His ears heard the sizzle of the burning powder, his nose picked up the smell and with his eyes blurring with tears of understanding, he finally grasps Uriah’s and Whit’s grand plan.

Like his namesake in the Battle of Williamsburg in 1862, he decided to lead the charge against staggering odds. Calling the bet on heaven or hell’s fire and damnation, Jubal Early limped up and jerked the door open. In this final foolish fantasy of his imaginary production; the staccato stuttering of castanets, rolling thunder of guitar strings, rhythmic clapping of the corps du ballet mixed with the “Oles” of the crowd, begins to drown out the sound of the burning black powder’s sizzle. He stumbled through the door, making his final entrance stage right as the featured disabled flamenco artist on point.

Jubal Early, like the Confederate General, his father had named him for wasn’t going to surrender, so he began his valiant dance of death, pirouetting and stamping in vain to put out the fuse of burning powder.

My impending sense of doom and disaster was suddenly replaced by a roiling, rolling, roaring guttural boom. It was slowly followed by a ringing, singing aura of silence that only a catastrophe could create. A sky-high flash of flaming fire rose at the speed of light and disappeared as quickly.

“Jesus-jumped-up-Christ!!” Whit’s foggy shout penetrated the reverberations and echo of sound of the blast, followed by Uriah’s,

“Whooeee! Holy Shit! Didja feel that?”

Like a faint sound at the end of a long tunnel, I could hear Pearlie Mae whimpering. Then she started yelling,

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