The Raid on Mill Creek Mine, Part Two – Dynamite

“Smasher, rg3th we ought not to be foolin’ with dynamite. Let’s fergit about that,” Joker said.

“You kin fergit about it if you want to. I’m gonna have a look. Some blastin’ powder would come in real handy to finish off what’s left of that there motor barn,” Smasher told him. It came to me then that Smasher just might have a couple of marbles loose and rattling around in his head giving him those crazy ideas. Joker was right. Dynamite was dangerous stuff. A guy could get blown to smithereens or worse. Smasher started off by himself down the dirt road that led toward the powder magazine. v9slot

“Come on guys. Smasher’s right! If there’s any dynamite in the magazine, we might as well have that too,” Wizzer spoke up. “Smasher is right! It might come in handy. Let’s go!” The rest of us followed Smasher and Wizzer toward the powder magazine.

The powder magazine was locked with the biggest padlock I have ever seen. The hasps of that lock was set into a steel plate that was fastened to the building with rivets whose heads was the size of my wrists. That rig was a match for Smasher’s hatchet and a whole lot more. Twenty minutes of steady pounding with our hatchets hadn’t made so much as a dent on the lock. I decided to look around in the back of the building for something bigger that we could use to pound on that lock. When I turned the corner of the powder magazine, I noticed some cracks in the mortar joints between the blocks of the building. A cribbing block, joker8899z which isn’t anything more than a piece of hardwood that is cut four inches by four inches square and is about three feet long, lay on the ground at my feet. I picked it up and gave one of the blocks that ran along the crack in the building a tap or two with the butt end of the crib block. Thump! Thump! Plop. The block fell inside the building.

The rest of the gang was making so much noise with their pounding on the lock that they couldn’t hear me. I gave a tap to three more blocks, and three more blocks fell inside the building. With just two or three taps with a crib block I’d made a decent hole in the powder magazine. I crawled inside. Those boys outside the building were sure making a terrible racket. Pranking isn’t one of my specialties, but in one shiver it was done. Goose bumps popped out on my arms as an idea pricked my brain. 123maxx

“Who is trying to break in here?” I screamed as loud as I could. That shout slipped from my throat before I could stop it. The magazine echoed. Things got quiet outside the building in an awful hurry.

“Cripes, there’s somebody in there. Let’s get out of here!” one of them hollered. I could hear them running. I poked around in the gloom and found one of the blocks that I had knocked loose. I sat the block on end and sat down, resting my elbow on one of the dozens and dozens of cardboard cases that was stacked in the magazine, and waited to see how long it would take for the other guys to come back. I chipped with a twig of wood at one of the blocks that I had pushed into the powder magazine while I waited for the other guys to return. Ping! — Ping! — Ping! Bullets began to ricochet off the building, followed by the sharp crack of rifles. Cripes! The guys was shooting at the building with their twenty twos. What a pickle I had gotten myself into. I figured I had better stick my head out through the hole that I had made in the rear of the building and let the guys know that it was me that they was shooting at. This here was a good strong building, but yours truly was getting awfully fidgety about those bullets that were flying around outside and slamming into the side of the powder magazine. I stuck my head through the hole in the back of the building and began to shout. ruay88

“Boys, it is me you are shooting at.” Ping! Another bullet ricocheted off the building. I ducked back inside to what I hoped was safety. They must not have heard me. I tried again. “Guys, it’s me, Squirt!” Ping! Ping! I knew then that it wasn’t just a pickle I had gotten myself into; it was the whole crock and all. There was nothing for me to do now but lay low and hope I didn’t get killed or worse. It wasn’t long before I heard them coming back. If they were going to be shooting like that, I figured I would let them think they had hit something. I stretched out on the floor of the powder magazine and moaned, “Help me! Help me! I’m shot! I’m shot!” thetechboy

“Where are you, Squirt?” one of them shouted.

“I’m here, inside the building. Come around the back,” I moaned my best imitation of someone who’s just been shot.

Smokey poked his head through the hole I had made and asked, “Squirt are you all right? Honest, we didn’t mean to shoot you. We was only kiddin’ with you. We knew that it was you that was inside here all along.”

Smokey crawled through the hole. “Where at are you hit? Lemme see. Yer arm is bleedin’.”

“Smokey, I ain’t feelin’ so good. Kin we jist get out of here.” I staggered to my feet. “I don’t think I’m bad hurt. I jist want to get out of here n’ see some sunshine.”

“Make room fellahs. Squirt’s been shot.” Smokey crawled out through the hole in the building. I started to crawl out after him. Smasher grabbed me by the arm to help me through the hole that I had busted in the powder magazine. As luck would have it, he latched onto my arm right at the spot was it was bleeding. He jerked his hand back like he had been snake bit. The color drained from his face like somebody had opened a faucet in one of his shoes to let his blood drain out. Smasher was an expert at some things, but looking at someone else’s blood wasn’t one of them unless his fist had been the cause.

Smokey wiped the blood from my arm with his hanky and took a look at where I had been ‘shot’. “It’s only a nick, Squirt. You’ll live.” He wrapped my arm with his hanky. It was no bullet that had done that nick. I had scratched myself on something sharp when I had crawled into the building. I’d had that bothersome scratch before they had begun to shoot. It wasn’t for me to tell them that though.

“Squirt, you rest here n’ keep a lookout while we check inside to see if there’s any dynamite in there,” Smasher said. “Sing out if you see anybody.” I could have told them that the dynamite was there. I had been sitting with my elbow resting on a whole case of the stuff when they had done their shooting. It wasn’t long before they carried a box from the powder magazine. The markings on it shouted their warning for us and all the world to see: DANGER! DYNAMITE! There was some more fufaraugh writing on each case about not dropping it and storing it properly. We never bothered about that. We had seen what we wanted to see, our dynamite, and we had it.

Smokey crawled out and said, “There must be at least thirty cases er more of this stuff in there. We can’t carry that much away at one time. What’re we gonna do?”

“When we’ve got all the dynamite that we kin carry away, why don’t we stack some of what’s left of the dynamite against the inside wall where Squirt made the hole n’ push the blocks back in place from the outside. Then we kin throw some of this brush against the outside of the building to cover the hole,” Wizzer said. “Nobody’s been around, n’ besides, who’s gonna check? The door’s still locked, ain’t it?”

“That’s a good idea, Wiz. We kin come back tomorra’ n’ haul the dynamite up to the shack,” Smasher said. “We should take what we kin today though. You never know what might happen between now n’ tomorra’.”

The rest of the gang began to haul the dynamite out of the magazine. They put me to standing watch. They didn’t expect someone with a bullet shot arm to be hauling cases of dynamite around. It wasn’t long before Smokey said, “Fellahs, we got eleven cases out here. There’s only enough left inside to cover the hole that we made in the wall n’ not have it look suspicious. Let’s take ten of these cases to our underground cache n’ use the other one fer testin’. We don’t even know if this stuff is any good er not.”

Smasher spoke up. “Smokey, How’re we gonna test this stuff? We don’t have no blastin’ caps, n’ I don’t see any here. They must’ve took all the caps.”

“We kin always do it like they do at the turkey n’ ham shoots down at the Greek Church. You know. When they set a stick of dynamite against the hillside n’ shoot at it with rifles, n’ the guy that sets off the dynamite wins a ham er a turkey,” Smokey told him. “We got our rifles. After we git them ten cases carried up to our cache, we kin come back n’ have target practice at the other case.”

With the prospect of shooting at dynamite in our heads we made quick work of carrying those ten cases of dynamite to our hideout. Smasher stacked three cases one above the other then picked them up and started toward our hideout as though he was only carrying three feather pillows. I could only lift and carry one case. Smokey, Joker and Wizzer each carried two cases. One trip to our hideout was all that it took to get all of the dynamite carried away. We hid the dynamite in our underground hideout.

“Don’t worry about bein’ able to carry only one case, Squirt. Every case counts, n’ it was you that got us into the magazine in the first place. We got all of it lugged up here to the hideout and that dynamite is hid real good. Not even a chipmunk could find it,” Smokey said.

Now it was time for the fun. We would shoot at the dynamite. We went back down by the mine office where we had left the case of dynamite that was to be used for our testing. The rest of the guys were discussing just how far away the dynamite should be placed from us when we shot at it.

“We’re gonna be shootin’ at a whole case of dynamite. I figure we ought to be at least fifty er sixty yards away. If it goes off, it’s gonna make a pretty big bang,” Smokey said.

Smasher had different ideas. He wanted to set the case of dynamite in the remains of the motor barn and shoot at it there. Smasher was concerned that none of the glass in the roof had yet been broken. To him, the destruction of the motor barn was not yet complete and he was determined that the rest of the glass should be “smashed so that the job was finished right.” The motor barn was only twenty or thirty yards away from where we stood at the entrance to the mine office. Entirely too close to suit the rest of us. We took a vote. Smokey won out. The dynamite was to be set fifty or sixty good long paces down in the gully below the mine office. The guys who were doing the shooting would use the windowsills of the mine office for rifle rests. Smokey took the extra case of dynamite and carried it down into the gully below the office. He must have been as anxious as the rest of the guys to start the fireworks. Where he had put that case of dynamite looked to me like an awfully short fifty or sixty yards away. When he got back to the rest of us, I said as much. Every one of the other guys gave me a squinty-eyed look. Each and every one of them was in an all fired hurry to start banging away with their rifles at that case of dynamite so I clammed up. Nothing I said or did would persuade them to move it again.


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