If you want to increase your success rate, double your failure rate.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Jap Juice Chapter 5

Chapter 5
The Discovery

   We awoke the next morning with a renewed vigor and were both extremely anxious to get outside and get to work on our fort.  Of course there was no way were we getting out the door without a proper breakfast and a steaming mug of hot cocoa.  Grandad was in the kitchen in his usual morning attire which consisted of shorts, a t-shirt and his brown robe complete with matching slippers.  Whenever I stayed there it was the same routine.  Grandad would holler,"Mother how do you want your eggs?"  Grandma would reply, "feed the children first Chester".  He would snort and I could hear her mutter under her breath," I've been eating my eggs the same way for 35 years and still you ask". She was in the living room, where she sat on her rocker, newspaper in hand, watching the Today show with Bryant Gumbel.  Grandad would reply, " I know that Margaret but today might be different".  I would giggle and Grandma would continue muttering out in the living room while Bryant rambled on about whatever was current that day.
    Soon we were dressed and outside.  The air was still warm, leftover from the day before, and it promised to be a hot one.  Down the hill by the barn the big old oak sat, beckoning us to clamber up and build away,  so we did.  All morning we worked on that fort and I couldn't help but notice how I would see Jack looking at the bottom of the barn.  I would stop what I was doing to say something to him and he would be staring at it.  His eyes glassed over, almost trance like.  I didn't like the look and it was becoming more frequent.  By the time lunch rolled around it was near ninety degrees.  Grandma brought lunch down to our construction site, a platter of sandwich wedges and a pitcher of ice tea, and we paused in the shade of the big oak to replenish our energy reserves.
    It was then I asked Jack," why do you keep staring at the barn?"   He looked at me, there was that little spark in his eye that I didn't care for, and said,"just curious about what's in them barrels".  I told him that those barrels were full of some chemical that they used at the boat factory for making the fiberglass hulls.  It was a lie.  I didn't know what was in those barrels but I had overheard a conversation my Dad was having on the phone one day about barrels of chemicals being buried in a landfill.  They had traced those barrels back to a boat building company that was a customer of ours.  There was a lot of hub bub about it although I didn't understand nor particularly care,  it had just stuck in my head and I pulled it out and fed it to Jack.  Some part of me told me not to mess with those barrels and I knew jack was itching to check them out.  I hoped this story would deter him but I had my doubts.  "Well if that's the case then it won't hurt none to go and look at them some more", he said.  "Grandad don't want us getting in to all of his stuff", I told him.  I knew right then and there I was sunk.  Sunk like the mighty Titanic.  Jack was too crafty for me and I knew in the end we would end up in the barn messing with those barrels.  "Then why don't he say nothing about all the wood we keep pulling out of there?", he asked.  "Fine", I said "but were just gonna look at them".
"Sweet", he said and was up and on his way to the barn, uneaten sandwich dropped in the dirt.
   I ran after him hollering to wait but he was on a mission.  When I finally caught up to him he was standing in front of the barrel that had been tipped over.  He had a flash light in his hands.  "Where in the heck did you find that?", I asked him.  "On your Grandpas back porch", he answered.  Great I thought.  Not only are we snooping through all his stuff but now were swiping things off of his porch.  I was doing the math in my head and it was adding up to be "getting into trouble" type of day.  "Roll it over", he said.  I walked around to the end of it and gave it a kind of running push.  I was expecting it to be full and when I went end over end and landed on my head it was quite a surprise.  Jack was laughing his head off and I sat on the old dirt floor(older than the outside dirt anyways) seeing stars for a moment and I actually remember feeling quite relieved about it being empty and not having to worry about Jack wanting to bust it open.  I stood up and brushed the dirt off of my knees, told Jack to shut up and quit laughing, and composed myself.  "Let's check the other ones", he said.  The second was empty as well and we started to roll it away when we noticed a small box that must have fallen between the two barrels.  It was one of those old ammo boxes they used during the war.  At least it looked like something of that nature.  It said 7.62 mm on the side and CAUTION in big letters.  So we were on the right track anyways(to nine mile and back as the car commercial says).  "Hold this", Jack said thrusting the flashlight into my hands.  He reached down and picked up the box and set it on top of the last remaining unchecked barrel.  The wood on the top had deep scratches in it and there were stains all over it.  I shivered at the thought that they might be bloodstains.  It had a small lock on the front.  It was pretty rusty and before I knew it "Crack".  Jack had hit it with a hammer.  I didn't even notice he had brought a hammer in there.  I thought to myself, "Don't lose that hammer or Grandad will have my hide".  He had loaned us two hammers for our construction venture and made me promise I would bring them back intact.  I had promised and here Jack was beating on a lock, on a box that wasn't ours, with a hammer I had promised we wouldn't break.  This was shaping up to be a fine day.  The lock broke before I had a chance to protest any further and Jack dropped the hammer in the old dirt.  I reached down and picked up the hammer, not wanting to offend my grandad, and placed it on the barrel.
   We both peered into the box.  It was full of dust and Jack gave it a good puff of air.  Dust swirled into the air and I remember the way it danced in the beam of the flashlight.  The dust motes would swirl and rise, swirl and rise.  Inside the box was a leather bound book of some sort.  Nothing else.  Jack reached in to grab it and I could hear my voice faint, almost like someone talking in another room, I heard the voice say, "leave it alone Jack", and "let's get outta here".  I think it was my voice but I couldn't hear it too well.  There was a humming noise that was getting louder by the second.  I could sense a vibration, like a ships propeller shaft turning under your feet.  Faint but it was there.  I felt like I was wearing ear muffs, like the big green ones my Dad made me wear when we went to the shooting range, I could hear but it sounded so distant.
Mostly I felt and heard the humming and as Jack flipped opened the cover I swear I could smell smoke and through the smoke I could taste seawater.  He opened the cover and it read:
My Journal
Lieutenant Schlebeski.
29th Infantry Division
United States Marine Corp.

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