See, this is how it was.
We wudn’t s’posed to notice the buildin’ and carryin’ on out the road to the quiet ol’ quarry.
We wudn’t s’posed to care they was trucks haulin’ who knows what to and fro down them lonesome dirt tracks.
We wudn’t s’posed to wake when the train come in silent, no toots, no lights ’round midnight.
Nor the sand colored canvas covered transports a’waitin’, then drivin’ off “follow the leader” style, headlamps shaded.
And leavin’ tracks.
We wudn’t even s’posed to pay note of our very own neighbors jumping off ol’ school buses, what used to holler “Hey!” but now just tipped their hats and moved on quick to their own transport home.
But see, this is how it is.
Me and Liam and Marie-France, we seen them trucks and heard the poundin’ echosed soft ‘cross the valley and hightailed it stealth-like right on out to the ol’ quarry. We know ever’ back track and deer trail this side o’ the county line. This was child’s play. We was on the hunt.
And sure enough, we found ourselves something! Somethin’ secret and one worth keepin’. Deep down in the bottom of the ol’ quarry, abandoned since the war begun, somethin’ near to a small city was bein’ erected. Scurryin’ like aints with they paints a’fire, there was men, soldiers, our fellers, sweatin’ to who laid a chunk, swingin’ hammers, diggin’ holes, and a’pullin’ up walls like it was a mass barn raisin’ like them Quakers over to Jamesport. From what we could see, they’d planted themselves twelve or so long barracks, couple of houses, and some square buildin’s lookin’ to house machinery and hard tellin’ what else. All surrounded with a high fence, topped with jagged-edged barbed war.
I’d lost me a battle ‘r two tanglin’ with that stuff. Won me a couple, too. Callin’ it even suited me just fine.
O’course, once on the scent, me and Liam and Marie-France, we was like a dog gone to ground. Without the bayin’ and whoopin’. We’d done caught the bug! We figured us a plan and follered some o’ them trucks down the dirt tracks. Never did know a thing, them fellers. We snooped and snuck, even sneakin’ and peekin’ under them canvas covers. Why, they was not only takin’ in buildin’ materials and fencin’ but supplies and weaponry! We was purely giddy with the joy of our find!
Me and Liam and Marie-France, we felt right important. And we swore, bein’ good American citizens like we was, we’d never ever, upon threat of death or starvation, tell nobody, not ever, this side of eternity. But we snuck out reg-lar, come late night, jest to watch the train slide in the depot, then to count the tall, skinny fellers led to the trucks in ankle chains and the like. Didn’t nobody ever make a noise nor give a di-rection, not us o’course, but not nobody else neither. I’ll admit I got jest a little itchy, ‘spectin’ some self-important feller with a big ol’ solemn voice to begin explainin’ the situation, like in them newsreels down to the Old Pladium The-ater in town. (Liam lays the sign maker mispelled the name. Knowin’ Liam, I’d lay wages he’s right.)
And o’course, now we was fully engaged on just what the hay was goin’ on, why, we’d chat up them neighbors what worked out to the camp, fer what we reckoned was doggone saucy wages, jest to watch ’em squirm.
“How was yer day?” we’d ask right sweet, “Life treatin’ you good? How’s the family? That a new ve-hicle I seen you drivin’?”
“Smart Alec kids” they’d say later, grumblin’.
“Durned right!” we’d say later, grinnin’.
Well, that went on fer quite a spell. We spied and we tracked and we watched and we speculated. Till we plumb wore out the fun of it all. What it was was this. We’d captured our fair share of the enemy, plucked ’em off the battlefield ‘stead of pickin’ ’em off the battlefield. We call ourselves a God-fearin’ nation, after all. Then we brung they sorry selves to the durned dead-center of our world.
And put them suckers to work.
And here they been for ’bout nearly one full year, a’plantin’ and a’growin’ and harvestin’ potatoes. Back-breakin’ work. Soul-breakin’ work. There couldn’t possibly be no love lost betwixt them what did the work and they what watched.
Still, we didn’t never hear no si-reens go off. And to tell the Lord’s truth, watchin’ them fellers toilin’, bent over in the hot sun pickin’and pluckin’ tore at my insides ever’ so often.
And somehow, that didn’t sit right, neither.
Our visits slowed to the speed of Aunt Madge’s molasses. Which, if you know Aunt Madge’s molasses, don’t come out the jar a’tall.
And me and Liam and Marie-France, we just went back to livin’.
Till Marie-France went and captured herself a prisoner, that is.