Sunday, July 3, 2011

"The Idylls of Staff Bickerston" by Tom Sheehan (chapter 3)

Marco never mentioned the sudden appearance of glass panes in the old chicken coop. He just assumed that his father had replaced the glass for his entertainment. Vaguely he could remember his father saying he saved the glass from the old greenhouse that had long ago ceased to be. Staff had stacked the glass in a corner of the cellar. “We’ll have need of it someday.” There was no way of accounting for it, but that someday was here.
The lure of the hill out back pulled at him again. Where the chicken coop had been his father’s “place,” Marco had a spot of his own, and he slipped into the brush and climbed the small rise behind the house. His own place was a cave so small and so slight that only he could get into it. It was perhaps seven or eight feet deep and four feet high. The cave actually had been formed by three huge stones, which had been brought against each other long ago. Time had set a mound of vegetation growing over the stones and hiding the cave. In his mind, he called it “His Columbus Place,” being the first one, he believed, to find it. One wall was always damp, but the air had a magic touch to it and the same silence he found in church he found in the cave, an awesome and overpowering silence, as if a huge hand had transferred it.
It was here that he found his ammunition, finding some of it in small round stones on the floor of the cave or chipping it off the top of the wall where its deep-seated shine attracted him on his first visit. An old cobbler’s hammer he’d found in the cellar sat in a small box with some other tools, and with it Marco chipped away enough ammunition to fill his leather pouch. A few stones, too large for ammo pellets, he left in the box in the cave, thinking about making hatchets out of them later on. The old Indian exhibit of arrowheads and spearheads and hatchets at the library had intrigued him from the first moment he’d seen them.


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