We were at the door saying our goodbyes when I decided to find out if Charlie knew anything about explosives. I said to Mary, “You know, I heard there was some work available using explosives doing excavation or something in Whitewood. Did Charlie have experience with explosives? He may have considered going over there.”
“Sure, he had mentioned it to me and he shared stories with dad about using explosives as a surface excavator before being employed underground,” Mary replied.
“Well, it really doesn’t matter anyhow. Bless you Mary, and take care.”
Nettie started her vehicle after I sat down in the passenger’s seat and buckled up. “What was that about?” she asked.
“What do you mean?” Answering a question with a question might get me through the five minute ride to my car without explaining myself.
“The poor woman is obviously grief stricken and you give her the third degree about Charlie’s medical and work history.”
“She started the conversation,” I said defensively.
Nettie fastened her seat belt and stared straight ahead for a moment.
“You’re right,” Nettie confessed. “I just sympathize with her. It is so sad.”
I didn’t say anything. I had never been secretive about anything with Nettie until all this started. I was only trying to protect her. At least that is what I told myself.
Nettie’s car still had the scent of the spaghetti I had eaten earlier. My stomach began to growl.
After arriving home, Nettie and I went straight to bed without much
conversation. I tossed and turned and tried to rest. Eyes opened, I lay on my back. Something was bothering me and it wasn’t the spaghetti.
Sleep eluded me as it had done time and time again since Charlie’s death. I climbed out of bed and went into the other room to prevent waking Nettie. I had been turning over an idea inside my head, like an oyster with a grain of sand again and again until it became a shiny pearl, in my mind anyhow.
Walking outside onto the deck away from any possible surveillance bugs, I called the coal mine and got the foreman in charge of the owl shift, Benny Holt, on the phone. He was reviewing the notes Jason Moss and I had written detailing instructions about preparing for tomorrow’s visit. “Go outside the building and call me with your cell phone.”
I gave him additional instructions to be kept between the two of us and of course, the men required to do the work. “Yes, I know it will be costly, Benny. I realize there will be lower methane production numbers and that will be my responsibility,” I assured him. “This has to get done and kept quiet. See you in a few hours.” I hung up the phone.
It was do or die time. No one was going to die if I could help it.
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