When I was six we nearly blew up the railroad station. I can’t believe it when I think back, but at the time it was so common for children to get our hands on explosives. The older boys, and by that I mean ten, eleven, figured out how to render the volatile agent from unexploded land mines in boiling water and pack it into cakes they could ignite with an improvised fuse. Young birch forests were invading from the West. We chopped them down with submachine guns. We never gave a thought to the police. The woods were lively with weapons, grenades, ammunition abandoned after the war. We kept our cache under floorboards in a shed outside barracks that were once a country church. We’d meet there after school to arm ourselves and hike into the woods or down to the tracks. They didn’t let me handle a grenade, but I had my own Thompson gun and a Colt sidearm nobody else wanted with plenty of bullets. Nowadays when they shoot each other up at school, there’s aways someone pointing at whoever provided the guns. The older boys were setting their cakes beneath the train station floor. I think they were laying a powder trail as a fuse. They wouldn’t let me see. We didn’t expect anybody to be in the station at that hour; it only handled freight, still. I squeezed off some manual rounds into the treetops. Something snapped down through the branches to the station roof. When I think back now on what might have happened, it’s a dream, like someone else’s life. I hollered at them: Let me see! I took my pistol from my pants and threw it to the ground. It discharged when it hit. I beat their shoulders with my puny fists.

Copyright ©February 13, 2007 David Hodges

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