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by Cholero 

Posted: 27 January 2010
Word Count: 987
Summary: For Oonah's chemistry chanllenge - a retread re-worked for the challenge.

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I am Chavez. I am in charge of the gunpowder.

It is my pleasure in the morning to sit in the sun. I choose to sit in a campaign-chair on the dome of the roof of the building where the gunpowder is stored and as I settle into this chair it creaks under my weight; it all but surrenders to the task of supporting me. But it will not collapse. For just as I, Chavez, have my duty, and just as the gunpowder which fills this store to the very rooftop beneath my feet has its duty, so too does this chair. Upon such elements is the world ordered.

Now, I must ask, why are the men running towards the ramparts?

Well, the war is over, so no matter. In fact my wife arrives today and it is certain that the massy plume of dust on the horizon over there is a sign of her approach. Many men, it is true, would count themselves fortunate in such a wife. For she is beautiful. And it would not be too much to say that she is proud of her husband (she is aware of his importance). But I have not seen this wife of mine for three years. And I must tell you that it has not been difficult for me, this separation. I have enjoyed with periodic relish the bordellos in the towns and cities of the campaign. I have certainly taken mistresses from time to time. And I have lately fallen in love with the wife of Private Overo. In short, the anticipation I feel with respect to the arrival of my wife is not straightforward.

Do the men suppose I cannot see them behind that wall?

Look at these weeds growing by the leg of my chair. It is most ill-disciplined of Overo not to have dealt with them. I shall just… yes… pull them out… ah good! Then I can shake them at him. I can shake the dirt over his head. That will be very good.

Yes. I am Chavez. I am in charge of the gunpowder.

Overo’s wife is a beauty, certainly. Such sweetness. I am madly taken up with her. Truly I am. It was not so difficult to persuade her to visit me. After all, she does not wish to see her husband flogged another time.

Why do they cheer, those men? Are they out of their senses? I must certainly devise a punishment.

It will not be awkward to meet her. I have contrived to send Overo away for a few days to collect supplies of one sort or another. For Overo is our cleverest man with the technical aspects. He knows which detonators to buy and how to preserve them and he has great expertise at laying fuses in such a way as prevents their being extinguished. No doubt, he is a useful fellow to have around. And a useful fellow not to have around. Ha! Do you hear? Do you see my joke?

That wall they hide behind, I shall order them to carry it stone by stone to Corunna. Yes. And they can carry it back too.

My wife is named Genevieve. Only recently has she arrived at her majority, and she makes this journey so that we may become complete as husband and wife. That is her will (for it is God’s purpose). I must be blunt and tell you that Genevieve is a woman who does not quicken the blood of Chavez. There is nothing about her to complain of exactly, but she is not lively in the way of these girls I have lately known. She is so very pure, do you see, and this gives her an unappealing air, certainly.

Who is that running out of the fort now? Is it not Overo? Well, he has left it very late for his departure, the fool.

Yes I am much in love with Mistress Overo. Perhaps foolishly so. But this arrival of my wife need not be a difficulty. You see (and perhaps you will feel some envy on this point), I have the rare opportunity this night of satisfying myself twice: on the one hand attending to my duty and on the other my pleasure.

It is perfect, do you not think?

* * *

The tilt and bounce of the coach would have thrown the two women onto one another many times in the course of their journey had it not been for the straps at either door onto which they gripped.
“It is the dust I cannot stand,” said the older woman.
“Indeed, it is difficult to bear,” said the younger, though her face showed no discomfort. At her throat she wore a crucifix wrought so finely that each thorn in Christ’s crown glittered.
At the summit of an incline the coach halted; the driver called out that the horses must rest and that the view across the plain was very fine.
“Should we step out?” said the older woman.
“It would permit our lungs to clear,” said the younger.
The women walked to a walnut tree and opened their parasols.
“I have been meaning to ask,” said the older woman, “who is your husband?”
At that moment there rose over the plain at some distance an enormous cloud of dust, as though the earth had spat a great chunk of itself out into the sky.
“Good heavens!” said the older woman.
The cloud stood up into a great column like the leg of a fat giant, and a quiet 'boom!' caused the fringes of the women’s parasols to sway as if touched by a puff of breeze. Atop the giant's leg a murky hat of cumulus endlessly expanded outwards.
“My husband?” said the younger woman. She reached up and touched the crucifix at her throat. “Why, my husband is Chavez,” she said. “He is in charge of the gunpowder.”

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Comments by other Members

tusker at 14:26 on 27 January 2010  Report this post
I enjoyed this, Pete.

Loved the scene setting, the heat and dust.

Chavez, scoundrel and bully, you describe well. I can almost see him and I was glad his boasting ended with a big bang.

Overo was no fool, it seems.


jenzarina at 16:13 on 27 January 2010  Report this post
What a wonderful voice! I can still hear him in my head, the good-for-nothing bully.
Good ending and characters.
With its mix of humour and brutality it reminded me of Louis de Bernieres, which is a compliment.

Bunbry at 18:06 on 28 January 2010  Report this post
Ha ha, good stuff, I like the way the reader is in on the joke and can relish the man's downfall.

Following on from Jen's comment, I'm currently reading some O Henry stories, and this has a feel of those too!


Mind you Pete, apparently O Henry learned his craft while in Jail!

V`yonne at 20:35 on 28 January 2010  Report this post
I loved the voice of this and the change in pov. I thought Overo was up to something

Prospero at 07:46 on 29 January 2010  Report this post
Hoist by his own Petard, what? Damn' fine 'riting, young shaver.



Findy at 15:38 on 29 January 2010  Report this post
A dash of history into the theme, very interesting. Very atmospheric, feel as though I am watching the story.

Enjoyed very much.

Crimsondelilah at 14:08 on 30 January 2010  Report this post
Nice bit of storytelling - very tightly written.

Impressed that you managed to flesh out so many characters with so few words.

Chavez certainly got his just deserts - I chuckled at the end.

Well done.

Cholero at 21:55 on 31 January 2010  Report this post
Thanks Jennifer, Jen, Nick, Oonah, John, Findy, Crimsondelilah

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