Chapter 13: James and Bradley

I met up with James again on the unit. I was three weeks in, and I saw him in the chow line. I went to the back and got into line with him.

James was having a rough time. The first thing that he did when he got sentenced was to get a calendar. He marked the first day off of his two years. Moron. I only started paying attention to my time when I got short. James is a paranoid sort. Paranoid to the point of psychosis. He was afraid of being dropped, he was afraid of getting added time. He was constantly working on his appeal.

His parents kept him strung along on the appeal in hopes that he would remain positive but it did not work. He would have a visit, be happy for a few days, convinced that he would be out in a matter of weeks. He tried to convince me that once he was out, he would help spring me, because we did not deserve to be there

“You put a bomb on a gas main, shot two cows, and set a truck on fire, James.”

I finished my meal and left him there to think about it.

James was a planner. He was a manipulator. He made us all believe that what we were doing was okay, but it was just for his pleasure.

At one point I thought that I loved him. 

Walking across a pasture from the road.

The hurricane fence getting bigger.

Cows lowing.

Orion watching, always watching.

When we pulled up to the gas main, I was asleep in the car. They woke me up.

“We are here,” James giggled. Bradley was laughing too.

The bomb was disassembled and placed inside of a gym bag for transport. I asked where the propane canister was.

“Store was closed, change of plan.” James said and pointed to the main.

“This is a bad idea”

“Don’t worry about it, Michael, it will work. They always go off.”

“That’s not what I mean, I want to leave.”

Both of them in unison.

“Shut the fuck up, Michael.”

They were wearing latex gloves. This whole exchange took place on the way to the fence. I wish I could say that I defused the bomb and took off, or shot them both. Each scenario came to me many times in my bunk. I helped James cut the barbed wire on the fence. I helped him over the top. I knew how bad that this could be. There were rigs nearby.
If I defused the bomb, they would put it somewhere else. They were already talking about putting one in the post office.

A shaped charge works on the principle of direction. It was rigged under the pipe to blow up into the casing. There was a secondary charge that was to be an incendiary rigged up in series with the timer. I told James that I needed to check the device because he would blow himself up.

I hopped the fence and faceplanted on the other side. James helped to pick the worst of the gravel out of my hands.
The bomb was properly rigged. We had some firewood to stack around the device. This way if the bomb went off with ought rupturing the pipe, the evidence would have been destroyed. I looked at the shaped charge. It was firmly wedged between the ground and the pipe. I moved it over a few inches, so that the force of the blast would be diverted at an angle. I set the firewood and James engaged the timer.

I hooked up the switch.



We had forty minutes. We left to a local gas station to wait. It was utterly silent. The ride back to the scene of the crime was just as silent. As we crested a hill, the horizon shone a brilliant red in the hazy night.

James and Bradley began cheering madly. I sank lower into the seat.

I imagined the destruction. The burning pasture, the woods, houses, people, rigs, all gone. My heart was in my throat until we went over the hill and actually saw the source of the red haze.

Just a red light.

We pulled up alongside the pipeline. There was a tiny fire near it and the pipe was slightly blackened but that was it. The shaped charge was diverted. James began screaming obscenities. He called me stupid for designing a lousy bomb. I told him that it was designed to rupture a thin casing, not a 2 inch steel pipe.

He said that something had to be done to show “Them” what happens when he is thwarted. He mentioned the power plant again. He said I had to do something to make it right. This pissed me off. I had a nine millimeter pistol with me.
I asked him if he wanted to see death. He said yes.

In a rage I got out of the car and randomly emptied the clip into the pasture.
I heard stampeding hooves. Bradley appeared with a bolt action rifle, leveled it and fired. Before he could reload, I threw him back into the truck. We sped off. Although I did not know where the cows were, I managed to get two.
I had found out later that James and Bradley had been shooting cows on their own for weeks.

The next day, I was shipped off to boot camp in San Diego.

This went through my head as I walked the bowling alley. I wondered if I was ever going to see him again.

It was only a few days later that I was transferred to his dorm.

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