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Ferrous Burial

Bremmer was in his element, ordering people about like the commander of some Roman army. His centurions were executing his orders enthusiastically. At least this current occupation served as a useful distraction from his Chicago visit, which kept intruding on his consciousness, like an infection that wouldn't go away. Even if he got his “factory in order " would they let him carry on, or was he, in fact the bad pizza, which needed binning? The thought plagued him and hung around his shoulders, like a deflated tire.

The crickets sung in the thick air, truck's engines bellowed, fork lifts scraped, men and women hollered and others paced about looking at their watches and nervously chewed on gum.

The scene was like a sprawling mass of orchestrated ants moving leaves, except, life-sized, the leaves were hunks of metal being loaded onto trucks. Like an army, each "platoon" was assigned to a truck, a forklift and one section of the wall. Smaller pieces of metal and debris were moved onto the truck in a team effort, larger pieces were being assembled into ziggurat like piles around the car park, for removal by the "monster trucks" as they were affectionately known.

Scott Fenton had been appointed as one of the centurions by Bremmer and he had a team of six people including himself and Tom Busey.

Tom was enjoying himself. It was sweaty but single-minded work, the pay was good, the company quite amusing, and all the guys at Carlton knew that it was in their interest to help. At first it was funny and great getting paid to do nothing, but now they knew that their wages might be affected if the farmer's carried on.

There were several others in the team with Tom: Wayne Drewitt, Andy Howden, Roger Dawkins and Mark Cebransky.

“What do you call a farmer who’s gone to College?" Wayne asked Tom. “Dunno,” Mark answered.

“An exception.”

“Yeah, very funny," Roger said.

“Why do lowan farmers look after their fuckin' pigs so well?"

“Don’t know,” Roger answered.

“Mothers always need looking after or they squeal."

“Guys!" shouted Scott, “Let’s see if we can move this piece onto the back of the truck."

They gathered around the twisted piece of metal. It looked like some sort of metal panel from some machinery and they lifted it up onto the back of the truck with associated moanings and heavings.

“I'm sure I can hear something," Mark said.

“Yeah, I'm sure you can. Crickets."

“No, I'm sure I can hear trucks, coming from over there."

“Let me take over for a bit," Scott shouted up at the forklift driver, “I’ve got a licence, here."

The driver climbed down from the cabin and looked at the licence.

“Used to do some driving at a warehouse back east," Scott continued. The driver looked quizzical for a moment and then looked at his papers. “Okay, I could do with a break."

“There are lights, I can see them coming."

They looked up and they saw in the distance a convoy. Other people had noticed them too.

Scott's viewcom came to life. It was Bremmer.

“We think the farmers are coming. I remind you strongly of what we've agreed. Anyone caught up to shit will have to answer to me and keep your boys in control."

The ants stopped. The farmer's trucks rumbled closer in the dead of the night, until finally the arcs of their lights cast macabre shadows across the face of the wall. They came to a stop in a line facing the wall, their bright lights still on. No one moved. Engine fumes puffed into the night sky.

Finally the doors of the cabs opened and people got out. They were only visible as flecks of movements as the lights were so bright to the Carlton guys.

“Carry on” Bremmer's voice bellowed over the viewcom.

The ants started up again and the farmers watched with an impenetrable silence.

“I say we dump what we've got and go and get some more," Dave Rhobson said.

Dave sat in a cab with Elvis and Jakob Hamburg. Jakob sat contemplatively and occasionally slurped his beer.

“We always knew they would do this eventually. I'm surprised they haven't done it before," Elvis said.

“Well," said Jakob, finally, “They can take it down, but we will just have to build it up again. Only even higher.”

“Damn right”

“Much higher. I remember once I saw this movie when I was a kid,” Elvis continued, “It was called Cool Hand Luke or something like that. It had a big star at the time in. Can’t remember his name. He had big piercing electric blue eyes...anyway he was in prison and somehow or other he got away. No one had ever got away before, but he did. He became a hero of the prison; he sent his inmates postcards of his new life. He got married and was wealthy, some shit like that, I can't remember all the story now...Anyhow he faked it all for them, just to keep their hopes up. Then they caught him again.

“When he got back the guards were gonna have a piece, so they made him dig this hole and then they said he ought to fill it up again. Dig this hole then fill it up again, dig this hole and then fill it up.

“Days it went on until finally he broke. He hadn't before. The hero had broke. He pleaded with them not to ask him to do it no more. It was like the whole goddam place had lost hope. He escaped again in the end I think.

“Trick is to wear them down. Sure they can take the wall down. We'll just build it higher again. They'll take it down, and we build it higher, until the election and maybe then all this shit will go away."

They sat in silence and watched the activity going on the other side of the wall. Jakob got down from the cab and stood next to the truck with his arms on both hips.

“Come on then guys," Jakob shouted finally, "Let's get this shit in place and give them something to think about.” The trucks turned around. Jakob directed them towards various points of the wall. On both sides they were shouting at each other, but the wall was still too high to climb over.

Jakob stood beckoning a truck backwards to deposit some material.

Scott Fenton was on the other side of the wall in a fork- lift pushing and scooping steel. Scott pushed the machine hard into the wall and the debris toppled.

“Hey watch what you are doing!" Wayne shouted but Scott couldn't hear.

The top of the wall wavered and then collapsed in a mountain of noise.

Scott could hear shouting from the other side of the wall. A circle of farmers was huddled around the base of the wall and he could just make the arm of a man quivering underneath the rubble. A cry went up from the farmers, a cry of anger and disbelief. A truck rammed a hole in the wall and they streamed through.

Bremmer implored his troops to move inside the building. Ellephanie called the state police. Scott Fenton ran like a hunted rabbit back towards the relative safety of the buildings.

Amidst the anger and aggression, Jakob Hamburg lay bleeding from the stomach beneath a pile of rubble. Elvis sat by his side, peering at him through the rubble and held his hand.

“There’s nothing they can do," Jakob said quietly.

“No, I'll get them to move the rubble; people are on their way to help. Hold on now Jakob, you just hold on there, we need you. 'Sides I need someone my age to drink beer with..."

“You make sure all this doesn't get out of hand now, you hear." Jakob's voice was weak. “Elvis I mean it.... started down this road for a reason.... Get a result not cause anarchy.... Anderton’s father would turn in his grave ...in his grave...in his gr...You say hello there to my wife and famil...famil ...”

“Now come on rest up there. You just keep quiet now, we're going to get you out of there, I promise you,” Elvis squeezed his hand “You one of the old school, you and me. We've seen so much change; we'll see it through. It's all going to be all right now. Hear those sirens, coming to help, get you out of here now. Keep awake now, Jakob you son of a bitch, you stay awake now. Remember that time we went fishin'? Hey Jakob you remember the fishin’? Jakob. Oh shit! Jakob? Oh, no Jack, don't die on me! Oh Jees man, oh goddam! Don't die on me...Jakoob!! Jakoob!”

Elvis stood up his eyes streaming with tears. Jakob's hand thumped to the floor.

“You goddam mother fuckers, you sons of bitches, you stupid fuckers, look what you gone and done. You killed this man you sons of bitches, you killed him!”

No one could hear him. The farmers were throwing metal at pieces of glass, trying to get into Carlton, and inside Carlton, anxious faces were looking out.

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