oh, yeah, i almost forgot...

Treasure of the Sierra Madre, East

Chapter five

Henry had taken the time to outline the edges of the previous pit with a ring of lime, sprinkled on the hard brown grass. Next to the outline was a huge canvas tarp, covered with sprays and spots of paints of all colors. Sitting in the middle of the tarp was the sifter, an odd looking affair, at best. It was a wooden frame, three feet square, with half inch wire screening stapled to the bottom. Attached to each corner, on the sides, were two by four legs, bolted to the frame, but not too tightly, allowing it to stand, but also to be rocked to and fro to sift the dirt.
As we stood there sizing up the situation, Henry turned toward the house. He said, over his shoulder,
“Why don’t you fellows start in while I go put on some coffee? I’ll be right back.”
He disappeared through the back door and Jack turned to me.
“Let’s start by spading the outline and peeling up the sod. We can stack it over by the barn and put it back when we’re done.”
“Sounds good to me,” I answered, pushing back my cap a bit on my head, “why don’t you start on the other side?”
And so it began.
It took us about half an hour to carefully remove the sod and stack it and as we took a break, Henry finally showed up with three mugs of coffee.
“Must have been hell picking those beans”, Jack said, chiding him for his inordinately long absence.
I couldn’t think of anything witty to say myself, so I just said, “thanks”, and took the cup.
“Nothing like a cup of steaming joe on a hot afternoon while digging a hole”, said Jack, looking at me over the upturned rim of his mug.
“Yep,” was all Henry replied again.
I took off my hat, wiped the sweat and dirt off my forehead with the back of my hand and said to them, “Let’s get going. I think this is going to take longer than we thought.”
The sun was still well over the horizon and the heat of the day was still at hand. We began to dig in earnest now. We jammed the shovels into the rock hard dirt with our feet, wiggled them to loosen it up a bit and threw shovel full upon shovel full onto the tarp. From there, Henry would spade some onto the screen, give it a shake and look for anything too big or hard to pass through it. Jack had the forethought to stand with the tarp to his right, which made for a natural throwing motion for a right-handed person. I’m a righty, too, but my vantage point meant I had to throw to my left. After the second half hour, I knew that I was going to be nursing some sore shoulders during the upcoming week. Although, at the rate we were going, we might be here all week, as the going was slow. An hour into it and we were only down about two feet. I suggested another break.
“How about some water, Henry?” I asked.
“Sure”, he answered and headed for the house again.
“Might as well have a smoke”, said Jack. “He might be a while digging that well”.
Laughing, I sat down on the edge of the divot and, taking a long drag on my butt, tilted my head back and blew smoke into the sky.


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