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Things That Go Boom (1200)

Published by Prometheus in the blog Prometheus's blog. Views: 101

In the long gone days before the country was roamed by packs of bureaucrats and lawyers a boy could smoke whenever he wanted provided he planned ahead and rationed himself. There were certain designated smoking areas. These all had only one requirement; a lack of adults. Mind you most of the smoking came from around the singed remains of his eyebrows, but occasionally a person could witness a “full body” smoke. Full body smokes were, even then, agreed to be unhealthy.

Back in those days we had a holiday, the best holiday of the year, and it was called The Fourth. Now days during this same time of the year a different holiday call The Fourth of July has displaced the original and vastly superior holiday. The Fourth of July has as much in common with The Fourth as a kitten does with a wet rabid mountain lion. I’ve heard some conspiracy theories about how the government has enslaved the citizenry by making them fill out their names on forms using only capital letters. What has happened to The Fourth could be the key to unlocking the answer to that theory.

The necessary smoking supplies were secured from handy dispensaries that popped up all over the country in spring like colorful flower displays. The proprietors of these shops of bliss weren’t without ethics and didn’t just sell to anyone though. A customer had to meet stringent standards. To wit; they had to be tall enough to see over the counter, they had to be able to articulate the words “I want” and they had to bring their allowance money.

Every member of the Cult of Things That Go Boom I know got their start with what is commonly called The Blackcat. For those who might have grown up in Zaire or are too young to remember what freedom is, a Blackcat looks like half of a grey cigarette. Like cigarettes they can not only lead to smoking but are just as addictive. The average eight year old boy would start by purchasing a “brick” which is a quantity that could last for up to 15 minutes, or much less if they didn’t spend the hour separating them into single servings. The first boom he released into this universe used the technique of dashing three of four times up to the Blackcat with a lit punk from twenty feet away until the fuse finally caught. A punk was a stick with cow poop glued to it and was good for smoking only when combined with things that go boom, but that’s a completely different story.

After a boy had lit, or to use the technical phrase, set off half a dozen on the driveway the quest to see what they could really do began. An ant hill would be located and a miniature model of NASA would be constructed. No one realizes how hard it is to find an anthill when you actually need it. Then a soda can would be found with the intention of setting off the Blackcat inside it. The boy would then realize that his technique of repeatedly dashing up to the fuse with a lit punk couldn’t be used for this application. The smarter boys would attempt to dangle the Blackcat in the can by pinning the fuse between the top of the can and a pebble. This would invariably lead to the Blackcat falling into the last few drops of soda in the bottom of the can and extinguishing the fuse. The less intelligent boys would then use this as an example of the stupidity of being smart. However, this was actually part of a larger conspiracy I’ll explain later. The end result would be the least intelligent boy would be nominated by using the word chicken repeatedly to hold the Blackcat over the opening, lighting the fuse and then releasing it only when there wasn’t too much fuse to be extinguished.

That boy was now acclimated to holding a Blackcat in his hand while lighting the fuse. This would turn out to be a false sense of security since the Communist country that produced these Blackcats and the soda cans had adapted them for warfare. Every hundredth fuse was designed to burn at a speed usually only associated with comets. This would invariably lead to fingers that looked like elongated pomegranates and the success of the communist country in forever crippling the trigger fingers of a whole generation. This also led the boy to want to dissect the Blackcat like an alien invader to figure out what makes it tick. It wouldn’t take long for the boy to figure out that the grey powder in the center was where the real power was at, much less time in fact, than it took his mother to ask where his eyebrows went.
This grey powder is something like a “gateway drug”. Since I’m pretty sure the statute of limitations has expired for denting a baseball diamond I will give an example of what it can lead to:

Not that long before I discovered the power of the grey powder, through a gross lack of intelligence I now realize, my mother bought me an Estes Rocket Kit. Kids now days may not know what these are, since the last I heard; the government classified them as terrorist devices or something like that. Basically what the Kit was for was to build a miniature surface to air missile. Why the government would feel it needed to be worried about something like this I will never know.
The only failure of the kit was that Mr. Estes always forgot to pack the actual warhead. I thought about writing a letter to point out this gross oversight to him but then I got too busy unlocking the magic of The Grey Powder. Besides, the powder itself had presented a solution to me that would save all that tedious writing. I realized that by taking a shotgun shell and emptying it out, filling it up with Grey powder and taping a BB over the primer in the end of the shell anyone could make a warhead. The first and only flight of Grey Powder1 was an absolute success however it also resulted in the absolute loss of all hardware and pointed out the unnecessaryness of putting the “One” after Grey Powder.

These lesser examples of the power of things that go boom aren’t nearly as dangerous as more advanced applications. The most dangerous is when you add “has a father who owns a laboratory” to the list of positive attributes of potential wives. This can actually not pay off so I’d recommend leaving it off, by the way. As it turns out, the vast majority of owners of laboratories learned about the power of the Grey Powder long before you did. Not to worry though it will turn out all right because by this point in his life he will have discovered that the grey powder can be bought at most Sporting Goods stores in pound cans, and can be content with a brass cannon even if he didn’t get the twenty kilograms of the good stuff…. or so I’d speculate.
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