Alan was my Mother's fourth husband, or was it fifth? No, I can't remember. I'm going back a long way. Late 60's. Anyway Alan, wasn't around anymore, he had gone the way of all her other husbands. Dead.
Mother was completely grief stricken, but fortunately, the large amount of money he left, helped ease her terrible sadness, after a few minutes.
He had also left her a large farm. She was ecstatic. She always loved playing the lady, and now she had land, she felt she was landed gentry. She loved putting on all the airs and graces. Pretending she was posh, and trying to talk 'proper'. She took to traveling everywhere in taxi's and saying the driver was her chauffeur. Totally deluded but it made her happy.
It was while Fergie, his drinking friend American Alex, and myself, were clearing an old barn that the incident occurred. When I say we were clearing the barn, what I really mean is that we were having a nose around while Mum was in town, dealing with her profound grief, by spending lots of money on herself. I was keen to share her burden, so in fairness I ought to point out that she had promised to buy me a motorbike.
It was me who discovered the wooden box. It was riddled with woodworm, and fell to pieces as I dragged it out of the corner, spilling it's contents.
"What's that you found John boy," drawled American Alex, the psuedo cowboy, in his fake accent.
"I don't know," I answered, picking up a small cylindrical package, and tossing it to him.
He caught it deftly in both hands, "Oh Jesus, it's sticky! Look at my hands. What the hell is it?"
I picked one up carefully, and peeled back the greaseproof paper from it. It was wet and leaking. Ugh! Laughing I threw it at him, "catch!" It hit him on his shoulder and fell to the floor.
"You little bastard!" he shouted, and as I ran from the barn, he picked up several of the sticky packets and began throwing them at me. One hit me square in the back. I picked it up and began chasing him with it, intent on getting him back.
Fergie was now looking into the broken box. Suddenly he shouted my name so loud, "JOHN!" that I stopped in my tracks. "Put that down NOW! Slowly."
I looked at American Alex. He was putting a handful of the packages carefully back into the box. I put my package down at my feet.
Fergie's face had turned white, "Move towards the door," he instructed.
"What's wrong Fergie, what's the matter?" I was worried.
We all got to the barn door together. Fergie started to run, I had never seen him running before, "IT'S FUCKING DYNAMITE!" he screamed. American Alex and I soon overtook him.
We all sat in a field at what we hoped was a safe distance from the barn. As we waited Fergie explained that when dynamite is wet and weeping, it is highly volatile and liable to explode at any moment.
When Mum arrived home and found us in the field, she thought we were having a picnic, "why have you invited the bobby?"
We had just finished explaining the situation, when the bomb squad turned up in their covered army truck.
Mum momentarily forgot her status as a lady, "here come the fucking boy scouts," she said.
They took the dynamite to a local quarry, and set it off in a controlled explosion. Apparently you could hear the bang more than ten miles away.
The incident made front page news in the local paper. Actually it was on quite a few of the inside pages too. Nothing much happened in that neck of the woods.
We had been extremely lucky the three of us. Fergie considered himself the luckiest though. It totally cured his constipation!
You can learn more about American Alex by reading 'The sailmakers needle and an ear for trouble'. From Friday 30th September.