By the end of the second week, her school boasts a roof.
Juan sends off a letter right after the return from the library. He audaciously asks for extra credit the following morning for doing it at home. Sara doesn't seem to care one way or the other that she hasn't gotten a response from the local electric company from the letter she wrote. In fact, the windmill itself shows up before the local electrical company responds.
I strongly suspect Cu has picked up the tab, but money has never been mentioned.
The day the windmill arrives is beastly hot. The UPS truck stirs up more than dust when it squeaks to a stop in front of the school roof.
Smart driver to recognize this as the school.
It is small, more like an old time windmill designed to pump water out of a well. Juan and Miguel take the box eagerly, promptly dropping it on the ground. It comes in pieces, with directions for assembly. Tearing immediately into the packaging, Juan comes up with the assembly instructions. For an instant, Despina fears he will let them flutter into the wind, but he dutifully pours over them.
"Everything is either numbered or lettered."
"Good. We can all read numbers and letters."
Juan is evidently not as sure. "Formen Uds. una linea." He hands each child a piece based on their size, telling them to remember the number/letter the part has.
About the time she realizes she needs to come up with some tools, Cu and several others arrive, breaking out pliers and screwdrivers.
"How'd you know to bring tools?"
I don't care how dumb I sound. The coincidence bugs me.
"Truck make big smoke of dust. Nobody but you ordered nothing."
"Ah, the proverbial smoke signals."
Juan carefully moves the lines into two so that the right letters are paired with the right numbers.
He has a natural talent for organizing.
Soon the two Germans and Paul Peter from Mound show up, sans older students.
More tribal etiquette? Don't let the big kids steal the little kids' thunder?
Paul Peter approaches. "Nice looking roof."
"Yes, it is. And a real blessing not to be exposed to the sunlight. With no walls, any breeze that comes by gets in freely."
"Good slant, Pollyana. You crisped up so much that first morning, I think they were afraid they'd lose you if they didn't shake a leg."
"Speaking of shaking, how'd you shake yourself free?"
"Another water hole day. They're 'researching' an experience poem they'll write in class tomorrow." He gives a droll wink.
She glances over at the two Germans. Both are old hands with tools, she notes with satisfaction. In fact, all the men are smiling. Sweat is streaming down their faces, but everyone is upbeat.
"What's the plan?" inquires Paul Peter.
Plan? I'm supposed to have a plan? Despina gets a panicky look on her face. "Well, once it's upright, see if it works."
Soon ropes are attached and the windmill proudly raises its head above her school.
The older German speaks in measured tones. "In my country, when I boy, use battery, keep electricity."
"What kind of a battery would it take?" I have the feeling he's not talking about a flashlight type battery at all. Maybe one like a car uses?
"We build." Off the two Germans go, Cu with them, to collect the pieces.
Shades of Soylent Green Despina thinks, remembering Edward G. Robinson matter-of-factly pedaling the bicycle to generate the electricity to power a light bulb to read by.
The advent of such a minuscule amount of electricity whets appetites for more.
When the weekend rolls around, Despina hitches a ride into town with Paul Peter, not seeing the frown Cu gives her when he thinks she is deserting the ship to her White background. But instead of deserting, she is lobbying. Hitting Paul Peter up for the $8.00 nightly rental, she sleeps soundly.
He won't be in much before my normal wake-up time.
Shortly after two, a knock on the door reveals the sheriff, supporting a totally unstable Paul Peter.
Decked in a robe this time, she helps the sheriff guide him into the same bed as before.
At five, she awakens and walks into town, popping into the sheriff's office again, rousing Tony from his snoozing.
"What time does the library open?"
"The library? The library ain't open on Satadays."
"It isn't? How can I do my research?"
The sheriff's voice comes from the doorway. "I think for you, Alice'd open it up. You sure hit a chord with her. Get her the number, Tony."
"Other than that one interruption, yes, but since he paid for the room, I guess I can't gripe if he shows up."
Tony reappears, handing her a slip with the phone number on it. The sheriff points to the phone on his desk. "You can use that one."
"This ain't official business," Tony grouses.
"I'm powerfully interested in her research," he says, staring his subordinate down.
Last updated 1/2/06.