Snow settled on the ‘shovel, but no smoke burst from its pipes. It sat silent, gathering a dusting of snow in the dark, dark night.
Charles frowned at it as flakes settled on his black overcoat. “When?” he asked.
“The boys found it like this an hour ago, Mr. Graston,” Pensley stuttered. The gaunt man rubbed his hands together, both from cold and nervousness.
“A Mr. Pallas. Do you want me to get him?”
“No. Keep an eye on him. Get one of the bank boys to check his account. I want to find out if he’s gotten a sudden bonus from somewhere.”
“Yes sir, Mr. Graston.”
“And do the same for the worker from today.”
“A Mr. Tenyer. I will do that.”
Charles heard Pensley scribbling in his notepad. The man went through more paper than there were flakes in the sky. He waited until the other was done with his notes. “And the other two ‘shovels were untouched?”
“Yes, sir. We don’t understand why anyone would destroy he engine of one ‘shovel and not the other two in the pit. We’ll be shut down here for a day, two at most.”
Charles walked forward, his shoes crunching in the snow. He set his hand against the old door, the yellow paint all worn off. “Because someone wanted to send a message.”
“Not so clearly. You’ve only been with me a few years, Pensley. You don’t know the history of the organization. You have an excellent grasp of how things currently run and the recent past, but you lack that deep knowledge of how things used to be.” Charles pulled the door open with a squeal and clambered up into the seat. “This was my first. It was the first ‘shovel I ever bought. I can remember when I went out to get it. They all laughed. Said old man McGrevich would run me off before I made a single strike for heat.”
Charles ran his hands over the levers that would never again vibrate with life. “I ran this machine all those years ago. I fought my way up, and now it’s old man McGrevich, the man of money, and me, the guy who dug his way down to wealth .No, the point of this wasn’t to disable us. It wasn’t meant to strike the organization. It was meant to strike at me. Personally.”
Pensley cleared his throat. “And what would you like to do about it, sir?”
Charles shook his head. “The problem is, I built this organization. Everything is personal. McGrevich inherited his. Nothing’s personal for him.” Charles chuckled. “Well, except money. Pensley. Get some of the boys together. Time to make it personal.”
Read more of the world of Snow and Smoke here.
Read the previous story, Family Life, here.
Read the next story, Dying Songs, here.