Ah Puch settled onto his stool and adjusted the knob on the kerosene lantern for more light. The rising hiss bounced off the nearness of the rock floor and ceiling, creating the sensation of having been swallowed by a living stone monster.
He plucked an awl from his lips. Gripping it with his nippers, he worked it lightning fast along the seam running up the side of the boot. He stopped to check the placement of the magnetized plate sown into the back of the heel for the fourth time. Reaching inside the boot, he straightened the ripcord for the chili bomb and continued stitching the seam. “By tomorrow you will own the best pair of boots in the world.”
Chancho looked up from his work on a massive wall of gears, grease streaking his face and hands. “Better even than your own?”
“Mine were the prototype. I have made improvements since.”
“Incredible. I will keep them for life.” Chancho adjusted the positioning of a long, metal camshaft with a wrench until the teeth lined up with an even larger gear.
“Damn right. And if your life is any less than fifty years I’m taking ‘em back.”
“I’ll do my best, friend.” He put the wrench down before pounding the shaft further into the heart of the sprawling wall of machinery with a wooden mallet.
“Don’t worry. I’ve put too much work into these boots to let you die now.” Ah Puch snickered at his own joke.
“There!” Chancho tossed the mallet into the corner. He snapped a leather belt with his fingers to test its tautness. “If this machine doesn’t chew me to death when we start it, I’ll consider it a success.”
Ah Puch put down his work to take in the entirety of the contraption. Chancho stood on a metal grate over forty-feet long and ten-feet wide with steel beams connecting it to the roof of the cave every four feet. Where Chancho had been working, a series of gears, pulleys and belts covered the entire far side of the cave, dipping below the grate and out of view. “And this thing will lift a train?”
“Well, not the whole train,” he grinned. “But enough of it.”
“This is the craziest thing I’ve ever seen.”
“Says the man holding gadget boots in his hands.”
“Sure, they have a few special additions, but they are just a pair of boots. This…” Ah Puch indicated the entirety of the room they were in. “This. None of this was even here two months ago.” His voice echoed off the chiseled rock walls. The light from the kerosene lamp fell short of the distant corners of the cave.
“I’ll be happy when we don’t have to work in the belly of the whale any more.”
“The whale?” Ah Puch returned to his stitching.
“Oh yes. I forget you are a very bad Catholic.”
“I’m not a bad Catholic. I’m a good bandit. Although many of the Catholics I’ve known have been both.”
“It’s too bad.” Chancho unscrewed a cap from a large tank half-buried in the wall and sniffed its contents. “You should meet the sisters someday. They would set you straight.” He hefted a fuel can from the floor, directing its funnel into the tank.
“Oh I’m sure they would. But for now I’ve got no problem with being crooked.” He stopped his work to take a swig from a clear glass bottle. “So explain to me again how all my digging in this whale belly is going to win the revolution.”
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