Chapter 36 - It's Been a Long, Long Time

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Jonathon led the way out of his office with Billy following on the way to do their rounds. As they passed Mrs. Gibson's desk, Jonathon stopped. "I want my brother's name painted on his door by lunchtime."

"Yes, sir," she said, standing. "I'll get someone to take care of it right away."

Jonathon motioned for Billy and they left the building. "I would have had it taken care of before you started working, but you caught me by surprise by coming back so soon," he explained to Billy with a smile while they walked towards the road that led to the pit.

"I've been thinking, and after the war is over, there'll be as much demand for iron as there is now," Jonathon said

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"I've been thinking, and after the war is over, there'll be as much demand for iron as there is now," Jonathon said.

"Why do you think that?"

"They'll need steel to rebuild Europe, won't they?  Their manufacturing has been flattened. The only place they'll be able to get steel is from us.  And we'll need steel here to make all the things that we haven't been able to make since the war began."

"Like what?"

"Washing machines, refrigerators, cars.  Which reminds me. As soon as I can, I'm going to replace the Duesenberg."

Billy looked at him with surprise. "Why would you do that? It runs fine."

"Are you kidding?" Jonathon asked, giving his brother an incredulous look. "We've had that thing forever, since we were kids! The Blackwell family should be seen riding in a modern car, not something that looks like it belongs in a museum. And if people see us in a new car, it'll spur them to buy new cars too. It'll be good for our bottom line."

"If you say so," Billy said with a shrug.

By now they'd reached the gravel crusher. It had just been turned on, but the men who could step away went to Billy to shake his hand and slap his back, welcoming him home.

Jonathon shouted over the machine to Esposito, a grizzled elderly man who'd worked at the mine since before Jonathon or Billy had been born.  "You explain to my brother the new routine here."

Jonathon only half listened as Esposito started, gesturing as he yelled so Billy could hear him. He took out his notebook and pen form his jacket pocket and motioned for the next most senior man, Sullivan, to come forward so he could get a report.

Just as he began writing, he heard Esposito shout, "Mr. Blackwell!" and he looked up. To his horror, Billy was laying face first in the dirt.

"Billy!" he said, going to him as others helped lift him up.

"I'm fine!" Billy shouted, shrugging off the hands that were holding him. He began smacking off the dust that coated the front of his suit with a scowl, but even though his face dirty, Jonathon could see he'd turned pale.

Jonathon leaned close to him. "What happened? Are you feeling alright?" he asked in a lower voice so the others wouldn't hear.

"Nothing happened," Billy muttered, still trying to get the dirt off his suit. Then, without warning, he ducked low, his face grimacing as if Jonathon was taking a swing at him

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