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Cartoon stick figure drawing conceptual illustration of angry man or businessman targeting with antique cannon ready to fire.

Filed Under , on May 4th, 2019

Bolt-Action Cannonball Sack

By Seth Kabala

“Can you do the bolt-action cannonball sack?” Ella asked me today during bedtime. She was trying to remember the name of the move I do when I toss her over my shoulder and then flip her onto the bed. (I call it the fireman’s carry/toss.) Earlier, she was playing Fortnite with Will and must have been still thinking about the names of weapons. Oh, the crazy sentences that result when ideas combine.

Oh, the crazy column ides that spring forth when you steal your daughter’s sentence and make minimal attempts at historical accuracy.

* * *

Jack crouched behind the cannon, fingers in rags, rags in ears, dreading both what was coming right in front of him and who was bearing down on him from across the field. He’d been an artillery gunner in the Continental Army since the start of the war. With practice, he’d learned to anticipate the cannon’s ignition fire.

Retrieve ball while firing gunner primes barrel with powder, drop ball in barrel, add waddage, ram until charge snug, clear muzzle, pull rags from pockets (two steps), rags in ears (four steps), fingers in rags in ears (seven steps), throw body behind rampart, firing gunner ignites charge, ball fires when body hits ground.

He knew the steps, knew the enemy was coming, anticipated the blast of the ball and the wet crunching and disbursement of body parts, some bits of which always landed in his hair, and he feared it. It was a fear like wondering when your girl would betray you. Even when things were going well, when you’d seen her breasts, felt their weight, and were, with teasing eyes, promised more, you always wondered when it would ignite and become ashes.

Such a scenario was true for Jack, at least the going well part, except for the war, of course. He had a girl at home, a promise to wait for him until the fighting had ended, but he also had constant anxiety. What if she moved on to another travelling soldier? She’d left one man for him. Surely it was possible for the same scenario to repeat.

BOOM!

He waited a beat, wiped the fresh blood sheen off his face, wiped his mind of anything except the task at hand–load cannonballs, kill Redcoats. Annabelle would never have the chance to show him the promised more if he couldn’t get his shit together and ended up as blood sheen on the enemies’ faces–and went to grab another ball from the sack.

It wouldn’t open.

He panicked, internal temperature shooting instantly to hot, sweat bursting out of his brow, mixing with the enemies’ blood, and running into his eyes. He grabbed both sides of the sack, great handfuls of heavy cloth, and pulled out with maximum effort. He felt like his shoulder muscles would snap, the ball joints separating from the bones and popping out of his skin. But the sack stayed closed as if bewitched by some enemy sorcery.

The roar of enemy forces was growing louder, not just in front of his cannon, but up and down the whole artillery line. Jack snuck glances to his left and right. All gunners he could see were struggling with their cannonball sacks. All cannons were quiet, but the enemies’ roars more than made up the difference. Jack saw it on their faces as they charged across the field: they sensed the involuntary ceasefire, smelled the weakness, and tasted victory.

Jack tasted blood, as his body temperature and the sheen had worked together with his sweat to form a flow that found his mouth. He looked down at the sack, hoping for a miracle. There was still perhaps time to load and fire a shot before he was overrun. His eyes widened, mouth dropped open in disbelief. As the enemy soldiers jumped the line and bayoneted his neck, he thought it both perplexing and curious how an open cannonball sack had sewn itself together into a piece of whole cloth, surrounding all the cannonballs in a spherical prison.

His last thought before entering the theater where the lights never come up was that the weight of a cannonball and the weight of one of Annabelle’s breasts was about equal.

* * *

What is a bolt-action cannonball sack? Bolt-action I get. That’s turning the slide bolt on a rifle to open the breech and make room for the jacketed bullet, then closing the bolt and sliding it forward to seat the bullet firmly in the chamber. That is also what she said. Think about it for a second. You’ll get it. Not coming? Ok, imagine the jacketed bullet (the long, hard, pointy thing) got hung up on its way into the chamber. What’s a responsible operator to do? Why slide open the bolt and withdraw the bullet, and slide open the bolt and withdraw the bullet, and slide open the bolt and withdraw the bullet (starting to get the picture?) until it breaks its tension hold on the breech.

So that’s a fun way of thinking about bolt-action. What about when combined with a cannonball sack? I submit to you, dear reader, that out of the mouths of babes, a solution has presented itself. What solution, what problem, what the fuck are you talking about, Seth? You may be asking yourself. The answer is obvious: to guard against hangups and unwanted fiber binding at the opening of cannonball storage sacks used during the Revolutionary War.

The manufacturers of these bags sourced their thread from the Yucatán Peninsula. Unbeknownst to them–but captured by cell phone cameras of ultra-early technology adopters–a radioactive comet crashed into the peninsula at around 1,000 BC and contaminated the local rayon crop. The half-life of alien radiation is so long that scientists can’t calculate it. Too many zeroes. It’s like Jeff Bezos trying to count his wealth. After a while, you just give up in prideful frustration.

Back to the contaminated rayon thread. The radiation animated the thread so that when it was tightly bound together at the top, it knit itself together into a whole piece of cloth. This created deathly scenarios like the one describing poor Jack in my opening vignette, where a gunner would go to get a cannonball and find the bag sewn shut.

Enter the bolt-action cannonball sack.

This new prototype sack riveted a bolt-action slide to the top of the bag. To the sliding bolt, the manufacturers attached a Ginsu knife, so that each time the gunner went to get out a cannonball, they quickly shot and retracted the bolt. The quick slicing action severed any animated sewing threads, keeping the ammunition available, the cannons firing, and the gunners with at least a chance to once again feel the weight of heavy breasts.

War. Peace. Bedtime.

It’s all knit together.

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Seth Kabala

About: Seth Kabala
Seth is an entrepreneur, writer, and musician. He lives with his wife and three children in Portland, OR.

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