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"The Tech Rep: By James Michener; Continued

"Holt lashed himself to the girder, whose twisted top refused to break loose, and with his torch began cutting through the contorted metal, but as he worked, the rest of the top, thrown about by the gale as if it were balsa wood, kept crashing into the pylon, so he had to constantly withdraw his hands and feet lest they be crushed by the steel. He worked for nearly half an hour in this way, cutting a little whenever a lull in the wind permitted but most of the time dodging the flying steel.

When the girder was almost cut away, a savage arm of the typhoon roared inland from the ocean and carried away the flapping top but also the girders below, including the one to which Holt had lashed himself. The weatherman told me, WE WATCHED IN TERROR AS THE TOP PART PLUNGED TO EARTH, WIPING OUT WIRES AND WOODEN BUILDINGS. WE THOUGHT HOLT WAS ON THIS PORTION, BUT HIS GIRDER MUST HAVE BEEN VERY TOUGH, FOR AGAIN IT REFUSED TO BREAK,ALTHOUGH ALL THE OTHERS DID. SO FOR AT LEAST TEN MINUTES THIS NEW LENGTH OF GIRDER FLAPPEP, BACK AND FORTH IN THE GALE...WITH HOLT LASHED TO PART OF IT. WE WERE SURE HE WOULD BE EITHER CRUSHED OR THROWN LOOSE.

I HUNG ON, Holt said later.

When the invading gale retreated, having done its damage, Holt gingerly unfastened the lashings which had saved him, reached out and climbed out from the flapping steel onto the lower reaches of the tower, from which he calmly proceeded to cut away the girder. When I asked him how, through all that tossing, he had managed to hold onto the acetylene torch, he said, IF YOUR JOB IS TO CUT STEEL, YOU SURE AS HELL DON'T DROP YOUR TORCH.


To be continued:



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