blue moon (2)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Red Clay: Part Nine ©

The desk sergeant looked up and standing there before him stood a young black man looking frightened and haggard, his shirt was caked with dry blood.
He asked if he could help him as his hand inched closer to his revolver, you never know now a days with all the drugs and nuts running around, not even the police are safe.
The boy told him he wanted to report a shooting up the highway.

Feeling a little safer but still cautious he picked up the phone and called to the back for his captain to come to the front desk.
Then he asked the boy his name and wanted to see proof of identification, his driver’s license would do.

His driver’s license said his name was Hali D. Rose from Baton Rouge Louisiana.
He said he was on his way to Los Angeles to finish his last semester at medical school there.
The captain walked in just then, as he walked towards the front desk he took in the boy’s appearance with every step that brought him closer.
At the desk, the sergeant brought him up to speed and then he opened the side door for him to walk around the desk.
They both walked to a desk in the open where he had the boy sit down and asked him to slowly tell his story from the beginning.

When he was done the Captain told him he was a long way off if he was going to L.A. from Baton Rouge, by about 800 miles in the wrong direction.
The boy said he wanted to go by Vegas and see the bright lights because after graduating he won’t have the opportunity as he was heading off to Africa with the Peace Corps to help the people there.

The captain thought for a bit while reading his notes then called out to the desk sergeant and told him to send an officer over to the gas bar up on the highway.
Turning to the boy once more he asked the boy to tell him again from the time he walked into the gas bar what happened.

Hali had gone only five miles past the police station when he pulled over to the side of the road and talked himself into going back to do what he thought was the right thing to do.
If he didn’t it would haunt him forever and he had a feeling this night would do just that anyway.

Over and over he told the police the same story and still they asked him to tell it one more time, probably looking to see if he is lying.
Just then the desk sergeant came over and asked to speak to him.
As they were talking they both kept looking back towards him and then the captain came back and asked him to stand.
He was then cuffed and taken to a cell where he was told that he had to be held because of the scene they found at the gas bar.
Hali asked about his car and the officer said they would take care of it for him.

Now he was sitting in a cell waiting to find out what was going to happen to him.
When he left Baton Rouge two days earlier he had no notion of going to Vegas but when he got close to the Arizona border a voice in his head told him to turn and the next thing he knew he was heading to Nevada and this nightmare.

It had been a long three days travel so far and they had at least another month of this to go before they reached California, their destination.
Having lived the life of relative leisure most of their lives they were not used to the conditions they were being subjected to now and it was hard on them as they struggled to accept the bad luck that had fallen on them but they were determined to get back on their feet once more.
He was confident their luck would change and he would replace the lives they lost with a better future for him and his family.

He went to tend to the horses and make sure they got some oats while his son added wood to the fire so they could cook dinner.
As he was brushing down the horses he thought he heard a sound close by in the bushes but after a while he suspected it was a small critter foraging for some food.

When he was done tending to the horses he walked back to the camp and he could see his son poking at the fire trying to get it going.
As he was smiling his approval at the boy, a man stepped out of the bushes and split the boy’s head like a piece of wood with an axe.
His brain barely started to scream when the camp filled with men and it was over.

No new beginnings, no future, all gone, all gone was the last thing he thought about as he looked up at his body standing there headless before it collapsed on him.

Screams filled the night as men ran through the camp trapping the three women so they couldn’t escape.
One of the intruders grabbed Mary as she ran for the woods and threw her to the ground then he got on top of her.
She beat him back but he only laughed at her as he tore her dress open.

A man walked out of the bushes and kicked him in the side of the head sending him rolling off the girl then using his heal of his boot he stomped down on his face.
Once, twice and then he heard the neck snap with the third one, the others stood there staring in disbelief as he turned to them.

He stood there and told them his orders were not to touch the girls and that meant he didn’t want the girls touched.
Annabelle ran to help her sister on the ground as her mother did but the man grabbed the mother’s the arm then tossed her to the men and told them if they needed a woman to use the old woman but the young ones were off limits.
He then turned grabbing each girl and bound her hands before he marched them off into the woods where he put them in the back of a wagon then drove off leaving his men to their pleasure.

He wasn’t used to this type of work and no matter how much he thought of it as a job, he was sure his mother would have not approved in his choice of occupation.
He sometimes missed the life up in Maine, but Maine was a long time ago and a totally different world than this one was.
He drove off into the wilderness, the wagon dancing to the tune of the whimpering girls coming from the back of the wagon.

It had been a year since the bodies of Smith, his wife and son were found by the road.
His son had been bludgeoned and his wife brutally raped then strangled, Smith himself was decapitated but his head never found, probably taken by an animal.
His daughters Mary and Annabelle were never found anywhere despite a extensive search but a wagon that is believed to have been used to cart off the girls was found abandoned on the beach and is suspected the assailants were pirates that had taken the girls with them.

Rebecca was rushing around Savannah with her mother going from shop to shop looking for the latest fashions that had been imported from France.
She was excited about her wedding this weekend.
From the first day she saw Jonas he made her heart pound and her blood boil.
He was a gallant gentleman who always treated her with gentle thoughts and hand.

Her parents approved of him and she was sure her mother was in love with him also; she could see it in her eyes when she looked at him.
Her father was impressed by his success and business ethics that he displayed by not only growing a full crop but also expanding his holdings by purchasing the Butler property after a fire wiped out his crop and decided he would go west and try their luck there.
Jonas bought him out at a fair price and even offered to have them as his guests on his ship when it went to California to drop off trade goods.
The Butlers were eternally grateful.

Jonas sat in his office pouring over his paper work figuring out the month’s profits.
Hammering could be heard all around the outside of the house as he had hired carpenters to add extensions to the sides of the Smith house making it bigger for him and his soon to be wife Rebbecca.
He sat back in his leather chair thinking for a bit about how his plan was falling into place.

Buying the Smith place initially was a stroke of luck and with Daniel’s assistance he had acquired the Butler estate putting him right next to his future father in-laws holdings.
It would only be a matter of time before that will become part of his empire, especially with his marriage to Rebbecca and her being the only heir, it should be easy.

There was a knock at the door, Jonas collected the papers in front of him and put them in the top drawer then called them to enter.
Daniel walked in and sat down in the chair in front of the desk.
Jonas asked him if he took care of that person that was snooping around the docks the other day.
Daniel told him that he was taken care of after the boys talked to him for a couple of days, they would have talked to him some more but he didn’t last longer than that.
He said he was a Pinkerton detective that was sent to find any news about the Butler family.
It seems Butler had sent a letter telling his brother that they would be traveling to San Francisco in a week but had not arrived yet after six months and were now worried so the brother hired the Pinkerton agency to investigate and find out their where a bouts.

Jonas took in this news and decided he will just wait and see if anything filtered down to him.
The only connection he had to the Butlers was his purchase of their property and it was well known that he had given them more than it was worth at the time.
He looked at Daniel and told hi, to keep his ears and eyes on alert just in case they send someone else but until then it was business as usual.

He then asked him how everything was going at the Butler place with the tilling and replanting of the burnt fields.
Daniel told him with the fifty additional slaves they had just acquired it was going to be easy to get the work done and to handle the both estates after that.
He had put the old and sick slaves to do the work on the destroyed fields because they were expendable so if any died there was no great loss.
They would have to breath all the ash dust as they tilled the earth and he used the young strong slaves to plant the existing fields with this year’s crop.

He had hired a couple of more men to help James to keep the growing slave population in line.
With 117 slaves now he would need at least 20 men to watch them all and to make sure none of them tried to escape.
The punishment for running away was death to be carried out by anyone who caught a run away slave.

Jonas nodded his approval and told Daniel to send word to Smith that he wanted to talk to him about the next shipment of goods to San Francisco.
When they had addressed everything Jonas needed to know Daniel got up and left Jonas in his office.
As he was mounting his horse Mr Baker pulled up to the front of the house.
Daniel suspected that Baker didn’t like him much and didn’t really care if he did or not, he worked for Jonas, not Baker.

Baker took a long look at Daniel as he was passing him on his way up the porch.
As he entered the house he looked around at the work being done then called out for Jonas as he walked into the foyer.
Jonas came out of the office to greet his future father in law.
After exchanging formalities Baker mentioned Daniel and told Jonas that he didn’t trust that man that he looked like a thug and was probably dangerous.

Jonas assured him that Daniel was of the trustworthy sort and just looked rough because of his job.
Then asked Baker what he thought of the renovations he was doing to the old Smith place.

Baker told him he was impressed, with the additions this made his house bigger than the one he lived in
Jonas told him he was installing a water pump inside the kitchen so that the servants wouldn’t have to go outside to fetch water because it would be right there for them to get.

Baker asked him what he intended to do with the Butler house and Jonas told him that he was going to convert it into a slave compound for them to sleep in.
Baker saw the logic in this and asked how his planting was going.
Jonas repeated the report Daniel had just given him and told Baker how he hoped he would have the Butler place with a crop this year also.

Jonas told one of the house servants to bring them some brandy as they both sat down in the study.
He came back into the room carrying a tray with two glasses and a decanter filled with brandy but when went to step on a rug his toe got caught and he tripped sending the contents of the tray smashing to the floor.
Jonas leaped to his feet his rage showing on his face and his hand poised to strike out but he mentally held himself back and barked to the servant to get the mess cleaned up right away.

Baker saw Jonas’ temper just then and how he held back from striking the servant, he didn’t know if he should praise his restraint or fear his temper.
After they had finished their brandies Jonas told Baker that he had business to attend to before the wedding on Saturday so he needed to be excused.
Baker understood completely and apologized for detaining him, then thanked Jonas for the Brandy.
He told him he would see him at the house for the wedding on Saturday.
As Baker drove off he couldn’t get the picture of Jonas’s rage out of his thoughts.

Jonas called to one of the servants and told him to go to the stable and saddle a horse for him.
Jonas used to go for a two-hour ride everyday out into the woods alone, no one knew where or cared to ask.
When servant had left the house he went out back to the garden by the servant’s quarters for ten minutes before he returned back in and out the front door to the stable to pick up the horse that was there waiting for him.

Grabbing the reins he mounted on the back of the stallion and kicked the horse into a trot. As rode past the garden he looked at the swaying body of the servant that had dropped the decanter, still twitching in the wind as he swung there by the neck from the limb of a poplar tree.

Diego stood at the window looking out into the courtyard wondering where Ada and the boys were.
They had been missing for hours and it was starting to get dark outside causing him to worrying even more.

Ada looked to her left and she could see a faint trail, out of desperation she ran for the small opening yelling at Dakarai to run with her.
Dakarai ran past her leading the way for them to run down the path and run they did.
Ada had both her arms around little Thilivhali as she ran as fast as she could behind him, the branches whipped them mercilessly as they sped through the thick jungle.

She wanted to look back to see if they were being chased but was afraid to look and just kept running.
She began to feel like she had been running her whole life and it has seemed that way for the last year now.
They ran as fast as they could for about fifteen minutes but that’s all she could take, she had to stop.
Dakarai on the other hand could have run forever it seemed.
They crouched there in the brush listening for any sounds.
She was having problems hearing if there were any sounds do to the pounding of her own heart as it was still racing from their dash for freedom and the danger that was still lurking out there looking for them.

They couldn’t hear a sound, so they stayed as quiet as possible to get their wind back.
She looked at the baby, he was smiling and happy, probably thinking this was all fun or a game but it was real, very real.

An hour had passed and not a sound had reached them.
She knew they couldn’t stay there much longer and they had to be close to getting out of the jungle.
Diego must be out there looking for them by now, he would have noticed their absence and come out to look.
She told Dakarai they were going to start going but they would have to stay very quiet so they wouldn’t be heard.

Slowly with guarded steps Dakarai moved out leading the way with Ada crouched and close behind him.
As they made their way through the jungle, Ada saw it’s edge leading out into the open and hopefully safety.
Just then they both heard a sound behind them and they got up and started to run once again as fast as they could to get away and out of the jungle.
They noises behind them were getting louder and more steps and voices could be heard now behind them.

Dakarai kept slowing down for her to catch up but she couldn’t keep this pace up much longer and then she stopped there.
Ada began taking the sling attaching Thilivhali to her and gave him to Dakarai and told him to run as fast as he could and get help to come back for her.
He refused to leave her but she insisted that it may be the only way to save them all so he reluctantly turned and ran as fast as he could ahead of her to the clearing.

She watched Dakarai disappear into the distant light as she struggle to get there herself, if they caught her it didn’t matter as long as Thilivhali and Dakarai were safe.
Her legs were tired but she had to keep on going, if she stopped now they would only cramp up and then she wouldn’t be able to move at all.

Those behind her were now getting closer as the sound of their running was getting louder.
She pushed on, limping towards the opening that wasn’t more than twenty yards away now.
Twenty steps, even thirty more steps it was still freedom of this jungle.
She looked back and could now see them coming towards her not more than fifty yards back.
The jungle was now getting brighter where the sun shone in from the outside when she burst out into the clearing and falling into the arms of Diego as he stood there with his sword in his hand.
Dakarai was behind him holding Thilivhali in his arms.

Diego asked her how she was but before she could answer twelve tall black men armed with spears and machetes stepped out surrounding them.


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