blue moon (2)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Red Clay: Part Ninteen ©

The banging on the door woke up Hali with a start; his heart raced his lungs gasped for a breath of air.
The pounding sounded like the beat of the drums from his dream.
Maybe that’s what it all was all along, a freaky dream.

He rolled out of bed and opened the door to find Adalia standing there with a worried look on her face.
She asked him where he had been, she was calling his phone and there was no answer then she said she got worried so she came down to see if he was ok.

Hali looked at the table next to the bed and could see the phone flashing, indicating that there were messages waiting to be heard.
He told her that after he left her he came straight home and passed out on the bed then had this crazy dream about being in Africa and there were warriors and lions chasing him.

She gave him a puzzled stare then asked him what had happened to his shirt.
Hali looked down at his shirt and it was torn, actually it looked more like it was slashed and there were five rips that went from left to right like someone or something struck out at him in his sleep.
Pulling the shirt off he could see five red lines across his chest underneath where the shirt had been torn.
They didn’t hurt and the skin wasn’t broken but there was something definitely there.

Adalia reached out and touched his chest where the red marks were and told him maybe he did it himself in his sleep.
He told her it wasn’t possible, there wasn’t anything in the bed sharp enough and he didn’t have any nails to speak of let alone sharp enough to tear his shirt in this manner.
His roommate was out of town at his parent’s place for another two days so someone else couldn’t have done it, the door was locked from the inside.
This was quite the mystery.

Adalia stepped closer passing her hand over his chest and around his neck then asked him why he didn’t tell her that his roommate was out of town.
He was fumbling with an answer when she bent closer and kissed his lips.

Jonas sat in his leather chair at the club drinking a brandy when Leonard Cohn walked in and sat across from him.
Leonard called a server over and asked Jonas if he needed a refill to which Jonas declined.

Seeing Leonard here made him uneasy, especially after recent events and was beginning to dislike his company more and more since the day his son was born.
Rumour had it that Prohibition was coming to an end so his partnership with Cohn will not be necessary anymore and he relished that thought of not having to deal with him or being in the same room with this man.

Leonard sat in his leather chair cradling his drink telling an idea to Jonas about expanding the business with the club by opening a number of them throughout Chicago and maximizing their profits.
Go where the rich customers were instead of waiting for them to come to down to the rough side of town.
With his connection and Jonas’ buildings throughout the business sector of the city they could get more wealthy clients.

This was not acceptable to Jonas and told Leonard he had to think about it especially with the end of Prohibition eminent.
A venture like that would be a big risk.
Leonard told him he had a point but that they could still make a lot of money with the gambling and the women they employed.

Leonard’s persistence was beginning to irritate Jonas so much he told his partner he didn’t feel well all of a sudden and not in the proper frame of mind but he would think about it then got up telling the other he was going home.

Leonard had sensed Jonas’ uneasiness when he arrived at the club and joined Jonas.
This is what he was hoping for.
Leonard likes having the upper hand with the people he does business with and recent events gave him something to hold Jonas’ attention and use to get his support down the road when he needed it.
Leonard stood up and told Jonas to go home and take care of himself, especially now that he had another mouth to feed.
He asked how his son was doing.

Jonas stared at Leonard regretting ever meeting and doing business with this man.
He told him the baby was fine as was his wife.
Leonard smiled and told him that was good news, he didn’t want his partner to be unhappy, especially right now that they will be expanding and needing his full attention and support.
As Leonard was turning to go back to his seat he stopped to hand Jonas a rolled up newspaper and told him there was a story on the front page that might interest him.
Leonard bid him a good evening and went back to his drink.

Jonas took the newspaper and walked out of the club to his car.
He sat in the front seat and unrolled the newspaper.
Right there on the front page the headline said, “Woman Found Murdered”.
The story went on to describe the body of a woman found floating in Lake Michigan.
The article stated that at first she was thought to have drowned but the lack of water in her lungs and the presence of ligature marks around her neck suggests she was strangled then tossed into the water to make it look like a suicide.

The article also said there was also evidence suggesting that she had recently given birth and the police were looking into what has happened to the child.
The police are asking the public’s help with any information that may lead to the identity of this woman or the circumstances of her death to contact police immediately.
Jonas read the article a couple of times before he rolled the paper up and put it on the seat next to him then started the car and drove off towards home.
All the way home Jonas was trying to think of a solution to his dilemma.
There had to be an easy solution to his problem and a way to sever his connection to Leonard.

A hundred yards before the edge of the swamp Hali passed the reins to Jeb then told him to keep pushing them all the way to the swamp and to keep going until they were safe.
He will try and catch up later then jumped from the wagon with a rifle and took up position behind some brush to try and slow down their pursuers.

He could see the riders in the distance coming quickly, there must have been a dozen riders, to many to stop but if he could slow them down enough for the others to get away then that would be enough.
Using an old poplar for cover he took aim and shot out the horse from under the lead rider causing the others to scatter in every direction.
Picking up the slack on the trigger he shot out the heel from one man’s boot and the ear off another before they all managed to get behind some cover.

Crouching as low as he could he moved off fifty back back and to his left changing his position so they wouldn’t be able to center in on his last position.
If he could keep them at bay until darkness came then he may have a chance to run off into the swamp and find the others.

He crouched behind a bush watching them slowly weave their way towards him.
Hali was doing his best to avoid any unnecessary violence but if he had to he would kill, he has before when threatened.
Slowly he moved back some more trying to stay ahead of them to make sure no one got behind him to cut him off from their retreat.

The sound of a breaking twig stopped him in his tracks squatting down low while listening for another sounds.
It was faint but he could hear it, it was like a soft displacement of sound close.
He remained there motionless for what seemed like and eternity until he saw what he was waiting for, a tall man moving towards him.
Gripping the rifle tightly in his hand he waited until the man was almost on top of him before he stepped up bringing the stock of the rifle up to the side of the man’s head knocking him to the ground.

A bullet sprayed bark from a tree next to him stinging his face before he turned to where the sound of the gun had come from.
He let go a shot doubling over another man who had been following the first one.
Hali took a quick look to make sure there wasn’t a third man before turning and running towards the swamp.

No sooner had he gone half way to his goal when four horsemen burst out from the woods on the side of where he was running too.
They were bearing down on him quickly and had no placer to run as he could also hear the other moving in from behind him.
This was it then,. no where to run or hide so he might as well make his last stand here.

The riders coming from the woods will get to him before the ones behind him so he should brace them first and then see what’s left after that for the others.
Throwing the gun to his shoulder he stepped towards his attackers and opened up on them just as their guns came up.
Dirt kicked up around his feet but he kept walking towards them firing with each step that he took.

He saw one man get knocked back into his saddle before a bullet burned Hali’s shoulder.
The riders were fifty yards away from him before a barrage of guns burst from the shore of the swamp knocking two men from their horses and killing one horse, leaving it’s rider motionless on the ground.

Hali ran towards his friends who were now laying down cover fire for him until he reached their position.
Falling to his belly with the others we took aim at one rider and emptied the saddle before turning to take a shot at another rider.

Hali ordered the others to get in the boat while he covered them.
Jeb picked up Dakarai and carried him to the boat.
Betty stayed with Hali laying down cover for the others despite Hali’s demand for her to move out.
When the riders broke and fell back to regroup, Hali and Betty took advantage of that moment to run to the boat with the others.
Along with Jeb, they each grabbed a pole and started moving out into the swamp before the riders could reach them.

The deeper the boat moved into the swamp the darker it got.
Not the kind of dark when the sun goes down but the kind of dark where death lurks.
The water was black with the smell of rot and decay emitting from it.
Trees towered up above them with some of their bony branches clawing at the sky other reaching down to pluck them from the boat.

For hours the pushed deeper into the swamps until Jeb told then that they were close to his cabin.
Pushing to a small island in the dark the boat thumped against a dead tree while Jeb jumped out to tie the boat tether to the dead log.
Together with Hali the both carried Dakarai into a crudely build cabin, Betty followed behind carrying their supplies.

They put Dakarai on a cot and Jeb lit a lantern for some light.
Hali looked at it and Jeb told him not to worry.
No one could find the cabin where it was and no one was going to go into the swamp at night; that’s when all the gators come out he said.
Hali went over to where Dakarai lay and knelt by his side.
Dakarai looked up at him and smiled before he closed his eyes and went to sleep.
He’ll be fine Hali thought to himself then stood up and walked over to Jeb and Betty sat.

Hali asked them what they were going to do now.
Jeb said they should stay there until Dakarai gets his strength back and then they could go to Baton Rouge.
Jeb had friends there and they would help them find a place to stay.
Hali thought about that for a few minutes and agreed.
Dakarai did need time to mend before the tried to leave and they couldn’t stay out here in the swamps forever either.

A noise woke Hali up one morning and got out of bed then outside to find Jeb pulling some sort of traps out of the boat.
Jeb told Hali he got up early and went out to check some of the traps he had set up a week earlier and said that they were lucky.
Jeb pour the contents of a bucket on a makeshift table and a small mountain of crab like creatures were crawling around.
Jeb said the were called craw fish and were delicious.
Hali looked at them and thought that there wasn’t much meat on them but if they ate enough of them they may suffice.

A few dat later Dakarai was beginning to look better with the help of Betty.
Hali was beginning to think it was more Betty’s presence that was helping rather than the medicine he was giving him.
While Betty took care of Dakarai, Hali got up in the early mornings with Jeb then went out in search of foods and to learn a little about the swamps.
They were filled with plant life that he had never seen before and wanted to learn about their uses if he was going to be living here.

They pushed the boat along with long poles even over stumps that were hidden below the water surface making their way to where Jeb had placed his traps to capture more craw fish.
He also brought along bate to catch catfish, Jeb said it was the best fish anyone can eat out in these parts.
Jeb had warned Hali that there were alligators here and to always be on the look out as they could come out of no where and drag you under.

Hali had never seen an alligator but from what Jeb had told him about them, he didn’t want to either.
After checking the traps and collecting what little they had Jeb took them to a spot where they were going to set for awhile and hope to catch a couple of catfish for supper.
They sat there for a couple of hours without any luck.
Jeb said he couldn’t understand it, there was always fish here to be caught.
It was like all the fish had gone.

They decided to stay for a little bit longer hoping their luck would change when a movement caught Jeb’s attention.
Slowly he touched Hali’s leg and pointed with his eyes silently in the direction he had thought he saw something then reached for his rifle that was leaning up at the bow of the boat.
Just then Hali saw something move also and slowly picked up his rifle moving it into position.
They both sat there staring at the spot where they had seen something then in a swift movement Hali threw the rifle to his shoulder and squeezed the trigger.

The silence was interrupted by the thunder erupting from the gun waking up the swamp.
Putting the rifle down Jeb and Hali grabbed their poles then swiftly pushed themselves to where Hali had taken his shot.
When they got there they found a deer laying on a bank dead from a broken neck.
Jeb slapped Hali on the back and told him that it wasn’t catfish but it would do.
You didn’t find deer that much in the swamps any more so this was going to be a treat.

Hali hopped out of the boat into the water stepping out on the bank then picked up the deer to bring into the boat when out of the bushes a monster shot out with large snapping jaws grabbing at Hali’s legs.
The alligator must have been stalking the deer when Hali shot it, then found himself with a potential second meal in Hali.

Hali jumped back dropping the deer on the ground but he tripped over a dead stump landing flat on his back.
Seeing his chance while he was on the ground the alligator pounced at him but Hali got his feet up and kick at the massive head aside, barely escaping having the beast on top of him.
Pushing back he tried to stand but slipped on the wet ground and landed on his side this time.
The alligator turned its head grabbing the deer before slipping into the water.

Hali got up and watched as the alligator took off with their supper but he wasn’t going to let that happened then grabbed his knife from the boat and wadded in after the alligator.
Jeb was yelling at him to forget it but Hali told him that the deer was theirs and they needed it desperately then took off under the water to catch up the the alligator before it got to far to catch.

They lay in bed in each others arms.
Adalia fingers tracing the red marks on Hali’s chest.
Hali looked down on her hands and the marks then told her it was like a family crest.
She gave him a blank look and he told her that most of the men in his family were scared up mostly in the chest.
He said his grandmother said it was a sign of bravery because all his forefathers faced danger head on and never ran from it.

There was a story about his great grandfather in the Louisiana swamps where he swam out after an alligator because it stole a deer his great grandfather had killed and wanted it back so he went after it.
They say that he caught up to it under the water then wrestled for the deer and after a one hour battle it was over.

Adalia looked at him and asked what happened.
Hali looked at her and said they had a feast that night.
The alligator ate the deer and grandfather ate the gator.
Grandma got a new pair of shoes.

Jonas sat in his office at home sipping the hot coffee the servant had just brought in to him along with the morning newspaper.
The headline read “PROHIBITION OVER”.
There were pictures of people; politicians, judges and regular people alike holding up a glass filled with their choice of nectar having their first taste of legal alcohol in over ten years.
Jonas took another sip from his cup and turned page after page on his way to the business section but something caught his eye the seventh page in.

Leonard Cohen finished his dinner and ordered a brandy to aid him in the digestion of his meal.
He sat there staring at the drink in his hand.
Soon this will be legal and he will loose the main attraction to his clubs so it was essential he plan now to find to replace the loss of its allure and find ways to keep his customers flowing through the door.

Jonas was going to become a problem he thought to himself and he will have to be dealt with soon but for now he still needed him.
As long as he held something over Jonas’ head he could keep him in line until he could find a way to make him disappear and stake claim to all his properties.
Leonard asked the waiter for another brandy and his bill, it was getting late and he ought be heading on home he thought.

He collected his coat and hat at the cloak room then stepped outside onto the sidewalk.
The night air was cold and sharp as it burned his lungs when he breathed it in.
Looking left then right before stepping onto the street Leonard lowered his head to shield him from the cold wind and sprinted across the street to his car.
He opened the door and closed it quickly behind him then fumbled in his pockets for the key.
After starting the car he sat back in the seat to allow the engine to heat up then reached forward to wipe the condensation from the windshield.

That was funny he thought as he reached up with his handkerchief to wipe the condensation from the rear view mirror.
After the condensation was gone from the mirror sat back once more and stared through it but he couldn’t see anything because of the fogged back window.
As he looked through the mirror a shadow moved from the corner of the seat and into view.

“What are you doing here”?

Jonas put down his coffee cup and held the paper with both hands as he read the story below the headline “Man Found Shot In Car”.


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