blue moon (2)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Red Clay: Part Six ©

The dust outside was beginning to settle which meant he could finish his drive to Vegas.
He always had this knack of being able to smell trouble before it happens and right now, he was beginning to smell a pile of it and it was sitting at the table in the back in the form of two bikers.

The bartender came over and asked him if he wanted another beer and he refused but said a coffee would be good.
When the bartender returned with his coffee one of the bikers noticed it and made a snide remark about him being a sissy.
He then got up and walked to the bar then stood there staring at John.
John turned and faced the biker’s stare, this was the wrong thing to do but he wasn’t going to be intimidated by him either.

“If you’re going to be a pussy and drink coffee, you should at least buy us a drink so real men could show you how to be a man”, said the biker.

John held his stare but his mind was racing, searching for an answer at light speed.
If he bought them the drinks it would show weakness but it would also shut them up and giving him time to pay and leave.
If he refused, then it could and most likely lead to a confrontation.

The Abigail put into Puerto Plata and Jonas along with Smith disembarked while the rest of the crew moored the ship.
They went to the center of town and made some enquiries about where to purchase sugar.
They were told where the local landowners conducted business and they headed off to see if they could secure a shipment.

They walked into the sugar exchange and asked about getting a load of sugar.
Jonas had figured if he showed up in Savannah as a businessman he would get a lot farther than he would if he showed up with only gold in his hands.
This would also give him a nice little profit than an empty ship would have.

Diego had just walked into the exchange after having breakfast with Ada.
Every morning he stopped by the sugar exchange to see how sugar sales were going and if it was going to be a good year sales wise.
He had 1000 acres of sugar cane at an average of a hundred tons of sugar cane per acre so he constantly needed to know about the market.

Every plantation owner had an office at the exchange as to be able to conduct business much easier than to have customers going great distances to get to a cane grower.
As he was walking towards his office Miguel stopped him and introduced him to the Englishman looking to purchase a hundred tons of sugar.
Don Diego exchanged greeting with Jonas and told him that he was sure they could fill his needs without any problem.
Both men sat down and discussed the price.
Actually there was nothing to discuss.
Long ago all the owners had agreed on selling all sugar at the same price giving them all an equal opportunity and also not lose money haggling over prices.
After the price was set for the hundred tons, Don Diego called Miguel over and to bring the sheet with the current amounts of sugar they had stored.

After looking at the sheet he told Jonas that there was enough at their warehouse to make delivery as soon as payment was made.
Jonas told him to draw up the papers and he would pay him the next day when he came into town.
After shaking hands they parted ways.

At the ship Jonas had the men prepare for the next days arrival of the sugar by making sure the hold was clear and ready.
If he could get the ship loaded by the following morning they could be in Savannah within five days.

At noon, Diego decided to go home for lunch and to spend some time with Ada.
He stood there in the shadows staring at her sitting in the garden enjoying the salt air blowing in off the Caribbean Sea.
Her belly was getting bigger and soon there will be a little one running around this garden.
He wondered who the father of that child was?
What kind of man he is or had been?

She saw him as he stepped out of the shadows and into her view.
They sat down having lunch and afterwards asked him about his day.
He told her he has sold a shipment of sugar and this led towards more question about sugar and its production but instead of telling her he offered to take her on a tour of the plantation and the mill.
This made her happy and excited, she had already seen many wonders here that she had never even dreamed existed before.

After going in to change into something fit to travel in she met Diego at the stable where a servant had a carriage waiting fore them.
Diego first took her to the cane fields where she saw all the workers in the fields cutting the tall cane.
There were men, women and children out there in a line chopping a wide path through what seemed an endless amount of cane.

Diego helped her down and she walked along side of him as the workers bowed to him when he passed, he smiled back to them.
After having a good look at the operation at the fields he took her to the mill which was close by and let her look at the cane juice being extracted from the cane by crushing it between large rollers that were pushed by 12 men.
He told her that the mill worked 24 hours a day in three shifts to keep up with the sugar demands of the world.
Ada watched as the men laboured against the weight of the rollers and they went around and around crushing the cane while the juice ran out of a spout then into a awaiting barrel.
The juice was then refined to make crystal sugar.

All of this was amazing to Ada who had never seen machines before.
It wasn’t long before Diego saw that she was getting tired and took her back to the hacienda to rest.
As they sat in the garden she kept asking questions about whom the sugar goes to and what its use was.
Then she asked how the workers were paid.

Diego told her the workers and the servants were slaves and didn’t get paid.
She went silent and Diego could almost read her mind.
He told her that was the way of the Spanish at the time but that he treated his slaves better than anyone.
This was true, unlike his father who only saw free labour Diego had forbidden whips and chains.
He fed and housed his workers as best as he could and allowed them to grow their own vegetables and their own livestock.

Memories flashed through Ada’s head as she began to recall the happenings of the last four months, then suddenly Ada told him it wasn’t right to force someone to work for another against their will then she got up and left for her room.
Diego stayed there staring at the stars in the night sky and thinking about this night’s events.
It’s never easy he thought.

She had just gotten dressed for bed when a knock came to the door.
A servant walked in with her bedtime snack of fruit and turned to walk away when Ada stopped her.

The black woman was in her forties but looked younger.
She asked her how she came to be here on this island and on this plantation.
Baina, her name, which means sparkling, lost the sparkle in her eyes when the question registered in her mind.

Staring down at the floor she told a story of a hell that reminded Ada of her own and finding herself in Hispaniola, she was ten at the time.
They had been sold to a plantation owner and forced to work in the fields for hours on end without food or water and constantly being whipped.
Many died.

Then one day the slaves revolted with the help of the French and war broke out.
They all fought the soldiers when they came and many more died but the slaves gained their freedom and got the other half of the island that is now called Haiti.
They all lived free on that side of the island for years, it’s where she met her husband, Makini and were married.
Soon after her son was born, Dakarai.
They were happy and farmed the land for sugar cane like they used to for the plantation owners but now it was for them.

Then one night they came while they slept.
Slaves were free in Haiti but here in Hispaniola they were not, the raiders came in the middle or the night and brought them back here, to be sold once more to those they fought to be free of.

Ada asked her about her husband.
Her eyes looked up and told her he was dead.
Whipped to death by the plantation owner himself for refusing to work when he was too tired to.
They wanted to make him an example, so now he is gone.

Ada told her she wouldn’t have believed Diego had been so cruel.
Baina’s eyes widened as she came to life, hands raised high palms open towards her telling her no no.

After her husband’s death they were left defenceless and were beaten by the owners and other slaves.
The male slaves had their way with her whenever they wishes itl.
She stared down at her twisted fingers.

Then one day Dakarai got in the way of the foreman and tripped him.
He started whipping Dakarai so she ran out to him and lay down on him to protect him.
He started whipping her instead.
Over and over she felt its bite tear at her flesh until all went dark.

She remembers dreaming of a battle between two white men and when she woke up, she was here, a slave to Don Diego.
Don Diego had come upon the foreman whipping the woman and child then beat the foreman down.
The foreman drew his sword on Don Diego and was killed by the master swordsman that Don Diego was.
Embarrassed by his employee attempt to kill Don Diego the plantation owner offered him compensation for the insult he received.
Diego chose to take the woman and boy but preferred to pay for them thus leaving any future doubts to ownership of these slaves to rest.

But Ada told her she was still a slave but with a new owner.
Baina held out her wrists to Ada.
Ada looked down on scarred wrists, years of heavy chains pulling down on them, cutting deep past the flesh and into the soul.

Baina looked Ada in the eyes and told her that here, there were no chains, no fences or guards to watch the slaves.
If you want to run you can, Don Diego won’t chase you.
Many have run only to run back begging to be taken in.
Here they lived freer and better than they would in Haiti.
We are his property but he doesn’t use us as property.
We work half a day with breaks and are fed fresh food and are allowed to grow our own.
There are no whips, we get up and do what we are told to without fear.
He supplies medicine when we are sick and teaches us to read and think on our own.

Ada stood there lost in thought for a second when a boy of about twelve walked in head held low as he passed Baina some clean towels.
Baina pulled him close to her and introduced Dakarai to Ada.

Diego woke up early as always and prepared to go for his morning walk down to the beach as he always did in the morning.
It will be different without Ada; he had grown to like her company when he walked along the beach but after last night he feared he had tarnished himself to her.

As he made his way to the front of the house Ada was standing there, waiting for him in her walking outfit.
She walked up to him and took his arm.
As they walked out the door, Baina watched them with a smile on her face.
This was the dream she thought.

Jonas sat in the ship’s cabin counting out the money for the sugar.
He was sure he could double his money because he had his own ship and with the profits he could use them to find a little place to start off with and in time, maybe a wife.
A grin snuck onto his face as Rebbecca’s image came to his mind.

Smith came in and asked him what their orders were.
Jonas told him that the next day they will be delivering the cargo and wanted it stowed as quickly as possible so they could be on their way.
He was going into town to see Don Diego to pay him and he was assured that they sugar would be waiting for them.
In the morning Jonas got up and went to have some breakfast at the local tavern before he went to meet Don Diego.

After their walk Ada and Diego sat on the terrace and enjoyed some fresh fruits for breakfast.
Ada asked him what his plans were and he told her that he had some business to attend to and would come home to have lunch with her.
After a brief silence she asked if she could go to see where he conducted his business.
After a small pause Diego saw nothing wrong with that so he told her that he would have a servant drive her to his office in the carriage so they could have lunch together at a restaurant and maybe go for a drive up the coast bit before dinner.
That made her happy and then Diego started getting up when she reached out with her hand stopping him for a second then kissed his lips.
They froze right there in time as they looked at each other before he broke his gaze then got up to leave for his meeting.

Miguel met Don Diego at the door and informed him that the Englishman was already there and waiting for him.
Jonas stood up when the Don walked in and shook hands.

After getting the paper work out of the way they counted out the money and Diego had Miguel take it and place it in the safe while Diego took Jonas to see his sugar.
Diego told him that he had assigned fifty workers to bring the sugar to his ship and assured him that they would keep on loading until they had the whole shipment loaded.
Jonas thanked him and they made their way back to the town center where they parted ways, Jonas back to the tavern for some lunch and Diego back to his office to await for Ada’s arrival.

Jonas sat at the window eating his lunch when a carriage went by and stopped at the offices of the sugar exchange.
He paid it no mind as the Negro driving came around and opened the carriage door and a woman stepped off.
He stopped eating and stared at her.
It was uncommon for a black woman to have a carriage and driver but it was known that some Spaniards had married natives to the region.
This was a beautiful woman and she looked familiar in some way.
She was led into the exchange and Jonas went back to his eating.

Ada was brought to Diego’s office and he rushed up to lead her in and held a chair for her to sit down.
Ada looked around the room and saw that is was dusty but rather neat.
She asked him what he did here and he told her that he sold sugar to people coming over form Europe or the Americas.
Ada picked up the papers sitting on his desk and looked at them.
At the bottom they were signed but she didn’t know how to read so she didn’t know who the customer would be.

Diego told her those were the papers for a sale he had just made.
Ada looked again at the papers and told him she didn’t understand the marks on the paper.
Diego reached over and took them from her and explained that when a sale was made there was always a record kept as to what was sold and who bought it.
She then began to understand.
Just then he asked her if she was hungry and she said a little but was thirsty.

Don Diego called in Miguel and told him to bring a jug of cold water to his office.
When Miguel returned he poured Ada a glass of water and as he was going out the door Diego called him back and told him to file Mr Jonas Beacham papers away.
At the sound of Jonas’s name being mentioned Ada almost choked on her water.
Jonas had been the name of the white man who destroyed her life and took all she loved away from her.

Her heart started beating faster and fear began to take over her brain.
Diego noticed the change in her and reached out to touch her but she pulled back in shock as images started filling her eyes of the dead and the smell of his breath, him forcing his way inside her.
Violating her oath to her husband.
The look on Thilivhali’s face as the light ecaped his eyes.

She suddenly got up and wanted to go and looked around the office like a trapped animal looking for escape.
Diegio rushed around the desk and tried to calm her down but she was now gasping for air like a hand, the hand that chocked the breath out of her so many times before was still wrapped around her neck.

Cautiously Diego put his arms around her as she fought back and tried to sooth her with his voice and told her he would take her home right away.
Looking at him she saw a trust she had in him and slowly calmed down then went with him but her eyes scanned every corner for Jonas.

Jonas was done with his meal and was washing it down with some wine when the door of the sugar exchange opened once more and Diego emerged holding the woman that had walked in earlier.
As he drank his wine he looked into her face and saw something that looked familiar there and then he looked into her eyes and saw a terror he had seen once before.
Realization came to his mind but how, how could she still be alive when she fell into the churning sea?

Jonas called for his bill paying for it quickly then walked out as the carriage took off down the street and he stood there staring at it.
He walked across the street to where Miguel was standing and asked him who the young lady with Don Diego was and Miguel told him it was someone new to him.
She had arrived mysteriously a few months earlier he told Jonas.
Jonas thanked him and started walking back to the ship to see how the loading was going.

Smith came in around midnight to tell Jonas that the sugar was now loaded on board and they would be ready to set sail in the morning.
Jonas had been sitting for hours thinking about the woman.
He hated leaving loose ends and she was a loose end.
He didn’t care about what he done to her but he didn’t want others to know how cruel he could be thus he needed to fix the problem now before it came back to haunt him later.
He told Smith to sit down, they had a job to do and that they would be setting sail two hours before dawn.

Ada couldn’t sleep and was standing at the window looking at the moon shining down on the glistening ocean.
She had calmed down now that’s she was safely at the hacienda and was happy that Diego had been there with her.
She had convinced herself that it couldn’t have been the same person.
It was just a name and like where she came from there were others with the same name so this could easily be someone else.

As she stared out into the ocean she saw something out there floating towards shore, in fact it was two large objects filled with people.
It was the same type of boats used to take her to the ship.
She ran to Diego’s room and woke him up with a series of hysterical yells and shouts.
Diego jumped to his feet then tried to calm Ada down by telling her she had a bad dream but she dragged him to the window and pointed to the longboats that were now close to shore.

Diego stood there for a few seconds to take in what he was seeing then ran out the bedroom and to his study then grabbed his sword before running to the door.
The whole household was awake now and filled with commotion as the impeding raid loomed upon them.
Diego was no coward and he knew that fighting them close to the hacienda would put others at risk so he took off down towards the beach alone to meet the pirates far away from his family.
Ada ran after Diego begging him not to go but to run and hide but Diego didn’t run.
Don Diego Maria Jose Dela Rosa was not a coward as his forefathers before him.
He will fight to the death for what was his.

When Diego got to the beach the intruders were running across the sand towards the house as he met them there.
With a flashing sword he cut the first buccaneer in half while quickly recovering to deflect a blow from another.
As he fought on the beach others ran past him towards the house.
Screams came from behind him and more loud noises reached his ears.
Just then ghosts burst out of the night and a real battle was now erupting behind him.

Jonas stood at the boats as he saw Don Diego appear at the top of the beach sword in hand.
A brave man but he had killed many a brave man so one more made no difference to Jonas.
He took his time as he walked toward Don Diego watching him slice his men apart with such grace and skill.
Pulling his sword Jonas moved in slashing at Diego from behind leaving a line of red down his back.
Diego turned to face him and his eyes widened as he recognized Jonas.
A rage began to grow within Diego as he shot forward with all the skills his teachers had taught him.
Jonas was impressed with his fighting skill but knew it was only a matter of time before he had his blood dripping off the tip of his sword and then the woman would be his once more to deal with as he wished.

As Jonas was pushing Diego farther back with every blow a loud noise erupted behind Diego and men started coming out of the dark.
It was the slaves armed with machetes coming out to fight with their master.
Jonas saw that there was no way he would be able to fight this many men and he pushed Diego to the ground then turned and ran to the longboats while calling out to his men to retreat.

As they were running to the boats Jonas looked back and saw a woman’s shadowy figure in the early light of dawn running out towards the beach.
He stopped there then pulled out his pistol, took careful aim and shot.
He saw the woman fall to her knees then dropped face down to the sandy beach.
Smiling. Jonas turned then got into the boat and sailed away.


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