blue moon (2)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Red Clay: Part Sixteen ©

Hali walked out of the bank and stood on the sidewalk staring at the balance in his bankbook barely believing his eyes.
He had never seen that much money before in one place at one time and to think that it was all his to do with as he pleased.
The first thing he needed to do was relaxed and gather his thoughts before he let his excitement get the better of him.

Back at his room he sat by his desk with a piece of paper writing down what his debts were so he could pay them.
His plan was to leave the money in the bank for now and use the monthly interest to pay off any debts he had, this way he doesn’t spend any of the money he was gifted.

He picked up the satchel and was putting it in the closet when he remembered the statue.
Hali opened the bag and took out the little box with the statue and then put the satchel in the closet for now.
He took out the statue and stared at it once more and then decided he will go see the professor and see if he could tell him anything about the statue.

On the way to see the professor his cell phone rang and it was Adalia asking what he was up to for lunch.
He told her he had a date with a lady from the commissary but he could try and get out of it for her.
She laughed at him and said she would see him at the cafeteria.
Hali told her that he would meet her at her work and that they were going to eat somewhere else for a change, his treat.

At the university he made his way to Professor Jones’ class office, he knocked on the door and entered but there was no one there.
Walking around the room Hali looked at the pictures on the wall, they were of a man with various tribesman of Africa.

Just then Professor Jones came in carrying a coffee in one hand and a bundle of papers in the other.
Professor Jones was surprised to see Hali since he hadn’t seen him in over a year, not since he finished his course.
They shook hands and the professor indicated towards the pictures with a nod and told him they were taken thee years earlier in Kenya.

He told Hali that next year he was going to the Ivory Coast to look into the history of the slave trade.
Hali told him that he would be going to Gabon next year as well to work with the Peace Corps; they might see each other there.
The professor told him that would indeed be a surprise bumping into a familiar face where there are none.

Then the professor asked him what brought him to his office, surely not his exploits in Africa.
Hali told him that he had an African statue given to him and wanted to know if there was anything that he could tell him about it.
The professor told him that he would be more than happy to help him out and asked to see the statue.
Hali took the small box out of his backpack and passed it to the professor.

The professor took the box from Hali and took the lid off of it and looked at the statue.
The second his eyes fell upon it and its recognition registered in his head he quickly put it on his desk and pushed back away from it.

The professor was obviously scared of the statue and Hali saw it in his eyes.
Hali asked him what was the matter.
The professor looked at him and asked where he got the statue.
Hali told him it was a long story but a dieing man on his way back to school gave it to him.
Hali asked him why the statue scared him; it was only clay.

The professor moved a little closer to his desk and told Hali that this was not just any clay statue you find at a souvenir shop, this was the real thing and not only was it real but it was made by a witchdoctor.
He told him that he has done a lot of reading into various tribal cultures and he seen sketches of such a statue.
It was supposedly molded out of clay and the blood of the artist and supposedly to carried a curse with it.

Hali was surprised with the professor and told him as much.
He didn’t think that the professor would be superstitious.
The professor told Hali that he wasn’t but he had seen some things in his time over there that he couldn’t explain and the same in Haiti when he had gone to visit there.
He pointed out the color of the clay to Hali and told him that there is no red clay like that in Africa, that’s blood in the clay and probably the witchdoctor’s blood.
Hali looked at the statue and its color, could it be blood?

The professor then told Hali about a story he heard when in Kenya about such a statue.
It was said that a witchdoctor made a statue such as this one with his own blood as he lay dieing and gave it to his young apprentice to give it to the one he wanted cursed.
Legend has it that the apprentice crossed all of Africa chasing this man and to make matters worse he had stolen the apprentice’s wife.

Hali asked the professor if the apprentice caught the man that took his wife?
Yes he did but he was killed and the woman lost to him but he managed to free all the other prisoners with his selfless act.
The people of Africa still tell the story about the young lion who fought the devil until his death so his people could live free.

Hali told him that was an intriguing story but still just a story and didn’t think that a statue can be cursed to kill a man.
He reached over and put the cover back on the small box then placed the statue back in his backpack.
He thanked the professor for the information on the statue and the story.

The professor told him that he was happy to help but not to be to quick and laugh at some of the old ways because he might be surprised one day when he sees something he believed not possible.
They shook hands and Hali told him that he will remember what he said and maybe see him in Africa if not sooner then left the university to go pick up Adalia for lunch.

Hali wasn’t superstitious but had heard stories from back home in Louisiana about voodoo and other strange happenings.
Some said that witch doctors had the capability to take possession of a person’s soul and make his body do what the witch doctor wanted him to do.
His grandmother knew the old ways to; she was good with herbs and extracts from different plants and had taught him that there were potions that could be created to put a person in a trance for as long as that person took the potion.
Curses and the like are just exaggerated stories and fates of luck, usually bad luck.

Hali found Ada sitting in the garden next to Diego’s grave.
He walked over and sat next to her with his arm around his mother and the both sat there quietly remembering the good times they had together in Hispaniola when he was a child and there was only the four of them.

“You’re leaving,” she said.
He told her that they were leaving in a couple of days and heading for America to see what it was like there.

They were silent for a few minutes, Ada knew this would be the last time she saw her son.
Once he got to this new land he would get lost in it as his father used to get lost in the jungle behind their little village.
The Village, that was a long time ago, a lifetime had passed since then but she remembers it like it was yesterday.
As a little girl she used to lie down on the grass and stare at the stars and wonder if that was all the sky that there was?
Was there more someplace else?

Since then she had learned that there is more sky and stars but not all stars lead to happy times but some shine brighter than others, her eyes drifted over to Diego’s headstone.
Now she was going to loose her son, the last connection to the past but it was his destiny and future.
Taking his hand she asked him to go for a walk through the garden with her and they both walked down the path together.

Hali stood on the deck of the ship looking at a place called New Orleans, he had never heard of this place before but it was the closest he could get to where Jeb lived.
Domingo secured them passage on this vessel; they were friends of Diego’s family and had a ship they used to bring trade goods to Mexico.

It was hard leaving his mother and the others behind, he doesn’t know when he will see them again, if ever but this is something he had to do.
There was a yearning in him to go out and see the world and help those along the way who needed help.
Besides, he wasn’t alone, Dakarai was with him.
Dakarai looked upon this new land and could almost see his future out there over the horizon.
He was glad to be here with Hali to see this new world and what it had to offer.

As they walked down the muddy street they looked around their surroundings and the people, lots of people all running around in a hurry to be somewhere.
Neither one of them spoke English very well but they were surprised that French was a popular language here and they managed to find a place where the could hire a coach to take them to Baton Rouge where Jeb lived.

When they found the place they needed to go to get tickets for the stage, they walked in and up to the counter.
Hali smiled at him and asked him if there was a stage going to Baton Rouge.
The clerk told him that there was one leaving in two hours.
Hali asked him how much and paid for two tickets.
Before he had left Spain, Domingo had given them some American money he had acquired.
He thought that it would be easier for Hali if he didn’t have foreign currency.

They walked out front and waited for the stage with a couple of other people.
They were not used to this many people around, even in Spain they lived in the country so there weren’t that many people but here, the streets and sidewalks were bustling with people and wagons.
Just then the stagecoach pulled up in front of the office.

People gathered at the door and were let in one at a time until Hali and Dakarai got to the door.
Their tickets were taken and were told they had to ride on top on the coach.
Hali looked into the coach and could see two open seats and told the driver that there was room in the coach but the driver told him that his kind rode on top not in the coach.
Hali looked at Dakarai and slowly started climbing to the top of the coach.
He didn’t want any trouble so he opted to avoid it for now and climb up to the top of the coach even though they did pay the same fare as those sitting inside.

Jonas walked through the mansion, it was big and will be the biggest place he had ever lived in and it was all his now.
When he opened the safe in his father’s office he found papers for all his legal holdings and some not so legal.
Inside there was also a satchel filled with money, gold from various countries and a small statue, ugly little thing.

With all this money he could now live the life of leisure and get away from New York, it was to big for his liking.
As soon as his father’s will was settled he packed up what little he had and moved.
He had bought this mansion in Chicago to get away from any connection to his father and any shady business he was involved in, fearing any backlash because of his father’s sudden demise.
All he wanted was someplace to be with Maggie and spend his father’s money carelessly in peace.

Over the next few years they made a name of themselves by fixing up their new home and inviting the right people over for parties and elaborate dinners.
They also attended many of the Balls and events hosted by many of the city’s well to do people.
The rich and famous knew how to spend their money and did it often.

Desperately wanted to be in the same group as some of his new friends were in and spent his money are blindly as the other but he lacked one thing they had and that was a steady income.
His inheritance was quickly being depleted and he had to find a way to replenish what he was spending.
He started looking into the real estate business and decided to buy properties around the city for a cheap price and rent out accommodations for high rents to get a quick return on his investments.

He started with one housing unit and then another.
Since the great fire 30 years earlier a lot of construction had happened and there were many buildings that were quickly falling upon receivership and Jonas took advantage of this.
He bought many properties for the money which was owed and in most cases well below its worth.
As time went on Maggie showed to be an asset with her past background.
Her ability to get city officials in precarious positions opened many doors and eliminated much of the red tape that would otherwise had impeded some of Jonas’ endeavors.
Maggie was just as hungry for the high life as her husband was and she didn’t mind a little scandalous behavior to get it.

As the years went by he kept and eye on the world around him and he noticed the buildup of weapons in Europe and followed his fathers footsteps and invested in some of the foundries that were involved in the manufacture of steel and a couple of weapons manufactures.

When he wasn’t looking for ways to make money Jonas spent his time in some of the various men's clubs in the city while Maggie tours the shops with the wives of some of the same people Jonas was with at the clubs Jonas did business with.
They used this as a way to gain information of what was happening in the business world.

Germany was making significant advances in weapons development and war was in the air according to many people.
This posed an opportunity for many businessmen to make money investing in weapons development and sales.

That summer Jonas bought a house in Canada at the Lake of the Woods area where many of his friends had bought lavish houses to summer in.
This will turn out to be one of the best investments Jonas had ever made.
Life for Jonas and Maggie was all coming up roses but dark clouds were gathering in the distance that might one day bring their house of cards crashing down by the weight of their manipulating.

Jonas was straightening up his home office when he opened up the satchel before he put it back in the safe.
The satchel was the only thing he owned that was personally his father’s from even before he was born.
Taking out the small statue he looked at it more carefully, it was crude in its shaping, like the artist had rushed the job.
He didn’t know its significance but he couldn’t throw it away either for some reason, it’s like it was always meant to be his.
Walking over to the mantle, he placed it on top then returned the satchel to the safe and locked it up.

After making sure his desk was cleared off of any papers showing is business affairs he walked towards the door but as he walked he looked at the mantle and the statue looked as if it was watching his every move.
He walked downstairs where Maggie was waiting for him so they could go out to dinner and maybe to take in a show at the theater.

The coach rumbled through the wilderness as it headed towards their destination, Baton Rouge.
They had not seen Jeb since Cuba and that was a little over a year now and Hali hoped he was doing well.
With what he had seen so far, blacks where not treated the same as white people, even the foreigners were treated better than the ex slaves of this country.

It was a two-day drive with two stops to change horses.
They arrived in Baton Rouge on the evening of the second day and went about trying to find out where Jeb lived.
Any white person they asked ignored their inquiries and kept on walking but they managed to find a white youth who said he knew who Jeb was and where he lived.
He even offered to take them there because it was outside of town and a little tricky to find it at nighttime.
Hali thanked him and followed the boy as he led the way out of town and into the dark countryside.

They were about five miles out of town when the boy stopped and sat down saying that he was tired to rest for a bit.
He asked Hali where they were from and if they were related to Jeb.

Hali told him that they were not related with Jeb but were friends and they fought together in Cuba.
He told him that they were from Hispaniola originally but had just arrived from Spain.

While he was talking to the boy, Hali heard noises coming from the bushes behind them.
He had casually while talking to the boy turned and looked at Dakarai but he could see in his brother’s eyes that he had been alerted by the noise from behind them.
Just then six men burst out from the bushes.
The boy jumped back amongst them and told the men that Hali and his traveling companion were unarmed, assuring the highwaymen of an easy victory and rushed in on Hali and Dakarai all at once.

Hali was well trained in the art of fighting by some of the best teachers Diego could find and some of them were pirates.
There was even a man from the orient that spent a year with them showing him how to use his hands as weapons.
Dakarai had his staff and had proven lethal with it in the past.

It was Dakarai that was first to react meeting the attackers head on; he let go with a battle scream that shocked their assailants putting them off guard long enough for him to strike the biggest one in the head with his staff then spun around on one foot swinging the staff in a wide arc over his head then coming down shattering the stunned man’s shoulder.

Hali brushed off a blow with an open palm then swiftly sliding his hand up the arm of his attacker until he got to his mans chin and twisted it ‘back and up until he heard the neck snap.
Hali was kicking a second man in the groin before the first one had hit the ground, then rained hard punches on the side of his head until he collapsed on the ground next to the first one unconscious.

Dakarai had broken another man’s leg and was bearing down on a third one when the man put up his hands and started to back away.
The last robber pulled out a knife and faced Hali with it in his hand.
Hali produced his own blade from under his shirt and they both slowly moved in at each other.

The man moved like a cat and swiftly shot in and out slashing at Hali with his razor sharp blade.
They circled around each other, looking for an opening or a mistake, anything that would give them an edge for a killing blow.

Dakarai stood there watching when he saw the boy off to the side and rushed him.
He didn’t put up much of a fight and Dakarai held him there on the ground as the other two battled.

The robber feigned a rush causing Hali to shift his guard then he moved in and carved a line across Hali’s chest.
A smile grew on his face when he saw the blood seep through Hali’s shirt.

Hali looked down at his chest then back at the other man.
This wasn't just some street ruffian, he knew how to fight with skill not brute force like the others and had to fight him the same if he was going to survive this.
Now that he has tasted blood Hali knew he would move soon to finish the kill or to inflict a little more damage.
The chances were that he would try the same trick again since it was so effective the first time and that’s when he will have his chance.

They circled some more and his attacker feigned another rush and Hali shifted his guard once more but this time he moved to his left and forward just as his opponent rushed in past him.
Hali’s knife shot up and into the others armpit to the hilt.
They both stood there for what seemed and eternity before Hali withdrew the knife from the man and stepped back away from him.

Blood was gushing out of the wound as the man stood there teetering on his feet before he collapsed to his knees then the ground rushed up to his face.
Hali stuck his knife into the ground a couple of times to clean the blade before he put it away then walked over to Dakarai and his prisoner.

Hali could see the fear in the boy’s eyes as he walked towards him; a sure thing turned bad for him and his friends and was now probably wondering how long he had to live himself.
How many unsuspecting people had he lured here for these men robbed and murder?

Hali coolly walked over to him and told the boy to stand up.
As soon as he was on his feet Hali punched him in the face hard sending the boy reeling to the ground.
Blood gushed out of his broken nose as he lay there on the ground.
Hali told him to get up but the boy hesitated and anger grew in Hali and snarled at him to get up and as soon as the boy was on his feet again, Hali hit him again sending the boy once more to the ground.

Hali stood over him and asked the boy if he knew where Jeb lived?
The boy nodded his answer and Hali reached down and pushed him down the road towards where he said Jeb lived.

About a mile down the road they left it to walk into the forest.
The boy said that Jeb lived in the woods and there was no road to his place just this small path.
As they walked down the path something caught Hali’s attention and they all stopped to listen.
They could hear faint screaming voices in the distance.
Hali pushed the boy onward at a faster pace towards the noises they had heard.

The reached the edge of a clearing where they saw a group of people standing around holding torches lighting up the night.
The boy said they were the clan, a group that hated Negroes.
Just then two more came out of the house dragging Jeb between them, a woman ran out of the house and attacked the men holding Jeb but one of the others went over and beat her to the ground.

They took Jeb to a tree and the boy said they were going to hang him by the neck from there.
Hali wasn’t going to let this happen.
The boy wished him luck and started to walk away but Hali grabbed him by the shirt and told him that he wasn’t going to leave that way but he was doing to run across the front of them and into the woods on the other side.
The boy protested saying that they would kill him if he were caught.
Hali told him that if he ran fast enough they wouldn’t catch him shoved him out.
The boy looked at where he had to run and crept as close as he could without being seen before he burst out at a full sprint for the other side of the clearing.

He could hear men yelling at him to stop and a bullet went whizzing by about three feet to his left but that only made him run faster.
He could here them chasing him as he entered the woods on the other side, crashing through the thick brush as it whipped his body, punishment for his past deeds.

Two men ran after the boy leaving about eight to deal with between the two of them and Jeb as soon as he was freed of his bonds.
They moved out of their cover and crept slowly towards the group of men standing by the tree.
Hali knew it would be hard for them to be seen because the men would be blinded by the torches they held in their hands and they were busy with Jeb at that moment.

Jeb stood there with his hands tied knowing that life as he knew it was over.
He had fought for his freedom, had fought for his country and now he was going to die because he was black.

A rope was thrown over the limb of the tree as its noose came down and dangled infront of Jeb's face before it was slipped over his head a pulled tight
Its rough fibers burned the skin around his neck as a group of men started hoisting him upward.
He felt his feet leave the ground, desperately his legs thrashed around searching for solid ground to stand on as his brain became a burning inferno of pain and fear.

The woman ran up from the ground and crawled under Jeb’s legs trying to give him something to stand on but one of the hooded men kicked her in the stomach then dragged her off to the side where her tore her dress open.

As the noose grew tighter around his neck Jeb looked over and could see Betty laying on the ground, her dressed ripped open with a man standing above her opening his pants.


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