a sample from El Dorado
I spent my birthday writing an action-heavy chapter, featuring a terrible storm that rocks the pirate ship the story’s main character finds himself on. Just before the storm strikes there’s an intense scene between he and the ship’s cook/doctor, a runaway slave that has found freedom and acceptance on board the Rougarou.
Edward, a man who owned slaves before his arrest, and who helped free a slave during his escape, tries to make nice, though his own ignorance and presumption ends up ruining any friendship he might’ve made…
The galley was nearly full, but the man I wanted to speak to was sitting alone. I grabbed a bowl of whatever grey sludge they were serving and sat across Emerson Brown. His eyes moved upward only enough to see it was me and that was the extend of his acknowledging my presence.
“I couldn’t help but notice you speaking to Olivet.” I said to no response. “I wondered if I might ask you about it.”
“Dinner.” he said softly.
“She wanted to request ham for dinner. We have a box of salted ham in storage.”
“You’ll forgive me if I find it unlikely you were talking about bacon.”
“No I won’t. What do you want from me?”
“I hoped we might get to know each other. I’m told you’re a runaway slave.”
“I’m a runaway myself. Unjustly incarcerated and freed by a man named Sammy.”
“I don’t care.”
“You would if I told you Sammy was like you.”
He put his spoon down though his grip around it remained firm. It looked for a moment like he was saying a prayer. I kept quiet to let the man finish, but before the “amen” he lunged at me, wrapped his hands around my collar and slammed me into the wooden table.
“What do you want from me? You want my love? My respect? I don’t know you. What are you to me? Nothing! Just a runaway prisoner worth more to me in a cell than wandering around our ship.”
His warm fingers were squeezing last of the air out of my lungs, leaving me very little strength or means to speak. I managed to wheeze out a few words: “I helped…Sammy escape.”
His face tensed even more, contorting with anger. “Am I supposed to be grateful. I don’t know Sammy. Do you think we all keep in touch? Do you expect him to write me of your great heroism?” He released his grip and stood back to let me up from the table. “Look at you. I know you.”
“You know me?”
“I know you. Southern. Rich. Even a year in prison can’t un-shine those teeth, or crack that pretty face. How many of mine do you own?”
“None.” I answered quickly and half-truthfully. They were, after all, the property of the state of Arkansas as far as I knew at the time.
“None” he repeated with a disbelieving scowl, “…you’ll forgive me if I find it unlikely.” he replied, mockingly. “You stand there and talk to me about my people and act like you’re one of us just because you were in prison? You think that makes you like me? Did they take you from your mother’s screaming breast? Did they put you on ships and sail you to some faraway land? Did they give you a name you that wasn’t your own?”
At this, Captain Earl entered the room and hurried over to us, though there was nothing he could do to quiet Brown’s tirade.
“Did they put you in the fields and set you to work, knowing you would reap nothing for yourself? Did they beat you when you brought in less than the day before, because obviously it was your own fault for being lazy. Did they beat you again the next day when you brought in more, because obviously you could have brought in that much yesterday?!”
“Emerson…” Earl reached out a hand to his Lieutenant, though it was shrugged away.
“No.” Brown said, his eyes still focused on me. “This one thinks because he took a whip and suffered for a year that he can speak to me like a brother and tell me about the one he helped free. You helped nothing! You freed no one that wasn’t supposed to be here in the first place. What was his name? Sammy? What was his real name I wonder? He was only called Sammy because people like you weren’t comfortable with his native name.”
“Alright, your point is made.” Earl said, pulling him away from the table, and from me still laying on it. “I need you in the infirmary.”
“Why? Who’s hurt?” he asked, though he didn’t seem particularly interested.
“No one yet.” The boat rocked a bit and everyone’s eyes moved around the room. “We’re entering a storm. We may not make it to Caicos.”
Ten chapters are finished, which puts me one-third of the way through the first draft. It promises to be a 100,000 word book, the longest I’ve written thus far.
The goal is still to finish by Thanksgiving, Lord willing.