Archive for March, 2022

Egad!

Our five characters have finally arrived, they have finally retreated from their uncomfortable freight car and stepped into Charleston of 1908. Finding necessities will be difficult, but not as elusive as friendliness, helpfulness, or understanding. They will have to rely on their strengths: intelligence, perseverance, and bravery. Tough to find attributes these days, let alone in that long ago, a slow healing southern town.

A nearby stranger’s hacking cough urged the five to silently jog behind huge piles of lengthy logs waiting for the sawmill. After several scurries around the yard, they approached the main gate, and the guardhouse rattled from the snores heard inside. They managed to scoot away and feel the freedom of the darkened streets of Charleston.

“Now where?” Ross reflected everyone’s willingness to bathe, eat, and rest. Not necessarily in that order.

“There’s a rooming house over there” Catherine pointed across the street and the porch light welcomed them into a decision. It took a while for someone to answer, but the answer to their request for two rooms turned the late evening positive.

“There’s room for the gents in my front room and you gals can have the upstairs small bedroom. Come in so I can shut out the cold.” The tall husky man who had answered their knock turned and seemed to expect them to follow. “There had better be five honest people behind me. I’m a captain on the Charleston police force and I need my sleep.”

He pointed to the backdoor and explained about the plumbing, a small house outside. “We’ll install indoor arrangements this year, I hope.” His sudden stop and turn caught their attention as he glared at Joann. “Sorry folks. She stays in the shed next to the outhouse,” he grinned and added, “There’s some old blankets out there.”

Jacob stepped forward with his wallet exposed and the bills forcing the leather to open. “Now, how much do the five of us owe you? There’s a discount, right? There’s a discount for a Jew and a beautiful half African?”

The silence thickened. The host softened his glare and it landed on Catherine. “Are you willing to sleep with her?”

She stepped forward and counted the hairs in his nose. “Willing, ready, and pleased to do so, any time, any place. Are there enough blankets for two in that out-building of yours?”

He hesitated, but finally answered with a shrug, “Suit yourself, young lady. Just don’t let it get around this town that you’re a … ” His sudden change of tune surprised no one. The red lines in his sleepy eyes turned blue with fear when the weapons came out. He held up his hands, “No need for those, gentlemen. We all need our sleep. Let’s get to it.” He turned, left the room, and ignored their sighs of relief.

Ross slid his arms around Joann and closed his eyes as Jacob and Trevor returned their pistol and knives to their pockets and sheaves. “Good God, woman, are you all right?”

“Of course, I am. That wasn’t bad. Remember, we’ve been through worse.” She kissed him for a quick wonderful moment, let him go, and turned to Catherine. “Come on then, faithful one, let’s check out our hard fought-for luxury suite upstairs.”

“Wait. We need to make plans,” Trevor sounded whiney even to himself.

Jacob sluggishly threw himself onto one of the worn couches. “Those can wait until morning, my friend. Kiss the pretty girl good night and turn down that lamp. Shouldn’t waste good kerosene.” His eyes closed and the others appreciated how tried their new friend must truly have been when his entire body seemed to deflate into slumber before their eyes.

“He’s right,” Catherine sighed.

“About what?” Trevor stepped as close as he could to her warmth.

“You should kiss me before I fall over.”

Trevor followed her directions and Joann planted a quick a second quick peck on Ross’s cheek before leading Catherine upstairs. The men settled on the second couch and a large, overstuffed chair and drifted toward sleep, while listening to their ladies briefly move about just above their heads.

From the back of the house heavy steps approached the front. “You folks be gone before sunrise.”

“The price includes breakfast. You must serve early,” Ross reminded him from his chair, while his hunting knife itched to appear from his belt.

“No breakfast,” he crossed his arms, expecting trouble. “Y’all paid extra to break the law.” He then turned the lamp completely dark. “No colored in this rooming house,” he mumbled.

In the pre-dawn light, a cold drizzle tapped on the glass as if in warning of a difficult day ahead. The five walked onto the porch and faced the street with baggage in hand. Joann announced, “Well, that went well.”

Enough! (Until later)

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Our characters, Catherine, Trevor, Joann, Ross, and Jacob are riding out the last few miles into 1908 Charleston in a logging company freight car. Catherine tries to release any obligations the others felt to keep her safe. However, they’re unwilling to back off. They’ve invested time, energy, and love in her. Jacob is presently only interested as he’s new to the situation.

(Page 62 in paperback)

Catherine absorbed as much oxygen as her lungs allowed and then let it all escape. “I need to confront an evil force bent on faking my kidnapping and probable death in order to obtain the fortune that had been left in a trust.” She explained to Jacob. She continued in fear over the racket caused by the slowing train. “The three goons are after me to return my dead body to my stepparents. They then will bribe the courts to release my money.”

Joann stood, shook off any dirt and crumbs from her skirts, and braced herself against the machinery. “One of the many lessons I’ve learned, child, is that you can’t always get what you want. Your stepparents are a bit spoiled, I’d say.” She checked out the expressions on the men. Turning to Catherine, she offered an alternative, “Let’s disappoint them.” She smiled her warm motherly face to Catherine.

“Adventure! Ah, I love adventures.” Jacob rubbed his hands together and stood up. “Do you have a plan, Mrs. Garrett?”

“Soon, she’ll have one soon,” Ross confidently answered. “So, are you with us, then?”

The train had slowed more, so instead of waiting for Jacob’s answer, they settled on the floor and hid, while they waited near the open door for the train to make a pass through another logging camp. Ross glanced out and estimated time of arrival into Charleston in less than an hour. “There’s those tall church steeples and the roads are wider. We’ll probably have to jump this ship just before it pulls into the lumberyard, or we’ll have to wait until dark. What do y’all think?”

“Exactly, my friend,” Jacob started gathering his cloth bags. “Let’s wait until dark. The crew won’t empty this car right away. These bags are my fortune, young Catherine. Nobody will bother to steal them,” he laughed before he added, “Except those who own less,” he winked at her and it sent a message of perseverance and an attitude of understanding priorities.

Their hunger and exhaustion made the waiting for dark nearly unbearable, but the hugs and smiles of encouragement made the time arrive for escape from their cold transport. The men jumped down on silent feet and the ladies passed down their weapons and sacks of meager supplies, and then they too jumped. Trevor caught Catherine by her waist and purposely slid her to the ground as slowly as she would allow. He landed a kiss, a warm slow kiss, on her lips and he thrilled at her willingness to stay in his arms.

Egad and Enough! (for now)

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