Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Boy Named Nod: Seas of Blood and Fire Part 4


As I stood next to Michael, I couldn’t help but remember the quiet little island where I would sell off all of our captives. The island had a name but I never cared to remember it. I knew all I needed to about it.

It was a clearinghouse for slaves.

You could get whatever you wanted there. British and Norse generally were the most expensive simply because it was harder to get them across the sea intact. Still, the Spaniards and the Africans fetched enough money to tend to whatever repairs the ship needed. That way, the rest of our haul was to be split evenly amongst the crew.

It was a good system and it usually worked well. Every so often, I’d have to hire one of the natives to buy the female slaves back for me. They would have enough problems surviving in the islands. They didn’t need to try and earn or kill their way out of slavery.

After a while though, one of the lads would hear about what I had done. They’d start to wonder if I was going soft. And so, I’d cut loose the entire crew and take a couple of the more adventurous ladies with me. They’d be plenty to get us to Tortuga or whatever the nearest filthy hole was that I could pick up a new crew. They’d get plenty of tough learning scrubbed into them over the couple days but those I chose to come with me were always glad to have learned.

That’s how I earned the name The Gentleman. It wasn’t my suits or my bowler or my British accent or my love of tea. It was my concern for the ladies. Near the end of my career, I began sailing only with a crew of ladies, each one a lass that I’d freed from the slaver’s block. Those were the best times. The ladies certainly meant more business than the men had. They had a fine eye for where treasure would be hidden and after their unpleasant experiences with the other gender, they had no soft words for our prey.

I remember the last time I left that island where the slaves were sold. I remember sailing off into the sunset with a lovely redhead with blazing green eyes and a wicked laugh. We had no other crew at the time but we’d be all the crew needed for this would be a quick sail to what would be our home.

And that is where it all ends. The spigot turns closed and the flood of memories dries up.

And as I stood next to Michael, all I could think of was that accursed island coming ever closer.

“I’ll ask you again Nod; how much?”

“And I’ll say it again Commandant; how much what? Your cut in the commercial profits from the broadcasts has been decided. Your allowance for improving the conditions and obtaining fighters set. What are you going on about now?”

The Commandant chuckled softly, shaking his head at Nod like he was a small child. It was enough to make me want to slap him. I knew where this conversation and so did Michael.

“How much for your butler?”

Michael turned to look at me. His eyes traveled up and down my weathered appearance. My suit was quite dusty, my shoes terribly scuffed, and I was missing large chunks of my stony exterior. I wouldn’t be worth much on the open market. Not battered like I was.

“How much are you offering?”

“Come now Nod. You can’t counter a question with a question.”

“Most certainly you can. You want to buy my butler. You seem to think that if you ask my price, you can either nab him for a song compared to what you’d offer. Or, if I say something positively insane, you can always try to talk me down. So why should I speak first Commandant?”

The Commandant lit a cigar and puffed at it heavily. The cigar was old and the tobacco in it had been soaked in rum. I could smell it from where I sat.

“You’re damned shrewd for a pre-teen boy; I’ll give you that.”

“I’ve been told that before. What do you think on the matter Gregor? Shall I sell you off after you disobeyed me and lunged into a fight with Greeg? Shall that be how this goes?”

“It will be as you wish it sir.”

Michael shrugged at The Commandant.

“What can I say? He seems to be willing.”

“That would appear to be the case. Now name your price. I won’t reject any price you name Nod. I simply must have him here in the Coliseum. He was a joy to watch in battle.”

Michael leaned back in his leather chair, putting his feet up on The Commandant’s conference table.

“Another question for you first. Why did Greeg call you daddy?”

“He was abandoned at the base I ran before The Wall fell. We took him in. He wasn’t old enough at the time to draft into service, but we allowed him into the choral group. As I say, his voice was a wonder to behold. After The Wall fell, I had him neutered in order to provide the world with the voice of a castrati again. It has gone too long without one. Even after his time in the Coliseum, I still tend to him weekly. He knows I’m proud of him. That was why I offered to have him face your butler. I had no intention of kowtowing to Morelli. I am a man of my word though. Why do you ask?”

Michael stood and straightening his tie methodically. He checked each button of his jacket and adjusted his hat. Then, with his entire body facing The Commandant, his swiveled his head to the side just enough to say:

“Go get the others Gregor. We’re going home.”

“But Nod, I thought…”

“You thought I would sell a member of my family. I regret to inform you that I would rather die that allow any of those that choose to travel with me to fall into your hands. I respect that you are a man of your word, and as such we will be leaving without further incident. However, if ever we meet and it is not under contract for me to leave you unharmed, I will end you.”

“That’s a bluff little boy. Everyone knows that you’ve never killed someone personally. It always takes one of your “family” or an all too vivid nightmare. You don’t have the stones to take care of it yourself.”

I crossed the room in three strides and slapped The Commandant with my ring finger. He was flung from his chair and struck the wall as a wet garbage bag would.

“That was for Nod. And for Greeg. I recommend lying there until we are gone from your district.”

The Commandant lay there on the cement floor glaring at our backs with his hateful black eyes, peering out of his ghastly blue mask of a face.


“Yes Nod?”

“Good show old boy.”

“Thank you sir. One day, might you be kind enough to help fill in the rest of my memories?”

“Most certainly my friend.”

The island’s name was Circe, and that was her name too.

It seemed The Gentleman was alive and well after all.

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