Autumn 1905 – The Kingdom of Eight


King Number Eight thumped his huge fist against his chest. “My kingdom! My rules!”

A group of old village women were cleaning and tending to Justine and Laurence’s wounds so I felt no need argue. The pirates had let off their pursuit at the red painted gate but I was sure they had not yet left. 

King Number Eight lumbered to me. There was no threat in his movements but his size made me wary. He leaned forward and sniffed. The expression on his face twisted as the sides of his mouth turned up. It was one of the most hideous smiles I had ever seen. 

Autumn 1905 – Unmannered, Unmoraled and Unrelenting


The pirates spread out, blocking the route to the jungle. I counted perhaps seven firearms, all ancient rifles, but all of the men carried knives or swords. To Justine I said, “Take care of the children.” Then, arms out from my sides, hands open to show their emptiness, I walked forward. 

Lo Fong swaggered out to meet me. He leered, “Such trouble for no gain. I was raised in these waters. We found you easily. If you give up now I might let you keep all your fingers.”

I smiled. “Lo Fong is too generous,” I said. Then I punched him hard enough to send him the twenty feet back into the arms of his men. 

Justine picked up the children and ran. 

Autumn 1905 – Thirteen Soulless Brothers


The crowd parted before Justine and the children followed her like chicks after a mother duck. I kept a few paces back so that I could watch the reactions to my odd family group. Here among the bustle of an Asian fishing village we stood out in ways that I hadn’t appreciated previously. Justine, of course, towered above the compact villagers even more than she had among white Americans. Cyrus and Laurence flanked Berenice, both trying to protect her and draw strength from her fierce adaptability. And me, leading from behind, ushering them into the jungle in order to find another address from Podovkin’s notebook. 

Winter 1814 – Riding on a Wind of Screams

Billy’s face remained pale. “Captain Fury sails with the British,” he said. “The Mourning Dove trails their fleet. They may not know it but it, but he is there.”

Father refilled Billy’s beer. “We beat him once. We can beat him again.”

Billy looked at his feet. “We didn’t beat him, Red. We survived him. I’m an old man now. I’ve no wish to tempt fate twice.”

Spring 1812 – The Nanny Thing

Uncle Billy’s eyebrows came together. He scratched the side of his nose. “The ship’s been at anchor for more days than any of the men can remember. None of them can tell me when it arrived. No one has seen a crew. Yet, not a lad has been curious about it. They look at it like a rock or shoal to navigate around.”