Authors: J. T. Lewis
Ordered by his major to make his way north along the Swamp Road for this special mission, he quietly questioned the logic of the plan and the sanity of the officer. The major had calculated that he would be less likely to be observed in the swamp, but he
to know that this route would take three times as long to traverse.
Turner shrugged his shoulders while trying to get comfortable on the saddle. He hadn’t obtained the rank of sergeant by questioning his superior’s orders, but sometimes he wondered why he cared.
The pompous and elitist Royals and their clans ruled the Army by the mere fact of their lineage. It was a system that had been in place for centuries, and even God himself couldn’t seem to change
fact, Turner thought testily.
His thoughts turned to the colonies and the people that lived within. He now believed that the citizens of this country must be the most determined lot he had ever run across, and he was in awe of their fortitude.
They call themselves Americans,
he reflected with a smile,
and they had the bollocks to challenge the king himself!
And don’t forget about the land!
Discounting his current location of course, the abundance of the beautiful and fertile commodity was mindboggling!
When the news had hit that the colonials were seeking independence from the mother country, his whole regiment had laughed at the thought. They had been certain that a quick foray across the Atlantic would quickly squelch such a notion.
So far however, this expedition had been anything but short. Now Turner himself was starting to have second thoughts on the matter.
Maybe these backcountry hill climbers had something going on here after all!
Turner continued to reflect on the vast expanses of farmland that could be had for a fair price, something unheard of in England. He had also noticed the industriousness of the people in the cities, proudly starting their own businesses and working at them with a fervor that seemed lacking back home.
But the biggest implement of change in Turner’s thinking were the actions of his army’s officers themselves. The longer the regiment stayed in the colonies, the farther the commanders of his unit seemed to slide away from reality.
The colonials wouldn’t fight according to the rules
he had heard them exclaim more than once.
Used to a standard of living based on royal privilege and comfort, the officers were now spending months at a time in the field. Being this far from the palatial estates where they were raised seemed to be more than any of them had bargained for.
Turner suddenly stopped his horse to listen.
Hearing something off to his left, he quietly eyed the sparse vegetation around him. Years in the field had taught him that even the smallest noise could be a threat. After a few minutes of hearing or seeing nothing however, he nudged Gertrude forward along the thin path.
He dismissed the thoughts of his idiot officers as he let a smile draw on his lips. He realized that he could do much worse than making a home here in the colonies. Though they had been in the back of his mind for weeks, this was the first time that he had allowed these treasonous thoughts to come to the fore.
If he lived long enough to make it back home, he would put in for separation from his unit and begin drawing his meager pension. He definitely had enough time, and no one would fault him for getting out after serving with distinction in the Colonial War.
Sergeant James Turner grinned. For the first time in his life he had a reason to look past his time in the service of the king!
While lost in these joyous thoughts, Turner didn’t hear the faint noise to his left.
The click that should have alerted him to the danger of the rifle’s hammer being cocked was ignored. Nor did he notice the flash of the primer in the pan as the hammer came down into it and filled the air with light. The old horse took yet another step before the boom of the ignited gunpowder escaped the muzzle, the hot gasses propelling the lead ball into the side of Sergeant Turner’s head.
In those last fleeting moments, as he was sliding off of the side of the horse his thoughts didn’t linger on regret. Instead, his final thoughts were of the newfound joy he felt over his decision.
Quietly slipping into the bog, the lips retained the smile. The now eerie grin was all that remained of the newborn freedom that he had so recently claimed during the last seconds of his life.
Jesse Flanagan was in high spirits as he pulled in front of the old shop.
The mysterious voicemail he had received from his cantankerous friend late last night sounded promising, if not a bit cryptic.
Come down to de shop in the mornink me boy, I do believe aw have some good noos for you on both counts! I keep your package safe, heya in my shawp overnight, buried under Atlantic Avenuse.
Abraham always reverted to a weird combination of Hebrew- and New York-accented English when he was excited, but
in this business almost always meant good money. The cryptic reference to Atlantic Avenue still had Jesse stumped, however.
Jesse shrugged his shoulders. He usually dismissed most of Abraham’s rantings as a rule of thumb anyway. His friend’s advancing age combined with the large portion of time that he had spent alone had left Abraham Kohen more quirky than normal.
But Jesse had indeed left a package with Abe the previous day to see if the old man could come up with a value for two items of interest. One was an old document, the other a picture of a desk.
The aging Jewish antique dealer loved doing that kind of thing, plus he had a lot more patience than Jesse could ever muster for it.
Of course, Jesse paid him well for his valuations, as nobody did anything for free in this business. Truth be known however, that wasn’t the only reason he continued to bring work to the old man. Over the years, Jesse had actually come to truly like the cantankerous old man, seeing him as the closest thing to a father figure that he had ever had.
Humming happily as he turned off the van, Jesse unfolded his 5’10” frame out the driver’s door and made his way around the front of the truck. Flexing his lean muscles as he walked in an attempt to overcome the previous hour’s drive, Jesse saw something that caused him to stop in his tracks.
A small, jagged hole in the shop’s front door glass put him instantly on alert. Looking up and down the sidewalk to make sure he wasn’t being observed, he then crossed the sidewalk and slowly pushed inside the shop.
The place was a mess!
Somebody’s cleaned him out
Jesse exclaimed under his breath, knowing that it was but one of the many plagues of big city life.
Shrugging again, he called out to his friend.
“How bad of a hurt did they put on you, Abe?” he yelled as he walked farther into the front room of the store. Glancing around, he saw that several of Abe’s antiques had been severely damaged.
He was never going to hear the end of Abe’s ranting now!
“Hey Abraham! Where ya at, you cantankerous old sot? We already agreed on a price for the valuation you know, so don’t be expecting a bonus just because someone broke up all of your stuff!”
Although spoken with a smile, Jesse was beginning to get a little worried as he continued to walk through the front part of the severely damaged store. Having scoped out the whole of the shop, he decided to head to the rear of the store.
“You hiding out back here?” Jesse called out before making his way through the old fabric that Abe used as a door to the back room.
“Don’t be hitting me with that old baseball bat of yours either!”
He was laughing as he spoke this, but as the curtains dropped away from his face he almost lost his breakfast at the sight before him. Sitting on a stool in front of him sat Abe with his shirt covered in blood!
“Abe!” Jesse shouted as he moved quickly toward the old man. Laying his finger on the cold, dead neck of the man, he then realized Abraham was many hours past hearing him.
Jesse jumped back quickly with the frightening realization that he had touched a dead body.
It was his first.
“Aw Jesus, Abe,” he whispered softly as he backed away slowly, “Who’d ya piss off this time?”