Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Chapter 8


“C’mon Emi … wake up and drink.  I don’t want to see you dead now that I’ve found someone like you.  C’mon girl.  Don’t make me have to get Ernie in here.  You don’t want that.” 

“Cabron,” Emi growled even more hoarse than before.  It wasn’t being woken that caused her to curse Nate but the fact that she woke to find she was naked beneath the sheet that covered her. 

“That’s not what my baptismal record says,” Nate said.  His words were threaded through with relief and humor to try and hide it.  “Now drink this.” 

Still fighting – what she wasn’t sure of – Nate finally took a sip of what he held then made a face.  “Yeah, it tastes like crap but it isn’t drugged.  See?”  He even licked his lips.  “Now drink before I pour it down you.” 

The first taste finally made it passed Emi’s lips startling her.  “Wha … what’s this?” 

Nate snorted.  “Some kind of sports drink.  Got it on the last salvage run and its worth its weight in gold so don’t spill it.” 

Emi sat up with as little of Nate’s help as she could get away with.  She kept the sheet up with one hand while she held the cup carefully with the other and tried to take stock.  She was definitely nude but she didn’t feel like she’d been messed with.   In fact she felt … clean, like someone had bathed her.  That was nearly as embarrassing as being nude was. 

Nate surprisingly realized he could read her as well as he’d once read Gina and that fact worried him.  “You going to sit there and drink that?” 

“No.  I’m going to run screaming up the passageway to the deck and then throw myself overboard ‘cause you scare me so bad with your pretty face.” 

Nate shook his head.  “Kiko said once you started talking you could have a mouth.” 

Emi shut up and decided to just sip the drink in her hand but apparently that irritated Nate as much as her talking had.  He stomped over to his desk and sat down in the chair and tried to focus on the inventory.  The silence stretched and finally he sighed before saying.  “We’ll make port in the morning.” 

Emi didn’t say anything, just looked at him through the hair that had fallen across her eyes. 

“You got a choice to make.” 

She responded, “Life’s full of choices.” 

“That it is but not all of them are as important as this one.  You willing to listen?” 

Emi shrugged, favoring the arm that wasn’t nearly as sore as it should have been.  She looked at it and then looked at Nate and asked, “What did you put on it?” 

“Noticed that did you?  Topical analgesic … a strong one.  Won’t last much longer, especially if you start moving around, but there’s enough to get you through another day or two … and you can have it no matter what your decision winds up being.  Call it … call it an act of good faith.” 

“You a priest as well as a boat captain?” 

Nate shook his head.  “Not these days.” 

“Huh?” 

Smiling at the fact that he’d finally caught her off guard he told her, “I was in seminary before the Donner Virus hit.  I realized real quick I wasn’t cut out for the calling my parents had wanted for me.” 

Emi struggled to see the man before her as anything other than what she knew of him.  She shook her head.  “You, a priest.  That’s Twilight Zone stuff.” 

“Don’t worry about it.  It was a lifetime ago … but don’t think I’m an easy mark just because once upon a time I was a dumb kid that didn’t know my mind.” 

“No.  No you aren’t a dumb kid.”  Her eyes got a little distant as she added, “You probably weren’t one then either.  We just do crazy things to make our parents happy whether they are still around to see it or not.” 

She shook her head and refocused but she still caught the sharp look that Nate gave her.  But he didn’t comment on it.  “You got some decisions to make,” he told her. 

“You keep saying that.” 

“Yeah.” 

“But I’m not seeing it.” 

“Then listen up and I mean listen.  Don’t just hear what you want or make crap up with your imagination.” 

Emi nodded cautiously. 

“You got any idea what Kiko was doing or did he not explain?” 

“I’m not stupido and what Kiko didn’t say the other guys in the crew did.  They came from an area where there aren’t a lot of unclaimed females.  It wasn’t a problem until about two years ago when the teenage boys started coming of age and wanted what they wanted.  But the area is run pretty tight by the Church.  No whorehouses and even if a woman was inclined to … accommodate … more than one man the elders have enough power to enforce their morality on everyone else, or so it looks on the surface.  Last year some fever went through the area and took out even more and it happened when most of the young men were out with the fishing fleets or off working the cane fields which means the fever took out more females than males and made things even more imbalanced.  The lack of female companionship was starting to cause feuds between families.  The Elders finally ‘against their better judgment’ decided to finance an excursion to the border to see if women wanted to return with them to get away from the hot spots.  Only most of that is crap.” 

“Maybe.  How do you see it?” 

“The men that went with Kiko were mostly young with no family to back them; what the old men would call cannon fodder.  Probably they were the worst of the trouble makers stirring up most of the crap, complaining about the unfairness of the haves and have nots.  And just finding women willing to go with a stranger ain’t really gonna happen either.  Besides, no one wants a woman that has been living near the hot spots out where they went trolling for females.  The fallout wasn’t as bad as everyone predicted but there are still going to be long term health issues … and maybe making babies ain’t gonna be so easy.  Maybe Kiko and his crew knew that heading out or they found it out by word of mouth once they’d gotten out and about.  Either way, they never went very far south, just bought most of us from the different militias that run those territories.” 

“Kiko says you’re Honduran.” 

“Half.  Long story.” 

“Got it from Kiko already.  Did you cross the border before or after the bomb in Mexico City?” 

“I was in Chihuahua when we got the news.” 

“What did you do?” 

“Kept walking.  If I was going to die I figure at least I could die free on the other side of the fence.” 

“Did you?” 

“Die?” 

“Watch the sass.” 

Emi sighed.  “Life sucks and then you die.  Life has dished out plenty of suckage but I ain’t dead yet.  Might be tomorrow, might not … but the suckage remains constant so I don’t normally let it stop me too much.” 

“Perhaps.”  Nate looked at her for a full minute and couldn’t shake Emi’s silence.  “Don’t you want to know what the decision is?” he asked in frustration. 

“You’re the man, you’ll get around to telling me sooner or later.” 

“Kiko wanted you for Tony.”  When she didn’t react he said, “You don’t want to know who Tony is?” 

“Don’t matter who Tony is because apparently Tony don’t want me.” 

A small but definitely wicked grin bloomed on Nate’s face.  “I have a feeling he’s going to change his tune real quick.” 

“That doesn’t matter either.  I don’t want him.” 

“You sure?” 

“I could say a lot to that but …” 

“But?” 

Emi suddenly tired of it all.  “I got an idea how this was supposed to work.  Kiko was to bring back a couple of dozen willing girls.  He’s barely bringing back a dozen and we all look like we aren’t fit for much more than …”  She stopped and shook her head.  “We are going on the auction block … at least the ones of us that hadn’t been claimed already.  No one left to claim us so it’s the auction block for all of us.  It’s the only way the backers of the trip get their money back … only they aren’t really.  No way they can.  So they’ll look the other way and let some outsiders in, especially now that the men who stayed behind went off on their own.”  What Emi didn’t say is that these outsiders would more than likely be slavers looking for fresh girls for their traveling whore show. 

Nate realized the girl before him was perhaps a lot smarter than she let on, certainly smarter than Gina had been about such things.  “So you going to just go like a lamb to the slaughter?” 

“Depends.” 

“On what?”

“This choice you saying I got that you are taking freaking forever to get around to explaining.” 

Nate growled, “I’m going to swat your behind.” 

“Depends.” 

“Depends?!” 

“On this choice you say I got.” 

Nate stopped short and thought to himself, “This girl is very, very smart.”

5 comments:

  1. Wow ! What a lovely gift to wake-up to, another chapter.

    Thanks Kathy, keep it rolling . . .

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  2. Thanks for the chapter Kathy, am really liking this story.
    Wayne

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  3. Thanks for the chapter Kathy, am really liking this story.
    Wayne

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  4. I'm enjoying this as I have enjoyed everything you've written that I have found. Thank you

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