Friday, May 8, 2015

Chapter 9


“I need a woman."

 “Says the priest.”

 “Never finished taking my vows Emi.”

 “So you want a woman for the same reason every man wants a woman to use for his own.”

 “Partly,” Nate admitted.  “Partly ‘cause … look … dammit.”

 Suddenly Emi was interested.  “You hiding something you don’t want other men to know?”

 Nate looked at her and nearly reached over to give her the promised spanking.  “That mouth is going to get you in trouble.”

 “So what else is new?  Spit it out Captain …”

 “Nate.  Call me Nate.  After this run I’m done with the Captain business … at least for a while.  I got other responsibilities.”

 Emi grew cautious again.  “Like I said, spit it out and get to the point … Nate.”

 Nate nodded acknowledging that she’d done as he’d asked.  “I got kids.  My sister in law has been raising them but … it ain’t good no more.”

 “Kiko’s wife?”

 “No.  My wife’s – ex-wife’s – sister; her name is Arden.  She’s finally decided to take her vows … she’s always wanted to be a nun but kept putting it off to take care of family stuff.  Then the convent wasn’t taking novitiates for a while.  Now they are and she can’t go with kids in tow.  And … and it’s just time is all.  If I don’t Arden said she’ll give them over to Gina and I ain’t gonna let that happen.”  The fury and other emotions Emi saw made her very cautious in her response.

 “So you don’t just need a woman for your bed.”

 Curtly he answered, “No.”

 “What have I got to work with?”

 “Huh?”

 “Look, say I’m willing to … to be this thing that men seem to need to keep them sane.  But what do I have to work with.  You might not be thinking beyond rolling around in the bed and filling your belly when you get hungry but you tell me I’m gonna be taking care of your kids … how many kids?  And on a boat?  Up a tree?  Gimme a clue what I got to work with.”

 With the initial explanation out of the way and the business portion reached Nate became much more relaxed.  “I got a house.  A good one but it needs work.  Got some land around it.  Used to be a nursery … the plant and tree kind with an attached orange grove … and as far as I can tell all it needs is some elbow grease and a garden to grow what we don’t get from the market.  Got a couple of animals bred off the ones that have been certified DV immune.  So far the immunity breeds true.  Arden lives in the house with the kids and I hired caretakers to do the rest but she ain’t the housefrau type and the caretakers are mostly for security so the place … like I said it needs work.  I want to make it better than just livable.  There’s a building where my land meets the crossroads that will make a good layover point.  The land also has waterfront to it which is a plus.  I need to get in, get set up right, before I miss the opportunity.  There’s already a couple of other businesses going in but so far nothing that looks like what I have in mind.”

 Emi had closed her eyes and Nate almost thought she had dozed off before her eyes opened with that same strange look in them he’d seen a couple of times.  It didn’t seem to match her next statement so he didn’t know what to make of it or if he needed to make anything of it.    “No whores.”

 Nate’s automatic response was, “No whoring.”

 Emi’s gaze snapped into focus and Nate felt like she was looking deep into places he hadn’t meant for her to see.  But all she said was, “Agreed.”

 “So you’re agreeing to the deal?”

 “I haven’t heard a deal.  I simply agreed to no whoring … which I won’t do whether I go on the block or not.  Whoever buys me will learn that the easy way or the hard way.  Doesn’t really matter to me.”

 Nate nodded and then said, “Then here is your bargain.  You agree to come with me … be willing … not cause problems … take care of the kids good enough they don’t turn into heathens or kill themselves … and in exchange you’ll get a roof over your head, my name and protection, and a cut of the business for in case something happens to me.”

 “How do I know you won’t change your mind and decide to sell me on the block when you find something you like better?”

 “That’s not my way but if you need it in writing we can do it that way.”

 Emi just sat there looking at him for a moment before nodding slowly.  “You put that part in writing then … then I’ll agree to the rest of it.  And … and in exchange … I’ll say that if I break my word that I forfeit all of it and … and you can sell me on the block and I ain’t got no say over it.”

 Nate looked at her hard.  “Regardless of what you think I’m no trafficker.    If Kiko was in better shape he and me would be having some words over you girls but …”

 “But he ain’t.”  Then against her better judgment Emi asked, “How is he?”

 “He’ll live … at least he will long enough for my sister to get ahold of him.  But that’s his business.  You don’t need to be paying attention to Kiko.”

 “I ain’t paying attention to him the way you think.  He took a bullet trying to get us outta that place in one piece when he could have easy left us behind for those pirates.  He didn’t.  That’s worth … something.    At least worth asking if he is gonna make it whole and in one piece.  For a while there I wondered.”

 Nate relaxed and leaned back in his chair.  “So we doing this?”

 Emi sighed and nodded but then asked, “What’s the duration of this deal?  Just until your kids get old enough?”

 “Permanent.”

 It took a moment for Emi to process his answer.  “Naw, you’re trying to play me.”

 “There’s a priest meeting us at the docking point with papers.”

 “You’re definitely playing me.  No way you had this figured out.”

 Nate shook his head.  “Prearranged.   The papers are blank, to be filled in by a priest and then logged with the diocese to make it all legal.  It was the only way to keep some in the community from getting bent out of shape.”

 “They sure gonna be bent when they find out Kiko is the only man to return.”

 “Not really.  The ones that he’d taken with him were … as you say.”

 When Nate trailed off Emi nodded, “Yeah, they were.”

 With more explanation Nate said, “You were correct.  None of the ones that left have family.  They were all single men that wouldn’t have been able to afford a woman of their own any other way.”

 Emi filed that bit of information just in case it wasn’t quite as true as Nate thought it.  Then she asked, “If Kiko is such a good guy I don’t see him hanging with that crew.”

 “Because Kiko wasn’t always such a good guy but apparently he took one look at my sister when they were in quarantine together and poof, the big bad wolf lost his teeth.”

 “No.  He didn’t.  But it explains why the closer he got to going back he … he changed.  I think that is what Dern and his crowd were waiting on to some extent.”

 “Had a run in with Dern did you?”

 “I killed Dern.”

 “What?!”

 “Guess Kiko didn’t tell that part.”  She gave a brief explanation then asked, “Does that break the deal?”

 “Hell no.  If anything it makes me want it more. Dern was a cretin and should have been chased down the road a long time ago.  He brought too many shady characters in that tried to cause problems we didn’t need.  Our community is fairly stable but it’s not Disney freaking World.  And the business I aim to go into isn’t without its risks.  I need a woman that won’t faint at the sight of blood and who will cover my back if need be.”

 Slowly Emi said, “No.  I ain’t the kind of mujer who faints.  Seen too much.”  To change the subject she asked, “Kiko really got kids?”

 “You looking to take m’ sister’s place?” he asked snidely.

 “Don’t be an ass Gringo.  That tune is wearing thin already.  When I make a deal I keep my word and expect you to do the same.  Little kids … just … haven’t seen all that many and you know why.  But you say you got some and he got some.  Strange to hear it.  He needs a kick in the head for leaving them to go off on some woman hunt.  Crazies could have followed them home.”  She almost including him in need a kick but knew enough to keep her counsel on that particular opinion.

 Nate said, “My sister said the same thing.”

 “Good for her.  She sounds like she’s got more sense that he does.”  Then under her breath she mumbled, “Giving me that letter to carry it back like I’m some kinda damn mensajero de la muerta.  Like I’d just drop everything and …”

 With some curiosity Nate asked her, “What were your plans for your life before getting caught by the militia?”

 Emi got a blank look in her eyes.  “To take it one day at a time until I died.”

 Not quite believing her line he said, “Not much of a plan.”

 “Not much of a life … still better than what I left behind.”

 “Is that why you are jumping at this deal to take my name?”

 “Don’t flatter yourself.  It don’t have nothing to do with you or your name.  Just I’ve got two choices.  Your offer or a sure ride to someone expecting to make a living off of me on my back.”  Emi couldn’t hide her distaste of the idea of going on the block.  “I got some pride left.  Maybe not a lot but some.”

 Nate looked troubled for a brief moment then nodded as if he was making the final commitment to what started out as a crazy half-baked idea.  He would have said something but there was a knock on the door and then a voice saying, “Captain!  You ain’t gonna believe this!”

5 comments:

  1. Kathy, as always . . . great stuff.
    Now, about this ongoing relationship with Cliff.....
    makin' me crazy there girl!

    Take care, best wishes for your family's health.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great story Kathy, thank you for posting it for us.
    Wayne

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great story Kathy, thank you for posting it for us.
    Wayne

    ReplyDelete