She waddled over like a penguin to the stove at the sight of him having a dry throat. “ Her small thin lips puckered as she poured the hot coffee into his cup.” Now Harold you will have to excuse me I haven’t been my self lately for the entire time here I have been running.” The large white cup rattled a bit with the over fill of the steaming black coffee easing over the edge on to the table while she still stood staring at him with lust in her eyes.
You must login to vote
After the game the long ride home was even more silent. Mr. Von Hoke seemed preoccupied and even more anxious to get back. The two men who had rode with the crates never returned for the ride home. Joe feeling quite proud of himself having shown Frances a good time said his good byes with a gentlemen’s hand shake after escorting Frances back to the convent.
The next few days were uneventful so Joe decided to buy bread and cheese to share with Ryan and his family. As he popped over the hill he could see a black fire smoldering in the air wondering what dead animal was being put away he picked up his pace.
Upon arriving he saw Ryan and his father hosting a make shift bedding on to the fire. “ Hey!” he announced joyfully. “Just thought I’d stop by and share some bread.” “ Sorry I haven’t been around, been so busy and been out of town.” “So Ryan how is your mother? “ “ I felt sure the doctor could help,” he questioned with a smile.
Ryan set down on the ground with his face in his hands while his father turned slowly to face Joe.
No words were spoken for a moment but from the look in his eyes Joe knew she was gone. Shame over took his senses as he lowered his head.
The old man spoke up, “She’s gone Joe.” “The Lord took her from me as well as my baby girl!” I didn’t deserve them!” he spouted out in anger for himself. “He isn’t blind, he could see I couldn’t provide for their needs much less their wants.” His blues eyes were like fire when Joe looked up to see his face he could feel the anger for God. Joe sighed heavily as his heart sank. “I should have been here.” “Me and my selfish ways.” “ I just knew the medication made all well again.”” “ I just knew it!” he pouted. “Son it wasn’t your place to be here besides what could you have done?” “ You did more then most and more then any one could ask for by giving the money for medicine.” “ Without it we would have lost her long ago and I would not have had the time to tell her what she meant to me.” “Something I should have done long ago but my pride stood in the way.” Ryan sprang to his feet running toward the house while bellowing.
The old man went on in his fit of self hate.” This damn land that’s all I had on my mind!” “The fact that it belonged to my father and I had made him a promise I would make it work.” I was too stubborn to see the effects it was having on my family” “She wanted to leave so many times she beg but as a mule I stood fast to what I wanted only and that was to show all I could make it.” “I can’t change time Joe it’s over and I lost.” “Never let things become your priority over people Joe.” “It will never be anything but a lost fight.”
The old man lips trembled as he reached down to gather a clump of dirt crumbling it in his hands. This field like me has been over worked. “Many tears and sweat I have lost to this land in the hopes of that pot of gold and the whole time the world went on turning with out me.” “ When I met my wife I was for certain things would change instead things changed me.” His gray withered skin was evidence enough that time did not stand still but the true sacrifice was a map of his heart going nowhere that echoed from his soul as he spoke.
Dusting his hands he went on in a self absorbed conversation. "I am happy Ryan will not pass on my seed, being he isn't my blood but yet he is my soul and through his eyes she will always live.” “ If not for Ryan I would be inclined to call for my reservation out of this world.” He wiped his brow with the sleeve of his shirt as he choked back the tears.
Joe eased over to sit on an old stump while he keenly took in all the man had to say. The old man never seemed to notice while keeping his eyes to the heavens he continued to open his broken heart. "There will always be those who have and those who have not for it is written but until now I never thought of what to have really meant, what we sacrifice and what we have." "Time is all any one of us have and that my dear friend has no guarantee." "What we do with our time is up to us and one thing for certain Joe, if I had more time I would have made my first love my friends and family.""Objects wither away, are stolen or become no further use to us." "People should grow from having known us, that's what its all about, not what we can carry in our hands but what we carry in our hearts."
A gentle breeze chimed through the trees as a rainbow of colors stretched across the cloud filled sky. Joe felt a rising of his soul as he long to hear more but found himself unable to break the still silence in order to ask him to go on. The old man slowly tossed the last of his wife's clothing on the fire and with it his heart went up in flames. Bowing his head he said a silent prayer then turned to wrap his arms around Joe's shoulders.
As they silently followed the dirt path to the shackled old house Joe noticed how bare its windows seemed. The soul of the house seemed to speak of being tired having many lives pass through it on their way to no where. With a pat to Joe's back he broke the spell. "Well, my chap, one thing I know is that Christ broke bread with the meek and the weary." "The smallest of creatures mean so much to him." "It was time he spent here, love he shared which is the true meaning of life but we still can't seem to find the path there.”
Coming to a halt he looked back with a question for Joe. " Why you think the tall grass has over taken all but that small path?" He curled his brow as he waited for Joe's answer. Joe studied the small trail which was indented with the signs of wagon wheels." Shrugging his shoulders he replied. " I have no clue." " I guess because it is trampled on." "That's right!" the old man spoke out. " I use it every day to carry water from the spring." "Like the path of God, if we use the path God has made for us it will never be over grown and the next person will have no problem following behind." " We will stumble Joe for there are many stones in our way but it isn't our shame for falling but our shame for staying down instead of helping those who we see fall." A serene feeling came over Joe like looking at an old photo of himself as a child, wondering where that boy had gone. His heart knew with the words of the old man he had now stepped into the path of being a man.
Time raced on and before Joe realized he had forgotten his dream and his friend Frances while busy chasing the wild flower Emma. The fields flourished with the rains and the warm weather of spring. While the hillside sang a love song for creatures great and small the town too had its young lovers at bay. Joe found himself quite pleasantly surprised with his appearance in his new Sunday suite. He eagerly dressed in the mirror as his stubby fingers tried to make sense of his tie.
The navy blue suite showed off his now young masculine body very well. His orange hair had darkened through the years to a pleasant copper and a hint of a mustache and beard had begun to grow. It was hard for him to believe that in few winters he had changed so much. As he flexed his muscle in the mirror he thought of his father who now was married to Ms. Wright. She had won out in the end and now Joe spent most of his time alone in the old home place, which was mostly bear.
Emma waited patiently for Joe to appear. They were invited to Mr. Von Hoke's ranch for his annual spring party. She could hardly wait to see his face when he lay eyes on her in the new yellow dress he had chosen for her. Her long black hair glistened in the sunlight as she knelt down to smell the flowers she had planted under the old ash tree. Picking a few she whizzed into the house to place one in her hair.
Joe bouncing down the street just like a rubber ball when seeing Emma he tried to keep from looking too excited literally wiped the grin from his face with his hand. She was sweet warm wine to his lips, the ecstasy to his soul as he gazed upon her fair face. Emma was his holiday, a place visited and he could hardly wait to be there again.
Her eyes danced with delight as she saw the look of approval on his face. Laughing she teased." Joe can you see through this dress?" His face burnt with shyness as he quickly leaped for her hand pulling her close. "You're beautiful." he whispered brushing his warm cheek against her cool soft hair then placing a gentle kiss on the side of her face.
They spent the day playing crocket with several other young people while the elder men and Mr. Von Hoke along with Gertrude entertained the women in a game of cards on the veranda. Several times Joe deliberately knocked Emma's ball into the near by woods away from the crowd just to be alone. There he stole his first true kiss when she pretended to be preoccupied with finding the ball. She was a magnet and he was steel, the closer he got to her the closer he wanted to be.
Many childish kisses they shared but through the hot after noon the kissing became longer, warmer and more intense until there would be no remission. There under the shade of the trees the white moon light struck through the limbs as they lie in a bed of soft green moss. With one look of her bedroom eyes Joe was a puppet in her hand. Emma appeared innocent but had the knowledge of a woman something Joe would never forget. For those few stolen moments time did stand still, the air became light and the only sound heard were their sighs. Once again Joe felt himself leave his childhood with the new knowledge of what it was to be a man.
Mr. Von Hoke light an open fire as the men gathered around for a private conversation while Gertrude set underneath the shade of the gazebo surrounded by the constant chatter of excited women awaiting Emma to serve cool lemon aide and small white icing cakes. Joe was delighted to be added to the men's conversation when the other boys his age were sent off to play tag taking a seat between Von Hoke and the young doctor. The smell of burning wood and pipe smoke filled the night air as small swarms of husky voices mumbled like bees among themselves.
The conversation remained light until Mr. Von Hoke glanced up to see a line of swooping brightly colored dresses following Gertrude up the steep hill toward the house. As he was about to address the men a gentleman cleared the air of the humming chatter when he called out." The goods have been delivered for months now!" " So when are we going to take action?" Dead silence came over the grounds except for the crackle of the raging fire.
Von Hoke stood up swiftly peering out into the shadowed faces to see who his aggressor might be, spying a tall deranged looking lad perched among the men with a derisive smile as if thinking the duel was in his favor.
Still moments passed without a word from Von Hoke who calmly light his cigarette throwing the match into the fire then slowly deliberately drew his head back blowing rings of smoke into the air.
As he patiently watched the smoke disappear into the darkened night the young man became restless calling out once more with more force. "I'm waiting Von Hoke, as well as the other gentlemen here for an answer!" Von Hoke whirled his cigarette into the fire as his eyes changed to stones. Slamming his hands into his pockets he announced in a clear calm voice." My friends all things are to be done in an orderly fashion if we are to accomplish our goals." " I fear we are not ready for such events as of yet." "If we act to hastily we may find we are defeated before we begin.""Light heartedly he chuckled out. " I’m for more drinking then idiotic conversation right now!" "How bout it chaps?"
Once more the young man fueled the chaos. " Mr. Von Hoke you forget that we are not as fortunate as you, for we have to make our own living and I think I can speak for most of the men here when I say we are tired, out of work and can no longer feed our families." "We have waited long enough!" The young man reacted by picking up a lighted branch from the fire swinging it in the air like a sword. "We are ready for action!" He roared. As he swung the stick in the air above his head the men began to chant loudly. " Fight!" "Fight!" "Kill the bloody British!" "We are the I.R.A!"
The young doctor rose up trying to calm them with the raising of his hands while yelling above the crowd. “Gentlemen, please calm yourselves!" "Take in to consideration who is doing the speaking and his age, of course we all wanted to fight when once this young lad's age!" Even with out planning our hearts over ruled our thinking!”
Waving his hands in the air he approached the raging men. "Please!” “ What Mr. Von Hoke states is true." "It will soon come to past, the chance to free ourselves is at hand but we have to act with a level head!" "The time and place has already been set!" "Just bear with us!!" Seeing their chance for disruption had died the sound of the roaring men calmed to a vast few who stood in a huddle among them.
No sooner then the words were spoken than Mr. Harmon popped his head out of the darkened corner. " I have not heard of this news until now." he complained as his slumped shoulders made their way to the light of the fire giving a cold blank stare to Von Hoke. The doctor’s and Von Hoke’s eyes met with the same disrespect as Von Hoke fought his way through the huddle of men. "This party is over.""Good night!” He announced sternly as he walked away with Joe trailing behind.
As the week drug on Elizabeth waited franticly for night to fall. Sweeping the floor with the edge of her wrap that hung loosely across her wrist she came to a swift halt long enough to peer out the window again into the fogged filled night as it lay like a magic carpet hovering over the freshly dewed lawn.
Looking quickly at the hall clock which was ticking precious time on in a steady rhyme she gave a heavy sigh then hearing the crisp click of a latch she stood still in the darkened room holding her breath for fear of being discovered at such hour. The hair stood on the back of her neck like prickly needles on a cactus. Feeling the harsh eyes of someone watching her she swept into the shadows of the hall just as the sound of the screeching door opened.
The light from the room revealed a bulging eye popping into view from the unsealed door. Mr. Harmon as usual telescoped the hall for any signs of moving shadows. Knowing fair well that she would be leaving soon he closed the door with a deliberately loud bang. As the thud of door lingered Elizabeth prepared her wrap around her shoulders for a quick get away.
Once again returning to the window she discovered the light she had been waiting for as it blinked once then twice, then once again in a short quick flash. Easing out the door she never thought to look back as she stomped down the walk. Her shadow evaporated into to the dark while behind her was left the slow return of the drapes in the hall window as a hand regrouped their pleats.
The exhaust from the running truck smoldered in the air at their feet while the young doctor threw a tarp in the back. “I would have been here on time but I had another flat!” “ I just gotta find a way to get better tires or I ‘m done for.” He sneered. “ I’m just sure the others will follow in suite when it’s the worse time for them to blow.” Elizabeth just grunted, giving him a glare as she took her place behind the passenger seat. “Well we better snap to it before we get caught!” She barked. Jumping into submission at the sound of her voice he darted in behind the wheel racing down the dirt road to the main high way.
When they arrived at the deserted building Elizabeth leaped out to fumble for her string of enormous keys she had crammed in her pocket which Mr. Von Hoke always called her string of pearls. As they chimed together she looked around for any sign of the officers who were due to make their rounds about the same hour. Holding her breath she bit at the bottom of her lip straining to locate the right key to the warehouse.” Finally!” she breathed a sigh of relief.
Shaking her head at the young doctor whose face was leaning in to the windshield giving her an impatient stare “Alright, alright hurry!” “For the life of me I don’t understand why you have to carry all of those keys every time!” She curled up her lip and shrugged her shoulders crunching on through the graveled drive ignoring the temptation for a smart reply.
The steel doors, a task for any man seemed to glide with easy under the pressure of her stubby hands. Motioning him to start the truck she called out gratingly. “ Well come on!” Then grumbling under her breath.” “You’re the one who will get us caught!” “You and your bald tires!” Rolling his eyes at her remark he slowly eased the truck through the doors staling the engine quickly for fear of being heard. Immediately he bounced out grabbing boxes as his feet hit the ground while yet Elizabeth fiddled with an opened crate that contained a dress she had recently purchased.“ What do you think?” she questioned holding up a pearl sequence dress of satin and lace. “It would have looked very tasteful on me.” “Don’t’ you think so?”
The young man peeping his head over the truck was caught off guard. When he looked up his eyes popped and mouth flew open. A chill ran over his quivering shoulders at the sight. “Burr,” he thought. Just imagining her wearing such an elaborate dress made him ill at heart. “Yes ma’am”, he mumbled. “ That would be a sight to see,” he agreed as his lip puckered as if he had just tasted a sour grape.
She smiled batting her thin lashes placing it neatly back into the crate. “ If da knew how many of these dresses were purchased in vain the top of his head would blow like one of his distillery barrels.” “Further more if he knew what I was truly doing with them he would fall over dead.” She continued to rattle on while slinging crates over her shoulders towing them to the back of the truck with ease while the thin young man strained to lift the last one in place.
The rattle of an empty can being pitched to the ground sent them both to a statues state. The doctor terrified flashed his eyes toward the door as a light flickered through the glass pane. “OH, be Jesus!” he whispered faintly, motioning his hand for her to stoop down. The officers chatting among themselves jiggled the door handle for a moment then passed on through the open lot. One whistling a tune staggered aimlessly as they passed a bottle between them unaware that two pair of horrified eyes kept them in their sights. Frantically they draped the crates with the tarp before Elizabeth tiptoed to the door. When all seemed safe they fled through the dark parking lot without lights. While the doctor tore at the gears the old truck coughed and choked its way up the steep hill back to the safety of the main road.
The nights grew ever long for Emma with her chose of callers now being mostly the aggressive officers that uncaringly took their place in her bed each night. As she waited for her next unloving ambiance to begin she counted the money she had accumulated for the day shoving it deeply into the toe of an old pair of stockings on her dresser drawer. As Emma glanced in the mirror at her reflection she no longer saw the fare spirit of a young girl looking back although she projected to all a gay heart her soul was in despair. Finding the only relief from her worlds over whelming unjust order of demands she picked up her pen and paper jotting down the words from her broken heart.
Looking hard at the stark blank tablet her mind began to wonder letting her heart bleed from the pen she thought. “ The pen is my heart's voice spoken, the paper my soul's despair.” “ While in my mind I have no hope that anyone will care.” Sadly she began yet another poem that would be hidden from any probing eye. For many years they would not be found until her life had well been over. Through a darken state of mind she wrote. “Winters Stow”
The dew upon thee
the whisper of the air.
To many times
the cock has crowed
and still thee eyes
But will the cold
and frosted night
bring sorrow to dismay
or will thee heart
with all its fright
be hardened to the grave.
Fear not my young love
for thee has came
upon the rivers weeping
one voice unheard
the winters stow
as you dare lay
With the unbearable harsh sound of a drunken familiar voice calling her name while he was trying to dislodge her door she quickly wiped the tears from her cheeks hiding the poem among the others in the safety of her unusable fireplace. Pasting a smile on her face she pressed the wrinkles from her tired eyes as she slowly opened the door.
He threw the money as usual at his feet with an arrogant devilish grin having eyes of fire that burnt her soul. She shamelessly groveled for the money as she avoided his stare. “Ok little whore do your thing!” he bellowed out like roaring thunder while pushing Emma’s face toward him with her still on bended knees.
Emma choked at the thought of what she was about to do but gave to his every command. He charged at her clothes with his grubby fingers tearing layers from her skin baring her shoulders to his un-kept face as the sting of his whiskers punched through her delicate skin she began to cry softly under her breath. “ You’re hurting me!” she whimpered while she struggled to be free just as the rage from his closed fist met its way to her small face she squinted her eyes to prepare for the blow.
The following day the delightful chirp of a spring bird roosting in the tree next to Joe’s window announced the rising of the sun. Slowly stretching the tiredness from his limbs then springing to his feet as light as feather with an exhilarating feeling of seeing Emma. Just the thought of her made the blood rise like a high tide in his heart feeling it skip a beat he gave out a hoot. “ Uh huh, little lassie he laughed to himself. “ I will come more then prepared to win your heart today.” Smilingly he soared around the room in such a state of bliss that he no longer remembered he had promised to see Frances in church that day.
Adorning his hair with oil he admired himself in the mirror as he combed and fussed making sure every strand was in the perfect place. Topping his head with the brown leather hat that Emma had admired on him only brought more feeling of confidence that her heart would have no gate that could keep her from loving him after seeing him so well dressed.
Prancing down the street feeling like a million bucks he swung his hat in the air a few times as he hummed and sung a song, whistling a few bars as he passed people on his way. He would stop bow and tip his hat to the ladies. He was really feeling full of himself. The song he sang had such meaning to him but even more with the threat of war now hovering over Ireland like a black cloud ready to rupture any minute. He slung his head back like a hungry baby bird feeling that his part in helping Mr. Von Hoke was well deserving for him to feel so proud. Knowing that Emma knew of the events he burst out brazenly. “You'll take the high road…and I'll take the low road…and I'll be in Scotland afore ye…But me and my true love will never meet again…On the Bonny… Bonny …Banks of Loch Lomond!
The account told as follows, in 1746 the United Kingdom of Scotland, England and Wales had been formed, but the Highland Scots wanted a Scottish king to rule, not an English one. So were led by their Bonnie Prince Charlie, in attempt to depose King George II, only to be defeated at the Battle of Culloden Moor. While retreating toward the border, so many were captured and imprisoned. The song tells of two Scottish prisoners, one who was to be released, and the other facing execution, at the same hour of the day. There is an old Celtic belief that if you die away from your homeland, you will return by an underground spirit route called The Low Road. In this song, the soldier facing death is saying he will be the first to arrive home, while the surviving soldier will take the "high road" over the mountains, to arrive later.
Arriving at the yellow house of Emma’s employment disappointed to see Gertrude answer the door he swooped his head in the doorway to get a quick view of what was behind her. “ Where’s Emma?” he inquired with a deep look of concern. Gertrude stood in the doorway with her arms guarding the path to the parlor having an unusual strained look so Joe pressed his way forward into the darkened room sharply removing her arms from his way as if she was a swinging screen door. Coming from the bright light he strained to focus as he cast his eyes toward the dark parlor spotting several husky Cazenovia’s lounging across the red velvet couches where they had their arms and laps full of robust luscious, young women who giggled as if they would swoon to any word guided their way but still no sign of Emma. “Well, hello to you too Joe!” Gertrude sassed out. “ Emma had an errand to run with Harold.” “I’m afraid you just missed them.” “ They will be back in a few days, I‘m sure.” While talking she flashed her eyes down the hall as if to be preoccupied avoiding his intent look.
Still not believing that something wasn’t truly wrong he questioned her as he tried to make eye contact.” What do you mean an errand to run?” “I thought I was the only legs and arms of Mr. Von Hoke.” “What could he possibly need her for?” He shuffled across the room toward her still watching closely for any sign of trouble.
“Oh, just some girl things Harold needed assistance with that’s all, Joe.” “ You worry too much.” she half-heartedly laughed.
Knowing in his heart that the truth was being held he blew from his nostrils like a raging bull as he kicked at a crack in the hard wood floor with the toe of his shoe. “ Now Gertrude I know well that all isn’t as you want me to perceive it to be.” “ What’s really the problem?” By now he was more then upset. “Come on you’re hungry, I’m sure of it by the look in your eyes.” “Haven’t ate have you?” Sweetly smiling she placed her hand gently across his arm leading him into the kitchen while still trying to convey to him all was well.
Still puffed up pulling away from her guiding hand Joe announced, “Well if you’re not going to tell me the truth I think I will just leave now!” “I’m not at all hungry!” “How could I eat knowing something is wrong, but if you feel it’s nothing I need to hear then I think I will just be on my way!” “Frances wanted me to meet him at church services so guess that’s the best thing I can do right now!” He scoffed. Looking back at her with disgust in his eyes he barked out. “Don’t think you fooled me Gertrude!” He snapped, “ Mr. Von Hoke has never used Emma to do any such thing before, why now!” With the last word he slammed out the door.
Joe’s mind wondered through the whole service as France took his first communion. Dressed in white gowns the boys who had came of age were marched down the isle as the elders in the chore sang out like angels in the presence of God’ thrown. The church was garlanded with white lilies that represented pureness of the heart. Father Jacob ornamented in his crown of jewels held his head high with pride as he chanted the prayer anointing each kneeling boy’s head with oil.
Joe could hardly look up for the face of Mary’s statue seem to be piercing his soul with her saddened eyes. As he fidgeted in his seat an older lady next to him fanned herself in short quick motions as if it would shoo him away like an annoying fly. Feeling guilty wanting to find Emma more then he wanted to breathe he finally slipped out the door to the back streets for fresh air. Popping a wad of tobacco in his mouth, chewing it like candy as he studied what the best thing would be to do, stay or go. If he stayed he would only be restless. If he left where would he find her. Before having made his mind the service was over as mounds of people trampled over him to leave he dodged his way back in to find Frances sitting alone under the lighted candles saying a prayer. He some how looked more vulnerable then ever with his head bowed.
As he raised his head from prayer through tearful eyes he smiled to see Joe. “ Mum couldn’t make it,” he whispered.” But that’s ok, Father Jacob says she will be here next week to visit.” “ I know I have it more lucky then many here.” “They are complete orphans.” “ Most cry at night especially the younger ones.” “Father Jacob is good enough to take them in his quarter’s so they don’t keep us all awake sometimes.” He gave a pitiful look as he went on to say. “ I’ve missed you Joe.” “ I haven’t found any new letters from you lately and mine I finally took back because I was afraid they would be found.” Guess you been real busy, huh?”
Clinching his teeth at the thought of his neglect Joe prepared a speech, one to make himself feel better as well as his friend.” Well there’s a game soon and I thought you might want to go.” “ Think you can slip away?” “ I have to help Mr. Von Hoke with something this coming week and then I will be free for a change.” “Maybe we can slip back up on those pesky birds and spends some time talking again real soon too.”” I promise, you can use my sling shot this time.” “I won’t even try to hit one.”
Frances laughed lightly at the memory of their last visit.” Well if you can promise that, then I promise you if we ride in the back of a truck again I won’t look out the side.” They both stood silent for a moment until they heard a man clearing his throat. Frances leaped up. “ Well I best get busy.” “I am responsible to cleaning today before I can eat and I’m famished.” “ Yeah, sure you little corker, I’ll be on my way then.” Looking back Joe called out. “Be looking under the log Frances, there will be a letter.” He waved as he went out the door.
Days passed before Frances finally received his letter from Joe. Happily he read it in a hurry as he ran back up the hill to the convent. The words were short but truly meant a lot.
“I am in the process of doing a great honor for our beloved country and loved ones.”
“ We will be going to that game.” “ Are you ready!” “Be there to get you soon, don‘t be late.”
Your best friend,
Showing a full set of pearly whites he read the words over and over when suddenly startled, feeling a sharp pain from his ear, as he was being drug off by one of the Nuns. She pulled him in a fast trot beside her with his head jerked toward the ground as he let out a yelp. “ Oh!” “Oh, be Jes..!” “What did I do?” The squall of his yelp singed her ears as she lunged at him again.
“Be what Frances?” “ What were you going to say?” She jerked his head down even farther. Where have you been little lad?” “We have been in a frantic search for quite some time now and Father Jacob is beside himself with worry!” She dug deeper into his skin with her nails. “ You know better, Frances and what’s that you got here in your hand?” As she reached to snap it from his hand he crammed the note in his mouth while she darted to save it. “Spit it out!” “ I mean it!” She blared as she slapped him across the back.
Although knowing he would pay a steep price he chewed like it was chocolate cake. Wolfing it down while looking up at her with fearful blue eyes. “Frances you are going to get it now!” “Wait until Father Jacob learns of this, you will be mighty sorry!” “You just had your last meal for awhile!” “ I hope you know that!”
Frances who had came bare foot danced across the sharp rocks as she slung him about. The two heading up the hill with her cap barely hanging to the side of her head flapping in the wind like a broken sail. She drove him on home like driving a run away steer by guiding him with both hands clutched to his ears while he continued to yell out in pain having his arms strutted out like a scare crow in an opened field.
Not a word was said as she slung him around in a half circle to face the Father in his office. Father Jacob looked at him as he shook his head in disappointment. “ Ah, Frances, son where have you been?” He asked in a soft tone. “We have been sick with worry.” “I’ll tell you exactly where he has been!” the Nunn announced. She light in on him again with the back of her hand to the top of his head while Frances tried to shield himself from the blows. She enlightened the Father of all that had happened after she had shoved Frances by the shoulders into a chair. “Well son you know fair well you have to be punished for slipping away.” “ That unpunished would only give the other children the lead way to run and maybe even be hurt in the mean time.” He reached over to open the drawer to his large desk, as Frances eyes became saucers.
From that very second every thing seem to go into slow motion as he watched the drawer being slowly screeched open revealing an enormous wood paddle. He watched the large hand with five fingers all of a sudden look like ten as his head became light and the room began to move. He knew too well what the punishment would feel like quivering at the thought he became short of breath from fear. Handing the paddle to the Nunn Father Jacob stared out the window while Frances stood up. With each lick he cried harder until the stinging twenty strikes were given. By then he was exhausted and could only try to catch his breath on his way to his knees slumping to the floor like a discarded rag doll.
With the nightfall Frances found he was in his worst nightmare as the chilly dank walls ricochet his anguished cry as he lay in a fetal position in the dirt encrusted floor. While trying to muffle the sounds of the knolling bloodcurdling rats that scored at the walls his cry became a tortured whimper as he bobbled his head, beating his ears with his hands. His worse two fears were the dark and the sewer rats and now they had come to haunt him once again.
Just below the tall ceiling a small open window cast a film of light from the full moon. Bit by bit he pried his eyes open to only loose his breath again from the startling sight of the light recording the shadowed figures of rats climbing the water pipes above. Hearing their razor sharp nails clicked across the concrete floor next to him he shivered with horror taking in a deep breath then lunging his back against the outside wall under the bleak lighted window, as if that would save him from their hellish rapturous approach.
Awaken by the faint light of day Frances; cold wet and sore rises slowly while he aimlessly searches for a small haven a safe distance from the rats. Many already in their hiding position for the day making his time there less stressful as he throws his shoe at one nibbling on a dead bug. Hearing the sound of the roaring gale winds outside as a storm front moves in he welcomes the lightning’s stark flash that dances across the pitch black walls. The thunder bellows out vibrating the room as he quivers covering his head with his arms. “Two more,” he thinks to himself. “Two more days Frances, you can do this.” Then the rattle of keys sends him sailing to the cast iron door as it slowly grinds open but only a hand holding a tray of one thin slice of bread and a shallow glass of tap water is revealed.
The hand impatiently shoves the tray toward him to take as Frances tries to speak. “ Sister?” “ Sister do you think I could have a blanket?” “ My clothes are still damp from the water punishment.” Jerking the tray back as Frances grabbed the water and bread the hand slammed the door closed.
Through the whipping wind a ship docked at the port rocks from rib to rib. A small figure of a man being showered with waves attempting to smoke his pipe stands at the wooden bridge awaiting the arrival of Elizabeth and the young doctor. Lights from a automobile blindly flashes his face as he places his hand over his eyes calling out in vain through the storm. “ Hello!” Looking again he realizes his mistake for the car was not familiar as three men in uniform charge toward him. “ I want to see your papers!” the one in front bluntly calls out. “ All of them!” “And they best be in order.” He rushes past him in a fast pace toward the deck. Captain Collin coolie reserves his position as he attempts to light his pipe again. “ Did you hear me?” the officer yells out. “ Yep.” He southern draw is made evident. “ I heard you just fine thanks.” He lightly answers. “I’m coming, this damn pipe tobacco is wet and I’m having a fit for some smoke.” He slowly clunks up the deck wearing his large galoshes making a wet swishing sound.
Although the papers and the stock are in order the men continue their search tearing and slinging their way to the cabin below.” Now wait a minute here!” the captain crossly announces “ You really have no jurisdiction with me on the water.” Out of good faith I have permitted you to come aboard.” “ We could get this over with a lot quicker if you would tell me what you’re looking for.” By the time they had finished the ship was a wreck but nothing was discovered, not one mark on the paper that couldn’t be accounted for. Glaring, the head officer motions for the retreat of the others just as Elizabeth and the doctor come into view. The captain quick with wit purposely lies down on the ship horn, but cleverly as if by accident.
The doctor startled stomps the brake, sliding the old truck to a halt “ Oh my God, they’re on board!” Elizabeth ‘s keen voice scalds out. “ Where to, where to?” The doctor rams the truck into reverse just as the officers trample down the ramp back to the car. With the high winds and rain the truck wipers rattled trembling back and forth against the windshield. “Damn!” “I can’t see to drive!” Behind them the lights of a fast moving car was rapidly approaching as they turned the curve in a jack knife. Plunging through the steep muddy water holes the tires burrowed farther into the soupy mud consuming even more time then what they had to escape.
The truck violently rocked as they tried to gain freedom from the on coming officers then finally the ghastly shrill blow of the back tire brought them to a dead still.” Oh my God!” “ I told you!” I had it deep in my soul it would happen!” “ Damn nation, now what?” The truck then gradually eased over leaning to one side. “ I am not believing this!” He cries out as he clasp his hands to the side of his face.
They both jump out franticly pushing with all their might to dislodge the tire just as the blare of an unforgettable sound sharply rings out over the fall of the hard rain seeing an officer with his head out the car window blowing a whistle as a warning of death if they moved. “Step away from the truck!” He howls climbing out of the automobile with gun in hand. The doctor nervously reaches for his hankie in his back pocket when a blazing red ball of fire slashes through the hazy black sky. “That’s the last warning, move again and the next one will land in you!” The officer rushed over forcefully taking him by the arm ramming him into the side of the truck. “ Hold it!” “Hold it!” The doctor cried out.“ “I’m with her!”
Elizabeth rises from her squatting position beside the truck covered in mud; her hair soaked with water as she bats her lashes with a smile. “ Oh, my Brian, I hate for you to see me in such a predicament!” Her sharp point chin strutted out as she stood smiling. “ We had a late start it seems and was in quite a hurry.” “Da had us running an errand, to late it seems for him to get the crates he needed from the ware house.” She Explaining in a hurry darting over to courteously help one of the officers unveil the crates as if nothing to hide. “What a mess we’re with a flat and stuck in the mud.”
“Da will be more cantankerous then ever when he hears the news.” “Well Ms. Elizabeth, “ he reached over to pat her hand. “ You just get in the dry and we will take care of the rest,” he boasted pulling at his trousers that hung below his ballooned gut. He like her seem to get more of his daily exercise from pulling up to the table then away which was extremely obvious as he huffed out of breath from the short walk up the hill to their location.
“I really am sorry I had no earthly idea it would ever be you I’d find in this rattle trap truck and especially at such late hours.” “ For the life of me why your Da would ever dream of sending you out on a night like this, well I could never say.” “Hope we didn’t frighten you to much and really hope we can keep this whole matter to ourselves.” He winked.
As they carried on flirting the other two officers went to a near by friend to find a tire while the doctor stood rolling his eyes and puffing impatiently listening to them chatter. He went on to imagine them together. While the thought made him chuckle under his breath thinking what little piglets they could have he threw his hankie over his mouth to muffle the sound almost dancing from his wild imagination. A litter of babies with their mouths gapped open squalling at Elizabeth feet having her watermelon head and his short stocky body was almost more then he could stand.
With the tire replaced the officers said their good byes with an almost disappointment that they found no real action to warrant a conflict. “Well the curfew is about to begin,” the man spoke. “Best get you two on your way and Elizabeth tell your Da hello for me will you.” They sped out of harms way before breathing a word.” My God Elizabeth I thought for sure I was a goner when he fired that bullet and you just stayed right where you were!” He complained looking back at them through his rear view mirror.
“ Oh hush!” “ I got up didn’t I?” “ What if I hadn’t been here at all then what would you have done?” “ Besides you and those bald tires again!” “ I guess I have to take care of everything as usual!” “ Now we have to figure away to get back to the ship!” They went on arguing driving down the road with a clear view from the back windshield of their heads bobbing back and forth as their mouths at the same time flew wide open yelling insults looking like squabbling geese.
The crates delivered the ship now a sail through the wind filled sea as Elizabeth and the doctor stood on the rocky cliff in silence watching the last sight of their undying hope returning to America. There was no guarantee he would ever return again only the promise of one kindle soul to the other.
As gusts of wind chafe their face the doctor reaching over to recover her shoulders with her wrap speaks softly “ We did our best Elizabeth.” “ I should rephrase that, you did I should say.” “Never have I seen such loyalty as you have betrayed.” “ Most women would never dream of doing this.” “Well hell most men who claim to be for the cause have refused, I’m amazed.” “Well,” she spoke up, “Its not over until the fat lady sings.” Placing her hands on her hips she laughs, “And you shan’t see me sing until this war is over!” “We still have more crates and we have to wait for our return delivery from America.” Slapping him on the back like one buddy to the other she went on to say, “Let’s head out before we get caught.” “ I need to meet up with the main driver of this wagon, so guess we better get some shut eye.” She plods off leading the way back to the truck in her big brown army boots as the young doctor gallops behind feeling honored to be in her presence.
Under the bowels of the American ship hid huddled in clusters behind crates were the heart shattering frightened dirty faces of hungry children, women and men awaiting their hope for the open arms of The Lady of Peace to welcome them. Among the women a small frail girl set sobbing as she held tightly in her trembling hand her crumpled poetry, one of the little things she had left of her home in Ireland and her love of her heart.
Her face like a beaten piece of meat with black raccoon circles around her eyes she now held no beauty that men would seek to indulge upon. Wisped away in the night still in a fogged shadow like a badly felt dream she now safely caressed the precious cargo inside her body from the other passenger’s piercing elbows. The only thing she had left to give her the strength to live was the hope that this too some how by fate could be a part of Joe.
Every day the tiresome ridicules and gruesome punishment of being Catholic descendent became worse as the British white knuckled their hold around the necks of the Irish men and women whom with their children searched refuge where they could. Finding fuel for soul on the streets was as ambiguous as finding food or work. The men and women of strong heart held fast to the power of the people and their faith in God that they would over come.
The silence in the streets deafened ears as their hearts rumbled with the fear knowing something earth shaking was at hand. People rushed to and froe aimlessly to find the unity of shelter with friend or family from the uprising storm that would soon bluster in from having taken the next step to war.
Children and women had already fought bravely beside their fathers and husbands for the freedom of not their self but their mankind although many civilians refused to participate leaving the ratio approximately to be one Irishman to three British as well as fight the unfavorable attitude the townsmen had for the Volunteers now again the ratio will not endure the cost. Certainly the treaty between the Irish people and the British were meant for talk only for several men had taken it upon their own hands to punish the officials by bombing a quarters in which they stayed not only destroying yet more unnecessary lives but also the name and so crucial word of the IRA which seemed to many to have gone up in the fire leaving a division within the people in Ireland as well as a canorous anthology of questions in the minds of their near neighbors.
The British soldiers who had nothing to loose but anger also retaliated by a fate full day of massacre against innocent people at a foot ball game. Families who came for peace found themselves in the firing eyes of a tank as it roared into pose in front of the multitude as if a mascot on the freshly marked lawn. Where minutes before laughter roaring and frolic had took place the ghastly sounds of screaming, moaning and gasping dying souls lay out like flies in the bleachers.
Weeks later Mr. Von Hoke with his small brigade of men trampled the streets with what little artillery they had managed to accumulate giving orders to each individual as they raced the clock for time. Separating his army of men from the youngest of twelve to the elder of sixty five he pressed on to over come the much needed corner of the street where lay the markings of conflict already with buildings in shambles. Troops of British stood aiming fire as they crossed the threshold entering the open building clearly marked above with a banner that read “We serve neither King nor Kaiser but Ireland.” By his side as always stood Gertrude in her uniformed stature as brave as any man holding the sites of her rifle on the head of an unaware officer.
Joe having his orders now paced the floor outside a locked door where an official for the British government had been securely bound. His heart pounding with each rumble of bombs landing closer; feeling the vibration of a tank crush the ground while the building rocked like a kite in the wind.
The crystal sound of glass showered the room spraying his face with shivers that felt thin as powder while nervously he held tight to his rifle keeping the barrel pointed toward the door expecting any moment that he would be bombarded by troops.
Glancing over at a young lad who with a ghostly color was watching his every move he tried to muster a look of confidence with his famous smile. “ Me always wanted to have the look of snow in me hair!” “Burr,” he laughed as he shook his head loosely, stomping his feet to remove the glass from his trousers. The young boy’s childish face flashed a quick smile but he didn’t utter a word, as he stood frozen in the mounds of rubble. “ We only have to be here a few more hours chap, don’t worry.” “ I was told our luck would soon change with the ship on its way from America.”
Mr. Von Hoke swiftly entered the room. “ You lads ok?” A surreal look came over Joe’s eyes to see him and the others; astonished they had made it to see the nightfall. The darkness would give them a few moments of peace to gather as a unit once again for their means of communication had been great altered from their inability to over take several of the significant buildings.
Still standing in the corner was a stretcher one man had made from an old ladder and rug a true cymbal, which carried the real objective for the war. Their sources of surviving the fight as was their life had been created from the constant lack of nurturing left only with the discarded garbage that someone else no longer wanted. Mr. Von Hoke examined it closely as he spoke up. “ I can see I have left you in very good hands, who made this?” Joe addressing him walked closer over to show him it had already been used. “ I was unable to catch his name sir, but as luck turns sometimes it was there when the man needed it himself, being the first shot he was carried off swiftly by his troop, and through all the turmoil one young boy brought it back as we watched in amazement him dodging the bullets for the concern he had for us seeing that we were under such fire.
As the bombing shortened to a few crackles through the night he and Joe set under the broken window talking in a whisper. While he light a cigarette Joe reaching in his back pocket for a folded picture of Emma tried again to get a answer for his undying question, clearing his throat before beginning. “ Sir, I know you have told me time and again Emma is safe, but I just have to understand in my heart why she could not say good bye before her leaving.”
Von Hoke slowly raised his head to the top edge of the window to catch the glare of an orange flame as it whizzed through the air. From their position he could see a blanket of black boiling smoke covering the rooftop of a near by building as yellow flames sharply licked out from every scorching window. “ I told you there wasn’t time Joe, be thankful she is safe.” He answered in a high-pitched edgy voice. “After this is completed I promise you will see her again.” “ Just be patient and let’s concentrate on what’s at hand.”
Changing the subject he rolled on his elbows into the floor to jot a note down.“ This has to be delivered right away.” “ I don’t see a sign at all that the ship is near.” “Look at them Joe, the destitute!” “We just can’t keep this up!” “We have to get those guns or its over!” He looked around the room as several pair of saddened eyes looked back, men, women and children set in the floor with their backs penned to the walls awaiting their fate. One woman reached over taking the note from his hand. “I’ll go, I’m swift on my feet and I know my way around in the dark.” Their eyes met in honor as he released it to her hands.” Thank you, Anna you are one of Ireland’s most prized possessions.” “A diamond soul with a heart of gold.” “ If only Ireland had more like you who would see this cause for what it truly is.”
The cool damp air settled into the room while women with hearts of mothers sheltered the young with their warming arms. One lady with her rifle in hand rocked as she cradle it in her lap sang lightly a favorable hymn; the heart wrenching ballad unknown to whom it was meant but a variable of meaning to the loved ones left behind to refurbish their spirits by remembering the many souls passed on through the hands of past wars. As soft cries flooded the room Joe with a tearful sigh could almost hear the mesmerizing bag pipes sweetly calling him from a distance taking his mind back to his dear sweet mother in her hours of transformation from body to spirit while with her last breath she had also hum the tearful song .
The night roofed in a catastrophic blanket with the smell of scorching gun powder as the young girl covered her self in the shadows of the rumpled buildings making her way to the next safe haven as she muffled her ears from the piercing sounds that seemingly followed her. Not so unlike the gay shrill of fire works of a great festivity only the torrential celebration wasn’t for the Irish but their enemy who in notorious spirits like a bullish teen adhered their penchant to stamp on a more vulnerable child.
The black sky twinkled with the scattered flare of last minute warning fire sent from planes in the air, as a daunting reminder that the British were still there monitoring the grounds. She an ordinary girl by day who had worked in the factory before it closed found her self now in a murky dream. To think how her life had changed with the animosity from the mere craving of the people to be set free to live as any other was almost over whelming.
As she positioned herself in the alley safely behind an old iron door that had been placed against the wall she heard the clunking resonance of egoistically trained soldiers moving debris as they headed toward her. She preparing herself for combat saw the outline of a soldier’s barrel pass by her then pauses abruptly. Seeing the glare of the street light strike his gun’s sites she eased her rifle into aim holding her undeceive quivering finger on the trigger as she rationalized the fact she could not take them all but one would be to his doom as well as herself. Evident the young man felt the presence of the barrel at the back of his head he turned in a quick panic. She saw standing before her not a man but a young boyish frightened face as his eyes fixed on hers. In seconds both guns opened fire as razor sharp slugs pierced her body she clasped her hands tightly to the spouting wound in her neck as her voice gurgled while fighting for her last breath. Looking up to find her body being trampled by the raging soldiers as if they were stamping out a fire, while the sharp snap of bones in her legs were being dismembered. With every snaring kick of their army boots she too like many died in the care of the enemy who some how saw them not as human but as a nuisance to others.
After her parting from the world the soldiers then carried her along with the decomposing bodies of others to a familiar burying ground over the hill where they tossed her along with them into the ditch to join the many mangled bodies of kin and friends who had died before her.
Frances with his head bowed set in the middle of the cold floor in the private quarters of the Father awaiting his demotion from being his personal helper to merely help in the kitchen. The bombing evidently had changed no hearts when it came to his working, during the hours that most were safely tucked away fast asleep he sweating heaving over the daring tower of dirty dishes every night and then had very little sleep to participate in the continual services of morning prayer.
The Father with his eyes of appointed disgruntlement looked out the window as usual when he didn’t want to face his diplomacy action as if he undoubtedly wanted the children to think he was injured himself to forth come such punishments. With a deep stubbornness face he watching from safe distance a fire in town as it blazed the morning sky then paused for an immeasurable breath before gruffly speaking out. “ Frances, had it not been for this out rage going on in the streets I am afraid to say what would have been your length of punishment.”
“Consider it your lucky day with the alarming sound of sirens that woke us out of the depth of our sleep son.” “We are all but giving up on the fact that you will ever have the street from your blood or your ungodly mother’s influences which seem to control your mind.”
“ I have taken you in with good faith that you would change into a child of God, but yet I see the hands of Satan attached to your arms.” “ What should I do to these things that offend, Frances, what does the bible say to do to the eye that offends, is it not pluck it out son?”
“Then what should we do to the limbs that partake of such things that cause others to sin as well?” “ You were my chosen one, did I not make this clear that you have to do as you are told and pray that you too will become as me in the eyes of God, flawless without sin?”
“ Look at your hands Frances what do you see?” He turned to face him with a over zealous resurrecting presentation of power by striding over slowly while his breast bones burst through his night coat exposing his devious chest which was adorned with a bright gold cross of Jesus. In a trance Frances watched the glaring chain dangle from his neck like a swinging pediment as he felt the unbearable grip of the Father’s chastising hands bind his wrist.
Bending his small wrist backward he raised him from his seat on the floor to a kneeling position. “Pray!” he roared out as he closed his eyes aiming his bellowing troll face toward the heavens in a lioness matter. “Pray that God and I will for give you for the disappointment that I feel right now!”
Frances treacherously begged out stuttering his rehearsed prayer. “ Oh Omega the almighty for give me dear God for my sinful ways!” “ For give me for not, for not, seeing the good that has been done for my sake!” A flood of salty tears burnt his chafed face as his small hands with bleeding raw knuckles quivered. These hands of a small child who had been slapped with a stick into remission night after night now were being raised in prayer. Father Jacob adroitly howled “ What did you swallow Frances, what was it, that sinful thing you so joyfully ate?” “The paper of sin Frances that you made a part of your body.” “ We must cleanse it from your soul!”
“The paper that owned your heart, that you so willingly sinned against me!” “ Has it been washed away?” “Oh yes, Father, oh yes! He arduously cried out.
By now his small body shook violently with fear. “Please Father I’ve learned to be good!” “ I promise!”
“ How can you show your love Frances?” “ What can you do to tell me you love me?”
Frances scrambled to his feet swiftly pecking the Father’s fisted hands thoroughly with kisses. “ What ever you ask Father, what ever!” He sobbed. “ For give me, please!” Frances pressed his head in to the chest of the corrupt man as Father Jacob with his large hand plunged the child’s head farther down. “Cleanse your self Frances from all others!” “Cleanse your sins Frances!” He moaned out in a devilish desire. In moments the frail child’s torture was over leaving him to clean himself and leave quietly back to his room where he lay in a stiff straw make shift bed praying to die still a cast away from the other children.
Immensely vile days and endless black torrid nights under what felt to be a bottomless pit without fresh air or windows had passed as the ship chucked about the sea hoping soon for dry land to only have been redirected from America to other waters as Captain Collin and his crew’s faces wore a heavy veil of deep fear from knowing that little of their precious cargo would make it to see a dry place to call home.
Several ill and starving children had already been buried at sea with their wailing mother’s voices being swiped short from the howling wind while watching in horror as they bid their small children’s bodies good bye into the arms of the roaring dark sea. The stench of infection and body fluids filled the ship with a gloomy shadow of death leaving no hope for the ones who watched with large hollow eyes to see who among them would be carried away next. It soon became apparent that if one was to survive he had to think of his own well being before his fellow man at hand. Bickering and mistrust became a stanch on every tongue as each was parched from no clean drinking water. Their boiling bellies grew full from acidic fluids that erupted in binges of vomiting from nothing inside to be digest leaving them weaker and more vulnerable to disease that had followed like a cloak draped over their skeleton shoulders.
Emma’s lacerated face contaminated from the flies she fought off day and night was now purified with blisters of puss as she lie in her bed of raging fever fighting for life. The ship torrential motion brought dreams as she lie in a comatose state. The unborn child that lie inside her just under her ribs fought as well to stay a spirit as her body grew more fragile. No one gave her a second glance as she spoke out of tongue chanting an unfamiliar language to many while she being of German descendant carried on a conversation as if her mother and father were there while with a ear tingly laugh she flung her hands in the air as if tossing something gaily aside.
As her dreams of sunny days and pink cloudy skies in late after noon’s drizzled her senses with the taste of cool lemonade and small yellow cakes she frolicked about in her dream tossing bread in their pond to geese that gathered about every evening. The warmth of her mother’s moist kisses to her brow felt flourishing to her soul as she heard her whisper softly for her to follow her home. “Emma, come dear it is time to gather our things and head for home.” “ The hour grows near for your father to leave.” “ A storm is on its way we must hurry.” Emma felt her mother’s hand guiding her to rush as she ran along the hill side toward the glowing ambers ahead that were the welcoming lights of their home.
In reality the storm did grow ahead like a giant grey smoke as the Captain being warned of its approach from the true north. He in return sent out bellowing orders for sails to be lowered and all hands on deck.
The whipping wind tossed the boat as if a leaf in stream while the shipmate a frail man fought aimlessly to redirect the nose-diving. Still plunging them deeper into rougher waves that sprang as if roaring sea monsters from either side of the deck while scoffing at the small ship’s every attempt to escape their perfidious reaping limbs.
The lights aboard flickered like candles then all grew pitch black and for moments that seemed like hours the raking sound of lumber grinding together over took the atmosphere while the slapping of the drenched white sails tangled together like a fair ballerina with her elaborate wrap floating in a dizzying twirl.
The ship’s complaining structure shrieked out as if a live for minutes on in as the soul gurgling cries of desperately desolate people bawled to their maker for comfort clutching to each one next to them with clawing nails of trepidation. From ever seam cold frothy water slithered into the breaking floors bubbling as if oil leaks from an exceedingly permeate ground.
Only one small lifeboat had been attached for such potential comprehensible provisions, which by now had been lowered to the raging inferno of winds and rains as the mother ship presently blazing within the upper deck from the lighting’s short-circuiting, continued to groan to her final conclusion. Already deteriorated bodies that had no hold over the kismet soul reaper lie drowning in profound waters as further revulsion of lapping water established its way through the powerless walls. People crawling dragging each other to doom as they tried to escape harm’s way falling into the unmerciful sea as she with her desirable taste for life favorably swept them under as if they were no more then a grain of sand. The captain along with the crew bravely fought to aid those they could aboard the tiny vessel as it too swayed desperately in the unfailingly lashing waves then the angry ocean showing no end to its cruelty with one large rupture filled the bottom of the small boat.
A young lad who had only join Captain Collin for the first time to sea stood at the back dipping with his hands in a horror trying to progress more rapidly then the boat filled but found he was capsized into the icy murkiness. Fighting his way back up for air he swung his arms frantically to grasp anything that was afloat as he held to a structure that was above the dreary sea he cried out in vain. “Save me please, God have mercy, please dear Lord!”
With large gulps of water covering his face he fought hard to stay alive thinking what he would give to survive. Wishing he had hugged his little brother before he left and told his mother thank you for all she had done.
Now in the last moments of his life the sad image froze in his mind how he had been angry over misunderstanding thinking she had sided with the younger and the way he had left saying nothing to them out of spite thinking it would serve them right. Now to beg for just one more chance he held out his hand in prayer to the starless rolling sky.
The Captain standing in the middle of boat, which was already impregnated with a massive over load, tried reaching out through the thick darkness for the young lad. “ Here Chad!” He called out. “ Here grab hold of this rope!” The shrewd wind like a boiling giant witch shrieked out in disgust at the very sound of his intruding voice then electing dominance, whirling the boat from side to side, rattling the people about as if dice in her twisting hand. Frightened to move a muscle the young lad held fast to the object in the jarring water as it too bobbed up then under the unforgiving ocean.
Several more fell into the waiting turmoil as the waves continued to worsen they as well fought a losing battle against the duel of the roaring sea. Gasping for air the young boy still clung for life realizing this would surely be the end. Exhausted from his fight his shivering limbs cramped into knots but he held on knowing that the only thing left was to feel the bottom of the dark world he was now a part of. Hours passed as he tried to swim from one object to the other for some sort of hope. As one thing sunk he would quickly wrap himself to something else.
Harold Von Hoke desperately waiting for a return note gave up on any relief deciding to move his help away from the collapsing building. “ There’s no time to waste they will be coming soon.” “ I just hope that poor woman made it to safety herself.” “ Really I have to speak my mind I know with the American president we have little hope of any one seeing our cause much less the hope of anything to fight with.” “To much has already been done against us and I can only feel that we fight this alone.” “ I know, he said as he looked at the dread on Joe’s face.“ I guess I speak to much sometimes what I think, but you need to understand the reality of war and what seems to be the nature for some to do to others when they see them down.” “When my mother was alive I promised her she would be able to come back here and live in peace.”“ But she died before I could make it a reality.” “ I had hoped that I could make things right along with the help of friends.” “How does one undo wrong Joe, how can you resolve the wrong doing of the past?” “Certainly we can change but how do you make some one see who is blind?”” How can they hear without ears?” “Ignorance they say is a bliss, but to choice ignorance is hardly the same I say.” “ If one doesn’t know it is their duty to find out if they have the mind to figure at all.” “What part of this world do we divide and say this is your problem and this is mine, it’s all our problem I think and it is all our world.” “Then I think how so many choice to let others handle things without question.” “ Surely we need to have leaders as a democracy but to leave all lives in their secret hands is an ignorance of choice.” “Even I as a business man need reminding and guiding as well from the ones who work for me.”
He light a cigarette continuing his thoughts of unfairness to Ireland and its cause which to him had been muffled and reconstructed greatly by many.“ I find it appalling how the newspapers are chastised if they write any thing that is remotely close to sympathy for Ireland.” “ I f it weren’t for the few members we have else where our cries would still be unheard although they have been filtered it seems through the writings of many newspapers.
Joe a pasty white his large eyes solidly froze on Mr. Von Hoke questioned. “ You really think America has forgotten us?” “I can not comprehend that Mr. Von Hoke, I’m sorry but I truly feel we’ll be saved because they too wanted to be free that is why there is an America.”
Joe fatigued emotionally drained, hearing news that sunk his heart into a nothingness turns his head quickly to avoid being seen. He tried bravely to continue the conversation but his words cut short with an exasperating bawl something he had sworn he would never do after crying for his mother. Falling to the ground on bended knees he shoved his fist against the ground wailing. “ But it’s America!” “ Lad I know it sounds so unreal but we have to consider who is in office and where sometimes one enemy chargers from.” “ I have no written proof of what I purpose but am bombarded with the details too unchanging to conceive.”
“Does one ever wonder how the voting curriculum comes about?” “Who we vote for as our representatives, even in America, what they are told of them by the media and way of mouth?” “How is it that an individual becomes one for the running office is always a good place to start.” “Who actually put them there to represent all.” “Woodrow Wilson the President of the United States, lad may well have America and her people to consider and can not be persuaded to do other wise, but as you may know he comes from wealth, sometimes a hazard to many poor like you and I.” “ His ancestral back ground being of Scottish -German may well hinder his prospective stature if strong armed by others.”
While they continue to wait for some word of what was going on outside their world, a young boy came barreling around the corner of the building sliding to his knees in front of them. He out of breath panted an urgent message. “Mr. Von Hoke they have the doctor held at his post!” “ Just before they came he was preparing me to send this.” The boy held in his hand a newspaper clipping, its heading blared the bold words. “ The American President Died Suddenly.” The paper went on to say after his trip to Mexico; his close friend and campaign manager who informed the press that he was ill escorted President Wilson back home. A small paragraph below read. “ With fighting months of never ending battles several hundred Irish who settled in America were apprehended for their link to the IRA with several more to be arrested in the hopes of breaking the bond between the people. Will the IRA squirm as an ant under the thumb of the British while watching Harding being sworn in to presidency? Will America like abused children fold under the pressures of National control with American bankers loaning allies over two million dollars?
“ The ships aren’t coming Joseph that’s clear for you to see and more clear to me.” “ There has been an under laying lie that was put on the shoulders of our people for many years to keep us under thumb and that is the truth that some how never seeps through the cracks of some men’s hands nor will it ever roll from the tips of their tongues.” “We are the small and the meek.” “ This war that we fight is of no importance to anyone but us.” “ Our much encouraged battle was of nothing but being pulled from one bullies arms to the others.” “ As a means for the heads to bunt like wild bore in mating season for territorial affections of the fluttering eyes of the league of Nations.” “ Nations don’t care for nations and government don’t care for people.” “Just like in Germany, the starvations and torture is being ignored.”
The young boy then hands Mr. Von Hoke a note. Our so-called American ally is of no avail. The ships are sunk! To my reservations I in no doubt believe this was of nothing but mere elusion to keep one eye of the monster aimed on us as the other eye spied through the back door of its enemy. Therefore more enabling one to shoot two birds with one stone. We seemed to be encouraged with no backbone for support. May I say with this note unlike the Jewish dissenter? Has the master of hands encourage us to the front lines only to his own battle?
Joe sat down on a pile of rubble resting his chin in his hands. “ What does this all mean to us then, Mr. Von Hoke.” “ What’s our destiny to be?” “ Only more doom?” “I can’t except this in my heart.” “ I have never felt rage but some how my heart now boils while my soul seems to be screaming!” “ Let me die now if this is life for me!” “My God America why did you turn your back on me?” He raised his hands in the air as if to conger up the clouds. “Let the heavens take me now, I don’t care any more if I live or die, I intend to fight until the end!”
As they huddle in pairs under the debris anxiously waiting for the hope of another sunrise small dirty-faced boys slept nestled near the elders for comfort. The small twelve-year-old boy who had braved the gunfire so many times now slept like the child he was meant to be. As Gertrude who had quietly followed Harold in to the trenches of yet another fight watched over the young lad she reached over with her hankie wiping the crusted mucus from his small pug nose which was red and running from the cold night air. She looked as if she too knew the end was near.