Monday, January 2

Strange Fortune - part 3

A story in four parts by Tony Gerard.

"So we is like dat for many days. We see only Pedro. Is as if dey have forgotten us.

After some long time it come to a blow- many, many hours. We is all sick. At last we hear de sound dat all sailor's dread - de crash and grind of de ship upon a reef! De carpenter and his mates come into de hold- water is coming in quick- we plead widt dem to free us but dey pay us no mind. Sailors begin to take tings from de hold - we plead widt dem also- but dey pay us no mind. Finally we see Pedro- he come to us widt de key to our shackles!

De water is already almost to our knees. I happen to be de first on de chain  and Pedro must feel under de water widt de key- but at last he free me. Russo is next, but as Pedro is feeling to free him Gasparia appear. In Spanish he say" What are you about fool? Saving rats when de ship is lost!" and he strike him on de side of his head-  and de key go flying- strike the side of de hull and fall into de water! He shove Pedro to help de sailors. I can see dis because dey have lanterns dey bring to work by.

I feel beneath the water to find de key. Of the tree still chained Tomas pull frantic like an animal on de chain where is bolted to de beam, Louis is very calm and say "Hail Mary's" , and Russo he keep calling to me. I say to Russo I am feeling for de key and he say "NO you must speak widt me!". He say it so strong I stop and go to him. He was Creole same as me- we sign on together and he is my tiemate. He say "Vilot-  his wife- he say Vilot is young, she love me very much. If you live you must tell her to take another husband- he must be a good man- she should not spend her life to grieve for me- promise me you tell her dat if you live. I say I do not wish dis- I must find de key- He grab me strong- our hand are not chained- and he say YOU PROMISE ME!  I say "Yes. I swear it" Den he release me and I continue to search for de key.

De water is to cover Thomas first, as it is almost to cover him he strike his head hard against de beam- I swear I can hear his skull bone break, and he fall into de water. Louis is still calm. He finish his Hail Mary- look to me and nod- den he go under de water. Russo is last. He look at me and say- you promised- he keep his eyes on mine until he go under.

De Spaniards have all gone some time ago now. I make my way up out of de hold, de ship is on her side almost. As I come onto de deck is still some daylight- I see de ships boats, dey had tree, pulling away. Some of the crew is in de water holded onto de side of one of dem because dere is too many. I see Pedro in one. I hope he lived. I still remember to pray for him if he is still alive or in purgatory.

I stay widt de ship most of de night. She work till she begin to come apart. I take a hatch cover and rope myself to it- not tied to it , 'cause I can swim and I don't wish to be flipped over an drown - but widt enough rope to pull myself to it should I be trowed off. I take all my courage and I jump into de sea on the hatch cover. Is very rough and many times I loose my grip, but each time I pull myself back widt de rope.  Finally I hear de sound of breakers. De waves is great-  I am trowed all to once, hard up on de beach. I begin to give a tanks to Mary- when I am yanked back into de sea! Is de hatch cover I am tied to being dragged back. Tree times I make de beach and tree times I am dragged back. De third time I get myself to loose- but now I am too tired and I begin to drown- when again I am trowed on the beach.  I crawl up beyond the waves, give tanks to Mary and go to sleep.

I wake up because is water splashing into my face. I open my eyes- Gasparia is pissing on me!

"At least one rat did not drown" he say to de fellows widt him and kick me hard.

Is him and ten other Spaniards.  Dey have also made de beach, but dey have lost der boat. All de powder dey have is wet- no food also. So dey treat me for a slave. We live five days dere on de beach. We gather coconuts, crabs and shells to eat. Dey keep a fire going for de smoke to be seen. One Spaniard die from de sting of a posion snail. Another is bad cut up from coral when dey loose dere boat- and his wounds become red and stink.

One morning Gasparia kick me awake- he do dat every morning- an say- "de fire need more wood". I take tree steps toward de woods when I see a fellow lookin at me from among de trees. He is almost naked- have a spear and a shield. He is marked all over like a savage from Louisiana. As I look at him more of dem stand from hiding. Gasparia begin to curse me for not moving- den he see dem also.  He slowly draw his sword. Dere are many of dem- maybe twenty. Gasparia slowly walk toward dem- a pace beyond me. He say to his men in Spaniard " we will show des monkeys how real men die". I tink is my time to be killed and I have nothing to loose- so I kick Gasparia from behind - hard in de balls.  As he fall all dose savage run forward. One run to Gaspiria- he is on de ground - pin his neck widt his shield. Quick as a cat he take a strange axe and cut off his head.  I am wait for him to strike me also, but he only smile and speak to me dat I cannot understand. The Spaniards is all dead quick.

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