A tale of the Riverworld
By Dennis E. Power.
Approximately 15 A.R.
That the canoe had floated down river unmolested was in itself a surprise. That the man inside had not been murdered and dumped into the river was an even bigger shock.
Two of the fishermen from New Coventry found a short, thin, blond haired white man inside the small canoe. The man appeared to be suffering from severe sunburn and dehydration. All he had with him was his foodpurse and a few cloths. Being a peaceful and not overly covetous folk they towed him ashore and turned him over to the good care of Dr. Mudd and his assistant Agnes Pulley.
Dr. Mudd took the man to his medical office and spread a salve from irontree blossoms on the sunburned areas. He also put a bamboo pitcher of water next to the bed. Although this was his only patient, Dr. Mudd was not overly solicitous. There was little for him to do since the patient would recover rapidly once he was fed and had necessary fluids in him.
Having seen to his patient's needsDr. Mudd went to tell the Lord Mayor and the Shire Reeve that they had a visitor from down river.
Melvin came awake with a start. He was in a hut of some kind but he was not bound so his pursuers could not have captured him. It was dark and it was raining outside. He calmed himself and enjoyed the rain for a moment. A sudden thought stuck him and he searched frantically for his lunchbucket. He found it on the floor near his bed.
Finding himself hungry he opened it to get some of his store of dried fish. The smell of cooked food greeted him. Who ever had put him in this bed had evidently put his lunchbucket in the glorystone. He sat and ate his meal of chicken fried steak, grits and gravy, black-eyed peas and corn on the cob. He drank a glass of milk with the meal and drank the cup of whiskey afterwards. Knowing that he was not among hostiles, Melvin settled down and went to sleep.
When Melvin awoke the next morning, he felt much better. He sat up and looked around. His lunchbucket was gone but the cigars and other items he had pulled out were still on the floor next to his bed. He was in a small bamboo hut with wooden floors. There were chandeliers made of glass and wood hanging from the ceiling. Melvin wondered where they had gotten the glass or the sand to make it
His bed had a frame of bamboo with slats of oak and a leather mattress, which sounded as if stuffed with, leaves, hair and grass. He had a pillow just like it
He sat up gingerly. Although Melvin was not as burnt as he had been the day before he was still quite red.
A black haired white man wearing a white cloth kilt and a smock made of towels came into the room carrying two lunchbuckets.
Seeing that his patient was awake, Dr. Mudd greeted him in the lingua franca of the area, which was Latin. The man shook his head. "Haw ye fare", Mudd asked in Middle English, the common language of this area, although New Coventry's had changed due to the influence of the Twentieth Centurians.
Melvin smiled and said, "I sure wish you spoke English."
Dr. Mudd laughed. "That was English, my good fellow. I must say it is a delight to meet another Southerner after my years among Northerners and Englishmen
Melvin smiled "Upriver where I came from there were a lot of Southerners." Just as quickly he lost his smile, "But they are all gone now. Scattered along the river. My name is Melvin Purvis."
Purvis had said his name as if he expected it to known. He seemed disappointed that it was not.
"I am Dr. Samuel Mudd and this..."
"Not the famous Dr. Mudd who treated John Wilkes Booth.'"
Dr. Mudd's eyes flared as he was interrupted. He did not care that this man had heard of him. The past was as dead as their earthly lives.
"Yes, I am he, although I assure you that had I known it was that villain Booth I would have alerted the authorities myself. While I may not have agreed with the Union cause, the assassination of a man is a cowardly and heinous deed. Mr. Booth caused me years of suffering and deprivation because I set his bedamned leg. The scalawag even left without paying his fee."
Melvin decided not to tell him that Booth had been living in Freedom Estates. Wilkes had in fact been a friend of Melvin's.
"Accept my apologies, I did not mean to offend you. I know of you mostly through a motion picture, which depicted your unfair sentencing and heroic efforts as a physician during your prison sentence. Ah, but I forget you wouldnít know what a motion picture is."
"You refer, sir, to THE ISLE OF DR. MUDD." Dr. Mudd asked. At Melvin's shocked and then suspicious glance, added, "We have some Twentieth Century Americans here also. A couple have told me about that motion picture. I only wish such vindication had come during my life time. But let's eat."
Dr. Mudd passed Melvin his lunchbucket and pulled a small table over. They set their dishes out and ate in silence.
The Doctor informed Melvin he should stay indoors for one more day and then he would be able to go into the sunlight. He also told Melvin that since he came from downriver the Lord Mayor and Shire Reeve would like to talk to him.
"What kind of place is this?"
"New Coventry is composed of about fifty five percent Fourteenth Century Englishman who died near the region of Coventry, England forty two percent are Americans who died in the Pacific Northwest in the 1970's and the rest are like me from all times and places."
"I meant where are the guards."
"We have militia but no standing guards. Our neighbors are quite peaceful. We live in a small valley on a small lake between rapids to the North and South. I have a few house calls to make."
"No one ever gets sick."
"True but we had a few accidents." Dr. Mudd said and left.
Dr. Mudd's hutcall was to Alan Baxter who was laid up with a broken back he had gotten while attempting to scale the mountains behind New Coventry. Lord Mayor and Shire Reeve entered the hospital hut as Dr. Mudd exited.
Melvin sat up immediately as the two men entered the hut. One was about his five foot two height. He had dark brown hair cut in a page boy style, gray eyes and a sharp nose. He was dressed in a blue kilt and a vest made of blue dyed fishleather. He wore a hat like the ones Melvin had seen in Medieval woodcuts. He also wore a medallion made of carved oak with a symbol of a sun carved into it.
When Melvin looked at the other man his eyes widened momentarily. He thought the man looked familiar but could not place him.
The man had was about five foot seven, had shoulder length chestnut hair which he kept from his eyes with a headband of cloth. His features were very ordinary having blue-gray eyes, a pug nose and large dimples that showed when he smiled which he apparently did quite often. He wore a kilt of red cloth and a belt made of woven grass fiber. From the belt dangled an oaken club, a knife of obsidian with an ironwood haft and most amazingly enough, a small hatchet made of ironwood with a brass or bronze head.
There were also sandals of alligatorfish hide and a medallion shaped like a star and painted bright yellow. Next to the medallion a small wooden whistle rested on the man's bare chest.
"Gode morn, How fare ye, gode sire" asked the man with the hat.
Melvin frowned at the words, nearly understanding them.
"I'm okay now. I mean, I fare well."
The man with the hat grinned, "Okay. Turning to the man with the golden star. "Your countryman is he?" He asked with a pronunciation, which Melvin could barely make out.
"Sounds like it." The man with the star medallion Held his hand out. "Howdy, my name is Howard Johnson, I am the Shire Reeve of New Coventry. What you might call the Sheriff. The man who addressed you is Geoff Chaucer, our Lord Mayor." He swept his hand in Chaucer's direction and continued.
"We welcome any visitors to our land but it you stay more than a few weeks you must become a citizen. We have few laws here. One is that all citizens are required to participate in weapons training two hours a day, another is that they find some industry to occupy their time. We do not allow dreamgum addicts here. Anyone who is belligerent or hostile is asked to leave. Rapists and Murderers are themselves killed. Also by popular vote, monogamy is the law of the land." Howard Johnson winked at Melvin, "Although there are a few unattached females in the area. Do these terms sound acceptable to you."
"Yes, thank you. I don't know if I will be staying or not."
"You have a week to decide. So what do we call you."
"Master Purvis, I mean Melvin Purvis." Howard Johnson's eyes narrowed. Purvis did not know if that was because he recognized the name or if it was because he had noticed Purvis' slip of the tongue.
"When and where did you live?"
"In the United States between 1904 and 1960."
"We are contemporaries then, I was born in 1903 but I died in 1979 in Seattle, Washington. You the fella who got Dillinger?"
Melvin's head jerked. "You heard of me? I thought I was obscure, the few twentieth Centurians we had in Freedom Estates had never heard of me."
Howard Johnson smiled in way that was not quite a smirk. "I guess you were pretty much forgotten but I once saw a television movie about you. It was all fictionalized had you going after gangster from Machinegun Kelly to Ma Barker. I think it was made the year after Hoover died."
"When was that? Did he ever retire?"
"I believe it was in 1974, but no he died in office."
Lord Mayor Chaucer became impatient with the chitchat. He spoke to the Shire Reeve in Middle English.
"Ask how he came to be in the boat and in such bad straits."
Johnson nodded, irritated at himself for not doing his duty and being distracted by the arrival of a fellow American.
"The Lord Mayor wants to know how you came to be alone and passed out in the canoe."
"My land, Freedom Estates was attacked and invaded by a force of River Pirates and some adventurers from nearby states. They were clever and arranged a civil war in our state before attacking. I fought but my companions were all mostly killed, the rest were forced into slavery. I escaped, traveling down the river only at night. I was afraid to put into shore until I had come some distance from Freedom Estates. I became weak from hunger must have passed out and floated down the river unconscious." Melvin recounted his story bitterly.
The Lord Mayor did not like the news of the River Pirates and asked Purvis how far Freedom Estates was from New Coventry.
Purvis was not certain. He knew that the nearby states had been from the Thirteenth Century. Freedom Estates original inhabitants had been mostly from that area with a third of them being Nineteenth Century Virginians and a smattering of Twentieth Century peoples, most of whom had come from China or various others areas with little contact with the Americas.
Johnson wondered why if the original inhabitants of Freedom Estates had been from the thirteenth century why Purvis did not know Middle English. Perhaps those people had come from an area, which did not speak English. Still there were things about Purvis' story that did not ring true.
They had not heard any reports of the River Pirates but told Chaucer he would intensify the weapons and drill sessions to four hours a day if he thought it was a good idea.
Chaucer looked pensive for a moment and then told Johnson to go ahead and do it.
Johnson nodded. "The Lord Mayor invites you to his table for supper tonight. Dr. Mudd can show you the way. Meanwhile, we will send someone to teach you the local dialect."
Purvis sat back and closed his eyes.
Johnson and Chaucer walked out of the guest hut and walked a distance. Chaucer looked at Johnson and said in the mixed Middle and Modern English mixture.
"Johnny, this Messer Purvis is not telling us the entire truth."
"I noticed it too, Geoff. Let me handle it, I will arrange for a test for him to show his true colors, so to speak." Johnson grinned at his own pun. Chaucer smiled politely not certain what Johnson was talking about.
Johnson was referring to skin color. Purvis had gotten sunburned which meant that he did not spend much time in the sun. On the River, this usually meant a mine slave, a prisoner of some type or a dream gum addict. He did not have the symptoms of a gum addict nor did he appear as though he had been abused. In fact he had a bit of a paunch and his muscle tone was flabby. Johnson had a suspicion as to Purvisí secret but decided to make a little test before telling Chaucer.
"I leave it in your capable hands then. I have to go settle a dispute at bomb factory" He rolled his eyes, George and Bob were geniuses but they did have prickly tempers.
Johnson went to talk to his wife and then several of his militia members at their regualr occupations. They agreed to play along with his lead when he explained what he suspected about Purvis.
Johnson's wife Godiva was a linguist and a language teacher who had devised a simple way of educating the Twentieth Centurians to speak Middle English. It was hard for the Fourteenth Centurians to speak Modern English because of innate stubbornness and lack of phonetic training. Besides there were more of the Fourteenth Centurians and of the Twentieth in New Coventry.
Johnsonís wife visited Purvis and gave him a few language lessons. She then reported back to him. Her story confirmed Johnson's suspicions.
Godiva said after his language lesson, Purvis had tried to get her climb in his bed. He had pouted like a little boy when she refused. He grabbed her arm and was slapped. Purvis had turned crimson with anger and shouted insults and threats at her.
Johnson did not blame Purvis for wanting to sleep with Godiva, she was an extremely beautiful and attractive woman. He did however condemn Purvis for the insults and threats he had made to her when she refused to bed him. He decided to go ahead with his little test to see how bad Purvis had become.
Purvis was quite nervous about going to the Mayor's table since he was slightly worried that they would kick him out of Coventry before he had a chance to rest up. That little slut who had given him language lessons had probably been telling lies about him.
Dr. Mudd escorted Purvis to a clearing where a large number of people sat on mats or the bare grass. Underneath the canopy created by two irontrees sat a twenty-foot table. Wooden boards lay underneath. Everyone at the table sat on three legged stools. Evidently this is where the town elite sat while the common people sat in the grass. Everyone at the table sat on three legged stools. Serving wenches and male servants filled plates and glasses, cut meat and even lit smokes. The guests at the table seemed a little startled when ever one the servants performed a duty for them.
Purvis could understand why this was happening. Melvin had a fairly good idea why this happened. If the incident of that morning was any indication, the servants were becoming uppity and the townspeople were afraid of rebellion. Purvis had to help these Coventry people escape the fate of Freedom Estates, if only because he needed an army to back him up. He was tired of running.
The people of New Coventry were more tanned than the folks of Freedom Estates, probably due to the influence of the Twentieth Centurians who had become sun worshippers after his death. Although why anyone would want to darken their skins was beyond him. He hoped it was not a sign that the Coventry people had been working like niggers, after all that's what niggers were for and God knew that this world had no shortage of them.
Purvis was given a spot on Chaucer's left hand. There was a beautiful red haired woman but with a large nose and a prominent chin. She was also a bit on the corpulent side. Chaucer introduced this as his wyfe, Anne.
The Mayor was involved in a long story concerning the adventures of a knyght and a Marchants daughter. Purvis understood very little of it.
Johnson sat next on the other side of Purvis. They engaged in small talk about the twentieth century, Johnson telling what had happened in the world after his death. Purvis was glad he did not live to see it. A president assassinated, another resigned in scandal. Rampant crime, forced desegregation, unhindered drug use.
A servant brought Purvisí lunchbucket to him. He had a meal of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, brown gravy, okra and chocolate cake. He also received a cup of milk and a glass of whiskey. After Purvis finished eating he held his cigar out to be lit. A serving wench ignored him until he made a point of shaking the cigar in her face. She lit his cigar sullenly. A second later she spilled a pitcher of cold water into his lap. Furious he leapt to his feet.
"Stupid damned nigger! You oughta be whipped.!" Purvis shouted his rage erupting. He backhanded her across the face or would have, had his hand been allowed to reach it. He found his wrist firmly clasped by Shire Reeve Johnson
"That will be enough of that, Mr. Purvis."
"Did you see what this nigra wench did to me?"
"This gives you a right to strike someone?" Chaucer asked in quite understandable Modern English. "We do not allow slavers in our state, Mr. Purvis." Chaucer sadly looked at Purvis and shook his head. The servants stopped what they were doing and put down their serving trays. They went to sit in the crowd and ate.
Upon our arrival in this valley, we Englishmen established a kingdom under my good wife, Anne. She is the daughter of Edward III of England. The Americans refused to accept her as ruler and formed their own mini-state, which they called New Seattle. Across the lake were some barbarians called the Mexica. They invaded us and enslaved us all. It was only through the numbers of the English and Americans together that we drove them out of land and eventually out of the valley." Purvis noticed that as Chaucer related this story, the so-called servants had begun sitting down at the Mayor's table.
"Our slavery had demonstrated to us that perhaps we were not so right about our views. Gradually we adopted much of the American's views of democracy and personal freedom." Chaucer paused and gazed at Purvis thoughtfully.
"Shire Reeve Johnson and several of our Black citizens have told us of the great war their country had to fight to end slavery. We agreed for personal equality to everyone despite race or sex. Our laws are simple. I still repeat my offer to live here, if you believe you can change and accept our ways. Otherwise you have six days to stay here. Although if you commit violence against a citizen you will be expelled, if you kill someone you will be killed, even if we must track you down"
Purvis sat back and silently finished his meal. He sipped at the whiskey his lunchbucket had given him. He realized he would have to pretend to go along with their ideas to stay a while.
Looking up he saw Shire Reeve Johnson grinning at him with a smirky smile. Melvin realized he had been set up.
Sheriff Johnson sat smoking a panatela cigar and said, "Don't look glum, chum."
"You taught your Mayor Chaucer a distorted view of the War Between the States. It was a fight over states' rights versus a domineering central government."
"Mr. Purvis, for all we know that was a million years ago and on another planet, certainly in another lifetime. If you persist in believing that garbage that is your right but if so, I suggest you move on down river"
Melvin did not want to debate the issue with Johnson. Eventually the Whites would see that Whites couldnít live in equality with the Blacks. Purvis watched the entertainment that was being provided without much interest. It was a short mystery play or something. Purvis suddenly realized who the Lord Mayor was, Geoffrey Chaucer, author of the CANTERBURY TALES.
A very stunning and beautiful black woman approached where Purvis sat. It was that wench from that morning who had tried to teach him the local dialect.
She was full figured but not fat, her ebony skin glimmering blue black in the torchlight. She was dressed in a short white kilt, large white loop earrings, a necklace of fish bones, lipstick and nothing else. Her large breasts were exposed to everyone's view, although, Melvin is the only one who really stared.
Purvis was certain she had changed her mind and wanted to warm his bed, especially when her nipples hardened as she neared them.
However the woman slid herself into Johnson's lap. Johnson slipped an arm around her waist.
Johnson said, "I believe you are already acquainted with my wife, Lady Godiva."
Johnson and Godiva laughed at Purvisí shocked expression.
Purvis was shocked that a man like Johnson would lower himself to marrying a nigra. The wenches were good for nightís fun especially here when you didn't have to worry about any half-breed pups. Purvis almost retched when they kissed passionately. Johnson hugged her tightly, one arm crushing her breasts. He looked at her with obvious devotion and pride.
"I don't know if she told you or not she was a Professor of Language and linguistics at Seattle University. Her specialty was Medieval languages, including Old and Middle English. She was attempting to find links between Old English, Celtic and Coptic when she was killed in a car accident. She had a Ph. D. but I knew she was really smart when she said she would marry me."
Godiva laughed and squeezed his arm. Purvis noticed that when Johnson released the pressure on her breasts, her nipples were even harder than they had been before.
Quite repulsed and aroused by this display, Purvis changed the subject. He said accusingly , "Earlier you told me your name was something else."
Godiva laughed. "Actually, Mister or is that Master Purvis? My name is Kimberly Liggens. Johnny named me Lady Godiva when I told him Coventry was the place where the legendary Godiva had lived."
Godiva could see Purvis was not at all interested in anything she had to say. She kissed Johnny on the cheek and slipped off his lap. She told him to come home early, he had some coal mining to do. She then went to visit with a few friends. Johnson slapped her well-rounded buttocks lightly
Purvis was stunned by this revelation. "You have coal mines here?"
Startled, Johnson blinked but then brought out that smirky smile. "Of course not there aren't any fossil fuels that I know about. She was being facetious. If you think hard on it, I think you can figure out her meaning."
Purvis suppressed a shudder.
Chaucer and the others were still watching the play. Johnson lit up a cigar and motioned for Purvis to come with him. They walked into the nearby woods.
"You are lucky, if it had been up to me, I would have sent you on your way tomorrow. So tell me what was Freedom Estates really like".
Purvis decided not to tell him that it had been paradise until the rebellion by the slaves. Purvis decided he had nothing to lose by telling the truth, or at least part of the truth.
"Well, as I said, Virginians from the Nineteenth century made up a third of the population. The Major portions were Blacks from the Thirteenth century half from North Africa and the other half from a place called Songhai. They fought amongst themselves. We whites stood off to the side. Meanwhile this fellow from the 1980's who called himself a survivalist and a few people who called themselves skin heads joined with the Virginians to form a Plantation society. The Survivalist invented a weapon which allowed them to conquer the Blacks and enslave them."
"What kind of weapon?"
"A hand held mini-crossbow with rapid fire and a ten bolt capacity. He made the string from a synthetic rubber he made from distilled resins and dissolved gut. It was quite strong and flexible. I know the secret of making it." Purvis hoped that this would buy him additional time here. He certainly would not want to live here but needed time to rest up.
"After you enslaved the Blacks, what happened."
"They established a plantation type system, with the slaves mining, fishing, manufacturing, fishing and basically all the work in Freedom Estates."
Johnson did not say a word but Purvis could tell by his face that he was disgusted.
"The Blacks were happier that way. They didn't fight amongst themselves and they lived productive lives."
"Save your rationalizations for someone who cares. Had I been the Mayor, I would have booted your ass out of here but I am stuck with you for six more days.
"Those damned pirates must have sent in agitators because the slaves rebelled. They arrived and invaded during the slave rebellion, although the joke was on the slaves. The pirates enslaved everyone. They not only stole our land but our way of life.
"I know that they won't be content with those lands," Purvis continued. "They will come down the river. They would come anyway, to get me."
"Why didn't you make a good nigger.?" Johnson sneered, demonstrating his disgust with Purvisí terminology.
Purvis flared at the insult but answered slowly. "Because I know how to make the crossbow guns and they don't want anyone else to know. Also because the main leader of the Pirates hate me with a passion."
"Who's their leader, John Dillinger?" Johnson asked sarcastically.
Purvis stared at the ground unwilling to see Johnson's disgust when Purvis admitted that he had run from his greatest enemy. In a quiet voice, he said, "Yes."
With his head down, Purvis did not see the shock that flitted across Johnson's face.
Johnson forced himself to smile again. "Are you sure?"
"Him, I saw. A treacherous former slave told the bastard who I was. He locked me in a stockade while his men built a rack to torture me on. A friend of mine let me out. I set several buildings on fire and escaped. They will come and find me, looting every nation state along the way. I can show you how to build the crossbow guns."
"You think this guy is really bad, huh?"
"I know it, Mr. Johnson. He is not alone. Among his pirate leadership are men named Nelson, Barrow, Barker, Karpis and Kelly. I don't know if they are whom they claim or not. I did hear that the man named Nelson is small and is a bloodthirsty killer. If that was not enough, he also supposedly has John Wesley Hardin, Billie the Kid and the Sundance Kid. He has actual pirates who served with Morgan, Lafite and Teach. Mike Fink is also supposed to be among these men. The main force is made up of Apaches, Kirghiz and other bloodthirsty barbarians."
Since the Sheriff made no comment, Purvis assumed he believed his story. He stared at Purvis silently for a few moments.
As Johnson sat in silence and smoked, he looked at Purvis with something akin to disgust. "Most people I know have changed in the fifteen years we been here, mostly for the better. I know I have. It is rare and sad that someone changes for the worse. I wonder if you have, you used to be a cop for Christ's sakes. How did you get to be a slaver?"
"There are no laws here other than the ones we make. As you said, our former lives should not govern us."
Johnson laughed bitterly and said, "I forgot you were also a lawyer. I'll talk to Geoff about your proposal tomorrow. Until then keep out of trouble otherwise I'll put you in the hoosegow." Johnson winked and began walking away. He turned back and smiled that smirk that Purvis was starting to hate. "Oh, Little Mel, I wouldn't go calling any of our darker hued citizens nigras or niggers or darkies or spooks or anything like that cause by the late seventies passive resistance had about died out. You're liable to get busted in the mouth.: Johnson chuckled as he walked away., "Then I'd have to arrest you for disturbing the peace."
Since the Sheriff was off to fornicate with his nigra whore, Purvis decided to beat Johnson to the punch and talk to Chaucer himself. As Purvis returned to the table Chaucer was telling another tale in mixed modern and Middle English dialect. Melvin decided to turn on the charm and ingratiate himself with Chaucer. If he could do it with J. Edgar Hoover and John C. Calhoun, he could do it with some fourteenth century bumpkin.
Dr. Mudd and some nigras were sitting around listening to Chaucer's tale. When it was finished, they politely excused themselves and left, leaving Melvin sitting at the table with Dr. Mudd, Geoffrey Chaucer and Anne Plantagenet.
Chaucer asked questions about Freedom Estates and the pirate fleet.
Purvis told him the truth but gave Chaucer the impression that he had merely been an ordinary citizen of Freedom Estates who had gone along with slavery because he could not change it. He did not tell him that he had had a plantation of his own or that he had a rather important government post.
Dr. Mudd made a comment not befitting a Southerner. "I had hoped that when mankind was resurrected in this place that the old evils would fall away from us. Instead, we have brought them back with a vengeance. Slavery nearly destroyed our country and its consequences, I am told plagues America for decades after my death."
Melvin did not say so at that time but he knew that the latter day Blacks had poisoned Dr. Mudd's mind with their distorted version of history.
Chaucer was slightly intoxicated and possibly spoke more freely than he should have. He told Purvis that New Coventry was five miles on both sides of the lake, although most of the population was on this side, the other side was used for mainly for industry and raw materials. It had about 12,000 citizens, of these 6000 or so were from Coventry, England, about five thousand five hundred were from Seattle and the rest were from all times and places. They had two Neanderthals, one man who was apparently a hybrid between Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon, a female Titanathrop, An Egyptian from an early dynasty, a few American Indians from before its invasion by the Europeans, a few Koreans from the eighteen hundreds, Ice age Icelanders, Russians from the time of the Tsar called Ivan the Terrible."
Purvis asked the make up the Americans by race.
Chaucer said that they were mostly Black, then Asian, then White. Not that it mattered to him. Attitudes from the old life had to die as they had.
Purvis told Chaucer about the Pirate fleet. He warned of its great danger and told how he could make the crossbow guns. He told Chaucer he wanted to stay and help New Coventry fight off these evil men.
Chaucer looked pensive. "I will make you a provisional citizen until the crisis is past. I will have you show how to create and use the weapons you describe. As a provisional citizen you can prove to the citizens that you have changed. Then when your citizenship comes up for a vote you can get in." Chaucer smiled and nudged Purvis with his elbow. "Now should you stay you will find our Englishwomen steadfast and true but the Americans know many love tricks."
Anne Plantagenet sniffed. "How do you know of this, Geoffrey?"
Chaucer smiled, "From before we were wed my sweet."
Anne Plantagenet smiled, "It should be thus or else."
Chaucer and Anne Plantagenet walked off to their hut
Purvis tried to mingle but the English spoke to him in their dialect, which he could not fathom yet and the Americans avoided him because of his reputation as slaver.
Purvis wondered if he could convince the English to adopt the plantation system but doubted it. No, it would be best to seem as though he had changed then he could leave this place after the pirates were finished and live in a civilized land, where servants were allowed."
Melvin Purvis walked back to the guest hut and drank the rest of the whisky in his lunchbucket.
Melvin had his sleep disturbed shortly after sunrise by man whistling outside the guest hut. Melvin sat up reaching for nonexistent weapons.
The man was of medium height with sandy brown hair and blue eyes with a fleshy face. This is not to say the man was fat but rather it was just that his face was full. He had ready smile and affable manner.
"Youíll be Mr. Purvis, Americaís Top Cop. I heard your radio show a few times a before I found myself on the River."
Bleary eyed, Purvis snapped, "Who are you!"
"Bill Phillips, what you would call the Deputy Sheriff and the head of the militia. The Mayor says you know how to make some kind of fancy shooter, so I figured I would collect you and set you up with our armorers. On our way to practice."
"Mayor Chaucer said I could stay while I taught you how to make the crossbow guns. He did not say anything about practice."
"Surely, the Mayor or Johnny told you every citizen has to put in two hours of weapons training everyday. I am the man in charge of all that and I wanted to what skills you have. I suggested to the Mayor that you also be trained to fight along side our militia and even as a provisional citizen you must put in two hours of weapons training a day. Since you told the Mayor how serious the danger of the Pirate fleet will be, we have upped that to four hours. Of course, if I as the leader of the Militia don't believe you have reached sufficient proficiency you will have to train longer as well as teach us the necessary technology and skills to make the crossbow gun. We practice in small groups Ďcause it tends to build a community spirit."
"Ah, I see, Johnson is being vindictive because I went over his head!"
"Not vindictive, just instructive. While you may have had problems with the chain of command on Earth, in our militia, you will follow orders or be punished." Phillips waited for Purvis to get his lunchbucket. They walked to the nearest glorystone and they slipped their lunchbuckets in an empty slots.
Melvin knew that his martial skills would be quite shallow. He had some spear training but since Freedom Estates had begun using the mini-crossbow most people had depended on that as their main and only weapon and mostly left the real fighting to the lower class thugs and the violent minded survivalists.
Phillips took Purvis to an area that he called their training ground. It was a clearing where a variety of targets were set up.
There were four people waiting for them. One was Howard Johnson. Standing next to him was a Black man about six and half foot tall with a very muscular build. Next was a small man with blue eyes and very blond hair. Finally there was a woman with light brown hair and hazel eyes. Unlike many women in Coventry and in many places along the river, this woman did not go bare breasted but wore a blouse of blue cloths. These had been sewn together and had designs embroidered upon them. The design looked like a flower.
All of the men wore light blue kilts and vests made of dyed blue fish leather. They also wore oaken medallions shaped like stars and painted bright yellow.
"Mr. Purvis, these are the other Deputy Sheriffs. They are also Officers in the Militia. You already met Bill Philips, also from the Seattle area but died in 1937. He is our resident expert in knife fighting and roping.
The tall man is Alan Dardine. In addition to being a professional football player, he also had a degree in criminology and is expert in several forms of unarmed combat. The man with blond hair is our resident archery expert, Wilhelm Tell of the Tyrolian region of Austria. Yes, he says he is and I believe him to be the legendary archer. Finally, let me introduce our resident slingshot expert, Mrs. Anne Butler.
Johnson said to Purvis, "They will first evaluate your performance in the basic areas of our military training and tell me how you fare. I then will design a training program." Johnson yawned.
"Gentleman and Lady, put him through the ringer, we need to see where he needs improvement." Johnson smiled and winked, "Itís Godiva's day off, so I guess I'll go back to sleep."
All of the men except Purvis laughed. Mrs. Butler smiled politely.
Purvis knew that he would meet with disapproval for most of the skills. He was an adequate archer and axe fighter. However in Freedom Estates the overseers had done most of the fighting, which is what they called the mercenaries who were the paid army/guards of the slaves. Most of the Master class only had a little training in weapons, which is why they were quickly overrun when the mercenaries had turned sides. The few Masters with any real weapons training had been the so called Survivalists, yet when the Insurrection had begun, they had almost to a person killed themselves rather than be captured by what they termed the mud people.
Luckily the various arms instructors did not make any comments as of yet. Wilhelm Tell walked Purvis over to the archery range, which consisted of a clearing with targets set up at various distances. He pointed to the first one and told Purvis to shoot three arrows at each of the first three targets.
He handed Purvis an unstrung yew bow. Purvis strung the bow with some difficulty, its pull being more than he was familiar. He nocked and shot the arrows. He could barely pull the string to his chin for the release, the release also stung his fingers. His first two arrows missed the target, the third hit the target in the lower end. The next target was shaped like a human figure. Melvin missed all but the left kneecap.
Tell told Purvis in heavily accented English to take his time. Purvis hit the third target with two arrows, although neither in a vital area.
He fared a little better in the sling shot evaluation. He was able to knock down five of the first seven targets. They were lined up on a platform. The next ten were set farther back and he hit only four.
His roping skills were non-existent as were his knife fighting skills. Phillips defeated him easily and marked him up with the lipstick stained wooden knife blade.
He next had to go experience hand to hand combat with that big nigra Dardine. They used the thick grass as a wrestling mat. The nigra tossed him around like a paper doll.
Phillips walked up to him and shook his head. "Didn't you have any kind of militia training where you came from? I haven't seen people that unskilled in martial training in ten years."
"We had a standing army in Freedom Estates. The citizens did not train at the military arts, except for the occasional duel."
"Was your army made up of slaves!" retorted Dardine.
"Of course not!" Melvin exclaimed. He did not elaborate that only fools would have armed slaves. He did not want to irritate this big nigra. "I did not agree with the policies of Freedom Estates, I merely went along with them for expediency's sake." Melvin lied to Dardine.
This seemed to mollify the darkie a bit. They broke for breakfast.
Purvis spent the next three hours receiving personal instructions from the various experts. He had a chance to witness their various skills at their fields of expertise. Tell was indeed a phenomenal archer. Purvis saw him actually split an arrow in half with another one. Anne Butler was an incredible shot with the sling. She hit every single target, reloading and swinging her sling faster than most people could hit even one of the targets.
Anne Butler looked very familiar to Purvis also but he could not place her. He was determined to discover where she was from. Besides he was immediately attracted to her, She seemed to be a clean, upright, moral American woman of good taste and quiet demeanor. She also was his size, which also counted a lot, although he had found that as he met people from the past they were his size or smaller but then they were not his contemporaries. Even the Antebellum women were a disappointment, he found the lot of them to be quite spoiled and bitchy. He had generally slaked his lust with slave women.
Dardine threw just about everyone around like a paper doll. However, he wrestled with a female Titanthrop, which Purvis had heard of but had never seen. She was a few inches less than eight feet tall with thick legs, arms and truck. Her body would have done an Amazon proud, even if it were a bit thicker muscled than even an Amazon would have liked. However she did have a proportionately good shape although it was covered with thick reddish hair. She also had long wavy red hair that any female would have loved. Her eyes were light green and her skin was a Nordic pink. Her resemblance to a human ended at her face, she large very prominent suborbital ridges, a nose which resembled a proboscis monkey's and lips like a chimpanzee.
She wore a small bra over her watermelon-sized breasts and a g-string. In what Melvin perceived as parody or an aping of human behavior she also wore earrings and lipstick. Dardine and she smiled at one another as he circled her. He tried a leg sweep but was picked up by his shoulder and thrown away. He flipped onto his feet and launched a round house kick at her groin. She caught his foot and flipped him. She put both of her hands behind her back and stood on one leg. Dardine tried a slam at her supporting leg but bounced off. She smiled and picked him up, standing him on his feet.
Dardine then wrestled with what Purvis thought must be a Neanderthal but it did not look like the encyclopedia illustrations he remembered from his lifetime. This fellow resembled a human being except for a brow ridge, prognathious jaw and thicker bone structure. The Neanderthal had red hair, green eyes and flat ears, his lips however were as everted as a nigra's. In the crowd he spotted a man who looked like an Australian aborigine, except his brow ridge was larger and he had a bone structure, which was almost as thick as the Neanderthal but with a longer limbs and a leaner trunk. The Neandermagdon was also white skinned and had yellow hair, blues eyes and an alpine nose. His lips were as thin as any other Caucasian's.
Dardine and the Neanderthal each won one fall and their last one was tied.
Purvis observed that in shifts of two hours at least half of the citizens of New Coventry showed up at the training grounds for calisthenics and weapons practice. They also had hour of drill by a man who called himself Irving Smalls, another Nigra. One of the Americans informed Purvis that Irving had been a Marine drill instructor at a marine base in Texas for close to fifteen years. Before that Irving had spent two tours of duty in Vietnam. This must have been a conflict that Johnson had not told Purvis about. Irving had been sick of the heat and desert and retired to Seattle in 1979 to appreciate the coolness and moisture in the air. He was killed in a flash flood later that year.
Despite being a nigra, Purvis thought Irving to be a hard but fair taskmaster. He did not punish too extremely when certain people were not able to keep up, merely making them doing a set of fifty push-ups. Purvis was one of these.
After the exercise session, People began heading towards the glorystones for lunch. Purvis struck up a conversation with Anne Butler. She was rather reticent if polite, he was able to get a thumbnail sketch of her life. She had been born Anne Moses in Darke County, Ohio in August of 1860. She married Frank Butler in 1876. They were in show business together traveling around until their age and injuries would no longer allow them to perform. Then they became instructors at various hotels and resorts. Finally she had succumbed to pernicious anemia and had died in Greenville, Ohio in November of 1926. She feared her darling Frank had not survived her very long. He had become so ill while traveling that he was stuck in Detroit and unable to come home.
Anne Butler did not seem to want to give details so Melvin asked her a question to open the conversation.
"What do you miss most?'
Anne Butler stared at him for a few seconds as if he were crazy for asking such an irrelevant question.
"My husband, dogs, guns and money, in that order. That's what I miss the most, of course I miss many other things, especially civilization." Anne Butler began eating her meal. She did not add further to conversation. Purvis tried talking to her about New Coventry or her life on this world.
"I was resurrected amongst other Ohions of that time period, although the third of the population which were different came from someplace this schoolteacher fellow said was Ancient Phoenecia. They tried to enslave us and we American's stuck together and drove them across the river. The Phoenicians fought with some Huns, which were the third percentage which came alive on the other side.
After a few weeks I determined Frank was not in the area, so I set out after him in a canoe. Mostly Americans was where I was resurrected. The location was towards the lower middle region of the planet. However after traveling about a thousand miles upriver I came across a valley like this one. The people there were some kind of savages, looking like some South Sea Islanders I saw in a motion picture. I did notice right off that they collected heads. I fought with them and was finally overwhelmed by sheer numbers. I remember a Chief or somebody thrusting a sharp knife into my ribcage.
I woke up here. I decided that one day, maybe I'll look for Frank but chances of finding him are slim to none. I have just as good a chance of him being resurrected here one day. Even so, I still consider myself married to him and don't take no lovers. So if that was your intention Mr. Purvis, I ain't interested. Not to be insulting but to tell you straight off." Anne said in a clear and polite voice. She excused herself.
Purvis finished his meal and put his dishes back into the lunchbucket. He saw Phillips laughing silently as he tossed a rope around various tree limbs. Purvis went over to talk to him.
William Phillips winked at Purvis and said, "Annie shot you down huh? She does that with everyone. Frank Butler's a lucky man to be married to such a virtuous and self-controlled lady." Phillips grinned, "Although, he's probably got himself another woman. I know I wouldn't wait around for very long." Winking at Melvin, "I never did."
Purvis did not want to get into a conversation about various conquests of women. "How did a manufacturer ever get so good at roping."
Phillips laughed and grinned, "I wasn't always a manufacturer. I started out as a cowboy." Noticing Purvis' doubting glance. "Really, I was born in Beaver, Utah in 1866 and was a cowboy for years before I got restless. I was a sailor for a time, then a butcher - the selling kind not the slaughtering kind, an ore freighter, a mine employee and finally a mechanical engineer.
I started the Phillips Manufacturing Company in 1915. We manufactured adding machines and other business machines, one of the first companies to do that. I made a bundle for a while and settled down and collected cars. Then about the time you pumped a couple of slugs into Johnny Dillinger. I lost my business due to the great Depression. I tried to find some buried treasure in Wyoming but ended up dying of cancer in a poorhouse in Spokane, Washington in 1937." Phillips flipped his rope free of the tree.
"You went from being a lawman to being a Slave Master, huh." He asked in a frank yet not offensive manner.
"That was the law of the land which the citizens of the area where I was resurrected chose for themselves."
"What about the slaves?"
"They were savages who could not even speak English, naturally they could not vote, They could not even understand what they laws were."
Phillips grinned harshly. "That's one thing I don't miss on this world."
"Lawyers. We didn't need them on Earth and we sure as hell don't need them here. Now they gotta work for a living." Phillips said and laughed. He tossed the rope into the tree again. As Melvin started off, Phillips asked him to stay a minute.
"Say, Melvin, Johnny tells me that this here Pirate Band which you claim is coming down the river has some Western Outlaws in it. Like John Wesley Hardin and Billie the Kid. Was there anybody else?"
"Why, did you know somebody from your cowboy days?" Purvis asked sarcastically.
"Quite possibly, most of those fellows worked as cowboys at one time or another. I came into contact with most of the Wild Bunch gang at one time or two. I met Sam Bass once and a couple of them independent so called outlaws. But my interest comes from a love of western things."
"You'll be happy to know that your friend the Sundance Kid is one of those murdering pirates then."
Phillips grimaced. "You are wrong, there sir, you are wrong there." He pulled his rope loose and walked back to his instruction area.
Bill Phillips watched Purvis skill with the various weapons that the Militia used with a straight face, although a wry smile flitted across his broad face every once in a while. Others in the six person group were not so stoic. Purvis saw stolen glances of amusement between the three Nigras, one Ape-man and two Whites.
When Purvis was covered in sweat and almost ready to drop, Phillips cut short his torture.
Phillips asked of a large black man, "Well Al what sort of training program should be put Mr. Purvis on?"
Intensive calisthenics, weight training for a week then intensive boomerang and spear training. Those seemed to be his strongest skills"
"Yep, that is what I thought as well." Looking down at Purvis who lay gasping on the grassy plain, Phillips said, If you have got your breath Mr. Purvis, letís go see our weapons makers about your shooter.
As Phillips and Purvis walked off towards the mountains, Purvis tugged Phillips arm, ĎSay why did you ask that darkieís opinion of my fighting skill? It was bad enough for me to have been embarrassed in front of them."
"Yeah, Johnny told me you came from a slave state and still had the prejudices of the old world ingrained in you. Al Dardine, that darkie as you call him was one of the most highly decorated soldiers of Korea and South Vietnam wars. He was one of the first Black Rangers and became a renown martial arts and weapons training instructor. He was instrumental in saving New Coventry from becoming a slave state, so his opinion carries a lot of weight with me and in New Coventry itself. Listen to what he says and it may save your ass one day"
Phillips led Purvis to a stone building. Inside were several stills. The place stank of chemical. The supervisor was a thin white man wearing gray colored clothing, he was instructing a porter when Purvis and Phillips walked into the room.
Evidently, Purvis had somehow angered Phillips because he said, "Gents, this is Mr. Purvis and is going to tell you how to make an synthetic rubber. Go to Purvis"
Purvis launched into a recitation of the formula and steps needed to make the formula. The thin white man listened intensively. The black porter was staring off into space with a vacant expression on his face.
When Purvis finished Phillips said, "Well, George is it something that we can do without too much adaptation or loss of dye production?"
Purvis turned to the White man to hear his reply and to his surprise the Darkie grinned, He spoke in a soft, almost feminine voice. "It is so blessedly simple. Tell the Mayor that we should have several samples by the end of the week. Earlier if some of the ideas I had while he was discussing the process pan out."
Purvis could not restrain himself, "You think you can improve on what somebody else created?"
The darkie blinked owlishly. "I can replicate the process with ease. I may be able to hasten the production time and also increase the tensile strength of the synthetic rubber."
Purvis laughed, "Youíre pretty sure of yourself, ainít you boy?"
The darkie's fellow scientistís face flushed and he started for Purvis, fists clenched. Phillips stepped in front of Purvis. "Now, Bob, you forget Mr. Purvis here has to adjust to living in our society, and he has thirty days. After which time I am certain that I will happily be pushing his boat down river."
Turning to Purvis, he says "If you have any more pertinent data about the scientific aspect of the weapon I suggest you tell these men, otherwise we will be going on over to the armorer."
"I donít have any more to tell them, besides it stinks in here" Melvin said wrinkling his nose in the darkieís direction.
"You know I ainít so certain I want to stay here after my thirty days is up, if you have shineís in all the positions of power."
"Where did you get that idea? There are some Blacks in positions of power but it is mostly the English that are elected to various governmental positions. We really try to get the best people for the job."
"You got one in charge of training the military, you got one that teaches language and you got that darkie in charge of the chemical factory or whatever it is?"
"It is the closest that we have, we make dyes and such there and trade them down and up river? Besides George is a genius. He was called a chemurgist back in his time but the later folks call him a biochemist. Bob, on the other hand is a self-trained biologist and chemist. Back in his earth life, his hobby was raising canaries.
"Circumstances forced him to teach himself all about bird diseases and their possible cures. To do this he had to train in several sciences. Basically Bob and George work as a team, Bob discovers what chemical uses he can get out of the various wildlife that exists on this Riverworld and George does the same for the plants"
Melvin was in a quandary as to what to do. He did not really want to stay in this area where he felt he was not welcome but he was dead tired of running from the Pirates. He thought that this valley would be a good place for a final showdown, perhaps equipped with modern tactics and the crossbows, they could defeat the Pirates. Melvin also had to begin planning for that contingency and believed that in the fight with the Pirates, New Coventry would be in an uproar, so he and people who thought as he did could take control of the area.
As Melvin continued with this physical training and taught the craftsmen of New Coventry to make the crossbow guns. He was surprised to find that they also had a weapon of their own, a form of grenade. Irontree seedpods filled with gunpowder and chipped mica stone.
He was not too surprised to find out who the best shots with the crossbows were. they were those with experience with firearms and bows. Anne Butler was probably the best shot he had seen with them, which was not surprising when he finally figured who she really was. He had confronted her after training class after he had remembered her.
"Annie Butler, you are really Annie Oakley!"
She had smiled and said, "No, Mr. Purvis, I am really Mrs. Butler, Annie Oakley was nothing but a stage name, one which I have no further use for." She then excused herself.
Melvin began seeking friends among the Twentieth Centurians, specifically those White folks who seemed uneasy with so many Nigras about. He knew exactly what to say to these folks since that survivalist fella had used these very same arguments in Freedom Estates.
Purvis first began remarking how Irving seemed to have a special bias against Caucasians, making them do more than the Blacks. He used this to feel out prospective fellows in his plan to wrest control of New Coventry when the Pirates raided. He first gathered together people in small groups of two or three for bitch sessions, gradually working up to saying how the Nigras sure did move up in the power structure real fast. Just like on Earth, they were pushy and wanted things easy. Although Melvin did not know much about he talked about the Welfare State and how Nigras had destroyed America.
In about a month Purvis had gathered together about twenty men and women who believed as he did. They in turn lead him to some of the English who could not stand the Negroes or Asians. There was only one small problem with his plan and that was Lady Godiva. Try as he might Purvis just could not get the alluring image of Johnsonís beautiful nigra wife out of his head. He burned to possess her and to teach her a lesson in servility and humility.
Among his new recruits he laid the plans for the birth of a new slave state with certain uppity or useful New Coventry citizens earmarked as the first to be shanghaied into the new servile class. Lady Godiva and that smart-ass George would be among the first to be so honored.
Howard Johnson leaned back on the stool in his office, which was a small alcove on the inside of the town jail. Standing before him was Bill Phillips,who in addition to being his highest ranking Deputy Shire Reeve, was also the unofficial intelligence officer in New Coventry.
They were both sipping at cups of coffee. "How many does Purvis have now?" Johnson asked.
"About eighty real ones and twenty undercovers. Only I know who is who."
"I wonder if I we oughta just tie him in his canoe and send him on down river, we already got his secret of the crossbow gun.
Phillips shook his head. "Yeah and its so damned simple somebody should have thought of it earlier. But we discussed this earlier, Johnny, in a way he is doing us a favor. When you got a nest of copperheads in your house its best to find them all and then kill them than it is to do it partways."
"I know but you did not see the riots in the Sixties either Bill. I never want something like that to happen here."
"I saw a race riot in Tulsa, Johnny, back the Red Summer of 1919. There was something like twenty odd riots in three months all across the country. Some of the good old boys, like our friend Purvis, thought that the Black soldiers needed to be taught that even though they had fought for the good old USA they still weren't equal to White Men. I don't want to see something like that here but I also don't want to stay awake nights waiting for some hidden resentments explode into a riot. Purvis will help us identify possible trouble makers and see what their bitches are." Phillips said softly, fingering his badge. "Who ever would have thought being a Deputy Sheriff would entail so much responsibility."
"So what about our long range Scouts have they any word on when or if the River Pirates will hit us." Johnson asked, trying to rid himself of the sudden image of memories of news footage of the riots in the 1960's.
"Soon, they're a few thousand miles Upriver yet. There is a good chance they might skip us but considering our isolation and relative strength, I don't think they will, especially if they discover that Purvis is here. They operate by attacking random villages on the River in no certain order. They pretend to be traders and gain trust and then attack when the time is opportune. They stay in the area for a while, raping, looting, pillaging and killing for sheer amusement."
They tend to avoid well-armed settlements or alliances against them. They probably use advance scouts. I am thinking that Purvis might well be one of those."
Howard Johnson frowned, "Then why would he give us the method for creating the cross bows?"
"To gain our trust or perhaps he is tired of traveling with those Pirates. Maybe he is what he says but I think we should be wary of any travelers to our shores."
"Yeah. I've had Dardine's Marines and Irving's Commandos on stand by, since Purvis arrived."
Phillips grinned. "You don't believe Purvis either."
"He always was a sneaky little weasel. No, I was not certain if he was an advance scout at first. Now I believe he is a fugitive but there is more to his story than he is telling us and I think he was more involved in running that place he came from, that Freedom Estates than he let on."
"I'll keep him under close watch," Phillips said and left.
Howard Johnson put his coffee down and massaged his temples. He had thought that once they had put down the Mexicas and settled the differences between the two dominant cultures here in New Coventry that they would have a peaceful existence. It had been so except for two invasion attempts and the small rebellion of the die-hard Medieval people. Now Johnson had to deal with subversion in New Coventry, he had deal with another imminent invasion and he had to deal with Melvin Purvis.
This was Johnson's third chance at a peaceful life, He had been declared dead on Earth and had used that opportunity to straighten out his life. Here he thought that it would even be easier but mankind was contentious as always. Hatreds best left behind were brought with them into the Riverworld.
Howard Johnson never expected to be a Sheriff but once he had been made one did his damnedest to do the job right. Now he had Melvin Purvis, somebody calling himself John Dillinger and God knows who else coming down the river to disturb his peace. Johnson was never one to feel territorial and could not understand the impulse, he only stayed in one place because of the people who he considered his friends.
He had jokingly asked Godiva if she wanted to run away before the Pirates got here but of course she said no. He never thought that he would be so in love with anyone as he was with Godiva nor could he ever have imagined that he would be in love with a Negro woman, although on Earth he had come close to marrying an Indian gal. Johnson wanted nothing to ruin the happiness he had found.
It came as no big surprise a day later when two man paddled up to New Coventry in an outrigger canoe. They had braved the rapids without a hitch, which meant that they were experienced sailors. They spoke Latin which Johnson could never get the hang of. As with all New Arrivals Geoff Chaucer invited them to eat at his table. Johnson sat near them and Godiva next to him. The two men called themselves, Cinque and Bernardo Diaz, Cinque was a black man with a burly build, Diaz was a short but muscular swarthy man who claimed to be a Spaniard who had voyaged with Christofero Columbus on his second trip. Diaz had caught a pox from a Indian woman and died.
Godiva asked Cinque if he was the man who had lead the Amistad rebellion. He asked affirmatively. Johnson could tell that Cinque was deeply attracted to his wife but knew she was merely playing up to him for information. Ten years of marriage had proven her faithfulness.
Cinque was telling his narrative in halting in English when he suddenly paused in mid-sentence and continued almost without missing a beat. Johnson noticed that Purvis was approaching the table. Cinque knew Purvis but he evidently did not know him.
After finishing his story, Cinque excused himself and told Diaz to come with him to make certain their canoe was secured for the night. Cinque turned as they were about to leave and whispered something in Godiva's ear. She giggled.
As the two men left the table two of Philips' undercover men followed them.
Godiva looked pensive as she drank her milk. "I don't know who the hell he is but he is not the historical Cinque who lead mutiny on the Amistad."
Johnson admitted ignorance.
Godiva grinned, "That's right they did not have Black Studies back in the Twenties when you were a schoolboy."
She explained that the Amistad had been a slave ship on which the Slaves had mutinied and taken over the ship. They ordered the crew to take the ship back to Africa but the crewmembers changed course at night and sailed to the United States. Upon their arrival, the imprisoned crewmembers were freed and the slaves imprisoned. To be short many people wanted the slaves who committed the mutiny to be hung and the rest returned to Cuba for enslavement. However abolitionists set up a roar. Eventually the Supreme Court ruled that since the United States did not recognize the international slave trade, the US Courts had no jurisdiction over the slaves. They were then returned to Africa.
The man calling himself Cinque did not have strong African features as would be expected of a Nineteenth century African but those of African Americans which were quite different. Most damning of all was the fact that he still retained a late twentieth century Detroit accent. This Cinque was a man from their own time and region. His broken English was an affectation.
Diaz could very well be what he claimed, however the sailors of the Columbus expeditions were not always the noble men that legend portrayed them to be.
Godiva looked at Howard's frowning face. She grinned and kissed his cheek. "If those men try anything it will probably be late at night, right?"
"Then we should go to be early so weíll get enough rest in case they need us."
Howard kissed his wife's cheek distractedly as he began planning on how to deal with the spies. "You go ahead, I'm not tired. I'd probably keep you up tossing and turning anyway.
Godiva laughed. "That's what I had in mind really, to toss and turn on each other until we were both tired."
Johnson let himself be lead by the hand to his hut.
It seemed he had just slipped into a peaceful sleep of sexual lassitude when somebody began banging on the door. He threw a towel around his waist and answered the door.
It was Bill Phillips. He told Howard Johnson that they had found the two visitors about to set fire to the crossbow factory and bomb factory. Diaz had been killed in the scuffle, Cinque was in custody. Johnson told Phillips that they would come to the jail in a few minutes.
Johnson woke Godiva. Dressing and then trotting over to the jail. They found Cinque naked and staked out on the ground in the enclosed compound behind the jail. This was to make him very uncomfortable and also to prevent him from committing suicide. It also made the prisoner believe that he could be tortured at any minute.
Cinque however was cursing and fighting his bonds. He kept telling his captors to free him. He was doing this in broken English.
Howard Johnson pulled a stool next to Cinque's head. He looked down on Cinque and said, "You can stop the phony accent, we know you are a twentieth century American. What is your real name?"
"Cinque is my real name!"
"Okay, let's not dance around the issue. We know you are part of a gang of River Pirates. We want to know how many ships, how many people and when we can expect them to arrive."
"Douse him." Johnson said. Five buckets of river water from the deepest part of the lake were thrown on Cinque's naked body. It was icy cold. Cinque immediately began shivering.
"Ready to talk?"
"Wet him again."
Cinque was doused repeatedly for the next two hours and yet he still refused to talk. Johnson knew that if they deprived him of food and water he might crack but he was not certain if he had the time.
The mountains on the east were showing the beginnings of dawn. Johnson called Dardine over to him. "Go wake up Dr. Sam, Dr. Pisaki and Purvis. Bring them all here. Tell Dr. Sam and Dr. Pisaki we need to administer some joy-juice. Tell them to haul ass!"
He told Phillips to have Irving assemble his Commandos and Dardine his Marines to set up defenses near the rapids. He also had several of him men go around waking the men and women of the community telling them to prepare for an attack.
Godiva strolled over to Cinque and stood right above him staring into his face. She looked up at Johnson and said, "The more I look at him, the more his face seems familiar but I cannot place it."
Cinque stared straight up at the legs spread over his chest and followed them straight up her body to her face. "The face isn't familiar but maybe the cat is, why don't you hop on and see if we are old acquaintances or not."
Godiva noted Cinque's arousal. Smiling she walked back to where his legs were spread and tied. Kneeling right above his groin she took hold his organ in her right hand and stroked it until it was fully engorged. Cinque gasped.
Johnson had turned his face away from the spectacle.
"Can't stand that your woman wants to bone somebody else, huh, White man, Ďspecially not a Black Man."
Johnson closed his eyes just before Cinque screamed.
Godiva had waited until Cinque had reached the peak of excitement, she had then dug her long nails into his penis just below the head and slammed a balled fist into his scrotum with all her might.
Cinque was taken totally off guard. His whole body clenched as he tried curl into a ball but the bonds on his hands and feet prevented this consolation. He retched from the intensity of the pain.
Godiva then stood above Cinque's contorted face, smiling sweetly, she said "Don't dick around with us, because as you see you won't have a dick to do it with. I suggest you cooperate with Dr. Sam when he arrives otherwise I might take over the interrogation."
Cinque mumbled something that sounded like, "You Bitch!"
Godiva smiled softly and said, "What was that you said?"
Johnson grinned and said, "Hey buddy, if I was you I wouldn't say anything else to get her any angrier."
To emphasize the point, Godiva wiggled her long, bloody tipped fingernails.
Cinque cringed and said, "I said alright."
In a few moments Dardine returned with Sam Mudd, Lemuel Pisaki and Melvin Purvis.
Johnson looked down on Cinque. "You have one more chance tell us about the River Pirates before Dr. Mudd administers what we call joy juice." Johnson held up a small crude glass hypodermic. There was a bright yellow liquid inside. "Joy juice is concentrated dreamgum extract. We have found it highly addictive. There is also a problem with our hypodermics also sometimes air bubbles get shot into the blood stream, this can cause a painful death. Do you want to talk or should we give you the shot.
"We ain't River Pirates we are revolutionaries and I won't betray my comrades." Gazing straight at Purvis, he said. "Nice to see yíall again, Massa Purvis. Chickens gonna roost tonight"
Johnson directed Dr. Mudd to give Cinque the shot. Dr. Pisaski was a psychotherapist who had experience in hypnotherapy and drug therapy. He put Cinque into a state of high suggestibility.
"Is Cinque your birth name?"
"What is your real name?"
Dardine swore softly. "I thought he looked familiar."
Johnson looked up at Dardine. "You know him?"
"Know of him, he was the leader of the SLA, you know those terrorists that kidnapped Patty Hearst."
Howard Johnson knew what Dardine was talking about and so did most of the others in the room however Mudd, Phillips and Purvis did not.
Dardine explained briefly that the SLA or Symbionese Liberation Army was a group of malcontents who had formed a rather inept socialist terrorist group in the USA. Their major claim to fame was the kidnapping of the Hearst Publishing Heiress and brainwashing of her into a terrorist. Most of them had died in bloody shoot out with the FBI.
Dr. Pisaki asked come to be with his new group of revolutionaries.
The tear gas had driven them into the basement, Then the pigs set the house on fire. It burned rapidly and began collapsing around them. They could hardly breathe with all the smoke. The pigs had fired automatic weapons into the house like there were a thousand people inside the house. Fahizah had climbed out of the crawl hole at the rear of the house followed by Gabi. He had heard gunshots and never saw them again. Kujo had crawled off to one side and had stopped breathing. Gelina had collapsed not too far from him. Zoya had fallen dead, riddled with bullets. Cinque had used her body as a shield.
Cinque was deathly afraid of burning to death. He had taken his Rutger and shot himself through the head.
He awoke a second later lying on a field of grass covered with morning dew. It was sunrise, Cinque was completely nude, completely hairless and circumcised. Cinque soon found that this was not Heaven or Hell or any of that bourgeois claptrap.
His resurrection occured in an area in which the majority of the population was twelfth century Africans from the Songhai or Sudan Empires. They however did not get along too well despite both being Muslim. Cinque had a first gravitated towards English speakers but most of them were White people from the 1800s and from the South to boot.
There was only a handful of twentieth Century people there, maybe a hundred and most of them were White too. There were about thirty Twentieth Century Blacks, twenty-five of from Los Angeles like Cinque. They belonged to rival gangs known as the Crips and Bloods. The gang members had begun killing each other off two days after Resurrection Day.
Cinque and four other Twentieth Century Blacks had tried getting in with the Africans but they looked down on Cinque and his group. The Whites separated from the rest of the group and then built stockades to keep the Blacks out. The Africans began fighting between themselves and were being replaced by a variety of peoples.
One day just before sunrise, the Whites had begun rounding up all the Black and Asians and herded them into Stockades using rapid-fire crossbow guns. They kept the Blacks in the stockades until they were weak with hunger, patrolling the fences to make sure they did not kill or eat one another.
The Southern Whites along with the minorities of Afrikaners and US Neo-Nazis had a slave state built on a Plantation Society. They allowed the Asians and Latins who did not want to be slaves to become part of a Janizary force, a sort of Militia and overseer.
Cinque became the property of Master Fitzhugh whose claim to fame in life the author of a book or two demonstrating that the slave state was manís natural state. For ten years the slave state had flourished. The Whites became complacent. The Africans learned to cooperate with one another and a universal slave language was formed. Finally there came time for an insurrection. The insurrection was sparked by promise of aid from a White man who had come visiting the Masters. He had promised hundreds of his friends would help the slaves overthrow their Masters.
During the Insurrection is when the five ships of the Liberation Army had arrived in Freedom Estates. The White Masters were overthrown and put to death. Cinque assisted in this. The Liberation Army was lead by two men, one named John Dillinger and the other was Carlos Rameriz, a professional terrorist on Earth. He had heard of Cinque and invited him to join their merry band.
Dillinger and Rameriz had a simple philosophy, this world was Hell and their band was put on it to cause endless suffering and tribulation. Therefore they would chose random communities across the face of the world and destroy them, working their way around the world. Eventually, they would have inflicted suffering on every community on the planet.
Rameriz was very interested in the crossbow guns. Unfortunately only a few of the White men had really known how to make them. Most of these had died in the insurrection and invasion. Cinque knew that Master Purvis knew how to make them and informed Dillinger and Rameriz of this fact. Master Purvis was in charge of the Freedom Patrol, the organization in charge of maintaining control over the slaves to prevent insurrections and to maintain discipline. Although he was mighty interested in the latter he was not so good at the other. The Insurrection caught him with pants down, literally."
"Thatís a damned lie, I knew you damned niggers were up to somethingÖ!" Purvis shouted angrily before catching himself. Several suspicious pairs of eyes tracked him.
"Now, Massa Purvis, we all know you liked your drink and your black berries. Folks, at the time of the Insurrection, Massa Purvis was being detained with one of our Resistance gals, one of the Dahomean Amazons. She knocked him out and dragged him up to Dillinger. It seems that Dillinger was somewhat acquainted with Purvis, he having been killed by Purvis on Earth. Threatened with torture, Purvis spilled his guts about how to make the crossbows and who knew how to make them. Dillinger decided to torture him anyway. Somehow after being tortured Purvis had escaped and one of the other Plantation Masters was in his place. Dillinger was all hot to chase him but Rameriz said that eventually they would catch up with him. Looks like after three years, he will.
Dillinger's and Rameriz' band consisted of men and women who liked to kill and destroy. Cinque had been squeamish at first but had gotten to the point where he could kill and maim with the best of them. After all, life was meaningless when you rose the next day.
Dillinger had chosen men in his bands whose names were similar to old time gangsters and crooks of his era. Four of the men were the authentic men or so they claimed, Alvin Karpis, The Sundance Kid, Mike Fink and John Wesley Hardin. The man Dillinger called Babyface Nelson was Earle Nelson, he had been executed on Earth for strangling twenty women from Canada to California in the 1920's. The man called Billy the Kid was actually named Gilles De Rais. He had been a French Baron in the 13th Century and had been a close companion of Jeanne D'Arc. He had however also been a practicing Satanist and had killed some 200 children.
Buck Barrow, Clydes brother was among the revolutionaries as were Harry Strauss, main contractor of Murder Inc., Carl Panzram, a notorious world traveling killer, sodomite and arsonist. Also among the Pirates were the gunslingers, Jim Miller and Jack Slade. Dillingerís major strategy and tactical lieutenants were John Murrell, L. P. Beria and Carlos Marghella.
The fleet consisted of five ships, two galleons, one bireme, one frigate and one caravel. His Captains were Stede Bonnet, a pirate and contemporary of Blackbeard, Henry Gambi, pirate and adversary of Jean Lafite, Joseph Knapp, a American Sea Captain, Thorafinn Gunnarson a Viking Captain and Huang Ti Shen, a former Triad pirate. His compliment consisted of Vikings, Kirghiz, Goths, Mongols, Huns and various other bands of so called barbarians and revolutionaries from all eras including Mau Maus, Dahomean Amazons, Thuggees and Leopard Cult Men.
Since Leaving Freedom Estates, they had "liberated" ten other communities on the River, Benediction, a land ruled by Pope Benedict XII who was certain that this world was purgatory. His was a land of ruled under the iron hand of Christianity. Petrachia, a land ruled by Petrarch under so called democratic principles, Paradise, a community of Germanic peoples who had all died in the Black Plague and believe this world to be some sort of Purgatory. Their traditional Lords ruled them as did Burgermeisters, Israel formed by Jews of England, France and Spain of the time 15th Century. A land called Ghent ruled by a man calling himself King John. Gottland a land ruled by Germanic peoples who had come under the control of a sect of flagellants.
The Revolutionary Fleet would be arriving in a day or two even without Cinque or his companion.
Howard Johnson tried to get some idea of the leadership and war capabilities of the River Pirates but Cinque merely would relate various horrors in which he had participated or witness and rationalized them with being part of some revolution. Howard Johnson understood that he was trying to reconcile his lofty ideas with the fact he had become a mere brigand. If half of what Cinque told them was true, he deserved death but Johnson did not have time for a lengthy trial, something the Twentieth Centurians had foisted upon the English nor could he risk having Cinque about if they became under attack.
By the looks in their eyes Johnson could tell that most of the people in the room wanted Cinque to die. However killing a man in cold blood was something for which he had never acquired a taste.
Speaking to two of his Deputies, Johnson said, "When the Prisoner Cinque recovers sufficiently put him on a log and take him to the middle of the river. If he tries to return to New Coventry kill him."
Johnson turned to Dardine, 'Put everyone on full alert until the Pirates arrive." He instructed Phillips to "Take Mr. Purvis, into Protective Custody, we would not want him to fall into the wrong hands." Purvis started to protest but stopped when Phillips aimed his new crossbow gun at him.
Howard Johnson and Godiva left the stockade area. They walked over to the Mayorís house. Johnson knocked three times before a servant answered the door and ushered them into a small parlor consisting of cushioned chairs and highly polished wood tables.
Chaucer came stumbling into the parlor dressed in a brocaded robe and sandals. He rubbed sleep from his eyes. Johnson quickly apprised him of the situation. Chaucer lit up a cigar and sat in an easy chair while he listened.
"Are Messers Carver and Stroud's projects truly ready for actual combat. I would hate to have people relying on them and have them fail."
"That is why the Militia is on standby. If our secret weapons do not work, the ships will land and we will have to fight hand to hand at a terrible cost."
Chaucer sighed and blew a plume of smoke above his head. He gave Johnson a hard look. "Give me a good reason why we should not kill this Purvis immediately."
"Besides being against the New Coventry compact?" Godiva asked with a slight laugh.
Chaucer shot her a look, which told Godiva he still had not totally adjusted to women speaking their minds, especially not women of color. Yet Chaucer smiled softly after a moment, "Yes, besides it being against our laws."
Johnson smirked and said, "If it was necessary to save New Coventry. I would ignore the law. But we may need every man jack to fight off the invasion. Killing Purvis might cause a civil war in our midst, which the Pirates would use to their advantage. If Purvis starts something before the invasion I can arrest him and jail him. As for his planned insurrection, it may never get off the ground. From what I remember about him he was somewhat indecisive and a bit of a screw up."
Chaucer told Johnson to go ahead with what preparations he had made and to make certain that the Secret weapons were in place as soon as possible.
Howard Johnson and Godiva left Chaucer's house.
She grabbed his arm and suddenly twisted it behind his back, bending it far enough to hurt. She then let him go.
Johnson stood in front of her rubbing his arm. "What the hell was that for?"
"For not telling me about the secret weapons."
"I could not tell you, for reasons of national Security."
" Now I believe you did vote for Nixon twice."
Johnson grinned, "Hey, I had to admire his stones. When a man like that can go on national TV and give the Checkers's speech with a straight face... Well hell, I thought here's a crook I can relate to."
"Yeah, you told me you have a soft spot for crooks and you told me why. You told me about yourself and about Bill Phillipsand Harry Bowers when he was here but you didn't tell about these Secret weapons. I thought we agreed to be honest with one another?"
"Okay, that bilge about Bill, Harry and me don't really matter none. It's in the past but knowledge about the secret weapons could affect everyone living in New Coventry. Chaucer and the people involved were required not to tell anyone because if it were generally known the secret would not be secret. Despite what most people want to believe, they don't always hold up under torture. I wanted to tell but thought you would be safer not knowing."
Godiva looked at him thoughtfully and kissed him. "You're forgiven. Go on and check on them."
"What are you going to do?"
"What every woman does in a situation like this, go home and sharpen my weapons.
When Melvin Purvis was being lead to the town hoosegow, he managed to signal one of his conspirators. Fifteen minutes after being placed inside a cell, Purvis was a free man. Two of the New Coventry Deputies lay outside the cell with their throats cut. One of which was Katzenjammer, the Neanderthal/Cro-Magnon hybrid. He had managed to choke to death one of Purvisí men with one hand.
Purvis told the conspirators that they were moving now. There were several parts to the plan. One was to secure the cache of weapons that they had so painstakingly hidden. Two to secure desired or valuable slaves and put them on the rafts. Three to attack the New Coventry forces just prior to them being engaged by the River Pirates. Four to flee across the river and wait out the rest of the battle, then to return and battle with both exhausted parties.
Godiva and the nigra George were captured at their homes. Georgeís room mate, Stroud had been clubbed unconscious. While Purvis and his conspirators were gathering up into a formation and taking position, Purvis spotted Phillips trailing them. He sent two men to flank Philips. Most of the conspirators were for killing him outright, but Purvis, thought it best to have an ace in the hole in case something went terribly wrong. He had Phillips bound and gagged with the other prospective slaves.
Johnson walked over to the Bomb Factory that was located next to the Mountain at the end of the New Coventry valley. Inside a stockade fence were ten twenty foot cannons. These were unique to New Coventry because of the combined genius of George Washington Carver and Robert Stroud., they had created a through a combination of chemical processes and a small amount of selective breeding of certain fish a powerful acid which rapidly dissolved most materials. Preparation was so complex and secretive that they had worked alone in the laboratory New Coventry had provided for them. The acid was derived from a variety of sources including tree bark and Dragonfish stomach enzymes. Using diluted solutions New Coventry citizens had cut down five ironwood trees and had shaped them into cannons.
Stroud had also devised an enzyme that hardened glass, thus they were able to make glass balls filled with the acid which could be thrown by catapult. The ironwood cannons used shaped ironwood projectiles, propelled by gunpowder.
The other secret weapons were quite crude by comparison but hopefully just as effective. New Coventry had constructed a fleet of three two-man submarines, based on the revolutionary war Turtles. They were made of Dragonfish leather and shaped ironwood. They however had a limited range and air supply but they were equipped with two torpedoes and two mines that could be attached to ships.
Johnson found that Dardine had already sent the Turtles to their launching areas. The cannons were being camouflaged with brush and leaves and being wheeled to areas near the river.
Wondering where the hell Phillips was at, Johnson talked briefly with Smalls and Dardine. They all knew that they only thing to do now was to wait.
They did not have to wait for long. The Drums told the Five ships coming in formation through the rapids formed by the Mountain walls suddenly narrowing into a canyon.
Johnson waited until the ships were all through before launching his attack. By the time the third ship had come through the rapids, the River Pirates sensed that something was amiss and began firing catapults and rockets into New Coventry. Johnson watched as the third ship suddenly listed to the left and began sinking. On the flagship a swarthy man with dark hair began shouting orders. Weighted barrels with were dropped off the four remaining ships. Underwater explosions suddenly rocked the river.
The Fourth ship listed suddenly. The others were coming in for a landing. Dillinger signaled for the catapults to start shooting acid balls.
The effect of the undiluted acid on wood, sail and other items was wondrous to see. The effects on human flesh were horrific. The fourth ship was hit by a barrage of acid balls and literally fell apart. The three remaining ships began to fire cannon at the catapults. Johnson was shocked to see that the cannon were made of iron or some kind of metal.
The shipís gunners were finding the catapults with ease and destroying them. Johnson had the crews abandon the catapults and signaled for the ironwood cannons to return their fire.
In unison the ironwood cannons fired a barrage at the three ships. Two of the ships were badly damaged and turned to sail out of range. Johnson signaled for the cannoneers to pour more into them before they could escape. After a series of barrages the ships began sinking. The flagship had also sustained serious damage but had floated out of range of the cannons.
Johnson signaled for cannons to move after the flagship.
The flagship then lay down a barrage of cannon fire and rockets directed at the ironwood cannon sites. Many sites were seriously damaged or left unmanned. Undeterred the flagship floated closer to shore.
Johnson also spotted several boats from the sunken boats making for the riverbank. A few of these suddenly sank before reaching shore. Arrows were fired into the water to sink or try to sink the Turtles.
The remaining ironwood cannons made a valiant attempt to stop the flagship but they could not find the range. Suddenly the shore was teeming with several hundred invaders.
Knowing that there was little else to be done, Johnson signaled for the militia to meet the invaders headlong. Dardine's Marines and Irving's commandos rushed forward to meet the invaders as did the Sheriff's department.
Johnson ran to join them, his new cross bow gun in one hand and a stone axe in the other. As he was running up he saw the rear of Dardine's marines and Irving's Commandos suddenly wither as they were attacked from the rear.
Cursing, Johnson lamented not having have killed Purvis earlier but he really did not think of him has a threat.
Purvis and his conspirators had crippled the New Coventry forces to the extent that the Pirates were able to break through the Coventry defensive lines. The battle turned into a melee of one on one fighting. Having struck his blow, Purvis had his conspirators run to their hidden rafts. Some of Smalls or Dardineís men had turned to follow but found that they were engaged too heavily with the River Pirates to bother with Purvis.
Upon reaching the rafts, Purvis found at least fifteen of his men had deserted. Taking with them Bill Philips. Cursing, Purvis shouted for the boats to be launched. As others rowed the raft across the lake. Purvis found himself lying next to Godiva, who lie with her hands bound behind her back, her legs lashed together and a gag in her mouth. Purvis was caressing her hair and kneading her breasts before he realized it. Not caring if anyone else was watching or not, and ignoring her muffled screams he yanked her towel from around her waist and slaked his long pent up lust.
When he had finished her knee came up hard and slammed into his groin. He rolled off the raft into the lake. By the time he had fought his way to the surface, the raft was on the other side close to the other side. Purvis found himself caught among the River Pirates swarming to shore. He moved with them so as not to gain attention. He planned to find his canoe and paddle across the lake. On the battlefield he grabbed a crossbow gun from one of the fallen Pirates.
Shortly after Dardineís Marines had fallen under the treacherous attack by Purvisí rebels, Bill Phillipslead a contingent of New Coventry men and women, his intelligence corps moved into take the fallen Marines places.
When the Pirates began arriving on shore, Johnson discovered that Purvisí version of the crossbow gun were rather crude compared to the version used by the pirates. These took a devastating toll on the New Coventry militia. Yet Annie and Wilhelm Tell stood next to each other and with unerring accuracy were mowing down Pirates like they were Arcade ducks in a shooting gallery.
A short man with long brown hair carrying a hornfish sword jumped as Tell aimed at him. He fell transfixed through the shoulder and began cursing in French. Annie's shot hit his heart.
A thin, black hair man with cold black eyes stood over the dead Frenchman and remarked, 'That's fancy shooting, son." in English with a Southern accent. The man then fired two crossbows at Tell. One of the bolts struck the Tyrolean in the throat. The gunslinger fell a second later shot through the crotch and the left lung by Annie Moses Howard.
Johnson saw a short, burly man with long arms finish strangling a female member of his militia. The man was dragging the woman's body towards a group of bushes. Johnson realized with a start that he had heard of this Earle Nelson before, he was known as the Gorilla killer in the twenties. Johnson shot Nelson in the back with two bolts in rapid succession.
The Pirate and New Coventry lines had broken up into tiny clusters of individual fighting. Johnson was firing randomly into those cluster of people he was certain were Pirates.
An extremely handsome man with black hair and flashing black eyes stood as if transfixed when he had spotted someone in the fighting. It was Purvis. Purvis shouted "Wilkes!" and fired his crossbow. Johnson felt a sharp agonizing pain in his left shoulder as Purvis Ď lousy shot hit him. He fell to the ground with a crossbow bolt in his shoulder.
Johnson pulled himself behind the broken spar of a log fence and watched the fighting as he worked the bolt loose.
The dark haired man raised his bloody axe with a scream and ran towards Purvis. He shouted, "You traitor!"
Dr. Mudd was on the battlefield doing what combat medical aid he could. Upon hearing Purvis shout this name he, looked up. His face turned crimson. "I'll be goddamned." He told his patient to rest there, he would be right back. Mudd ran up behind the man running at Purvis. He grabbed the manís arms and spun around. checked his blow and stared at Dr. Mudd with a bewildered expression.
"Mr. Booth. surely you recognize me."
John Wilkes Booth's black eyes lit up with warmth and he smiled. "Dr. Mudd!" he exclaimed. He moved forward as if to shake Mudd's hand, his axeís blunt leg slammed into Muddís thigh breaking his leg. "Donít want to kill you Doctor, so have a broken leg on me. His smiling face contorted with agonizing pain as Dr. Mudd rammed a spear into his belly. Wilkes then limped across the battlefield, slowly making his way towards Purvis. Purvis was running away, making his way to the docks. He paused to shoot Geoffrey Chaucer at close range in the chest.
Johnson forced himself to his feet. He saw a man he thought was Buck Barrow transfixed by several crossbow bolts.
He walked further up the hill and saw a figure behind a tree. The man jumped at Johnson and knocked him to the ground. He was wearing a suit coat and pants made from white cloth and a boater hat made of dried grasses. It too was dyed white. The man's face was quite similar to Johnson except it was a bit puffier than his. The man was shorter and heavier than Johnson was but they were similar enough in looks that someone might take them for one another from a distance. Somebody had before.
Johnson hit the man in his groin with a solid punch.
"I had wondered if that fella claiming to be John Dillinger was you, Jimmy. That was stupid, it got you killed once."
The man's brown eyes bored into Johnson and then widened with surprise. The man's head lurched forward and Johnson saw that a crossbow bolt was stuck in the back of his head. Without a word the man who had called himself John Dillinger slumped forward dead.
Pushing the body off of him, Johnson looked around to see who his savior was. To his great surprise it was Melvin Purvis. He was holding an empty crossbow gun in his hands. With a curse he took off running again, he managed to reach the lakeshore and jump into his canoe. He began paddling across the lake, avoiding the sinking ships and swimming pirates.
Johnson decided to deal with him after the battle was over. He began walking across the lake front. His heart lurched when he saw a jet black woman lying on the ground with a crossbow bolt in her eyes. It was not Godiva, Cinque had said that there were Dahomean Amazons in Pirate ships.
The battle was nearly over. The Pirates had been routed. At least on this side, the flagship had been holed in three places above the water line, its masts were broken and its sails shredded. It was however painstakingly being rowed to the opposite shore. Well, damn they have to go get them.
Johnson found Irving Smalls lying in a field with about eight dead men surrounding him. Irving had several cuts all over his body. In Irving's hand was the remains of his crossbow gun. Johnson supposed that when he had run out of ammunition, Irving had used his gun as a club.
"I hope you find peace where ever your are tomorrow."
Irving's eyes fluttered. "I ain't planning on going nowheres."
"The way you were lying there, I thought you were dead."
"Only dead tired. It takes a lot out of you, clubbing all them guys to death."
"You better get up before someone buries you." Johnson said with a laugh. His laughter stopped suddenly as he found where lay Geoff Chaucer. He had been shot once through the heart. Bill Phillipscame limping up. He had several cuts all over his body but none were serious.
"Johnny, that bastard Purvis stabbed us in the back and then took off across the lake."
"Yeah, I just saw him go"
Phillips looked startled, "Just now?" At Johnsonís nod, he said, "Then he must have come back across because he left a bunch of others earlier this evening. They have a bunch of our people prisoner, including George Carver and Godiva."
Johnsonís blood boiled at the thought of Godiva in either the Pirates or Purvisí hands.
Smalls was sitting up and Al Dardine Ďs Marines had just about mopped up the remaining pirates on this side of the shore. Some had stolen boats to make their way to the other side but archers and crossbowmen were cutting them down. After Geoffrey Chaucer had been found dead, the people of New Coventry were not offering quarter to the Pirates.
Johnson gathered up a group of men that included surprisingly enough, Bob Stroud, who volunteered to go fight the Pirates on the shore. Johnson wondered if the stories about Stroud and Carver were true, not that he gave a particular damn. Smalls was left in charge of the mopping up. Dardineís Marines were set to patrol all night, lest other nations up or down river get ideas to attack New Coventry while they were at their weakest.
Melvin Purvis paddled across the lake like a madman. His former friend Wilkes Booth following closely behind in another stolen canoe. He guessed that Wilkes still held a grudge against him. When Wilkes had helped Purvis to escape from the Pirates, Purvis knew that an empty cell would be a dead giveaway, so he had knocked Booth out and left him bound and gagged in his cell. To further cover his escape he had set some buildings on fire.
As he approached the other lakeshore, he groaned the other pirate ship was a flame and there was heavy fighting on the shore between his Rebels and the Pirates. Discretion being the better part of valor, Purvis steered away from the fighting and towards a wooded section.
An arrow thunked into the wood of his canoe. He stole a glance behind him, Wilkes was shooting a bow at him. It must have been in the canoe. Purvis paddled faster he was almost dogged out when he reached the lakeshore. Jumping out the canoe he pulled it ashore, barely escaping yet another arrow.
Purvis ran into the woods only to run crotch first into unseen projection. At least that is what he thought at first, after the initial blinding pain, his vision cleared and he saw that nigra wench Godiva staring down at him. The unseen projection had been her hard callused sole. Hot saliva sprayed across his face as she spit on him. She then turned and ran deeper into the woods.
A rich baritone laugh echoed across the still night. A mellifluous voice with a slight Southern accent said, "I always knew your peculiar obsession with the nigra gals was going to your downfall one day, Mister Purvis. I hope I shall not be forced to kill you, at least not quickly. I want you to suffer as I have suffered these past years but I fear the good Doctor Mudd has struck me a killing blow."
Purvis could see what Booth was referring to Doctor Muddís spear thrust had penetrated the stomach wall. Blood was covering Boothís pants and shirt in a growing stain of red. Booth began shouting an in language, which must have been the lingua franca of the Pirate fleet. He was answered by a few more shouts. In a few moments two more men had joined him. One seemed oddly familiar but Purvis could not place him. He was White with long black hair, held out of his eyes by a headband of what appeared to be cured leather. He wore a bloodstained black shirt and a black kilt with a belt. He had sharp cruel features and cold blue eyes. Around his neck hung necklaces of human teeth, from his belt hung several dried scalps. His eyes were creepy, giving Melvin the impression of a person who liked to pull the wings off of flies or chop the legs and arms off of people for amusement. The other was a huge hulk of a man whom Purvis recognized at the Sundance Kid, He had been one of Purvisí torturers when captured by the Pirates. His aching nether regions flared with more pain as Purvis remembered what the Sundance Kid had done before with a red-hot knife.
Booth nodded his greeting, "How is the battle going?"
"Not well at all. We and a couple more are all thatís left. We put to shore here and was met with a bunch of them New Coventry gees. They set fire to the ship and kept most of the crew penned up in it until they was either shot to death or burned up. We gave as good as we got however and most of them bit the dust as well. The rest scattered."
"Well, we may have lost but look, we have something to bargain with for our freedom." said the creepy looking man.
Despite the pain in his testicles, Purvis laughed. "They wonít bargain for me. I was leading an uprising when the invasion began. It was to create a new Freedom Estates. I managed to kill their Mayor. Between you and me, Wilkes we could take over the state."
"You always had a rather blind eye to reality, Melvin." Booth said with a chuckle. I admit so did I when I lived my first life, but I grew out of that." Booth turned to his two companions. "Well, since it appears that we lost and that we have nothing to bargain with, what do you say we have a little fun before they hunt us down" Booth grimaced and convulsed, clutching his bleeding stomach.
"I am for that" said the creepy man. Purvis still did not recognize him. Booth said, "Ah, Alvin, Mr. Purvis does not recognize you."
"Thatís cause he probably remembers my other face, the one I had done with plastic surgery. We are old friends, Melvin. I am Al Karpis." With that he kicked Purvis in his testicles and then in his jaw.
When Purvis regained consciousness he was tied spread eagle between two trees,
The Sundance Kid took out a flint knife, "Sorry I aint gonna have time to make it into a branding iron for you this time"
The flint knife slashed a foot long strip of flesh off of Puvis' arm.
He screamed loud and shrilly.
Booth sat propped up against a tree. "You are either a terrible ham or a spineless weakling. Booth laughed weakly and burbled as a fluid cough spilled a mouthful of blood down his chin. "Friend Sundance, I fear I will not be able to see the final curtain of your performance. Please make it a long and bloody ordeal. Booth coughed once more and sat still, eyes glazing over.
Johnsonís boat had just hit the shore when a terrible scream sounded. Bob Stroud was out of the boat and running towards the sound before Johnson or the others could react. Grabbing their weapons they ran after him as fast as they could.
The Sundance Kid and Al Karpis were occupied with torturing Melvin Purvis, Sundance with his knife and Karpis with a lighter, when Bob Stroud ran into the clearing. Noting his size and the fact that he was armed with only a knife, Sundance waved Karpis off.
Sundance met the running Stroud with a savate kick that broke his shinbone. Even as his leg broke, Stroud remembered the lessons Dardine had drilled into his head. He dove into the kick and slashed upward with his knife, cutting Sundance from the belly to breastbone. The knife stuck in Sundanceís breastbone. Stroud rolled out of the way, landing on his broken leg. As he screamed he saw the other Pirate approaching him.
Despite his barbaric appearance, Stroud recognized the Pirate with a sudden shock, although it had been years since he had seen the man and never at the age of twenty-five.
"Well, goddamn, it was the real Al Karpis running with those murderers and madmen. Thought you had changed Al?"
Alvin Karpis blinked and scowled. "Who the hell are you!"
"Bob Stroud, we were at Alcatraz together"
Karpis smiled, a creepy smile that sent a chill down Stroudís back.
"Well, Well, Well. It sure is you. Looks like the Birdman got a busted drumstick. I never changed Bob, just did not have the opportunities that this world provides. Isnít no law, Ainít no Jesus and there ainít no God to tell us whatís right or wrong" Karpis slid a large flint knife out of a leather scabbard. "Almost sorry to kill you Bob, would like to talk over old times and all that but I canít afford you calling out to anyone. Maybe Iíll see on the River again"
Stroud had been fishing around in his backpack as Karpis had been talking to him. He waited until Karpis was almost right above him and flung a bomb at his face. The thin fishgut membrane burst on contact and the acid rapidly ate away at Karpis tissues. His eyes, nose ,cheeks and upper lip poured off in a slush of blood and mushy flesh.
Screaming he stumbled into the woods and tripped where after a few moments of thrashing among the brush he was silent.
Johnson, Phillips and the rest of the militia members had been halted by the sudden appearance of Godiva and George Carver. Phillips told Carver that Stroud had run up ahead, Carver ran in the same direction.
Johnson hugged Godiva and kissed her soundly. She began sobbing.
"Are you alright, Did he hurt you?" He asked stroking her hair and hugging her as tightly as he could without hurting her.
Wiping her tears, she said, "Other than knock on the head and a little rape, no."
Johnson screamed, "I knew I should have killed that son of a bitch when he first arrived."
Surprisingly she disagreed. "If you had we would not have had the crossbow guns and we could have been wiped out by the pirates. Besides his rape, while humiliating was nothing worse than one of my high school dates had done." A small smile flickered across her dark, beautiful face. "Thirty seconds of a tiny displeasure"
However much I would like to rip his balls off, the penalty for rape is death, but I think his Pirate friends have already taken care of that.í
Johnson and the others carefully walked towards where Godiva had seen Purvis and the Pirates go.
George Carver walked into the small grove of trees where Melvin Purvis was strung up between two trees. He saw Stroud lying there clutching his broken leg. Shaking his head at his partnerís impulsiveness, he looked for two sticks to make a splint.
George barely noticed Purvis, except to note that despite a few superficial cuts and burns he seemed to be just fine.
Purvis called out, "Oh, Jesus its you George, be a good boy and cut me on down."
"Nawsuh, Massa Purvis, I donít be thinking I does so. Ainít my place." Carver answered as he tied the splint around Stroudís leg. Stroud passed out when Carver straightened the leg.
"Jesus, please, George." Purvis pleased.
"Make a deal with you Master Purvis, you tell me my last name and I might consider it." He said as he sat down besides Stroud. Putting Stroudís arms around him, George lifted Stroud onto on his back.
"How the hell should I remember .I donít make it a habit of remembering the last name of n...nobody."
George Carver allowed himself a smile, "Ah, you were going to say nigger. Well, that is correct. I am a Nigger by your standards. My full name is George Washington Carver. I suppose even in your narrow-minded lifetime you may have heard of me. I was born a slave. I became educated and well respected by Whites and Blacks alike. When I died I thought I would wake up on the banks of the River Jordan and cross over into Heaven.
It was not to be. Instead I woke up in an area that quickly became a slave state the likes of which I had never seen even on Earth. You may not remember me Master Purvis, I belonged to your friend Wilkes Booth, whose body I see deservedly resides over there. You may not even remember a young man named Jimmie Hardwick who was one of your slaves. He was a friend of mine. You had him whipped to death because he had tried to escape, as per your capacity as head of the Slave Patrol."
Your friend Wilkes killed me in a drunken rage, which I must now confess, I provoked. For it freed me from Freedom Estates"
" I will tell you right now, I have no intention of letting you loose, your rebellion and rape have already condemned you to death. In a few days, you will die, slowly starving to death. I hope you use the long hours to reflect on the cruelties and sufferings you have inflicted upon your fellow man. You were not essentially a bad man in your earthly life, why now must you turn to evil."
"Look I promise to change, just let me loose!"
Carver shook his head and walked off, toting Stroud in a firemanís carry.
"Goddamn you George, I ever see you again, I will kill you before you draw another breath!"
While Purvis was screaming invectives against Carver, two more men walked up to where he was tied. They were bloody and battered but still recognizable through their bruises, Phillips and Johnson. After ascertaining that the area had been cleared of Pirates and Rebels, they went to find George and Stroud. The found Melvin strung up between two trees, a dead man propped up against a tree, another man with his face melted off in the woods. Near him was a tall man with and knife in his belly. Johnson saw nothing remarkable about him except that he was still alive and had hands the size of hams. The man on the ground looked at Phillips with a start. He began laughing despite the knife in his belly. "Butch!"
Phillips slowly turned and looked at the dying man. He smiled sadly. "So you were the Sundance Kid. Why Harvey?"
The wounded man laughed again, blood bubbling up out of his mouth. "Never did like the son of bitch. Wanted to make him look bad. Maybe next time I'll be you."
"Just be yourself, Harvey. Find some peace in that." Phillips told the man but he was beyond hearing. Phillips found himself crying and said "Damn"
"So you knew the Sundance kid after all." Purvis mocked sarcastically.
"That wasn't the Sundance Kid, you mozo! That was Harvey Logan or Kid Curry!" Phillips said.
Purvis coughed. "How would you know, maybe who ever you met later on lied to you."
"Go to hell!" Phillips said and walked over to Logan's body. He pulled the knife out of his body and closed his eyes.
"The Sundance Kid used to live here under the name of Harry Bowers. He went looking for his gal."
"Maybe this Bowers was a liar."
"You know Little Mel, all in all you haven't changed all that much. You still refuse to see things that are right under your nose. That man over there was born Robert Leroy Parker. He was also known by the names William Phillips and Butch Cassidy."
"Well, I donít care if he is a crook or not, I thank God you men are here, that shiftless nig... George there, has mistaken me for someone else and left me here to die."
"We just stopped to say goodbye Little Mel, We arenít going to free you either. I feel like putting a bolt into your head or into your gut for what you did to my wife but that would be a quicker death than you deserve. In part I blame my self, I knew you would betray us, but I did not think you would do in the middle of a battle but then planning was never your strong suit. Besides, I owe you for saving my life."
Purvis laughed hysterically, realizing that they were not going to free him.. "Actually, I was aiming at you but hit Dillinger instead. Oh, well at least I killed that louse one more time."
Bill Phillips began laughing and Howard Johnson joined in on the laughter.
Purvis felt both light headed and angry. "What the hell is so funny!"
Johnson said "You always were a serious screw up and look what it brought you. Every operation you ran for the FBI was a farcical comedy of errors.
How many men did you get killed by accident in your quest to get John Dillinger? You had a chance to capture how many of the top gangsters of your era at Little Bohemia Lodge and what did you end up with, some of their girlfriends?
"Melvin Purvis, the man who got Dillinger!" laughed Dillinger. "Too bad you shot the wrong man again!"
Despite being stretched like a Purvis turned red. "Donít bring up that old wives tale! It was Dillinger, I saw him myself."
"I guess after all this time, you convinced yourself that it was the truth but the truth of the matter is that you shot a small time crook named Jimmy Lawrence. That is the real reason you left the Bureau and ended up the Post Toasties Top G-Man."
"Are you crazy or what! I met Dillinger."
"That was Jimmy Lawrence". Johnson said with a smile.
"Oh, how the hell would you know. I guess youíve met the real John Dillinger?"
"Think, Melvin. Who was John Howard?"
For a moment the name escaped Melvin Purvis and then with a sinking heart, he knew. "It was one of Dillinger's aliases." His voice was barely above a whisper.
Howard Johnson said, "Look." He pulled his long brown hair into a ponytail and pulled it tight behind his head. He smirked when recognition flooded into Melvin Purvis' eyes.
"So, you incredible dope, I am the real John Dillinger. Jimmy owed Frank Nitti a lot of money and kept reneging on paying it. I paid Nitti a lot of money to get the Feds off of my trail He killed two birds with one stone. Using Anna Sage as a finger, he arranged for two bought cops to gun down a Dillinger look alike. I saw you sitting in the car just before the "capture". Jimmy did not have a chance, he was shot in the back and then in the back of the head.
"So you are the real John Dillinger huh"
"Thatís right, and I lived long after you decided to suck on your pistol back in 1960." You know George has a point there, I just donít understand why you became such a bastard when you came here. I mean, I never considered myself a bad person. I never killed anyone that wasnít trying to kill me. Surely, I did try to live my life by going down a relatively easy path of stealing but like Johnny here, I never stole from nobody that couldnít afford it. You however were a man of law, and a well regarded one. What happened?"
"Nothing, I just realized that you never achieve greatness or real success by playing by the so called rules. On this world, where there is no death and we can make our own laws, why not do as we wish?í
"See, Butch, just cause he was a lawman, doesnít mean he was a good person just like you and me werenít really bad people just because we were outlaws. This Riverworld tends to change people and not always for the better.. Maybe Purvis will one day dislike what he sees in that mirror but I doubt it"
John Dillinger shook his and smiled wryly. "Nice seeing you again, Little Mel. He turned to walk away, before he did he grinned and said, "By the way, If you do happen to get free somehow, well we sunk your boat and your lunchpail. You can walk but the people up the river a ways are nice folks when you meet them in a group, but they have a tendency to be cannibals when lone travelers stumble into their hands."
John Dillinger shook his and smiled wryly. "Nice seeing you again, Little Mel. He turned to walk away, before he did he grinned and said, "By the way, If you do happen to get free somehow, well we sunk your boat and your lunchpail. You can walk but the people up the river a ways are nice folks when you meet them in a group, but they have a tendency to be cannibals when lone travelers stumble into their hands."
They were walking out of the small clearing when they heard a small twang., Turning they saw Melvinís Purvis hanging dead, a crossbow bolt buried in his skull right between the eyes. He probably never saw the bolt or the person that had fired it and saved him from a long agonizing death.
John Dillinger frowned at Annie Oakley. She shrugged her small shoulders. "Treacherous back-biting dog that he was, I could not stand to see him suffer, I would have done the same for any cur."
John Dillinger, Butch Cassidy
and Annie Oakley walked towards the boats and towards the task of rebuilding,
New Coventry, a pocket of civilization in this otherwise savage Riverworld.
© 2000 Dennis Power