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Thursday, August 7, 2014

A Life of Peril Chapter Five


I bought some warm clothes

We unloaded our goods destined to Los Angles and loaded a lot of food stuffs for the north. A lot of it was canned but there was some fresh foods that would keep for the three days it took to get to San Francisco.

It was a welcome sight to get some fresh vegetables for our meals for it had been some time since we had any.

When we arrived in San Francisco the Captain said if it was alright with me he would give my wages to the widow of the man whose job I took. He said she was a good woman having a hard time making it for the bully wouldn’t give her much of what he earned.

I said sure it would be alright for I had some money to get by on and I might have been partly responsible for his demise.

I told the Captain I was going to get a ship on up to Alaska if I could find one. He said to check and see if Captain Jim was in port and sign on with him for he was a fair man. I did as he said and that afternoon I was on my way to Alaska.

Captain Jim said I just had time to get me some warmer clothes for I would be needing them. One of the crew went with me and helped me get outfitted like I should be.

It wasn’t long before I was glad the Captain advised me to go shopping for it got colder the farther north we went.  Without those warm garments I would have frozen while standing night watch.

With stops at Portland and Seattle it was on to Nome. We arrived in Nome and while they were switching loads I visited the fisheries.

I was half a notion of staying and working the different fishing boats but Captain talked me out of it.

Since I didn’t spend much money I had bank accounts everywhere I went. I decided to retrace my travels and get all my money into one place.

When I got back to New Orleans I found they had forgot about the men I killed and I could walk about without being sought after. It was good to see Captain Buck again and I said I would like to go to St. Louis when he departed.

He said it would be okay if I went as a passenger. Meanwhile I just rambled around the city and while eating at an outside restaurant I saw a young woman I thought I recognized.  At first I thought I must be mistaken but I had to find out for sure. I caught up with her and stopped her. We stood looking at each other until she said Raymond?

I just stood there paralyzed and finally got the words out is it you Marilyn? We were both awe struck and couldn’t believe it. After all this time we found each other.

I asked about Ma and Pa and found out they were still alive, just older.

Pa ran a little tool repair shop to make ends meet and Ma did dress repairs. Marilyn my sister had married a well off man and had one child so far. I had a good visit with all of them but it was decided it would be best if no one knew who I was just in case someone recognized me and caused trouble.

I couldn’t remember how long it had been since I was this happy.  It must have been before the war. I knew the past has a way of catching up with you and after I made my financial arrangements in St Louis I said my final goodbye to Captain Buck. It was hard to do for he had been such a good friend to me.

I caught a train to Chicago and then on to New York. With all my money in one place it was quite a tidy sum. I decided to try to get a ship to Europe which wasn’t easy. There were a lot of sailors available and not enough ships needing them.

I finally signed on a ship that no one else wanted to sail on because of the abusive Captain.  I was warned not to sign on but went ahead anyway.

Getting a first mate’s job was unheard of for a newbie but here I was giving out orders. I soon discovered what everyone said was true, that the Captain was evil.

He doled out punishment when none was due. One day when I had enough of the Captains meanness I came up behind him and cracked him over the head with the butt of my gun. He was out for three days while we sailed on and was nearing the French port of Le Havre.

I got the Captain up and he dug out the ships manifests. By the time we were unloaded he was able to finish our business there. Then we were ordered to go to London to be loaded for Tripoli. We went from the fog of London to the heat of Africa. What a contrast.

We sailed back and forth on the Mediterranean Sea for six months. I enjoyed the ports in Spain; they were the best of all the ports we docked at. The women were some of the prettiest I had ever seen. I wouldn’t admit it but perhaps they had something to do with the way I felt.

A couple of the crew spoke Spanish and I was able to communicate through them although I’m not sure they repeated to the women exactly what I said for the women would blush and sometimes walk away.

We were ordered to pick up a load in Barcelona and bring it to New York. We had to wait for part of the load to arrive and were there for two weeks.

I met a woman I was taken with who spoke English. We became very friendly and I gave her an address where I could be reached in New York. After we arrived in New York I had enough sailing.

After trying to find something to do I bought a very nice restaurant near the docks and although I didn’t know the restaurant business I knew how to give orders.
About three months after I left Spain this raven haired dark eyed woman I had been friendly with in Barcelona showed up at my restaurant.

It seems she was ready to get married and I was her first choice. Apparently I had been too friendly with her and she was expecting. What she was expecting was to marry me, the father our first child.

All of this was surprisingly alright with me except for one thing. This one thing loomed large in me and that was… all of the hardness I had acquired through the killing I was more or less forced to do and the hate that was down deep inside me.

Could I put that aside and be normal once again? If I could have that happy feeling again that I had for a short time when I saw my folks in New Orleans. Could I change and raise a family without it coming out again? If that feeling did return it would destroy me and them.

You can put the killing weapons down but sweeping the effect of the past aside was another thing. I decided to tell Amanda the whole story for she had the right to know this other side of me before getting any further involved. I must admit she took it better than I expected she would.

Amazingly she understood what I was afraid of and knew what the problem was. After giving it some serious thought she said we will be wed tomorrow and I will help you put the past where it belongs, in the past.

We will never allow that which is dead to be resurrected.

We were married and now have several kids. I have to either see them or count them on my fingers to remember them all.
The business was taken over by Amanda and has flourished.
I have had many opportunities to return to the man I used to be but thankfully that man has remained dead and will continue to be so.

 Finis

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