Tuesday, April 8, 2014
Excerpt from KINDRED, my to-be-re-released interracial historical
The following excerpt is from the revised, re-edited of KINDRED, my interracial historical I wrote in 2009. The rights reverted to me recently, I offered it to my present publisher and Extasy Books took it. The scenario takes place in New York during the American Revolution. My free, African-American heroine, Kindred, and my indigenous Oneida hero, Lelaheo, beautifully depict the unrest, confusion and betrayal of the time. Take a sneak peak at the prologue which introduces Kindred, her grandmother and another little boy as they escape a harrowing slave massacre and journey North toward freedom. The grandmother speaks GULLAH which is a dialect of English still spoken in the American South (the Low Country). It is NOT ebonics. My father and his family spoke it. I can't speak it but I understand it. When the book is released this fall, a glossary will be included for readers. I wanted her grandmother to be true in her speech since the woman hails from North Carolina originally before being sold to various plantations. Her granddaughter, Kindred's life will be very different from hers as the girl will be raised free and educated. I had to dig into tons of American history books, Native history books and African-American history books to write the surface story and the unspoken story. KINDRED, AN AMERICAN LOVE STORY. Look for it this fall from Extasy Books.
Prologue, Maryland 1760, A tobacco plantation
Shrieks and moans echoed around the clearing and into the pasture beyond. Bullets whizzing through the humid, evening primrose-scented night air, found their fleshy targets, toppling them on the spot. Fires burning out of control in the frame-and-log slave cabins roared at a deafening pitch.
“Get ’em! Afta ’em! No su’vivas!” bellowed the young, white planter to his fellow patrollers. He waved his rifle in the direction of the fleeing black woman, a little girl slung across her chest.
“Make it to dem fields en we be free!” the panic-stricken woman chanted to herself.
With the mounted pursuers on her heels, she grasped her precious cargo tighter as she raced across the open pasture. She heard the crack of a shot behind her, then the distinct resonance of a bullet just passing over her head. Sweating, gasping for breath, she gained the tobacco fields. She hurled herself into tall rows of leafy plants. Surprised by the violent jostling, the little girl howled.
“Hush, baby. Please.” The fatigued woman bundled the child closer and rocked her.
Shouts and the noise of galloping horses stilled her efforts to soothe the girl. She dropped to the ground and crouched low in the crop that she had toiled to plant. The patrollers dismounted, and led by her zealous young master marched between the rows, lanterns held high.
“Mind the flames, boys,” the young master reminded. “I want to catch ’em, but I don’t wanna lose this crop over a couple nigras. Take the dog in instead. He’ll bring ’em down.”
The woman breathed so deeply and quickly, she imagined that they heard her. One patroller and his dog passed not four feet from her. The dog looked in her direction but stayed silent. Maybe it remembered that she used to toss it scraps out the back door and scratch behind its ears. Just maybe. The dog and his master continued on. Gauging that her pursuers were far enough away, the woman turned around and crawled carefully back in the other direction. She traversed the pasture again and arrived back at the slave quarters. Jumping at every sound, she nervously scanned her surroundings for any sign of life. The cabins were engulfed in flame. The wood crackled and popped and fell in on itself. The heat drove her back when she tried to enter her old place. Through the doorway she could see that her few belongings were now ash. She looked around again. Bodies everywhere. Brown bodies. Slashed, hanged, shot. She gagged at the sight of the blood which soaked the ground. She wretched at the smell of burning flesh. The little girl she held was unusually quiet and immobile. The child just stared. The woman glanced up at the blackened, oak tree against which she’d slumped. A black male swung in the breeze. A burlap sack over his head, she could not identify the man at first. Then her eyes widened in horror.
“Gawd! Oh Gawd, no!”
She recognized the bloody shirt. She knew the craftsmanship. It was hers. And the man wearing it, was her Josiah, one of very few bright spots in her life. And her other bright spots. Her daughter. Her daughter’s man. Dead all around her. All gone. Her sole link to them was the grandchild in her arms. Tears half blinding her, she backed away from the tree. She almost tripped over a small boy who’d dragged himself out from under a man and a woman. They were his parents and had succeeded while shielding him from attack. Alarmed, he wailed loudly.
“Chil’!” she whispered. “Hush up or we be daid on de spot.” Summoning strength from an unknown source, she gathered him up, tucked him under an arm and continued on. The two children slowed her down considerably, but she would not leave them behind. She crouched low and tipped past the smokehouse, the empty brick kitchen and the main house with its brightly illuminated parlor. She raised up a bit to witness the discomposed, white womenfolk flitting about and fanning furiously to ward off an episode of the vapors.
“Who gwine clean yo’ fancy house now?” She asked softly. “Who gwine cook? Who gwine bring een dem crops? Not dis’ granny!” She kissed the tops of the young ones’ heads. “An’ not dese chillun!” Breaking into another run, she reached main gate, exiting into the road. She stayed in the shadow of the sycamore, wild cherry and white oak trees bordering the plantation. North. North was all she knew. She didn’t know how to get there, but that was where they were going. God would guide them she believed. Would send them an angel. Did He send angels to black folks? Did He even know that black folks existed? She was tired. Her arms were about to give out. The clip-clop of horses’ hooves and the snapping of reins transported her back to the here-and-now. Falling back deeper into the dark, she stood stock still next to a huge oak. The children whimpered and squirmed. The wagon stopped just short of the tree. The woman swallowed audibly. She slipped the knot on the sling supporting the little girl, never taking her eyes from the road. She let the girl and boy slide to the grass at the base of the tree.
“Seddown!” she whispered. “Don’ y’all come out fuh nutt’n’!” She reached in her apron pocket and pulled out a paring knife. A dark-haired, white male, pistol in hand, hopped out of the wagon. He pivoted and retrieved a lit lantern from its interior. Raising it a little, he approached where the trio hid.
“Come on out. Hurry up. This road’s not safe for you.” He motioned towards the wagon with his lantern. “Get in. Get under the burlap sacking. Stay down, be quiet or we all will be killed.” A giant rush of relief sped through Rozina. She recognized the voice. She put away her knife, bent and collected the children. God had sent her angel.