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On The Plantation

(Georgia, 1861)

Derek Elisha Mustapha rose before the cock crowed, getting ready for the day’s work on the plantation. Life on a large farm was endless days of hard, dreary work for most, but Derek had a plan. Always good with his hands, able to use both equally well, he fixed things for people. Derek became the go-to person to take your broken chairs, doors, and tack to when it needed fixing. Eventually, he had worked his way into the good graces of the farm’s blacksmith who let him mend this and that.

Seeing how skillfully Derek worked with his hands, the plantation smithy had begun teaching him the trade, letting the young black man hammer and shape glowing metal into useful implements. Curious about metal, Derek experimented with different ways to cool and temper his creations, until they became a sought after item. Derek cut a fine figure of a man coming into his prime now at 15 years old, his massive forearms and upper body rippling as he rhythmically swung his clanging hammer.

For A Few Dollars

Then one day, sweating in the heat of the small shop, he spied a man talking to his master. Confederate bills exchanged hands, as the stranger walked into the shop saying, “Boy, I own you now, come along.”

Looking at his master outside the shop, the old man turned away from his questioning eyes. “No, sir,” Derek said shaking his head, “can’t leave my momma sir. I’s the only family she’s got since pa passed!”

A couple of plantation overseers stepped into the shop behind his new owner. “Come peaceful, boy, ” the man said with menace in his eyes.

Beaten and hogtied, Derek lay half-conscious, moaning occasionally in the back of the wagon as it bounced over the rough road toward his new home. May 1st, 1861, was the last day he ever saw his mother.

Have An Apple

(Vatican City – 1647)

“Cardinal Jenkins? A young man asked as he timidly entered the clergyman’s chamber.

“Yes, yes, come in,” a man in red said impatiently.

The small room, filled with books, looked more like a dungeon than an office. Taking a step forward, the recruit said, “I am Timothy Lambert sir, your new assistant.”

A strange, unpleasant smell greeted Tim as he approached his new master, causing his skin to crawl with uneasiness. The long-faced man with sunken eyes turned, saying, “I expect strict observance of my rules,” handing him a piece of parchment. Timothy looked furtively at the list, his new master continuing, “Disobedience is not tolerated and swiftly punished. Do you understand?” Tim nodded. “Good, have my bath ready at 4 am after my morning prayers,” he concluded. Then, unexpectedly, he handed Timothy a red apple saying, “To your health, young man!”

Running Bear

(Montana Territory – 1876)

Bren followed Wichapi and the braves into their camp, the strangest sight she’d ever laid eyes on. Tents, like large party hats, dotted the landscape as far as Bren could see. Men, women, and children, dressed like herself, began to take notice of her, talking amongst themselves. Soon people, young and old, gathered around, touching her long locks like Wichapi did, commenting, “Have you ever seen such hair?” Eventually, the whole camp came to a standstill as they gathered together with Bren and Wichapi facing a large teepee.

After a short while the tent flap opened and one of the braves emerged followed by an older man standing straight and proud. Bren, looking at him, bowed her head instinctively, turning her hands flat and upwards.

Strong Medicine

Slowly, looking intently at the golden-haired stranger, the man approached. Everyone fell silent as the man said, “I am Running Bear, leader of my people.” Bren, eyes to the ground, said nothing. Reaching up with his hand, he lifted her chin, looking deeply into her green eyes. Unflinchingly, Bren looked back, instantly trusting a man she had never met before. Finally, letting go, Running Bear stepped back, saying, “You have big medicine, I see Wakan Tanka in you.”

Dime Novel

(7th Cavalry, U.S. Army, Montana Territory – 1876)

Derek sat alone under a lantern on an old rickety stool outside the town bathhouse. With spectacles on, he relaxed, reading a dime novel entitled “Buffalo Bill and the Boy Trailer.” The truth was, if Two Guns had a hero it was Bill Cody. First hearing about him in stories people told of the west, the exploits of this famous frontiersmen thrilled him to the bone. In fact, when it came time to leave the plantation, what led him out west was the idea that a man could be anything he wanted to be, and Buffalo Bill Cody.

Deep into the story, Derek hardly noticed a soldier talking to him. “Boy!?! I said, I’m talking to you!”

“What?” Derek said, looking up over his glasses.

“You readin’, nigger?” the man said with disdain. “I thought none of your kind could do that, much less cared to.” Laughing and pointing, he continued, “Look at this, boys!” waving over two heavy built comrades, “This coon thinks he’s book-learned or somethin!”

More To The Point

Derek tensed as the man drew closer, the smell of whiskey on his breath. The man clumsily reached for his Ned Buntline novel, and as he did, Derek stood up, easily avoiding his hand, chair falling to one side. “Boy, give it to me. I just want to have a look-see.” the man demanded.

“Sir, you’d best leave me alone, I don’t wants no trouble,” Derek said as he shifted his weight.

Reaching for his revolver, the drunken man said, “You best give it to me now, boy!”

Glancing at the other two soldiers, Derek planted the toe of his cowboy boot firmly between the man’s legs, dropping him like a bad habit. As the drunk man writhed and groaned on the clapboard deck, Derek pulled his guns, aiming them squarely at the other two soldiers’ chests before they laid leather. Stepping forward, his heel on their fallen comrades face, Derek said coldly, “I killed the last man who called me boy, slit his throat so far his head nearly fell off. I’s a mind to do that to you, too, after I kills your friends here,” the angry Scout finished.

Just then, hearing a gun cock near his left ear, Derek looked over to see Lt. Colonel Custer pointing his Colt 45 directly at him. The mustached man said slowly, “Lower your guns, and please remove your boot from my corporal’s face.” Sensing hesitation, Custer added, “Good Scout, I won’t ask a second time.”