A Ten Pound Bag
Chapter 87: The Good Ship Lollipop
Copyright© 2020 by Emmeran
The river docks were primitive, to say the least. They were basically split logs lashed together and held in place by a few wooden pylons. There were four docks in total, and they did the job. There were several boats tied up and it was obvious which one was mine. The rest were in the process of on-loading or off-loading cargo. My boat was tied up at the far dock and it just had a couple of guys sitting on it, fishing. I simply shook my head and climbed aboard. I knew better than to be surprised.
Of course, they spoke Creole. I recognized it because it still existed in the modern world. It was just a dying language. I didn’t understand a lick of Creole. I showed them my document from Leavenworth and it had Henry’s wax seal on it. They seemed to get the point and started jabbering at me immediately. There were four of them and it was a bit overwhelming. I put my hands up and asked loudly, “English?”
Well, they all looked at each other and finally the older guy held up his finger and thumb about an inch apart and resignedly admitted, “English.” I gave him a thumbs up. It was obvious what had happened here: the previous owner had disappeared after the Army seized his boat and these four crewmen were left behind. Time for some labor negotiations.
I patted the roof of the cargo house and pointed at my chest, “Mine.”
They all nodded. Well, that was established.
I pointed at them and then at the boat and asked, “Work?”
Well that was the wrong word so we started play charades. I pantomimed rowing and poling and pointed to them and the boat. They all nodded and the older guy said “Crew?”
“Yes,” I replied, while nodding my head vigorously.
He rubbed his stomach and said “Food.”
Well, that made sense; they hadn’t really eaten since they got here. I handed the leader two quarters, pointed up towards camp town and said, “Food.” Off the four went and I lit up a cigarette while I waited for their return. I took a short tour around my boat. It appeared in decent condition to my untrained eye. Frankly, I didn’t know crap about any of this so I decided to go look for help.
I visited every boat at every dock and got the same answer every time, “He’s at the Captains House.” So up the bluff I went back into Camp Town to find the ‘Captains House.’ From a distance, every building in Camp Town was basically the same - usually a crude log cabin set off a muddy foot path. City planning wasn’t any part of the reality in camp towns. Outside of the roads leading directly to the fort gate, mayhem seemed to be the design.
I eventually stumbled across a non-descript cabin with a crudely painted sign attached, announcing that this was the ‘Cap’n Hous.’ I decided to invite myself in for a beverage.
As expected, dark and dreary. I stood off to the side of the entrance and allowed my eyes to adjust for a couple of minutes until I could see clearly. There was a crude bar with a couple of planks resting on barrels up next to the hearth and two tables with benches in the rest of the room. Only one table had any occupants.
I walked to the bar and ordered beer and lunch, it cost me a startling two cents. The proprietor wasn’t the conversational sort, so I collected my cup of dubious beer and suspicious stew and joined the group at the table. I then intentionally ignored them and focused on my stew.