Prose Header

Flotation Jones
and the Watermelon Man

by Ron Van Sweringen

Chapter 11

“Buster knows the way,” Rosie spoke up, seeing the slightly green look on Tucker’s brown face.

“Who is Buster?” Flo and Tucker asked in the same breath, riveted by the girl’s remark.

“That old yellow dog, tied up out there,” Rosie replied, pointing through the mesh covered window. Sure enough, a large yellow dog was sitting in the shade, a rope secured around his neck.

“Are you sure he knows the way through the swamp?” Tucker asked, puzzled.

“We’ve been kept here for five days now and each day at noon, a sack of food is tied to his back and Buster is sent off alone through the swamp,” Rosie answered. “Two hours later he comes back and the sack is gone,” she continued.

“Thank you, Lawd,” Tucker smiled, looking toward heaven. “It means he knows the way.”

“It means somethin’ else,” Flo said a moment later. “They’s on the other side of the island too.”

* * *

The Captain watched a light rain begin falling over the jungle. His chair leaned back against the cabin wall, he sat whittling a small pieced of wood. A hand-rolled cigarette drooping from his nicotine-stained lips gave off an acrid trail of gray smoke.

Talking to himself in a low monotone, he nodded his head occasionally in agreement. “You don’t know it, bitch, but time’s runnin’ out.” He smiled, the large knife in his hands moving carefully, its blade glistening. “Gonna slit you from fore to aft.”

* * *

The plan was simple, so simple it might work, Tucker told himself. Rosie would pound on the door and shout that one of the girls was dying. Rosie and Flo would then stand in the middle of the room so the pirate could see them. Tucker would wait behind the door as it opened and suddenly throw all of his weight against the door, slamming it into the pirate and hopefully knocking him out.

“The girl’s stopped breathing,” Rosie screamed, pounding on the shed door. “We need help now. She’s dying!”

The door swung open slowly. A pirate stood on the threshold and peered into the gloom, his arm drawn back, ice pick at the ready. Tucker shoved the door so hard it came off of its hinges, slamming the pirate to the ground under it.

“Serves you right, ya little devil,” Rosie shouted, jumping up and down on the door. A slight moan drifted up from under her feet and then stopped.

“Hurry up,” Tucker shouted, untying the rope around Buster’s neck. Flo and Rosie herded the girls out of the shed and toward the path into the jungle.

“Stay in line, one behind the other,” Tucker warned. “Show us the way boy,” he urged, releasing Buster.

* * *

The empty whisky glass in her hand crashed to the floor when May sat up, startled. The dog’s barking woke her with a gut feeling something was wrong. The Captain, followed closely by six of the pirates, caught up to her in the rain, on the path to the shed.

“I knew it,” May screeched, seeing the shed door on the ground. “I told you what would happen if they got away, you little prick,” she cursed, sending two gunshots through the door. A stream of blood seeped out on the muddy ground , followed by a small hand, until the fingers went limp.

“Get going,” she railed at the pirates, “unless you want to end up like Tom Thumb here.”

* * *

Hearing the two gunshots sent chills through Flo. The path had turned to slippery mud in the rain, slowing them down. She held the smallest girl’s hand tightly, pulling her along, while Rosie did her best to keep the other two moving.

As they moved deeper into the swamp, a mist began rising from the mud. Tucker had trouble keeping Buster in sight at times. Pools of muddy water and rotted tree stumps surrounded them before Tucker realized that the path had disappeared into patches of knee-high bog grass and wild ferns. He realized something else even more frightening. Buster had disappeared also.

To be continued...

Copyright © 2012 by Ron Van Sweringen

Home Page