Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Rising of a Saint Clement - Chapter 7

Sorry for skipping chapters, I will fill in those gaps later. Bear with me.

Chapter Seven

The son of the sea



Sam got back into town and reached the dive shop just as Wyatt was locking the door as he was preparing to leave. Wyatt motioned for Sam to wait. Sam stood out in front of the shop waiting for Wyatt to come around from the back after exiting the back door. Sam looked at the faded flaking paint on the walls. He could remember it from his childhood. The side wall had been painted a vibrant red with a white diagonal strip down the middle forming a giant dive flag, so as there would be no mistaking what the store was. But now it barely looked like anything. He wondered if Wyatt cared that a fresh coat of paint could make all the difference.



Sam was accustomed to telling people how to present themselves, their homes, their venues, their politics. He knew the power of presentation. It was an effort in creative dishonesty. Like a first date, but for life. Present the best possible you, you can be. He assessed the dive shop. He would reorganize the interior layout, improve the flow, he would of course repaint the outside and a new sign would replace the older one, and he would add Wyatt’s name. He was a local, that was important. A recognition point. Make the name and the shop intertwined. He wasn’t sure if Wyatt had ever thought of any of these things, but he was more sure that even if he had’ve thought of them, he could not afford the changes. Sam was beginning to really let it settle in his mind that he wasn’t in the city anymore. Wyatt came around from the back all smiles.



“You have plans for dinner tonight?”



Sam didn’t.



“Come home with me, I’ve got my kid my this weekend.”



Sam hoped his face hadn’t read the shock of Wyatt having a child. He had no idea. Being back here had really done a number on his mind. He still imagined Wyatt like they were in high school. He was the last person who should have a child. Selfish, stupid, a teenager. But as a brunette woman walked in the door with a three-year-old, little blonde boy at Wyatt’s apartment he was mesmerized by how much the boy looked like Wyatt.



“He looks just like you.”



The brunette woman smiled.



“Acts just like him too. I’m Theresa –”, she paused wanting to say more, wanting to explain what was surely a lengthy and complicated story about the status of their relationship, but instead she cut herself off. “I’m Garrison’s mom.”



They exchanged pleasantries. Wyatt kissed her on the cheek when she let shortly there after. Sam could definitely sense that there was more to them than a one night stand or just a mere parenting relationship. There was a tenderness to them, but something stood between the two of them. Sam had the impression it was Wyatt, but he couldn’t figure out why, and currently he wouldn’t have time to pontificate on the subject. Sam had garnered the attention of a small guest.



Garrison was a tiny child full of questions for Sam, he had made quick friends with the child of his childhood best friend. Sam slid from the couch to the floor to play cars with Garrison on a plastic mat with printed roads, Sam kept his attention while Wyatt went to the kitchen to begin dinner. He still couldn’t believe the guy who had at nine years old had first very inaccurately described sex to Sam was now some one’s father, it was mind blowing. So much so that Sam was staggeringly brought back to reality when the small child made an off handed comment while pushing his toy truck near the blue painted outline of the ocean.



“The fish people live over here. We’re not allowed to go there.”



Sam smiled, then it registered what he had said.



“Hey Garrison, what fish people?”



The child unphased by the question kept playing while he talked.



“They live in the water, they took Daddy’s watch”



Sam was having trouble deciding whether these were the tall tales of a child or something he should pry into more. But then his questions or his fears were soon answered as this was not at all coincidence.



“Daddy saw them. They hide in the old ship.”



This suddenly struck Sam, the weather conditions that first day out on the water with Wyatt had not been ideal, but still divable for someone with his experience. And he had so heavily avoided going out again, so much so Sam now wondered whether there was another reason Wyatt wouldn’t go back in the water.



“Have you seen the fish people?” Garrison asked now stopping the truck and holding it in his small clutched hand.



Sam shook his head. “No, not yet. Maybe we can get your daddy to show me them.”



Wyatt’s responce from the doorway startled them both in the silence of the interaction.



“No, Sam.”

The Rising of a Saint Clement - Chapter 2 & 3

Chapter Two

Ghost from the deep



Sam’s first experience with the afterlife had come one Saturday morning in late September at the age of thirteen. He had awoken around nine to his grandfather sitting in his room in the desk chair next to his computer. He was thumbing through a worn copy of Robinson Crusoe, a favorite of the pair. Sam was not necessarily caught off guard, although he had not know of his grandfather’s plans to stop by that morning. His grandfather had looked up and saw him stirring awake and smiled.



“Ahoy,” he belted. It was his natural greeting, and it flowed from him like good morning would to anyone else. He was wearing a navy sweater, khaki slacks and boat shoes. He looked like he had just come from the yacht club.



“Good Morning, Grandad. Should I get dressed? Are we taking the boat out?”



A fairly normal weekend occurrence.



“Not this morning,” he said as the smile faded from his face. “Are you afraid of me right now?”



Sam was slightly confused.



“Why would I be afraid of you, you’re my Grandad?” Sam asked, currently missing the greater significance of the question.



“And I always will be. Not matter what Sam.”



Now Sam was beginning to suspect something was not right. Something was off.



“Sam, I died this morning.”



His grandfather’s chilling words hit him like a baseball bat. He began to cry. His grandfather moved over to the bed and wrapped his arms around him. Sam still remembered this vividly. He still smelled of the his grandfather. The sweet combination of Old Spice and the tobacco smoke from his pipe. As the ghost wrapped his arms around Sam he wasn’t afraid. In the hallway he heard the phone ring.



“Your grandmother has just tried to wake me in my chair. Be strong for your mother.”



He heard his mother pick up the phone and after a few seconds she released a gut wrenching screech of pain and heartache. He heard his father’s footsteps race down the hall to her.



“Will they be able to see you too?” Sam asked.



“No Sam. You’re special. You’re very special.”



And with that his grandfather had vanished, seemingly lost in the streaks of sunlight spilling into his room. His father’s footsteps now approached his door. Sam quickly wiped the tears from his eyes. His father knocked on the door frame and cracked the door open and came in. Sitting in the very chair his grandfather’s ghost had just occupied. He looked at Sam for a few minutes and then after a long silence while he tried to find the words, he explained to him in the best way he knew how that his grandfather had passed away in his sleep. He had come home from the yacht club and fell asleep in his chair and never woke up. Sam faked the shock, but the tears came naturally and from a genuine place of loss and confusion.



The next visit from his grandfather’s ghost was several weeks after the funeral. Sitting out on Belafont√®, his grandfather’s ship. Sam was tying and untying knots in a small length of rope. And then as if from nowhere or rather somewhere that cannot be seen he appeared to Sam and squatted down next to him on the deck of the boat. He was still dressed in the blue sweater, khakis and boat shoes. He would visit him several times after that. Always in the navy sweater. Sam hadn’t seen him in years and had honestly nearly pushed the memory back into his mind as nothing more than dreams or childish visions. A coping mechanism. But if he was special, then this new visitor from the unseen afterlife was offering a warning and perhaps it would not hurt to know more. So he went back to the library. To the back room, and sat at the ship wheel table, where for the first time he saw the brass plaque.



Dedicated in honor of Herbert T. Brody.



At least that cleared up the question of whether or not he was actually dead, Sam thought. Then he took a deep breath and called out to the ghost of Herb Brody.



“Mr. Brody. I’d like to hear more about the Saint Clement.”



Sam wasn’t even sure if he could call the ghost. He’d tried calling his grandfather once before with no luck. There were no cell phones in the afterlife and contacting it vocally was unreliable at best, at least from Sam’s experience. But this time someone was listening. There was Herb sitting across from him just as he was the other day. Just as if he was alive. Just sitting there.



“I like it here. It’s where they took all my stuff.”



Herb smiled.



Sam could relate to that. He knew how it felt to cling to items and things. In his teen years before his grandmother had sold it, Sam spent a lot of time on his grandfather’s old boat. It reminded him of his grandfather, it was where he kept all of his things. All of the things that were now packed away in the crawl space of a condo in Florida where his grandmother had moved to and since remarried. To a stranger named Carl.



“I guess you figured out that I know your dead.” Sam told Herbert.



Herbert nodded and smiled again. Herbert was happy to have someone to talk to that could hear him. He had been a fairly quiet man in life, but the silence of death was unexpected and unbearable. And the library was a dreadfully quiet place to haunt. But he had sensed Sam the moment he walked in. The cursed and dead shared a similar plain of existence and Sam found his way into a strange middle ground, a heir of the cursed.



In the modern world, in more developed countries remnants of curses were practically all that was left. When modern man left behind the old ways and beliefs curses expired along with people and all that was seen now were people who towed the line. The middle ground was inhabited by psychics, mediums and people like Sam. Descendants. In the underdeveloped world and among certain cultural regions curses and the belief in such things was still widespread, but for a ghost in the United States let alone in North Carolina, Sam was a rare find.



“What do you know about the final hours of the St. Clement,” Sam finally asked, when the awkward silence between he and ghost had reached its peak.



“The Saint Clement,” Herb began, “The Saint Clement was a merchant ship. She was nothing special to look at, nothing extraordinary about it all. Her captain however, Silas Remmy, was a little off. He was the bastard of the Englishmen and a Native American woman of the Croatan tribe–”



Sam interrupted, “The guys from Roanoke?”



“Very good”



Sam decided he had figured it out. “So the Saint Clement got caught up with the natives...they sank the ship?”



“Quite the opposite,” Herb continued. “Remmy never felt like much of an Englishmen. He worked for them, he lived amongst them, but he never forgot where he came from and the man who had tossed him aside. So on his trade voyages before docking in the Carolinas he would make a stop off on one of the smaller islands and leave things for the tribes. Sort of a Robin Hood of the seas. However, according to legend on one of his shipments he left 20 gold coins in his hat for his mother near the edge of the water nestled in the roots of an old willow tree. When his mother came to claim the coins she saw something quite unusual. A silvery blue hand was reaching from the water and taking the shiny trinkets that glowed in the moonlight. She ran over and grabbed the slippery wet hand and held on with all of her might and screamed for help. Soon several other tribe members were there to assist her and they pulled a young mermaid from the water.”



Sam sighed. More mermaid talk.



“They drug her through the woods and rolled her into a small lagoon in the interior of the island, you see mermaids are thieves. They are the gypsies of the sea.”



And suddenly he gone.



“Herbert?”



A greying older woman popped her head in the door.



“Sam, we’re closing up for the day, I’m going to have to kick you out.”



Sam shook his head and brought himself back to reality. The afternoon had somehow gotten away from him. Perhaps time with the dead was not regulated to hours and minutes. Sam packed his things and headed out. He decided to try and stop by the dive shop hoping Wyatt would still be there.





Chapter Three

The gypsy at the water’s edge



Silas Remmy had never know his father in the capacity of a blood relationship, he knew him as a business man with sticky fingers and under the table dealings with all manner of criminal and thief. So Remmy thought nothing of scraping a little of the top to take back to his mother and her tribe. Remmy was the son of Isiah Rembrandt, the owner of a shipping company, and rumors abounded he was the money and mind behind several bands of regional pirate crews.



At fifteen Silas had approached the man he knew to be his father. He was certain that Isiah would look at him, see his own eyes, the grey blue eyes they both shared and immediately know. Feel some sort of unspoken connection. But the hope was short lived and all that came of that first meeting was the offer of work on one of Isiah’s ships. Silas was strong and built like the Native tribe he came from, though his natural skin tone was much lighter than that of the rest of the tribe in the warm summer months he darkened to nearly the color of coal. In his tribe he was called the equivalent of a chameleon. He could walk both amongst the white man and the natives and at times neither would be the wiser. Silas grew quite strong working on the ships, he learned the secrets of the sea and the signs of sky and he would eventually came to Captain the Saint Clement with a stern hand and sharp mind. And a shrewd coin purse.



Accounting practices in the day as they were, were quite easy to adjust or fudge the books. And as Silas saw his tribe begin to suffer he began stealing from his cargo to help them. A little food and beer at first, skimming a little from crew rations and eventually just outright stealing. Money he felt he was due from the father who had had his way with a naive Indian girl and sent her back to her tribe, pregnant and scared, and penniless. Despite his harsh exterior Silas had a soft spot for his mother and his tribe. Though he was often mocked as the bastard of Englishmen he felt at home there and did not want to see them suffer. And they were suffering.



The tribe was falling apart. And Remmy had began to realize his meager pilfering was not going to be able to sustain them any longer, so Remmy and his crew began to raid Spanish ships near what is now the Florida coast. He would deliver his spoils in the hollow space between the roots of a willow tree on the bank of an inlet and his mother would know to come and check the tree under the light of the full moon. In April of that year, there was a blue moon. The rare occurrence when a full moon falls twice in the same month. Remmy's work had been slow, but he had not wanted his mother to come empty handed from the tree so he a left a few gold coins shimmering in a hat in the moonlight. The evening of the full moon when she came to dutifully collect the gold she was not alone. She approached quietly, a raven on the path to the tree that night had signaled her of something dangerous in the near future. An omen she took to heart. As the tree came into view she sensed that like the raven had foretold, something was amiss. A slender silvery pale hand slide effortlessly and silent from the water and picked up a glistening coin and without a sound slipped back under the surface, and then repeated the action. Once, twice and on the third time the thief was surprised with the iron clasp of a unsuspectingly strong native woman. Her hand gripped the wet smooth wrist of the creature and as the half woman half fish began to thrash and fight, clawing bloody Silas mother’s hands, she did nothing but scream for help as she locked her feet into the meeting point of roots of the tree, in that angled space she shoved her feet, gained her footing and began slowly prying the creature from the water, it’s algae stained hair, no doubt originally a silvery pigment deficient blonde took a greenish hue in the moonlight as its wet strands framed the face of the otherwise beautiful, yet frantic young woman. Before long several men were arriving with bows and stolen guns and other weaponry surely expecting a bear or big cat, or some sort of predator to be attacking the older woman. All arriving were stunned as they witnessed the old woman finish extracting the mermaid from the water all the while never releasing her vice-like grip.



The full moon in a cloudless night sky made the creature easily visible as it writhed on the ground with the old woman. The silvery pale, bare breasted woman with seaweed colored hair thrashed her powerful tail in the sandy dirt on the bank of the inlet. In the nearly daylight brightness of the moon the men were stunned to see that where there should have been legs the nude woman’s body had not split its lower half and instead lead to a tail, flesh colored, minimal scales and a translucent fin. Immediately interpreted as an omen the man known as Tenne, grabbed her with one arm and slung the mermaid over his shoulder. They would take her back to the village. The medicine woman and old witch would know what this had meant.



As they began walking back to the camp, Silas mother began collecting the gold coins scattered in the muddy soil, dropped and tossed during the scramble with the mermaid. She rinsed them and her tattered hands in the salt water before catching up with the rest of the tribe.

The Rising of a Saint Clement


A digital novel, chapter by chapter


The Rising of the Saint Clement


By Josh Blackmon



Chapter One


A return to the sea




The hot July air filled the walls of the Aberthton County Public Library and historical museum. The small wooden building was beautifully constructed, it was a testament to classic seaside architecture, thin wooden columns lined the wrap around porch, a small tower jutted out form the side and climbed the two story building and topped with a crows nest all whitewashed to give a weathered appearance. The building however needed no help in looking old. The library was in fact one of the oldest buildings in Aberthton. Once the home of the lighthouse keeper’s family, the remaining descendants had donated the home to the historical society and it had been turned into a library and museum. Nautically decorated and dimly lit, the building was dreaded by school children on their annual field trip. Most desperate was the fact that the building still had no central heating and air and due to the artifacts and treasures it held inside the windows had long been latched shut. It’s roof came to a sharp point capped by a weather vane and red flag that today moved little, if at all. There was no sea breeze today. Just a thick heavy sticky hot air that clung to the skin as the sweat beaded up and trickled down the imperfections of the flesh. Sam Watts sat at a small wooden table made from a ship’s wheel and wiped the sweat from his brow, the back of his hand was moist and plump and did nothing but move the perspiration from one side of his head to the other. He took the bottom of his shirt and cleared his face of moisture.



Generally, Sam felt that if it couldn’t be “googled” it wasn’t worth knowing, but today he was stuck in the library looking through historical documents that had yet to make their way to the internet. Most specifically he was looking for the journal from the Captain of the Saint Clement. The Saint Clement was huge trade vessel that had sank off the coast of Aberthton a couple of hundred years ago. Rumors abounded at the cause of the ship’s demise. It had created no end of folklore in the old fishing community. Everything from a whale attack to sea monster to mutiny most foul. Sam had grown up in Aberthton, so he was no stranger to the lore and legends regarding the Saint Clement. This was the first time however he had ever had any desire to find out the truth.



He had barely had time to settle into his new rental house near the shore before he had set to work on researching the ship. Sam had returned to his hometown after years away to prove to his hometown he had made something of himself. He had left for college six years ago and swore he would never look back. That was until the opportunity arose to come back home and prove himself to everyone who doubted his drive, and thought he should have followed the familial tradition and work in the fish market.



“I was born and raised in Aberthton, like my father and his father and his father before him. I can think of no greater honor and privilege than to come back here and help you put on the greatest celebration this town has ever seen.”



He had sold it.



They were looking for someone to come on full time and plan the town’s bicentennial celebration. His Aunt Rita had sent him the job posting in an email and he was on the next flight. This was his job to loose. He had huge plans for the celebration. The party would handle itself, the decorations would fall into place, that stuff was child’s play. He had most recently organized an even at the Smithsonian resulting in multimillion dollar donation, a fishing village’s party he could more than handle. But he had no plans on stopping there. It was his grand promise to the hiring committee that sealed the deal. He promised them that if he got the job he would discover the true cause of the Saint Clements sinking and at the celebration as the grand finale under a sky of fireworks in the bay an exact replica of the Saint Clement would pull into harbor into a new permanent home, it would replace the current museum and be a floating monument the town of Aberthton. The sparkled-eyed look of grandeur that filled their eyes gave no doubt that he had landed the job. His friends in the city thought he was foolish to take a job that was an entire digit less than what he normally commissioned, let alone that he planned on sinking a small fortune of his own money into the project. It wasn’t about the money, he told them. He was proving that he was better than Aberthton.



As he sat in the library reading silently he was having trouble even beginning to fathom what could have brought a ship in seemingly pristine condition when a voice behind him caught him by surprise.



“Mermaids”



Sam, turned suddenly and saw an older gentlemen staring at him.



“Excuse me,” Sam asked, sure he had heard the man wrong.



“You’re the kid trying to find out what sank the Saint Clement right?”



“Shit,” Sam thought. Someone had blabbed his planned. It lost so much of his reveal if the town all ready new the end result. “How do you that?”



“You’re not going to find the answer reading those books. My great grandfather was the lighthouse keeper. he was there, saw the whole thing. Told me the story a thousand times when I was younger.”



Sam was intrigued, not about the mermaids, that was the ranting of a crazy old man, but if his great grandfather had actually been on watch he might be a good interview for the retrospective video Sam was planning.



“I would love to get your contact information sir. I’m planning a retrospective video, your sailor yarns would be just excellent.” Scrambling in his bag for a pen and piece of scrap paper. “If I could get your name and number and email that would great.”



“Faver Watts stole something from the mermaids. That’s what made them attack the ship.”



The name warranted Sam’s attention.



“Faver Watts? Silas Remmy was the captain of the Saint Clement. What did Faver have to do with it?”



The older man pulled up a chair and sat down.



“Silas Remmy was dead long before the ship sank. Faver Watts was his first mate. Watts was the one at the helm at the end. Whatever Watts stole from the mer-people they were angry. They rose from the waves, like ghost of the sea and they took down the ship. According to my great grandaddy they swore their revenge on the Watts. If I were you I’d watch out.”



Feeling a little threatened. Sam started gathering his things.



“Well, I have to get going, it was nice meeting you.”



As Sam went to leave the older man grabbed his arm. Sam turned to see him holding a piece of paper and a pen.



“If you want to hear more, here’s my number. Don’t have e-mail.”



Sam thanked him and grabbed the paper and got the hell out of the library. On his way back to his place he stopped into the local dive shop. This had been a favorite hang out of his in his youth and he was pleasantly surprised to see a familiar face behind the counter.



“As I live and breath. If it isn’t Sam Watts, back from the big city and gracing my humble diving establishment.” The man about Sam’s age said with a crooked grin. His sandy brown hair against his tanned skin caused his eyebrows to be nearly invisible. He hopped over the counter and gave Sam a hug.



“Welcome home brother”



Sam and Wyatt had grown up together, when Sam left to become a big shot Wyatt Gimble took a meager inheritance and bought the dive shop and had been running it since.



“I need to charter a boat and rent some dive equipment”



“Heading out to the Clement wreckage?” Wyatt asked knowing the answer.



Sam was livid that his well kept secret was anything but. However, he should have expected it. News travels fast in a small town.



“You still dive?”



With a grimace, “Not like I use to. Got in a brawl a year or so ago at the bar and some douche clocked me in the ear. Had surgery on it, but it still doesn’t clear like it use to. But I make out in the shallows like a fuckin’ fish.”



Sam laughed. Wyatt had been and to his knowledge still was an expert swimmer. He held a couple of regional records in the 100 meter and went to the local junior college on a scholarship. He had the reputation for being a reckless diver, but Sam couldn’t think of anyone he’d rather have with him.



“Take me out to the Clement. Come with me.”



Wyatt paused in an effort to appear to think it over, but rushed the moment and eagerly agreed. Wyatt looked for any opportunity to dive. This had been the thing he missed most since taking proprietorship of the shop. He owned the dive shop but sadly was rarely afforded the time to actually do the thing he loved the most. Then the bar fight that rendered his ear bloody and internally damaged was the final nail in the coffin. Wyatt let himself become consumed with work. He was an undeniable success in local commerce, and hadn’t even thought twice about helping out his old friend, despite the fact that he and the other members of the local business community had been warned to steer clear of him. Wyatt wondered if Sam had any idea the locals had put him on their secret blacklist.



Blacklisted though he may have been it hadn’t stopped a couple of struggling merchants to throw free swag his way in an effort to get some publicity when the time came. Today packed in the red cooler in the corner of the small boat were several beers nestling two crabcake sandwiches courtesy of Tracey’s Troller. A mobile sandwich market, and it’s namesake, Tracey Farris, was doing everything she could to get the gig as caterer for the big to do at the end of the summer. Plus, Sam Watts wasn’t bad to look at.



Out on the water the day had pretty much been a bust. The weather had given nothing to them, but as anyone who depends on the water knows that ocean will give and take away in the same day. Unable to dive in the rough water what the ocean had given them today was a chance to shoot the breeze. Sitting on the rocking boat eating they laughed and caught up with the events of the past six years and then Sam thought to ask about the older gentlemen who spoken with him in the library a few days before.

“What do you know about Herb Brody?”



Wyatt shrugged his shoulders, “Nice older guy, local. Died a couple a years ago.”



“Died? Are you sure?” Sam was caught off guard, sure that he had read the name correctly off the paper that the man had given him. Herb Brody.



“Herb Brody?”



“Yeah, I helped move the stuff that he left into the historical museum.” Wyatt was oblivious to uneasy look that was settling onto Sam’s face. Wyatt was more distracted by the sauce and juices running down the back of his hand from the sandwich.



“Your girlfriend makes a messy sandwich,” a jest from Wyatt that was completely ignored.



Most people would assume they had not remembered the name the correctly, or the man in the library had been an impostor, but for Sam this was not his first experience with beyond.