Thursday, July 28, 2011

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felt that if it couldn’t be “googled” it wasn’t worth knowing, but today he was stuck in the library looking through historical documents that had yet to make their way to the internet.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.


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.

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