Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Who? Vol. 2: Jose & Cutter

Jose from The Chronicles of the Spanish Civil War (series) – circa 1938 Spain
by Tricia Goyer

Jose moved around the room with quickened steps. Near the Spanish coast where he lived only the children of the wealthy attended SCHOOLS such as this, and he appreciated the fact that here all were given such a chance.
Yet his first concern was for the safety of the women.
Jose turned to the door. “Senoritas, please. I am afraid our place of refuge has become one of destruction. Maybe you should stay outside, where it is safe.”
The women didn’t seem to be listening as they hovered near the door of the room, all of them talking at the same time. It was hard enough understanding English, even harder when they all spoke at once. He shook his head, realizing that women were often harder to tame than the wild stallions he trained.
He moved to the closest school desk. It had been tossed to its side and the seat torn from the frame. Whoever had done this used great force.
Jose thought it best to right the piece of furniture, lest any of the women’s long, or short, skirts get caught on the furniture and cause them to tumble.
Jose righted the piece and felt the pull of a piece of metal on his hand. A bent nail stuck out from the broken frame. He looked closer and noticed that a piece of ripped cloth was stuck to the nail. Bending down, and resting his weight on one knee, Jose noticed it was tan.
“It could be from the children. Maybe a nino or nina who sits at this desk on a daily basis,” he mumbled to himself. But when he heard a loud man’s boisterous voice behind him he turned and noted the man who called himself Cutter wore tan breeches.
Could it be?
The man was taller than Jose with hair that touched his shoulders. He seemed kind enough despite his frightening appearance. Still, one could never tell. During the months of the civil war Jose had discovered too well the pain of being deceived by those who appeared to be one’s friend. Kind words did not necessarily stem from a kind heart.
Jose rose and tugged, pulling the fabric from the nail. He took two steps, his eyes focused on Cutter, then he paused as another man moved into view.
It was the monk, Brother Julian. He was bald and plump, similar to the many servants of God who had lived on Spanish soil. Jose had been raised to always respect the men of the cloth. Yet, his stomach turned. For the cloth the monk wore was a homespun robe. A tan homespun robe.
Jose stood straighter and cocked his head, confused. The tall man with the scarred face or the priest with the high voice? Just who did the cloth belong to?

Cutter from THE RESTITUTION – circa 1669 Caribbean
by M.L. Tyndall

“Egad, woman. Surely you don’t suspect me?” Cutter rose to his full height and gave Audrey a look of indignation. “In case it has escaped your attention, I have but one useful arm.” He waved his scarred, withered limb through the air. “I can barely pick up a quill pen with this hand, let alone topple a desk and shove a stove from its moorings.”

Cutter grimaced and took a puff of his pipe as all eyes sped in his direction. What was the lady thinking? Lady indeed. He stared at her, trying to avoid gazing at her shapely, bare legs. More like a trollop than a school teacher. And he’d met plenty of them when he’d sailed upon the pirate ship, The Restitution.

“All I was saying, Mr. Cutter, is that you are the only one who smokes.”

Cutter grunted and turned aside, deciding not to honor such an incredulous accusation with a retort.

“We should discount the women.” Jose picked a book off the floor. “They are not strong enough to do this.”

“Then you don’t know mujeres very well, mi amigo.” Cutter shot a gaze to the horse trainer and noticed the look of surprise on his face. “Yes. I picked up a bit of Spanish while sailing the Main. But nevertheless,” Cutter tapped his pipe on one of the only shelves still hooked to the wall. “I once knew a woman who dressed like a man and passed herself off as a pirate. Did a fine job of it too, I might add.”

“Really? How exciting.” Brook raised her brows. “I believe that’s the one thing I have yet to accomplish. Whatever happened to her?”

“I married her.”

His comment brought chuckles from the group and drew their attention off him—which was precisely what he wanted. Why did everyone always point fingers at the scarred man, the monster, as if being unattractive caused wickedness.

“Nevertheless, Mr. Cutter, we are not pirates and as you can see, we are all slight women,” Liza placed her hands on her hips and glared at him.

“I agree with Mr. Cutter,” Brother Julian interjected. “The women could have easily done this damage, especially if they worked together. Everyone here is suspect.”
Liza gave an unladylike snort and turned away as Cutter made his way to the tobacco leaves Audrey had discovered.

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw her approach.

“How did this happen to you? She pointed at his arm, but naught but concern warmed her eyes.

“I ran into a burning building to rescue someone.”

She gave him a sad smile, but said nothing.

Liza appeared at her side. Cutter had to avert his eyes from her tight-fitting gown. He was a married man, after all. Did these women in Kentucky have no sense of modesty?

“Come Audrey.” She threw her chin in the air and gave Cutter a look as if he had leprosy, before she escorted her friend away.

Cutter leaned over, picked up a tobacco leaf from the floor, and lifted it to his nose. Indeed, it was his brand. Brother Julian had helped him fill his pipe.
Yes, now he remembered. But they hadn’t been standing here by the shelves. He gazed across the room at Brother Julian as he spoke with Brook. No, they had been standing on the stoop at the time. How did his tobacco get all the way over here?

He eyed the monk. A man of God. Cutter had experience with such devout men. He’d actually known pirates who had turned from their wicked ways to follow God. Why would a man of faith do such a thing? Impossible. He scanned the scattered, broken desks where CHILDREN sat, learning and reading and playing. No, certainly a man of God would do no such thing.

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