Excerpt – 01

A Forward from the Author

It was not so long ago I wore a younger man’s boots.”

There is a window high up inside a deep alcove on the southern wall. The walls come together here in such a way that even a gray-haired old captain with a bad knee and one arm stuck in a rotting sling can -albeit with some pain and awkwardness, manage to find a perch on the deep ledge of that window. Once there, with my good leg bent and the other hanging off the edge, I am gifted with a surprisingly comfortable place in which to reflect and to gaze out over the town below. With little better to do and no better place to do it, I sit there in my window like some grandfather cat, licking my wounds, my back braced against the cool granite. On some days I am even moved by Whim and I manage to scratch out a few words to my life’s story.

That fact that I’m still alive must be a surprise to some. I know it is to me. However much one might stretch the meaning of that word, it doesn’t quite capture the uneasiness I hope they must be feeling. Perhaps they would be encouraged to hear that I am none-the-less still in a bad way. I’ve wounds that may yet kill me. My sword-hand is cut to the quick and it will be a miracle if I don’t lose half of it to the surgeon’s knife or to the incompetence of the Practicianer that sees to my shaving and the so-called care of wounds. As I have had the honor of spending much of my own life in the company of a Doctor somewhat better than most and it has left me wanting to school this one in some of the more basics of his craft. For now, I bite down on the acerbic part of my tongue in the hope that the fumbling of an incompetent and begrudging nurse will in the end do me less harm than an incompetent and malicious one.

As I am forced to write with my off-hand, I cannot help but pause every few sentences to stretch out muscles long unused to doing anything more dexterous than firing a pistol or wielding a main-gauche. As I do so, I sometimes rediscover those very fingers betraying years of ingrained habit and running themselves along a line of my face where until recently I grew a fierce swashbucklers mustache. Mine ran from my upper lip and angled downwards like a slash where it ended at the very middle edge of my jawline. It was very much a part of my identity in my role as Captain of Her Queen’s Guard as was the rapier that hung from my hip and the scar on my face. It is discomforting to feel so unmanned by the loss of a few pieces of hair, but take from that what you will.

Those times that I force my fingers away from the place my mustache used to be, I cannot help but pause for a few moments and gaze out through rust-pitted bars and out over the seaside village below the tower where I am kept. The rooftops below are adorned with a myriad of household gardens that turn them when seen from above, into a rich canvas of impressionistic colors. Dashes of reds, purples and greens from where potted olive, flowering plum and pistachio trees intermingle freely with the nutty red of clay roof tiles and the white of stucco facades. Terraced vineyards all but surround the city and the villagers have even resorted to growing flowering-vines on their walls. On the days when the wind is just such, the smells of the sea fade and are replaced by the earthy smells of orchards and ripening fruit. The various odors that make their way to my window set my mouth to watering. My captors, whose only cruelty so far is in their weekly blunt-razored shaving of my mustache and in the detestable quality of the food they deliver me, might have anything they’d think to ask with but a stern look and a bowl of plump olives or freshly roasted pistachios. Well, perhaps I might not betray everything I am for a handful of olives, but I might betray a little.

 

Note: Words in bold are usually placeholders and indicate my intention to replace them with another word or to explore the idea/concept they represent a little more.

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