“Do I get a pay raise?” asked the Captain.
“Huh?” said Aberdeen as he lay in bed.
Jimmy spoon-fed him spotted dick, which seemed all the more funny with the picture the Captain took of Aberdeen, Jimmy, and Miss Mosley.
“You told me you never sold more than fifty papers in a week. The paper came out yesterday. We sold all forty original copies, printed one hundred more, and they’re all gone. Your circulation is up like an erection.”
Aberdeen jerked his side to side and moaned. “How? Most of this town is so broke they can’t even afford a deformed slave.”
The Captain leaned against the wall. “The credit goes to you, sir. At first I was mad you changed my questions and found your revisions to be silly with all due respect, but you insisted.”
Aberdeen’s head levitated from the pillow. “This better be one of your jokes.”
He waved the charge away with his hand. “Sir, you sold more papers on Saturday than any newspaper in the state. I am attributing the success to you. If you want me to take all the credit, then yes, you should give me a raise.”
He pulled a sheet from his pocket. “Ninety-eight percent of the voters said Moses was right to lead his people from slavery.”
“Why would I even care to ask something so ridiculous?”
“Beats me. My question was, ‘Holy Moses, did you know God threatened to kill Moses’s son because the boy hadn’t yet been circumcised?’ I always wondered why a bit of skin mattered so much to God and wanted to know if others did as well. You took my idea and went on a different tangent.”
“What else did I ask?”
“Fifty-eight percent of voters believe there was no difference between black or white chess pieces.”
“Of course there’s no difference, despite what 42 percent of the mental midgets say.”
“I originally asked about the difference between white and black women’s chests, but you refined the question to the game of chess.”
Aberdeen frowned and waved him to continue.
“The public was evenly split on whether a white wolf was better than a black wolf.”
Aberdeen rolled his eyes. “Please tell me this is a joke. The question is doggone dumb.”
“My original question asked men if they liked a blonde girl with black fur—a wolf in sheep’s clothing?”
Jimmy suppressed a grin and fumbled the spoon, and spotted dick spilled onto the bed sheet.
The Captain said, “Sixty-seven percent believe blonde-haired people are superior to those with dark hair. The original was, ‘Do men prefer blondes?’”
Aberdeen wagged a finger. “I warned you about pulling my leg.”
He pushed off the wall and playfully tugged at Aberdeen’s leg. “That’s pulling your leg, but all joshing aside, these questions were yours, sir. Right, Jimmy?”
Aberdeen fixed his gaze upon Jimmy, who tried to look busy and oblivious to the conversation.
“Jimmy, you know how I feel about liars. Well?”
“Master, I will do every chore you ask, but you know better than to ask my opinion.”
“Of course I don’t want your opinion, boy,” scolded Aberdeen. “I want verification, not a viewpoint.”
“Master, please do not sell me to a less gracious master than you, but what this man says is true. You said lots of things that did not make sense.”
Aberdeen gazed at his slave crossly, but the larger man didn’t flinch. Then he looked back to the Captain. “What else did we ask?”
“You loved the next question and did not change it at all. Fifty-one percent said they liked the French better than the Negroes.”
Aberdeen’s lips curled, and he tapped his chin. “That is a good question.”
“The next question, a conundrum you claimed to ponder. Forty percent said the raped, mixed-race baby should be a slave. Seven percent said the child should be a free citizen, however 53 percent liked your idea about part-time slavery.”
“I have never pondered such nonsense in my life,” declared Aberdeen with disdain.
The Captain folded his hands in prayer. “My honor stands on General Stonewall Jackson’s grave.”
The injured man coughed like he’d inhaled bad tobacco. “At this rate, the general’s grave must have rolled halfway to China.”
“Yeah, maybe the Stonewall name is apropos, and he’s resting against the Great Wall.” His grin did not lessen Aberdeen’s frown. “The next question was also an original. Eighty-four residents answered that the dumbest white man is smarter than the smartest black man.”
This brightened the dimwit. “There’s hope for this town, yet. It all comes down to education. All white men are inherently more intelligent than Negroes. You can train a dog to do a few tricks, but it’s still a canine.”
Jimmy let more of the spotted dick drip.
“The final question was only a light alteration. Since most blacks worship the same God as white folk, I asked if both races are equal in God’s eyes. You simplified that to, ‘Would Jesus be proslavery?’ Eighty-six percent envision Jesus as the sky’s plantation owner, with Negro slaves picking cotton from the clouds.”
Aberdeen nodded. “Like the gentleman I am, Jesus would be a civilized master.”
The spotted dick dribbled downward, again. Plop, plop, plop.
“Speaking of Jesus, your idea about offering a reward to those who expose whites who engage in the sin of interracial sex was a stroke of genius.”
Aberdeen’s right eye dropped. “Doctor Tristan is a quack. He likely drugged me with a toxic tonic.”
“You seemed so keen on this idea, sir. In fact, you insisted.”
“Now that I think about, it is a lovely idea. We’ll publically humiliate the traitors who trespass on decency with perverse bestial acts.”
The rest of the spotted dick came down like a waterfall. “Oh, my God,” Jimmy said. “Sorry, Master. Let me clean this mess up.”
“You bungling buffoon! These sheets were imported from Egypt.”
“Perhaps I’m to blame, sir. With the increased demand for your newspaper, Jimmy had to work overtime to print all the extra copies. So I made your meal today. My apologies; the spotted dick is more flaccid than usual. You like it nice and firm.”
“True. Anything else you want to tell me?”
The Captain stuck his finger in the crease of a dimple. “Oh, yeah. I hope the vase on the mantel was not worth much.”
Aberdeen’s eyes bulged like a wet binding. “What? My grandfather bought that in Florence! The true worth is immeasurable when the sentimental value is calculated. What happened?”
The Captain shrugged with a sheepish grin. “In celebration of our newspaper’s success, I drank a little too much. I became nauseous and panicked with thoughts of fouling the furniture. So—”
“You vomited in my vase? That’s disgusting. Alas, surely Jimmy can wash it out.”
“Yeah, well, it gets worse.”
“I went to clean the vase myself, when I was suddenly overcome by an emergency urine call.”
“You washed out my grandfather’s vase with piss?”
“I suppose I did. But tragedy struck when my penis got stuck. The fluted top allowed easier entry than exit. When I finally freed willy, I dropped the vase, and it shattered in pieces.”
Aberdeen’s hands found the top of his head as though he held his brain back from shooting like a cannon ball.
“Wait a minute. I’ve dabbled with pottery before and did my best to fix your vase.” He dashed from the room. He heard Aberdeen muttering as he returned with the vase over his head as he entered the bedroom. “See?”
The ceramic was crudely glazed together. Extra clay bonded various fracture points like mountain chains on a topographical map. Candlelight could be seen through small holes left by missing pieces. “I can improve upon this,” he boasted. “When I’m done, it will appear as a work of great antiquity. No one quibbles over the cracks in Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam.”
Aberdeen banged his head up and down on his pillow but stopped to look at the vase again and thrashed about more. He pulled the sheet over his head. “Leave!”
The Captain and Jimmy shared a smile.
“Okay, you need your rest,” the Captain said. “We can discuss my pay raise later.”
The bed sheet rustled furiously like a cadaver returned to life.
““A historical fiction comedy that packs
as much heart as humor.”
—Michael Dadich, award-winning author of The Silver Sphere
When a Harvard history professor receives a thesis paper titled Jesse James and the Secret Legend of Captain Coytus, from Ulysses Hercules Baxter—an underwhelming student—he assumes the paper must be a prank. He has never read such maniacal balderdash in his life. But after he calls a meeting with the student, Professor Gladstone is dismayed when Baxter declares the work is his own. As he takes a very unwilling Professor Gladstone back in time via his thesis, Baxter’s grade hangs in the balance as he attempts to prove his theory.
It is 1864 as philanderer and crusader Captain Coytus embarks on a mission to avenge his father’s death and infiltrates the Confederate Bushwacker posse looking for the man responsible, Jesse Woodson James. Accompanied by the woman of his dreams, Coytus soon finds himself temporarily appointed to be the sheriff of Booneville and commissions his less-than-loyal deputy to help him carry out his plan.
But when tragedy strikes, the Captain is forced to change his immature ways and redefine his lofty mission—more or less.”
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Genre – Humor, Historical Fiction
Rating – R
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