Tuesday, January 02, 2018

I Love Dialogue from Savage Heart by Dellani

In order to spy on the British, Manuel and Sailfish intend to present themselves as a renegade Indian and a Portuguese sailor. A Spaniard would be captured and tortured for information. They are able to take a canoe up the coast, but must make the rest of the way on foot. Against Sailfish's advice and protests, Manuel has insisted that they take the coastal route. Now, he's regretting it.

The sun was high in the sky as Sailfish and Manuel trudged through the tall river grass along the shore. This part of the country was much less traveled than some others. Mosquitoes rose from the brush and rushes, feasting on them. Stinging black flies swarmed around them, landing on the exposed skin that wasn't covered by mosquitoes. Midges clouded their eyes and flew up their noses, making them sneeze.
Swatting uselessly, Manuel led the way. "I'll be covered in welts and drained of blood before we arrive!"
"I did say not to come this way," Sailfish replied tersely.
"I had hoped to cut a little time off our walk."
"I recall that argument being put forth at the time of our discussion. And what did I say in response?"
"The other way was better. You failed to elucidate how," Manuel snapped.
"I thought my assessment was enough for you, Brother."
"Yes, yes...." Manuel waved his words away impatiently.
"You usually take my advice without second guessing me."
"You're certainly a nag today. Perhaps it's lack of sleep?"
"Perhaps it's blood loss! Bear more to the right." Sailfish's tone turned peevish.
"I thought you weren't familiar with this path."
"I didn't say that. I said the other way is better. How would I know unless I'd also come this way? Take to the water. If we swim part of the way, the insects will be less troublesome."
"Are we going to argue all the way?"
"It's a distinct possibility unless you let me lead."
"Fine! If that will make you happy and less of an old woman, by all means!" Manuel bowed, urging his brother forward.
"Shh!" Sailfish held up his hand.
Although Manuel was mid-cry, he halted, biting back his words. Listening carefully, he heard sounds that could only be made by men. The creak of leather, clank of metal and gruff commentary filled the air.
"At least we've found them," Manuel whispered.
They eased to a crouch. Not even swatting the insects now, they listened. A flash of red no more than a score of yards ahead reminded them that the British knew how to secure an area. Backing slowly, they made their way toward the river. Slipping silently into the water, they swam a half mile or so away before hauling themselves onto the bank.
"Now what?" Manuel asked as he squeezed the water out of his hair.
"This was your brilliant plan, Brother."
"I hate when you're a smug Indian."
"And I hate when you're an arrogant Spaniard, so we're even."
Sailfish dug around in his waterproof pack for something to eat. He pulled out a packet of dried meat, sharing some with his brother. Manuel took the food automatically, with a nod of thanks.
"We can still approach them," Manuel sounded dubious.
"Oh, aye. We'll not draw any attention marching toward a landing force. We'll be shot before we go a bow's length."
"How's your Creek?"
"Terrible. You knew that already," Sailfish replied.
Manuel nodded, gazing over the water. Chewing and swallowing, he continued to think. "If we had a good story, a strong opening—"
"We would still get shot before—"
"Pessimist!"
"Pest!"
"Shh!"
© 2018 Dellani Oakes

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