Archer

Advertisement  (turn off)
         The morning after Adam’s funeral was the last time I saw my father. I hadn’t slept the night before, my mind racing over everything that had happened. I paced my room with heavy weighted thoughts. Why did he have to save those people? Why did our father have to push him away? Why didn’t I go in instead? My steps grew heavier, my pace faster. Then I heard a creak beneath my foot, a loose board that hadn’t been moved in over ten years. My heart stopped for a moment, then I gingerly knelt down and removed the board. Finally exposed once more to light, the letter was a dark yellow, aged in its secret place. A thick layer of dust covered it, a cloud soaring into the room as I blew it away. On it, the ink had faded but was still legible. I took a deep breath, and began to read what my brother meant for me so long ago.
“Dear Samuel,
I’m sorry for leaving you and Adam with our father.
He’s cruel and wrathful and I had to go.
If you ever get the chance, come to America.
I’ll be waiting little brother.
You still have family.
Eric”
          I must have read the letter over a dozen times before it finally sunk in. Eric betrayed Adam and I, leaving us with our monster of a father. If he was still around, he could have saved Adam. He could have stopped him from going into that fire, but he wasn’t man enough to stay by our side. If I ever saw Eric again, I’d kill him myself.
          I stuffed the letter and my best clothing into a sack, then slung it over my shoulder. As I descended the stairs, my father sat in his beat up chair surrounded by hills of bottles. Every drink he ever had was a sad attempt at fixing his problems. I didn’t care if he saw me leave, so i kicked around any empty whiskey and rum that laid in my way. The clinking of glass stirred my father, and he looked up to see his youngest son leaving him.
          “First your mom, then Adam,” he chuckled to himself as if a bad joke had been said. “And now I’ve lost my two other sons to the sea.” His ramblings trailed off as he finished the bottle in his hand, then threw it across the room with the sound of shattering glass soon to follow.
          I looked at him for what seemed like ages. Memories of him drinking was the only thing I had. There was nothing to miss when it came to Stephen Bellamy. All he ever was was the town drunk, the widowed husband that lost a hero son. To me he was a poor example of a man and an even poorer excuse for a father. Taking one final look at the only home I ever knew, I decided it was time for me to move on. Utterly defeated, my father’s gaze went to his hands and he began to weep. I stepped out the front door and turned towards the docks, the creaking of hell begging me to return but to no avail. I had already begun the movements, no thoughts going into the process. I blocked out everything else, from the passing of concerned faces to the feeble barks from Scotch. Hittisleigh was no longer my home, and I needed to find my place in a world growing forever dark.
          I reached the water around midday, the time when the docks were bustling the most with sailors. I spoke with the usual people, most of them giving their condolences about Adam. My responses always came out rigid and cold. I was intent on leaving this life behind. After a few conversations with some merchants on the dock, I learned what I was looking for. A Royal Navy ship was anchored at the end of the pier, its sails a pearlescent white in the rays of sunlight. The rigging climbed its masts like a web made from hemp and cotton, the rope taunt in the breeze. I approached cautiously, looking for the man in charge. Through the thrall of sailors and merchants, one figure stood out amongst all the rest.
          Even as the man stood with his back towards me, his dominance could be seen in the respectful gazes his crew aimed towards him. His coat was a blood red, heat resonating off of him with a passion. The light reflected from his black boots, a glare so strong it almost rivaled the sun. However, what stood out most was the length of silver hair on his head tied back into a ponytail with a red ribbon, dark crimson like his coat. By some divine intervention he must have realized someone behind him was staring. He turned briskly and looked directly into my eyes.
          “They call me Captain Charles Archer,” his voice emerged similar to the sound of waves breaking upon the shore. “May I be of service?” The intelligence in his eyes caused me to hesitate briefly, but then I regained some sense of composure.
          “I’m looking to join the Royal Navy,” my words were scrappy and weak in comparison to the Captain’s, their ferocity quickly lost. He eyed me up and down, taking slow paces around where I stood. He muttered incoherently to himself, then a jettison of orders were launched to one of his crew.
          “Mr. Turner!” His beckoning blasted through the the crowd, then a moment of silence rushed through everyone. After a second, a lean young man appeared aboard the ship. “Mop and bucket, if you’d be so kind!” In an instant, Mr. Turner was gone to fetch a mop and bucket. The chorus of merchant sales began once again with Captain Archer and I facing one another. “Come with me,” the captain told me, his commands compelling my body to follow him. The ship loomed above us, its power evident to anyone that laid their eyes upon it. We ascended the plan bridge that lead to the ship’s deck. “This is The Britannia.
          The name fit. It was a strong representation of English leadership, the dark stained oak planks under our feet glistening in the sunlight. Bodies flew past us, their jobs ingrained into every action they did. Some men worked on the rigging, others checked the sailed for any tears or breaks. Other men were bringing crates onto the ship, most likely rations or stocks of weapons.
          “What name have you been given boy?” Captain Archer’s question snapped me out of the trance I was in. It was directed in a way that showed a mixture of curiosity and impatience as if he wanted an immediate response.
          “Bellamy, sir,” I spoke quickly, a sense of excitement finally washing over me from talking to a Royal Navy captain. “Samuel Bellamy.”
          He gave a single nod and turned towards his crew. A moment passed, then Mr. Turner appeared once more. This time he held a mop with a brittle handle, and a bucket filled with murky water. He stood at attention, waiting for Captain Archer’s next orders. “Bellamy, you will swab the deck. If the wood doesn’t shine, swab harder.” The captain spoke with intent, making sure he could be understood and seen as the one in charge. It certainly worked, for the second the mop entered my grip I was using it.
          Mr. Turner had taken my pack to place it in the crew quarters. “The name is James Edward Turner, but I go by James,” he said nonchalantly, as if he didn’t quite belong in the Royal Navy. It turned out he was the youngest son of a rich farming family a few towns away. They sent him to serve because he was always given his every whim. I guess having slaves made you lazy.
          About an hour after I was brought onto the Britannia, she began to sail away from the docks. The wind was stronger in the open water, my long black hair obscuring my vision. Captain Archer must have seen this because within seconds of it happening he was standing next to me with a thin strip of black satin in his hand.
          “Here,” he said while outstretching the fabric towards me. “Black seems like your colour.” His stern demeanour was loosely veiling a different emotion. It almost sounded like humour in his voice. I thanked him and took the satin strip, then tied my hair back the same way he did. With the tight bow in my hair, I could clearly watch the land shrink in the distance.
          The sails unfurled as the ship adjusted course until we aimed directly towards the endless ocean. I placed my one hand over my heart and closed my eyes. I was fulfilling my dream. I was fulfilling Adam’s. A small grin crept crept up my lips and I knew Adam wasn’t completely gone. He was still with me in spirit, watching my voyage across the sea.