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The Green Waters of Home
By Kenneth Lawson
The pictures brought back memories.
Memories that he wanted to stay in the deepest darkest recesses of his mind. It all came back to him in a flood of senses, the heat, humidity, and bugs. And the never-ending water. The fire, and the running and swimming for days on end. The creeks and streams seemed to go on forever, and there was no discernable way to navigate through the thick growth of trees and weeds and the creatures that followed him as he rode his too-small canoe through the water that still haunted his nightmare.
He threw the picture down. It landed hard on the table, cracking the glass that held it inside the frame. “You want me to go back there?”
“I told you I’d never go back to that swamp again.”
“I know, and I don’t blame you. But…”
“NO BUTS… I’m not going.” He cut him off mid-sentence.
The old man pleaded. “You know the way, and the people.”
“And the people scare the shit out of me. What they tried to do to me last time…”
“I know, I know, but you’re needed there. Things have gone from bad to worse. And you can stop it.”
“Suppose I don’t want to?”
“Then you’re just as much to blame as them.”
He sighed and shook his head, and with finality that he’d made up his mind. “If I’m going to do this…”
So, it came to pass, that he, Ben Roberts, returned to his native land, the Louisiana Bayou. Deep in the deep south, there is a place that few men dare to venture. But having been born there, he had refused to return for many decades. After they had killed his family and tried to burn him alive in a voodoo ritual, he barely escaped with his life.
He still had the scars.
While most didn’t show and were faded with time, he knew and remembered what they’d done every time he looked in the mirror. The anger came to boil on a regular basis. He wasn’t sure he could control his rage, much less gain control of the voodoo priest that was now in control of the small band of followers that were terrorizing the neighboring villages and towns. He knew that most of the older people still believed in the old ways and the power of the magic and spirits.
The canoe paddle splashed as he shifted it in the green water. Ripples raced out from the edges of the canoe, ending when they ran into one of the trees growing deep in the delta bayou. The sound of birds was muffled by the canopy of leaves that shielded him from the hot August sun.
Watching the canoe ahead of him, he tried to keep up, but his rowing skills were not to this guide’s level. Actually, he barely made his canoe move in the general direction he was aiming it for, and then not quickly. It had been decades since he’d been home. And he didn’t want to be here now. But it was necessary.
Getting out, he followed the guide to the old village hidden deep in the swamp on a small patch of relatively dry land, that was still surrounded by water and trees that shielded both the sun and prying eyes.
“You came back,” the priest said when he entered the small shack that served as both a temple to some kind of god and his house.
“Yes, I’ve heard the stories. About you, and the troubles you’ve been causing. It’s time to stop.”
The High Priest took a drink of his cold beer. “And you’re going to stop me?” He pretended to look scared.
“How, pray tell?”
Ben felt his anger starting to rise inside him. His pulse quickened and he felt the throbbing in his head. The throbbing of pain and blood pumping to his body under increased pressure. Struggling to control the rage that had been burning inside him for decades. He pulled out a revolver. The small-framed three-inch barrel gun had been easy to hide under his shirt, but now it was time. Time to settle old scores.
Along the way here he noticed the building, new buildings that he suspected housed the illegal smuggling operations and other illegal scams they were running. The High Priest, as he called himself, looked over his beer at Ben’s gun.
“You don’t really expect that to save you, do you?”
“By itself probably not. But I brought friends.”
“Yes. At this moment, this entire island and the surrounding islands are being surrounded by federal agents. Your guards were so doped up that not only did they miss us but they also didn’t find the GPS marker I am carrying. Which leads the feds directly to you. I had only one request of them. That they let me do this.”
With that, Ben raised the gun and fired. The High Priest dropped to the floor. Within seconds several men came running from various parts of the building. Ben emptied his gun escaping the hut. The final report read that one Billy Bob Randolph, alleged leader of the gang using the voodoo spirits and practices as a front for various smuggling and other illegal operations, and who had been terrorizing the locals into submitting to them, and buying their overpriced and crappy goods for decades, had died in a shootout with the federal agents.
Not that he had been killed by a fed but by a civilian. Recently, the situation had become more lethal as several people had disappeared and a couple of bodies found floating in the water. So, it was time to clean out the gang. The only way they could do it was with an insider, someone who had been there before and would be let in. Thus, Ben Roberts had been recruited for the job. His only request that he be allowed to kill the man who had killed his family decades before.
Revenge in the green waters of home.