I spoke with Georgia after she insisted I take (about seven) showers. She left me some of Asa’s clothes, but they hung from me like a coat on a stand, as Asa’s shoulders were much broader than mine.
I looked around our bedroom, trying to find a sign left by Midnight. If she’d read that I was dead, she’d not take kindly to the news.
Georgia didn’t seem at all pleased with being lied to, and was in hysterics after I explained to her what had happened with Kennedy.
Maybe I could sympathise with Asa.
But it didn’t justify his white-lying.
“Georgia, listen t’me,” said I, calmly, “I can help. I can make this right. Just calm down.”
“How would you help?” Georgia cried, “I doubt that Midnight could help, at this point! We could be losing two family members in one go!”
I paused and then looked at Asa, “You told me she didn’t know about Hands’s letter.”
“What letter?” she asked.
“Mr Hands,” I said, “He sent a letter t’Midnight, tellin’ her that I died at sea.”
She stared at me, “Midnight thinks your dead?” she said, aghast.
I paused, and gave her a wary look, “Did someth’un else happen?”
“Tom…” Georgia’s features softened, “I don’t know how to tell you but… Midnight… her pregnancy… she miscarried.”
I was speechless for a moment, and then turned on Asa, “You let her go? After she miscarried!”
He raised up his hands, “I didn’t know!”
I looked from one to the other, shocked and stressed out, “Why don’t you tell each other these things!”
They didn’t reply.
I put my forehead on the table and sighed. I looked up again and said, “So Midnight miscarried, Queenie an’ Kenny left t’fight with Chess Pieces, they came back, Midnight thinks I’m dead, Kenny got abducted by slavers, and Midnight is chasin’ after ‘em in probably the worst state o’ mind she could possibly be in. Summation: Is there anything that hasn’t happened!”
The pair looked at each other. Then Georgia spoke, “Tom, there’s nothing any of us can do about this.”
“Rome,” I said, as it struck me.
“Rome,” I said again, putting a finger down on the table, “If there’s anywhere those slavers are goin’, it’s Rome. It has the largest import o’ slaves, anywhere. And I should know, I’ve waylaid enough slaver ships. And the Olympics are comin’ up… Why else kidnap a spritely little ass-kicker?”
“That’s one place in a thousand-million, Tom,” said Georgia, “You can’t just make assumptions.”
“I haven’t got time for trackin’ down facts!” he said, “For all I know, they’re both already there. And if they are, they need t’be brought back home. The odds are good and I’m takin’ ‘em.”
I got up from my seat and strode out the door. All the girls – and a queer young fellow I hadn’t seen before – (who were all clearly eavesdropping) stood up abruptly and pretended to be nonchalant.
Bad acting. Very bad acting.
“Heard everyth’un ye need t’hear, lassies? Lad?” I asked.
They didn’t meet my gaze. Some of them were whistling.
“Don’t know what your talking about, Uncle Tom,” said Queenie, leaning against her crutches and examining her finger nails.
I rolled my eyes, “Dessy, Kitty, Ginny – pack your bags.”
They gave me a look.
“Why?” said Ginny, a little worried, “Did we do something wrong?”
“Are you setting us into the wild, dad?” asked Kitty.
“We promise we’ll behave!” said Des.
“We haven’t done anything wrong!” said Ginny.
“Please don’t set us into the wild, daddy!” said Kitty.
“Please!” they all said.
“I’m not settin’ you into the wild!” I said, trying to put a word in.
“Oh,” they said.
“We’re goin’ t’Italy. Pack what ye need, it’s going t’be a long journey.”
“We’re going sailing?” said Kitty, her eyes gleaming.
“We’re going to Italy?” said Des, with a big smile.
“Aye,” I said, frustrated, “Get packin’!”
“Yay!” they all said.
“We should go to Italy,” said the queer young fellow to Brynna, “it would be a nice place to spend some time.”
“Oh, stop it, Travis!” she said, pushing him away and blushing.
I didn’t ask.
I walked back to the bedroom and took some things that Midnight and myself might need.
Passports, papers, un-cashed bonds…
She’d need them alright. Not was not a kindly place.