Red Jewel: Excerpt

Almost finished my latest and 4th book. It is called: Red Jewel. Here is an excerpt, in draft:

The very next Saturday Ruth did show up with Mr. Sommers…her father. Shyly, we both said hello to one another but lacking any exuberance in the exchange. She was sizing me yup I would guess as I was with her, as only ten year old’s can do. Perhaps she was not happy with my intrusion into her own world and that with her father. Like me she had no mother. At least we had that in common. She was the same age as it turned out. Almost eleven and in the same form… or year five. She was the same height and size as I was.

Ruth was tall for a girl her age – or I was small for a boy. She had a sinewy posture in her legs and arms that insinuated a physical prepubescent immaturity. Her face was oval with almond shaped eyes that were multicolored it seemed, the shades of which appeared to alter ever so discreetly in the light of the day or the lack thereof. Violet, some green hues and a tint of bluish grey, which came to the fore of visual predominance and acuity depending on the brightness of the day’s light. Her eyes were mesmerizing, hypnotic, and magnetic as if drawing one into her persona like someone caught up in a spider’s web. Even to an ignorant, inexperienced lad such as myself, I could tell that they were special. Her hair was fairly short, almost boyish like, blond with a reddish brown tinge. Strawberry blond I would guess. She also possessed that common British trait in a girl of having the blemish free purity of a complexion that was made all the more complimentary with her natural rose colored cheeks.

“I can sail all the way up to the western arm you know.” She boasted. “Almost as far as Old Mill Creek and the boatyard.” She bragged some more. All by myself…well not really by myself.” her voice lowering. “With my father…” raised again in volume and tone…”but I was in control of “Lilly.” Is that not correct father?”

Mr Sommers laughed… “yes, yes, yes you were Ruthie. That you did.”

“Come now let’s get some lunch before we go.”

Fish and chips for all of us. I hardly got a word in edge-wise during lunch. It was all Ruth. She went on and on and on in that west county accent of hers. Not a harsh guttural strong English slang that was prevalent in London and the north of England for the day. No, her voice was of a more refined nature and if one did not know any better you would think that Ruth was an American – soft spoken, refined diction with every sentence uttered ending in an Irish or Scottish lilt. Me? I was as harsh as they come. I would have felt right at home in East London. What made the difference? Ruth went to a public school while mine was state.

Before long we were out on the Dart. Mr. Sommers took control while Ruth and I sat together on the high, windward side of “Lilly”. It was fun. The wind was fresh but not disconcertingly so. Besides, Mr. Sommers knew what he was doing. After a short spell Mr. Sommers let Ruth take the helm. She did so confidently, but under the watchful eye of her father. As she did so she eyed me menacingly, as if to stick out her tongue at me to say…na na na na na, as only a ten year old can.

The weeks and months went by. Soon I was out of primary school and into secondary. My father wanted me out in the workforce as soon as possible.

“Earn your keep boy.” He would say. School is for pussies. You are not a pussy are you lad?” He would taunt me relentlessly. “Go down to the shipyard and get a real job, pussy, eh pussy, pussy, pussy…you useless fucking turd. Fuck off now before I get really mad at ya and kick yer sorry ass goodbye.” With that he would lunge at me but always missed partially because of the booze but also because of my dexterity to avoid his boots. At that point I would head to my room and hide, only coming out to get a bit of food, if we had any.

Secondary school was a bit of a godsend for me because they did offer school lunches. Not great nutritionally but it kept the pangs at bay. But Saturdays? Oh my god Saturdays, were that a special day to look forward to each week, as I always had lunch with the Sommers’: Mr. and Ruth, most Saturdays anyway. Ruth and I were improving each and every week. By now I could confidently take control of “Lilly” while Ruth and her father sat together on the high side and admired the beauty of the Dart Estuary.

“Helms to lee I would say. Helms to my wee wee…lee lee lass.” Ruth would laugh at me as her father grinned and grimaced to this adolescent gibberish.

“Never say that unless you mean it lad.” He would scold me. “Never, ever take “Lilly” or any other sailboat for granted because in the blink of an eye her vengeance can be frightful, nightmarish, wrought down on you like with the wrath of Neptune.” He was serious.

“Sorry Sir.” Never again.” He looked at me sternly for a few seconds, then laughed aloud. Ruth followed suit but I dared not crack a smile.

I was thirteen years on now – in the secondary stream at school. About half way through. I had no idea what I was going to do at sixteen years. My father wanted me out now. I did have a part time job at Noss’ shipyard as I desperately needed some money to survive. My home life was a hell life. Except for my weekly respite with the Sommers I never thought I would ever reach my sixteenth birthday. My father was ruthless and was getting worse. School was no better as I was teased mercilessly. I had hoped to escape.

“Are you poor?” Ruth asked me one Saturday, alone.

I did not know how to respond to Ruth’s question for as a child I did not really understand that term – poverty. It was a relative term to me. Perhaps I was poor but I did not know how to measure it for I had clothes on my back and food in my belly, for the most part. I was neglected by my father, sure, but in relation to what? What does that mean, neglect? Yes, I was teased at school for the way I dressed and looked but to correlate the way I dressed or the manner in which my clothes wore on me to that of being neglected just was not in the thought process of a thirteen year old boy. And before I met Mr. Sommers and Ruth I had no idea what a loving relationship was. That I did not know. I just knew that they were fun to be around, were kind and friendly, whereas all I had known of a home-life to date was the coldness and harshness of abject terror. How I missed my mum but even that thought was becoming so distant as to be rendered a fantasy in my young boy’s mind.

“I do not think so.” I answered. “I do not feel it if that is what you mean.”

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