Ida! You dont hear me callin an callin?
Her mother, Esme, had come outside.
For a moment the mother and the daughter stood and eyed one another.
Esme was a stout black woman whose overweight body moved with surprising grace. She had small Chinese eyes and a saintly expression that concealed how strict a parent she was. Her daughter looked as if she belonged to a different race: fair-skinned with long black hair pulled back from her forehead with a tortoiseshell bandeau. Her dark eyebrows drew attention to large, expressive eyes. It was hard to describe her as anything but beautiful. But Esme, who did not want her to grow up vain and stupid, made little of her daughters good looks.
You out here idlin while you father waitin for the newspaper?
Ida had forgotten that this was why she had come outside. She picked up the Daily Gleaner and walked up the paved path between the gate and the trellised veranda. There was a row of conch shells on either side of the path. Her grandmother, who had put them there, said conch shells protected homes from natural disasters. They were pretty. The little garden was pretty too but crowded; her mother worked hard to contain the lush flowers in the small space - bird-of-paradise, heliconia, bougainvillea, and tree-orchids - vibrant things that clawed, latched, and climbed if they were not constantly pruned.
Inside, the house smelled of buttered toast. It was a shining, clean house with furniture that was too large for the rooms. Her mother looked at her and frowned. Why you let out you hair? Go plait it, she said and went into the kitchen. Idas father was drinking his coffee and listening to the radio. He took the newspaper from her, not seeming the least bit annoyed about having waited. He was a slender, unmuscular man, with deeply tanned skin that sometimes led people to think he was Indian. Like his daughter, he had large, dark eyes, and he had long eyelashes that might have made him look effeminate if he hadnt had such a wide, square jaw. He was still wearing just his undershirt, and Ida could see the gold Virgin Mary pendant he always wore. Eh-eh, Ida. Look here, he said, opening the paper. Errol Flynn is in Jamaica. She looked over his shoulder and saw a picture of a man with wavy hair and a sword. She read:
worlds handsomest man is here
Actor Errol Flynn Arrives in Jamaica Unexpectedly
Hes a big movie star, her father explained.
Ida had seen only one movie, Tarzan the Ape Man, when someone had donated a projector to Father Reynolds school down the road. Eli called to Esme back in the kitchen, You hear that, Esme? Errol Flynn in Jamaica!
Flynn leaned against the railing of the hotel balcony, letting the sights and sounds of the tropical morning minister to him. The sun warmed his face and the green hills unrolled before him to a bright and tranquil sea.
He was almost forty and looked all right, he thought, in spite of the extra pounds around his waist. Yes, he looked all right but felt like a man whod reached the end rather than the prime of his life. If only it worked like a sandglass - life, the accumulating years - now would be the time, he thought, to turn the whole thing upside down.
Hed made more than twenty films and was proud of only one, Gentleman Jim. His second marriage was doomed, just as his first had been. He had a son and two daughters he never saw; in fact, he had no idea where they were. And hed been tried for rape! The statutory rape of two girls he swore hed never even seen before they appeared in the courtroom. Hed been acquitted on all counts, but the long, highly publicized trial had dragged him through a stench that still lingered. How had he, Errol Leslie Thompson Flynn - son of the respected zoologist Professor Thompson Flynn - gotten himself so deep in the muck? He wouldnt have known what to do with himself if it hadnt been for the Zaca, his schooner. Its name was a Samoan word for peace.
Excerpted from The Pirate's Daughter byMargaret Cezair-Thompson Copyright © 2007 by Margaret Cezair-Thompson. Excerpted by permission of Unbridled Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
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