A new novel by our Ranter-in-Residence

Normally when you read Carrier Slocomb’s stories here at BoomerCafé, they are rants; after all, Carrier is our Ranter-in-Residence. But his contribution today is different: it’s an excerpt from his new novel, Red Moon Island. The story takes place in 1640 off Rhode Island’s Narragansett coast. A group of Christians exiled by Boston puritans, plus stranded lepers, village idiots, and jail-trash, suffer deprivations, quarantine, mutiny, murder, and pirates. They are led by Reverend Booge, a giant Dutchman, who teaches them to embrace one another and faith to gain their freedom. If anyone has reason to rant, it is them!

“What are you doing?”

“What I should have done all along. I’m ending that madman’s tyranny over us!”

Carrier Slocomb

Carrier Slocomb

Blood drained from Jess’ face and she felt faint. She was not ready for Joss to be behaving this way so soon after being freed. “Are you going for your weapons?”

“We’ve been in harm’s way long enough! Booge has gone beyond my limit!”

Jess felt an odd calm come over her. She suddenly felt less disjointed than she had all week. Was it because of Reverend Booge’s unexpected generosity perhaps? “So, you don’t want to discuss this?”

“Discuss? What’s to discuss?”

“You obviously forgot the promise you made me to talk things through?”

Joss bit his lower lip. “You must be joking!”

Jess took his hand and led him out of the lodge. They walked to the far edge of camp, out of earshot. “Husband, you scare me.”

He seemed genuinely surprised. “How is that possible?”

“You do. This talk of weapons scares me.”

“What can I say, Jess? Does Booge not frighten you? He terrorizes me.”

“You won’t like hearing this, but I trust Reverend Booge.”

“What are you saying?”

“I do not feel as you do. I trust his judgment.”

The rugged Narragansett coast.

The rugged Narragansett coast.

“How can you? If I’m not mistaken those creatures over there are the walking dead! They’re marked with plague, Jess! There’s no cure for what they have, and he’s brought them in among us! Among us!”

“Reverend Booge says he believes the lepers mirror the Christ. He sees them as a way to our salvation.”

“Jess, please. So far fifty or more people have been dumped on this little band of ours. We’re now a splendid assortment of village idiots, thieves, wastrels, drunks, contentious orphans, and a Pequot dog from hell. Not only do we have lepers to contend with, but also that tall black cross on yellow background painted on the rock out there means we now live under a strict quarantine banner. Jess, do you not know what that means for us?”

“Why don’t you tell me?”

“It means that no ship will put into this island so long as that quarantine cross is out there. We might as well be sitting up on the real moon, wife!”

“I know that.” Jess squeezed his hand. “I understand exile.”

“Quarantine, Jess. Not exile.”

slocomb_red-moon“There can’t be much of a difference, husband.”

“Oh, but there is.”

“How so?”

“With that quarantine cross out there the supply ship won’t even visit us.”

“I don’t care.”

“How can you not care? We need supplies.”

“I don’t think of supplies, Joss. I think of us. You and me. You getting better and me being important to you again. Lepers, malcontents, idiots, supplies… Those problems are small when weighed against the two of us.”

“Jerusa, please!”

“I want us well again. I always have! Is that so wrong? Ever since you came home from that stupid war you’ve been ill, Joss. There’s darkness in you. You see it too. And you know it’s gotten right between us! I don’t care where we are in the world, so long as we’re together.” Jess turned from him. “I need you to get better!”

“What?”

“All you can think about is fetching your weapons. Do you ever think of me? Or is life just war for you, Joss.”
Joss’ head felt like a pot left too long on the boil. “How can you say that? Jess, you know I care for you. I always have. You’re my wife, remember?”

A tear emerged. “I know you once did.”

“No, no. I still care. I do.”

“I don’t see it. Not anymore.”

He reached for her hand and she backed away. “You know there is nothing wrong with what I want, so why do you resist me? Why Joss, do you not love me any more? This island could be the place where you get well and then come home to me, and yet you do nothing about it. You do nothing at all to bring our love back. I love you so much and yet by doing nothing you run the risk of losing me. Me! And this after what that stupid war’s taken from us already! You know, I thought you wanted me back. Now I’m not so sure.” Her voice grew very quiet as she said, “I even wonder if you didn’t seriously think about taking that whaleboat after all.”

Joss’ head, neck, and shoulders collapsed into his frame. She was right; there was a time when nothing else mattered to him but her love. Food, shelter, work, and life were secondary. Jess was his center and he was hers’. He remembered this time all too well, and he opened his mouth to speak fondly about it and defend himself, but found he could not.

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7 Comments on "A new novel by our Ranter-in-Residence"

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Carrier Slocomb
Guest

A large note of thanks to Boomer Cafe’s Greg and David for helping me bring this sampling to you all. I think I speak for all of us writers, known and unknown, who are featured here — how generous of you both for the lift.

David Henderson
Guest

Thanks, Carrier.

While we kid about you being BoomerCafé’s “Ranter-in-Residence,” you are a terrific writer and storyteller. It is our pleasure to have you as a regular contributor.

David

bobj
Guest

Ditto!

Carrier Slocomb
Guest

You’re all heart. Thank you.

Eric Mondschein
Guest

I echo Carrier’s appreciation for BoomerCafé, not only for its incisive and timely posts of interest to us Boomers and others, but also for the “lift” David and Greg have given to so many of us.
Now as for the story, your appetizer has intrigued me. Thanks!

Erin
Guest

I concur! It’s a community I’m grateful to be a part of, and it’s nice to know Carrier has a soft side, too!

Dawn D. Gonzalez
Guest

Thanks a lot Carrier. Your description is really impressive.

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