Danny Turner

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The fence splintered as I dove for cover and I could feel the pieces as they sliced through my shirt and into me. The day my fake life ended had officially begun. As I fell the ground was cold against me but I hardly felt it from the blood pounding in my head.
Leaping back over the hay barrels I ran toward my sons only to be stopped by a large black horse. I dove at the man sitting atop but it was futile, with one fluid movement he snapped my wrist and flung me back.
“We only need your land, there doesn’t need to be any more blood shed today. Just give us your food,” His voice was tense, he didn’t like doing this, but he would still follow his orders and that made him a bigoted monster.
“Stay away from my land and my family,” My voice cut through his like a knife and he drew his musket and aimed it at me.
“Not another word from you, you filthy peasant.”
“I am a Plantation Owner!”
“You are about to be a dead man!” He suddenly whipped the gun around and fired a large blast. A flash of white covered by black exploded, knocking me off my feet and into the ground. Another boom sounded but I my eyes were squeezed too tight for it’s light to reach me.
I ran straight at the man but he just sped off towards the fields to burn my wheat. I continued in my run though, not stopping until I reached the source of the crying. I saw my nephew, Arrow, leaning over someone. I peered closer and I saw my wife, her unseeing eyes staring into space.
Looking back at where I was I see another person, a kid, a black, laying very still a few yards from my wife, the frail body covered in blood, but his eyes full of pain. I walked over to him and just stared, my mind couldn’t even begin to guess at the reason my slave was here, instead of fleeing with his family.
Sitting there his gaze burns through me and for a second, I feel guilty, but then I blink and I see the kid again for who he is, a black and just another animal.
“Why?” a croak escaped the dying animal, “You must wonder don’t you, maybe if you are a good person you even feel bad. But your life is more important; you will do more than I could ever. My mother would tell me when I was younger, ‘there are men out there who are pigs, but then there are men who have been led astray, you must help them if you can, for they will save us all.’ You are one of those people mister; I can see that now. Use your life to help us, please.” The dying animal let out another struggling breath and then finally gave in and stopped all together.
As the smoke drifted up from my fields I watched the men who had just destroyed my entire civil life go off into the distance.
“We cannot stay here anymore Uncle, we have fight this, we must avenge them.” Arrows voice cutting through my nonexistent thoughts about the animal.
I knew he was right but I couldn’t bring myself to get whatever was left from my burning house. After a few hours we managed to get a few miles from the house, but the smell of smoke stayed in my head. Climbing up into the forest located to the East I could see several farms but they couldn’t see back, and I thought of the kid, his eyes staring at me, but I was unable to truly see him.
“Uncle,” Arrow wafted into my head, “We must set up a camp soon; it is getting too dark to continue.”
I watched as he set up a camp, starting a small fire despite the fierce Florida winds, and serving me some cooked rabbit that he shot.
The next few days passed in a blur, more walking. I remember a change in weather as we neared the North, the slosh of snow in my boots. But I was being consumed by my thoughts, the routine became rote; eat, walk, walk, eat, think. My sleepless days started to catch up with me but I pushed them off, the weight just getting bigger.
One day we walked to the edge of a ravine where, the only way across was a small bridge, guarded by a few soldiers. We walked around a while but this seemed to be the only way across the rift. Drawing closer we could hear the crunch of their boots in the icy snow and we could see their breath materialize in the frigid forest. Arrow drew his bow and aimed it at the head of one of them. As soon as it hit they drew their guns. We were outmatched but somehow Arrow managed another kill shot before they got to us. Him and the other few wrestled for some time rolling in the snow like little kids. A punch there a snow angel here. I don’t remember the battle much more but afterwards it was just a dying nephew and me.
His pale face was gaunt and rigid, fighting off the pain of the wound. He tried to speak but only a rasp came out. I tried to help him but I couldn’t, it was too late, the bullet in his chest had done too much damage. I stayed with him as the night fell, switching his clothes with an officers, “That way you will get buried, like you deserve.” My last time seeing him was as a new day rose and I left not sure where I was going.
Using the last bit of knowledge I retained from training as a soldier I followed the river. My fatigue had already beaten me though and I was just running away from the truth. Keeling over on the ground from hunger I fought my thoughts away, but it was imminent I would lose, and so as I lay there in the snow, dying of cold, they finally invaded me.
Wave after wave of thoughts bombarded me, and for once, I just let them come and wash away everything. My title as slave master abolished, the wall keeping me to my opinions broken down, and for once, I was the young boy I used to be. Free hearted and fully understanding everything in life as it truly was. I felt remorse and regret for the small slave boy, and his family as well. But just as this realization came to be it was gone and everything was as it had been, me, a weak old man dying.
I don’t know how long I lay there in the snow, perhaps hours, maybe more. Although when I awoke the next day it wasn’t death’s face I was looking at, but a young black boy in an army uniform.
“I’m Will, are you ok?” The boy asked me. I stared at him for a moment and then looked away, his face too much of a memory of my recent incident with guilt.
“I’m fine,” I replied tersely and I started to get up but was pushed back down as I did.
“Please don’t get up sir, you have been hurt and I want to make sure you are going to be fine before you move.”
“Just hurry!’” I snarled back, but my voice softened at the end. I knew I shouldn’t be so mean; after all he was helping me.
He bandaged me up and then helped me back to the campsite where he was staying. He never asked questions, but he did offer me some food as we walked.
As I looked around I saw the world changing before my eyes. I heard the chirp of birds and saw them sitting with their families. I saw the new forming buds and the small animal prints in the snow.
Over the next few months Will showed me things I never even thought about and introduced me to a whole new life, the reason for war was no longer just to hurt people, but to fight for what was right. Eventually I myself became a part of their band, helping people from both sides of the war and protecting people. We would come and work out problems and we would free slaves as we could, so that Sherman had no need to come. We still met him, but you could really see the differences we made.
3 months after Arrow passed away we came to the place where I first him. That day, many years ago, shooting arrows as I hiked the land, this orphan boy befriended me. I brought him in and taught him what I knew, but we called ourselves uncle and nephew, for he never truly fit with my true sons. After I joined the war I hadn’t time for him but I would still find him sometimes, sitting there in the small alcove where I found him shooting arrows.
I shivered from the memory and came back to my senses; I knew that our band was headed to my town. I preoccupied myself with gathering together the campsite. By the time we set out it was noon. We made it to the town by sundown and to rest for the night, we rested in the ashes of my house, for no one would provide us with housing. As the bitter winds blew my memories into my face I realized how wrong I had acted in this house and had to fight back the urge to run from that place.
I woke up early the next day, and made my way over the fields, and then past them to the slave quarters hidden from view by the grove. It was worn down by the weather but the trees that it was surrounded by kept it up with their branches. I looked over the filthy inside, the torn cloth and hay, and send a silent apology to God before leaving.
As they set out I stayed back and told them I would meet up in the next town. Watching as they left I remembered the day the men from Sherman’s army changed my life. I set out after them but fell from the pain inside. I saw my wife sitting there and Arrow and my sons, and the kid. That kid that I let die just because of a stupid color, and I cried until I had nothing left in me.
I saw my revolver, now rusty, lying in the grass and went to pick it up. I held it close feeling the friendly grip and the power inside and realized now what I must do. Using my other hand I took out a piece of folded slave freedom papers. I had taken them from Arrow after he died, knowing he had kept them for a reason and trying to help him make what he wanted done come true. Signing my signature I put it and all the money I had acquired next to the shadow of the boy I killed. Then holding the gun tight I pulled the trigger; I would die the way he did and I would never hurt another man again.
Just as the world started to darken I saw a young lady come out to the money and take it and I smiled for I knew that I had done what I could and Danny Turner turned and drifted away to follow the path the kid left for me.





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