4. A dog’s life
More of an idea than a plan. Get his muscular hide out of here. Free from these high prison walls. Nights not trapped in that stinking hellhole underground. Get bought. Get away from here. A chink of hope. Mitchell would prise that chance open. He’d escape.
That buyer had prodded every muscle. He had poked everything .. testing the hardness of Mitchell’s strength. Even spent time checking he was not diseased down south. This sucker .. rougher-looking than the rest .. probably looking for some muscle-head slave to work his quarries .. he had taken a shine to Mitchell. And Mitchell had taken a shine to him. He was Mitchell’s chink of hope. The escape route. His way out of this mess.
He didn’t take to being pawed. Like hell would he have put up with anything like it back home. Reminded him of those negroes in the market for sale. It got right up his nose. He itched to lash out. But this thug-looking sucker was his key to the door. He’d let this bastard get his feel .. as much as he needed. Mitchell was luring the fool in .. invited to enter his own little web.
“Not for sale.”
The proceedings came to a shocked halt. They were in the middle of auctioning, several of Mitchell’s mates had been sold off. The realisation had struck him with a sense of dismay, they were being split up. They were each on their own. Sold off to different clients, they’d never see each other again. Mitchell’s first reaction was dis-heartened. Realising that if he was to save his hide, he was totally on his own, he couldn’t count on his mates to help out. None of them could. Quickly the goal of freedom seemed dauntingly high. But then, forcefully, he told himself, he was resilient, he thought on his toes. He’d get through this. Surviving .. coping with this life .. making this work .. getting free .. it was all down to him. And he’d make it work!
Now it was Mitchell’s turn. The assembled buyers had turned their eyes on him. Stood proud and strong, the press of his hands behind his head broadening his chest. Flattening the muscular force in his belly.
“Forget it. That one .. not for sale.”
A couple of other buyers had already made offers on Mitchell’s muscular hide. It didn’t much matter to him who put down the cash for him. Get sold, get out of this place. All that mattered …. get himself free. One buyer was as good as another for now.
His own pet-client seemed to have been holding back. An experienced buyer, it seemed, assessing the lie of the land. Then he came into the bidding. He topped the last bid. When countered, he made a big jump. Indicating to the others, THIS was the one he wanted. He was going to get his hands on this sucker. And he’d out-match any bid.
“This one’s not up for sale.”
Everyone shot around to find the mystery voice. Mitchell too. Following others’ looks. And finding the pirate captain leaning against the mud wall. Rais lurking in the shade.
“This one stays.”
Mitchell’s pet-client looked pissed-off. He protested. Rais put him straight.
“What is it about ’Not for sale’ you didn’t understand?”
The captain spoke firmly but calmly. But the force of his presence spoke otherwise. Even the thuggish demeanour of Mitchell’s pet-client seemed to hesitate. Rais’ gaze said he was not to be denied.
“NOT FOR SALE.”
The client backed off, disappointed. The bidding moved on to the next marine .. to quickly cover up the anger that hung in the air. The client stormed off. Glowering. Furious. Frustrated. Mumbling angrily at this waste of his time. Clearly he had had special intentions for Mitchell.
Good or bad .. whatever, Mitchell was now left without a plan. Stuck with Rais. He glanced back at the captain. The pirate noticed the move. He returned Mitchell’s look. When Mitchell did not lower his eyes, the stare turned into a glare. A warning. Warning a slave of the risk of daring to stare his master back.
Mitchell was pissed-off. His plans suddenly thwarted. Not much of a plan .. but a hope. This damned pirate had his claws into him and he wasn’t letting him go. Frustrated Mitchell returned his glare. He stuck his chin out, firm, resolute. His hands trapped in the collar in the back of his neck, Mitchell stuck out his chest. Giving that pirate’s glare back the sign. Pissed-off. Thwarted .. but not beaten.
Mitchell was stuck. His escape plan, for what it had been worth, in ruins. And he was stuck with a man who also had plans on him. He doubted they’d be anything less than gruelling. Stuck within these high walls, no escape. Stuck, trapped in that sweat-hole underground, no getting away. Rais was not letting him go. Like he had said .. at that swordfight aboard ship .. he had Mitchell’s face. No letting it go. Rais was not going to forget that face.
Mitchell pressed his elbows backwards, widening the muscular power of his front. Standing up to the glare. Thwarted but not broken. There’d be a way. This pirate had it in for him. But Mitchell was not giving up. He’d lost this battle. But the war went on.