Colonel Tye, with Talako and Barbey flanking him, sauntered toward the formation.
“Welcome to Casa Incognegro, you rogues and whip-jackets,” Colonel Tye said.
Snickers rose from among the platoon.
“I see some of you looking around, taking it all in,” Tye continued. “Maybe you’re looking for the tea pot, or the piss pot, depending on your mood.”
Tye took a big step forward, stopping within less than an arm’s reach from the soldiers in the front row.
“Well, guess what?” He said. “We ain’t got either one! What we do have is three acres of land and a fartleberry feast of lumber. So…”
“Twaddle!” Private Hawkins spat.
Tye shot a glance toward him. “What did you say?”
“I said ‘twaddle’,” Private Hawkins said. “This is complete and utter nonsense. It’s colder than a witch’s teat out here. Where are our bunks?”
“Watch your mouth!” Talako said. “You are addressing a superior officer.”
“Superior? Officer?” Private Hawkins chuckled. “You ain’t a real officer. Not in this white man’s army, you ain’t.”
“Real enough,” Tye said. “Step forward.”
Private Hawkins tromped out of the formation and walked up to Colonel Tye. “What is it?”
Colonel Tye stared into Private Hawkins’ eyes. His expression was stone. “How many people have you killed?”
“What?” Private Hawkins said, scratching his head.
“I am speaking English, I believe,” Tye replied. “How many people have you killed?”
“Thirteen,” Private Hawkins said, thrusting his chest outward and raising his chin.
“I have personally killed 878 men while looking them in the eye; more with my musket and my long bow,” Colonel Tye said. “I have hiked thirteen days straight without sleep or food and stuffed four feet of my own intestines back into my stomach. That’s why I wear the rank of colonel. That’s why you will respect it.”
Private Hawkins spit a glob of mucous into the snow. “Why are we here?”
“I can tell you why I’m here,” Tye said. “To teach.”
“What are you going to teach me?” Private Hawkins said with a smirk.
“Nothing,” Colonel Tye replied. “You are going to teach them.”
“Me? Teach this lot of bucks and belly-warmers?” Private Hawkins grunted. “What could I possibly teach them?”
Colonel Tye slapped Private Hawkins across the jaw. A loud crack echoed across the field. “That what I say, goes.”
Who are you?
I was born Titus Cornelius, but you can call me Colonel Tye. I was enslaved in New Jersey, but I earned my freedom and my fame fighting as a so-called Loyalist during the American Revolutionary War.
You said “so-called Loyalist;” aren’t you just that?
I was never loyal to any white man. I’d be a fool to be. I never trusted the British to uphold their promise to set all enslaved Afrikans free who fought for the Crown. I did it for the training, the experience and the coin. With enough coin, I could make my escape from the Hell called the United States of America.
What is the quality you most like in a man?
A man should possess strong leadership and fighting skills.
Absolutely! I was the Crown’s most effective guerrilla leader.
What is the quality you most like in a woman?
I like my women smart, like Ngozi Edochie.
Read my story and find out.
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
I love the brothers – and sister – of the Black Brigade. We are bonded by war; by spilled blood and chewed dirt. I am closest to Talako, Barbey and Ngozi, of course.
What is your most treasured possession?
Ornithopter, boy! Read the damned book!
That, indeed you are.
I am what?
Oh. So, umm…what do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
The chains of slavery. The ones about the ankles and wrists and the ones about the mind.
Who are your favorite writers?
There are many. I suppose I’ll choose Balogun Ojetade, though, seeing as he is writing my memoirs and all. There are many great writers in the Rococoa anthology, though. Fourteen of them, to be exact.
What is your greatest regret?
That I never got a chance to give Ben Franklin a second fundament hole right in the middle of his forehead.
THE Ben Franklin?
Is there another?
So, Benjamin Franklin is the villain in your story in the Rococoa anthology?
Read the story and find out.
What is your motto?
Sit back and enjoy the show!
Check out Balogun Ojetade’s story March of the Black Brigade in the Rococoa anthology. Available now!