He gave Hannibal a shove, chewing up his words as he spoke, “Alright then. What have we here? A ruddy fool, what doesn’t look where he’s going!?” The man took a step toward Hannibal, poking him in the chest for emphasis as he continued, “I’ve a right mind to teach you a lesson, blacky. Haven’t I.”

            The man’s companions, who were just as seedy looking as he was, spread out to flank Hannibal on either side. There were five of them in total. Hannibal smiled and said, “How about a bath first?”

            They looked at each other, their faces turning red with anger.

Hannibal ducked under a sloppily thrown right hand. As he stood back up, he kicked the leader in the groin as hard as he could.

The man crumpled to the floor like an empty burlap sack.

Hannibal took two, full steps back, to give himself some space to maneuver. When he did, he pulled both of his wheel-lock pistols from his sash, cocking them in the process. He aimed one at the leader’s head. The man was on his knees, clutching at his groin. He aimed the other at the groin of the nearest man to his left.

The men all froze in place, rusty sabers half-drawn. Hannibal had seen only one flintlock pistol. It was still tucked behind the belt at the leader’s waist. The rabble stood there, slack-jawed, with wide eyes trying to look at their leader and Hannibal at the same time. No one made a sound. The sound of a blunderbuss being cocked seemed incredibly loud in the silence. Hannibal saw Ebrima, standing behind the bar, with the short barrel of the weapon aimed at the head of the man nearest to him.

            Hannibal paused to let them figure out that they were in an untenable situation.

The men looked anxiously at one another.

Hannibal smiled calmly, giving each of them a good, hard look.

They were bilge rats. They were not hardened soldiers or pirates. They were the kind of men who liked to fight when they had the numbers on their side and thought they faced someone unwilling to fight back. It was likely that they saw the young Berber couple on the street and decided they were easy pickings.

            Looking down at the leader, Hannibal flashed him his most wicked grin. He had a few different one-liners. He decided against using his usual I’m crazy enough to do it line. A little gleam in the eye always added just the right touch. Once he had their undivided attention, he said, “I haven’t shot anyone in awhile. Maybe it’s time. If for no other reason than to clean out my guns. What do you think?”

Who are you?

I am Hannibal. I am called a pirate.

I hear a “but.”

But I don’t hunt merchant ships; I hunt pirate ships that have turned to slaving. I, along with my crew, attack Barbary pirate ships, freeing the captured people and plundering the ships for gold, silver, rum, salt, or whatever other treasures those ships invariably carry. It is a lucrative business.

What is the quality you most like in a man?

Courage.

What is the quality you most like in a woman?

Courage.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?

My family.

You’re a man of few words, huh?

I say what is needed.

What is your most treasured possession?

All that I own; all that I am. And coffee.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

Slavery.

Who are your favorite writers?

Gerald L. Coleman. Ever read him?

He’s that preacher fellow, isn’t he?

A poet, with preacher tendencies, I believe. Whatever he is, he can write. As good as coffee, I’d say.

Nothing is as good as coffee!

Bacon is.

Touché. So, what is your greatest regret?

That the Rococoa anthology is only 436 pages long. If only Gerald Coleman had been allowed to write of more than one of my adventures…

It is still a great anthology, though and 436 pages is a lot.

I suppose. It is a great work. I just prefer reading books in the range of 6000-18000 pages.

What the whatsis?

The days get long on the sea.

Okay…um…so, what is your motto? “Reading is fundamental?”

No. That’s a good one, though. I can see myself shouting “Reading is fundamental!” As I slap a pirate in the face with a book. I do have a few one-liners. My usual is: “I’m crazy enough to do it!”

Check out Gerald L. Coleman’s story, Fool’s Errand, in the Rococoa anthology. Available now!

About Balogun

Balogun is the author of the bestselling Afrikan Martial Arts: Discovering the Warrior Within and screenwriter / producer / director of the films, A Single Link, Rite of Passage: Initiation and Rite of Passage: The Dentist of Westminster. He is one of the leading authorities on Steamfunk – a philosophy or style of writing that combines the African and / or African American culture and approach to life with that of the steampunk philosophy and / or steampunk fiction – and writes about it, the craft of writing, Sword & Soul and Steampunk in general, at https://chroniclesofharriet.com/. He is author of eight novels – the Steamfunk bestseller, MOSES: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman (Books 1 & 2); the Urban Science Fiction saga, Redeemer; the Sword & Soul epic, Once Upon A Time In Afrika; a Fight Fiction, New Pulp novella, Fist of Afrika; the gritty, Urban Superhero series, A Single Link and Wrath of the Siafu; the two-fisted Dieselfunk tale, The Scythe and the “Choose-Your-Own-Destiny”-style Young Adult novel, The Keys. Balogun is also contributing co-editor of two anthologies: Ki: Khanga: The Anthology and Steamfunk. Finally, Balogun is the Director and Fight Choreographer of the Steamfunk feature film, Rite of Passage, which he wrote based on the short story, Rite of Passage, by author Milton Davis and co-author of the award winning screenplay, Ngolo. You can reach him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Afrikan.Martial.Arts; on Twitter @Baba_Balogun and on Tumblr at www.tumblr.com/blog/blackspeculativefiction.

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