Every once in a while, I post on my Facebook page, asking friends and strangers for volunteers in a writing exercise. Essentially, I write an intro for them into a non-existent novel. It's a fun exercise for me, as I try to use what I know about the person to inform, not only their entrance, but the style of the book or story that I think they'd best suit. Radio personality, rocker, and actor Jeff "Skumpi" Lorenz (check out his band here) graciously allowed me to use his likeness in this, a scene from a Revolutionary War epic. Be sure to let me know what you think!
Dawn came and the first reports started to filter in – there’d been a shooting in Lexington. People had died and the lobsterbacks were moving on Concord. My mother was visibly trembling, but she was determined she wouldn’t leave our tavern and farm for the troops to sack on their return. She opened as usual, but the only person who stopped by was a woodsman, tall, gray-haired, dressed in worn buckskin and carrying the longest musket I’d ever seen. He ordered a cider and then took a seat in the corner. He was asleep before I could bring the cider to him.
We knew that the British were retreating long before they came. They were falling back to Boston empty-handed and the militia was following them. Neighbors came to warn us. My mother closed up the tavern, took up her musket, and warned us to stay out of sight.
The troops that returned from Concord weren’t the same men that had passed our house that morning. They were bloodied and bedraggled, angry and frightened, exhausted and jumpy. The first group passed our tavern, stopping only to bang upon the door. We kept quiet and they passed on. We could hear shots now, growing closer and closer. The frightened murmurs became roars. The banging on our door became more insistent. By the time the last group of soldiers arrived, it had become battery. We remained behind the counter, frightened and watching my mother. It was only when the redcoats shouted, “Let’s burn it down!” that she stepped up from behind the counter and opened the door.
“My children are in here…” she said, but she didn’t get a chance to finish. The soldiers shoved her aside and stormed into the tavern. One of them grabbed her by the arm and dragged her along with them.
“Let me go!” she exclaimed and for the first time in my life, I heard fear in my mother’s voice.
Two were holding my mother. Another three were tearing their way through our supplies. From outside, I could hear the sound of the militia, yelling and frightening, but still too far away to help us. I hopped up from behind the counter and charged the soldiers.
“Let her go!” I exclaimed, with all the fury a twelve-year-old could muster.
I slammed into one of them, only to have another soldier pluck me up and heft me across the room. I hit the floor hard, all the air knocked out of my chest.
“Cockroach,” he spat and turned back to my mother.
He didn’t see the swinging musket until it was too late. It hit him on the head with a sickening crack and he was down and out.
We’d all forgotten about the woodsman. With a roar that shook the rafters, he tore through the soldiers like a demon, using his big musket like a club. It was five to one, but they didn’t have a chance. Two more dropped, the third pulled a knife but didn’t last long. The last soldier simply ran out the door and abandoned his fellows.
I lay on my back, watching the big man move like a blur of tan buckskin. When it was all over, he turned to me and offered me a hand up.
“You’ve got spirit, son,” he said. “I like your courage.” His blue eyes were bright. After all that work, he was barely winded at all.
“Who-who are you?” I asked.
“Names Lorenz,” he said. “But you can call me Skumpi, son.”