Landie’s History of the Bayous

Earlier in the week, Cary had called and asked if she could visit on the weekend. Landie’s young friend had sounded like she needed a confidant. Expecting there might be time during the visit, Landie went to the closet where she kept Roberto’s family journals and selected one that contained a couple of incidents she thought would be interesting to Cary. She also pulled a notebook of her own that consisted of family details Landie had compiled on a trip to the Louisiana bayous some sixty years earlier.

Through her research involving very old church bibles and other church records, Landie had traced down a number of her own ancestors. With that information at her fingertips, she had then set out to find and ask questions of the oldest of her own relatives  in the area.

Fortunately, the then twenty-one year old Landie had been able to locate two distant ninety plus year old female cousins on her mother’s side of the family and and a male cousin-by-marriage on her father’s side who had reached 101 years of age. All three individuals were sharp of mind, with memories, both of their own experiences and of things they had heard or been told by their own elders when the cousins were young. And one should remember, these three individuals had been young in the years going back to approximately 1850. That could easily make their elders birth dates go back to the late 1700s.

A number of the relatives and others had lived in the area around New Iberia, Louisiana, in those earlier years. The settlement, dating back to 1779, was aka Nueva Iberia, Nouvelle Ibérie and New Town by American settlers after the Louisiana Purchase. It received its first post office from the federal government in 1814. Originally settled by a group of 500 Malagueños colonists led by Lt.Col. Francisco Bouligny, those brave individuals came up Bayou Teche and settled around Spanish Lake.

One subject came up in most conversations Landie had with her distant cousins. Yellow fever came to the bayous and to New Iberia in 1839, and had made its presence felt in most of the families there. Spreading up and down the Teche, the epidemic touched almost every family, with most losing at least one member to the illness before it passed from the water and mosquito laden countryside. A name often mentioned along with the death was that of a black woman named Félicité. It seems the individual, a native of Santo Domingo, Haiti, was apparently immune to the virus. As such, she worked day and night nursing the sick and comforting the dying. Burial of the dead was even arranged by the tireless woman. Without her many more victims would have been lost to the fever.

The names of seventeen family members who succumbed to the fever in late1839, and early 1840, were recorded in Landie’s notes of her visit to the bayous. The male cousin’s father had come down with the fever but had managed to survive as one of Félicité’s patients.

Placing her notebook on a table, Landie sat for several minutes visualizing what life must have been like in the low-lying areas in those early days. Mosquitos were just a part of everyday living as were the ‘gaters and the hurricanes.

Thinking of Cary’s upcoming visit, Landie wondered if the two of them might someday consider a trip to New Iberia. As one got older, it was interesting to return to places where their family’s history originated.

Approaching Cary about the trip would be one of the to-do items on Landie’s list.

A Little About Joe

Some of you know a little about me. Others know a lot. Those, I consider to be the dangerous ones. (Kidding!).

Over time and in this blog, I will tell you a few things, and I will endeavor to answer questions when and if you have them. I’m basically like most of you in that I worked to retirement and then looked around for things to keep me busy for the next half of my life.

Fortunately, there was something I had dreamed of since childhood. I wanted to write a book (books actually—as in more than one). As you must know by now, the idea has worked out. Three Letter Series novels are in print, a fourth is in the process, and I have subjects and ideas for several more stories, both in and outside of the Letter Series. I doubt that I will run out of material anytime soon.

For those of you who don’t know, the locale for the new story is Prague, Capital of the Czech Republic in Central Europe. Why Prague? Doesn’t the city’s name itself cry out for a good medical suspense thriller novel? I thought it did, so I’m working to fill the need.

About that – An unexpected letter lands in Rage Doyle’s Post Office box at Coker Creek, Tennessee, and sends him packing for a long trip. The correspondence was postmarked in Prague. I probably shouldn’t tell you more . . . well . . . maybe one little thing. The letter is from a woman—a very special woman.

That’s it, my lips are sealed.

 

If you have questions or comments regarding the author, the books, characters or places and times, give me a shout. I take emails at Joe@SilverSageMedia.com.

 

A bit of information here — In this section of the website, you are finding blogs on some of the characters in my books. I have often read books myself and would have liked to know more about a particular individual in that story – background, etc. In writing I have found there are literary limits on how much you can tell unless the material takes the story forward. That is the reason for these character blogs. But, you should keep the following disclaimer in mind as you read this information. The information in these character blogs is fiction, like the stories – nothing more or less. In some situations, actual circumstances, places and individuals are used to tell a fictional story—again, nothing more.

 

DISCLAIMER: Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictionally. Any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

 

Rage Doyle, an anomaly

Having spent most of his life in covert operations of one type or another, Raegene Dorryen Doyle had never left himself open to speculation. The first twenty-seven years of his working life had been spent as an agent of the Central Intelligence Agency. For the last nineteen years he had kept himself busy as a private contractor doing the same type of business. As an individual without strings attached, Doyle had become a valuable operative to U. S. Security forces as well as a number of foreign governments and agencies.

Early in his career, Doyle had been dubbed The Author. The nickname had nothing to do with writing books or other types of literature. Instead, the title had developed from his early examples of a unique ability to plan and carry out missions others thought impossible. Rage Doyle was of the attitude that anything could be accomplished if one truly searched for an answer. His theory proved right more often than not on projects where he was involved.

Few who knew Rage Doyle and was privy to his operations also knew that President Lyndon B. Johnson had first called him The Author. It seems Doyle’s name kept coming up at briefings and in reports crossing Johnson’s desk. The President inquired about the young CIA agent one day and was given his file to read. After that, Johnson always referred to Doyle as The Arthur. Not wanting to be at odds with the President, others began using The Author when referring to Doyle and the nickname stuck.

Rage Doyle’s first foreign posting after joining the CIA was to the U.S. Embassy in Prague, Czechoslovakia. When Doyle’s name came up in quiet conversations wherever operatives met, there was often talk of a young woman in Prague. No one seemed to know her name but most could remember that she had long blond hair often worn in one braided tail. And they remembered she had green eyes that were difficult to describe. Most who tried ended shaking their head and saying something like “they were this indescribable green—not just green but . . .” That’s when they began to shake their heads.

Doyle had left Prague and the woman after a couple of months. A call had sent him to South America—specifically to Bolivia and it’s mountainous jungles. Though there was no proven connection to Rage Doyle,  Ernesto “Che” Guevara was located, wounded and captured in a firefight in the Yuro ravin of Bolivia’s mountains on October 8th, 1967. The revolutionary, and Fidel Castro’s friend, was executed the next day in the nearby small village of La Higuera. The capture and execution was only a few short months after Doyle’s arrival in the country. Coincidence? Most thought not!

One of the other traits Doyle was known for involved the fact that he almost never made notes of any sort. He seemed to carry all sorts of details in his mind and argued information couldn’t be lost that way. When confronted with the fact that intelligence would obviously be lost if he was killed, Doyle pointed out that without him, any of his particulars would already be useless. Given his record, fellow operatives and managers tended to agree.

Does she or does she not.

Cary knew she would never get used to having him leave her. Despite the way she had grown to feel about him, she wasn’t sure Webster also felt that way. She wasn’t even sure her own emotions could be called love. Neither of them had used that word.

Were they just being careful, Cary wondered? She got up from the table and holding onto her coffee, walked to the bedroom where he had slept only a  few short nights ago. Taking a deep breath, she edged forward and brushed her hand across the comforter he had used to stay warm.

She had dreamed again last night that she had joined him there under the covers. Remembering, Cary felt herself blush at thoughts that continued to occupy her mind. Not even safe at work, she had closed her office door several times recently and sat facing the windows, thinking of him and wishing he was still there with her.

Cary had dreamed of Webster almost every night since he left her. In the latest  episode, they had drawn each other close, kissing with the passion of teenagers. Then, still in the vision, the two lovers had started to explore their longings past the kissing. And finally she had started to give in to . . .

But she hadn’t; it was just a dream, and now he was gone to who-knows-where.

Returning to the kitchen, Cary tried to pull herself away from thoughts of Webster. Easier said than done!

There was so much Cary didn’t know about him and so little she did know. He had told her things about himself, but could she believe them? Was he always secretive and on guard with everyone, even lying to her? On the lakefront in New Orleans, when they had been searching for her mother’s killer, he had appeared to open up, to be honest with her.

He had said he was hiding from unsavory people who wanted him dead. The attack in North Carolina had seemed to verify several pieces of information about Webster. Obviously, his enemies had been trying to kill him, but were those the only ones. Who would know, other than Webster? Maybe his boss, Jack Robbins? But she couldn’t just call and ask.

Not even knowing where he had gone when he left her on Sunday was a bit of a problem. Having these almost erotic dreams couldn’t be overlooked, either.

If she could talk about the situation, perhaps that would help. But who would listen and and give her an honest opinion. Probably not Rita and besides, she was taking some time away from the office after her kidnapping. Poor Rita! Thanks to the Hunter, she had been raked through the fires of Hades, yet she come out smiling on the other side.

Then Cary thought of the perfect person to help her. She picked up her iPhone and scanned the contacts, picking the one individual who really could help. Then Cary dialed the number.

“Hello?”

Though old in years, the voice on the other end of the line had wisdom beyond almost everyone Cary had ever known. And she would listen, Cary knew that.

“Landie, I need your help,” she said. “May I come see you this weekend?”

 

Georgetown, VA, and Edith Ann Collins

He remembered driving all night that first night. Without a stopping place in mind, Webster had headed north. In the early hours of morning and somewhere along the dark highway, he picked Washington DC, as his destination.

Arriving on a Sunday morning, Webster stopped at a neighborhood cafe and ordered breakfast. A friendly waitress suggested he head over to Georgetown, even giving directions. She suggested he look for signs advertising apartments for rent. They were the best, she said, even if a little pricy, and they’re there, she told him, “if you look hard enough.”

Finding Georgetown had been the easy part. As the waitress warned, driving the streets searching for signs advertising the rentals had been the challenge. Webster was out of his element. Yet, he remained positive and continued looking.

Finally!

The house was large, obviously old, and reeked of money. A small sign at the street only said there was an apartment available, nothing more. Webster had been hesitant to even ring the doorbell.

Summoning courage, he mounted the curving brick steps, took a deep breath, and pushed the button. They’re just people like me, he remembered thinking that day. And it’s Sunday. Everybody has to be nice on Sunday. He had smiled then, thinking, I bet it’s a rule that you have to smile.

The door had swung open revealing a short older woman. She couldn’t have been more than five feet, but her grin was a good six footer. Webster had resisted the temptation to look look behind him for someone she knew and liked. But he knew there was no one else. The little woman was definitely smiling at him.

“Well hello, young man,” she said. “I bet you are here about the apartment.” Grabbing Webster by the arm, she pulled him inside and gave the door a hearty shove.

“Come,” she said. “I’ll show you.”

That was how it all started.

The apartment was small but very nice. The furniture looked expensive, and the space had its own outside entrance. It was ideal except for the money. Webster had set a limit he could pay and the amount included utilities.

When the woman told him the price, Webster almost choked, and she had not mentioned electricity or other costs. He thanked her and was ready for a hasty retreat to the old Ford, even taking a couple of steps.

“Wait!”

He took another stride before turning back to face her. She was giving him the once-over, an index finger gently touching her lower lip.

After a few moments of quiet, she inquired as to whether Webster had a number in mind. He began explaining, “I don’t have much to start on …”

He stopped when she held up her hand, saying, “How much?”

He told her, feeling his face grow red as he did.

“Is that the best you can do?”

“… Yes, ma’am.”

She had looked him up and down again, then she laid out her conditions.

“I’ll rent it to you for that amount,” she told him, “with two requirements.”

Webster couldn’t imagine what those could be.

Then she smiled, pointing a finger in his direction and shaking it to emphasize her requirements. “No loud parties, and you have dinner with me once a week … you pick the night.”

Webster thought he couldn’t have heard her correctly. But he had, she assured him. She gave her reasons: she was tired of being alone in the big house,  he seemed a nice young man, and he could be her handyman—“if he didn’t mind.”

That is how he had met Mrs. Edith Ann Collins of Georgetown, Virginia.