Susan Wolf Johnson

Gasparilla King Blog

People assume they know someone by how they dress, by how they speak, or what part of town they live in. But when we're able to dive deep into a family's life, into their history, and discover their darkest secrets, we find out that what we see on the outside only scratches the surface of what's really going on inside the home...
In chapter two of King Daniel, Becca has to grip the banister to steady herself when she climbs the stairs to her mother's bedroom. At the top of the staircase, she sees Eula, her beloved nanny, who has cared for Becca ever since she was born. From the novel we know Eula is an elderly family retainer who is slowly losing her eyesight. Here is a clip from that scene in the hall...
Daniel stood up and brushed smooth the creases in his overalls. His arms had grown hard and thin, and his belly had wasted, worn clean away. He was rugged and lean, a slide back to youth, and he imagined this time as an ecumenical passage, a time of shedding past sins. It was so clear now, what was not at all discernible in his life, and if he had to define it, he could, for the sense of what he felt this morning, watering the dead lawn and watching the worms slither up from the earth, was an adage, an apothegm that he could identify in one word: separate. And it was all so simple, the fallen leaves of an oak tree, squirrels rushing acorns to their nests, the lap of waves on Old Tampa Bay, a cardinal's song, the gusting wind, and sun, and heat, ice, flame, red and blue, and separate, and not as he viewed the world when he lived within its rainy arms.
Within minutes the Blew Bayou was gliding south toward the deep channel. They needed to get across the northern shoal of the island without hitting ground. Now the lighthouse beam lit up the port side of the boat markers that would guide them to the water that surrounded the island. Spider sat on the fishing throne keeping watch. As they motored toward the west side, the moon rose to twelve o'clock high and cast its light across Egmont Channel. Victor hiked a knee onto the seat next to the cabin door, so he could face the hull, while Kurt held on to the ladder. He told Evan to punch it. 
Daniel settled his body, gone lank this last month from roaming, no sleep, no food, just an odd wakefulness as if between time, juxtaposed between the heavens where the sun's heat was not weighted against the skin but remote and veiled as music playing in a dream. And cool was unimaginable, for nothing was quenched or sated, but drawn out hard and moving endlessly toward an unknown. He settled himself into a metal lawn chair. From where the water hit the seared lawn, no longer a spray but a constant stream, worms floated to the surface. Daniel saw them wiggle in the dead grass, the small, common angleworm that he could easily gather and take to the river's edge to fish. He could take the worms down and show the boy, Quinn, who sat on a plastic bucket with his cane pole baited and his line flung into the Hillsborough River, waiting for a bite.
Kurt grinned at the Spiderman. "The reefer business is exploding. There's a lot more players in the game now. Boats, drivers, stash houses, trucks, investors—you name it." Kurt leaned against the pedestaled fishing chair. "A two-bit punk hijacking yachts on his own doesn't stand a chance."
The sky had grown a deep purple above them, and a gust of wind blew through the yard with a fury. Becca picked up a chair to arrange it with some others in a semicircle under the live oak. The tree's limbs spread out like arms stretching across the backyard. A pair of jenny wrens hopped along the branches, squawking intensely at them. "They've been scolding me all day." Just as Becca said the words, the male swooped down and pecked the scarf off her head.
The lighthouse beam flashed on, and the masked man crouched low on the deck, his limbs crawling spiderlike. The revolver had landed within a foot of him. He lunged at it, sweeping it into his hand before Victor or Kurt could stop him. In an instant, the man sprang to his feet. He held his own pistol in his right hand and stuffed Kurt's gun into the back pocket of his black jeans. "Nice boat you got here," he said, waving Evan down from the ladder. "How about I borrow it for a while." 
Suddenly Victor realized Salazar had left him and Evan unprotected on the Blew Bayou. He immediately started searching the bait wells, the pockets alongside the boat, for a weapon. He'd grope around in the dark, grab hold of something, and then examine it when the lighthouse flashed on. He found a fishing gaff, some lines, a net, and a set of boning knives. When he opened the leather box, the knives were lined up by length. He pulled out the two shortest ones and handed one to Evan.
As the Lady Luck approached Egmont Key, whenever the lighthouse beam flashed across the water, Victor could see Captain Mortenson on the Bertram's fly bridge, wagging a cigarette at them. Once within earshot, Mortenson told them to throw the anchor. Evan scrambled down the ladder to follow the captain's bid. A southeasterly breeze had kicked up with enough gust to dry the sweat from Victor's T-shirt and ruffle his hair. But in spite of the wind, the water gleamed as smooth and reflective as God's own mirror.

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