Memory of Freedom
by D.B. Jackson
Ethan Kaille was halfway through this week's issue of the Boston Gazette when he finally took
note of the date on the front page. Monday, 4 August 1760. That made this the seventh. He had
been a free man for exactly three months.
A quarter of a year gone. The days had flown by too fast. He should have been able to account
for each one, and he couldn't. They were a blur -- wasted and forgotten, gray and
indistinguishable. For fourteen years he had wished away the hours, desperately coaxed the
scorching sun across tropical skies, endured days of unending labor and nights of unbearable
longing. Fourteen years. They might as well have been fourteen lifetimes. And now he had
squandered three months of precious freedom.
For a panicked moment, he couldn't remember any of it -- it seemed that he had slept the
months away. But no, he had made his way on foot from the plantation to port, where the ship to
Charleston, South Carolina, waited. That took two days. The voyage from Barbados to
Charleston took closer to two weeks, as did the second voyage up the coast to Boston, where he
had lived before prison, before the Ruby Blade mutiny. In between, he spent nearly a month
working the wharves in Charleston trying to earn money for the second voyage. Then there were
nights spent in Boston's Almshouse, days when he limped through the cobbled streets of the
city, making his way from wharf to wharf, warehouse to shipyard, seeking employment. And
finally, weeks of tedium working at the Silver Key, serving food and drink, clearing tables,
mopping floors, rolling and hefting barrels of ale, repairing tables and chairs damaged by the
tavern's patrons during nights of drunken revelry.
It wasn't that time had slipped by, Ethan realized, but rather that thus far freedom, at least as he
had imagined it during his incarceration, had eluded him.
Ethan lowered the paper. William Keyes, owner of the Silver Key, stood in the doorway to the
small alcove where Ethan reclined on his rope bed.
"Ya can laze around on yar own time. When ya're workin' fer me, ya'll do just that: work."