Saturday, April 23, 2011
An and the Pirates - Excerpt from 'The Smell of Gas'
It was a fine plan, except that when the men of the crew saw An, they immediately knew that she was a woman. They made some crude remarks, but Lian drew his sword, and everyone agreed An could come along on this one voyage only.
Lian’s “pirate ship” was hardly worthy of being called a ship at all. It was little more than a large fishing boat, although it did have a cannon. The rusted cannon had been salvaged from the wreck of a British trader. The ship’s crew consisted of six men other than Lian. They didn’t give An their names, and she didn’t ask. They looked as if they all had something to hide. She wouldn’t have been surprised if they were all murderers. Still, sensing that this was her only chance, An clung to Lian and sailed with them.
Three days out to sea, the would-be pirates had encountered nothing but fishing vessels. They would sometimes rob the unfortunate fisherman of their catch, their water, or their liquor if there was any, but it was hardly worth the trouble. Then, as the sun was beginning to set on the third evening, An spotted a ship’s billowing white sails in the distance. She took the news straight to Lian.
Lian took a look at the vessel and shook his head. “Japanese Navy,” he said. “We wouldn’t dare.”
“What do you mean, you wouldn’t dare?” An said. “You’re a pirate.”
“The penalty for piracy is death,” said one of the crew. “And the Japanese are even more relentless about tracking down violators than the Chinese.”
“Especially if the victim ship happens to be in the Navy,” Lian added. “Attack the Japanese military and they’ll consider it an attack against the Emperor himself. And you know how funny they are about their royal family.”
The entire crew laughed, except An. She’d met a few Japanese men in her line of work, but she’d had little opportunity to converse with them about politics.
The ship’s crew went back to what they were doing--drinking and playing cards, mostly. An watched the single-masted vessel with the white sails as it drew closer.
She soon realized it was not alone. There were three Naval vessels in a V formation, escorting the largest ship An had ever seen. She ran and reported this finding to Lian.
He looked at the ships again. He smiled and shook his head. “Somebody really important,” he told his sister. “Maybe the Emperor himself.”
“Let’s take it,” An said.
Love pulp fiction? Just try putting down THE SMELL OF GAS by Erin O'Riordan and Tit Elingtin. TSOG is full of saints and sinners you'll love to hate. There's Brigid, the high school basketball player and secret heroin addict. Fred, a Catholic lesbian teen, loves Brigid, but doesn't know about her affair with Edward, a married Evangelical preacher...oh yes, there are also turn-of-the-century Chinese pirates. Sex, ethics, religions and mythologies clash as you dig deeper into their connection to the death of a young couple. Available now in print and e-book from Melange Books.