Excerpt: Triangle: A Memoir of Black Caesar
Nassau, New Providence, Bahamas, February 1705
Edward Drummond sat alone in the rustic charm of Cockburn’s Tavern, near the wharf on ‘M’ Street, in Nassau. The wooden cup on the barrel head before him was empty for the third time since he’d come. He flipped his last token into the air, using his finger and his thumb to set it spinning. The tarnished copper coin, the size of a halfpenny, bore the proprietors name around the top of its diameter on one side, “Sullivan Cockburn” and a date at the bottom, “1699”, in the center it read simply, “One Cup”. The opposite side was blank, saving both time and money in its production, it represented the very end of Eddy’s resources, its clear meaning being that something would soon have to be done to provide for tomorrow’s needs. He’d no intention of going hungry again, a condition that had become too frequent in the recent past.
He sat in quiet thought, mesmerized by the sparkling motes of dust floating through brilliant shafts of sunlight that streamed through small openings in the tavern’s palm thatched roof. His concentration was broken for a second time by three men on the other side of the tavern’s small public room. The three were brandishing knives around a boy of perhaps fifteen years, trying to intimidate him into writing a letter home for ransom. The boy had resisted bravely, though the men had punched him repeatedly, poked him with their knives and threatened worse. Now the principle among them, a great, hulking Dutchman, flashed his knife in front of the boy and threatened to begin cutting off fingers if he didn’t take pen to paper.
Eddy flipped his copper token once more and watched the coin twirl through the shaft of light in front of him. He tried to ignore the proceedings in the same way that Sully, the proprietor, ignored them, but, oh God, how he hated bullies. With anger building deep inside, he snapped the token out of the air in mid-flight and, without turning his head, said, “You men’re disturbin’ me. Leave the boy and go. Find some other place t’ be a disturbance.”