On the Banks of the River Called Neuse

1725. The sound of the Venison Mother's mast cracking boomed like cannon ball shot from the innards of a Royal ship of the line. Splinters caught one man in the throat, one man in the eye. The throat-man bled to death under the bone crushers as the bone crushers stampeded across the deck with a blast of water in tow. The deck heaved up, dropped a deluge of brackish surf onto the other half of the deck, which plowed through the water's surface and rammed the river floor. Thirty men drowned to death, their ship their coffin.
Fifty barrels of tobacco, a ton of molasses, a heap of sugar and a thousand gold coins descended into uselessness along with the Venison's Mother. The ship, manned by pirates, was now part of the river-floor's topography, its booty entirely without utility for the smuggling trade and the sub rosa clients dotted across the creeks and coves of colonial North Carolina. Lieutenant Maynard lost interest in the vessel, and the Crown moved on to the pursuit of other scofflaws. A hundred years of being ignored by all but the alligators and the blue-and-white crabs that inhabit the river floor oof the river called Neuse.
1819. A family of slavers had built a plantation house in the style of an old Greek manor on the banks of the river called Neuse. Chattel slaves attended the family of slavers, the blood of the bondsmen the fuel for the family's prosperity. Sun rose. Slaves were driven the lash to pick the cotton. Sun set. The slaves went to their cabins to sing hymns of longing and hope.
Scipio, a young man the family of slavers believed to be their slave, had a plan for tonight. On a warm, steamy night in the month of July on the banks of the river called Neuse, Scipio, rejecting his captivity, would flee his prison. Scipio gathered his things and kissed his sleeping mother goodbye, and crept through the thicket of cotton plants until he reached the river, and then he jumped in and swam a mile across to the banks of the other side of the river called Neuse.
Scipio was a man who was hunted. He swapped the gold coins he had earned in the town for suit with a high collar and a hat he could pull over his eyes, but they became saturated with sweat in the tough Southern heat. But the human-hunters still knew his face and as he traversed the forests on the banks of the river called Neuse, he kept to the shadows, the shadows. He made it to New Bern and stowed away on a ship bound North, and two weeks later he was finally Free.
1997. David's father offered him a fireball, which David unwrapped and popped into his mouth, setting his tastebuds ablaze. The long pier at the south end of Camp Seagull was a dull brown against the brilliant silver-blue of the waters of the river called Neuse. David's friends had told him about a pirate ship that wrecked on the river and a slave who had swum across the river to freedom. David believed them. His father smiled at his son's imagination.