Previously in the novel: Novice mercenary Leon fails in a kidnapping because of David, better known as Edward the Prince of Wales. Also in the spy world is socialite Wallis Spencer, who dumps first husband Winfield, kills Uncle Sol, has an affair with German Joachin Von Ribbentrop and marries Ernest. Each are on the Tanganyika Express to get their hands on the stolen Crown Jewels.Leon kills an agent to save Wallis.
Leon was a bit miffed. When he stabbed the German on the Tanganyika Express, the blood spurted all over his white linen suit. Leon took a detour through Cairo to buy a new one. He remembered Mrs. Ribbentrop years ago commenting on the high quality of Egyptian fabric. Even though he was quite pleased with the purchase, Leon mourned the passing of his first white linen suit.
Back home on Eleuthura, he ran down the dusty road to his hacienda. Jessamine bolted out of the gate and threw her arms around him. She did not comment on his new clothes which bothered him. If she truly loved him, he reasoned, she should have noticed and complimented him. Leon dismissed the thought as six-year-old Sidney raced to him and leapt into his arms.
“Papa! I’m so happy to see you! Let’s play!”
Leon swung him around and Sidney’s legs flew straight out. The boy giggled. Before Leon could toss the boy in the air, Jessamine grabbed her husband’s arm.
“Did everything go all right?” Her brow furrowed. “Pooka said something would go wrong.”
“Pooka always says something will go wrong.” Leon carried Sidney past her to their door.
She scurried behind him. “But something went wrong, didn’t it?”
“I didn’t get paid, if that’s what you mean.”
They entered through the garden to the front door. Leon looked down to see his mother Dorothy on her knees pruning the vegetables.
“Mama, get up.” He kept walking into the house.
“I like your new suit,” Dorothy called out as she struggled to her feet.
The next morning Leon arose early, put on an old ragged shirt and shorts and ate breakfast with Sidney, Jessamine and his mother Dorothy.
“You are a big boy now.” He tousled his son’s hair.
“Yes, I am.”
“When I was your age, my father took me out on his fishing boat. Do you think you would like to go out on a fishing boat?”
“No, you will not!” Jessamine snapped.
“The boy needs to learn how to earn a living, dear.”
“We are wealthy,” she retorted. “He will not need to fish for a living.”
“Life is unfair.” Leon kept his eyes down as he bit into a scone. “Life is uncertain. What we have today can be gone tomorrow.”
Jessamine looked at Dorothy. “You can’t agree with Leon! Your own husband died on a fishing boat!”
The old woman put her fork down, pushed away her plate and turned to stare at her daughter-in-law.
“My husband was a good, honorable man. He lived for his family. He died for his family.”
“Well,” Jessamine huffed, “Sidney is too young. Leon was much older than six when he first went out on the boat.”
“No,” Dorothy was firm. “Jedidiah was a good man. He would have never let the child do anything that would hurt him, but a man must learn, build his body to provide for his family. Leon knows what he is doing. “
Jessamine pouted. “I shall have to talk to Pooka about his.”
Leon slammed his hand on the table. “You will tell Pooka nothing about our lives! That old witch knows too much about us as it is!” He stood, took Sidney’s hand and marched out the door.
Walking down the path to the Eleuthura dock, Leon waved to a fisherman on his boat. After he tossed the fellow a few coins, he lifted his son into the boat, jumped in and set sail.
“I like the water.” Sidney lifted his head and sniffed the breeze. “I think Mama’s trying to scare me.”
“But you’re not going to let her do that, are you?” Leon tugged on the line.
“Do you want to help me cast the net to catch fish?” He smiled at his son.
After hauling in a load of fish, Leon patted Sidney’s head. “Then you won’t mind working for the man who owns this boat, will you?”
Sidney’s eyes lit. “You mean, Jinglepockets?”
“His name is Nicholas.” Puzzled Leon asked, “Why do you call him Jinglepockets?”
“He’s always jingling coins in his pockets.”
Leon laughed. “That’s good. It’s always good to have coins to jingle in your pockets.” He paused. “Tomorrow you will start going out on Jinglepockets’ boat to learn to be a fisherman. The money you make, give to grandma. She’ll know what to do with it.”
“Does Mama know about this?”
Looking out to the horizon, he shrugged. “No, but don’t worry about it. I’ll tell her.”
“Oh, I’m not worried.”
They cast the net a couple more times and headed back to the dock.
“You know how grandpa died, don’t you?” Leon asked.
“A shark ate him.”
“Does that scare you?”
“Like you said, you do what you have to do to fill your family’s bellies. And everyone has to die. If you die for your family, all is good.”
Leon tossed the rope to Jinglepockets who tied the boat to the dock. The three of them unloaded the fish. Leon and Sidney began to walk away, but the boy stopped.
“What about the fish?”
“They belong to Jinglepockets.”
“Why?” Sidney wrinkled his brow. “We caught them.”
“But he owns the boat.”
“I saw you pay him, so the fish belong to us. Jinglepockets owes us money.”
“You’re a smart little boy, Sidney.” Leon put his arm around his son’s shoulders and guided him home. “Jinglepockets reminds me of Old Joe who taught me many things. He will be your Old Joe.”
The next day, as Leon and Sidney ate breakfast, Jessamine muttered her disapproval the entire time she tossed apples, cheese and bread into the tote bag for their lunch. They walked down to the dock. Leon lifted his son into the boat where Jinglepockets waited for them. When the fisherman cast off, Leon jumped into the boat with them. Sidney looked surprised.
“I thought I was working for Jinglepockets.”
“You are.” His father smiled. “I didn’t say I wasn’t coming along with you.”
They cast their nets as the sun rose in the sky. At noon, they paused to eat their lunch.
“Nicholas, do you know what the boys in town call you?” Leon asked.
“Jinglepockets,” he called out from across the boat. “Everyone calls me Jinglepockets but you.”
Leon leaned into his son. “Do the other boys pick on you?”
“No. One of the older ones wagged his finger in my face one time and called me a name. I grabbed his finger, bent it back and broke it. Nobody bothers me now.”
“Good for you.”
“You taught me that.” Sidney spoke around a chunk of cheese in his mouth. “Strike fast. Hurt them as much as you can.”
“Enough lunch!” Jinglepockets yelled. “Time to fish!”
When they docked that afternoon fish filled the boat. The three of them unloaded the fish from the boat onto the dock. Jinglepockets tossed a coin to Sidney. Leon took his hand and they walked down the road.
“Do you think you could kill a man?” Leon’s voice was soft and somber.
“You kill people, don’t you?”
“Not people. Just men.”
“Why not women? Don’t some women deserve to die?”
Sidney was quiet a moment. “I think I could kill a woman, if she was bad.”
“It doesn’t have anything to do with being good or bad. Sometimes people will pay you a lot of money to kill men. Or steal jewels. Or kidnap old men.”
“That’s how come we have a nice big house, isn’t it?”
“Yes, it is.” Leon considered his thoughts. “Does it bother you?”
“No.” Sidney paused. “There’s a couple of boys I’d like to kill for free. Will you teach me the best places on the body to hit people to make them die fast?”
Leon glanced at the flower pot by the gate. Nothing was askew. “There will be time for that.”
“Papa.” Sidney stopped walking. “If I find something else I’d like to do to feed my family, it would be all right, wouldn’t it?”
“Of course, son. Family is most important.” Leon sighed. “I remember when I came home, you said, ‘Let’s play.’ I don’t think I’ve given you enough time to play.”
Sidney giggled. “Papa, anytime I spend with you is play.”