Geoffrey Craig’s fiction, poetry and drama have appeared in numerous literary journals, including the New Plains Review, Calliope, Foliate Oak, Spring – the Journal of the E.E. Cummings Society, The MacGuffin, The Louisville Review, River Poets Journal and Scarlet Leaf Review. He has received two Pushcart Prize nominations.
In January 2016, Prolific Press published his novel, Scudder’s Gorge. Previously, Wilderness House Literary Review had serialized both his verse novel, The Brave Maiden, and his novella, Snow.
Four of his full-length plays (one co-authored) and ten of his one-acts have been produced. He has directed productions of eight of his plays.
Geoffrey has a BA (Colgate), an MBA (Harvard) and an MA in history (Santa Clara). He served in the Peace Corps in Peru and had a successful career in banking before turning to writing.
When Fat Martha told me the blue coats was coming, I decided to run. Missus says Yankees are devils. Guess they got horns and forked tails. Rufus said the Yankees gonna’ free us ‘n give us land. They might give the men-folk land, but they’re gonna’ give babies to us women.
Massa’ bought me when I was fourteen. At the auction house, he touched my hair ‘n face ‘n body 'n then smiled. Been here over ten years ‘n Fat Martha n’ Rufus the only slaves I care to talk with. The other slaves were nasty ‘cause Massa’ favored me. I took corn bread when I ran. It’ll take me a whole week to get North. I’ll follow the North star. Walk nights ‘n sleep in the woods by day.
Stole a warm coat to keep me warm.
No one stopped me. Overseers disappeared weeks ago. I left at dark. Stuck to the big road. Nobody around although I seen fires in the distance. Dog barked as I passed a house. I run ‘til I couldn’t hear the dog no more. Little later, I heard hooves beating. I hurried into the tall grass and lay down. Group of riders in uniform trotted past. The moon lit up the road so I could see good. I went back to the woods at first light ‘n found a sandy place to sleep. Sometime later I woke, don’t know why, maybe Jesus looking out for me. Not ten yards away, a big, ole’ rattler was coiled ‘n giving me the evil eye. I wanted to scream but instead pulled myself back inch by inch.
Next two nights, didn’t see a soul. Corn cakes running low so I hope to be up North soon. I decided that morning to walk a little extra which was a mistake near cost me my life. The sun was up when I heard horses coming on fast. I start for the woods, praying they got better things to do than mess with a runaway. “Hey there, wench, you get over here,” boomed out a Southern voice. I kept running. A shot rang out ‘n a bullet whistled over my head. I was almost to the woods when I heard a second shot ‘n a horse plunging across the field. Then Jesus takes a hand again. A different voice hollered. I looked back. The Confederate that was after me was riding back to the patrol. Guess they had better things to do after all. I was shaking bad.
My luck then took a turn for the worse. I had laid down in a clearing by the edge of the woods. A stream ran along one side. I got up with the sun still high ‘n went to do my business. Washing in the stream, my back must a’ been visible from the road. Suddenly, a rough hand clasps over my mouth.
“Keep yer black mouth shut if you want to stay among the living.”
The soldier drags me to the road where four more blue coats was waiting.
“Look at this.”
The blue coats danced ‘round me, laughing ‘n teasing.
“Ain’t you the pretty one?” “Lift that dress,”
“Give us a peek.”
One of em’ starts kissing me. I struggled without thinking. He throws me to the ground, got on top ‘n starts fumbling with his trousers. I prayed they’d leave me alive when they finished. Never knew why no one heard the horses. Suddenly the soldier is pulled off me ‘n a blue coat lifts me to my feet. Another blue coat’s pointing a rifle at the bastard what tried to do me. A man on a big horse looks down at me.
“You all right, miss?”
I nods but can’t say nothing. I notices two stars on each o’ his shoulders.
Darned if I know what them stars were for. Men on horses were standing all ‘round him pointing their rifles ever which way. More soldiers riding up. “Put these stragglers under arrest, Captain,” Two-Stars says to the man who lifted me up. “The girl can ride behind you. See that she gets a meal in camp. I don’t know what we’re going to do with all these Negroes following us, but I’ll come up with something.”
“Yes sir, General Sherman.”