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by John Braswell

An excerpt from the novel . . .

“Hey, would ya look at that! Where'd they come from?”

The two men stood looking at the small barge as it made its way across the river.

"Hey, Coop, you'd best call fer some he’p. Ain't no way in hell we kin catch 'em all by our lonesome."

“I'll bet they got themselves a load of tobacco in there," Coop said.

“Cain't say as I blame 'em none." Ralph replied. "Ever since the Yanks made ‘baccer illegal the price jest keeps goin' up and up."

The two men had been posted as guards on the Ohio River boundary for nearly a month, and this was the first time they had seen anything. Most of their time was spent playing cards and being bored, but now they would see some action. This was a welcome change of pace for the two guards; a little something to write home about.

Coop made the call to report the sighting, and then they went out to their boat with their guns ready. Getting in their patrol boat, they started for the heavily loaded barge that was now halfway across the river. They sped toward the barge at top speed; it was their job to turn the smugglers back prior to their reaching the north bank. Before their patrol boat had gotten even close to their objective, there came a small jet fighter swooping down from the night sky. The jet made one pass over the barge, and then came back, this time blowing up the small freighter.

The two Confederate guards looked at each other with their mouths open, trying to understand what had just happened.

Finally Coop spoke. "Did ya see that? That was a damn Yankee jet! Cut the motor off or we might be next!"

Ralph stopped the engine and let their patrol boat sit dead in the water. The two men sat in silence waiting for the jet fighter to leave. After a few minutes they returned to their post, still maintaining their silence.

After they were safely back in their lookout, Ralph spoke in a quiet voice, "I reckon you'd best call headquarters and report what happened."

Coop looked at his comrade with a hurt expression, saying, "An’ jest what am I supposed ta tell 'em?"

"Ya know they'll want a body count." Ralph said. Then, as if talking to himself, he said, "Ya know, whoever was on that old tub was jest tryin’ ta make a livin’. They most likely had families to support."

Coop listened to what Ralph was saying, then went into the radio room to report in. When he came out he saw Ralph had been crying, but pretended not to notice. Sitting down he waited for Ralph to ask about his call, which came all too soon.

"Well, what'd they say fer us ta do?"

With sadness in his voice, Coop replied, "They want a body count jest like ya said, and they want us to recover the bodies for identification."

Ralph raised his head to look at Coop, then said, "That was a direct hit! What do ya reckon might be left to identify?"

Coop nodded, saying, "Yeah, I know, but I don't get paid ta think, I jest do what I'm told."

The two men had stood up and started for their patrol boat when Coop heard Ralph mumbling, "That damn Civil War ended more’n 125 years ago on paper; so why are we doin’ this?"

Coop had to agree. The South had won the war, but only on paper. He guessed everyone had forgotten to tell the Yanks.


To order COOP: What if the South had won the Civil War?, please visit your local bookstore (ISBN # 1-58851-919-8) or e-mail the author. Contact John at kawheeta@hotmail.com.

John Braswell tells us about himself:

"I have lived and traveled throughout the South and Midwest, which offers me a unique perspective about the day-by-day lifestyle of the people in these regions. My first novel, Coop, What if the South had won the Civil War? was published by Publish America in 2001 and my second novel, The Other Side of the Mountain, a Native American story, was released in April 2004, also by Publish America.

"I have been published by: The Pantagraph, Up Dare?, The Red Ribbon Review, Accent for Living, Mouth magazine and online by PageWise Inc and About.com.

"I am a member of the United Authors Association, The Illinois Authors Association and the Illinois Center for the Book. I was also nominated for placement in the 2003 Who’s Who in America. For more samples of my writing, please visit my web site: www.authorsden.com/johnobraswell. Kick your shoes off and stay awhile!"


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