So looking at my twitter feed, I noticed my pinned tweet is the last time I shared any of my current WIP with y’all. In that year I’ve finished writing the thing and started making it better as I work on the second draft so hopefully I’ll feel good enough about it to query.
Below will be a little bit of my current Work in Process, which had a fake title for the purposes of naming the word document. It is a novelized imagining of American Revolutionary War soldier John Laurens’s time as an aide-de-camp to General Washington. It’s still a work in process, but it’s getting better all the time. The piece below is from the chapter after the Battle of Brandywine Creek. During the battle the Marquis de Lafayette wrote of John Laurens “He survived but not for lack of trying.” He was injured in the meaty part of the shoulder, by a bayonet, and is thus recovering the day after the battle in a nearby house.
There is some swearing, and minor descriptions of bullet wounds.
Anyway. Here We Go
Standing in the picture window at the front of the house overlooking the field where the infantry was cleaning up, John watched the weary, worn, now hardened by what they saw yesterday, start to clean up. The battle of Brandywine Creek may have been a British victory, but what it meant to these men would shape the next stage of this war. Hopefully, they learned enough to not make the same mistakes again.
Without warning, a hand pressed into the middle of John’s back and his nose hit the glass.
“What the fu—” John turned to see who assaulted him to see a bare-chested, red-faced Hamilton glaring at him with wild eyes.
“You’re a Goddamned idiot,” Hamilton declared shoving John’s chest. “What were you thinking out there? All you were supposed to do was deliver letters. How the fuck did you end up in line with the infantry?”
“Following orders,” John replied sheepishly. “I was doing what General Sullivan needed.”
“You’re lucky to be alive,” Hamilton blew hard out his nose shaking his head. “I’ll have you know the two of us have to write the wounded in action letters, and you’re going to write the letter to your father telling him he raised a moron.”
John stared at him blankly for a moment.
“Are you going to be alright?”
Hamilton flicked John’s shoulder where his stitches several times then turned and stormed off.
“Jesus,” John grabbed at his shoulder. “What’s wrong with you?”
As he crossed the threshold into the backroom, John noticed that Hamilton wasn’t just bare-chested but barefoot and wearing breeches so ill-fitting they couldn’t possibly be his.
“Why are you nude?” Tilghman sighed, his voice carrying throughout the bottom floor of the house.
“My good shirt is covered in blood,” Hamilton replied nonchalantly. “My extra shirt has a rip in it I haven’t repaired yet. Plus, it’s in my footlocker and heaven knows where the hell that is at the moment.”
“Can’t you just have a new one made up?” John asked, scurrying across the room to join the conversation.
Hamilton turned toward him; his face bright with astonishment. “Of course! Why didn’t I think of that? I’ll pay for it with the leaves Congress is paying me.”
“Is Lafayette going to be alright?” Tilghman asked. “I haven’t laid eyes on him yet this morning.”
“He took a ball to the calf right below the knee,” Hamilton leaned up against the window sill on the fair side of the room, arms across his chest. “Bled like a stuck pig. Used the bottom half of my shirt to stem the blood. There is a lot of it inside a human leg. Anyway, Lafayette will be purchasing me new uniforms.”
“Is he all right though?” Tilghman pressed.
“He’ll live,” Hamilton nodded. “Won’t be walking for a bit, but he’ll recover fully. He’s out in the barn getting patched up proper.”
A wave of relief washed over John so fully he had to sit on the stairs to keep his balance. He rested the elbow of his good arm on his knee and pulled a hand down his face.
“How long are we going to deal with this?” Tilghman asked, waving at Hamilton’s lack of clothing. “I’d rather not be blinded by your pale chest. Aren’t you from the tropics? You’re the color of paste.”
Hamilton winked over at Tilghman. “Until Lafayette gets around to hiring a tailor. So you should get used to it.”
“I don’t want to see your nipples,” Tilghman replied playfully.
“I have an extra white shirt and a blue jacket,” John offered. “It’s not the right color blue but it’s better than nothing.”
“Much appreciated,” Hamilton said turning toward him. “You’re still an idiot. I can’t believe I had to watch you nearly get stabbed in the face by a Hessian with my own eyes. You are a lucky sonuvabitch. What part of delivering letters was hard for you?”
“General Sullivan needed me,” John defended. “I was doing what I was told.”
Hamilton shook his head and rolled his eyes hard. “There are five of us. We nearly lost two in their first battle. I’ll have you know the other three have yet to be wounded. Would you like to know why that is? I’ll tell you because we follow directions.”
John leaned back against the stairs as Meade stomped down them. The conversation again turned to Hamilton’s state of undress, uninterested in listening to this argument again, John turned his attention elsewhere.
Hamilton wasn’t as pale as Tilghman complained, he wasn’t sun-kissed but he wasn’t the same color as his sister’s porcelain dolls either. A fine dusting of freckles across his chest telling of long days spent in the sun as a boy. The only other remarkable piece of Hamilton’s appearance was how skinny he was. That man could eat. The food in the army wasn’t anything extravagant, but Hamilton was able to put away more than his fair share of stew at supper, and yet his ribs were nearly visible. Hamilton wasn’t the kind of handsome that would call attention to him as he walked down the street, but his aura, how he carried himself, he demanded to be looked at. John felt obliged to do so against his better judgement.
Before John could pull his eyes away, Hamilton was stalking toward him, on his way up the stairs he flicked at John’s stitches again.
“Is your extra jacket upstairs?”
John nodded. “In my rucksack.”
“You want to come get it or do you want me to go through your things?”
John used his good arm to push himself up.
“I think I was a bit harsh,” Hamilton said when they reached the room. “But I did mean it. I hope you understand where my anger at you comes from.”
John rooted around his rucksack and pulled out his old blue coat. “It needs to be pressed, but I’m sure there’s a girl for that.”
“I’m more than capable of ironing,” Hamilton rolled his eyes. “Thank you. I’m going to look like a child playing dress up in father’s clothes until Lafayette can get his hands on a decent tailor.” He pulled John’s shirt over his head and rolled the sleeves three times so his hands were visible.
“I think I understand why you saw what I did yesterday as irresponsible,” John said. “But I was following orders. General Sullivan needed bodies on the front lines when I was there.”
“I get it,” Hamilton replied. “I also understand that you’re new and you want to make a name for yourself. But trust me, Laurens, you don’t get it dying a random unimportant battle. You gotta make it to the other side. You’ll be fine though? Just a few stitches?”
“Yeah,” John nodded. “Then I gotta keep it still for about a week. It will probably be helpful if you stop flicking my wound.”
Hamilton smiled his sinful smirk. “How are you going to learn if I don’t remind you how stupid you were? I’m going to find an iron. Thank you for the clothes, I’ll take good care of them.”
He clapped John on the back of the left shoulder, where the bayonet had exited his body. That the wound wasn’t big enough to need to be stitched closed, but the searing pain through his body was the same as flicking at his stitches.
“I do not like you,” John hissed through gritted teeth.
Hamilton laughed and disappeared down the stairs.
I hope you enjoyed this small portion of my work in process. It’s been a lot of fun to work on thus far. I’ve loved researching all of these people and learning about their lives and what it was like during the war. I hope someday you’ll get to read the whole thing.
(Critique and criticisms greatly appreciated.)
Until next time Internet,