Twilight of an American Soul


August 17, 1776. 2:30 P.M., Long Island, New York.

            The bullets cut through the air with a sound not unlike that of a wasp with murderous intent. His legs, however, were moving before he could even think to be scared. He ran, legs pumping, across the battlefield toward the old mansion that was mostly being ignored by the rampaging Redcoats. The Continental Army, led by George Washington, tried valiantly, but they were outnumbered. When he was 500 yards away, he saw a small, flickering orange object fly into an upper window of the Picton Family Mansion, and only one thing crossed his mind. Elizabeth, he cried silently. He burst through the front door, and then saw something near the top of the stairs.

August 14, 1776. 9:30 P.M. Near Brasher Falls, New York.

            “When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary to. . .(Declaration)”

As Jefferson Jackson, a former politician begins to read the newly signed Declaration of Independence to the seated forms of his fellow wilderness guides, William Picton, a former aristocrat from Long Island, begins to tune him out. His mind wanders back, although he wishes it wouldn’t, to a time when he still lived at his family’s mansion on Long Island. He had always loved the woods and had gone into them whenever possible. They were his escape, his refuge. The only reason he came back to the mansion was his sister, Elizabeth. He loved her more than life itself, and hated to leave her alone with his constantly warring parents. He hated them, and they knew it. One day, the hate grew too strong, and he had left. He thought often about Elizabeth, but still did not leave. He would only leave if she were in danger. Suddenly, Jefferson’s droning cut through Mr. Picton’s wandering.

” To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world. . .”

“Oh shut up, Jackson,” says William, his lounging form barely moving across the fire.

“Nobody cares. If anybody did, they would be back in Manhattan with the virtuous General Washington and his army of the righteous do-gooders,” he says, his sarcasm obvious to all listening.

“This is important, William, unlike what we are doing here. This could last for hundreds of years.”

“Assuming he wins and doesn’t get defeated and dragged to London in chains. Then King George  would personally rip it to pieces. I could care less which side wins, as long as we get paid.”

Before Jonathan Jackson can respond, the sound of hooves echoes through the clearing and every figure around the fire turns to see who is coming.

“Oh, it’s just The King coming to tell us “the news”,” intones William.

George “The King” Andrews was given his nickname because of his unfortunate first name and his propensity to try and order around his superiors.

“The British are pushing the Patriots back towards Long Island, and are planning to attack the Island on the 21st. The rebels are camped out near a large mansion near the north side of the island,” he announced.

William props himself up on his arm, and asks, “Did you say mansion? What mansion?”

“Um, I think it was, like, Parsons, Piclin, Pitcairn…”

“Picton? Was it Picton?”

“Yeah, I think so. How did you now?”

“George, you are immeasurably stupid,” William tells him as he walks away from the campfire and towards the Captain’s tent. As he stalks away, his best friend, Thomas Mayfield, an elementary school teacher who had suddenly left his classroom, much to his students’ surprise, caught up with him.

“I know what you are going to do, and there is no way you are leaving without me,” Thomas said.

“I can do this by myself,” William replied angrily,” You’re not my mother.”

“No,” Thomas said, “I’m not, and a good thing that is, you hate your mother anyway.”

“It’s a figure of speech, Tom. Now go back to the fire!”, he roared,” and don’t make me tell you again.”

“Now see here Will, by now you should know better than to try and get rid of me. I’m staying as close to you as a bump on a log. And that’s final.”

Ten minutes later, they had permission to go to Long Island and help Will’s family after much shouting, cajoling, and even some pleading.

The next morning, they set out, riding south towards Long Island.

~ ~ ~

August 16, 1776

            The voice cut through the mid-morning fog like a knife.

“Stop right there!”

“Who said that?”, Will responded,” We are armed and highly dangerous!”

A man stepped out from behind a tree. He was recognizable as a Native American from the Mohawk tribe of Middle New York. He had a tomahawk in his hand and a bow strapped to his back.

“One man? We can take him.”, said William.

As he said that, 30 more Indians stepped out from behind the trees they had been hiding behind.

“I’m not so sure about 30 though,” answered Thomas.

“You must pay a tax to pass through this land,” said the man. “Give us 5 pounds of food and 2 pounds of grain and we will let you leave here alive. Otherwise, you may not be still living when you leave. If you try to fight, you will be taken prisoner and transported to our tribal camp and the tax will be taken from you and you may lose a couple of fingers before you lose your life.”

“Good thing I never planned on living long,” growled Will.

“Hold up there mister,” Thomas said,”Let’s not make any rash decisions. I like my head. Do you know hat I like most about my head? How it’s attached to the rest of my body. I would like it to stay there at least for the time being. If you don’t mind. We’ll pay the tax.”

The Native American leader, whose name was Cocano, told them, “Thank you for your gracious gift, we are very grateful. Our tribe has fallen on hard times and this will help us get through them.”

~ ~ ~

August 21, 1776. 6:48 A.M. 5 miles from Long Island

            “What are we going to do now, Will? There’s no way the British sentries will let us by!”, Thomas whispered as he and Will hid with their horses.

“There’s only one thing we can do. Ride through the sentry post before they realize what’s happening. There’s no other option Tom.”, William replied.

“Are you crazy, Will? You’re going to get both of us killed before we can help your sister!”, Thomas hissed.

“I know that’s a possibility, but I will do anything, risk anything, and even risk everything if there’s a chance she could survive. She’s all I have left.”, he said.

“Not really, Will. Your parents are still alive,” Thomas reminded him.

“Not to me they’re not,” William shouted as he and Thomas spurred their horses and rode through the gate.

The soldiers raised their heads just in time to see the backside of William and Thomas’s horses as they rode away from the sentry post.

“Think we should warn the army?,” one of them asked.

“No, they’ll be fine,” the other one answered.

The horses bounded across the field toward the fighting and 5 minutes later they had dismounted their horses.

~ ~ ~

August 17, 1776. 2:34 P.M. Long Island, New York.

            William bounds up the stairs, taking them two or three at a time.

“Elizabeth! Elizabeth,” he shouted, “Where are you Elizabeth?”

He hears a strangled cry from two doors. Will runs to the door, steps back, and kicks the door in, driving his foot against the door right beside the lock.

“Thank goodness I found you,” he cries as he embraces his sister,” now I need to get you out of here.”

William runs to the bed and ties a rope that he had had in his pack to the base of the bed. He tosses the remaining length out the window and motions for her to leave. She refuses so he motions for her to get on his back. She clambers onto his back quickly, and he starts climbing down the rope. As he climbs down the side of the building, he feels the rope begin to loosen and drops the remaining three feet before the rope suddenly snaps. He sets his sister down.

“Follow me, and keep your head down,” he admonishes her as the bullets whiz around the battlefield. Thomas and Elizabeth start moving and as they do they hear a strangled cry, and then it is gone.

            Why did everything suddenly go quiet,and why is everything turning red?, William thought as his mind faded into oblivion.

William’s body falls to the ground and Thomas is forced to wrestle Elizabeth back across the battlefield back to their horses, keeping her crying form from falling the entire way.

“There’s nothing we can do, Elizabeth. He’s gone. He’s gone. We need to leave or we’ll be next,” Thomas reprimands her as he wrestles her onto the horse.

Their horses start out from Long Island, heading off to find her parents.


Works Cited

“Brasher Falls-Winthrop, NY: St. Regis River.” City-Data, June 3, 2006. April 1, 2016.

            “Declaration of Independence.” Archives. United States Government, Unknown. April 1, 2016.


Staff, History Channel. “Battle of Long Island.” History. History staff, 2009. Web. March 3, 2016.

Almond, Mark. Revolution. London, Great Britain: De Agostini Editions, 1996. Print.

Browning, John and Morton, Richard. 1776. Toronto, Canada: A.M. Hakkert Ltd., 1976. Print.