L. A. Johnson Jr.
Lafayette A. Johnson Jr.,Ph.D.
in Creative Writing, Literature, and English
Lafayette is Liberty Dendron
Liberty Dendron…. makes dreams come true? Transforming fantasy into colorful exciting books that people can touch, and enjoy. Such fabulous work is the daily business of Liberty Dendron; a highly skilled professional author who combines imagination with a Creative Writing Degree.
In this sequel to the best-selling Liberty Dendron book: “Yolanda The Enchantress.” How books are made, the Imaginers serve up another dose of magic with an even closer look at who he is, what he does, and how he does it, illuminating his theories and explaining the tools he uses, and where and how he uses them. Contained within this deluxe tome are rough drawings, conceptual models, and behind-the-scenes stories showcasing Mamba Books & Publishing newest attractions and innovations. There are exclusive peek inside Mamba Media’s Research and Development Lab to see what new ideas will soon be appearing.
“Yolanda The Enchantress” Is about the settling of the African wilderness in its simplest form; it is also a love story, one man trying to decide between two women, a young Zulu girl and a beautiful widow, settling the Congo with her brothers.
Dominique de Salvo a soldier in the Portuguese army is forced to capture a young African girl. Yolanda had lived with her Zulu relative all her life. Dominique is determines to take her to her relatives – if he can find them. However, Dominique also has another problem.
Fiercely independent, Yolanda swore no man would conquer her proud Zulu spirit.
A twist of fate carried Yolanda to a cave on the Zambezi River. There she found herself helpless, at the mercy of the most arrogant man she had ever met. Nothing but complete submission would satisfy him, and he knew the most unpleasant ways to make her surrender. As time passed, Yolanda found herself falling in love with him, but he wanted nothing to do with her. Yolanda is a dramatic, hair-raising adventure with extraordinary people.
The sun low in the south beamed through heavy fog making everything look hazy and bleak, it looked as if a thin vale had been cast across the jungle village and the Zambezi River. The hazy patches of vanishing mist, the sandy bloodstained riverbanks revealed a glistening metallic gold. The huge bloodstained palm and banana trees. The slushy paths trees and flowing streams, the holes in burning huts made by Portuguese cannons, made the village looked depressing. Anything that moved in the gloomy, hazy light stood out like a horse fly on its gleaming white sand.
Liberia Biometry with his camels was carrying buckets of rubber from one of his rubber trees to big wooden barrels behind his hut. From the African village on the edge of the settlement two Nicola women were paddling a raft across the Zambezi River towards a tall African waiting on the other side, with the carcass of a crocodile around his shoulders.
Captain Cordoba was wading in the marsh south
of the village hunting ducks and ostriches. Captain Satan and Lieutenant Trinity were sharing a bottle of white bubbly palm wine in the galley of a wrecked ship anchored in the river. Soldiers not on duty were wandering restlessly through the village, flirting with African women, looking for someone to spend some time with. Out side of the main gates of the stockade stood an angry pack of Nicola chiefs waiting to talk to the officer in charge. None of the Portuguese officers were in sight.
In side the stockade the enslaved African prince, Amid Kudzu, paced frantically thinking about his people within the village he had surrendered. He was a striking sight wrapped in his copper blanket smoking his long pipe in the shadows of the palisade.
Paulo Dais Novas was standing above on a rifle platform leisurely puffing on his pipe in full view of the Africans below. He wanted them to know that he was keeping them waiting another day, and he was in no hurry to listen to their complaints. The young colonel from Portugal and his rag-tag army had just won their greatest victory. They had won it because his men knew him and they were willing to follow him anywhere, no matter what the hazard. Now to hold what they had won he had to maintain that same unyielding attitude to the enemy.
All this Dominique de Salvo saw with his first glance from the edge of the jungle. Then, eagerly, he looked to see if a jug was sitting on Zephyr’s window cell; it was there as he was certain it would be. There was still an hour before dark. He had spent the day pretending to hunt, he had killed nothing but a snake that had gotten fat eating mice, uncovered by thrashing banana leaves. The snake had eaten so many mice it could no longer move. He was about to toss it aside when he noticed how plump it was. It wasn’t much of a present; still he decided to take it to Zephyr. The Nigerian woman who lived with her could certainly cook it. He cleaned the snake and washed his hands in the stream.
While wiping his hands dry against his game bag the ripples in the stream smoothed out. His reflection mirrored back at him with watchful brown eyes. The faint lines around them, weathered by seasons of wind and sun, gave him an older, more distinguished look than his thirty-eight years. He took an uneasy second glance at the reflection. In his thin woven gown, head shawl, goat-hair crown, wide trousers, and gold-embroidered aba. Which he often wore since reaching Mozambique? His form revealed the slender outline of a Portuguese soldier. He lifted the crown and head shawl uncovering his curly black hair, his muscular neck trusted up from shoulders, which looked even wider, when covered with a flimsy garment. He smiled. A week’s carrying on with a Nicola woman had given him the stuffy attitude of an African chief.
The jungle grew dark. The sun dropped behind thick gray clouds; Dominique ran his fingers along the line of his jaw. He hadn’t shaved today after getting up, now there were many rough spots. He dabbed his face with warn water from the stream, with his hunting knife he shaved his face smooth. Not since his beard had started to grow as a young man could he remember shaving more than once a week. Now he had to shave everyday. These weeks in Mozambique had made him do that. He leaned back on his heels and reflected with satisfaction on how this had come about.
The first time he broke into Zephyr’s hut it was during the attack in order to fire from her bedroom window into the Nicola strong-hole. Every time after that there was a jug on her window cell, and she had open the door to let him in.
He had been a part of a great military victory, which had filled his pockets with gold. He had experienced a greater pleasure with a woman by far than he had ever before experienced. A man couldn’t ask for more than that of any week. He would be a fool to catch himself wondering how it would be, if he were somewhere else, doing some-thing else. It was twilight now. It would be dark by the time he reached the outer shore of the Zambezi River. He would be foolish to have anything on his mind other than reaching her hut the minute darkness covered the village. He picked up the snake and bent low angling across until he could walk in the tracks left by Liberia’s camel.
Skirting the African section of the village he noticed that the old chiefs had given up for the day. They were huddled about the council fire speaking softly, shaking their heads vigorously, like men who had endured much suffering. Warriors stood about restlessly, in groups whispering, watching their chiefs. Women were keeping their camels and elephants hobbled within close reach. Their personal belongings were packed so that the whole tribe could make a break for the jungle if the order was given. A crocodile had been killed and dressed, splashed with dabs of blood and decorated with silver shillings and strips of pine were tied on a pole above the fire. The pit below the pole was covered with burning coals. A rack connected to the pole was covered with blankets, baskets, and strips of dried meat that had been pounded and seasoned with melted fat. From time to time a log was thrown into the fire. Ordinarily a crocodile feast with all these trimmings was offered as a special offering to the gods to fight off some contagious disease or greater threat to the tribe.
Novas’ temper was the disease that these Nikola chiefs feared.
Dominique enjoyed their power. He had grown up hating Africans.
He walked along the riverbank, veering away from it keeping out of the light cast from the fire behind Ray Aspirin’s trading store. There, most of the men in the Fernandez Company were barbecuing an ox. They had purchased a keg of whiskey from Ray Aspirin. It was early in the evening, some of the men were beginning to get rowdy. Frightened Nikola families in huts were peering from windows through slightly drawn bamboo curtains because of their concern. All were watching this disturbing example of Portuguese behavior. Because of those inquisitive eyes, Dominique had to be careful; he circled more widely around the mosque and trading post.
The huge mosque had been attacked and ravished more than any other building in the village the nights of the assault when the Portuguese cannon blasted wildly at the sleeping African villagers. Hector Moralize and Peter Hernandez were somewhere among the tangle of fallen timbers, each had a bottle of brandy. In the darkness Dominique could tell who they were, by the sound of their voices.
“You know what we have bin doing the whole week we have been here,” Peter was saying. “Doing nothing but sitting, after we took this place. Now what do we do? Just sit and wait. We should be halfway to Elephant Falls by now, that’s where we should be.”
Peter’s disgusted voice changed to uncertainty as Dominique moved away. Every man in the company was more anxious than Novas to fight the next battle in the campaign. Dominique worked his way down in the shadow of Raven Mateo’s lumberyard, sneaking pass the warehouse, back to the riverbank. Here he looked for Mario Goalie. This was certainly no time to let Mario see him sneaking past. Mario had asked him where he had been spending so much of his time every night tonight; the distribution centers door was closed. Mario was somewhere else. Dominique headed downstream, keeping close to the bank, below Fernando Garcia’s garden. He crept among the pilings supporting the boat ramp of Chico Hillsdale, and sneaked pass the voodoo woman’s hut. He circled around pilings that supported the boat landing in front of the hut of Ibo Boca the fisherman’s home.
Ibo, Zephyr’s husband had left Mozambique four weeks ago with a cargo of elephant tusk, and crocodile hides to trade with Pygmies in the Congo River Basin. On the other hand, there were other reasons to be careful. The family of Kalahari Sahara, Ibo’s brother-in-law, shared with Zephyr a connecting double hut. His sister-in law did a lot of snooping, to keep track of what Zephyr was doing. There was no way of telling whether she was protecting the interests of her brother-in law, or was suspicious of her own husband.
Dominique crawled through pilings, until he was near the section of the hut that was built near the shore; there he paused to listen. The Guineas, in their part of the round double hut on the other side of the central storeroom were quarreling as usual, and one of their children was crying. From Zephyr’s kitchen he could hear the muffled cheerful chatter of Sophia, the Nigerian woman chatting with a friend. In the adjoining hut Zephyr was pacing up and down in her bedroom. Her sudden stops and quick turns were like those of a trapped animal in a cage.
The sounds in the adjoining hut mingled with those more distant. The sounds of the night varied, mingling with distant yells. Suddenly the familiar tap of a drum announcing a change of guard at the fort. The sound of conversation in the Romania boathouse, where Orlando Rumania’s sons were making preparations for their voyage tomorrow to the Ivory Coast. Dominique squatted, listing, thinking this is a moment worth savoring.
The sound of her impatient footsteps echoed, his impatience. There was
the added excitement of the risk they both were willing to take. They had to
be careful of more than her family. There was not a man in this village that wouldn’t envy his presence here, including some Portuguese soldiers. Any of them if they had a chance, would gladly take his place. He knew that his reckless actions could trigger new battles between the African inhabitants with the Portuguese invaders.
He reached up and scratched on the palm mat. Instantly the woven palm mat across the window was pulled aside. He tossed the meat through the opening, and shoved his rifle in after it. He swung himself up and in. As always the room was dark except for a single candle glowing on the table in the corner. The familiar smell of palm leaves and fresh berries surrounded him. Turning, he leaned his rifle against the wall and embraced her in the darkness.
This had always been the moment she would retreat. She would act like she didn’t want to see him. Her sudden flight took them all around the room, each being careful not to knock over anything or make any sound that might be heard by Sophia in the adjoining hut. Even after he had caught her she would resist for a while. She knew how to handle him, and how to control the situation.
Tonight was different. She rushed to him and embraced him as if she had a feeling he was going away. She was breathing hard, shaking all over. She pressed against him as hard as she could, kissing him over and over again. Backing up a step, he stepped on the meat on the floor. He pushed her away to pick up the meat and gave it to her.
“Meat I bought you,” he whispered. There was no purpose, or reason to say anything, because she didn’t speak Portuguese, nor did he speak her language. “Snake meat,” he said again in Portuguese, thinking she might know a word or two.
She reached out to take the meat, when she realized what it was she let out a gasp of surprise. Then a sigh of satisfaction, She grabbed the bag turning, looking towards the kitchen as if she were thinking, how to cook it. He reached over and started to unfasten the tie
string around the waist of her dress. She pushed his hands away. She was looking towards the kitchen.
“There,” she whispered with sudden determination.
She had made up her mind about something, whatever it was she wasted no more time. She pushed the sack of meat back into his hands, grabbed him by the wrist, and pulled him forcefully towards the door, which opened into the storage room. When he realized she was taking him out of the bedroom he resisted. “Come, come, come,” she kept saying. He reached
for his rifle and followed.
She guided him swiftly and silently the length of the dark storage room, between barrels of rubber, and around hanging coils of rope. They brushed, against racks of smoked goat and huge slabs of Cape buffalo. When they reached the door leading to the outside, she unbarred it. After unbarring the door, she spoke loudly with surprise and excitement. She slammed against the door noisily. Then pulled him towards another door. On the outside of the storage room the door opened, and her sister-in-law stepped out. Zephyr laughed as Sophia pushed her kitchen door wide open, to let the light shine on them.
Dominique was beginning to understand. The meat had been important after all. She had some reason for making it known that he was in her hut tonight. She had taken advantage of him bringing it as an excuse for letting him in. She was setting the seen when she made the commotion. She was performing her greatest act; she took the meat, thanking him, than held it up for Sophia to inspect. Dominique was not prepared to see the other person he had heard Sophia talking to when listening outside the hut.
It wasn’t a neighbor. It was his friend Mario Goalie. Mario was comfortable with his situation up to the minute Dominique came in. This was the only hut in Mozambique; no Portuguese soldier had visited after dark. He was so comfortable, he felt as if he were at home. His feet were stretched out under the table. Mario was nodding and grinning at Sofia’s big round buttocks while placing his hand in his pants. His round, face was wrinkled, with an expression of satisfaction, his mouth fell open when he looked up and saw Dominique standing in Zephyr’s doorway.
“What bought you here?” Dominique demanded.
Mario leaned back in the chair with the innocence and surprise of an honest man. “All I know,” he said, “I was walking past just before dark, the woman there” he glanced at Sophia, “she invited me in.”
Dominique glanced at Sophia. “She speaks Portuguese?”
“She speaks Latin.” Mario glanced at his half empty plate. “And she can cook.” He didn’t ask why or what Dominique was doing here. He kept looking at Sofia’s big round buttocks and then, stared at Dominique. Dominique sat down on a chair.
“You can see for yourself,” he said. “I bought ’em meat.”
He wasn’t deceiving Mario. Mario knew how many nights he had spent away from the lumberyard this past week. The longer Mario looked at Sophia the more his eyes bulged. He was licking his lips as if some of Dominique’s good luck had switched to him.
Dominique glanced at Zephyr. She was hiding in
the shadows over by the lantern; it was the brightest light he had seen her in. She had curly black hair and brown eyes. She looked like a goddess, her skin was medium brown, and how she was built was enough to take a man’s breath away, with a single glance. Mario was sitting at the table drooling. Zephyr and her sister-in-law were the best-looking women in Mozambique; you could throw in all of Africa and Europe, if you wanted too.
The woman’s voices dropped to a whisper, they had forgotten the fresh meat, now their excitement had increased. Zephyr was insisting on something. Sophia was objecting vigorously. Zephyr shook her head angrily. She kept insisting. Sophia threw her hands above her head and drew a vale over her face and began to cry. Zephyr shook her head angrily again.
Sophia surrendered. She turned her tear-streaked face to Mario and began to speak to him in Latin. Mario had spoken Latin all his life. As a child, he had learned to speak several languages. Dominique began to realize why Mario had been asked in. There was something Zephyr wanted him to do. She could tell it to Sophia in their native tong, and Sophia could tell it to Mario in Latin, then Mario could tell him in Portuguese.
“They know I’m your friend,” said Mario. “She,” he pointed at Zephyr, “wants to know if you can trust me.”
Dominique had known Mario most of his life. They were the best of friends, but there wasn’t anything he wanted Mario to tell Zephyr for him. “Tell her
with my life,” he said.
Mario began to explain to Sophia. Listening to the sound of his voice while watching his sudden gestures explaining that the two of them were the best of friends, and they were like brothers.
Zephyr and Sophia talked from time to time glancing at Mario with doubt. Finally Sophia turned to Mario and began to tell him something.
“No! No! No way!” Mario shouted.
Sophia continued with her story. Mario began to smile. Sophia ended with harsh words of disapproval.
“You better find a place to hide,” Mario told Dominique. “Her husband’s coming home tomorrow.”
“What are you talking about,” said Dominique. “By now he’s in the Congo River Basin.”
“Nope,” said Mario. With every word the news got worst. “At Dome Palm he heard about Nova’s conquest. He started worrying about his village. He turned around and started home. One of his wife’s brothers took the short way threw the jungle when they reached Dome Pine. That’s how she knows.” Back in the shadows Zephyr was looking as if her life was about to
“Tell her this,” said Dominique. “Tell her she has nothing to be afraid of. Tell her if he raises his voice at her, I’ll kill him.”
Mario thought all this was funny. “From what I’ve heard,” he continued, “her husband is six seven, and as mean as a man can get.”
“Tell her what I said,” said Dominique.
This message triggered another argument between Zephyr and Sophia. Sophia burst into tears again. She wiped her eyes and turned to Mario. This time, he didn’t think what she was saying was funny.
He looked at Dominique with a stare, revealing confusion.
“She’s not afraid of her husband,” Mario said. “He worships her. He will do whatever she wants. She doesn’t like him as much as she likes you. She wants you to take her away.”
“My gracious!” said Dominique. “Where?”
This discussion, between Mario and Sophia, produced an immediate reply from Zephyr.
“She said anywhere,” said Mario. “Anywhere far away. She’s heard you’re from Portugal, she wants you to take her there.”
“Well,” said Dominique, “that’s far away.”
Zephyr was staring hard at his face, watching his expressions, anxiously, for the first hint of how he felt. Her face moved closer to the candle. She was leaning forward, gripping the table. The light was bouncing off her face. Her skin was drawn tight across her cheekbones and around her mouth and at the corners of her eyes. She was much older than he thought. Young or old, he had never wanted her more than at this moment. She knew what she wanted and she wasn’t afraid to go after it. He knew what he wanted, he didn’t want this affair to end this soon, but it was ending. He leaned back in the chair. Then stood up.
“Tell her I’ll be back before dawn,” he instructed Mario. Before dawn he would make sure that Novas would send him out to join one of the scouting parties going to Elephant Flak. Mario pondered over the importance of his message. The two women embraced.
Sophia was weeping again. Dominique reached for the door.
“Wait a minute,” Mario protested. “Don’t rush off before you eat something’. Might be the last good meal you’ll eat for a long time.”
When he realized that Dominique was really leaving he rushed after him. “That big butt one,” he said when he caught up with Dominique outside the door, “she’s got a pot of crocodile stew on the fire that’s tastier than any crocodile I’ve ever eaten.”