By: Travis Naughton

When the captain of the flatboat handed Blackjack a stoneware jug and ordered his passenger to join him in a drink, Blackjack politely refused, telling the skipper that he didn’t drink alcohol. It soon became clear, however, that the captain was not a man who took “no thank you” for an answer.
“Are you a swimmer, Mr. Blackjack?” the captain asked as he glanced at the inky black water that was the Arkansas River at night.

“I’m afraid I swim like a stone, Captain,” Blackjack confessed.

“Then I suggest you take a drink.”

Blackjack hadn’t touched a drop of alcohol in two weeks, not since he’d sworn to stay sober long enough to avenge the murders of his wife and daughter.

Read full chapter in this week’s Journal or subscribe to the new E-EDITION today by emailing us at