They would have had him right there in the field but some trick of the night had spooked one of them, some owl’s flight past the moon, some chance configuration of clouds.

“I don’t like it,” he said, his voice soft. “It doesn’t feel right.”

“Doesn’t feel right,” sneered the head pirate.

The soft-spoken pirate shook his head, stubborn. “Nossir. There’s something not right about this one. Just look at him! Isn’t right, how quiet he is, how docile. Some demon rides with him, and keeps him calm.”

They laughed at that. “Demons, phoo. Maybe he’s simple. Or could be that he likes it, is that it, hey, son? All these burly men take your fancy.”

His mouth was full of blood that he had to spit out before he could reply. “No, sir, not especially.”

More laughter. “He’s got good manners, anyway! Raised right, whatever else you could say.”

“I still don’t like it, I don’t want any part of it. You do what you got to. I’ll be waitin’ in the truck.”

He was handcuffed to a fence post, bruised and naked. The night air was cold: he was all over goosebumps. Grapevines spread out from the field and climbed the post, made the air heavy and sleepy with their fragrance. Rattle, rattle, rattle, said their leaves.

“I’ll get you,” he promised them. “I’ll get you. You leaves. You grapes. I’ll get you.”