Thursday, January 27, 2005


A Pirate Tale - part 16 "Fog"

“Make for that fog bank, Mr. Watts if you please!” Cap’n Slappy voice carried strongly across the decks of The Festering Boil even through the building wind and gathering gloom of a foggy evening.

“Cementhands, my faithful friend,” Slappy began with a hearty man-slap to Cementhands McCormack’s shoulder, “have I ever told you about my good friend, Sir Nigel?”

Now, Sir Nigel’s correspondence with Cap’n Slappy was a thing of epic legend and all the men had not only heard of Sir Nigel, but had done whatever they could to emulate the man widely considered to be “The Swashbuckler’s Swashbuckler.”

“Aye, Cap’n! That I have! Ye bring him up whenever thar be a fog bank and ye tell us, ‘Sir Nigel is the master of using a fog bank as stealthy cover to sneak up on his prey and give ‘em a right good ‘what for!’ – sir.”

“Yes,” Cap’n Slappy said nodding to himself, “but have I ever told you that Sir Nigel is the master of using a fog bank as a stealthy cover to sneak up on his prey and give ‘em a right good ‘what for!’?”

McCormack looked around at George the Greek, Doc “Sawbones” Burgess and Lieutenant (pronounced “Lef-TEN-ant”) Keeling for some help – the others just gazed upward or to the side. Shaking off his abandonment quickly he smiled warmly at Cap’n Slappy and said, “No sir – do tell.” He and his comrades pulled up crates and casks and sat while Slappy extolled the virtues and vices of his adventuresome friend, Sir Nigel. This went on for a good hour and a half as the Captain produced exciting letter after exciting letter – all of which the men had heard more than a hundred times, but Slappy’s childlike admiration for this fellow pirate always endowed the re-telling with life-like animation. “…and that’s how the phrase, ‘Jolly Good Roister’ came to be a part of theWaputi lexicon!” Slappy had now reached the end of the presentation.

Most of the crew had gathered ‘round Cap'n Slappy while Spencer and Gabriel exchanged, Sir Nigel Trading Cards – Spencer gave up his cherished “Chesty, Lusty, Foul-Mouthed Cracked Carrie in full Bustiness” (her rookie card) for Gabriel’s rare “Three-tooth Meg, ‘Wheezy’ Morgan, Blind Bess and The Slovenly Slattern’s All Stars of 1647” cards.

Fog now enshrouded the Festering Boil. Cap’n Slappy doubled the watch. “Keep a weathered eye out, lads – and when we lose what’s left of daylight, keep yer weathered ears open as well.” Billy “One-Ear” Fitzwilliams gave a disgruntled "Harumph!" and dusted off his fog ear-horn.

“What are we to be listenin’ for, Cap’n?” McCormack asked. “Could it be the mermaids’ song what calls men o’ the sea to their doom? – It goes a little something like this.” With that, Sawbones, George the Greek and Lieutenant Keeling joined him in a piratical “barbershop” quartet as they sang their own version of the Siren’s song.(To the tune of “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot) McCormack took the solo as the featured singer.

Come here – (come here) Sweet sea pirate
(Comin’ for ta crash on the rocks)
Come here – (come here) Sweet Sea pirate
(Comin’ for ta crash on the rocks)

We drift through the fog all day and all night
(Comin’ for ta crash on the rocks)
We hope that we find somebody to fight
(Comin’ for ta crash on the rocks)

And while it was lovely and McCormack’s baritone was nicely balanced byKeeling’s heavenly tenor, Cap’n Slappy held up his hand – demanding silence. “Can ye hear that, lads?” Every ear aboard the Festering boil strained.


A dark fog began rolling across the deck of La Herida que Filtra de laCabeza. Dinner was going to be late – the fishermen had attracted sharks who were stealing the catch before they could get it aboard.

“It’s time for a lesson in natural science.” Lady Fanny observed – she turned to the girl at her side, “Go fetch Miss Sally and the girls. I want them on deck in five minutes.”

As their open-air class assembled, Sally could see the four Spanish sailors – the spitting hombres – standing near Lady Fanny. Their feet were shackled and hands were tied tightly behind them and each had a rope tied around his neck.

“Come look, girls, there are sharks feeding off the starboard side of the ship!” Lady Fanny held a cutlass in her hand as though it might have been a yardstick. Her tone was bright and cheerful. “Now, who can tell me why so many sharks have gathered here in one place?”

The girls stood horrified at the gruesome spectacle – but true to their training, they never let it show on their faces. Finally Bridget spoke up. “They are attracted to the smell of blood in the water.”

“Precisely!” Lady Fanny proclaimed clapping her hands. Her glee with all of this was positively child-like. “It looks like Bridget is going to take the prize. And once a shark has had a taste of blood, what does it want?” Lady Fanny’s use of the Socratic Method was normally impeccable.

On this occasion, however, the terror of the setting cast a pal over the lesson. When there was no answer forthcoming from any of the girls, one of the bound men spoke out in defiant broken English. “It want BLOOD!!!” He shouted and followed it with a doubly defiant spit on the deck, narrowly missing Lady Fanny’s shoe. Lady Fanny’s eyes became slits that shifted toward the man who stared back without blinking.

“Who told you to speak?” she demanded. There was only silence. “There will be no talking out in class!” she shrieked as she plunged the cutlass deep into the man’s belly. His mouth gaped open, but he made no sound. In a frenzy of ferocity, Lady Fanny slashed and hacked the man to death. There was no stopping her as she went through and attacked and killed all four men. The final man, knowing his fate was sealed, spat directly into her face before he was cut down.

Nobody – not even Slappista could move or speak. Lady Fanny’s bloodlust knew no bounds. At one point during the carnage, she picked up a severed arm and held it above her head, “Mercy Gracious Sakes Alive! I’ve killed an un-armed man!” She laughed maniacally as she flung the appendage into the sea.

Bridget O'Toole couldn’t help herself. Sally saw her begin to speak, but couldn’t reach her to stop her. As she watched Lady Fanny hack the men to pieces and cast their body parts to the sharks below the words, “Dear God” escaped her lips. Lady Fanny stopped, she looked at the liver in her hand and cast it over the edge of the ship without a thought. She moved like a snake to the side of the girl and looked her up and down – sizing her up. “This is not Theology Class, Miss O’Toole.” She hissed into the girl’s ear. She didn’t wait for any response. “But don’t let me keep you from your independent study!” With that, she grabbed Bridget sharply by the hair and pulled down hard to throw her off balance. As the poor girl attempted to regain her footing, Lady Fanny spun her around and with a violent laugh, flung her to the mercy of the sharks.

Everyone, including Slappista, rushed to the side of the ship but there was nothing they could do – and the sharks showed no mercy. Slappista could stand it no longer. “You have gone too far, Lady Fanny! You have needlessly taken innocent life – and you have gone too far!”

“Have I?” her voice sounded like a groteque mockery of an innocent school girl – one that wasn’t currently being eaten by sharks. She wriggled up in his chest like an evil kitten who has just committed foul mass murder, “Does the big bad pirate capitan want to punish the naughty girl?” She ran her fingers through his beard and down his chest. He looked resolute – but somewhat ticklish. “With that kind of behavior, who knows what the naughty girl will do next?” As she spoke, she fondled the brace of pistolas at his belt and without any hesitation, gripped them firmly, turned them in toward his body and fired. The look of pain and ecstasy that seemed etched into his face faded quickly to a smile. “You have stopped me – but you have unleashed the family fury.” He staggered backward in the fog, and disappeared off the edge of the ship – the sound of a splash, followed by thrashing water and crunching bones could be heard, but mercifully, the dark thick fog obscured the visual feast.

“Ooooogila Booogila” Lady Fanny mocked, "I've been cursed!" then turning to the crew declared, “As your new Captain, I expect this ship to be kept clean – that includes this mess (gesturing to the large pool of blood and entrails). I’m going to go change into something more befitting my rank.” As she walked past Sally she turned and gave her a cold stare, “See to it that the girls maintain order and discipline – no blurting out – I hold you personally responsible.”

“Yes, M’Lady.” Sally knew that this was not the time to challenge.

“Oh!” Lady Fanny stopped, “From now on, call me ‘Captain Fanny.’ And see to it that there is no giggling afterward.”

Sally saluted sharply, “Yes, Captain Fanny.”


“All of this, how you say, ‘Stroke’ it makes you tired, no?” Juan Garbonzo had a look of genuine concern for his first mate and ideas guy.

“Me? No. I’m – as – fit – as – a – fiddle.” Ol’ Chumbucket managed the words between deep gasps for air.

“This ‘fiddle’ of which you speak – it too has the soft belly and wibble-wobble arms? And does it also gasp for the air like a fish going flippity floppy on the deck?” The wry smile on Juan’s face belied his humorous observation.

Chumbucket was now on the defensive, “I’ll have you know that I was the captain of the football club at Eton, my good man, and ran the midfield like a Zulu warrior – without rest for a full ninety minutes.”

“I was unaware that they admitted Zulu warriors to Eton. I was a Cambridge man, myself.” Juan Garbonzo’s accent had completely been exchanged for one of ancient British aristocracy. Ol’ Chumbucket was thunderstruck and sat for a moment with his mouth agape.

Chumbucket managed only two words, “You’re British.”

“No, senor. Don’t go crazy-go-nuts on me all nilly-willy.” Juan’s voice had reverted back to its original thick Spanish accent, “I just have an ear for accents and a, how you say, flare for the dramatic.” As he spoke, a large ship emerged from a nearby fog bank. Chumbucket’s jaw dropped once again. Juan spoke up, “Is this your Festival Bowl?”

“No.” Ol’ Chumbucket managed, “But things are about to get very, very interesting.”

Juan tried to squeeze out the last of the water from the deer-skin that contained it – “Well, I think I will be content with your ‘interesting’ over our ‘urine drinking stage,’ – let’s go say ‘cheerios' to our new neighbors.”

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?