Monday, January 24, 2005


A Pirates Tale - 13

Admiral Tharp watched his half-brother, Cap’n Slappy, climb back aboard his own ship, the Festering Boil. His second in command approached him.

“Sir, will the ‘fishing vessel’ be steering clear of our operations then, or will we have to take it into custody?”

“Oh that won’t be necessary,” the admiral said. “True, he’s ready to follow the Spanish pirate to the end of the earth, and he even thinks he took advantage of me. I left the chart out on my desk. It shows the Spaniard’s course heading west to the coast of Brazil. I made sure there was a large red X on the Brazilian coast with the words ‘Slappista’s home port’ very clearly marked.”

“Brazil?” the executive officer asked. “But sir, I thought all our intelligence showed them heading to the Canaries on their way to the African coast.”

“Well, if my bro … I mean, if The Festering Boil thinks the Spaniard is heading for South America, it rather leaves things open for us, doesn’t it?” the admiral said with a smirk. “Wait until they get under way, we'll take half a day pretending we're heading north, then we can set out for Africa and square accounts with that Spanish fellow.”

On board The Festering Boil, Slappy gathered his officers on the poop.

“Well cap’n, what was that all about?” Sawbones Burgess asked. “You were gone long enough, I thought the jig was up. Did they actually decide in the end that we’re a fishing vessel?”

“Well, let’s just say they aren’t impeding our departure,” Slappy said. “I think I convinced the admiral to not get in our way.”

“They must be uncommonly stupid,” Burgess said.

“Well, it was an uncommon conversation, let’s just leave it at that,” Slappy gloated.

“And did you get your money back for the book?” Lt. Keeling asked.

Slappy hefted the bottle of single-malt Scotch he had absconded with. “I think the admiral and I are even, at least on that score. Now, gentlemen, we have a Spanish pirate to chase down.”

“But we don’t know where they went,” George the Greek said. “It’s a pretty big ocean.”

“Well, the admiral helped us without meaning to. He left a chart out on his desk with the likely destination of our quarry marked,” Slappy said. “I want us to head south fora few hours to throw them off the scent, then Dogwatch Watts, chart me a course for Rio de Janeiro, on the coast of Brazil!”

“Aye aye, sir!” Dogwatch answered, saluting with the wrong hand.

While the crew of The Festering Boil prepared to get under way in the early morning hours, the captain’s cabin of La Herida que Filtra de la Cabeza was lit only by a single flickering candle.

In the glow of the candlelight, Lady Fanny was rubbing a liberal amount of scented oil into the shoulders and and back of Don Juan Diego de la Mercada y Slappista con carne, who was recovering from the strenuous workout Fanny had put him through in the last hour.

“Oh, Slappista,” she purred. “You know you’re my guiding Northern Star, the sole comfort to a lost soul adrift in a lonely sea, trying to find the way home. Can't you give me this one little thing?

“Ah, mi pequeño gatito del amor,” Slappista said contentedly. “But we can make more money if we sell the girls at the market in Africa, rather than my sailors.”

“Oh, I think you underestimate the value of those big strong, strapping men. And you must admit, my girls have been excellent additions to the crew. Remember that trap Slappy laid for you? Your sailors would have been captured in a moment, but my girls were immune to the lure that would have snared your crew, and they captured Chumbucket pretty neatly.”

“True, they are shaping up as fine pirates,” Slappista said. But an all-girl crew? It just isn’t done … Yeewwooogrrrr,” he added, as her hand did something very creative to him. “Do that again.”

“What, this?”

“No. That other thing … Yeewwooogrrrr!!” he said.

“So you’ll indulge me just this once, you special lubba lubba lubba mollete? And you’ll give me Ol’ Chumbucket for something special before we get to the mainland?”

“Anything my love.”

And now, in deference to good taste, we close the curtain on the scene in the captain’s cabin and travel down below decks, to the brig, where Chumbucket is trying to square the face beneath the hood with the memory of where he had seen it last. He had expected to see a swarthy pirate. He did not.

“Surely you’re one of the students of Slappy’s school,” Chumbucket said to the teen girl who had come into the room. “Didn’t I see you at that sporting event he made us attend last year?”

“Of course you did,” Mad Sally said. “Bridget is captain of the field hockey team, and I believe she scored nine goals that day Slappy brought his crew to the game.”

“Ten Coach, not that I’m bragging, but strictly for accuracy’s sake, I scored 10 goals.”

“And now you’re aboard a Spanish pirate ship, doing precisely what?”

“Well, I captured you, sir, if you don’t mind my mentioning it. Not that that’s what we were planning, but you fell directly into our boat when we were trying to get away from your trap,” Bridget O’Toole said. “It was a pretty obvious trap, by the way.”

Chumbucket, for one of the few times in his life, didn’t have a clue what to say, so he opened and closed his mouth soundlessly several times, as if practicing for when he might want to talk again.

“Look, it’s very simple,” Sally said. “Lady Fanny secretly arranged with Capitán Slappista to raid the town, raze the school and take all the girls, plus her and me, on board his ship. Within days we had control. Fanny has him in her power, and those sailors had no chance against well-bred girls of gentle rearing, who had been raised on the old-school tradition and hardened on the field hockey pitch. My team, you will recall, has won the Caribbean Inter-Island All-Schools Championship three of the last four years.”

“And we’d have won it all four if I hadn’t broken my ankle,” Bridget said hotly.

“Anyway, I think I've shown I'm more than just the bar wench you claim to love. So we’ve become a pirate crew, and the girls love it. I mean, it’s a lot more interesting than school and etiquette. It’s a much more open life. But I’m worried. I don’t know what Fanny’s up to, but I don’t think she just means to give the girls a little vacation. Once we’ve learned all the seamanship that goes into running the ship, I think she’s planning something awful. I don’t think even Slappista’s safe. And you definitely aren’t. Which is why I’m getting you out of here.”

“That’s why I came down here, Sally. The ship is beginning to stir.”

“Damn, we’ve gotta hurry,” Sally said. She quickly unlocked the cell door. “We can’t take all of you, she said to the Spanish sailors imprisoned with Chumbucket. “I’m sorry, it’s a very small boat. But I do think one of you should come to help, and that would be you, my charming Latin friend.”

Juan Garbonzo bowed gallantly and turned to the other sailors. “Do not worry, my compadres. I will return to set things right aboard this ship. You have my word. And you,” he said, turning to Mad Sally, “Have my undying devotion for the opportunity for escape, adventure, and the chance to return and free my comrades.”

“Bridget, you get back up on the poop and keep your eye out. I’ll be right there.”

“You’re not coming with us, Sally?”

“I can’t leave the girls. If you really care for me, go find help and come back for us. The ship is stopping at the Canaries, then going on to the Sierra Leone. I don’t know what happens next.”

“Senorita, we will return for you though all the navies of the world stood in our way, and we will rescue you from this plight,” Garbonzo said, leaning over her hand again.

“Enough of the knuckle slobbering, my friend,” Chumbucket said. “Let’s go.”

With Sally leading the way, Chumbucket and Garbonzo silently filed up the stairs and began making their way to the back of the ship, where the longboat and freedom awaited.

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