Saturday, February 12, 2005


A Pirate Tale - 30

A Pirate Tale – part 30

Doc Burgess watched Cap’n Slappy sleep. His breathing was deep, but
irregular with long periods where no air was coming in at all.

Sawbones called for George the Greek and Chumbucket. He was about to send
Dogwatch to gather the officers – then thought better of it and told him
to gather all of the crew. “I think he is going.” Before Dogwatch could
move, however, Slappy sat up and looked around.

“Hello my friends.”

Sawbones was stunned. He looked so close to death – how could he now be so
calm and “alive?” He extended his hand and George the Greek helped him to
his feet. Slappy looked long and hard at Ol’ Chumbucket’s face. “I know
you, don’t I?” he asked in all sincerity.

“Aye, ye know me, as sure as ye know yer own stink, Slappy!” Chumbucket
laughed and slapped his friend on the back. Slappy smiled and nodded.
“That’s a funny phrase, isn’t it? To know another like one knows his own
stink.” The men on the scene just looked at each other.

“You look stunned, my friends – amazed. And there is much in this world
that is amazing. Come, walk with me, I will show you.”

Slappy shed his coat as he walked down the beach. He held out his arms to
feel the breeze and embrace the sunlight. “It all happens at once – it all
happens in the same moment – everything in a moment.” He stopped and took
a long deep breath. “A universe in a moment.”

There was no mocking or disrespect when Dogwatch asked, “Which moment
Captain?” Then men looked at him, but they saw that he was sincere.

Slappy’s answer was simple and to the point – “The next one.”

As he spoke these words, a duck landed on the beach just a foot in front
of Cap’n Slappy. He quacked once and then settled himself in to the sand.
Slappy gave the same hand signal he gave for flanking maneuvers in battle
and the men encircled the waterfowl. Then, Slappy held up his hands and
lowered himself into a seated position on the sand and gestured for the
men to follow suit. They did, but kept looking at each other - shooting
questioning glances across the circumference.

“Be patient, men. All will be made clear.”

The duck and Slappy stared at each other for the better part of a
half-hour. Finally, the duck got up, waddled over to where the Captain was
seated, shook himself violently and took to flight.

The men remained seated in the circle. They watched the bird go higher –
his wings working feverishly as he flew south. Before he reached the
southern tip of the beach, he shot westward a quarter if a mile and caught
a current of air which carried him southeast around the tip and back up
the eastern slopes of the jungle foothills northward.

Slappy picked up a feather left behind and twirled it in his fingers –
watching it carefully. The men sat still. “Did you mark that course,
Dogwatch?” The Captain asked as he stared at the twirling feather? “The
duck’s course? Aye sir. That I did.” Dogwatch replied confidently.

“Then bear that in mind as we reach the Cape of Good Hope.” Cap’n Slappy
stood and his officers followed suit. As he walked down the beach, he
braided the feather into his long hair. The men looked at him askance but
he smiled and said, “It’s me lucky feather.”

As they walked along the beach, the men and women cheered to see Slappy
upright and walking – not just walking, but striding. Slappy noticed the
women among the crew. “Have we always had women in the crew, Chumbucket?”
he asked. “Aye sir – but they’ve only come out of hiding in the last few
years and worked openly as women along side the men.”

“How’s that working out for us, Chumbucket?” Slappy asked. “Surprisingly
well, sir.” Chumbucket replied, “ … after the novelty wore off – and we
implemented the ‘Jot Out Jealousy’ program all has gone smoothly.”

Slappy stopped again. He looked at Chumbucket with all earnestness, “Do I
have a girlfriend among the crew, Chumbucket?” he asked. “No sir.”
Chumbucket replied, “You declared yourself exempt from such liberties as
you feared it would foster rumors of favoritism and contradict the
principles of the ‘Jot Out Jealousy’ curriculum.”

“Sensible policy.” Slappy agreed as they continued to march along the
beach and greet the busily working crew. He stopped again, “I DO like
girls, though, don’t I?” He gazed at Chumbucket with unsettling effect.

His old friend slapped his face – just to redirect his attention. “Aye,
sir, ye like the women, - ye just have shown a fiercely poor sense of
judgement when it comes to selectin’ ‘em.”

Slappy breathed a sigh of relief.

But he quickly added, “Not that thar would be anythin’ wrong with …” “No
sir! Nothing at all wrong with …” Chumbucket replied.

The men all stood around looking at the sand for a moment or two.

Slappy looked at the men around him – “Arrr! Suck it up, me comrades and
let’s get this ship ready to sail!”

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