Monday, February 07, 2005


A Pirate Tale - part 26

Cap’n Slappy awoke to the sound of two crabs fighting on the beach just inches away from his head. Several of the crew stood around. Laughter permeated the morning air. “All these years, I thought that sound was the ship creaking at night – and now I know, it was your snoring!” Chumbucket laughed.

“I don’t snore!” Slappy protested bitterly, but there were too many witnesses to the contrary.

“Si Capitan Slappy – you sound like my uncle’s woodshop in Madrid!” Juan added a very loud sound effect of a saw.

The men laughed. Cementhands McCormack helped Slappy to his feet. “Alright, alright!” He turned to his fellow crew members. “So the Cap’n has a wee bit of a bellow in his nightsong – who amongst us doesn’t make some unpleasant noises from time to time. Doc Burgess snores just as loud!”

Sawbones protested but Dogwatch cut in, “Aye, but he doesn’t fire great cannonades of deadly flatulence, does he!?”

“I don’t fart!” Slappy was incensed.

McCormack nodded, “Aye sir, that ye do! And with such a deadly force as to create a zone o’ destruction within four feet o’ yer arse.”

Sure enough, there were five dead mice, a stunned seagull and a swooning chimpanzee in the captain’s zone o’ destruction.

The Captain looked at the monkey with pity. “I do apologize.” The chimp made a great show of slapping the back of its hand to its forehead and pretending to pass out again. Slappy threw up his hands and pleaded with the assembled men, “Now, he’s faking – you can tell he’s faking!” The primate rolled back and forth in the sand in mock distress. Slappy went over and offered it a hand up. The chimp took his hand and swung himself onto Slappy’s shoulders. “Alright” the Captain told the chimp, “Ye can ride up thar, but don’t even think o’ throwin’ yer poo from that perch or ye’ll be walkin’ like everyone else!”

Just then, Spencer and Gabriel came running toward the beach from the jungle. They were carrying basketfuls of fruits and vegetables and they hurried up to the Captain.

“Cap’n Slappy! Come quick! There’s a farm through a hole in the jungle!” Gabriel panted the words as he tried to catch his breath.

“Slow down, Midget!” The Captain ordered, “Ye’re havin’ one o’ yer wee hallucinations!” Slappy laughed hard and turned to the crew who were standing around, “Wee! – Get it? Wee hallucination – for a midget?”

They got it and nobody laughed.

“Tough beach.” Slappy observed to the monkey on his back. He then turned to the boys. “Alright, show me this HOLE in the jungle and the farm on the other end of it.”

“Chumbucket, Juan, McCormack, Lef-TEN-ant Keeling and Sawbones – if ye would be so kind as to accompany meself and the boy and midget? The rest o’ ye, help George set the ship right!”

The boys led the party to what was as clear a hole in the jungle as one could imagine. It was actually a path that had been hidden by some branches and leaves and the men started down the path – Juan and Chumbucket were at the rear and Juan asked, “Does the Capitan really think the little muchacho is really a – how he say enano – midget?”

“Nobody knows for sure, Juan. But so far, it hasn’t really mattered.” Chumbucket said.

After nearly a half-hour of walking, they came to a clearing where the hole opened up on the scene of a lovely farm. No livestock were visible, but there was beautiful garden with a vast array of fruit trees and vegetable. In the center of it all, was a cozy cottage.

It was all well-cared-for, but apparently deserted.

Slappy knocked on the door, but when there was no immediate answer, he and the men went inside. Spencer said he had been in there earlier and didn’t find anyone in the house. Gabriel sat in a comfortable chair reading a book he had found and laughing.

“What’s so funny, Powder Monkey?” Slappy asked.
“There is a whole section in this book about you, Captain.” Gabriel said – and then laughed again.

“Really?” Slappy puffed himself up a bit. “Read it.”

Gabriel looked around the room at the others, “Oh, no. I shouldn’t.”

Slappy insisted, “There is nothing about me these men don’t already know – go ahead and read it, sir!” he paused, “That is if midgets can read.”

Gabriel began reading with a vengeance, “Mortimer Slappy, Captain of the pirate ship, The Festering Boil. He is a narcissistic, obsessive/compulsive windbag of a fool with a hero complex, weasel grease fixation and nautical skills a mile wide and an inch deep. He …”

Slappy snatched the book out of Gabriel’s hands and leafed through a few pages. He grimaced mostly, but shot back a few retorts at the defenseless pages, “I paid them for that goat!” and “Well of course my performance was sub-par. We were involved in amateur theatrics!”

Gabriel laughed and several of the other men chuckled. Chumbucket observed, “I thought your Lady McBeth was …” and then he had to search for the right word – “… innovative.” An explosion of laughter followed – even Slappy had to laugh at himself.

He continued to leaf through the book and pretended to come upon something. “Oh!” Slappy cried –a very picture of the amateur thespian, “There appears to be an entry here on Gabriel the Powder Monkey – a.k.a. “The Midget!”

For a moment, Gabriel wasn’t sure – he hadn’t read to the end of the book.

“It says here,” Slappy began, “That Gabriel is a cheeky little devil who has stinky feet and appalling oral hygiene. And,” it goes on to say that, “were it not for the good graces and god-like patience of Cap’n Slappy, he’d be working as the boy who scoops up the elephant poo after the circus parade and dreaming of the day someone will mercifully fire him out of a cannon.”

Gabriel grabbed the book back, but the pages were blank. “It says nothing of the kind!” he said as he showed the others the blank pages as proof.

“Well,” Slappy declared as he grabbed a bottle of wine, “there doesn’t seem to be anything of value here. Let’s borrow some of this good farmer’s crops and see how the repairs on the ship are coming.”

As they stepped outside, the warm African sun was shining down on them. They made their way toward the hole in the jungle.

Suddenly, Slappy slapped his neck. His fingers searched for the cause of the sting and carefully pinched and pulled it out and held it in front of his eyes so he could see it. It was a dart – bright red and blue. Slappy seemed to recognize it, but made only one comment, “Well, that was dumb.”

Without another breath, he collapsed in the dirt and didn’t move again. As he was falling, the monkey leaped from his shoulder and ran toward the jungle disappearing into the thickness of the brush and vines.

Chumbucket whipped out his pistols and Juan pulled his cutlass. Cementhands grabbed an anvil hammer that rested nearby and Lef-TEN-ant Keeling produced his saber. The four of them charged toward the jungle, hoping to flush out the assailant, but there was no sign of anyone.

Sawbones Burgess attended the fallen captain whose body was a crumpled heap covered in dust. The boys helped him lay Slappy out straight, but there was no breath in him.

When the men rushed back, they could tell by the look on Sawbones’ face what his next words would be.

“He’s dead, men. He’s dead.”

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