Friday, March 18, 2005


A pirate Tale - 59

The sun was slipping to the horizon as Slappista, in the guise of Cap’n Slappy, strode to the helm of La Herida que Filtra de la Cabeza and took the wheel.

“It’s good to be back,” he said.

“Back?” Fanny asked, puzzled. “When were you ever on Slappista’s ship?”

“I mean back at sea. It’s good to be back in command of a fine sailing ship. And this is a fine ship. You can feel its strength through the decking, you can feel its speed and nimbleness in the wheel, you can hear her singing in the rigging. This ship wants to fly across the water, wants to chase that sunset until it’s full day again. This isn’t a construction of wood on water. This ship has a soul,” he said.

“That’s very like what your cousin, my late husband Slappista said. I sometimes thought he loved this ship more he did me.”

Fanny’s remark brought Slappista back from his reverie. “I’m sure that wasn’t true, my dear,” he said in respect to his dead self.” But that’s something we had in common, the love of a fine ship and the sea ... Something ELSE we had in common, I should say. Your love has always been important to me as well.”

“Oh Slappy, I hope you weren’t too hurt that I married your cousin. He simply swept me off me feet while you were away at sea.”

“Think nothing of it,” the fake Slappy reassured her. “The men of our family have always had that effect on women, and when you throw in the whole ‘Latin lover’ thing he had going for him, I can hardly blame you.”

“Don’t underestimate your own charms,” Fanny said with a lusty light in her eyes, as she drew closer to the man at the helm. “You are special, my one and only Lubba Lubba Lubba Muffin. He was nothing compared to you, my sea stallion. I loved Slappista dearly, but it was for his personality and charm. You have spoiled me for any other man. In all the ways that really matter between a man and a woman, you are the master and he was an incompetent oaf.”

Fanny’s breath was hot on the back of Slappista’s neck as he stared grimly ahead, thinking to himself, “I’m going to enjoy this next part.”

“Oh Slappy,” she said, wriggling tight against him, ”you are my guiding Northern Star, the sole comfort to a lost soul adrift in a lonely sea, trying to find the way home.”

“Fanny, my love, do you suppose we could retire to your cabin? I have something I want to show you.”

“Oh, Slappy! If you have something to show me, I want to see it,” she said with a sly smile, her hand groping below his waist.

“Now, don’t be too greedy,” Slappista said. “You go ahead, and get ready, my little brigantine of lust. I will be ready for you soon.”

“Don’t be long, my love,” Fanny breathed in his ear, chasing the words with a snaky lick. Then she turned abruptly and hurried off to her cabin.

Dogwatch Watts was at the helm of the Festering Boil, feeling her own vibrations through the wheel. It was four bells of the midwatch – 2 a.m. – but all wasn’t well with him.

No one had been close to Prof. Droppingham, the man’s prickly demeanor and unending stream of invective had seen to that. But Dogwatch had been closer to him than anyone, simply from working with him so much. And he had learned so much from the man. Never again would he sail east across the Atlantic to try to reach Brazil, for one thing. Now he missed the comfort of Droppingham’s constant criticism.

George the Greek was strolling the deck, smoking and waved to Dogwatch in greeting.

“Well hello George, you pusillanimous parrot dropping,” Dogwatch said.

George stopped short. “What?”

Is your mouth on fire or ... or ... or are you a git?” Dogwatch ventured.

“Dogwatch, you haven’t been drinking on watch have you?” George asked, stepping warily closer.

“Of course not, you bunghole sniffing simp.”

George stared sternly at Dogwatch for a moment, then his face softened.

“I miss him a little too, Dogwatch, which surprises me because there were days I’d have happily tossed him overboard. But ya know, that doesn’t really come naturally to you.”

“It just seemed wrong, you know? He had no business in the middle of the fight, he was much too old.”

George smiled. “Are you kidding? Yesterday was the single greatest day of The Drip’s life. After 40 years stuck ashore teaching navigation and seamanship to a bunch of snot-nosed kids, he finally got to take the helm of a ship in the heat of a desperate battle, and take on his enemies with cold steel. Is that wrong? I don’t think so. I can’t think of a better way for him to go, and I’m sure he’d agree.”

Dogwatch thought for a minute, then a smile lit his face. “I can think of one. It involves a night with those twin bar maids at the Flying Fish in Barbados.”

George smiled. “The Flying Fish? Aye. I think I know the pair you mean. If they didn’t kill ya with the exertions, their brother certainly would.”

Some miles distant, Slappista signaled to the girl on duty to take over the helm. As she took the wheel from him, Genevieve Rubette ran her hand over his. A look passed between them.

“Are you going to see my auntie,” the 17-year-old sailor asked.

“Oh yes. We have a few things to discuss and I’ve something to show her.”

“I hope you’ll be able to visit me later, my dear uncle.”

“Oh, I think you can count on that,” Slappista said, and he turned.

He knocked lightly on the cabin door, and heard Fanny bid him enter. She was, as he expected, posed perfectly to illuminate every curve by the flickering lamplight, and dressed in her leather and red lace negligee, the one that revealed nothing but enflamed the imagination. Despite himself, Slappista felt the surge in his loins, but he knew tonight’s activities would be far different than Fanny expected.

“Oh Slappy, you look so uncomfortable in all that clothing. Come, let me help you undress.” Fanny undulated across the room to him, her hands untying the laces at his shirt collar. Slappista allowed her to remove his outer vestments till he stood before her only in his shirt and pants. Her hands were on his chest. He took her wrists and guided them down – not below his waist but to a spot just below his sternum. She looked puzzled, then as her fingers traced the shape underneath, a look of concern came over her.

“Oh Slappy, what is this? Have you been hurt?”

“Yes, I fear so, and it was almost fatal.” He moved her hand to another spots, slightly higher and to the left. “This was the more dangerous of the two,” he said. “Anything near the heart is dangerous.”

He moved her hands to the collar of his shirt and she took the hint, ripping through the fabric to reveal his chest. Her fingers traced the scars.

“You were shot?” she said. He nodded, as his fingers circled her wrists. “By those Barbary pirates?”

He shook his head. “No, the corsairs are vicious, deadly predators, but they are, after all, only men. It takes a serpent to do the kind of damage I've suffered.”

“A serp ... Slappy, I don’t understand.” Fanny looked into the face of the man who held her, looked down to the wounds then back to the face. Her eyes grew wide with the first fear, the first true emotion of any kind, he’d ever seen there.

She whispered, “Slappista?” He smiled.

“Honey, I’m ho-ome,” he said.

Fanny tried to break free, but he held her wrists, bending her arms back till they were pinioned over her head while spinning her around, thrusting her against the door and pinning her there with his bulk. With one hand securing her wrists, his other flew between her legs till he found what he was seeking. He drew the small dagger from its sheath strapped to her inner thigh and held it glittering in the lamplight, drawing it closer and closer to her now terrified eyes.

“Did you miss me baby?” he asked her.

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