Tuesday, March 01, 2005


A Pirate Tale - part 44

Sally’s hands gripped the wheel as Baastian strolled behind her. She wasn’t sure if he was pacing or stalking – the two movements looked similar on the Dutch pirate. “You’ve changed.” Baastian observed. “You used to be all soft and teary – like a soft, teary woman. But now you are cold and beautiful – like a cold and beautiful woman.”

Sally kept her eyes forward and spoke with fearless clarity. “Captain Slotemaker, you speak out of turn, sir. Your heart belongs to Lady Fanny – so should your voice.”

“Do you see?!” He exclaimed noting the coldness in her voice. “You would never have spoken to Baastian Slotemaker like that before coming on this voyage. I tell you, Sweet Sally, you are now different.”

Of course, Sally knew she was different. No matter how she rationalized the reasons for her behavior – the things she had done in the previous few months had changed her. She felt like all of the molecules that had once comprised her matter were now floating elsewhere in the universe singing about flowers or unrequited love of feeding orphans or something. This new collection had killed without compunction and liked it – at the molecular level of her existence. These were badass molecules.

Baastian moved in closer to her and touched her hair. “And your red hair – in this moonlight it is so beautiful. Is it your natural color?”

Sally answered in a matter-of-fact tone. “I soaked it in a rusty bucket filled with the blood of several Dutchmen.” She hoped the answer would cool him down. It did not have the effect she anticipated. He held a handful of her hair to his face and breathed it in.

“Yes. It smells like home.” He placed his hands over hers on the wheel. Sally protested, “Captain Slotemaker, I must insist that you desist in this line of dialogue. You are Lady Fanny’s man and as such you …”

Slotemaker cut her argument off, “ … Do not think for a moment that I am Lady Fanny’s boy. I am not like that buffoon, Slappista who gets lead around his own ship by a nose ring like some Spanish bull. I am Baastian Slotemaker! I am the greatest pirate ever! Women love me, men fear me and Lady Fanny can kiss my a - …”

Slotemakers hands nearly crushed Sally’s as his grip tightened on the wheel. Sally had heard the unmistakable sound of a sharp knife ripping through skin, muscle and tendons. As his lungs filled with blood, he couldn’t help coaching his would-be assassin. “My heart is a little to the lef - …” Again, Sally listened as the puncturing sound punctuated the pirate’s sentence mid-prattle.

Finally, he released Sally’s hands and the wheel and staggered backward, reaching helplessly behind him for the knife. It was not within his grasp. As he spun around, he saw Lady Fanny standing nearly motionless. Whether it was the pitch of the ship or some sort of cobra-like soul moving within Her Ladyship, the top of her body seemed to undulate from side to side. Even without a weapon in her hand, she looked as deadly as ever.

Baastian was quickly becoming weaker. “Do you know what you have done, Fanny? You have killed the last man who will ever love you? Do you know that?”

Lady Fanny moved closer and took his chin in her hand and held his face to hers. “I don’t need love – I need obedience. And you, dear boy, were very disobedient.” With that said, she spun him around, gripped the knife firmly and turned it hard.

Baastian gurgled a scream and spat blood. In a very unladylike move, Fanny planted one foot in the small of Baastian’s back and wrenched the knife out as she kicked him toward the rail. Without the strength to resist or to regain equilibrium, Baastian hit the rail with his legs, the momentum carried his large torso over the edge and his feet followed suit. Lady Fanny walked to the edge where she could barely catch a glimpse of his white shirt in the water in the moonlight as the ship continued on.

Fanny returned to where Sally was still gripping the wheel. “Mind if I wipe?” She whispered in Sally’s ear. “No, M’Lady.” Sally was, as ever, the obedient servant.

Lady Fanny took a handful of Sally’s red hair and used it as a cloth to take the blood off of her dagger. As a final act of weapon care, she dragged the blade across the front of Sally’s shirt – at the level of her breasts. “Thank you for letting me know that he would be on watch with you this evening, Sally. You are now my right hand – see to it that you don’t get cut off.”

“Yes, your Ladyship.” Sally responded as coolly as she could.

“Are you cold, dear?” Lady Fanny asked. “Baastian said you seemed cold. Here, take my shawl.”


“Aye! She be the Yew Anchor alright! And we’re close enough to taste her!” McCormack called for all hands on deck. Young Spencer had spotted the prize floundering on the waves. “First they flounder, then they founder, then, they’re of no use to no one but the noble pufferfish – piano mover of the sea.” Cementhands explained to the cabin boy, who never quite understood why pufferfish might want to move pianos and what the hell they would be doing in the ocean. But that was the big man’s way. Sometimes he just said stuff.

Cap’n Slappy, Sir Nigel and Sawbones Burgess emerged from a restful sleep in the Captain’s cabin to the buzz of a ship preparing for battle. Sir Nigel was particularly excited when he learned that his own ship sat just a league and a half ahead.

“Good Morning, gentlemen!” Ol’ Chumbucket was in fine fettle on this particular morning and didn’t mind sharing his joy with others. “Did ye sleep well?”

“Aye, we slept fine. Sleepin’ is what we did. And we did it well – sleepin’ that is. Good! Good sleepin’. Nothing but a sound night of god-fearin’ sleep! Without even a hint of sodomy.” Slappy blathered.

Ol’ Chumbucket seemed confused by the verbal diarrhea pouring forth from the Captain’s gob, but chalked it all up to hangover rambling.

“Well, Gabriel has loaded the guns and we be ready to fire on your orders Cap’n – providing ye be of a mind for firin’ the guns!” Ol’ Chumbucket was really in “pirate” mode – his lingo was spot on.

“Excellent. Thank ye, Ol’ Chumbucket. Bring us up on the Yew and let us see what she does from there.” Cap’n Slappy looked at Sir Nigel who smiled his appreciation that the guns would only be used if needed.

As they came in close, The Yew Anchor tried to run for it, but it was no use – even towing the Sir Nigel’s Revenge (where Leftenant Keeling and Red Molly were currently honeymooning) The Festering Boil easily outpaced the poorly manned Anchor and Ol’ Chumbucket led a well armed party ready to swing aboard and make their assault.

Sir Nigel eagerly asked Slappy to let him join the boarding party. “Of course – it’s your ship. Why should my lads have all the fun?” Slappy stayed aboard The Festering Boil and drank his morning coffee. He knew there would be light work.

As the two ships came side by side, it was clear that the crew of the Yew Anchor would offer little resistance. Some of the more passionate mutineers decided to die fighting rather than face a vengeful Sir Nigel, but most quickly laid down their arms.

Ol’ Chumbucket was the first of the boarding party to hit the deck. He swung across from ship to ship and landed hard on his feet. “I am getting too old for this shit.” He thought briefly. But the fight was upon him and he drew both his pistols and blew holes in the first two charging men. A third was close behind, so the savvy seaman spun the pistols around in his leathery hands so that the butt ends looked like heavy wooden hammers. With these, he bashed in the ears of this third would-be assailant. He then dropped the pistols where he stood and drew his trusty cutlass. Within ten minutes, the fighting was over and The Yew Anchor was once again in Sir Nigel Blackheart’s possession.

“You fight well, Ol’ Chumbucket!” Sir Nigel smiled as he shook Chumbucket’s hand. “I don’t suppose you would consider coming aboard The Yew Anchor and serving as my first mate, would you?” Chumbucket smiled. “Thank you, no, Sir Nigel. My place is aboard The Festering Boil and that great fool of a man there." As they looked at Slappy, he seemed to be having a serious argument with Strumpet the Monkey. Chumbucket shook his head and continued. "But I may have misjudged you – for that, I apologize.”

Sir Nigel produced one of his trading cards from his breast pocket and signed it –“To Ol’ Chumbucket: Don’t be a git – stay cool. Your Buddy, Sir Nigel.” He handed it to Chumbucket, slapped him on the shoulder and went about making preparations to be under way.

“Are ye sure ye don’t need a few more supplies for the trip, Sir Nigel?” Slappy offered as the two parted company.

“Not a drop of rum more, old friend!” Sir Nigel declared as he thwacked his thigh with a slap of his hand. “I would like to relieve you of a prisoner, though.” Slappy sent for Slappista – everyone was amazed as he came out of the hold with a full beard how much he resembled the Cap’n himself. “So, my cousin, is this the moment of my execution, or did you remember my birthday?” Slappista sneered.

“For whatever reason,” Slappy began, “Sir Nigel thinks ye may be of some use to him and I am more than happy to part our ways again – until the next family reunion.”

“Am I to be the Englishman’s prisoner, then? Just in case he comes across the Armada?” Slappista was full of piss and vinegar – although he was clearly happy to be out in the sun.

“No, you are to be my First Mate. Ol’ Chumbucket refused my offer and I need a real leader and someone who knows his way around a ship. And if you cross me, by God, I will cut you to pieces and feed you to the sharks. Does that sound fair to you, my good man?” Sir Nigel sounded like he meant every word – and he did.

“I ass-cept your offer, Sir Nigel. Perhaps my old friend Juan would like to join us so he can kill me at a more convenient time?” Slappista glanced at his former First Mate.

“Ol’ Schumbucket stays with Cap’n Slappy and I stay with Ol’ Schumbucket. I will kill you at a later date when it is more convenient for me to do so, gracias.” Juan Garbonzo gave Slappista an icy stare.

Slappista and Sir Nigel boarded the Yew Anchor.

“And when they emerge from their nuptial cocoon, make a gift of the pinnace to the young couple from Sir Nigel.” Sir Nigel called out, “We’ll travel parallel your course in hopes of covering more water and intercepting Lady Fanny before she reaches Madagascar! Fare thee well, my friends! Look for me in the fog!”

Even as he spoke, a fog bank rolled in and enveloped The Yew Anchor and they were gone.

“Damn!” Cementhands observed, “Say what you will, but he makes a hell of an exit!”

“Don’t think for a minute we’ve seen the last of him.” Ol’ Chumbucket said.

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