Saturday, March 19, 2005


A Pirate Tale – part 60 "Even Steven"

Slappista saw a tear welling up in Fanny’s right eye. He thought it made her blue eyes seem larger and somehow more vulnerable but her dainty beauty was the farthest thing from his mind. With malicious glee he offered a sing-song refrain, “Oh, Fan-ny! You got some ‘splain-in’ to do!”

He laughed and spun her around – flinging her to the bed where she crashed; face first, into her large down pillows. Slappista leapt quickly on top of her and carefully cut the leather lacings that held fast the bodice of her negligee – starting from her belly and moving upward with each emphasized word. At each snap of the blade, Fanny gasped in a combination of excitement and genuine fear.

“Your treachery knows no BOUNDS! The ice water that courses through your veins renders you incapable of LOVE! You should have killed me when you had the CHANCE! Now you will pay for your TREACHERY!”

Slappista could feel her body squirm under his, but he knew she was going nowhere.

“Stop. Please, Darling, stop. Let me explain! I was a fool! Please!” She pleaded, but his momentum was set and it seemed he was not to be deterred. “Seemed” being the operative word here because that very moment a simple and familiar sound would change everything.


Slappista froze at the sound of a pistol hammer’s double click behind his left ear. His knife was poised to cut the last tie on Fanny’s bodice but the girlish voice behind him made clear that such a move would not be prudent.

“If you move, you die, Mister Slappista.” Genevieve calmly directed.

Lady Fanny’s face relaxed. If a spider could smile, its countenance would look very much the same as hers did now. “Kids.” She quipped. “They’re always interrupting.”

For a moment, Slappista weighed his options. All he would have to do is push his knife between her ribs and cut her heart – but he feared it might be too small a target if it even existed at all. This would of course be accompanied by a huge hole in his head which would make wearing a hat a thing of the past and cause a dreadful whistling sound whenever the wind blew.

He did the only thing he could think of that was survivable. Slappista released his grip on the knife and slowly lifted his hands into the air. “I have thirty loyal sea dogs above on deck, if you kill me – AGAIN – they will simply overpower you and your girls and do whatever seamen do with young women when they don’t have a strong hand to make them mind their manners.”
Fanny picked the knife off her belly and began to sit up. Her right hand, which had been under the pillow, now held a small derringer pistol which she pointed at Slappista’s heart.

“We seem to have a stand-off here, then, don’t we?” Fanny observed as she waved Genevieve out of the room.

“It would appear so.” Slappista said as he began to relax.

“Well, darling, I tried to kill you – you tried to kill me – we both failed. What say we call it ‘Even Steven’ and pretend none of this ever happened?”

Slappista didn’t feel anything was “Even Steven” – she’d actually shot him and dropped him off in the ocean. He had slightly damaged some of her sleepwear. To his way of thinking, this was definitely not “Even Steven.” But he knew what it was like to be shot and preferred not to deal with that just at the moment.

“Alright.” He said perfunctorily.

“Say it!” Fanny demanded.

“Say what?” Slappista asked angrily.

“Say ‘Even Steven!’ – it’s not Even Steven until you say, ‘Even Steven!’” She snapped.

Slappista just looked at her incredulously.

She took a more conciliatory tone and spoke almost as if she was explaining the rules to a child. “Look. If you don’t say ‘Even Steven’ then I’ll know you’re holding back just waiting to kill me later. This way, if you do kill me later, I’ll be able to taunt you as I die with ‘Liar Liar Pants on Fire!’ for being a big fat liar face. So either you say, ‘Even Steven’ right now and we’ll move on – fair and square – or I will shoot you in the heart and explain to those big burly men out there that you were teaching little ol’ me about firearm safety when the gun accidentally went ‘Boom!’”

“They’ll never believe you.” Slappista dismissed her demand with a wave of his hand.

“They will long enough for me to bed a couple of them and build a coalition of the horny.” Fanny’s voice was now deep and sexy.

Slappista looked at her thoughtfully for a moment. “What is this strange power you have over men?”

Fanny smiled, “Oh, it’s so simple, Darling. The rudder of a man’s world is his cock. Control the cock, and control the destiny – they are always so eager to turn it over to me.” She moved in close and whispered, letting her lips brush against his as she spoke. “And what’s more, you’re willing as well – even after all the naughty things I’ve done. And I’ve been a very, very naughty girl.” She flicked her tongue on his nearly opened mouth. “So, now we’re ‘Even Steven,’ right?”

In his trance-like state, the best he could do was offer an echolalia-sounding “Even Steven.”


“Be careful.” Jezebel cautioned Liz as she led the group boldly into the cave “There is a power in there that is of a different type than we have seen before.”

Liz was too excited to take heed. “Can you feel it, Jez? It’s big!” And with that, she raced head long into the glowing cave.

Jezebel tried to stop her, but she was not fast enough. “Ah, well, here we go.” Her face mirrored her blissful resignation. “Come along, gentlemen – we’ve nothing to lose but our lives.”

The four marines cast worried looks at each other, but refused to balk in the face of death when two women ran headlong into it. After a moment’s hesitation, they too bolted into the cave.

When they made the first turn toward the glowing light, they stood frozen with amazement. The company found themselves in a large chamber. It resembled more a capital rotunda than a cave. In the center of what was a beautiful marble floor of many colors was a glowing orb that measured over six feet in diameter. It was recessed into the floor and provided not only light, but heat. High above it, another orb of the same size and luminescence was embedded in the domed ceiling. This sat like a bright moon surrounded by thousands of sparkling stars – like diamonds carefully arranged in constellations that flickered drops of light whose glow filled the black dome.

Around the base of the ceiling, were a series of mosaics that seemed to be telling a story about the characters represented in those strange little statues they had seen along the path. All of this seemed to be held in place by several dozen marble pillars beyond (or between – nobody was willing to venture close enough to tell) which there seemed to be thousands or perhaps millions of crystals suspended in the air, as it were, by nothing but the force of their own will. The power in the room was palpable even to the admiral’s stretcher-bearers and nearly overwhelmed Jezebel and Liz.

In fact, Liz was nearly drunk with euphoria as she danced and spun with child-like glee around the orb. She began casting off articles of clothing as she danced and the group stood mesmerized. Just before Liz could pull off her shirt, Jezebel called out to her.

“Thank you, my darling. That will be enough dancing for the moment.” Jezebel called. Liz composed herself and gathered up her discarded garments. The men frowned.

To break the awkward silence, one of the marines spoke up. “I wonder how things are on The Doily.”

Suddenly, a section of crystals between two pillars began shuddering and clanging together like thousands of muted bells. Light seemed to be gathering there and moving purposefully. In a moment, the light was taking form and then men could see the HMS Susan’s Doily from the air above it. Their view swooped toward the deck and then upward from stem to stern. The image was quickly replaced by another – from the water level looking upward at the ship.

“We’re seeing it through the eyes of animals.” Jezebel observed and quickly corrected herself. “Well, not through their eyes exactly, but the way we would see it if we had their perspective.”

The picture again shifted to a view from the air, this time, the wings of a seagull were visible on the periphery. The men looked confused.

“You’re getting a ‘birds eye’ view.” Liz clarified. “But now how a bird sees – but how we humans see.”

Three of the marines nodded – pretending to understand. The fourth just stared at the images in wonder.

Jezebel thought for a moment then asked aloud, “What’s happening to our friends aboard The Festering Boil?”

Another section between two other pillars clanged to life. At first, the picture was frantic and Jezebel heard Slappy’s voice, but saw only a busy darkness. She thought she heard him say, “Launch!” but thought perhaps it was, “Lunch!” which made much more sense. But a moment later, the picture shown brightly as what looked like a crate broke open and the view looked like a rapid pursuit of an unfamiliar Spanish pirate who fled in fear. There was also the sound of buzzing that was overwhelming until the view rested on the pirate’s skin. Then, blackness.

“Bees?” Both Liz and Jezebel questioned at the same time.

The picture picked back up from the rigging of The Festering Boil.

They could see Slappy firing his blunderbuss into the four charging Spaniards and Sawbones Burgess’ heroic battle. They saw Salty Jim quickly crunching numbers in his head as he picked up a hefty piece of lumber and calculated its trajectory and speed at impact. All of this, they saw from a vantage point above the fray.

“But that’s not a bird, Jez.” Liz noticed, “It seems to be leaping from one sail to the next and swinging from rope.”

Just then, the two women saw the monkey’s hand fling a fistful of poo at a Spanish sailor below.

“Ahhh.” Liz purred, “It’s a monkey!”

The marines had, by now, grown bored with their picture of the placid Doily and had set the admiral near the orb to come watch the fight on the Boil. They admired the skill of the fighters involved and the oldest one recognized Professor Droppingham.

“That old bastard failed me at Navigation two years in a row!” he noted. Moments later when he saw the man die, he recanted. “He was the greatest teacher at the Naval College.”

Jezebel watched with a worried look on her face while the battle was in doubt. She seemed to be looking for someone in particular – but the monkey’s view bounced around from thing to thing. She finally turned away whispering to herself, “He’s fine. I’m sure he’s fine.”

Just then, Lord Sir Admiral Percival Winthorpe Mandrake Tharp regained consciousness. But when he spoke, it was as if his voice and personality had undergone a dramatic change.

In a raspy, whispery voice with an “s” so soft it hardly achieved the level of a lisp, he sat up with considerable energy and declared, “This room is - oh, what’s the right word for it? – I know! FABULOUS!”

The amazement on Liz and Jezebel’s faces was matched and surpassed by the four marines.

Lord Sir Admiral Tharp continued, “Oh, Ducky – who does your window treatments? They are so – ‘world of tomorrow!’” He then stopped himself, “Ooops! Silly me – I haven’t introduced myself. I’m Lance – who the hell are all of you?”

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