Tuesday, March 29, 2005


A Pirate Tale – part 62 - "This Time"

Ol’ Chumbucket stared through the spyglass and gave Cap’n Slappy and the crew a moment by moment account of the activities aboard the ships in the distance. “They are loading the young ladies onto the big ship – I believe it is called, Sabado Gigante!”

At the very mention of the name of the giant carrack, Juan crossed himself, “Dio Mio!” he gasped.

“Why the prayer meetin’, Juan?” Cementhands McCormack asked.

“The Sabado Gigante is the legendary treasure ship of Spain – more guns than the fortress at Madrid and twice as strong.” Juan continued breathlessly, “She was once attacked by a dozen English frigates and sent them all to the bottom in less than a half an hour.”

“Hell, Juan!” Cap’n Slappy chided, “On Chilidog night, Ol’ Cementhands here can send at least two dozen English frigates to Davy Jones’ Locker without a cannon being fired.”

Juan stared at the captain blankly.

Slappy tried to explain, “…because he has potent flatulence…?”

Juan looked around to the faces of the other men, the others nervously looked at their feet.

“That’s a fart joke, Juan.” Slappy began patiently, “We joke about McCormack’s flatulence because he is so splendidly potent. Get it?”

Juan struggled to understand, “He has farts that can actually rip through the timbers of a ship? How does he manage to not rip apart The Festering Boil, with his farts?”

Sawbones Burgess tried to explain, “It’s a metaphoric hyperbole, Juan. What the Cap’n means is that we are a well armed crew and together we have defeated many seemingly superior naval forces.”

“With Senor McCormack’s flatulence?” Juan asked innocently.

“Si! Senor McCormack’s flatulence is legendary, my countryman! Have you never heard?” Don Taco now emerged from below deck followed by his faithful companion and musical director, Los Mariachi, who now played what appeared to be a washtub bass.

“Don Taco! What are you doing up?” Slappy demanded.

Suddenly, the world around became perfectly still and all of the objects seem to blur slightly as Slappy blinked his eyes hard to regain his focus.

Nothing improved.

The sails were frozen mid-billow and the breakers that surrounded the ship seemed perfectly solid like marble. There was an absolute silence of wind and creak and splash. This was broken only by the sound of Jezebel’s voice.

“Hello Mortimer.” Her resonant voice washed over him and he knew who it was in an instant.

“Jezebel. Where are you?” Slappy was unable to move from the waist down, and only with great effort elsewhere, but his eyes searched for her image.

“This takes a moment, Mort, do try to be patient for a change.” Jezebel’s tone was familiar – family like. “There, that’s better.” She was now fully in view and standing between Slappy and Don Taco.

“Jez, how the hell did you get here?” Slappy’s confusion was palpable as he struggled to master his movement.

“Mortimer, dear, stop struggling. What I have to say will only take a moment, so listen carefully; I’m really standing in a cave on Diego Garcia but I’ve figured out how to travel through time – not much time, mind you, but I’m still only a beginner. I’ve been at this for a year and can only go up to four hundred years into the future. There’s something important I …”

Slappy cut in, “What do you mean? You haven’t been on Diego Garcia for a year!”

“Well, time is tricky that way, Mortimer. And when I return I always come back three minutes before the time that I originally left. But the amount of time traveling I have done is equal to a year of regular clock time.” She was explaining this as if she had done that hundreds of times in the past – which she had – sort of.

“Regular clock time?” Slappy asked.

“Time as you live it, Slappy, uninterrupted as it were by a time traveler such as myself. When our conversation ends, you will feel dizzy – as will everyone else I am talking to even at this same moment, but in a different version of time.” Jezebel was speeding through her explanation now in order to get to her specific instructions so she just stepped over Slappy’s other attempts to gain understanding.

“Listen, you are all in danger and I have warned you and watched you die over and over but you must heed me and break out of this cycle.” Jezebel’s voice was urgent.

“What cycle?” Slappy asked, but Jezebel just shook off the question and continued.

“I’ve got Don Taco and Cementhands McCormack ready to save Ol’ Chumbucket, but your distraction at his peril in the battle costs you dearly. You must keep your eyes on the fight in front of you and trust the others to take care of themselves and each other.”

“Alright.” Slappy agreed cautiously.

“Don’t ‘Alright’ me, young man!” Jezebel scolded. “Just keep your eyes on the fight in front of you! – Oh! And don’t go after the Sabado Gigante by yourselves. She is too much for …” Here, Jezebel caught herself and changed tactics immediately as though she knew the outcome of making the battle with the giant carrack sound too much like a challenge – which she did. “Look, my friend, there is a special kind of courage in knowing when to pick your battle wisely and when to wait until the odds are more in your favor. This is the kind of courage you must have or you will die – again and again.”

“How many times have you tried to warn me, Jez?” Slappy asked.

“Counting this one?” She responded, “Two hundred and eleven – but I have had a difficult time getting past that thing in you that doesn’t want to let an enemy get away. I think you call it, ‘pride’ – I seem to recall it going before something.”

“Destruction.” Slappy said thoughtfully. “Pride goeth before destruction.”

“And a haughty spirit before a fall.” Jezebel finished the quotation adding, “Don’t fall again, Mortimer. Now, it’s time for me to go.”

“I didn’t mention it before, Jezebel, but you look great!” Slappy said, smiling.

“Pilates and weight training – full aerobics and I joined a water polo team at the ‘Y’.” Jezebel explained and added, “It’s a ‘future thing’ – perhaps I’ll show you sometime … If you don’t get yourself killed again. Look, I gotta run – buh-bye!”

And with that, Jezebel’s image faded and melted into the background as Slappy’s surroundings regained their clarity as well as motion and sound.

A half second later, he lurched forward – as did half the crew – dizzy from the visitation.

Slappy looked squarely into Don Taco’s face – he, too, looked stunned.

“The lady, Jezebel, she says to say – ‘up yours!’” Taco said smiling.

Slappy glanced toward Ol’ Chumbucket who was watching two ships, La Conchita and La Herida que Filtra de la Cabeza set sail toward their position. Then he looked back toward Don Taco who was now joined by Cementhands McCormack.

“Don’t you worry about a thing, Cap’n.” McCormack said smiling as he put his arm around Don Taco’s shoulder and gave him a gigantic bear squeeze. “We know what to do.”

Los Mariachi played a tune that centuries later would be known to television viewers as “The Twilight Zone” theme on the washtub bass – a little something he learned from a mysterious woman whose name, he said, was “Zhezibee.”

“Powder Monkey! Let’s lock and load those cannons – first two rounds regular balls – third round chain shot. I want to soften them up, take their towels and snap their naked asses with them!” Slappy was back in command – but mindful of this mysterious visitation from the future.

“Oh, Jezebel, I hope you’re right - this time.” He murmured as he took the wheel and steered his ship toward the coming fight.

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