Saturday, April 16, 2005


Part 74 – “A Parting Of Ways”

Part 74 – “A Parting Of Ways”

Blood trickled down the arm of one of the young officers accompanying Lord Sir Admiral Percival Winthorpe Mandrake Tharp during his visitation of the “Dutch Fishermen” who had just defeated a notorious pirate. Young Clinton Burgess had, unknown even to himself, taken a nail from the explosion of the Sabado Gigante in his upper arm – the head of which was still protruding through his jacket.

Sawbones, who was busily attending the wounded, took notice of the young man. Tall and proud, the young man had a familiar face and posture. The two made eye-contact and felt the binding tie – but neither spoke a word. After stitching up Dogwatch’s right thigh, the good doctor moved to check on the source of the blood dripping from the young man’s fingers.

Clinton looked at Admiral Tharp when the rather dingy looking “Dutch Fisherman” began his examination of the nail hole in his jacket, but the Admiral simply half-closed his eyes and shook his head as if to say, “Let the man do his job.”

Sawbones ripped the jacket open wider at the point of impact and ran some rum over the wound. The sting was palpable, but the young officer never flinched.

Sawbones looked off in the distance and said, “My God! What is that thing?!” Clinton snapped his head around to see what was causing the doctor’s distraction and in that moment, felt the sharp, violent wrenching of the nail out of his arm.

The good doctor applied more alcohol to the wound and said, “Son, ye’ll have a wicked good scar, but no permanent damage.”

Clinton took in his father’s face, knowing that one day it would be his own and replied simply, “Thank you.”

Just then, Cementhands McCormack walked up and looked at the scar and said, “Nasty – but that’s what tattoos are for,” and went about his business. Sawbones shook his head paternally, but quickly followed suit.

Juan’s body had been sewn into a hammock with a cannonball at his feet. Don Taco offered a few prayerful words in Spanish over the body before Chumbucket, Leftenant Keeling and two of Slappista’s former pirates released his body over the edge of the ship.

Further up the deck, Sir Nigel was flirting coyly with Sally who had turned over custody of Lady Fanny to Admiral Tharp’s marines. The Admiral had not yet decided what to do with her.

Chumbucket saw Sir Nigel take her hand and kiss it. This was quite enough for him and he moved quickly to intervene – but as he neared the couple he heard Slappy call for Sir Nigel who immediately broke off his chat with Sally to see what Cap’n Slappy wanted. This was the opportunity Ol’ Chumbucket had been waiting for – Sally was alone without any other pressing business. Sir Nigel nodded as he passed en route to see Slappy and the two men nodded at each other politely.

Sally’s eyes smiled as she saw Chumbucket coming her way – this stopped him dead in his tracks for a moment as he feared his heart would leap out of his chest causing another mess on the deck. But onward he trudged.

As he reached Sally, he began to protest her attentions to Sir Nigel and declare his love for her, but before he could speak a word, she grabbed his face firmly in her hands and planted a long, lingering kiss on his mouth. Sir Nigel, walking in the other direction, looked over his shoulder to witness the event, turned back toward Cap’n Slappy’s direction and smiled.

After the kiss, Chumbucket managed only a couple of words as he gestured toward Sir Nigel – “But I though …” these were again muffled by an even more passionate kiss than the previous one. After which, Sally said, “Shut up, you silly, stupid pirate. Just shut up.”

Chumbucket could find no reason not to obey.

Sir Nigel arrived to the place where Cap’n Slappy had called him. They were joined by Don Taco who had also been called over.

“Alright lads, here’s how it’s going to be.” Slappy began, “Sir Nigel will take command of this ship and the crew – most of which will be old friends and colleagues of Don Taco, here. He will be second in command until such time as a suitable command can be ‘commandeered’ for himself and what crew he is willing to take. But don’t be in a huge hurry to part ways, it is my strong impression that the two of you could learn a great deal from one another. At any rate, this adventure has proven once again that you can never have too many allies on the sea.”

They talked for a few moments about the logistics of their new command structure and others began gathering around. A bottle of rum was opened and before long the decks were cleared of blood and bodies and a party began. With Jezebel’s coaxing, even Admiral Tharp joined in the festivities.

Los Mariachi had “borrowed” a guitar from a British sailor and was playing what Slappy described to his half-brother Admiral as “Traditional Dutch Polka Music.” The atmosphere was light for the first time in weeks. British sailors and “Dutch Fishermen” drank together – Jezebel, Liz, Sally and the girls all danced with as many men as their generosity, modesty and tolerance would allow. Even Stinky St. Claire was released from his cell to join in the festivities – he got drunk and yelled, “Viva la France’!” over and over for no apparent reason.

During this festival, nobody seemed to notice when Genevieve slipped away from the party, distracted the drunken guards and facilitated the escape of her Aunt Fanny. The guards quickly realized something was wrong and chased Lady Fanny across the deck, but she shrieked and cast off her clothing as she ran – grabbing a shovel out of a long boat, she brandished it as a weapon, swinging it wildly in the path of her pursuers. With no where left to run and few clothes remaining on her body, she leaped over the rail of the HMS Susan’s Doily and was last seen swimming toward the island.

When this was reported to Lord Sir Admiral Tharp, he lifted his glass toward the direction of the island and said, “And a good place for you!” before returning to the party where he was honored to finally unite Leftenant Keeling and Red Molly in holy matrimony. Jezebel stood off to the side and shed a tear – perhaps two.

Spencer and Gabriel clapped as Strumpet the monkey danced. The party continued well into the night. Lanterns were lit and the deck was illuminated with a soft yellow glow. Salty Jim slow-danced with Liz – his hand drifted down the small of her back and came to rest on her ass. She gently moved it back up and smiled, whispering, “You are so barking up the wrong tree.”

As they stood on the deck of La Herida que Filtra de la Cabeza, Ol’ Chumbucket and Cap’n Slappy were having a discussion about what the new name of this ship should be. Finally, Chumbucket declared, “It’s Sir Nigel’s ship now – he should name her!”

The music stopped as the focus fell on Sir Nigel – a position with which he was remarkably comfortable. He thought only for a moment before he answered. He looked at Ol’ Chumbucket and said, “She’ll be known from now on as Juan’s Blood Oath.”

Chumbucket and Slappy smiled and nodded. The party continued. Nothing more needed to be said.

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