Saturday, April 02, 2005


A Pirate Tale – part 66 "I'm a Lava, Lava, Lava You"

“If you’re asking how we eat, and sleep during forays into the fragile time/space continuum, then I will ask you to repeat to yourself, it’s just a construct – I should really just relax!” Dogwatch asserted as he sat on the beach, surrounded by several crew members and a bevy of young, beautiful maidens.

Genevieve was not impressed, however. “You guys think you’re such the cat’s pitootie, but what are you doing to rescue my auntie from the clutches of that evil Spaniard?”

Dogwatch was amazed. “You’ve got to be kidding! Your dear auntie’s clutches are the most evil clutches that have ever clutched on unclutched the clutchable! I mean, c’mon! She is such a bit-!”

He was cut off by Slappy who was walking up the beach, talking to Ol’ Chumbucket, Jezebel and Mad Sally. “Mister Dogwatch, if you please, let’s mind our tone and vocabulary in front of the impressionable young ladies.” He said sternly.

“But, Cap’n – this …” Dogwatch searched for the right word – all the while minding his tone and vocabulary as ordered, “ … delicate flower of youth is the niece of that singularly evil bitch-viper, Lady Fanny!” He spun out of control, like a three-year-old running a sprint after spinning on a merry-go-round for five minutes. Comical and bruising.

Slappy was about to intervene with his own brand of discipline – a savage beating with his fists and forehead – when Sally stepped in decisively, “And as such, she and the other girls are now under my protection and guidance. Lady Jezebel, I hereby request permission for myself and my girls to seek sanctuary aboard The Sea Witch. We are perfectly capable of working off our passage as dutiful members of your crew.”

Jezebel smiled, “Nobody’s referred to me by my title in years – it actually sounds nice again. Of course, let’s get them aboard and make them comfortable.” With a quick nod of Sally’s head, the girls sprang to their feet and moved quickly to the relative safety of The Sea Witch. Jezebel pinched Slappy on the cheek as gave Dogwatch a look that the men of The Festering Boil all knew as, “The Stink Eye.”

Slappy and Chumbucket watched the girls flounce down the beach. Chumbucket gave his own version of The Stink Eye to Dogwatch, adding, “It’s because of you, we can’t have nice things, Mister Pottymouth.”

Dogwatch looked appropriately ashamed, so the two men helped him to his feet. Slappy called up and down the beach for the crew to prepare to leave the island. Water and fruit were loaded and the ships were ready to set sail, when they saw an old friend pull into view.

“It’s the HMS Susan’s Doily, Cap’n!” young Spencer called as he looked through Slappy’s spyglass and read the semaphore flag message. “Lord Sir Admiral Tharp wants to have a word with you!”

“Of course he does.” Slappy muttered to himself. “We just get the long boat loaded up onto the ship when he wants me to row out so he can …” His speech de-evolved into inaudible blatherings, oaths and projectile spitting.

At that moment, the island began to rumble and shake. “Put some distance between us and the shore!” Slappy ordered. The Sea Witch was of the same mind as Jezebel ordered her out to sea.

Even the British frigate thought better of coming closer and held her distance.

Slappy rushed to the shore side of The Festering Boil and watched in horror as the mountain they had used to bend time and space to their will emitted first steam, then, a slow-moving but massive river of molten lava.

There wasn’t a word that could adequately sum up his feelings as he watched the future resting place of untold riches ooze burning mineral-blood as it reformed itself from booty bank vault into impenetrable solid rock.

“Well, maybe it won’t fill the chamber and we’ll just waltz in next February and claim our riches.” Cementhands McCormack offered hopefully as they watched the top of the mountain turn red and fall into itself. Rethinking his appraisal, he corrected, “Aye – it’s pretty much a goner – it’s a good thing I took some souvenirs for meself.”

Truth be told, the entire crew had taken some “souvenirs” for themselves – as did most of the girls, so it wasn’t a total loss. But their take was a slight fraction of the riches which would now materialize into the center of a mountain that would likely be just cooling by February.

“And it was such a good plan.” Sir Nigel observed with only the slightest hint of irony.

“Shut up, Nigel.” Ol’ Chumbucket snapped, and then turned to take up a position in the crows nest to find a moment of solitude to mourn his future loss.

“Just more proof that the, ‘Take What You Can Carry’ rule is a sensible policy.” McCormack observed.

“Aye!” Spencer shot a squinty-eyed glance at the big man and continued, “but some of us can carry more than others.”

He jingled his small bag of coins – wishing he had thought to take more.

“Here ye go, lad.” McCormack handed the boy a huge gold earring and one like it to Gabriel. “And you, too – now don’t let me hear either o’ ye bellyache about it.”

The boys scurried off excitedly to punch holes in each others ears.

Slappy couldn’t take his eyes off the volcano but admonished his friend, “Ye’ll spoil those boys.”

“I don’t want their gentler virtues getting in the way of developing their natural propensity for avarice.” McCormack explained.

The men standing nearby; including Slappy, just stared at the big man blankly.

“Where do you come up with this stuff?” Nigel asked.

“I am simply the voice of the current paradigm.” McCormack responded matter-of-factly as the group refocused attention on the burning island.

Slappy watched The Sea Witch pull along side The HMS Susan’s Doily and decided that he should insinuate himself into whatever parlay was taking place. He moved to the wheel and began steering The Festering Boil toward the rendezvous.

Leftenant Keeling and Don Taco emerged from the hold followed by Los Mariachi who had now taken to playing a concertina he had “found” in Dogwatch’s belongings.

“Hold on right there – Lightfingers!” Dogwatch demanded, but quickly relented when he heard the sweet melancholy tune the Spaniard squeezed from the instrument. Something Dogwatch himself had never mastered. “Oh, forget it!” he said with a smile and sat back and enjoyed the music.

Don Taco had his arm around Keeling’s shoulder – mostly to provide support. “I am so glad I didn’t kill you – you are a charming fellow! Do you know who we really SHOULD kill? We should all get together and kill Slappista. Now, THAT’s a fellow who is just begging to get killed!”

Juan overheard this and reacted forcefully, “No! It is I who will kill Slappista!”

“He did call, ‘dibs’.” McCormack said supportively.

“Perhaps this shall be an argument between us hot-blooded Latin fellows?” Don Taco declared as he released Leftenant Keeling’s shoulder and reached for his sword sending the man sprawling to the deck. Los Mariachi made a “falling and splat” sound with the concertina. Dogwatch and Don Taco helped Keeling to his feet. “I’m so sorry, my friend! What could I have been thinking?”

“You were thinking of spilling my blood so that you could be first in line to spill Slappista’s!” Juan had now armed himself and was itching for a fight.

“You’re right, my friend!” Taco declared, as he once again let Keeling slip out of his grasp and fall to the deck – this time, Dogwatch slowed, but did not prevent, his fall. He watched his newest best friend fall again and turned halfway toward Juan with annoyance, “Now, look what you made me do – AGAIN!”

Sawbones Burgess stepped between the incensed Spaniards. “If there is to be any blood letting on this ship – I will be the one to do the letting. Do I make myself clear, gentlemen?”

“Gentlemen?” McCormack looked comically around – a gag he had used without failure thousands of times.

The assembled crew laughed out loud. Taco and Dogwatch once again released the wobbly Keeling who dropped to the deck again – this time, they just pointed and laughed.

With freshly punctured ears spilling blood over their new gold earrings, Spencer and Gabriel tossed grappling hooks to the rail of The Sea Witch which was already lashed to The HMS Susan’s Doily and would serve as a central gathering place for the heads of all three ships.

“Sails coming from the east!” Ol’ Chumbucket called down just as Slappy and Lord Sir Percival Winthorpe Mandrake Tharp met with Jezebel at the center of her deck. “It’s Slappista’s flotilla.”

The three quickly agreed on a game plan that consisted of The Sea Witch staying near the HMS Susan’s Doily and serving as a swift decoy while The Festering Boil ran a flanking maneuver in the hope of bringing one of the three opposing vessels away from the main fight.

As he returned to The Festering Boil, Slappy was met my Salty Jim the carpenter who had some concerns about the nature of time travel and matter displacement. “I’d love to sit down and talk about this with you, but it appears it will have to wait until after the battle – besides, my time traveling days are over.” Slappy said as he gestured toward the oozing volcano.

“Why did nobody alert me to this?” Salty Jim opined, “This event should be observed and catalogued!”

“After the fight, Jim – after the fight.” Slappy slapped him on the shoulder and moved toward Cementhands McCormack.

“Did you tell them what we did to the guns on the Sabado Gigante?” McCormack asked.

“Nah,” Slappy said, “We’ll just let that be a pleasant surprise. Did you actually disable every cannon?”

“Better than that!” the big man smiled, “I mixed in pepper to their powder so their cannon balls will only fire at half the distance and I set fuses in the cannons to run down to the lower hold so when they fire them off, the cannon balls will do little more than dribble out and the secondary fuses will run below decks to where I stored several barrels of the pure black powder. They will blow themselves up with their first shot!”

“Clever. Very clever!” Slappy smiled. “Now, where’s that damn monkey?”

Suddenly, a woman’s voice turned Slappy completely around. It was Sally. “Slappista will come after you – he has Fanny on board. I’m here for her – we have some unfinished business.”

Slappy knew better than to argue. “Then you’re in time for her ‘going out of business sale.’”

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