Friday, May 06, 2005


A Pirate Tale – Part 81 "Liar, Liar, Brothels on Fire!"

“Oooo his eyes are as big as saucers!” Red Molly observed as she leaned in closer to her young husband, LefTENant Keeling.

“That’s your sure sign that he is going to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth – so help him, God.” Keeling whispered back, his uncharacteristically soft voice filled with awe and wonder.

Slappy and Chumbucket overhearing this exchange disbelieving glances, rolled their eyes, and folded their arms over their chests – waiting for this story, so familiar to them, to be told yet again.

“I wonder what he’ll add this time.” Chumbucket muttered.

“A fifteen-headed sea serpent, I’ll wager.” Slappy replied.

“Well, of course, it was up to fourteen heads last time but I distinctly remember when the actual event took place, it was nothing but an ill-tempered grouper.” Chumbucket reflected.

The incident flashed through Slappy’s mind and a haunted expression stretched across his face. “There’s just no reasoning with a grouper.” He muttered softly.

“The story o’ how Cap’n Slappy, Ol’ Chumbucket, Sawbones Burgess and meself met is a tale of mystery and intrigue.” Cementhands began. “Therefore, prepare yourselves to imagine the unimaginable and to endure the unendurable!”

He waved a big hand over the gathered group just as Sawbones walked up and joined Slappy and Chumbucket. “McCormack’s telling the grouper story again, isn’t he?” the good doctor inquired.

“Aye.” Chumbucket replied – “But it gets better each time.”

“Thar I was.” McCormack’s voice warbled with trepidation. “A wee lad just mindin’ me own business and tryin’ to do a good turn for the elderly and the infirm …”

Slappy, Chumbucket and Burgess all mouthed the word, “wee” in collective disbelief.

“… when all’s a sudden, I’m snatched from me trainin’ for the priesthood by two o’ the most desperate and despicable pirates ever to do vile things upon the sea!”

The assembled crowd turned around to glower at Cap’n Slappy and Ol’ Chumbucket who just smiled sheepishly and waved politely. Chumbucket tried to explain that Cementhands had, in fact, been a debt collector for a loan shark but McCormack just talked over him.
“I was giving some poor soul the sacrament o’ confession and what not when these two blighters tempted me aboard their tub with talk o’ bringin’ salvation to the godless heathen o’ the jungles of South America.”

“You were shakin’ down the Governor’s son and had to get out of Nevis as quickly as possible so you stowed away – ye great gassy windbag!” Slappy shouted.

Cementhands just held up his great right hand as if to silence the critic and then, with lamb-like innocence, made the sign of the cross in the air – several of the crew followed suit. He continued, “Hush Sinner! I have long forgiven you – ‘tis time someone forgave himself …”

Slappy’s mumbled, “Oh, for the love of God!” was drown out by the “shhhshing” of the crew. McCormack continued with renewed vigor.

“After a week at sea, the palm on my right hand began to bleed to the bafflement of the ship’s doctor and I realized that this stigmata was a sign from God Almighty!”

“Aye!” Burgess chimed in. “It was a sign to cut back on the self abuse!”

“The good doctor’s medical degree in veterinary proctology from Cow Shit University in Dustview, Oklahoma doesn’t make him qualified to render judgments on a miraculous sign placed on a servant of the Almighty, does it?” McCormack demanded, but quickly continued, “It was naught but a skeletal crew in those days with them three and George the Turk leading a rag-tag bunch of nincompoops.”

George the Greek joined in at that point – “I was Greek then, but they thought I was Turkish because of my rakish youthful good looks.”

Continuing, McCormack took on an ominous tone. “There were monsters in the deep in those days – horrible, terrible monsters! They may be legends to ye now in these ‘Enlightened’ times, but we saw them with our very eyes and fought them with our very hands! There was the gargantuan sea-bunny of Bermuda who was covered with white fur and an enormous fluffy cottontail of death! Fortunately, he had a taste for Spanish sailors and left us alone, but we saw him leap upon and consume a galleon full of explorers bound for Belize!”

The crowd gasped as the gallery of Slappy, Chumbucket, Sawbones and George shook their heads quietly – McCormack was in fine form this evening and would not be heckled from his story.

“Or I could tell ye about the flying razor octopi of Auckland whose body was like the head of a man with a huge gaping mouth and razor-sharp teeth and they would run, in packs of twenty or more, on the surface of the water and make their attack by spinning wildly through the air cutting off heads with their razor-sharp testicles!”

Slappy corrected him, “I think you mean ‘tentacles,’ Cementhands.”

“What did I say?” McCormack demanded

“You said, ‘testicles.’” George clarified.

“Bollocks!” McCormack shot back.

“Well, that’s another way of putting it.” Chumbucket chided.

“I MEAN …” McCormack fought to regain control, “They had razor sharp Bollocks!”

A gasp went up from the audience. Dogwatch slipped his hand between his legs for a brief self-examination and a moment of reflection on the possibilities razor-sharp ‘dingle-dangles-of-joy’ presented.

“… AND razor sharp tentacles!” McCormack’s addition seemed to reduce the anxiety among the crew. “They flew through the air – rotating their TENTACLE-BLADES and attacking man and beast with spinning cutters of death!”

The chorus of the four hecklers let out a falsely-alarming “Ooooo!” in falsetto – which Cementhands ignored as he reached the dramatic conclusion of his story.

“These were but trifles when compared to the fifteen-headed sea-serpent we battled three hundred miles out to sea from the coast of Brazil.” The assembled crowd gasped. Slappy held out his hand to collect his wager – a shilling a piece from Chumbucket, Sawbones and George.

“With great snapping sharp teeth …”

“Were they as sharp as flying octopi testicles?” LefTENant Keeling inquired with a grin.

“Even Sharper!” McCormack shot back. “HUGE teeth – the size of pub door – but more tooth-shaped – that is the kind of teeth that is all sharp and pointy! So frightening was the sight that Sawbones soiled his britches and our fearless Cap’n passed out!”

“Now be fair!” Burgess demanded, “I had dysentery and The Cap’n was drunk.”

“I was?” Slappy asked sincerely. “Why am I not drunk now?”

“Oversight.” Chumbucket replied.

“One quickly remedied.” George chimed in and handed Slappy his flask.

Slappy took a deep drink as McCormack stood, arms folded over his chest – waiting to continue. “If you four nervous Nellies are quite finished, I’ll get to the good part.”
The “Nellies” insisted with a chorus of, “Don’t mind us!” and “Please, please fabricate away!”

“With the crew incapacitated I was left alone to face this hideous hydra of hell armed only with my courage and a spork.”

“A spork?” Red Molly questioned if it was even a word.

“It’s a utensil, half spoon – half fork, I invented it for eating particularly meaty clam chowder.”

The assembled listeners let out a gasp denoting how impressed they were.

“Using my strength and cunning – as well as my spork – I managed to jam the monsters many heads into the open mouths of fifteen cannons. It struggled and hissed in the way evil monsters of Satan will, but my determination was too much for it. Once each of the… uh …sev… eight …”

“FIFTEEN!” The chorus of Nellies offered a reminder.

“Once each of the FIFTEEN heads was securely stuck in each of our fifteen cannons it was up to me to fire him back to the pit of hell from whence he came. I carefully lined up the cannons and remembering my skill as a world class archer, used a flaming arrow to simultaneously ignite all fifteen and blasted the vermin to kingdom come!”

The listeners applauded enthusiastically as McCormack finished with a large flourish.

Black Butch was not satisfied. “That’s all well and good, Mister McCormack.” Sounding his dissatisfaction in the coming questions. “But HOW did you meet Cap’n Slappy?”

McCormack thought for a moment, but Slappy chimed in. “We met one night when we both escaped from the same burning building.”

“What building?” Red Molly asked.

“A brothel.” Slappy responded matter-of-factly.

You would expect a shocked gasp from a sewing circle or a ladies temperance league meeting, but not a group of blood-thirsty pirates, but, there it was.

“But I thought you were training for the priesthood!” Molly demanded an explanation of the big man.

“I was!” he asserted. “I was WORKING in the brothel!” Every eyebrow on the ship was now in the fully raised position. McCormack continued – “AS A MISSIONARY!”

“That’s a hell of a parish!” George observed.

“Good work if you can get it, though.” Chumbucket grinned.

“So, when I rescued Cap’n Slappy from the fiery flames not only of the brothel but also hell itself, we became fast friends.” He concluded.

“But I thought he snatched you into a life of piracy and villainy?” Dogwatch asked.

“Yes!” McCormack consented. “And THEN we became fast friends.” He proceeded to pull a pendant from around his neck and swung it pendulum-like in front of his audience. “You are all now growing sleepy and have no need to further question Cementhands McCormack on his remarkable story …”

He repeated this several times as the crew toddled off to bed.

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