Tuesday, July 19, 2005


A Pirate Tale – 96

When Ol’ Chumbucket and Sawbones Burgess approached Cap’n Slappy, they saw his broad face had the contented look – the half smile, glazed eyes and pink complexion – that could only mean one thing: A Day in the sun closely watching the beach volleyball competition.

Closely watching. And it wasn’t just because he enjoyed a good game of volleyball. No, sportsman though he might be, he was intrigued with the effect of the constant jumping on the women competitors, dressed in athletic attire so skimpy that in any other port – any other part of the world during the Golden Age of piracy, the wearers would all have been arrested or assumed to be insane or both.

“How do, Cap’n?” Burgess asked as they approached.

There was no response, as the captain continued to stare off into the distance.

“I say, captain, how are you?” Burgess asked again, somewhat louder.

“Hmmm?” Slappy’s eyes lost their glaze and he focused on his two approaching shipmates. “Doc! Chumbucket! Good to see you lads! Did you catch the volleyball match just concluded? The one featuring the home team from Brazil and the women from the ship Ketch as Ketch Can? They call themselves the Four Wenches o' the Apocalypse, and they make you wonder if that Newton fellow back home knows what he’s talking about when he says that gravity is a constant force, because lord love ye, when they levitated to the net in those skimpy costumes of theirs …” Slappy’s voice trailed off and his eyes resumed their thousand-yard stare.

Burgess had to snap his fingers in front of the captain’s eyes several times to get his attention. He seemed to come back to them with reluctance.

“So if ye weren’t watching the volleyball, what have ye been up to,” he asked. Burgess ran down the first day’s competition, the cannon tossing won by Cementhands McCormack, George’s success in the early rounds of the seamanship trials, and Dogwatch Watt’s wholly unexpected silver medal in the speed climbing. Meanwhile, Two Patch and his fellows from the Festering Boil’s forecastle were in the thick of things – literally – in the synchronized drinking and puking competition.

“Ah, that one’s always nip and tuck,” Slappy said. “There’s no telling who’ll win that one until the last bucket’s filled.”

“Lieutenant (pronounced LEF-tenant) Keeling may have his hands full in the flogging and discipline contest,” Burgess went on. “There’s a fella from that Chinese ship who’s a magician with a cat. You know Keeling’s signature trick, the one where he shreds a playing card held in someone’s teeth, uses the cat to tear it into nine exactly equal pieces?”

“Sure, it’s a terrific effect. Usually, half the competitors drop out when they see that one.”

“Well, Shanghai Jack took the deck of cards and, using only his cat o’nine tails, dealt five pat poker hands and served hors’ d’ouevre.”

Slappy let out a low whistle. “I wish I had seen that.”

“I saw it and I still don’t believe it,” Burgess said. “Even Keeling blanched when the guy was done.”

“I can imagine,” Slappy said as the three of them began walking towards Old Mother McWhirter's, their favorite eating and emetics establishment in Sao Paolo. “So, Chumbucket, what have you been up to today? Enjoying the competition?”

“No, I’ve been working on the problem we discussed last night.”

A cloud passed over Slappy’s face as he considered his imminent departure from the pirating world.

“Unless you’re here to tell me that Lilly has changed her mind and has dropped the whole idea, I’d rather not talk about it,” he muttered.

“No, quite right. I don’t think we want to discuss this in the open. I can tell you that things aren’t quite as dark as they were 24 hours ago. In fact, I’m beginning to feel – if not quite sanguine, at least somewhat more optimistic.”

Slappy stopped and looked at his old friend.

“Look, I thought I made it clear. I’m not endangering the whole brotherhood so that I can continue gallivanting across the seven seas. Just drop it. She and her lawyers have me, and that’ll be the end of it.”

“Absolutely,” Chumbucket agreed, giving the captain a hard look. “Don’t you think another thing about it. Unless we could figure out a way to get rid of her lawyers, get past the relic that Portuguese navy has become, and get you out of town while convincing Lily, at least temporarily, that you are deceased, there’s nothing that can be done. So don’t think about it. Do you hear me? If Lily or any of her legal team asks, you’re convinced that it’s impossible and you’re ready to join her at the end of the games. Which reminds me, I’ve got a contract for you to sign at some point in the next week, so don’t let me forget that.

“But in the meantime, “ Chumbucket said as they pushed through the doors into the dimly lit, malodorous interior of Mother McWhirter’s, “enjoy the games and don’t worry about anything else. For now, let’s get something to eat. I’m famished.”

“Don’t let me drink too much,” Burgess said, to the astonishment of his companions. “Black Butch is entered tomorrow in the Chef’s Biathlon – scallion sautéing and sailor slicing –tomorrow, and I don’t want to miss that.”

“I’ll do what I can to keep you from drinking too much,” Slappy said, “mostly by drinking as much as I can! Old Mother McWhirter!” he called to a sultry barmaid who looked neither old nor particularly matronly. “A bottle of rum and keep it coming!

Wednesday, July 13, 2005


A Pirate Tale – 95

Ol’ Chumbucket left the ship early the next morning, dressed in his finest outfit – the one without so much blood and fish guts all over it. When pressed by Dogwatch Watts on what he was so fancied up for, the pirate replied that he had some meetings to attend.

“But sir, aren’t you going to watch the first day of competition?” Dogwatch asked. “George will be competing in knot tieing and splicing, I’ll be in speed mizzenmast climbing, and Sir Nigel is in the preliminary rounds of the "fanciest-dressed sailor of them all” competition. There’s also the team seamanship events, and Red Molly has the ship’s glee club ready for the all-pirate Chanty Championships”

“No, Dogwatch, I’m afraid I’ve got business to take care of. But if my meetings go as planned I may be able to catch the singing at the end of the day.”

His first stop was the official headquarters of the organizing committee of the Annual Pirate Olympics and Women's Beach Volleyball Extravaganza. The headquarters, at least this morning, was under the table at the back of the Bloated Hog tavern, where Chumbucket found organizing chairman Mad Spanky McFadden was snoring, his arm wrapped around the bloated hog in question.

It took some effort to shake, kick and cuff McFadden into something approaching useful wakefulness, but eventually the organizer was sitting at the table instead of underneath it, reviewing the plans for the games. As Chumbucket had suspected, the word “plan” was perhaps a bit of an overstatement. There was a general idea of the contests they wanted to hold and only a vague notion of a timetable – McFadden scowled when Chumbucket pointed out that they had the gunnery contest and the ratline aerial routines scheduled for the same venue at the same time, which might be entertaining from the spectators’ perspective but could be construed as a safety hazard from the more persnickety. More to the point for Chumbucket’s nascent plot, there were no plans at all for the closing ceremonies other than McFadden’s repeated desire to tell all the gathered pirates to “sod off.”

“If I may, I’d like to volunteer to organize the ceremonies,” Chumbucket offered.

“Well, I don’t mind having that off my plate, but why? You’ve never wanted to be involved in the games before. You’ve been hostile to every effort to bring you onto the organizing committee.”

“I know, and I feel guilty about it” Chumbucket said, lowering his eyes with becoming modesty. “After our last adventure out in the Indian Ocean, and with the impending problems at the end of the games I’ve been reminded of the importance of the brotherhood of all pirates and the solidarity of sailors.”

“Fine, fine,” McFadden said, waving away Chumbucket’s finer sentiments with a flourish of his greasy paw. “Go ahead, just so long as I get to tell everyone to sod off when it’s over.”

“Sod off, absolutely,” said Chumbucket, pulling a scrap of paper from his pocket and pretending to make a note, confident that McFadden wouldn’t notice he wasn’t holding a pen. “And, very quickly, the closing ceremony starts at 6, right after the marathon keelhauling event, right?”

“Whenever we get the last of the competitors out of the water, right,” McFadden said.

“Any objection if we start them just a tad later, say 7 p.m.? I want the sun to be setting when we get to the grand finale.”

“That’ll be fine. Just remember, ‘sod off!’”

“Very good then,” Chumbucket said. “Sod off! I’ll get right on it, and I think I can promise you a ceremony that people will be talking about the rest of the year.”

His next stop was in the harbor, the ship of Cha O Li and the Chinese team. It was, to Chumbucket’s eye and experience, an unusual craft, not as long as a typical pirate ship but much wider in the beam and with a very different set of sails and rigging than he was accustomed to. The ship was called a junk, Li told him, and had several advantages over the typical western ship - more stable, with separate holds, which made it more watertight and seaworthy.

The two pirates got on well at their first meeting. Li had also been served with papers by Lily’s team of lawyers and, while she hadn’t included the South China Sea in her planned takeover, the attorneys made it clear that that was part of the long-range planning, and Li and his crew weren’t any happier than the Caribbean pirates.

They discussed the situation before Chumbucket switched the topic to the upcoming closing ceremonies. He needed Li’s help. The Chinese pirate seemed surprised at the irrelevant turn the discussion had taken, but as Chumbucket outlined his plans for the event, Li’s eyes glowed with amusement, and the two shook hands over the proposal.

Chumbucket squared his shoulders for what would likely be the most difficult of his appointments, an interview with Lily herself. He arrived at Lily’s ship the appointed time. A smiling but firm receptionist made it clear that Miss Lily would be delayed and he should wait in the foyer. Drinking remarkably good coffee from a remarkably fine China cup, Chumbucket leafed through back copies of Pirattitude Monthly. Almost an hour passed before the receptionist showed him into the tastefully appointed office aboard Lily’s ship.

“Chumbucket, how nice to see you,” she lied, motioning him to a seat. “I can give you five minutes.”

“Delightful to see you as well, Lily,” he said, completing the lie. “I don’t think I’ll need even that much time. I’m here to tell you that Slappy has acceded to your demands …”

“They aren’t demands, of course,” she broke in snappishly. “It’s a simple business proposition.”

“Backed up by the threat of arrest and torture not just for Slappy but everyone in the buccaneering business,” Chumbucket pointed out.

“I’m not forcing him,” Lily repeated. “That the Portuguese government is sending out an armada of frigates and prison ships is a fact. If Slappy signs the contract I proposed, then he becomes my employee and I certainly use my influence with the Portuguese to keep him out of prison.”

“And the rest of us? How do we know you’ll keep your word on that?” Chumbucket asked.

Lily’s eyes narrowed and color came to her pale cheeks. “Don’t impugn my honor,” she hissed. “If I say I’ll do it, I’ll bloody well do it.”

Chumbucket restrained a smile while noting he had drawn first blood. “Of course, it probably occurred to you that if Slappy is your employee, in fact your CEO, then it wouldn’t be in your best interest to have his former … shall we say ‘business associates?’ – from being paraded around Europe being put on trial and tortured and hung. Bad for the old corporate image, no doubt.”

“As you say,” Lily nodded, regaining her composure,

“I’m curious,” Chumbucket continued, “How did you get Portugal involved in this? The last thing I heard, you were in Belize helping the orphans or some such thing.”

“Let’s just say the Portuguese royal family isn’t what it used to be. As for Belize, perhaps it would be safest just to say I’m not what I used to be either. I went to Belize with my head full of stars, thinking I could change the world, one orphaned baby at a time. That was probably the influence of Slappy and his idealistic ways …” Chumbucket’s eyes widened slightly at this. “… Away from Mortimer’s softening influence, I saw the world for what it really is, a place where only power and wealth can change anything. So I set about acquiring it, and now I have enough to make the world a better place.”

“A better place as defined and enforced by you?”

“Why not me? I’m not saying I’m better than anyone else, but I’m not any worse either. If I can get that kind of power, why shouldn’t I get to call the shots and make people behave as I want them to, in their own best interest?”

“Gee, no reason I can think of, other than the whole notion of free will and that.”

“Enough,” Lily said. “You said Slappy has agreed to my business proposal. For the stated salary he will become CEO of Pirates of the World Incorporated, and give up the sea and such old acquaintances as I think are in the best interest of POW Inc. Is that correct?”

“Absolutely,” Chumbucket replied. “He said it was the only thing he could do to save the Brotherhood. He went on for quite a while about it being “a far, far better thing than he had ever done,” and how he regretted he had only one career to give for his brothers” – Well, you know how he can go on.”

“Yes,” Lily said, her eyes glistening. “He has the soul of a poet.”

“Anyway, he asked me to pick up copies of the contract. Assuming all is in order, he’ll sign them, have them notarized and bring them with him when he reports here during the closing ceremonies of the game.”

“Oh, it’s no hurry. He can enjoy the closing ceremonies. I’m planning to be there. I’ll be making a short announcement about the removal of the Portuguese threat, and I’ll be offering recruiting bonuses for any who wish to join my team early. Because our mission statement calls for us to eventually corner the market on piracy, you understand. And I’d like Slappy to be there as an example of what’s possible.”

“I don’t know” Chumbucket interposed. “He said it would be too hard to celebrate with his brother pirates, just as he’s about to leave them. He said he’d rather it end this way. As I said, he plans to report to the ship immediately after the keelhauling. I’d suggest your legal team should be here to greet him, just in case there are any last-minute questions.”

“That seems reasonable. Alright then,” Lily glanced at her watch. “Damn! I’m late for my 2:30. You’ll have to see yourself out.”

Back on land, Chumbucket made a few other arrangements before heading out to the site of the games, where a great cheer had just gone up. He worked his way through the crowd until he found Sawbones Burgess, who was shaking his head in disbelief.

“What happened?”

“You wouldn’t believe it,” Sawbones said. “Just now, Cementhands was neck and neck with Buckle from the Polliwog in the cannon-lifting competition. Buckle had just lifted a demi-culverin. I wouldn’t have thought that possible. He was holding it over his head, smiling and waiting for the judges to declare him the winner, when Cementhands came up behind him and lifted HIM off the ground, plus the demi-culverin. I’ve never seen anything like it. McCormack took the gold and Buckle the silver, and now they’re heading off arm in arm to the nearest bar to see who can hold more of THAT.”

“Anything else noteworthy?”

“Well, Red Molly almost got thrown out of the contest. She was practicing the glee club one more time before the first round when Donovan Downbeat, lead tenor of the Bloody Scuppers’ choir came by and started taunting her. She broke his jaw. They’re looking for a new tenor. Well, the Scuppers cried foul, of course, and tried to get Molly tossed out, but the rules clearly state that a personal foul only counts if it takes place in the arena. Donovan may have LANDED in the arena, but when she hit him they were 20 feet outside, so she’s safe. Plus she got a special medal for distance slugging.”

“There’s Slappy,” Chumbucket noted. “Looks like he’s done judging for the day. Let’s go see him.”

“He seems to be in a good mood,” Sawbones noted.

“He should be, it’s been beach volleyball judging for him all day.”

Monday, July 11, 2005


94 – The Wide World of Pirate Sports


“Scurvy dogs and salty wenches, let the games begin!”

The opening of the Annual Pirate Olympics and Women's Beach Volleyball Extravaganza was nothing if not ceremonial. Trumpets blared as the hopeful contestants marched, strutted or staggered into the arena – a slightly less muddy patch of ground along the river, surrounded by rickety bleachers. There was no “Olympic village,” since the pirates were mostly staying on their own ships, but the area around was packed with tents and ramshackle huts serving as bars, bordello’s and pawn shops.

Ol’ Chumbucket and Sawbones Burgess had picked out a spot where the mud and slime were a little less prevalent and were watching the contestants enter. Their running commentary, as they recognized old friends and enemies alike, was not unlike what would pass for sports analysis several centuries hence, only with more honesty and less hyperbole.

“Here comes the crew of the Bloody Scuppers, Burgess said. “And right out in front is their captain, Felix O’Toole, the so-called ‘Irish Gentleman.’”

“If he’s a gentleman, I’m an albatross,” Chumbucket said.

“Aye, he’s a right bastard,” Burgess agreed. “Ye remember at the games two years ago, when he took exception to the judge’s ruling that gave the keelhauling prize to ‘Blood Eye’ MacGirk?”

“That’s right. Whatever happened to that judge?”

“No one knows, and O’Toole’s not tellin’,” Burgess said.

“Look,” Chumbucket exclaimed, “It’s Angus Bogg and the crew of the Polliwog! And Salty’s still with ‘em.”

“If Bogg didn’t feed him to the sharks six years ago when he got his foot caught in the chamber pot and cost them the ‘smartest ship’ medallion, he’s never gonna do it,” Burgess opined. “Angus has a soft spot for that lad. It’s almost unnatural.”

“What kind of a name is Polliwog for a pirate ship anyway?” Chumbucket asked.

“That was the name of the ship when he took it from the British East India Company, and he never got around to changing it. It wasn’t frightening at first but he’s given it quite a fearsome reputation since.”

“Do ye suppose Buckle will be taking part in the cannon-tossing competition this year?”

“Probably,” Burgess nodded. “He’s won twice in a row and he’s just reaching his physical peak. But there! Do ye see ‘em? Staggering in from the wrong direction? It’s the crew of Moby Duck!”

“Who’s their captain now?” Chumbucket asked. While virtually all pirate crews elected their own captain, Moby Duck was the only ship that actually scheduled the elections annually. It seemed odd, but it must have something going for it because they never suffered a mutiny.

Burgess shrugged.

“Ya know, “Chumbucket continued, “the Moby Duck crew is as fierce and savage a bunch of pirates as I’ve ever seen, but they drink so much they almost never get anything done.”

“Aye. Remember the year they set out for Panama and ended up in the Arctic Ocean?”

“Claimed they were lookin’ for the Northwest Passage,” Chumbucket laughed. “As if they were explorers instead of scurvy bunch of ale-swilling, quail-chasing sea dogs! Did you know they once filled …”

He was silenced by Burgess, who had seen the next group enter.

“Okay now, here comes Red Rita and her mob. Where did she find that set of blackguards?”

Coming from Burgess, who had seen more than a few blackguards in his time, that was quite a condemnation.

“I don’t know,” Chumbucket said, “but isn’t that Keelhaul Weatherford skulking along behind her?”

“Oh, Keelhaul is it? Then she must have scoured the Kingston Gaol to come up with that lot. Oh for the love of … Who decided that Shifty Meg and her Pentari warriors should follow Rita in? That’s just askin’ for a fight!”

Sure enough, the trailing edge of Rita’s crew where beginning to mix with the leading elements of Meg’s tribesman, and the authors don’t mean that in a “high school dance” mixer kind of way. Weapons were being brandished and blows exchanged before the parade marshal – a nervous little man named William “Tweed” Thistleboom, came between them. The combatants fell apart, overcome with laughter at Tweed’s attempt to assert his non-existent masculinity.

“Now this is interesting,” Chumbucket said. "Who are these fellows?”

Burgess consulted his program. “Ah, these must be that Asian crew that sailed in, Cha O Li of the Shanghai Surprise. This crew is supposed to be bloody deadly, the current record holders in the South China Sea.”

“China did you say?” Chumbucket asked, his face looking thoughtful.

“Look, keep your Eurocentrism to yourself,” Burgess admonished.

“No, no, you’re absolutely right. It’s just this might come in handy.”

Finally all the competitors were in place, including a contingent from the Festering Boil led by Lieutenant Keeling and including Dogwatch Watts, Cementhands McCormack, Red Molly, George the Greek, Two Patch, Gabriel the Powder Monkey, Don Taco and Sir Nigel. In all it was a thousand of the most evil looking (and smelling) men and women to ever sail the seas. They stood fidgeting uncomfortably while the game’s organizer, Mad Spanky McFadden, gave the traditional opening salute – with his middle finger – and introduced the judges, which brought a mutter of disapproval from all the pirates.

Front and center in the judges’ box was Cap’n Slappy, wearing his “Head Judge” badge. He looked somewhat bilious. In fact, the whole gathering was uncharacteristically gloomy, as the pirates couldn’t miss Lily sitting in a “luxury box” at the top of the bleachers – the luxury being that it was upwind from the stench of the arena. The threat of Lily’s approaching fleet, her plans to take over the Brotherhood and the fact that every time someone objected she had her lawyers slap an injunction on them had definitely dampened the mood of the games.

Even when “Three Fingers But Can Still Play the Fiddle Good As You Please” Hoskins released the ceremonial doves and the pirates opened fire on them, bringing down several birds and winging Hoskins, the mood remained glum, and that was usually the highlight of the opening ceremonies.

What most of the pirates didn’t know – and Chumbucket didn’t want them to know – was that Lily was willing to drop the hostile takeover providing she could take over Cap’ Slappy. He was to disappear at the end of the games and become on of the prime holdings in her multi-national corporation. Chumbucket worried that if the bulk of the pirates knew about the offer, they’d sacrifice Slappy to his ex-wife’s plan without a second thought. He had told Slappy not to worry, to enjoy the game and to leave the scheming to the Boil’s group of plotters. But while the captain had bucked up slightly, Chumbucket in reality didn’t have the ghost of a plan. He gnawed at a ragged thumbnail while his eyes scanned the crowd. Suddenly he stopped.

“Okay, there’s no way that will work,” he said to himself. “Which may mean she won’t expect it.”

“What are you blabbering on about?” Burgess asked.

“Nothing, not yet anyway,” Chumbucket said, with the first glimmer of hope in his eyes. “There’s still too many loose ends. But we have a week to worry about that. For now, just enjoy the games. I’ve got some people to talk to, starting with McFadden. But if this works, this could be the best pirate games ever.”

Burgess glanced up at the box where Lily was seated. “It’d better be, or it’ll probably be the last,” he said.

Monday, July 04, 2005


A Pirate Tale – Part 93 “First thing we do …”

“Kill All the Lawyers!” Cementhands bellowed after Slappy finished explaining how Lily and her band of high-priced corporate lawyers had secured injunctions against the holdings of the Brotherhood of the Coast – in effect, freezing the assets of every working pirate. The part-time lawyer / part-time bartender who acted as legal council for the International Brotherhood’s governing body was no match for Lily and her boys.

In fact, Lily’s connections with the Portuguese government were so strong, she had a contingency plan that included a flotilla of no less than fifty strongly armed Portuguese Man o’ Wars and a long line of prison ships – enough to accommodate the crowds that had gathered in Sao Paulo for the Games.

“Is the Captain telling us that the games are off?” Leftenant Keeling’s lip quivered ever-so-slightly as he asked the question.

“On the contrary, me lad!” Slappy said, offering some cheer. “The games will go on as scheduled and nobody but ourselves will be aware of the impending doom we all face.”

“Facing impending doom will not take the luster from my exuberant thrashings!” Keeling offered, standing arms akimbo with his fists on his manly hips.

This declaration prompted a strong “Huzzah” from the men and women of the The Festering Boil who had gathered around to hear Slappy’s pronouncement of doom.

Cap’n Slappy smiled and placed his hand on Keeling’s shoulder. “That’s the spirit lad!” Then, he turned to the assembled crew and began one of his famous call and response chants.

Slappy: When facing sure death do we turn tail and run?

All: No! We give ‘em the finger then give ‘em the gun!

Slappy: If it gets too scary, should we danger shun?

All: No! We’ll slice ‘em and dice ‘em and eat ‘em for fun!

This was followed by three “Huzzahs!” Then, the crew went back to their work and getting ready for the competitions.

Ol’ Chumbucket, however, lingered as the others left. “Things are not nearly so rosy as this image of certain annihilation would make them seem, are they.” Though it was phrased as a question, there was a certainty in his tone and a familiarity with Slappy’s cheerleading abilities the belied the dire nature of their situation.

Trying to keep up the bravado, Slappy replied, “Come now. We’ve faced tighter spots than this one and come through splendidly.”

Ol’ Chumbucket looked around to make sure nobody was looking then with sharp suddenness began rapidly kicking and slapping Slappy’s pants at ass-level with enough force to cause consternation but not actual bruising.

“What the devil has gotten into you, man?” Slappy exclaimed as he tried to fend off the slaps and kicks with evasive ass maneuvers and girlish slapping of his own.

“You sir,” Ol’ Chumbucket declared, “are a ‘liar, liar, pants on fire’ fellow and I am simply taking precautionary measures to see to it that it doesn’t spread.”

After a brief spate of slap fighting and protestation, Slappy finally spilled the beans – the ones that were sitting in a bag near where the two men were tussling like schoolgirls and he agreed to tell Ol’ Chumbucket everything if he helped him clean up the mess.

“There is an alternative to the Portuguese navy and internment in their prison ships.” Slappy began to speak.

“Then why did you scare the crew with that story?” Ol’ Chumbucket asked.

“Because I want them ready to fight in case she double-crosses me.” Slappy’s face became furrowed with what appeared to be as much sorrow as anger.

“Lily?” Chumbucket knew the answer to the “who,” but didn’t know the “how.”

“Aye,” Slappy went on, “Lily has agreed to stay her hand and the Portuguese as long as I sign a contract that will commit me to her as something called, “Chief Executive Officer” of her Multi-National Consulting Firm whose holding are estimated in the billions of dollars. I am to be a figure-head whose reputation for toughness will be eclipsed only by my savvy business sense.”

“But you have no ‘savvy business sense.’” Chumbucket observed.

“I know.” Slappy’s face was crestfallen, “Lily provides the “savvy” as well as the “business sense,” but she insists that in order to impress the Europeans, one must possess the one thing she lacks in order to get ahead in business.

“A penis?” Chumbucket squinted at his own guess.

“Aye.” Slappy sighed, “And not just ANY penis – but mine.” Before Chumbucket could ask “why YOUR penis?” Slappy answered. “She knows my gears and levers – she knows how to control me which is why I find myself in such a dire pickle.”

“Does she expect you to be her slave?” Chumbucket asked.

“Well, if she does, she’s offered to make me a well-paid slave – with a three million dollar a year salary.” Slappy replied.
Ol’ Chumbucket thought for a moment and finally offered one observation. “I fail to see the downside here, Cap’n.”

Slappy looked at his friend wistfully and then turned to take in The Boil as she rocked gently in the harbor. He breathed in deeply, out slowly and smiled at the flashes of sunlight that flickered on the surface of the water.

“The contract also calls for me to abandon my pirating ways, my ship, my crew and never, ever set to sea again as long as I live.” He smiled at his friend. “Small price to pay, really – for a life of luxury and the salvation of the Brotherhood.”

Ol’ Chumbucket pulled a flask from his vest and offered it to Slappy – who in the most uncharacteristic moment of their long friendship – refused.

“That has to end as well. I might as well get used to it now as at the close of the games.” This last comment brightened Cap’n Slappy somewhat.

“Well, we still have the games, Ol’ Chumbucket! And we may as well make the most of it!” With that, he snatched the flask from Ol’ Chumbucket’s hand took a long deep dram.

He then returned the flask and said, “Now, let’s talk no more about this and just keep it between us two – we have the games, we have these last few days and then, my last act as Captain of The Festering Boil will be to disappear – forever.”

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