Sunday, September 11, 2005


A Pirate Tale – Part 101 "Adorable"

The deck of The Festering Boil was abuzz with activity so it was completely understandable that George’s first and second head counts came up short – by two. Slappy, Chumbucket, Doc Burgess and Cementhands also took counts and tried to ascertain by comparing notes who might be missing. The answer came from over the side of the ship where a familiar voice “yoo hood” up at The Boil accompanied, as ever, by the dulcet strains of a classical Spanish guitar.

“Yoo Hooo, Sloppy! It is I, Don Taco, and my faithful man, Los Mariachi! Yoo Hoo!” Taco called upward from the two-man sloop armed with a grand total of one four-pound cannon.

Slappy leaned over the rail along with his men and called back, “How many times do I have to tell ye? It’s ‘Yo Ho’ ye silly Spanish fish-slapper! What the Hell are ye doin’ on that scow?”

“This?” Don Taco gestured grandly with his hands as if by doing so he could make the ship magically larger and more foreboding. “This is my new command! Do not be so jealous! While I did appreciate your giving me a lift, I really must command my own ship! I, like you, was born to be a Capitan and now, once again, I am! The Capitan of the …” Taco’s face contorted into a mask of frustrated memory and he rushed to the back of the boat to read the name of his new-found home. He sighed deeply as he leaned over the edge and took the five steps necessary to return to mid-ship with shoulders hunched and face downward but he quickly regained comportment and declared with great pride that he was the Capitan of “The Adorable Princess.”

The announcement was met with initial silence on the deck of The Festering Boil, but three seconds of shock was Don Taco’s only reprieve from the inevitable, “OOooooooo!” delivered in mock awe by the entire crew in girlish falsetto.

Enraged, Don Taco began angrily readying his cannon to fire, perhaps hoping to break a few barnacles off the hull of The Festering Boil – if he was hoping anything realistic. Slappy tried to make peace with his Spanish comrade, “Now, now Capitan Taco! There’s no need for martial displays of cannonry here. The lads were just havin’ ye on – like they would any chum who decided to branch out and give it a go on his own. Look in yer heart. Ye know we’ve nothin’ but the utmost respect for ye!”

As Slappy spoke, Taco’s vigorous ramming destroyed his only cannon which now sat in pieces on the deck of The Adorable Princess. Calmer now, he responded to the call for peace. “Your Capitan speaks wisely and you are lucky you are under his command for I would normally not cease my fighting until every Jack man of you was dead or in need of long-term medical attention!”

Just then, a magnificent galleon with a crack crew pulled alongside with Sir Nigel Blackheart leaning out over the side of the ship with the wind tousling his thick hair and open shirt. He had somehow commandeered the vessel complete with crew and re-christened it, “The Scourge of the Seven Seas.” But he slowed down to say “hello” before heading out to sea.

“Yo Ho, Slappy!” Sir Nigel’s baritone voice carried nicely even in the wind.

Slappy looked down at Don Taco and gestured toward Sir Nigel. “See? That’s how ye do it!” Then he returned the greeting. “Yo Ho, Sir Nigel! Got yerself a wee tub thar, I see.”

“She’ll do in a pinch – for now!” Sir Nigel called back. “I’m just heading out to send our friends in the Portuguese navy a message from the brotherhood. Care to come along?”

Slappy looked at Ol’ Chumbucket. Chumbucket lifted a familiar eyebrow – as did George, Cementhands, Dogwatch, Left TEN ant Keeling and Red Molly. Doc Burgess, who lacked eyebrow lifting skills, pushed his up with his index finger.

“AYE!” Slappy called back, “Count us in!” and with that, the crew of The Festering Boil went right to work in the rigging and at the cannons.

“Si!” Don Taco called up almost inaudibly between the two much larger ships. “Count The Precious Princess in as well!”

Los Mariachi stopped playing for a moment and in a rare moment of speaking said one word, “Adorable.”

Everyone on board all three ships stopped and looked at Los Mariachi.

“Come again?” Sir Nigel asked inquisitively.

Los Mariachi was not used to so much attention repeated the word sheepishly. “Adorable.”

Don Taco was aghast. “Los Mariachi – I know we have been under some strain of late and that I have a kind of animal magnetism that attracts both the womens and the mens as well as some animals. But as your Capitan I must tell you that …”

“The ship.” Los Mariachi said simply.

There was a pause. “What about the ship?” Don Taco asked.

“She is not ‘Precious’ – she is ‘Adorable.’” Los Mariachi clarified.

“Yes she is!” Sir Nigel said as The Scourge of the Seven Seas began to pull away. “And so are the two of you!”

“Oh! That’s it for you, English!” Don Taco fumed as he tried to put his tiny cannon back together.

Seeing this, Ol’ Chumbucket suggested to Cap’n Slappy, who, by now was busy cleaning his blunderbuss, that The Festering Boil make a gift of two four-pound cannons to The Adorable Princess.

“Alright, make it so.” Slappy replied. “But nothing bigger. As it is, they’re as likely as not to put out an eye or two.”

As he spoke, Two-Patch passed by.

Slappy quickly added, “No offence, Two-Patch.”

The old blind sailor, who seemed to be in a hurry replied, “None taken, Cap’n!” and promptly walked right into the mizzenmast.

Slappy and Ol’ Chumbucket choked back their laughter but Cementhands McCormack burst. “Jaysus! Two-Patch! It’s not like we move that stuff around on ye!”

“Sorry Mister McCormack, sir, but I’ve been a fair bit distracted of late on account o’ the fact that I’ve fallen in love with a BEAUTIFUL girl!”

“How do ye know she’s BEAUTIFUL?” Slappy enquired.

“How do ye know she’s a girl?” Chumbucket followed. Slappy and McCormack both noted that that was a good point.

“Oh, you fine gentlemen may scoff,” Two-Patch began, “But I’ve seen her in the only place I see anybody – in my dreams.”

“So, she’s your dream girl?” Cementhands asked.

“Aye! And I am deeply in love. I hope that someday we’ll meet and I will sweep her off her feet and take her away to a magical island where monkeys dance and birds sing and dolphins are accountants – they’re very smart, dolphins.”

The three stood in stunned silence. “If we hadn’t just been on an extended shore leave, I’d suggest it was time for an extended shore leave.” Chumbucket whispered numbly.

“Very well.” Slappy stood and clapped a firm hand to Two-Patch’s shoulder. “What’s your assignment today, Two-Patch?”

“Crow’s Nest, Cap’n! I’m on lookout."

Slappy looked at Chumbucket and Cementhands – who both shrugged.
The silence cued Two-Patch to explain. “I can smell ‘em comin’, Cap’n. I can! And because I can tell ye what they had for dinner, ye’ll always know what nationality we’re dealin’ with.”

“Ah! Well!” Slappy began shakily, but improved, “Keep up the good work then, me lad! And try not to be distracted too much by yer dream girl. Ye know, the best thing about havin’ a dream girl, don’t ye?”

Two-Patch thought for a moment, “No, sir.”

“She comes to ye every night and ye don’t have to deal with her yammerin’ away at breakfast.”

Two-Patch smiled a big toothless smile. “Yes sir. Thank ye, sir.” And began climbing the rigging up to the crows nest.

“How many times have ye been married, Cap’n?” Chumbucket asked knowingly.

“Oh, five or six – maybe seven.” Slappy replied.

“Beggin’ the Cap’ns pardon, but that’s not much o’ a ‘success rate’ now, is it?” Cementhands observed.

“Sure it is!” Slappy declared, “They ALL think I’m adorable!”

“Like Taco’s ship?” Chumbucket asked.

Slappy held his blunderbuss up to the light to check for any other smudges – “Aye, but I’m better armed. Now, let’s go give our Portuguese friends an adorably warm greeting, shall we?”

It was great to actually meet Cap'n Slappy and Ol' Chumbucket last week a the book signing in Portland.
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