Monday, October 03, 2005


A Pirate Tale – Part 105 "I Wanna Hold Your Hand!"

Cap’n Slappy held out his hand toward Spencer the cabin boy but kept his eyes fixed firmly on the merchantman.

Spencer looked from man to man as if asking what to do – they all turned away or threw their shoulders up. Finally, not knowing, he went over and put his hand in the Cap’n’s outstretched open palm.

Slappy’s eyes squinted and his gaze slipped slightly off the prey. Every man on deck witnessing this event held their collective breath. At the top of the non-breathers, of course, was young Spencer.

Still, without looking at the cabin boy, Slappy spoke with his somewhat alarming “intense calm.”

“Is that your hand, boy?” the Cap’n asked.

“Aye, Cap’n.” Spencer replied sheepishly.

Slappy kept his somewhat confused face toward the ship. “Is there a reason you’re holding my hand, lad?”

Spencer’s eyes darted from man to man, but no help was coming. “Begging the Cap’n’s pardon, you seemed to ask for it.” His eyes shot immediately to his feet but his hand remained in Slappy’s open hand.

Finally, Slappy turned slowly around and looked at the men surrounding them. Every man examined his own footwear.

“I called for my spyglass, lad. Not your hand.” Slappy said patiently.

“Oh!” Spencer quickly pulled his hand back and removed the Cap’n’s spyglass from its sack that he kept tied around his neck. Handing it to the Cap’n, he said, “Your spyglass, Sir. Sorry sir!”

Slappy smiled, “Not at all lad – it was an … honest … mistake.” Next time listen more carefully.

Slappy turned back to look at the boat through his spyglass. There was a slight hesitation to Spencer’s voice, but he spoke clearly. “You never actually … asked … for the spyglass, Cap’n. You just put out your hand.”

Slappy turned around to face his accuser. “What do you mean, I never … asked … of course I did. I clearly remember saying, ‘spyglass, lad!’ before holding out my hand and turning around.”

“No. No, you didn’t.” Ol’ Chumbucket said in Spencer’s defense. “You just held out your hand and expected the boy to read your mind.”

“That’s absurd!” Slappy protested.

“But true!” Cementhands McCormack retorted with added enthusiasm. “You simply extended your hand like thus!” He thrust his hand toward Sawbones Burgess who immediately put his hand in the big man’s hand and added, “So, naturally, the boy thought you wanted to hold his hand!” Cementhands and Sawbones gave each other comically fond looks then immediately broke their hands apart and wiped them on their clothes. (Cementhands wiped his on the Doctor’s coat – to add to the comedy)

Overwhelmed by the damning evidence of his inarticulation, Slappy conceded the point but held one truth to be self-evident. “Alright. But still, he should have known that I’m not a hand-holder.”

And that was all that would be said about the incident – for the time being, at least.

Slappy called down to the deck below to see if the cannon’s were primed and ready.

“Aye, Cap’n!” Gabriel the powder monkey called back.

Slappy turned to Spencer and the rest and said, “Now THAT’S mind-reading! That little rascal’s going places!” He then called the boy up to where they were assembled.

“Well done, boy! You really showed what a self-starter looks like to these neer-do-wells! Now, be a good lad and get Strumpet and take her below until the fighting is done!”

“But Cap’n! I wanna fight, too!” Gabriel protested.

“You are fighting – with me! And I’ll have none of it. Take him below.” Slappy ordered Spencer who extended his hand toward Gabriel, who, in turn, took it and they sauntered off to the relative safety of the lower decks – the monkey also came along taking Spencer’s other hand.

“Damn! There’s a lot of hand-holding goes on around here!” George observed.

Slappy quickly donned his “not another word” face and pointed his finger accusingly at George. Then, he refocused his attention on the ship a short distance away as he adjusted the focus on his spy glass.

Mmmm Hmmm.” Slappy hummed to himself – seemingly satisfied with what he saw. “Oooooh Yeah!” His excitement was clearly growing. “Aye, baby, that’s the way Poppy likes it!” This exclamation confused and disturbed the men on hand.

Then, with sudden sureness, he snapped the spyglass closed – but, as often was the case, he pinched his hand in its telescopic trap of death.

Zoon van de bodem van een aap!” Slappy exclaimed in perfect Dutch – as was his habit when struck by sudden pain – usually involving the collapsing of his spyglass.

His men quickly translated. “I’ve got ‘Son of a’!” said Ol’ Chumbucket!

“I think I heard, ‘Monkey’s bum!’ in there as well.” Jim noted.

“You’ve gotta hand it to him, ‘Son of a Monkey’s Bum!’ is a classic! – especially in the original Dutch!” Cementhands added approvingly.

Still smarting and sucking on the meaty section of his left hand between the thumb and index finger, Slappy managed to pass the spyglass off to George as he muttered, “Good news, lads! She’s a Spanish payroll ship!” through his full mouth.

In the mean time, George had re-opened the spyglass and was looking at the target himself. “But she’s flying Dutch colors, Cap’n.”

“Aye, a clever ruse!” Slappy began, “But if you look closely, ye’ll see that the sailors are of a predominantly darker complexion and check out the one at the wheel with the blue hat.”

George took a closer look. “By God, Cap’n Slappy, you’re right!”

“What, what is it?” the others demanded anxiously.

“It’s some sort of decorative pin on the lapel of his coat.” George said as he tightened the focus of the spyglass.

“And what do you see on the pin?” Slappy asked knowingly.

“I (heart) Madrid.” George answered thoughtfully.

“I (heart) Madrid?” Cementhands asked incredulously.

“Wouldn’t it say, ‘I (Corazón) Madrid?’?” Ol’ Chumbucket observed – smelling a rat.

“No.” George clarified, “It doesn’t say, “heart” as a word – but rather as a symbol.” At this point, he drew an imaginary Valentine’s Day (heart) on his chest with his fingers.

The proceeding chorus of “ohhhhs” made it clear that everyone now understood.

“But if they’re a payroll ship …” Cementhands began

“They’ll be carrying the more-than-usual amount of military personnel to guard it.” Ol’ Chumbucket finished the thought.

“Therefore, we need a plan!” George declared decisively as he snapped the spyglass shut dramatically without doing injury to himself.

Cap’n Slappy glanced around at the assembled group. “Well lads – I’m open to any idearrrs.

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