Wednesday, October 12, 2005


A Pirate Tale – Part 109 “Lost in Translation”

The Spanish captain and his most loyal crew members were loaded into two longboats that had been salvaged from their own wreckage with enough provisions to facilitate a safe trip to Santa Domingo so long as everybody stuck to a carefully laid out water ration. Cap’n Slappy even slipped a couple of gold coins into the captain’s hand but made it clear that it was for a round of drinks for the lads when they arrived safely. The Spanish captain appreciated the fact that they were not simply executed and flung overboard so he shook Cap’n Slappy’s hand and promised that the next time they met, it would be he that would extend such mercies.

“Yes, yes, I appreciate that Manuel.” Slappy said jovially, “But don’t you count out those sharks out there between here and Santa Domingo – they’re pretty hungry and those long boats offer little by way of protection. Hell, my friend, they’ll probably get you before you have the chance to show me mercy!” Then he laughed. The Spanish captain laughed as well, although he only understood about a third of Slappy’s statement.

The rest of the Spanish survivors remained on The Festering Boil and busily filled out applications for employment.

“Those of you who don’t make the cut …” Chumbucket said as Cementhands McCormack translated, “Usted hombres que olor de las heces de la cabra.” (You men who smell of goat feces)

Chumbucket continued, “… will be delivered safely to Port Royal where you can try your hand at piracy aboard another ship.”

Again, McCormack translated, “será bañado en real portuario por dos mujeres jóvenes hermosas con moralejas flojas!” (will be bathed in Port Royal by two beautiful young women with loose morals!)

At this, the small gathering of Spanish sailors cheered enthusiastically.

Chumbucket was surprised by their enthusiasm and leaned toward Cementhands, “Are you sure you translated that correctly?”

“Aye! Word for word!” Cementhands answered innocently.

Chumbucket addressed the crowd in a serious tone, “Now understand, not all of you will be allowed to stay aboard this ship!” He gestured toward the deck.

Repeating the gesture, Cementhands translated, “¡Ahora me estoy imaginando el tener de sexo con la su derecha de la madre aquí!” (I am now imagining myself having sex with your mother right here!)

The demeanor of the sailors shifted sharply toward upsettedness.
Chumbucket, seeing this shift sought quickly to reassure them, “But don’t worry, we will make sure you all have placement aboard a Brethren Approved, pirate ship!” Then he laughed somewhat awkwardly having made up “Brethren Approved” on the spot.

Cementhands followed this with, “¿Dije a SU madre? ¡Signifiqué, MI madre! ¡Me imagino el tener de sexo con la MI derecha de la madre aquí!” (Did I say YOUR mother? I meant, MY mother! I imagine myself having sex with MY mother right here!) Cementhands offered his own version of an awkward laugh.

The men’s upsettedness turned to disgust as they quickly dispersed.

“Madre” Chumbucket spoke with calm, even tone, “that’s ‘Mother’ isn’t it?”

“Aye!” Cementhands said cheerfully as he waved at the retreating Spaniards.

“MI Madre – that’s something about ‘My Mother,’ isn’t it?” Chumbucket’s voice remained calm.

“Aye!” Cementhands nodded with a very big smile on his face.

Chumbucket looked at him, “You’re the worst translator ever, aren’t you?”

Cementhands smiled even more broadly and nodded, “Aye! That I am!”

Cap’n Slappy was napping in his cabin and snoring like a demon out of the noisiest depths of hell. Dogwatch and Keeling could feel the vibrations of the deck boards under their feet.

“It’s bad enough that McCormack’s cabin is so near the general sleeping quarters, could you imagine what it would be like to have the Cap’n sleeping in there?” Dogwatch asked hypothetically.

“If we were interrogating a prisoner, we would do well to place him on a cot in the Cap’n’s quarters – the sleep deprivation alone would be enough to make him crack and give us the information we’re looking for.” Keeling said thoughtfully.

“Do we have any prisoners from whom we are trying to glean information?” Dogwatch asked.

Keeling thought for a moment, “No,” he thought harder, “No prisoners, per se, but there is someone I have some questions for and we might get more out of him if he were forced to sleep in the Cap’n’s quarters – or NOT sleep as the case may be.”

“Two questions,” Dogwatch was very interested, “Who? And how?”

“I’m reluctant to offer the ‘who’ as I do not wish to cast doubt on someone who may be a completely innocent person. As for the ‘how,’ I’ll have to come up with something that satisfies the curiosity of both my subject and the Cap’n.”

Later that evening, when Oscar arrived at his hammock on the sleeping deck, a note was placed on one of the hooks that normally held his hammock up. “See me! – LEFtenant Keeling”

“Welcome to my quarters, Oscar!” The Cap’n’s welcome was warm and genuine. “LEFtenant Keeling tells me that you’ll be my roommate for the next few days while they look to the infestation of Brazilian Laser Ants in the beams that supported your hammock. Never heard of ‘em – Brazilian Laser Ants … but a Brazilian, that’s gotta be a lot, right?” The Cap’n paused, then he waited, then he raised his eyebrows and made circling gestures with his hands … “a BRA-ZIL-ian is a lot …” this time adding emphasis to “Brazilian.”

“I get it.” Oscar said softly.

“Like it’s a number and not a country’s residents?” Slappy explained a hair too late.

“Yeah, I get it.” Oscar repeated then offered politely, “It’s funny.”

Slappy released a huge, satisfied sigh – “Ah! Roommates! … Do you know how long it’s been since I had a roommate?”

“Since your last marriage?” Oscar guessed.

“Oh, that doesn’t count, now, does it?” Slappy shrugged, “A wife is a sex partner – at first, before she becomes a nattering harpee who devotes her every waking moment to letting you know what a catastrophic failure you are with the constant chirping boring a hole in the back of your skull – ‘wha wha wha … wha wha – nya nya-nya nya … nya!” Slappy moved the fingers and thumb on his right hand like it was de-gloved sock puppet.

“But a roommate is a pal, a chum, a comrade! Say! I have an idea! Would you like to play a game? I picked up a board game while we were in Sao Paulo!”

Slappy reached into his wardrobe and pulled out a colorful box with the word, PESAROSO! on the cover.

“If it’s all the same, Cap’n, I’d like to turn in – it’s been a busy day and tomorrow promises to be just as busy.” Oscar said apologetically.

With only a momentary flash of disappointment on his face, Slappy agreed. “Of course, of course! Lots of work on a pirate ship, eh? What with battling Spaniards and Brazilian Laser Ants and what not!”

Oscar climbed into his hammock and Cap’n Slappy crawled into his bunk. “Don’t mind my tossing and turning, lad.” Slappy said, “It sometimes takes me a while to get to sleep, but once I am, I’m as quiet as a …” He hadn’t reached the end of his sentence before Cap’n Slappy’s timber shivering snoring began rattling the walls.

Oscar laid on his hammock – wide eyed.

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