Tuesday, November 22, 2005

 

A Pirate Tale 117 – Man overboard! (and a note)

(A note: Readers (if there are any) may be interested in learning the origin of the Bawdy Boys. We received an e-mail shortly after this year’s Talk Like a Pirate Day from a pirate by the name of Jay. Here’s part of what he had to say: “In November of 2003, I had a heart attack, a big one. In the emergency room I went into cardiac arrest, and, for all intent and purposes I died. I had no heartbeat or respiration for 45 minutes. At one point in the ordeal the doctor wanted to call my time of death, but a plucky little nurse refused to give up and continued to administer CPR … All of the emergency staff joined in to eventually get my heart started … because my heart was stopped for as long as it was, not enough blood got to my brain, causing a condition called ‘anoxic encephalophothy’ or "anoxia" for short, more commonly referred to as ‘brain damage.’ My brain damage had an interesting side effect. For several weeks I thought that I was a pirate. I belonged to a group of pirates who called themselves ‘The Bawdy Boys.’ The Bawdy Boys were apparently a very obnoxious, drunken and uncooperative group of miscreants. When medical personnel would ask me questions about who I was or where I was, I would reply in my best pirate voice that, ‘Aarrr! I be a bawdy boy!’ “

That was such an amazing tale that we asked to borrow the name, and Jay gave us permission. For the purposes of this story, the Bawdy Boys are a crew of miscreants so disreputable and untrustworthy that even the regular pirates, the Brethren of the Coast, will have nothing to do with them. They in turn, are trying their own evil plots to do in both legal authorities and the Brethren. It just seemed they were a ready-made set of bad guys to challenge the crew of the Festering Boil in this ongoing adventure. Thanks, Jay!)

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117

“Man overboard!”

The call came from the starboard, sending crewmembers scuttling to the rail to peer back along the ship’s trail. About a quarter mile back, a figure bobbed in the waves, one hand gesturing frantically while struggling to keep his head above water.

The ship had already turned into the wind, luffing the sails, and a longboat was being lowered. Chumbucket turned his spyglass to the figure n the water,

“It’s Oscar,” he said. “Should have known. That boat better hurry, because he doesn’t look like much of a swimmer.”

No sooner had Chumbucket uttered these words than Oscar’s head dipped below a wave and failed to come back up. At the stern, Saucy Jenny kicked off her boots and dove into the water, her body knifing through the waves, then emerging to draw towards the spot with strong, even strokes. Behind her, a dozen sailors clambered down into the longboat to follow.

Aboard the Boil, glasses were trained on the spot where Oscar had disappeared. Jenny arrived at the scene, could be seen to take a deep breath, and flipped under. Seconds ticked away. The longboat pulled within 200 yards when her head again broke the water. She was apparently struggling with a weight that threatened to pull them both under.

The longboat pulled alongside and the two were hoisted aboard. By the time the boat had returned to the Boil, Oscar had had the water pumped from hi lungs and was sitting up, albeit not too steadily. He was bundled below to the sick berth.

“Well done, Jenny,” Slappy commended the woman. “Where’d you learn to swim like that?”

“Just now, in the water sir,” she replied.

“You mean …” Slappy paused, a look of incredulity on his face.

“Well, he was going down. Somebody had to do something.”

“Well done, lass,” Slappy managed. “Go get some dry things on and take the rest of the watch off. In fact, you ought to have Sawbones take a look at you, just in case.”

“Oh, Sawbones has been looking at me, I know that,” Jenny laughed. “But don’t worry, I can handle the old goat.” With a toss of her head, Jenny turned and went below.

“Well George, let’s get moving again,” Sappy said. “I’d like to be in Tortuga by the end of the week.”

“Aye aye, sir,” George replied.

“So why are we going to there?” Cementhands McCormack asked. “Isn’t Leech back on Port Royal?”

“We don’t know that, first of all,” Slappy said. “All we know for sure is that someone tall and thin was on the Scuppers, and it sure might have been Leech. If it WAS, we don’t know if he stayed aboard or not, or if he’s dead or not. But we do know something is up with the Tigershark, and we don’t know what.”

“So does that have to do with Tortuga?” Cementhands persisted. “You can’t think they’re still using Devil’s Rock, can you?”

Devil’s Rock, a barren spit of land in the vicinity of Tortuga, had been the Bawdy Boys island fortress, but they’d been cleaned out of there several years earlier by the British Navy, assisted by the Brethren of the Coast, particularly the crew of the Festering Boil.

“Frankly, I doubt it, but we’ve gotta start somewhere,” Ol’ Chumbucket said. “We may find something there. If we don’t, we’ll look elsewhere. The Caribbean’s a big sea, and they’ve gotta be somewhere.”

“Just so long as we don’t have to go all the way back to Madagascar,” McCormack said.

“No,” Slappy mused, whatever is going on is happening right here in our home waters. We’ve just gotta figure out what and where.”

––––––––––––

Meanwhile, aboard the man o’war that had failed to stop the Boil from escaping, Abe McIlwain groaned.

“The bastards!” he roared. “That’s the seventh time the Festering Boil has killed me! Goddam ‘em! This is getting oooo-OW!!!”

“Oh, relax,” the ship’s surgeon said as he probed for the ball in the meaty portion of McIlwain’s buttocks. “You lost a lot of blood, but I’ve never met anyone who was killed by a shot to the arse. You already limped on that leg, so it’s not like it will hurt your dancing at all. You were lucky we were able to fish you out of the wreckage of that pirate ship. Give him more rum. LOT’S more rum.”

This last comment was directed at the man who was helping hold down the small man the surgeon was operating on. Where an anchor tattoo had decorated his cheek there was now a hole some three-quarters of an inch in diameter and gouts of blood squirted out every time he spoke. It was matched on the other side by an exit wound of approximately the same size and shape – the ball from Peddicord’s musket had hit one cheek and passed directly through his mouth, making him even uglier than he had been since the day he was born and rendering him even less articulate than ever. The doctor had had a brief chuckle over the fact that the two men had both been shot in the cheek, although with quite different results. Still, from a distant ship both would have appeared to have been shot dead.

Peddicord’s second shot, however, had run true, passing through the bridge of William Dedman’s nose and scrambling what few working brain cells the man had possessed. His sodden corpse was stretched out on the deck, and a man knelt over him, showing more emotion over the death of a pirate than you would normally expect to see.

The man gently lowered the ruined head to the deck, then turned to where the surgeon was probing Abe’s seriously damaged buttocks.

“Don’t you worry Mr. McIlwain. The doctor’ll have you back up soon enough. And then we’ll pay ‘em back for killing my brother.”

“Tha ee ii Cha-eee,” Livingood grunted, sending a stream of blood shooting in either direction.

“Eeeww!” the doctor said, shielding his patient from the spray of blood. “What did he say?”

“Said ‘That we will Charlie,’” said Charlie Dedman, nodding with determination.

“Christ!” McIlwain screeched as the doctor gave a twist with his probe and fetched forth a small, dull-colored ball of lead.

“That ought to take care of that,” the doctor said with satisfaction. “Let me close you up and we’ll see how you’re doing in the morning.”

“Doesn’t matter how I feel,” said McIlwain. “I’ve gotta get word to Leech that the Boil got out of harbor. He’ll want to know that. And he’ll want to make some plans.”

__________________

Aboard the Boil, Slappy bent over the sailor lying in Sawbones Burgess’ sick berth.

“So, Oscar, how’d ye come to fall overboard?” Slappy asked.

“Didn’t come to fall overboard,” Oscar said. “Came to be a pirate.”

“No, I meant, what happened? How’d you end up in the water?” Slappy said, reminding himself that he had to speak very directly with Oscar, upon who figures of speech were lost.

“Can’t rightly say, captain. I was dumpin’ a slop bucket for Black Butch over the side and felt a bump and the next thing ya know, I’m in the water.”

“You mean you fell in when the ship lurched?” Slappy asked, cognizant that the ship’s course had been fairly smooth but what felt smooth to a seasoned sailor might seem like rough going to a lubber like Oscar.

“No sir, nothing like that. A pair of hands grabbed me and gave me a push.”

“What? Are you saying you were pushed?”

Oscar gave a long thoughtful pause. Was the captain hard of hearing? He ran over the words he had said again.

“Yes,” he said, “I think I said I was pushed. I’m pretty sure I did.”

“Good God man!” Slappy said. “Who? Who pushed you? Are sure it wasn’t an accident?”

“Don’t know who,” Oscar said. “Didn’t see anyone. I thought I was alone at the rail. Someone musta come up behind me. Don’t have any way a knowin’ if it was a accident. You’d have to ask him.”

Further questions couldn’t get anything else out of Oscar, so after a few minutes Slappy left him to Burgess’ care and returned to the quarterdeck.

“How’s the patient?” Chumbucket asked lightly, but then he saw the look on Slappy’s face. “What’s the matter?”

“It may not have been Oscar’s own clumsiness. He thinks he got a help. Someone may have pushed him overboard.”

“A Jonah’s lift?” Chumbucket asked. “Why? And did he say who?”

“He says he doesn’t know who, and I suppose that’s quite possible. But it makes me wonder. There’s not a man or woman on this ship I wouldn’t trust with my life. So why would someone toss him overboard?”

“He must be mistaken,” Chumbucket said. “He’s not exactly the best seaman on the ship. He’s not even really someone you could call a seaman. He must have just fallen overboard.”

“Maybe,” Slappy said, sounding unconvinced. “But I imagine Felix was sure about his crew on the Bloody Scuppers, and that didn’t turn out too well for him. It’s just something else to worry about.”

Comments:
We be readin...alrighty...got to have somethin to do while sittin in port between shifts at the bouncing bauble house...arr...
Capt. Wolf
 
Just wanted to wish The Pirate Guys a Happy Thanksgiving! I am thankfull for all the crew aboard the Festerin' Boil.
 
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