Friday, December 16, 2005


A Pirate Tale – Part 122 “Gibraltar: Hula Girls Aplenty”

It was late in the afternoon and the crew of The Festering Boil was abuzz with rumor and innuendo. “Cap’n Slappy is taking us somewhere!” One fellow pointed out to another.

“Yes! We are going somewhere, and Cap’n Slappy is showing us the way!” Another agreed.

Cementhands McCormack provided a much needed service by smacking both of them hard on the forehead with his open hand. “Stop making it sound so damn mysterious! We’re always going somewhere and The Cap’n is the one who decides where! This is nothing new. We do this every day, ye nitterin’ ninnies!”

Suddenly, his keen ears caught someone on the other side of the deck speaking with hushed apprehension. “Did you hear that Cap’n Slappy is taking us somewhere?”

“Excuse me.” Cementhands said as he sauntered off to intervene in the distant discussion.

A few moments later, Ol’ Chumbucket fired his pistol into the ships bell – the signal that there was to be a mandatory “all ship” meeting on deck.

Once every man and woman aboard the ship had gathered and was accounted for, Ol’ Chumbucket began with some general announcements about up-coming events and meeting rescheduling. Of particular interest was the fact that the Glee Club would be meeting on Monday nights in the “Experimental Theater” as Cementhand’s on man show, “In Just Us!” was dark that night and the space had become available.

Finally, Slappy began his talk. He started with a knowing, secretive smile and began with a hint of mystery, “Crew, I’m taking you somewhere!” At this point, Cementhands McCormack struck The Cap’n hard on the forehead – knocking him to the deck. He quickly picked himself up and looked sharply at McCormack who simply held up a wagging finger. Finally, Slappy admitted, “Not that this is anything new! As we are always going places and as your Cap’n, I decide where that is.” Slappy glanced at Cementhands who now smiled approvingly and crossed his arms over his massive chest in a relaxed posture.

“But I’m not one of those secretive Captains who will put his crew in a most dangerous predicament and not tell them so. No! If I am going to march you straight into the fiery gates of sulfurous Hell to almost certain, painful disembowelment and death, I’m going to tell you so and explain why this is so important! I want my administration to be transparent and without any hint of a self-aggrandizing agenda – this is why I speak to you, the little people – with the exception of McCormack, who is a very large little person – oh, and Peddicord is also quite tall, although not as blessed with … shall we say, as much ‘heft’ as ‘The Big Man?’ But that’s beside the point. We are on our way ...” (and here, Slappy paused to give his audience a moment of suspense) “… to Gibraltar!”

Now it was Cap’n Slappy who crossed his arms in a most self-satisfied way while the crew nattered about saying things like, “Gibraltar! Oh, my!” and “I hear that the South of Spain is nice this time of year?” and, “I believe there is a rather impressive rock there!” There were also a couple of, “I thought we were going to stay in the Caribbean for a while!” and “Did he say almost certain, painful disembowelment and death?”

Once the confusion had hit a crescendo, Slappy decided it was time to clarify. “We’re not going to Spain. We’re not going to go sit at a bull fight gnoshing on biscuits and sipping tea. We’re going to the Gibraltar of the Caribbean!” (Slappy now struck a pose, something with a determined finger pointing to the sky and a serious look on his face, bordering on maniacal.)

“Is there one?” Red Molly asked innocently enough.

“Well, yes, of course there is …” Slappy began to reply.

“I heard it sank into the sea with Atlantis.” Dogwatch chimed in.

“No, it …” Slappy began again but was immediately cut off.

“I heard that it is the famous lost city of gold and the last Mayan stronghold and that any stranger unfortunate enough to find his or her way there is immediately disemboweled and offered as a sacrifice to their god, Umbanamow-wow!” Lieutenant Keeling offered.

“Well, there is that, but I was hoping to de-emphasize the whole disemboweling piece.” Slappy insisted.

“I thought that El Dorado was the lost Mayan city of gold!” Doc Burgess added for confusion’s sake.

“Incan.” Ol’ Chumbucket corrected. “They’re considered the twin cities of the upper Amazon basin.”

“Like Minneapolis and St. Paul?” Peddicord questioned. There was a brief moment of confusion, but Slappy suggested that Peddicord may know of one or two places the rest of them would not.

Suddenly, Gabe tugged on Cap’n Slappy’s coat and pointed at a distraught Two Patch who sat weeping on the deck. At once, all attention was focused on him.

Slappy put on his brave voice, “What’s the matter, Old Man?! We’ve faced near certain disemboweling at the hands of stone knife wielding native peoples before and we’ve always come through just fine.”

“Oh, it’s not that, Cap’n.” Two Patch said wiping his cloudy eyes with his filthy tattered sleeve. “It’s just that … you see …” and here he began sobbing again as he spat out the words, “I’m a twin!”

Slappy’s initial reaction was one of revulsion and shock. It would take a mind reader to look at The Cap’n’s reaction and say, “He’s sickened by the very thought of there being two of them.” But, ever the diplomat, Slappy quickly covered for himself. “Well, gosh, Two Patch! We had no idea! Perhaps this will be a sub-plot in one of our up-coming adventures? Who knows?”

This only made things worse. “NO!” Two Patch wept bitterly, “It will NEVER be a sub plot! MY TWIN IS DEAD!!!” And again, he collapsed.

Clearly out of his depth, Slappy turned the meeting over to Ol’ Chumbucket who gave him the “Thanks, but just what the Hell do you want ME to do with this?” look. He began bravely. “Now, now, Two Patch! We’re all very sorry about your twin.” But Two Patch had moved on to another grief.

“Without a twin, I’ll NEVER be a SUB PLOT!” he wailed.

Red Molly cut through the crowd and put her arms around Two Patch who seemed to take comfort in her motherly skills. “You might be.” She spoke sweetly, “You could have another twin out there that you don’t know about!”

“Do you think?” Two Patch asked hopefully

“Well sure!” Peddicord offered his positive spin, “Hell, Two Patch! You could be on of quintuplets separated at birth!”

This visual was too much for Slappy and he intervened. “All right! Enough! Suffice it to say that there will most assuredly be a sub plot with Two Patch’s name on it in the future, possibly involving a long lost twin – but for the love of Sweet Neptune’s Man Nipples, do not force the image of FIVE of them on me!”

There was a moment of silence finally broken by Two Patch’s shaky voice.


“Four?” Slappy was sure Two Patch had miscounted or didn’t know the world “quintuplet.” “But there are FIVE babies born in a quintuplet, Two Patch.”

“Aye, Cap’n.” Two Patch spoke bravely, but began to break down when he added, “But one of the quints is dead!”

Slappy knew he had to act quickly. He rushed in and gave Two Patch a big “Man Hug,” and said, “Do you know what we’re going to do tonight?”

Everyone on deck held their collective breath.

“I’ve asked Jim to set up his ‘Big Glowy Picture Thingy’ and we’re going to have a Glow Show about Gibralter!” Slappy’s enthusiasm for these “Glow Shows” was infectious even though a frustrated Jim tried desperately to have people refer to his invention as a “projector” and the pictures as “slides.” “Big Glowy Picture Thingy” was the name that Slappy used and that’s what caught on aboard The Festering Boil. And the crew loved their “Glow Shows!”

“Will there be popcorn?” Two Patch asked with the innocence of a child coming out of a two-hour tantrum.

“All you can eat!” Slappy responded with enthusiasm – still holding him so close, they could have rubbed noses. But they didn’t.

As the sun went down, the deck was filled with chairs and the chairs were filled with excited pirates who’d come to see The Glow Show on “The Gibraltar of the Caribbean.” Unfortunately, they had no slides of “The Gibraltar of the Caribbean,” so they showed George’s slides from his Hawaiian vacation while Slappy narrated by rubbing a feather over his lips as he spoke into a glass jar. He insisted that in the future, all Glow Show narration would sound like this.

Ol’ Chumbucket sat off to the side – clearly entertained, but a little put off by Slappy’s program of disinformation. During a slide that depicted several scantily clad hula girls dancing on a beach, Cementhands asked, “Cap’n! Will there be hula girls in The Gibraltar of the Caribbean?”

“I’m glad you asked that, Cementhands!” Slappy said, stalling for time to think, “In fact, it is the town motto, ‘Gibraltar: Hula Girls Aplenty!’”

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