Sunday, February 26, 2006


A Pirate Tale – Part 129 “Marco!” …“Pollo!”

Don Taco’s face was crestfallen. “Oh. Los Mariachi … say it not so!”

With a short, terse gesture of his pistolas, Los Mariachi motioned Don Taco and Cementhands McCormack to sit on a small divan – delicately upholstered in green and yellow striped silk – a Porras family heirloom. Florencio, who by now had scrambled to his desk, sat very still but when he saw the two men, one large and the other larger, about to sit on this piece of furniture, he motioned with upraised open hands and a pinched pained face that they should sit carefully. They did. The wood gave a creak under the weight of their substantial bottoms, but held as strongly as it had for over two hundred years.

Los Mariachi mocked Don Taco’s plea – “Oh. Los Mariachi … say it not so!” then spat on Florencio’s imported Persian rug. This was more than the little accountant could bear and he shot to his feet in protest. His one-man revolt, however, was quickly put down as Los Mariachi leveled one of the pistolas at his head. He sat back down without comment.

“You keep your little ferret hands where I can see them.” Los Mariachi demanded of the accountant who mouthed the words, “ferret hands” in disbelief.

Again, he returned to his mocking of Don Taco, “Los Mariachi – play me a tune! Not so sad, Los Mariachi! More festive! Play something that represents the soul in turmoil!”

Don Taco looked uneasily at his former companion and at the others in the room. “That was personal!”

“So personal that you took the time to learn my real name?” Los Mariachi was flushed with rage. “Go on! Tell me! What is my real name?”

Don Taco sat perfectly still for a moment – two perhaps. He glanced upward and to the right – as if trying to recall an important piece of information. This took several more moments. After a rather uncomfortable silence he finally spoke.

“I think it begins with a ‘B.’”

“Marco!” Los Mariachi exclaimed. “My name is Marco!”

“Barco?” Don Taco asked – still thinking there must be a “B” in there somewhere.

“Like the lounger?” Cementhands asked Don Taco without paying much heed to the frustrated gunman.

“MARCO!” Los Mariachi screamed. “My name is Marco Pollo!”

“Mark Chicken?” Cementhands translated in disbelief.
“It wasn’t a ‘B’ it was a ‘P’ after all!” Don Taco exclaimed with surprise and relief. “I am always mixing up my ‘Bs’ and my ‘Ps’ don’t you know!”

“SHUT UP! SHUT UP! BOTH OF YOU!” Marco Pollo screeched. “Or I will kill you now which is ahead of killing schedule, you stupidos!”

Florencio feverishly tidied up his desk as if preparing to leave. “Well, if I’m not needed, then I’ll just be on my way.” He began to stand and continued, “Feel free to use my office as long as you like.”

“Sit back down!” Marco Pollo demanded. “After I shoot them, I am going to beat you to death with my empty pistolas.”

“Oh!” Florencio seemed mildly surprised by this news, but took it in stride. “Well, then I suppose I should stay until you’re ready to do that.” That said, he sat back down and dutifully folded his hands on top of his desk.

“You know, Los Mariachi …” Don Taco began but was immediately cut off.

“Marco!” Marco insisted angrily followed by a response from Cementhands McCormack that sounded like a distant echo – “Pollo!”

Don Taco and Cementhands had a good laugh. Florencio tittered nervously.

“You think you are the funny britches, eh – Meester Big Man?” Marco snarled at McCormack while waving the pistola in his face.

“That was kinda funny – you have to admit.” McCormack answered matter-of-factly.

“Si, Los Mariach – I mean ‘Marco’ – that was pretty funny.” Don Taco agreed adding his own take on the children’s game – “Marco! … Pollo!”

“Que? You donne theen’ ‘Don Taco’ is a ridiculous name?” Marco sneered derisively. “Meester Taco? Why not Meester Chalupa? Or Meester Chimichanga?”

“Don Taco is my name – I don’t know why anyone would find it humorous. Do you, Senor Cementhands?” Taco leaned toward Cementhands McCormack but before the big man could answer, Marco Pollo kicked over an end table.

“ENOUGH! Enough of this pittle-prattle! I’ll be rid of the both of you soon enough!” Marco Pollo could barely contain his rage at this point.

“Well, I wish you would hurry it up.” McCormack said, “I’ve got to be getting back to my ship – they’re expecting me.”

Marco Pollo allowed himself a moment to revel in his crappitude.

“Oh, my large friend, let me be the first to console you. Your comrades are no doubt dead by now – you see, I have many confederates in this village – who, like me, serve the interests of our common master. The Bawdy Boys will soon control the shipping lanes in and out of the New World. European powers will pay for our protection or find their ships looted, their towns pillaged and their women – well, let’s just say, what we do to their women will be the stuff of nightmares for generations!” with this, Marco Pollo laughed maniacally.

“You’ve seen Ol’ Chumbucket and Cap’n Slappy in battle, Marco Pollo.” Cementhands began, “Do you really think they will be that easily defeated by a bunch of pirate wannabes?”

This incensed Los Mariachi who nearly shot Cementhands in the head right then, but held off. “Oh! You almost tricked me into killing you early when it will be much sweeter to kill you after I show you the heads of your friends.”

There was no more talking for an hour. With each passing minute, Los Mariachi (a.k.a. Marco Pollo) seemed to lose confidence. He locked and double-checked the only door and peaked through the small sliding-door window – shutting it tightly after each peak. He checked the only window in the office over and over – which was slightly higher than the top of his head.

“You are not so sure about your confederates now, are you?” Don Taco asked – breaking an hour and a half of silence.

“They are the greatest assassins in the world – no silly, fat pirate captain and his bumbling crew will be able to withstand their attack!” Marco Pollo now seemed to be trying to convince himself.

Another half hour passed until footsteps were heard outside the window and at the door.

Marco Pollo’s eyes widened with alarm at first, but he smiled when he heard their voices.

“Marco! Marco Pollo! Let us in! We have a leetle surprise for you!”

Outside the window, he could see the tops of heads – and familiar bandanas – those of his confederates, bouncing up and down as their muffled voices penetrated the office walls and door. He peaked through the sliding door and quickly recognized the face of the head assassin. Los Mariachi gave a smile of relief that quickly turned to menace as he wheeled around to taunt his prisoners. With showman style, he placed his right hand on the doorknob as he addressed his prisoners.

“And now, gentlemen, the moment we’ve all been waiting for!”

As last words go, these weren’t bad. As he began turning the doorknob, Cementhands, who had also seen the face in the window, slammed his big left shoulder up against Don Taco, knocking him off the divan and – more importantly, out of range of the coming scatter shot. With remarkable speed, McCormack flung himself to the floor in the opposite direction as the door swung open.

As Marco Pollo turned to greet his comrades, his face froze in a contorted gesture of shock and despair as he saw his champion assassins' heads – five of them – bouncing up and down on the points of swords held by Ol’ Chumbucket, Leftenant Keeling, George, Dogwatch and Wellington Peddicord. He may, perhaps, have noticed Cap’n Slappy standing motionless and without expression on his face, his trusty blunderbuss leveled directly at Marco Pollo’s mid-section.

Without so much as an “Uh, oh.” The gun boomed to life scattering the contents of Marco Pollo’s abdomen all over Florencio’s finely appointed office. For a moment, the remains of Los Mariachi’s lifeless corpse stood stupidly in the doorway – his knees locked in the shock of the moment of his death – a hole stretching from the middle of his chest to his waist with bits of flesh, bone and cartilage on each side was all that held his upper body in its final standing position. This delicate structure could only last a moment as his sides twisted inward and his shoulders and head collapsed on the rest of the wreckage like an old building that had been skillfully imploded with dynamite.

The smoke from the blunderbuss whirled around the room as Cap’n Slappy stepped into the office and over the fallen corpse of Los Mariachi.

“Sorry about your friend.” Slappy offered to Don Taco – who was picking bits of his “friend” out of his uniform.

“Think nothing of it! He turned out to be a no-goodnik!” Taco said as Slappy helped him off the floor. He added sadly, “But I will miss the music.”

“God dammit! Cap’n!” McCormack was almost ungrateful about the rescue. “Do you need to use that scatter gun every time? You could have just run the bastard through and then Pencil-dick here, would just have to get a new carpet.”

”Florencio.” Florencio said politely and in a state of obvious shock. “It’s pronounced, ‘Flo-ren-si-o.’ Not ‘Pen-sil-dick.’ You weren’t even close.”

“McCormack!” Ol’ Chumbucket admonished, “You ungrateful bastard! We even worked in a meat-head puppet show and still – the rescue wasn’t good enough?”

“Don’t get me wrong!” the big man said defensively, “I enjoyed the severed-head puppet show very much – I’m just saying that the hand-cannon was a bit of overkill.”

“All right!” Cap’n Slappy said with determination, “We’ll post-mortem the rescue later, suffice it to say, The Bawdy Boys know we’re here and we’ve made them uncomfortable.”

“I don’t know about you fellas,” Dogwatch started with his head puppet pretending to speak for it, “But I’m perfectly comfortable.”

“Me too!” Keeling followed suit with his puppet. “I mean, it’s unseasonably warm, but what can you do about that?”

“I say! You chaps are dead sexy! I wanna kiss yer sweet gobs!” Wellington’s puppet chimed in as the three pushed their puppet heads together in what could only be described a macabre orgy of disembodied man-head-love.

In an uncharacteristic moment of levity, George began laughing hysterically. When he realized he was getting the stink-eye from Cap’n Slappy and Ol’ Chumbucket he defended the laughter – “It wouldn’t be nearly so funny if they hadn’t tried to kill us.”

This was a point that everyone could agree on.

“Alright children! Recess is over! Let’s get back to the ship – if the Bawdy Boys want us, let them come try us on the water!” Cap’n Slappy commanded and with that, the Meat Head Puppet Show was over.

“It appears that there is treachery in Maracaibo.” Don Taco mused as he spoke with Slappy on their way to the dock. “I must stay and see that they do not get a foothold here.”

As he spoke, a young boy of the village played his guitar in the shade of a shop awning nearby.

“For wherever there is injustice – I must fight for justice! Wherever there is cruelty, I must fight for niceness! Wherever there is some mean guy beating up some good guy who is smaller than the mean guy, I must fight the mean guy!” Don Taco was really building up a good speech when he noticed that the boy with the guitar captured the mood of his speech perfectly in music.

Ol’ Chumbucket pulled a bag of doubloons from his belt and handed it to Don Taco. He gestured toward the young boy and said, “His first month’s salary is on me.”

Don Taco and Cap’n Slappy smiled at Ol’ Chumbucket’s generous gesture. Don Taco vigorously shook their hands – especially Ol’ Chumbucket’s as he said, “You shall be known as Maracaibo’s first patron of the arts!”

Ol’ Chumbucket looked around at the dusty, dry village within the fort and said, without irony, “Great.”

Within minutes, The Festering Boil pulled out of the harbor and was headed south – across the lake toward Gibraltar.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?