Wednesday, March 08, 2006


A Pirate Tale – Part 133 “The Bar”

Lt. Buckler’s interrogations began with an offer. “This offer is available only to those men who once served under the Union Jack and who wish to mend their now broken bond with King and Country – but it is a limited time offer and only available to the first seven men who give us useful information about the whereabouts of Davy Leech and the rest of his miscreant team.”

He waited.

And waited.

For ten minutes, the men looked warily at each other – none willing (or, perhaps, able) to offer up even the slightest bit of information.

More time passed.

Finally, Black Butch called down to the Lieutenant. “Mister Buckler, sir, Mister McCormack would like a word with ye!”
Buckler left his prisoners with this thought. “Gentlemen, if you are wondering just where the limits of my patience are and what monsters may be found beyond those limits, you are teetering perilously close on the moment of that discovery. You would do well to take these last remaining moments and consider your prospects and what awaits you if you do not cleave now, to my good graces. I shall return momentarily.”

With that, he ascended the stairs to the main deck.

Under their guard, the prisoners remained silent as they strained to hear what was going on above deck. They could hear Lt. Buckler’s voice and that of a lady. Occasionally, an unfamiliar voice could be heard, but words were more difficult to distinguish. After a few minutes, they heard the creak of wood rubbing against the hull of the ship as a second ship was secured to the side. More mumbling – then silence.

Finally, footsteps were heard coming toward the open hatch and both familiar and unfamiliar boots descended the stairs. One pair seemed to drag as if resisting something to come.

Once below, the figures gathered in a shadowy corner and whispered again. Lt. Buckler stepped forward from the shadows to once again address the mutineers.

“It appears that my progress in gaining information from you all lacks the necessary haste to achieve the day’s goals. Therefore, I regret to inform you that I have been relieved of my intelligence gathering duties which will now be performed with less affability by men who are resolute in their quest for information and far less concerned with the morality of process. Let me introduce to you, the notorious pirate, Cap’n Slappy.”

With that, Lt. Buckler wiped his brow and quickly stepped back up the stairs.

Slappy stared at the captives for a moment – his eyes showed none of their typical good humor or warmth, rather, he seemed to exude a coldness that was unfamiliar to his friends, but effective in casting a chill on his enemies. In the shadows, four figures could be barely imagined – two seemed to be supporting a central form while the fourth, larger than any of the rest of them seemed to be wielding a large metal bar.

“Mister Belch.” Slappy’s voice was impassive, “You have information that we require about your master, Davy Leech. For the last time, will you divulge what you know of his plan?”

The silence was allowed to last for only a moment.

“Very well,” Slappy stared straight into the soul of his assembled captives, “If you will not tell us what’s on your mind, we will have to go searching for it ourselves. Mr. McCormack, if you would oblige me?”

McCormack stepped out of the shadows and pointed his bar toward the group of prisoners before turning violently and bringing the iron down with a crushing blow to the head of the central shadow – recreating the melon-like thunk Smelser had heard earlier in the evening. McCormack drew the bar back into the light – blood, bone fragments and bits of brain matter dripped downward from eighteen inches below the point on the bar that McCormack’s hands gripped firmly.

Belch’s now mutilated head was brought forward into the light by his body-bearers, Leftenant Keeling and Wellington Peddicord.

The gasp that came up from the assemblage of prisoners nearly sucked the air out of the room. Several men gagged and a couple of them swore, “Dear God!”

Smelser felt emboldened by this display. “Courage friends! Belch was killed by that same bar in the initial assault. They merely used his body to frighten us into betraying our comrades! You can save your parlor tricks, Slappy! You’ll not get a word from us!”

Cap’n Slappy turned to Cementhands McCormack who, in turn, motioned to Keeling and Peddicord to grab Smelser. The two moved quickly and Smelser offered little resistance.

“Look! It’s ‘Welly!’ Remember ‘Welly,’ lads? He sailed aboard the Tigershark. Deserted, he did! But then, wha’ do ye expect from a darkie? They’re like children, aren’t they? Wha’s a matter, Welly? Did ye hear the jungle callin’ ye?” As he spoke, his words became more and more poisonous. His shipmates chuckled their agreement and it was clear that life aboard the HMS Tigershark was unfriendly, at best, for a black man. Peddicord never reacted, but held Smelser firmly in place.

“Ouch!” Smelser mocked, “That’s quite a grip ye have – but ye always were a big strappin’ buck!” Then, turning to McCormack he taunted, “Go on, big fellar. Aren’t ye going to try and make me talk?”

McCormack glanced at Cap’n Slappy who simply waved him off. Then, with careful calculation, Slappy moved toward McCormack and motioned that he give him the bar. McCormack complied and Slappy addressed the prisoners.

“This prisoner quite misunderstands the situation. I do not wish him to talk – not another word.” He gestured toward the group with the iron bar. “I want you to talk.” He pointed the bar at one man, then another. “I want you to talk. Or you. Or you. But if I hear another piece of shit drop from his lips, as I am a man of my word I will crush his skull and we will select another one of you until I have the information I want. But if I hear one more disparaging word about my friend here, by God, I will have blood for it!”

Still bold, Smelser steamed ahead, “Oh, I had no idea the Cap’n Slappy was a Nig- …” before he could finish the epithet, Slappy’s body sprung like a stout spring and he brought the bar down violently on Smelser’s head. This time, there were no theatrics. No shadowy illusions. The violence was real. The sound was real. The physical devastation was real and the death of seaman Smelser was very, very real.

Without darkness to obscure the image, several of the sailors launched the contents of their stomachs onto their neighbors. This created a chain reaction that nearly induced the Cap’n to vomit as well, but his rage kept his stomach in check and, covered in Smelsers flesh and blood, he pointed the bar at the next sailor who was quickly subdued by Keeling and Peddicord.

“I am done fucking around!” Slappy spat. “You will tell me what you know now and if I find that you are untruthful with me in even the slightest way, you will think back on the last minute as, ‘the time Cap’n Slappy was merciful,’ do I make myself clear?”

Confessions came swiftly as men were eager to escape Smelser’s fate. Even those Bawdy Boy confederates left to instill fear in the British sailors who were of divided loyalties pleaded for mercy and offered what information they had. Slappy handed the bar back to Cementhands.

Though the two had long been friends, Cementhands McCormack had never seen Mortimer Slappy so ruthlessly violent before this moment. He knew that the bluff had been called, but stared in wonder at his friend and captain’s hard exterior.

“Had to be done.” Slappy whispered to the big man as he returned the bar. “And it’s a captain’s lot to spare his friends some time in hell whenever he can. Some sins are best borne alone.” With that, he smiled faintly as he turned and headed up the stairs.

Moments later, several sailors fell weeping and confessing at McCormack’s feet.

On deck above, Isabella de la Vaca Verde was complaining bitterly about the delay in returning her to her beloved Don Taco. Since he was dressed most officiously, Lt. Buckler took the brunt of her scorn. He tried to explain that they were in the midst of a military operation, but his defenses fluttered like a flag in a hurricane in the face of the beautiful young lady’s scorn.

Finally, Ol’ Chumbucket approached and with a courtly grace bowed to the lady. “Isabella de la Vaca Verde, I presume.”

She was immediately smitten with his bad boy good looks and charm. After a stunned silence she responded, “Si. Senor?”

“I am called, ‘Ol’ Chumbucket,’ m’lady.” He could see that she was beginning to relax, but simply attributed the fact to the calming effect he had on everybody in any circumstance.

“I see … Meester Schumbucket … what a lovely name?” She practiced her English idioms.

Everyone standing nearby with the exception of Ol’ Chumbucket himself was aware of her attraction – but he had other things on his mind and his focus quickly shifted when he saw the blood-splattered Cap’n Slappy approach.

As the captain reached Ol’ Chumbucket, Isabella de la Vaca Verde gasped in horror at the sight of this man drenched in blood and covered with bits of head contents. She rushed to the side of the ship where she puked as lady-like as she could so as to impress Ol’ Chumbucket.

“What the devil happened to you?” Ol’ Chumbucket asked.

“Oh,” Slappy replied with as much nonchalance as he could muster. “Nothing happened to me, we just had a bit of an …” he searched for the word, “ … occurrence.”

Suddenly, Wellington Peddicord rushed to where Cap’n Slappy and Ol’ Chumbucket were talking. “Cap’n! We need to send someone to stop Davy Leech! We need to go after him in the jungle!”

“Peddicord?” Lt. Buckler recognized the one-time member of the Tigershark crew. “Good Lord, man! I know you were ill-treated on this ship and I don’t blame you one bit for giving us the slip, but I’d have never thought you a pirate!” The cold glances from his present company caused him to back-peddle somewhat. “No offense intended.”

Slappy knew that he was in no current position to defend pirate methodology, so he gave the slight a pass.

Chumbucket also ignored the insult, “We need to get the lady back to her betrothed and secure both ships. Once Mr. Peddicord has explained the nature of this urgent mission, we’ll have a clearer understanding of what is needed and divide our force accordingly.” This observation was offered with only brief interruptions of Ol’ Chumbucket’s attention as the young lady waved and batted her eyes at him from a distance. “And perhaps I should be the first to volunteer for the landing party.” He added as her attraction became clear – even to himself.

“Yes. Excellent!” Slappy said. “Let me just toss these rags overboard,” he said, tugging at his bloody clothes, “and get me jungle togs on!”

As they spoke, Cementhands and Leftenant Keeling approached. “Cap’n we’d like to be on your landing party as well.” “As would I.” Peddicord added.

“Lt. Buckler,” Slappy declared, “I return command of the HMS Tigershark to you and request that you accompany my first officer, George the Greek and my ship, The Festering Boil back to Maracaibo and deliver this lovely young woman to her betrothed. Then, return to pick us up here in ten days.”

Turning to Cementhands, Keeling and Peddicord, Slappy asked, “So, to what do we owe the urgency of this jungle adventure upon which the five – …” just then, Strumpet the Monkey landed on Ol’ Chumbucket’s shoulder, “ - … six of us our about to embark?”

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

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