Monday, April 17, 2006


The Havana Caper – Part 2 “Lord Shiva’s Eye”

Cap’n Slappy entered his cabin where he found young Spencer sitting quietly on a stool in the corner. He couldn’t have looked more forlorn if he had been faced into the corner – he gave the appearance of a seven-year-old boy about to be punished.

“Come out from the corner, lad. Sit in the man chair.” Slappy’s voice was firm, but friendly.

Spencer got up sheepishly and moved to the large sturdy chair that sat by Cap’n Slappy’s desk. Being a barrel-shaped man of considerable girth, Cap’n Slappy appreciated sturdily built furnishings and would often apply the word, “man” as an adjective. He wore “man” pants and slept in a “man” bed. His weapons of choice – saber and blunderbuss were “man” weapons and when he wrote his “man” poetry, he did so at his “man” desk while seated comfortably in his “man” chair. As Slappy’s cabin boy, Spencer was accustomed to sitting on the “boy” stool. He had never before been invited to sit in the “man” chair.

Of course, the honor was tempered by the fact that Spencer was concerned that Slappy would punish him severely at any moment. He was astonished to see Cap’n Slappy pour two glasses of rum and offer him one of them.

“Go on, lad. Take it and tell me how ye’ve been these last few months.” Slappy sat on the edge of his bed and seemed to genuinely care.

“Well sir,” Spencer began, “Mahren and me, sir, we lived quite happily for a time. My share of the loot bought her fine dresses and rings and such. But then I bought a pinnace with the money that was left because I knew I would have to begin making money of my own. I wanted to be a merchant carrier – running messages and small packages between the islands, but it was hard to drum up business being new on the island.”

“And being a former pirate.” Cap’n Slappy added.

“Aye, sir. That too.” Spencer’s face turned very sad. “And when the money went, so did Mahren – right back to … to …” The young man couldn’t bring himself to say it and Slappy could see that he was still in love with her despite her ill use of him.

“And you’d take her back in a heart-beat if only she would return to you.” Slappy said warmly.

Spencer nearly wept as he said, “Aye, sir! I would! I know it’s foolish, but I love her so!”

Cap’n Slappy sighed deeply and on the exhale let the words, “Ah, young love!” wistfully escape his lips.

“Lad, I’m going to do you a … what is it the young people say these days? … Ah, yes, … a ‘solid.’ I’m going to do you a solid, me young bucko!” As he spoke, he balled up his right fist leaving the knuckle of his middle finger locked firmly above the others like a point on an otherwise blunt arrow. As Spencer lifted his head to see just what Cap’n Slappy meant by a “solid,” his eyes grew wide as Cap’n Slappy’s fist drove that knuckle into the center of his forehead as if the hand of Great Neptune, Himself, was knocking on the door of Spencer’s head.

“Ouch! Jesus, Slappy!” Years in the service of Cap’n Slappy gave Spencer the right to some familiarity with the Captain – like a nephew being taken to the wood shed by his uncle – the boy called out in a familiarity born from pain.

Slappy maintained an innocent composure. “Did that hurt?” he asked.

“Yes!” Spencer replied, feeling the area to see if a lump had yet raised.

“Did it hurt more than losing your love?” Slappy pressed.

Spencer thought about the two kinds of pain he was now feeling and knew that of the two, the loss of love weighed more heavily on his heart. “No.” He replied to Slappy’s question.

With sudden violence, another blow came to the center of the young man’s forehead from Slappy’s calloused middle knuckle.

“JESUS!” Spencer recoiled in pain again.

“How about now? Does one hurt more than the other or do they hurt the same – or what?” Slappy really pressed the young man now.

“That really hurts!” Spencer had no idea what answer Cap’n Slappy was looking for.

“Are you sure, lad? I can do it again if you’re unclear about the results.” Slappy drew back his fist – knuckle extended.

“No! No! It hurts!” Spencer protested.

Slappy sat back down on his bed and spoke calmly. “Let me ask you something lad. Did you know that it hurt after the first time I knocked ye in the head?”

“Aye.” Spencer kept his hand protectively on his forehead – just in case there was another “lesson” coming.

“So, if I had offered to smash you in the head that second time, what would you have told me?” Slappy looked intently at the young man and could see that he was finally catching on.

“I would have said, ‘No, thank you.’” Spencer’s face showed that he was still sad, but wiser.

Slappy got up and ran his finger along some books tucked neatly into shelves that were built into the walls of his cabin. He spoke as he searched. “In Hindistan, the locals speak of a god who has three eyes. Ah! Here it is …” Slappy found the book and began leafing through the pages. He continued, “Two of his eyes are just like ours – they see the world around us, and tell us if it is sunny or rainy – night or day. But that’s it. They provide knowledge, but that’s it.” Finally finding what he was looking for he opened the book and placed it on the desk in front of Spencer who looked at the illustration of Lord Shiva – one part of the Hindu trinity of gods.

“He’s blue.” Spencer noted.

“Don’t be a racialist.” Slappy snapped. “Do ye see those markings in the middle of his forehead?”

“Aye.” Spencer replied.

“No. EYE!” Slappy corrected. “That’s his third eye.”

“It doesn’t LOOK like an eye.” Spencer said rubbing his own forehead.

“That’s because its function isn’t in the physical world, lad.” Slappy explained as he poked his finger gently into the growing lump on the young man’s forehead. “It shows ye wisdom – helps ye be smart. Most people’s pain is brought on by themselves when they don’t see the truth of what’s around ‘em.”

Spencer thought for a moment. “Haven’t you been married like a hundred times?”

Slappy laughed. “Well, I don’t know if it’s been a hundred, but it’s more than I care to count! I wish some old bastard had woke up me third eye when I was yer age – and saved meself some grief.”

Suddenly, Slappy was struck with an idea. “Ye say ye have a wee pinnace. What kind o’ shape is she in?”

“She’s yar, Cap’n – and swift. But she’s for sale because Mr. Chumbucket signed me on for duty aboard The Festering Boil.” Spencer was now determined to leave his former life behind.

“I can’t sign you on as an able seaman.” Slappy said matter-of-factly.

Spencer’s countenance sank. “Does that mean I’m a cabin boy again?”

Slappy laughed. “No. Ye’re a Captain! Ye have yer own ship! But I hereby invite ye, Captain Spencer LeHammer, of the pirate ship – What’s the name o’ yer ship?”

Mahren’s Smile” Spencer said – almost forgetting the lesson he’d just been taught.

Slappy shook his head and formed his fist into the “pointy-middle-knuckle-of-pain” teaching tool.

Spencer quickly added, “But that’s not a solid name. It’s easy to change. For now, I could just call it, ‘Boat.’”

“Well, she’s got to have a name, lad!” Slappy insisted.

Spencer thought carefully for a moment. After a moment, his face brightened. “Lord Shiva’s Eye!” Spencer pronounced decisively.

“ … of the pirate ship, Lord Shiva’s Eye to sail in partnership with The Festering Boil under our (cough) Letter of Marque and attack Spanish shipping lanes – specifically, the famous Treasure Train.” Slappy quickly wrote a note and handed it to Spencer who could barely speak from excitement coupled with a splitting headache.

“Take this to Ol’ Chumbucket and he’ll assign ye a crew and help ye get rigged and ready.” Slappy handed Spencer the note and extended his hand. The lad shook it enthusiastically and said, “Thank you, sir. Thank you so much! For everything!” And with that, he bolted out of the Captain’s Quarters in search of Ol’ Chumbucket.

Slappy turned around and picked up the book from his desk. After leafing through a couple of pages, he returned it to its place on the shelf and laid back on his bed.

“You can come out now, boy!” Slappy called as he closed his eyes.

A secret door, one of many in the Captain’s Quarters, opened and out popped his current cabin boy, young Gabriel. He was accompanied by Cap’n Slappy’s pet monkey named, “Strumpet.”

Gabriel took his place on the stool in the corner. Strumpet sat on his lap. He thought for a few moments before asking the question he’d been pondering as he listened to the previous conversation.

“Does Spencer really have three eyes?” Gabriel felt his own forehead to see if there was anything bumping up.

Slappy, nearing a state of sleepiness answered, “Aye, lad. But he’s just starting to open it.”

Gabriel took note of the small mirror hanging on the back of the cabin door – the only mirror in the room. He pushed his stool over to the door and climbed up on it to see his reflection. He ran his fingers over his forehead – stretching the skin as tightly as he could to see if he could see his own third eye.

Slappy opened one eye and watched the boy for a moment. Finally, he closed his eye and said, “Ye’ll never see it in a mirror, boy. But when the time comes, it will see you.”

The reflection of Gabriel’s face in the mirror showed his concern. Slappy could see that, so he let him in on a secret.

“It’s just your mind, boy. All this ‘third eye’ stuff is just a fancy way of thinkin’ about yer mind. Some people grow smart – but truly smart people grow wise.” Slappy mused to himself and patted his impressive belly. “And some of us just grow.”

Gabriel smiled and turned back to the mirror where he proceeded to make silly faces and practice lifting his eyebrows up and down.

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