Monday, April 10, 2006


A Pirate Tale – Part 147 “Brought to You by the Letter, ‘B!’”

“Yo Ho, Butch!” Dogwatch called from the wheel as Black Butch, the ship’s cook, passed on one of his many trips back and forth from the banana storage hold to the galley. “What’s on the menu this evening?”

“Well!” Butch called out with unabashed enthusiasm, “We’ve got a nice banana fondue for starters with a splendid banana-cocoanut dipping sauce – followed by freshly baked banana bread. Then, we’ll follow that up with a choice of shaved banana salad or steaming banana compote-soup. Our main course is fillet of barbequed banana with banana gravy with mashed banana. And for dessert, a very special treat – Black Butch’s Brutal Banana Flambé!”

“That’s ‘Bananatastic!’” Dogwatch called back with as much excitement as his banana-laden body could muster.

In fact, “Bananatastic!” had become the mandatory response for whatever Butch said was for dinner in the past couple of days. The winds had shifted, making The Festering Boil’s course to Port Royal a bit slower than had been predicted. Cap’n Slappy was always one for using the food in danger of spoilage first, so he had directed Butch to use their banana bounty to best advantage. In an effort to buoy the shipmates’ morale during these times of monochromatic dietary compliance, Slappy had once again instigated a whimsical watchword that was supposed to boost spirits while showing appreciation for the current food-stuff-of-choice. But this campaign was no more successful than was his earlier, “Potatorific!” propaganda.

But poor Dogwatch’s feigned banana-fanaticism was wasted in the captain’s absence. He was currently below decks checking on the health of his two out-of-commission men.

“I may have underestimated the damage done to George’s ankle.” Sawbones Burgess confessed to Slappy as they stood over George’s bed – the Greek anxiously insisting that he was fine and ready to return to his duties.

“He tries to put weight on it – but although he tries to hide the pain, it is clearly excruciating for him. It may, in fact, be broken.” The doctor shook his head as he pondered that thought.

“Well, how would we know for sure?” Slappy asked.

“If only there was some device that could illuminate his ankle to the extent that the flesh around it would appear to be opaque and the bone visible – and perhaps capture that image on some sort of chart or graphic device that we could examine closely and see whether or not some sort of treatment might remedy the fracture – if there is a fracture.” Burgess mused quietly to himself after making this statement.

Cap’n Slappy thought for a moment then snapped his fingers. “I have some candles in my cabin that I’ve saved just in case we come across a ‘party ship’ and I have the opportunity to bed a couple of playful and cooperative strumpets who aren’t hung up on ‘roles.’

“That’s entirely too much information.” Burgess pointed out. “But just out of curiosity, how many candles do you have?”

“Thirteen!” Slappy said still wistfully imagining that glorious night-to-come. Then, shaking it off asked, “How many do you need for this bone illumination?”

Doc Burgess seemed to be running the numbers in his head and finally spat out, “Fourteen Million, Three Hundred and Thirty-Seven Thousand, Nine Hundred and Twenty-Six.”

Cap’n Slappy rubbed his beard thoughtfully. “I don’t think we have that many on the ship.”

“I suspected as much.” Doc Burgess said, “So, I went ahead and immobilized his lower leg in these bandages that I soaked in plaster of Paris that I took from Cementhands McCormack’s arts and crafts workshop. That way, even if the bone is broken, it will theoretically fuse back if we can keep this stubborn man stationary for a while longer.”

“You have your orders, George.” Cap’n Slappy said with a sympathetic smile. “And just as a reminder, let me add my signature to this plaster bandage the good doctor has your leg wrapped in.” With that, Slappy took a quill and ink and penned the words,

George! Get well soon! That’s an order!
Cap’n Mortimer Slappy

“Speaking of Cementhands …” Slappy began to ask – but Doc Burgess just motioned for him to follow him to the infirmary.

They arrived to find the still sleeping McCormack lounging comfortably in a hammock. Suspiciously, there was a small pile of banana peels on the floor beneath him.

“Who’s been dumping their banana peels by McCormack’s bunk!” Slappy demanded.

“That’s what’s odd.” Burgess said. “He’s been sleeping for over a week now and I’ve been feeding him watery gruel through this hummingbird feeder – but whenever I leave him alone for any length of time and return there is always a pile of banana peels right here!”

“That is odd.” Slappy agreed.

“Aye, Cap’n. I wonder how those banana peels got here!” Burgess mused.

“No. Cementhands is clearly either faking being asleep or sleep walking and feeding. What’s truly odd is that you would have a hummingbird feeder on a pirate ship. Why is that?” Slappy was lost in this curiosity.

“I have it just in case.” Doc Burgess replied

“In case what? In case we are set upon by a swarm of sea-going hungry hummingbirds?” Slappy asked in disbelief.

“No.” The doctor was now somewhat testy. “In case we find ourselves in a tropical paradise with flora and fauna as yet unnamed. I’ve always fancied naming a hummingbird after my Aunt Beatrice.”

“The Beatrice Burgess’ Buzzing Birdie?” Slappy mused whimsically.

“There are worse names!” Burgess shot back.

Slappy laughed and waved his hand as he left – “No. No there aren’t.”

He was still smiling when he came above deck and saw Ol’ Chumbucket gazing intently through his spy glass at an object off the port bow.

“What is it?” Slappy asked.

“See for yourself.” Chumbucket handed him the glass and pointed in the direction he should look. After a couple of moments, Slappy saw what was clearly a pirate ship flying a jolly roger he had not seen before.

“A skull centered between four sets of bones forming the letter “B” at each corner of the flag.” Slappy pondered what it could mean. “Beatrice Burgess’ Buzzing Birdie?”

Chumbucket looked at Slappy in disbelief – having not been privy to the previous discussion.

“No, Cap’n. I think rather it stands for ‘Bawdy Boys B-Team Buccaneers.’” Chumbucket suggested.

“You could be right – but just in case, we should ask Sawbones to have his bird feeder ready.” Slappy chuckled to himself – and truly, he chuckled alone as the joke was completely lost on his friend. After a moment of solitary amusement he assumed a more serious tone. “Would you be so kind as to call the men to battle stations, Mr. Chumbucket?”

“With pleasure!” Ol’ Chumbucket said with a smile – then, turning toward the crew called out, “Battle Stations!”

Doc Burgess could be heard arguing with George in the infirmary. The first mate was insisting his presence was needed on deck – the doctor called for Ol’ Chumbucket to set him straight.

“Look, George.” Ol’ Chumbucket began. “This is the Bawdy Boys B-Team – we can handle them. Save your ankle for when we have to go up against their A-Team.”

Chumbucket looked over at Cementhands who was sleeping blissfully with a smile on his face.

“Take a page out of McCormack’s book and rest for a while.” Ol’ Chumbucket added in a tone that clearly denoted that he would not be argued with.

Above deck was abuzz with activity – the cannons and muskets were readied and those pirates fit for fighting we busily arming themselves. Dogwatch skillfully maneuvered The Festering Boil into position to fire the first volley.

The Bawdy Boys B-Team at first tried to out-run the Boil – but she didn’t have the wind for it – nor the skill. A stout voice called out, “Fire!” and the port side guns of The Boil roared to life in a cloud of smoke and sparks. A moment’s silence and then the crack of timbers as several of the cannonballs struck home.

Dogwatch brought The Boil about, presenting her starboard cannons to the enemy who had yet to make a coherent battle-worthy move. A second volley followed by a second cracking of iron against wood and Dogwatch brought her about again.

“The Boil must look like a swaggering drunk itchin’ for a fight to those bastards!” Two Patch observed from his dizzying post atop the mizzenmast.

When the enemy finally did send a volley toward The Boil, they had so badly estimated her position; the balls fell helplessly into her wake.

A few moments later, the two ships came crashing together and Ol’ Chumbucket led the first boarding party in a vicious assault while Cap’n Slappy held back a second wave in case of a counter attack.

Ol’ Chumbucket was now in his element – two cutlasses flashing in the sun as he cut his way through the weak defenses toward the center of the ship. Leftenant Keeling at his side commented, “These aren’t much in the way of fighters, are they?”

This was mostly true. But as they reached the heart of the ship, there he was – Devilish Bob Blackthorne. He was definitely not B-Team material.

“He must have been given his first command – and a very green crew.” Chumbucket thought to himself as he watched Devilish Bob fight ferociously – putting a hurt to several attacking Boilers.

In a matter of moments, Devilish Bob’s crew was all but dispatched, but the veteran Bawdy Boy had plenty of fight left in him.

“He’s mine!” Ol’ Chumbucket snarled as he charged Bob headlong. The two twisted and lunged as they fought across the deck of the ship. The remaining Boilers cleared a path for the two combatants.

“You might as well give up!” Ol’ Chumbucket called to his opponent. “We have defeated your crew and you’ve nothing left to fight for!”

“Chumbucket! You know me better than that!” was all Bob would say and then throw himself back into the fight.

“I was hoping you’d say that!” Chumbucket replied. Devilish Bob had always been a splendid fighter and a brutal pirate. He was never one to show mercy and it was gratifying for Ol’ Chumbucket in this fight that he sought none either. As he got tired, his fighting got sloppy and he finally took a swipe at Ol’ Chumbucket’s head with his cutlass which the crafty Boiler ducked and heard the “thwunk” as it sunk into the mizzenmast. In a quick motion, Ol’ Chumbucket lunged into Bob and drove his cutlass through his devilish belly. He growled, “One less Bawdy Boy!” as he twisted the blade and watched the life drain from Devilish Bob’s face.

A cheer went up from the Boilers as Bob’s lifeless body fell to the deck.

Cap’n Slappy never got off The Festering Boil. He saw what an easy time the first wave was having and decided this would be a good time to sit down on a warm cannon and give himself a pedicure.

He called across to his victorious friend, Ol’ Chumbucket, “Well done! How did that feel?”

“That felt good!” Ol’ Chumbucket replied catching his breath. “Nothing like a good fight for you life to get the blood going!”

“Or flowing!” Cap’n Slappy replied, “As it did for Ol’ Devilish Bob, there!” Slappy chuckled to himself – he hated Devilish Bob, too. “Have the lads clear away the dead and see if they have anything worth keeping. Let’s take their ship into Port Royal and see what he shipwright will offer.”

Sure enough, they found two large chests filled with gold and jewels – a nice haul particularly before heading into Port Royal. At the exact moment they discovered the chests, George sat up in his bed and called out – “Now THAT’S what I’ve been smellin’!”

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

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