Monday, May 22, 2006


The Havana Caper Part 16 - "Rendezvous Island"

A large map of the Cuban coastline blocked the view of the actual Cuban coastline as Cap’n Slappy seemed to line up the paper and ink version with the real one trying to identify which island was the one that he and Ol’ Chumbucket had decided on for their rendezvous.

“Your map’s upside down.” Young Gabriel, the powder monkey turned cabin boy observed as he pointed out what he thought might be an obvious error in navigation. He was quickly “Shhhshed” by George the Greek, but Cap’n Slappy felt that this was a teachable moment so he gently pointed out to the boy;

“That’s because we’re looking at Cuba from the north.”

He then went back to work, thinking that the explanation he’d given was more than sufficient.

Strumpet the Monkey perched herself on the young boy’s head and he quickly lost interest in his cartography lesson and ran off to play with the chimp.

“If only the circle I drew on the map somehow appeared around the right island!” Slappy mused to himself.

The thick layer of clouds that had darkened the entire day with the threat of a sever rain storm suddenly offered up a hole and a shaft of heavenly sunlight settled on the northernmost island at the end of a long string of islands – the very island circled on the map.

All eyes turned to Cementhands McCormack.

“That wasn’t me!” The big man offered somewhat sheepishly, having only recently been freed from being possessed by the spirit of St. Swithin – the patron saint of, among other things, weather anomalies.

Guided by favorable atmospheric illuminative conditions, they made their way to the island and, after circling a couple of times in hopes that Shiva’s Eye might already be there, found safe harbor in a quiet lagoon.

A small scouting party went ashore and returned shortly thereafter letting the captain know that a nice freshwater stream was just a few paces into the jungle and everything seemed safe. Water butts were getting low, so they went ahead and began shuttling water back to The Festering Boil to refill her supply.

“Half Leave!” Cap’n Slappy called out once the work was done. This meant, of course, that half the crew could go ashore and frolic about in whatever manner of frolic could be deemed seemly for a pirate, while the other half maintained a vigil on the Boil. Slappy offered his first mate, George the Greek, first leave, but the Greek declined saying, “It’s sand, it’s grass, it’s fresh water – it’ll wait.”

“Suit yerself!” Slappy laughed as he mounted a longboat which took him to the beach. He had his mind on finding a nice swimming hole somewhere and getting to do something that any of them did only rarely – bathe.

Cap’n Slappy stepped out of the boat and onto the beach with a purpose. He marched past the lads playing “Let’s see how close I can throw my cutlass to your feet without cutting off a toe!” just as Mickey “Six Toes” McClintock let out a familiar yelp. Undaunted, he shot straight into the jungle and followed the stream inland. The greenery was thick and brightly plumed birds flew overhead making their “caw” sounds. “Someday,” Slappy thought to himself, “I’m going to retire to a nice little island like this and raise Great Danes.”

Finally, he reached a lovely spot for a swim. The cawing of the birds seemed particularly loud, but that was just jungle music and he was taking in the entire ambiance. Tree branches extended over the water and their hanging vines created a curtain effect. The water was cool and extraordinarily clear. Slappy glanced around to make sure he was alone and quickly proceeded to get naked. In a minute or two he was throwing himself off a log that extended out over the pool and landed with a gigantic splash in the cold waters.

Coming back to the surface, he let out a loud whoop – much like his famed war whoop, only somewhat more joyful. It was met with the sound of tittering. Slappy thought, “Damn those birds – you’d think they’d never seen a man before!” He shrugged off his avian voyeurs and began the arduous process of soaping up his big body. This, of course, required that he sing a wee ditty he’d made up for just such events;

Oh, it makes me very happy
To be scrubbing Cap’n Slappy
Cuz he stinks like a dirty nappy
Yes, he smells like monkey crappy

So scruba-duba-duba-duba-dub – Cap’n Slappy!

Another chorus of bird laughter followed as the now lathered pirate came to a very painful realization and quickly dove into the water creating a cloud of foam which obscured his newly cleansed form. As he resurfaced, he could see the movement of people on the other side of the vine curtain and they were moving quickly. Slappy was never one to let the enemy organize itself so he plunged himself into attack mode. He swam quickly to the log and flung himself, naked, through the green veil and latched onto, without seeing what he was latching, the last of what turned out to be a string of people fleeing the waters after their discovery.

Slappy pulled his opponent under water, maintaining a strong grip on the midsection. However, between his soapy residue, the moistness of the water, and the struggling of his victim, his hand shifted upward to the chest. What he felt there made him release his prey quickly and stand back. Once his head was above water, he could hear the familiar screechings of Red Molly as she yelled, “Cap’n Slappy! Unhand that wench!” Molly, by now had covered herself with her clothes as had the other women who had been swimming with her.

Slappy was stunned. He stood frozen in fear – thigh-deep in water – which, as you might guess, was not deep enough for modesty’s sake. His would-be victim was poor Saucy Jenny, who now broke the surface and gasped for air. Instinctively, Slappy moved to help her – but just as instinctively, became aware of their nudity and froze again. Finally, looking down and realizing just how far out of the water he had come, he turned and rushed to the relative obscurity of greater depths.

“Ladies,” he began in a most conciliatory tone, “I had no idea that you were … well … here. And had I known that you would all be so … very … un-clothed … well, you can imagine my embarrassment, can’t you? I mean, I would never in a million years …”

Molly’s voice was now calm. “Cap’n Slappy. We completely understand, now will you please avert your gaze so we can dress ourselves and leave you to your bathing?”

Slappy spun himself around so as to face away from the shore and the sight of feminine nudity. Still, he stammered on. “Yes! Of course! This has been a most unfortunate occurrence but completely accidental, I assure you. Had I any idea that a group of ladies had already ventured into the jungle for …uh … a refreshing … swim, I would never have … you see … I just thought … Well, lesson learned. From henceforth, we ought to designate a specified time during which the ladies may have their swim … unconcerned with the prying eyes of … well, … fellows who might not be so … at any rate, a bit of organization should be employed to address this … sort of situation and prevent its … uh … repetition. Like I always tell Ol’ Chumbucket. There’s no problem so big as can’t be fixed with sensible policies.” He then paused for a few moments and listened. He heard nothing – not even the birds.

“So, if you ladies would be so kind as to let me know when you are leaving, I would greatly appreciate it.”


Cap’n Slappy stayed in the water for twenty more minutes just listening to the silence until he thought it might be safe to come out.

When he finally re-emerged onto the beach, he saw a cluster of people standing around Oscar. He was reading the current copy of Pirattitude Monthly which he had picked up for eight shillings in an automated news stand painted in the PM colors; orange and black, and sitting in the shade of a cluster of cocoanut trees. The article, written by Oscar himself, was entitled, “The Lamb in Winter: The Underwhelming Exploits of Cap’n Slappy.” The article was particularly harsh about his seeming lack of leadership qualities but praised the crew of The Festering Boil for their unwavering devotion to him and ability to make things happen despite their obvious lack of coherent leadership at the top.

When crew members saw Slappy step back onto the beach they rushed to him with their own copies of the magazine and told him he ought to make an example out of Oscar.

Still stunned by what he would later jokingly call his Flipper Faux Pas, Slappy read passages that were pointed out to him as he moved down the beach toward where Oscar was sitting. When he reached the journalist, the crowd backed up to give him pummeling room, but no such pummeling was in the offing. Instead, he warmly congratulated Oscar for getting his article published and then, pointing to the grove of cocoanuts by the news stand asked, “Are those ripe?”

Hearing that they were, he walked over in that direction only to be met half-way by what appeared to be a lunatic in rags.

“By jigger, by jug!” The hermit-looking fellow called out as he saw Cap’n Slappy approach. “If it ain’t wee Mortimer Slappy! Except he aint so wee anymore, amn’t he?”

The ancient man patted Cap’n Slappy’s stomach which never failed to annoy the captain, shaking him out of his fog.

“Do I know ye, ol’ timer?” Cap’n Slappy asked as politely as he could under the circumstances.

“Aye, lad! That ye do!” The old man said with a nearly toothless smile. “Perhaps ye will recognize me from this!” He then struck a pose as one might if one was posing for a portrait assuming one did portraits of crazy old nearly toothless men with white, wispy hair and a long white scraggly beard.

“No.” Slappy sad calmly “That’s not helping.”

“Perhaps this will!” the old man quickly stopped a young pirate who was carrying an empty barrel and had him set it on the ground. He then put one foot up on the barrel and clenched his fists as if he had just told a very saucy joke and delivered the punch line with actual punches. Something about that position and this man began to ring a familiar bell in Slappy’s mind.

“I will be jiggered!” Slappy said stunned. “Barnacle Billy Du Boise!”

“Of Du Boise Rum fame?” Cementhands McCormack held up a bottle of Du Boise Rum which featured a robust pirate in full gear standing in a most masculine pose, one foot up on a barrel of rum. He then moved it to reveal the image of this frail looking skeleton of a man – but by Poseidon’s great jewel bag, it was the same man!

“Slappy, me boy! I was going to charge your no-goodniks double for the cocoanuts they stole from me, but since ye’re their Cap’n, I’ll take twenty percent off me askin’ price!”

Slappy turned back to where Oscar was defending his article to a group of outraged pirates and called out, “Oscar, come here! There’s someone I want you to meet!” He then looked at the frail old man and smiled before turning back to call after Oscar again, “And make it quick!”

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