Monday, August 14, 2006


The Havana Caper – Part 32 “Taking the Piss”

The depths of the hull of The Festering Boil, which was now home to more than eighty men, let in no natural light and the two swinging lanterns cast faint shadows that swayed dizzyingly as the ship took a battering from waves on the open sea. The armed men – formerly Royal Marines – guarding them seemed to take little interest in the crates all around that contained the enormous Spanish booty and the Boilers were careful not to pique that disregard. The brig aboard the Boil held less than a dozen men and with Cementhands McCormack hog-chained and hobbled and locked behind bars, the men and women below looked to a new leader.

“Do ye think they’ve harmed our Mr. McCormack, Mr. Peddicord?”

Wellington Peddicord looked around and realized that all eyes were on him.

“No, Benny. I’m sure Cementhands is fine and biding his time until he can take his revenge.”

“Shaddup you!” The distinct cockney accent from one of the guards reminded Peddicord of a former shipmate.

“Martin? Martin Jessup is that you?” Peddicord asked.

“Aye, Welly! I knew ye wouldn’t forget ol’ Marty – especially since ye cheated me out o’ twenty-three shillings at cards!” The friendly voice turned bitter quickly. “It’ll be a pleasure watchin’ yer black arse swing, Welly. I’ve already called dibs on yer boots. Of course, they might shoot ye, or the new boss is likely to do somethin’ a lot worse. More’s the pity ‘cuz yer boots’ll be all bloody and pissed in when they’re done with ye – and it’s always hard to get that blood and piss smell out o’ somebody’s boots once they been shot.”

Peddicord gave Jessup a cold stare. “They can take my blood, mate, but my piss – that I’ll take with me.”

Lacking a snappy comeback and not even sure what Peddicord meant by the cryptic remark, Jessup just waved off his old shipmate with a, “Bah!” and returned to his fellow guards.

Benny’s face was fixed on Wellington Peddicord. “Mr. McCormack would be proud, sir.”

“We’re better than they are, lad. Don’t forget that.” Peddicord said softly.

“Aye-aye, Mr. Peddicord! Aye aye.”

Jenny reached forward and took Peddicord’s hand. “Thank you, Wellington. We needed to hear that!”

A general soft “Aye,” arose from the huddled prisoners.


The brig aboard The Festering Boil was at full capacity with those who were considered the greatest threat to their captors. Red Molly worked at the locks on Cementhands McCormack’s chains whenever she felt her guards take their eyes off the prisoners.

“Damn it! There goes another hair pin!” Molly swore as she picked the pieces out of the lock hole. She then reached back into her hair and produced yet another pin.

“Just pretend it’s yer chastity belt, Luv, and your Leftenant Keeling is home for a bit o’ the Bouncy-Bouncy.” McCormack chuckled.

“Is that you takin’ the piss, McCormack?” Molly shot back as she drove a sharp elbow into his unprotected ribs.

“Aye lass!” McCormack smiled, “We may as well have a bit o’ fun while we wait for whatever it is we wait for.”

“Well shut it, ye big git. I’m just trying to give us the best weapons we have.” As she mentioned their ‘best weapons’ she squeezed McCormack’s big hands. Molly stopped herself. Clearly she was very worried about Keeling, but she was trying to be strong.

“He’s alright, Luv. Don’t worry about yer lad. He’s just fine.” McCormack’s tone was all comfort.

“Jaysus, McCormack. Do you think they killed the boy? He was just a wisp o’ a lad.” Black Butch leaned in as he talked to the big man.

“Don’t worry yer pretty wee head, Black Butch. The boy is just fine. He can swim like a fish! I taught him meself.” McCormack nodded in a reassuring way.

“And Dogwatch?” Butch questioned cautiously.

“Oh, he’s dead for sure.” McCormack said in such a dead pan it was difficult to tell if he thought that to be true or if he was, again, taking the piss.

Molly jabbed him in the ribs again with her elbow.


“Zoete Mermaid's Borsten!” Slappy swore as he awoke with the worst headache of his entire life.

The guards aboard The HMS Princess reached for the weapons when they heard a foreign tongue coming from the bilge. Fortunately, Ol’ Chumbucket was already awake and quickly reassured them.

“Don’t wet yourselves, lads. He’s English enough – he just curses in Dutch when he really means it.”

Oddly enough, this was enough explanation to assuage their aggression.

Chumbucket then turned his attention toward his miserable friend. “Mornin’ Sunshine! Did you sleep well?”

“Like the dead.” Was the best Cap’n Slappy could offer under the painful circumstances.

“Don’t worry. The pain subsides when you’ve been awake for a few minutes. Then it gets a lot worse.”

“Good. I was hoping to keep it and use it when it comes time to kill Stubing.” Slappy took the middle finger of his right hand and pressed it hard between his eyebrows, which was about as far as he could reach with his hands and feet manacled and chained to the bulkhead. “It’s too bad the doctor is still asleep. I’d ask him to drive a spike right between my eyes because I am pretty sure I have a family of gypsies inside my noggin and they’re burning my brain while they dance a freakin’ mazurka and I would sorely love to drive a spike into them.”

“That’s just crazy talk, Cap’n!” George was coming to and also suffering. “There are no gypsies in yer pate. But there appear to be a school of wolverines digging into my skull and I would be obliged if the good doctor would amputate my head.”

“Wolverines don’t run in ‘schools,’ George.” Ol’ Chumbucket corrected.

“No, they come in ‘prides.’ As in ‘a pride o’ wolverines.’” Cap’n Slappy said with the voice of authority.

“No. They don’t.” Ol’ Chumbucket admonished. “They come in packs – like dogs.”

“Or a ‘cete.’” Doc Burgess was waking up into the discussion. “Badgers travel in a grouping called a ‘cete.’ And they are similar to wolverines.”

Chumbucket was incredulous. “In what way?”

“They’re both members of the ‘weasel’ family.” Doc Burgess was now feeling his headache and answered with some duress.

“Seriously?” Cap’n Slappy seemed surprised. “A badger and a wolverine are nothing but weasels?”

“Bad-ass weasels.” George muttered as he rubbed his head.

“I’ve got to piss.” Slappy declared hoping to bring an end to the discussion of woodland rodents and Ol’ Chumbucket pointed him toward the chamber pot which was already nearly full.

Ol’ Chumbucket explained. “I drank too much last night.”

“Excuse me, Limey guards!” Slappy called, “But will somebody please come take this piss pot?”

“Not if you don’t stop calling us ‘Limey guards.’ We will not be very helpful at all if you keep calling us, ‘Limey guards.’” One of the soldiers scolded.

“Quite right. He humbly apologizes. We would just like to have an empty chamber pot if that’s quite convenient.” Doc Burgess interrupted as he saw Slappy get that look he usually got before saying something regrettable.

“That’s more like it.” The guard said feeling perfectly mollified.

“So the piss pot?”

“Don’t really matter, does it, since your chains won’t reach there anyway and there ain’t no way I’m unchaining ye. Got me orders,” the guard said.

“But if a man wanted to relieve himself?”

“He could piss his pants. Down here it wouldn’t make no difference. All’s ye’d offend is some rats. Now I’ve already said too much,” The guard turned to walk out, taking the only light with him.

“Excuse me.” Ol’ Chumbucket stopped the soldier. “Where is our fifth comrade? The young man who came aboard with us last - I think it was last – night?”

“Good lookin’ young fella – about this high?” The soldier held the chamber pot above his head at about the height at which Leftenant Keeling stood.

“Aye!” All four pirates answered as they watched the urine slosh about in the bowl above the soldier’s head.

“He’s dead.” And with that, the soldier walked out of the bilge.


The surf crashed against the white sand and rolled an object further up the beach. At first glance, a passer-by would have thought it was a chunk of drift wood, but closer examination would have found arms and legs flopping as the trunk moved closer to the jungle.

Keelings eyes opened part way as another splash of sea water doused the back of his head. He pulled himself toward the dry sand and collapsed again.

The sand felt warm against his skin and despite its roughness, Keeling took comfort in the fact that he was once again in touch with something solid. He crawled further up the beach using his will to overcome his exhaustion.

Suddenly, a sharp point pressed into the back of Keeling’s neck and he froze.

“Stay very still, Mister, or I’ll pin your head to the beach and leave you as lunch for a pack of crabs.”

It was the familiar voice of a young boy trying to sound menacing beyond his years.

“Don’t you mean a cast of crabs, Gabriel?” Keeling offered without looking up at the boy.

“Leftenant Keeling?” Gabriel asked.

“Aye! Lad.” Keeling rolled over and looked up at the boy but was only able to make out his outline against the sun. “Are you here alone, boy?”

“No. Dogwatch is off in the jungle taking a piss.” Gabriel pulled his wooden spear back from Keeling’s head and knelt down to help him up. “We’re going to spear some fish for breakfast!”

Keeling waved off the boy’s assistance. “Give me a minute, lad. I just want to lay here and get used to the idea that I’m not dead yet.”

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

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