Tuesday, September 26, 2006


The Havana Caper - Part 34 "Dinky's Dirty Doings"

The sun beat mercilessly on the captured pirate ship and its brightness forced Cementhands McCormack’s eyes into a tight squint as he was brought up in chains to the deck of The Festering Boil. There, he joined the rest of his crewmates who had been filing onto the deck since they had arrived in Havana harbor. On the other side of the dock, he could see the weary forms of Cap’n Slappy, Ol’ Chumbucket, Doc Burgess and George the Greek as they, too, were brought up on deck for the first time in over a week. A mishmash of marines, sailors and thugs guarded the prisoners. One particularly loathsome character decided to take liberties with Saucy Jenny. He forced her backward against the mizzenmast and placed his left hand over her right breast as he tried to force his open mouth over hers.

Wellington Peddicord leaped to her defense, but the four men who stood on either side of McCormack quickly intercepted him and took him down hard to the deck. This momentary lapse in security left Cementhands open to intervene. Chained though he was, he took a run at the would be molester who looked up just in time to see the big man’s head pull back, eyes widened, and then come crashing down with lethal force. McCormack, using the only appendage not encumbered by chains, drove his forehead deep into the offender’s skull that gave way, as would any rotten egg when a sizable stone comes crashing down upon it.

Blood splattered into his face temporarily blinding the big man. Saucy Jenny, quickly distanced herself from the insult and its violent retribution and began to wipe the blood and goo from McCormack’s eyes when another great thud was heard. No shattering of bone, but the sound was one of tremendous impact and McCormack’s eyes rolled up as he dropped to the deck in a state of unconsciousness. Behind him, Jack Jones could be seen following through with the swing of a rifle butt that dropped Jenny’s rescuer.

“You bastard! You fucking bastard!” she screamed as Jones stood over the fallen man in chains.

“Oh, come now!” Jones sneered, “We can’t have that animal loosed to exact his primitive revenge on men whose only crime is wanting to have a bit of slap and tickle with a pirate whore.” He then placed his hand on her throat while his comrades held their bayonets to the rest of the pirates and whispered in her ear. “By the time my men are through with you, the gallows will seem a long lost and welcome friend. And the wheels of justice grind marvelously slow here in Havana.”

Jenny’s eyes were aflame as she spat in Lieutenant Jones’ face.

He pulled a handkerchief from his pocked and wiped the goo from his cheek. Then, as she stood toe to toe with him, he made as if he was going to walk away, but instead balled up his fist and hit her hard in the face, knocking her to the deck. He then spoke directly to his men.

“Bind her hands behind her back. If this viper spits at anyone again, I am to be informed immediately. I will then slit her throat in front of the entire crew. Is that understood?”

“Aye-Aye, Lieutenant!” the men responded with an enthusiastic salute.

Across the dock on the HMS Princess, Cap’n Slappy, Ol’ Chumbucket, George and Doc Burgess all winced when they saw Cementhands McCormack take the rifle butt to the head and fall like a large sack of something bulky and immovable to the deck.

“Merrill, I really must insist that your fellows stop their disdainful treatment of my crew. It’s horribly unbecoming.” Slappy worked hard at establishing as civilized a tone in his voice as was possible for him to do.

“That’s CAPTAIN Stubing to you, pirate! And my men have and will treat vermin with all the respect due … uh … well … VERMIN!”

Slappy, Chumbucket, George and Burgess exchanged bewildered glances. Finally, Slappy spoke.

“That was the best you could do? Has the British naval academy abandoned their rhetoric classes? Or are you, as it seems to me, a verbal stumblebum?”

Stubing’s face burned red with rage and he closed in on Cap’n Slappy as near as his courage would let him.

“I know you! I know who you are! You were one of those upper classmen whose idea of the height of self expression was to secretly strap a fellow to his bunk and move the sleeping underclassman to the commons and, while nature and imagination caused him an involuntary stiffening of his … uh … manhood, cruelly and foully play ‘ring toss’ with his fleshy man-peg!”

At the use of the phrase, “man-peg,” Ol’ Chumbucket, George and Doc Burgess broke into howls of jolly laughter. Cap’n Slappy’s face beamed with surprise and joy.

“Dinky! It’s YOU!” Slappy moved to embrace the angry captain, but his wrists were securely shackled. Besides, the look on Stubing’s face indicated that a class reunion was most assuredly not in the offing. His enthusiasm undeterred, Slappy continued, “I’d have recognized you earlier if you’d only dropped your trousers!”

Chumbucket, George and Burgess let loose a womanly “Woooo!” of surprise to which Slappy quickly responded, “Now, now, lads! Thar be nothin’ e’en remotely ‘Nancy-like’ about a saucy game o’ ‘Fleshy Man-Peg Ring Toss’ amongst school chums!” Then, with an ‘understanding’ glance at Stubing he quickly added, “Not that thar would be anything wrong with bein’ a bit o’ a Nancy – ‘Judge Not!’ says me!” He closed his statement with a friendly wink.

If there is something hotter than the sun, we don’t know what it is or what we would call that kind of heat. The same was true for the rage that ran through Stubing in that instant. If a man was ever to spontaneously burst into an all-consuming flame that would destroy life on this and every other planet in the universe, he would have been that man and this would have been that moment. Fortunately for us all, biology and physics were still mostly theoretical and unwilling to ignite the Doomsday explosion – but the very best that Stubing could manage was to point toward Havana; eyes bulging, skin glowing and hair nearly standing at attention; and hope that his sergeant-at-arms would know what he wanted.

He did. And a few moments later, the officers of The Festering Boil were disembarking from The Princess onto the long dock that led them toward a very uncertain future.

As they marched down the dock flanked by soldiers, Ol’ Chumbucket began calling out the steps in their rhythm. Quietly at first, then, with growing authority.

“Heft, heft, heft – ayight, heft!”

When they reached the “T” in the dock that ran parallel to the shoreline, Ol’ Chumbucket gave a conspiratorial glance to his mates who acknowledged with nods of their respective heads.

“Left face – HARCH!”

On cue, the soldiers all turned left and mindlessly marched on while, using their most rigid military movement, the four prisoners wheeled to the right and immediately broke from their escort.

It was working! It shouldn’t have, but it was! All four glanced over their shoulders in disbelief as they moved quickly away. They’d gone about fifty yards when they turned to move forward and ran smack dab into the evil Jack Jones and some very ugly musketeers with nasty looking bayonets fixed to the barrels of some very nasty looking muskets.

“Going somewhere?” Jones asked with a sneer.

“Just seeing the sights,” Slappy said nonchalantly, indicating wth a nod of his head the white sand beaches overlooked by the frowning form of Morro Castle.

“Ah, well, let me offer you the grand tour,” Jones said. “This way. And, if you stray again, keep in mind that my men have orders to shoot you in the knees.”

Within minutes, the pirates were ushered into surprisingly comfortable accommodations in the armory.

The room itself was sparse. Four cots lined the walls and a small table with four chairs sat in the middle of the room. Simple, but nice when compared to the dungeon four flights below where the crew had been locked away without furnishings – only some meager piles of straw that may or may not have been used by previous residents for either a bed or an out-house.

After a few moments in their room alone, George heard keys jingling in the lock. A small contingent of musketeers entered and forced the four to the farthest wall. Then, six more soldiers entered carrying a large table upon which lay the unconscious body of Cementhands McCormack. They were straining under the weight and dropped the sturdy table in the middle of the room.

The lead soldier looked at Doc Burgess and said, “This man needs medical attention. You’re supposed to be a doctor – you look to him.” He then disappeared with the phalanx and locked the door behind him.

Slappy, Chumbucket, George and Burgess rushed to their friend’s side. He was breathing deeply but regularly. Doc examined his head.

“It would have killed any of us, but to him – it’s a bump on the noggin.”

“I’ll bump your noggin!” McCormack said groggily.

“Not particularly witty, but at least it’s a sign of life.” Ol’ Chumbucket added.

Slappy nodded – “And at least this time, he’s not a patron saint of inclimate weather!’

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