Saturday, August 09, 2008


Chapter Seven - Evil Weevils and Sloppy Seconds

“Now let me get this straight.”

Cap’n Slappy’s voice had the sharp staccato of an impatient man clarifying an improbably situation by slicing it up into bite-sized pieces with the knife edge of his elocution. He thumbed his way through the copious notes taken by his cabin boy, Gabriel, occasionally glancing over the top of the papers to verbally confirm the information he was reading.

“You’re not pirates at all!”

“Correct!” replied Jonas Grumby, weary with the story he had told and repeated for the fourth excruciating time. “And as I’ve said a number of times – we’re a troupe of actors who had gained passage aboard the merchantman, The Bristol Lady’s OTHER Knickers. We were set upon by this horrible French pirate – LeFleur – who did unspeakable things to the crew for hours. Some were gutted. Some were hung. Some were forced to gut their comrades whilst being hung and after several days of horror, he shackled the surviving crew together with chains that he anchored to a cannon – and then he ordered his men to toss that cannon over.”

Grumby choked on the memory.

“They dug in to the deck as best they could and for a while they staved off being pulled to their watery grave using life-and-death tug-o’-war skills – but alas, when they would get a foothold, LeFleur himself would slit the Achilles tendon of the front man and one-by-one they were pulled … down. They screamed, they cried, they begged – and LeFleur only smiled – as if his reason for living was to soak up their suffering. He said he only spared us because the captain told him we were only actors – so he said he had a special performance awaiting us on his island hideout. We were to be buried in the surf up to our necks whilst the tide was out and he was to enjoy his brunch as the tide came back in and consumed us. Were it not for our cunning escape plan – swimming to La Petit Mort under dark of night whilst he and his pack of demons made merry aboard The Bristol Lady’s OTHER Knickers and using our new-found seaman skills to sail away – we would be nothing more than food for crabs even now!”

Grumby’s soliloquy was filled with emotion – from rage to pathos to despair and back to pathos and finally half-part rage – half-part defiance. Despite their weakened state, his company shot to their feet in a standing ovation. “Brilliant, Grumbles! Absolutely Fabulous!”

Slappy was still going over the notes.

“And you’re not even a real sailing master aboard The Shifty Poltroon – if there, in fact, even IS a ship called, The Shifty Poltroon!”

“THERE IS!” Grumby stood defiantly – index finger heavenward in the classic stance of one who is celebrating his own truth – even if it is a separate truth. “The Shifty Poltroon is HERE! (Grumby pointed dramatically to his head.) And HERE! (He now indicated his chestal region – presumably his heart.) And (pulling a tattered dog-eared script from the front of his breeches – a move that immediately resulted in fifteen loaded pistols being aimed in his direction and cocked in unison) HERE!”

Cap’n Slappy’s hands went up to keep his well-armed pirates from blasting the poor actors to kingdom come. “Belay that barrage, Boilers! Remember, we’re pirates, not theater critics!”

A hearty chuckle went up from the Boilers – a half-hearted chuckle tricked out of the eight captive actors.

“Alright, Dewey Decimal,” Slappy continued in his well-practiced ominous tone, “if you or yer lads are stowin’ any more library books or other trouser treasures, I’d suggest ye dig ‘em out slowly with no – and I can’t stress this point enough – jerky movements.”

The Spaniard, Miguel Magana held up both hands – “Alright, amigos. Don’ nobody shoot me – okay? ‘Cuz I’m gonna give you the little surprises I have in my pantalones.”

Magana reached slowly down the front of his breeches and after a slight pause and sigh of pleasure, he produced the current copy of Pirattitude Monthly.

“DIBS!” Ol’ Chumbucket shouted as he stepped forward to claim his prize from the trembling hands of the Latin would-be thespian.

“SLOPPY SECONDS!” Cementhands McCormack called immediately after the periodical changed hands. “ACKNOWLEDGED!” Chumbucket replied using the rolled up magazine in a friendly salute to his mountainous comrade. But before Ol’ Chumbucket could go below to the head and his customary seat of ease, George called out – “Belay that bowel movement, Ol’ Chumbucket!”

“Why should I belay the best input and output of my day, George?” Chumbucket snapped – perhaps a bit impatient due to Black Butch’s prune pâté’ and sausage brunch.

Always a man of few words, it took but two from George to send the crew into immediate action. “Evil Weevils!”

“Voor de liefde van keverbastaarden!” Slappy blurted in his customary Dutch oath. Then, regaining his captainly composure, “E.W.E. Drill, everybody! Do it like we practiced it!”

Within seconds, an old sail was on the center of the deck and pirates were stripping off their clothes and tossing them into the canvass. The confused prisoners looked at each other – but were soon being directed by Wellington Peddicord to strip and toss their clothes on the pile.

“E.W.E. Drill?” Grumby asked as he pulled off his shirt.

“Evil Weevil Eradication.” Peddicord explained. “Once you’re naked, go get in the weasel grease line.”

Sure enough, a line had formed at the rail where Black Butch and Salty Jim were using brushes and sponges to lather Mrs. McMinneman’s Weasel Grease Soap on the now nude bodies of the female crew who were allowed to go first while Cementhands McCormack stood by with a large wooden club to discourage ooglers. An E.W.E. Drill was no time for sexual harassment – that was a past-time best left to ale houses and bordellos. But just as a reminder, McCormack kept a protective watch over the wenches – and was unflinching in delivering a consequence to any sea dog who tried to take advantage of the situation.

Once a liberal lathering of weasel grease had been applied, the pirates – one by one – jumped into the sea to quickly rinse the soap and any “riders” that may have already tried to take root in the hair and skin. The deck and hull that had been in contact with either La Petite Mort or clothing that had come from the French ship were swabbed with care and all leather goods; boots, brassards and belts were given a thorough polishing – again, with weasel grease; the perfect cleansing product for “bugs or bruises.” The marketing slogan for the pirate demographic had always been, “Slap Weasel Grease to it and march on!”

Once all the clothing was piled onto the sail, it was quickly bundled up and tossed aboard Le Petite Mort which was, then, set ablaze and shoved adrift.

“I don’t understand.” Naked Grumby confided in naked Ol’ Chumbucket – both dripping wet from the sea bath they had both just taken. “I thought weevils were a part of life on the sea. They get into the food but most sailors just see them as added protein – not the Plague.”

While they talked, Sawbones Burgess went one-by-one through the crew giving them all a careful examination before allowing them to go below and get a change of clothes.

“Well,” replied Ol’ Chumbucket, “you’re talking about your garden variety weevil – but until you’ve seen what an Evil Weevil infestation can do to a ship, you’ve not seen complete devastation. They start with cloth products and work their evil way through the wood. The Evil Weevils can turn a ship like La Petite Mort into a floating sawdust shell in less than a fortnight.”

Ol’ Chumbucket looked at Grumby and his fellows and smiled sympathetically – “Not meanin’ to take the sheen off of your great escape – but LeFleur undoubtedly allowed you to swim to his ship knowing full well that she’d crumble beneath you before you could ever reach land. The only thing he enjoys more than killing is setting up a lubber to die as a result of his own folly at sea. But don’t worry about revenge, lads. Cap’n Slappy hates LeFleur with an abiding disdain. That froggy will get his juste desserts.”

“Relax your leg.” Sawbones ordered Ol’ Chumbucket as he tapped his knee with a tiny rubber hammer.

“I thought this was just a bug inspection.” Ol’ Chumbucket protested.

“While I have you all naked, I’m catching up on some check-ups that have been long overdue.” He added with a wicked grin, “Just be glad you’re not Slappy – he’s gettin’ the full prostate check.” Then, the ship’s doctor stood up and handed Ol’ Chumbucket the copy of Pirattitude Monthly that had been set down during the cleansing process. “I checked it for bugs as well – you’re clear to go below.”

“You didn’t violate the terms of my ‘Dibs!’ did ye, Sawbones?” Chumbucket asked.

“My examination was purely medical – but I do call, ‘Thirdsies!’”

“Tell it to McCormack. He’s got sloppy seconds.” Then, turning to his guests, Ol’ Chumbucket introduced them to Leftenant Keeling adding, “I leave you in his most capable … hands.” With that, he turned and toddled off below decks to take care of business.

Naked Leftenant Keeling cut a dashing figure. Whereas the clothes may make the man, they did obscure his impressive manhood. In fact, once the wenches were safely tucked away below, Cementhands McCormack turned his “No Gawk Zone” on Keeling’s admirers. The Leftenant himself remained blissfully unabashed in his nudity and seemingly unaware of his … pronounced feature.

“Well, gentlemen – what can I do for you?” he asked innocently enough. A couple of the actors were immediately thunderstruck by the sheer majesty of Keeling’s wedding tackle – unable to form words. A sharp whack on the noggin with the McCormack stick brought them back – as did the following exchange across the deck.



Keeling stood, arms akimbo, shaking his head and chuckling. “Oh, that Cap’n Slappy – he DOES hate medical procedures!”

Barely able to raise his eyes above Keeling’s man-root, Grumby finally asked, “Leftenant Keeling, those were our only clothes – are we to go about naked or are you pirates just planning on killing us now and tossing our corpses to the sharks?”

Keeling placed a hand over his heart – to theatrically register the appearance that he had been emotionally wounded, although in Keeling’s case he probably was hurt that Grumby didn’t trust him. “You really aren’t a thinker, are you? – Why would we give you the weasel grease treatment if we were just going to kill you anyway? Do you think weasel grease grows on trees? No, sir, it does not! It grows on weasels who are loathe to part with their God-given greases! So, it's dear! Six quid a tin and a bargain at that price! Besides, we’re pirates – not predators – we kill only when absolutely necessary or exceedingly profitable, never just because it’s fun, or at least almost never.”

Finally, Keeling notcied that the actors' collective foci were trasfixed intently below his water line he simply redirected their gaze – “I’m up here, lads.” The abashed troupe quickly cast their glances upward to Keeling’s eyes. Keeling released a matronly and exasperated sigh, “You theater types!" He then returned to the question on the table. "I’m sure McCormack has some costumes in his theater collection that will suit you nicely! – Oh! Suit you! There’s a double meaning there!” Keeling chuckled to himself and his audience followed suit.

The sun was setting beyond where the drifting La Petite Mort blazed on the surface of the sea that had rapidly gone from azure to cobalt in a matter of minutes. The burning vessel visually blocked the sun’s orb and the bright red-streaked sky gave the illusion that the whole world was lit by the legendary ship’s dying embers. A string of naked man-asses lined the rail – standing silently as the sun set and the last of the La Petite Mort sank into the now-blackened murky depths.

“She was a great ship.” Slappy observed in eulogy. “She deserved a better master than Satan’s Little Poodle.” The captain then turned to Grumby. “Did you lads get far enough in your mariner lessons to tell us which way the bastard went?”

All eight men pointed with like-minded assurance toward the southwest. “Dogwatch – set a course in the pointy-direction!”

“Aye-aye, Cap’n!” Naked Dogwatch knuckled his forehead in salute and started off toward the helm.

“Breeches first, Mr. Dogwatch!” Slappy called after him. “Ye don’t want yer Mister Danglekins to upset the wenches now, do ye?”

“Aye-aye, Cap’n! – I mean, ‘No Cap’n’ – Cap’n!” came the response as he went below deck.

“And now,” Slappy continued, “since Cementhands McCormack here has called ‘Sloppy Seconds’ on the current issue o’ Pirattitude Monthly, I call, ‘Thirdsies!’”

“I already called, ‘Thirdsies!’” Sawbones Burgess called out crossly as he used a lantern to do his last few examinations.

“You’ve had your ‘Thirdsies’ in my ass!” Slappy snapped – but remembering the sanctity of the “Dibs Protocol.” he relented. “Then I call, ‘Friggin’ Fourths!’ and I expect some quality time alone with this issue!”

“It contains some exciting news from Curacao, Senor Capitan Slappy!” Miguel called out – but he was immediately cut off by the cautionary crazed look in Slappy’s eyes.

“Don’t spoil it for me, lad – I want it to be a surprise!”

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