Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Chapter 24 - "Best Laid Plans"

“Stack the bustles, darling! Let’s get as many as we can on this cartload!”

The deep, raspy voice of Grandmama Jeanette du Bonnier barreled down the gangplank from

The Poison Pearl to the women who hefted the cargo of wedding dresses and wedding dress accessories from the ship to the cart and then on to the little boutique they had purchased next to the gaol.

“It’s a corset, dear! It’s made of bone and meant to be ripped off and tossed aside – you can’t do any harm to it that God himself didn’t intend so, for God’s sake, just toss it on and grab another armful!”

These wenches were used to scampering up the rigging or waging a sea battle – but they did it in pants. Now, in the very civilized town of Curacao, women wore dresses – especially women who were opening a wedding dress specialty store.

Of course, Curacao was in the grip of wedding fever. The newspaper was filled with nothing but talk about the upcoming nuptials of the happy governor and his mysterious Swedish bride. Women from all over the island were intent on not letting this marital season pass without nailing down a firm commitment from their lovers and suitors.

“If he’s getting the milk for free, why buy the cow?” one woman remarked to her friend during a chat in a local coffee shop.

“Well, if he’s getting free milk from some other cow, I’ll be serving up a barbeque they’ll never forget!” Her friend replied.

Suffice it to say, the gentlemen of the island were less enthusiastic about the matrimonial frenzy.

They busied themselves with menial tasks long put off and a deluge of binge drinking.

“She keeps talking about cows and milk!” one man said to his mate during a drunken rant at a local ale house.

“Well if she expects me to become a dairy farmer, I’ll be serving up a barbeque she’ll never forget!” his friend replied.

“That doesn’t make one damn bit o’ sense!” the first man slobbered as he gestured broadly, sloshing his tankard about and spilling ale on his friend.

“Welllll!” his mate answered angrily “Neither does cows!”

At this point, the two men began a pushing match that quickly turned into a brawl.

At a corner table, Wellington Peddicord and George the Greek sat and enjoyed their frothy beverages and the floor show.

“It seems a bit early in the afternoon for a fight.” George observed.

“Yeah, and they’re not even forced to wear these ridiculous outfits.” Peddicord, or course, was making reference to the blue coveralls, blond page-boy wigs and floppy blue hats that they were required to wear when going into town – to prevent them from being spotted as pirates.

“They may be ridiculous, my friend,” George pointed out “but you have to admit, the plan is working like a charm!”

“I don’t know that I HAVE to admit anything. But I am growing fond of the wig!” Just as Wellington Peddicord was about to adjust his hair piece, a citizen landed on their table which held for just a moment as the man on his back glanced up at the two painters and smiled just before the legs of the table gave way and he went crashing to the floor.

“That was close.” said George, “I almost spilled some ale.”

The Dutchman at their feet rolled off the broken table top and staggered to his feet. Still wobbly, he tried to focus on the two men in front of him.

“Do I … Do I … Are you … Who are you?”

“We’re painters.” Peddicord answered in his well-practiced Dutch.

“Aye!” George chimed in, “We are two Dutch boy painters – he and I.”

The man leaned from side to side – staring hard at the black man in the blond wig.
“You don’t LOOK Dutch!”

Without a moment’s hesitation, Peddicord replied, “I’m from Haarlem.”

“Oh.” The man nodded – seemingly satisfied until he saw the olive-skinned Greek at his side.

“And you! Where are YOU from?”


The man looked momentarily confused.

“Athens, Dutchland.” George added confidently.

“Oh!” The man nodded – trying to pretend he knew where that was. “Beautiful scenery in Athens, no?”

“Yes.” George smiled, “It’s lovely this time of year!”

Suddenly, a bottle thrown from the midst of the fracas smashed into the side of the Dutchman’s head. He staggered for a moment, but regained his footing. “Excuse me.” He said politely before flinging himself headlong back into the fray.

“Athens, Dutchland?” Peddicord raised his eyebrows at the Greek. “That was a bit cheeky, don’t you think?”

“You wanna talk cheeky, mate? What was all that ‘Haarlem’ talk?”

“It’s at least a real place – IN A REAL PLACE! Where is this mythical ‘Dutchland’ of which you speak?”

“So, I panicked a bit! What do THEY call it?”


“Then why aren’t they ‘Holls?’”


“Aye! HOLLS! Why are they called, ‘DUTCH’ when they’re from HOLLAND?”

“By your logic,” Wellington was trying to calm down his Mediterranean mate, “people from England should be called, ‘Engs!’”

“Then, ‘Hollish!’” The Greek continued “Folks from China are called, ‘Chinese’ and folks from Spain are called, ‘Spaniards!’ At least the people from those countries have the self respect to include the name of their country in what they expect others to call them! I’d be perfectly happy with ‘Holliards’ or ‘Hollandaise’ or …”

“Hollandese” Peddicord corrected. “Hollandaise is a sauce.”

“I don’t care how saucy they are!” George was clearly getting drunker than he had thought – his voice was beginning to rise dramatically. “I’m just saying there’s nothing close to DUTCH in all of FRIGGIN’ HOLLAND!”

The fight stopped immediately and all eyes settled on the two Dutch boy painters sitting at the collapsed table in the corner of the room. Perhaps in the hopes that the crowd had attached its collective interest on something behind them, Wellington Peddicord whipped around in his chair and looked at the back wall of the ale house – nothing but old beer advertisements and a framed poster for an old production of the sequel to the musical that was a hit in the Copenhagen theater district, Yaagen Hoogen Two: Electric Boogaloo.

Unfortunately for our two Boilers, the spirit gum used to secure Peddicord’s blond wig to his head had become loose due to the humidity and Welly’s healthy sweat response. As he spun in the chair, his head-piece kept going long after the head had stopped and the wig and hat twisted and flipped to the floor three feet away.

“Piraat!!!” the roomful of Dutchmen now had a common enemy – for with his ingenious disguise now laid to waste, it was clear that the tall black man was no Dutch boy painter – but a fearsome buccaneer.

“Piraat!!!” George echoed as he pointed an accusatory finger at his mate. Peddicord was shocked by the betrayal – but not half as shocked as he would be only half-a-second later when The Greek smacked him hard in the side of the head with a detached table leg – knocking poor Wellington unconscious.

In truth, George was doing as he always does – turn a no-win situation into a long-odds chance at survival. He hoisted the stunned, lanky body of his companion onto his shoulders and began to make his way through the crowd.

“Pardon me fellow Hollandaiseians! I’ll just lug this sea-miscreant to the local jail and he’ll trouble the peace no longer!”

The crowd backed away to form a perfect passage to the front door of the ale house. George smiled as he saw the warm rays of the afternoon sun as it streamed through the open doorway. The weight of his comrade had shifted, so he squatted slightly to bounce him back into balance. As he made this adjustment, the daylight vanished – as if eclipsed by the moon.

But it was no moon that blocked the light – but rather a very, very, very large jailor.

“Hims is a big heavy black man, isn’t hims?”

The crowd parted even farther at the appearance of the big baby-faced jailor and a company of policemen – numbering more than twenty.

“I’m just taking this piraat to gaol, big fella. No need to keep you from your business – whatever that may be.” George grunted under the strain of his friend’s dead weight. “I’ll take it from here, citizen!”

“Hims is too big for little Greek man to carry all the way to prison. Let me help.”
George looked hard at the jailor. He knew he was dealing not only with a powerful opponent, but a smart one as well – despite the baby-talk. After a moment’s consideration, he nodded in agreement.

“You’re right, my friend, he’s an awfully big piraat.” George placed his hands under Peddicord’s thigh and between his shoulder blades – and with a quick squat-thrust weightlifting move, launched his limp mate toward the waiting arms of the big jailor who caught him out of the air and cradled him like a baby in his enormous arms.

Seeing his only chance, George took that moment when the big man’s arms were full of knocked-out pirate to land what would be an enlightening blow directly on the snout of the jailor. It was a good punch and might have killed a lesser man – George could feel the cartilage of the giant’s nose give way under the blow, but no reaction was registered. None.

A slight trickle of blood from the left nostril was all the damage George could see – and the jailor just smiled at the attempt.

The company of policemen charged en mass and George picked up a chair and smashed it over the first one – spinning on the second with the broken pieces and quickly disabling him with a blow to the tender groin region. The third and fourth didn’t fare as well as the jailor to George’s fists of fury – but the fifth through twelfth policemen tackled the lone pirate and after a half a minute of wrestling about on the floor, they had him bound in chains and shackles.

His wig and hat were lost in the scuffle and the on-lookers could now see that he, too, was clearly not a Dutch boy painter – but a dreaded “piraat!”

“Piraat!” somebody in the crowd shouted as if the point needed to be made vocally.

George found himself feeling a bit jealous of Wellington Peddicord as he was paraded up the street toward the gaol. He hated being in chains and hated the taunts of the townspeople as they lined the street to catch a glimpse of the ne’er-do-wells on their way to their comeuppances. “At least Welly is missing this scene.” He thought to himself.

As they passed the newly-opened dress shop next to the gaolhouse, he locked eyes with an attractive shop girl moving inventory from the cart into the boutique. She looked very familiar – and he could see that she, too recognized him from somewhere. She quickly broke from the scene and rushed into the shop. The sounds of heavy renovation – hammering and digging – swept out onto the street from the store.

“Thems pretty girls making big shop for wedding dresses.” The big jailor commented as if to a friend who was new to town and was seeing the sights rather than being locked away. “Pretty, pretty girls with pretty, pretty dresses!”

Daylight gave way to torchlight as they marched deeper into the gaol. Down a winding stairwell, they were led into a darkened cell. The jailor gently laid Wellington Peddicord on a stone slab and shackled his wrist to the wall. Likewise, George found himself being chained to the opposite wall – and for the first time noticed a shadowy figure sitting at the only table in the room.

The jailor walked over to the table and lit a candle that had gone out some time ago. As the match was struck, George knew exactly who they had found.

“Cap’n Hamnquist, I presume.”

“Aye!” Hamnquist replied, “And you must be Slappy’s first mate – the one they call, ‘The Greek.’”

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