Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Chapter 30 - "What the Devil Are They Up To?"

“Where are you going, Uncle Fifi?”

“I’m going to the theatre! If we are to make the cake for the Governor’s command performance of the opera, it would do us well to know what the story is.”

Young Jacques continued mixing frosting. “But we’ve got the D’Agustino wedding and the Shapiro Bar Mitzvah to finish this afternoon!”

“Sheet cakes and matzo balls! Simple! You and Luc have things under control. Luc could do this by himself, blindfolded! Besides, I won’t be gone but an hour or two.”

Luc Duvall, who was actually blindfolded at the time, moved with dancer-like grace from one pot to another stirring as he went and using nothing but his nose for quality control.

“Oui, mon maestro-chef! You go flounce about with your theater folk – we’ll handle the cooking and baking!”

LeFleur snarled slightly at the use of the word, “flounce,” but it was clear that some of his menace had evaporated in his new line of work. It was difficult to be a terrifying sociopathic caterer.

He made his way through the cobblestone streets of Willemstad toward the opera house at the center of town and in the process found himself, in fact, “flouncing.” The hop in his step could have been attributed to the unevenness of the roadway – but in his heart, he knew that for the first time in his life he was happy – truly happy – in the work he was doing. The flouncing was soon accompanied by a little song borrowed from pirate life;

Fifteen bakers on a cheese soufflé
Yo Ho Ho and a dash of salt!
Ham omelets with a Belgian waffle!
Yo Ho Ho with some syrup on top!

This peppy mood carried him to the front door of the theatre where he was arriving at the same time as a group of Dutch painters. He pulled open the large door and made a sweeping gesture of good will that invited the workers to enter before him. “Messieurs, après vous, si vous plais.”

As the portly leader of the painters passed, he replied, “Merci, monsieur.”

The moment of bilingual politeness was barely punctuated when the two froze in simultaneous recognition of each other.




“Just one little kissipoo, my delicate little flower of maidenhood?”

The pucker on Governor Roelof Van Wubbeldinker’s pudgy puss looked like a swollen sponge with comical facial caricatures attached for the traumatizing effects they may have on small children – a toy made by the world’s meanest toymaker. Still, despite her vigorous protestations the governor soldiered on in his wooing.

“Come now my turtle dove, we are less than two weeks away from the joys of wedded bliss – don’t you want to give daddy a little sugar?”

Mad Sally – in the guise of Countess Sonja – kept her amorous betrothed at arm’s length – literally – by employing an alternating stiff arm technique that started at the governor’s chest and moved upward toward his advancing gob. She coupled this defensive posture with what she believed were well-reasoned arguments in favor of continued abstinence.

“Oh, but darling, you don’t want to spoil our wedding night with unseemly and untimely displays of carnality, do you?”

This argument – or perhaps the word, “carnality” seemed only to fan the flames of Van Wubbeldinker’s ardor and she had to add a sharp blow to his snout with her fan which she snapped shut when used as a weapon.

Her attaché, Ensign Marck Ericsson set his hand on his dagger – ready to defend his lady’s honor – even from her fiancé if necessary. The young red-headed man shook his head at the ensign as if to say, “You needn’t worry about Countess Sonja – she’s fended off worse than this.”

The short sharp shock of the blow to the nose only temporarily stunned the governor who, though not the brightest star in the Dutch firmament, knew when it was time to change tactics. “Pouting” was next in his foreplay repertoire.

“I was assured by Nanna that once I was engaged to be married it would be fine in the eyes of The Baby Jesus for me to grab the boobies and kiss … with moistened tongue … my virgin bride!”

Sally laughed and snorted through her nose at the word, “virgin.” Her red-headed ward snorted similarly.

“Quiet, you!” she quipped with a stern but humored glance.

She quickly turned back to her suitor and husband-to-be.

“Soon, my darling. Very soon. You will get everything … and I mean, ‘Ev-er-y-thing’ of which you are so richly deserving.” The use of her tongue on the words, “everything” and “richly” seemed to have a hypnotic effect on her would-be lover – at least for the moment.

But that moment was all she needed as the doors to the governor’s rumpus room burst open and Bernard Jeffries hurried to the divan upon which the governor and the countess reposed.

“Oh, for pity sake, Jiffy, what is it!?!” Van Wubbeldinker snapped.

“Begging your lordship’s and Countess Sonja’s pardon but I have an important matter of state security of which your lordship must be made aware.”

“Well?!?” Governor Van Wubbeldinker gestured impatiently – rolling his hand in order to hurry up the report.

“As a matter of state security, this is for your lordship’s ears only.” Jeffries spoke carefully glancing warily at Countess Sonja and her entourage of two. She picked up her cue and used it as her means of escape.

“Quite right, Mister Jeffries!”

“But …!” Van Wubbeldinker argued, “But in only a week you shall be my governess – my little doll of heaving gigantic breasts!”

Everyone in the room, except for the governor, winced at this most recent attempt at a term of endearment – he, however seemed quite pleased with it. His misuse of the word, “governess” went uncorrected.

“As charming as you are, my darling,” Countess Sonja replied, summoning up a look of affection like a necromancer bringing the dead to life, “this sounds like a conversation for men – and a wee-widdle-woman like me would only get flustered and confused. I shall sequester myself away until our wedding night – and dream only of you!”

As she departed with her men, she blew the governor a chaste kiss. He returned this show of affection with a blown kiss of his own – extending his tongue and rolling it about in the air like a ravenous aardvark scooping out a large mound of particularly juicy ants.

Again, everyone except the governor shuddered and winced.

Once the rumpus room doors closed behind Countess Sonja and her men, the governor shot Bernard Jeffries a diabolical look.

“This had better be good, Jiffy!”

“Was your lordship aware of some sprucing up going on at the gaol?” Bernard Jeffries was uncharacteristically blunt.

“You interrupted my sexual dynamism to ask me about a beautification project in one of our fine city’s most dingy of places?”

Jeffries was caught off guard for a moment. “Dynamism” - no matter how badly used the word was for this instance - was not a word that Roeloff Van Wubbeldinker should know, much less use in a sentence.

The governor continued, “Why should I not be made aware of these projects, Bernard?” Van Wubbeldinker’s voice was laced with suspicion.

“Because,” Jeffries answered quickly – as if the answer were manifestly clear to everyone. “At this busy time, your lordship should leave the minutia of day-to-day social improvement projects to his subordinates whose minds are free from the burdens of broader governance.”

Governor Roeloff Van Wubbeldinker arose from the divan and moved with cat-like grace in a circle around Bernard Jeffries. After several passes, he stopped and looked his gentleman’s gentleman directly in the eye.

“I see what this is, you know.” Van Wubbeldinker said calmly.

“You do?” Jeffries was tongue-tied.

“I do.” He began circling again as he continued. “And I must say I am surprised at you, Jiffy.”

“You are?” Jeffries tried to remember if he’d strapped on his boot knife that morning as he worked to master his facial expression.

“I am.” The governor broke away from the circle and went to open the door – inviting Jeffries to leave him. “And I must say, jealousy does not become you.”

Jeffries breathed a sigh of relief. “It doesn’t. Does it?”

“No, my faithful manservant, it does not! But you shall just have to become used to the fact that you are not my only subordinate – and with my impending niptuals, you move further down the chain of command.” The governor offered a sweeping gesture with his hand – inviting Jeffries to leave through the door he had just opened.

Jeffries jumped at his chance not only to leave, but to re-establish the tenor of their banter. “Of course, your lordship is absolutely correct.” And pausing before he exited the room added, “Except in your use of the word, ‘niptuals.’ I believe the correct pronunciation is ‘nuptials.’ If I’m not mistaken.”

“Are you sure, Jiffy?”

“Quite, your lordship.”

“Even when the woman you’re marrying has such commanding …” Here, words once again failed the governor who now resorted to using his hands to illustrated cartoonishly large breasts that he pretended to knead with groping fingers.

“Even so, your lordship.”

“Ah, Jiffy, what would I do without you?”

“A hypothetical that boggles the mind, your lordship.”

And with that, Bernard Jeffries exited the room and the governor closed the large door behind him. Now alone, his face shifted from vapid banality to something that showed more cunning – more menace. After a few moments, there came another knock on the rumpus room door. Van Wubbeldinker resumed his self-mocking caricature as he opened it – only to drop that as soon as he saw who his visitor was.

“Hims drew another map for Master.”

Van Wubbeldinker pulled the giant jailor into the room and quickly closed the door behind them.

“Well, let’s see if this one makes any more sense than the others!”


As darkness fell on the waterfront, Ol’ Chumbucket stood at the helm of The Festering Boil as the wenches from the dress shop trickled back aboard The Poison Pearl – a few at a time so as not to draw any notice.

“What the devil is Sally up to?” He wondered to himself. “And what the devil are those wenches up to?”

Young Gabriel, who had been taking care of the Boil in the absence of anyone else with more nautical know-how, saw all this pondering and framed the question out loud.

“Dames, huh?” The mundane statement made strange by the fact that it was being uttered in a bell-like soprano voice.

Ol’ Chumbucket looked the lad in the face and simply agreed. “Who can know ‘em?”

Gabriel smiled. He loved “man talk.” He spit a wad of tobacco into a strategically located chum bucket. “The hell if I know!”

“I thought McCormack didn’t want you cussin’ lad – he says it’s unseemly for midgets to cuss.”

“I AINT NO MIDGET! And accordin’ to The Good Book, kids cussin’ is just fine!” The smile on Ol’ Chumbucket’s face told Gabriel that he was just havin’ him on for a bit o’ sport. He nodded and smiled – besides, he was just making up that stuff about The Good Book – having never read it himself, he liked to quote what he thought it should say whenever he thought it served his purpose.

“You know, lad, The Good Book is surprisingly silent on the issue o’ the youngsters usin’ earthy curse words.” Ol’ Chumbucket pointed out – having actually read The Good Book himself during his younger days.

“God damn right it is!” Gabriel agreed wholeheartedly.

“But it’s downright rigid about blasphemin’.”

Gabriel looked a bit confused for the moment.

“Takin’ the Lord’s name in vain.” Ol’ Chumbucket clarified.

“No shit?” Gabriel asked.

“None whatsoever.” Chumbucket verified. “Shhh!”

Ol’ Chumbucket had seen the figure of a man coming down the dock and begin talking to Maggie, the matronly leader of the “seamstresses.” He couldn’t make out much of what was being said, but Gabriel’s young ears heard Maggie ask, “Is this from Sally herself?” as the young man handed her a piece of paper. The light from a lantern on the dock verified for Ol’ Chumbucket that the man in question had – red hair.

At barely a whisper, Gabriel and Ol’ Chumbucket asked the same question aloud.

“What the devil is she up to?”

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