Monday, November 02, 2009


Chapter 36

Chapter 36

“It stinks in here.”

Cap’n Slappy slowly turned his head toward Sawbones Burgess in a move not unlike a slow alligator about to take a bite out of an unsuspecting goat. But Slappy was too tired to snap.

“Aye.” He replied accentuating the obvious. “A fetid dungeon wherein dozens of filthy pirates do naught but make more filth and wait for death … bound to be a bit on the ‘stinky’ side.”

Burgess bit back.

“Don’t get snippy with me!”

“Don’t give me cause to snip with your insipidly snippable observations!”

An exchange of elbow jabs lead directly open-handed body slaps which, in turn, de-evolved into the always humorous slap fight. Both men slapping blindly at each others’ faces while bending their upper torsos away from the fracas as best a couple of old pirate could.

Wellington Peddicord stepped in to break it up.

“Enough!” Both men stopped as Peddicord’s considerably expansive reach pushed them too far apart to strike at each other. “We’ve trouble enough without the two of you carrying on like a couple of geriatric guttersnipes!”

“Welly’s right.” Slappy acknowledged. “We can occupy our time with pointless squabbling over olfactorial observations or we can put our exertions to better use by finding a way out of this sewer!”

“See?” Sawbones claimed intellectual victory. “It DOES stink in here.”

“Obviously, it stinks in here.” Peddicord chimed in. “We’re living in an unventilated dark hole with thirty-some odd pirates and their accompanying shit and piss. It’s bound to be a trifle unpleasant-smelling.”

“That’s right, Sawbones.” Slappy added, cheering up to the discussion. “It’s not their fault, really. These men are used to dropping their deuces off the side o’ the ship and sailing away. But there’s no escaping it in here – the horrible stench of human waste.”

“Landlubbers have to live like this every day!” Peddicord added. “Where do you think the contents of the chamber pots go in the morning?”

Burgess joined in the discussion. “I know the answer to this because I am a man of this time period!”

“Yes!” Slappy continued with growing enthusiasm. “But if you weren’t, we would have to explain to you that landlubbers can’t just sail away from their excrement. They toss the contents of those disgusting pots out the window and into the street where they become just one more obstacle for innocent passers-by!”



The three men stood for a moment contemplating the daily lavatory needs of the day with horrified grimaces on their scrunched-up faces.

After a pause.

“You get used to it.” Wellington Peddicord pointed out.

“I already am!” Slappy replied cheerfully. “Now! Let’s get to work on that plan!”

They were interrupted by a low moan from the man chained to the wall. The figure stirred. Anyone who knew him would be hard pressed to recognize the figure of Ensign Marck Ericsson. He had more than a week's worth of facial hair sprouting from his normally impeccably clean shaven face, his usually spotless uniform a sordid, sodden mass of filth and encrusted sweat, and his handsome, beaming face a twisted mask of pain, fear and confusion.

"And who is this unhappy little pirate?" Slappy asked in mock concern.

"Nahpirat," Ericsson slurred through cracked lips. "Offisuh'n'jemmelmannnn."

"Officer and a gentleman, huh?" Slappy said, not sneeringly but with an offhanded good nature. "Well laddie, I'll take you at your word, though you might want to try tucking in your shirt before you try that pose out on the streets. On the other hand, since there's every chance none of us will ever be out on the streets again except for the walk to the gallows, you might want to take the title given you by our guards with a little pride."

Ericsson stared balefully at Slappy.

"No really," the captain continued. "Proud line of work. I would hazard a guess that it's the second oldest profession, oldest at sea. I'd bet there were pirates long before there were naval officers, wouldn't you agree lads?"

It is giving nothing away to the reader to report that every man jack in the gaol agreed, but they never got the chance to voice that opinion for at that moment squealing hinges of the large oak door announcing company. The light from the visitor’s torch was so bright it nearly blinded the prisoners who didn’t have to wait long before finding out the identity of their guest.

“Peeeuw!” The thick French accent was a dead give-away. “What a stink-hole! (spitting) PWAH!”


Ol’ Chumbucket drained his mug and was about to get up and leave McCormack at the pub when Cementhand’s big paw grabbed a hold of his wrist and kept him at the table.

“Wait!” McCormack, usually a man of action, had caught “take-your-time-and-think-this-through fever.”

“They recognized Slappy as a pirate – and then, made the link that those men who fought to help him are also pirates.”

“Yes?” Ol’ Chumbucket replied impatiently. Despite his championing the path of caution, he was, even now, a man on several missions and was feeling the need to get something started.

“Those men who fought with him were also my entire painting crew, right?”

“Correct.” Ol’ Chumbucket could see where this was going and that some re-thinking might be in order.

“Ergo and ipso-facto wouldn’t it stand to reason that I, as their supposed ‘leader’ would also be a pirate? And …”

Chumbucket finished the thought. “And, if we have you go ‘check on the paint’ they’re apt to just throw you in gaol as well.” Ol’ Chumbucket stroked his beard – the stroking of a man in deep thought. McCormack, likewise, stroked his chin – for lack of a beard.

A voice from behind startled the two pirates. “What to do? What to do? What to do?”

“Bernard Jeffries, I presume?” Ol’ Chumbucket didn’t need to even turn around to see who it might be. The voice was oddly familiar and not overly welcome. "That would be the Bernard Jeffries who is the footman, valet, assistant, major domo and general lackey of the bubble-headed governor of this island, and thus the actual ruling authority of Curacao, de jure if not de facto. Yes?"

Jeffries gave a short bow of the head and a smile.

"Among other things," he said. "Among many other things."

“Oooo! A fancy lad!” McCormack clapped his big hands and rubbed them together expectantly. He was always welcoming of the men he called, “fancy lads.” Although he, himself, was solely attracted to women, he believed with all his heart that a party wasn’t a party until the “fancy lads” showed up.

“Gentlemen. If you would be so kind as to join me in my private room? I believe we have a few things to discuss.”

Chumbucket gave a look at the stout oak door to which Jeffries referred and gave a polite shake of his head.

"If it's all the same to you, I'd just as soon not put myself behind a heavy door with the man whose associates have our associates behind even heavier doors."

"Ah, a wise precaution, IF you were the associates of pirates, but since that would make you pirates as well and any loyal citizen of this colony would have to summon the constabulary, I'm sure that's not what you're suggesting. Especially since I really need to speak with you."

"I'm afraid the need is not mutual," Chumbucket said, with a glance towards the front door of the tavern. He was surprised to see it wasn't guarded.

"I really think a sharing of information would be mutually advantageous," Jeffries persisted.

"It might also be disastrous," Chumbucket said. "What do you say, "McCormack."

Before Cementhands could reply, Jeffries cut in.

"As to the identity of the foreman of the painting party, no one official has yet commented on the fact that his entire crew turned out to be pirates, but even the dunderheads in office can't be that stupid for that long," Jeffries said. "You see, I'm willing to lay my cards on the table."

"I'm of a mind to continue playing this close to the vest," Chumbucket said. "But thanks for the tip."

"I might also comment that your own identity is not unknown," Jeffries continued, and should you attempt to enter the jail, you're unlikely to leave except feet first."

"You seem more familiar with our plans than I'm entirely comfortable with," Chumbucket said, fingering the butt of the pistol tucked into his sash. He thought about koshing the fellow and leaving him trussed up somewhere, like maybe the harbor bottom, but shook off the temptation. His dance card was too full this morning. Instead, a thought occurred to him.

"But, if it's any interest to you, I have no intention of going anywhere near the gaol," he said.

For the first time, he had caught Jeffries by surprise.

"You don't? I mean, you do? Wait – " the valet ran Chumbucket's sentence back and forth a couple of times, trying to figure out the right response. Finally he gave up and started over. "You're not going near the gaol.

Cementhands had much less trouble expressing his own surprise.

"We're not??!?"

"I didn't say we, Cementhands, I said me – well, I actually since I was using the subjective instead of the objective. The point is, I'm not going to the goal."


"Oh no. I have a wedding to attend."

Jeffries caught on quickly, Cementhands more slowly.

"If that's the case, I'm afraid you may find yourself in our gaol more quickly than you think," Jeffries said. "You should enjoy it, it's been painted the most beautiful, restful shades I have ever seen in a municipal building. Then, of course, you'll die."

Chumbucket shrugged.

"I'll take my chances. In the meantime, let's go, Cementhands."

They strode out the door, missing the look of regret on Jeffries face.

"I really wish he'd have listened to me," the man said with regret. "Well, we'll see how it all turns out soon enough."


Jean Pierre de la Muqueux looked through his spyglass from his perch on the bow of Neptune’s Man Nipples. The sun was setting and he was trying to maintain a safe distance from Westpunt and any Dutch warships that may be patrolling the area.

“Mon Capitaine!” a nervous French pirate tugged at Muqueux’s shirt.

Muqueux snapped his spyglass shut and growled in a whisper. “There is only one, ‘mon Capitaine’ of this ship and Fifi LeFleur is his name!”

“Oui! Messier Muqueux!” the pirate half-bowed and half-saluted. “But if you please – what do you see out there?”


“Dutch war ships?”


“Dutch merchant ships?”

“No.” Muqueux turned and took another look – then turned back calmly.

“Ready the guns – we may have some company.”

“Oui, Messier Muqueux! Who shall I say we are expecting.”

Muqueux closed his spyglass again and tucked it in his belt. “Ships with guns.”

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