Tuesday, November 02, 2010


The Curacao Caper - Chapter 41

The guards thrust Ol' Chumbucket and Mad Sally into a small room off the governor's office. While the office was a grand room with French windows opening onto the square, the room the two pirates found themselves pushed into was not much larger than a closet, with no windows.

They were shoved roughly through the doorway and heard the door slam and the lock turn before they could even turn around. Ol' Chumbucket turned to examine the door, then turned to face Mad Sally. His timing was perfect, as he faced her just in time for her to catch him with a roundhouse right that sent him reeling back across the confined space, colliding with the door and slumping to the floor.

"What the hell was THAT all about!" she shouted at him. "How dare you fuck up my plans? You plan fucker!"

Groggy from his head coming into sharp contact with the door, he managed to put a finger to his lips in the international "Shhhhh!" symbol, then pointed to the closed door.

"Don't 'Shush' me" she said vehemently, albeit at a lower decibel level. "It was all right there. All right there! In another half hour I'd have been married to the governor, a half hour after that he'd have been dead and I'd have been on my way to Westpunt with ... well, with what I came here for."

"And that was?" Chumbucket asked, rising unsteadily to his feet.

"None of your damn business!"

"Alright then, we're still playing that game, the one where we're on opposite sides and screwing up each other's plans."

"Don't get in my way and you won't have to worry about your precious plans," she sneered.

"Now, dear, let's look at this logically ..." Chumbucket started, but that's all he got out.

"Don't 'dear' me, you bastard. This isn't Anguilla or Barbados. Of all the stupid things to say – 'She's married to me.' No one would believe it for a second! Like I'd marry you or anyone else."

"That statement would sound more convincing if you weren't wearing a – I have to say it – very lovely wedding dress."

"Yes, well, it's not like it was going to be a real marriage. Just long enough for me to become his widow."

"The Widow Wubbeldinker?," a wide grin split his face. "I like it. I like it a lot. But Sally, it's true. You married me back in Santiago 21 years ago."

"I did nothing of the sort!" she retorted. "I remember Santiago very well, I wasn't the one who was drunk most of the time we were there, and I think I'd remember if I married you."

"Well, sure, if I had told you about it."


"Remember that tattoo parlor?"

"Of course, we barely got away with ..."

"With our lives, yes I know," Chumbucket said "But before that. Do you remember the Spanish guy at the counter? He asked us a bunch of questions, and you remarked that it seemed like a lot of questions just to get a tattoo, but I told you it was a formality by the Spanish Office of Health and Inquisition and just say 'Si' to whatever he asked?"

Sally raised an eyebrow and stared at Chumbucket with such an intensity that he lowered his eyes.

"You bastard! You didn't!" she said.

"I'm afraid I did," Chumbucket said sheepishly. "The guy at the counter was an old friend of mine from back when I was working a clergy scam. He was a friar sent to the New World to save the savage's souls before stealing their land, and he sort of drifted from that to tattooing and body piercing." Chumbucket fingered the earring dangling from his lobe as he said this. "So there we were and he owed me a favor and ..."

He didn't finish the thought because Sally belted him again. Stars flashed in his eyes as his head caromed off the door frame and he again found himself on the floor.

"Quiet in there," shouted the guard outside.

"Would you please stop that?" Chumbucket hissed at her.

"What the hell were you thinking, you idiot"

Chumbucket felt he was making progress. "Idiot" was probably better than "bastard" and a far cry from “plan fucker.”

"Well, I was in love with you ..." he said.

"And I was in love with you, but we didn't need a piece of paper to prove it."

"Well, technically, we didn't get a piece of paper, the marriage certificate is tattooed to my skin."

"You said that was the opening lines to some play you'd seen in Madrid."

"I lied."


So much for progress.

"But why?" she demanded. "You asked me a couple of times about getting married and I know I said absolutely not. The last thing I wanted then - or now - is to turn into a married lady."

"I know. So I figured this way we'd both get what we wanted – I'd be married to you, you'd have the legal protection, I'd have you as a wife but you wouldn't have to turn into a married lady because you wouldn't know about it. Besides, I've known about it for 21 years and I never turned into a 'married man,' did I?""

Sally stared at Ol' Chumbucket. Of all the things they'd been through, together and apart, who would ever have expected this?

"Well Chumbucket" she said, "That's the sweetest thing I think I've ever heard. Also the stupidest, the most insulting, but sweet too, I'll give you that. But then you stopped asking ..."

"Because I knew we were already married, didn't really see the point of asking again ... Although I recognize now how foolish that was," he added hurriedly as she cocked her fist again.

She dropped her hand and shook her head.

"What's done is done," she said. "Help me with this."

Mad Sally reached under her voluminous skirts and began unfastening the tie that held the bustle in place.

"Well, I applaud the idea," Chumbucket said, stepping towards her with a familiar gleam in his eye, "but I really don't think we have time, and I don't think I could do my best work with guards right outside the door."

Her glare froze him.

"Do you want me to hit you again?" she asked. "Hold this."

Reaching under her skirt again, she drew out a pair of perfectly balanced throwing knives that she handed to Ol' Chumbucket and reached back underneath. Next came a pair of small pistols that she passed over to him.

"They're only .25 caliber," she said apologetically, "they might not stop a man, but they'll slow him down."

Next she withdrew a dirk and a set of brass knuckles. The boning of her corset yielded a pair of nasty looking curved blades and a heavy cudgel. By now her wedding gown was considerably less grand, veil, bustle, petticoats strewn about the room as she extracted weapons. Yet Chumbucket couldn't help noticing that she still looked great – in fact maybe better than she had before. There was something dead sexy about the way the remaining fabric clung to her curves.

"There," she said, extracting a boarding ax from the bustle. "That's everything."

"Gee, and I thought I was doing good to get my pistol, cutlass and these knives into the church," Chumbucket said ruefully.

"It's not your fault," she said with a touch of condescension, "I had more layers to work with. Now how do we get the guards to open the door?"

"There's always this," Chumbucket said, walking over to the heavy oak panel. He rapped on it and called out, "Guards! Guards! Open this door please!"

He winked at Sally and said, "You've gotta say please. It's just good manners."

There was no response – from the guards or Sally – so he rapped again and repeated his request, making sure to emphasize "please."

There was the sound of muttered talking and footsteps from the adjacent room, then a voice called from the other side of the door, "Quiet in there!"

"But I'd like you to please open the door," Chumbucket said.

"No way. The governor will be here soon and he'll decide what to do with you."

"But what about his orders?" Chumbucket said. "Weren't his exact words, 'keep an eye on them?'"

"Yeah, what of it?"

"Well, how can you keep an eye on us if we're in different rooms?"

There was a moment's pause and the sound of a confused conversation. Finally, the voice answered again.

"It's a figure of speech, he meant for us to keep you from escaping."

Chumbucket's eyes grew wide with excitement and he whispered to Sally, "Oh this is too good to pass up." Then he said to the door, "Are you sure of that? Is the governor often given rise to flights of poetic fancy?"

"What? I don't know about no poetry, but he meant for us to keep you until he gets here."

"Ahhh," Chumbucket said. "You mean it's a metaphor."

"A what?"

"A metaphor. A metaphor."

"What's a metaphor?"

"For grazing sheep," Chumbucket said, chuckling at having had the chance to use one of the oldest, hoariest jokes in the book.

"I don't get it," the guard said.

"No, they never do," Chumbucket sighed. "And normally I'd love the chance to discuss rhetorical devices, but right now I need help handling this naked woman."

"This WHAT?"

"The countess is having some kind of fit. I believe she's not comfortable in enclosed places. She's thrown off half her garments in a shocking manner. So I was wondering if you could please come in here and help me control her before she's completely naked, writhing sensuously on the floor in nothing but her soft, supple skin, as naked as the day she was born but not nearly so innocent. Please."

"Well, that's different then," the guard's voice said with a sudden, hurried alertness. "Hold on a minute."

Sally snatched up the cudgel and stood by the door, glaring at Chumbucket as he stepped back and leveled the two pistols. From the other side they heard the sound of a key turning in the lock, the bolt drawing back. Chumbucket tossed a handful of the discarded fabric from Sally's dress into the air as the first guard rushed in.

"What's all this then?" the man shouted, the rest of the detachment behind him struggling to get through the doorway all at once. The guard never found out what it all was, because Sally stepped out and rapped him sharply on the head with the club and he crumpled.

The eyes of the other guards, who were caught by their own numbers in the doorway, went very wide. Chumbucket picked the one in the center and fired point blank. Held in place by the press of men behind him, he didn't fall right away, but a red stain blossomed on the front of his uniform. The other men reeled back, and he fell.

"Well, seems to have stopped him," Chumbucket said, tossing the smoking pistol aside. "Now who's for the other?"

The guards were dashing around the room trying to draw weapons but one fell with Sally's throwing knife in his throat. The rest saw the pistol leveled at them, and Sally raising a second knife while clutching the boarding ax in her other hand. The guards still outnumbered the prisoners 8 to 2, and could probably subdue them with the loss of only two more soldiers. But none of the eight wanted to be the two, so they all raised their hands.

Ten minutes later they lay on the floor trussed like so many Christmas geese, their hands and ankles bound with strips from Sally's dress, gags in their mouths. Sally had her ear to the office door as Chumbucket stood up after securing the last of the guards.

"I don't hear anything. Le's go."

"Nothing?" Chumbucket asked incredulously. "How did no one hear that? Either there are no more guards in the place, or the governor has recruited a deaf detachment. Or ..."

"Don't know, don't care," Sally said, impatient and unwilling to listen as he enumerated the possibilities. "Let's go."


"Down the stairs, then out the back."

"And then?"

"You go your way, I've got my business to attend to." She opened the door and slid into the hallway. He followed, taking her elbow and spinning her to a stop at the top of the grand staircase.

"Wait, let's sort this out. I think you're after the same thing we are, and for the same reason."

"I doubt we have the same reason."

"Hamnquist. The treasure."

Sally looked him square in the eye.

"Hamnquist, yes. But the treasure has nothing to do with it."

"Then what?"

"I have to clear his name for the family honor."


"He's my father."

If a pirate could ever be said to "goggle," that's exactly what Ol' Chumbucket did. Sally turned to go but he stopped her again.

"He's your ..."

"My father. Which under the circumstances makes him your father in law, doesn't it?"

No question – Ol' Chumbucket was now in full "goggle" mode, his eyes bugging out and his mouth hanging open. At least, Sally noticed, he wasn't talking. That was something.

"Let's go, she said, starting down the stairs.

She was almost halfway down before he'd recovered enough to hurriedly follow her. He caught up to her at the bottom, where she had suddenly come to an abrupt stop.

Standing before her was Gov. Wubbeldinker flanked by another half dozen guards. There was no chance of surprise this time – the guards looked younger than the contingent that had just been mowed down in pie alley, but they were all peering at the two pirates down the barrels of their bayoneted muskets.

"Ah, Countess Sonja, or whoever you are. If I heard you correctly just now and that pirate we're about to hang is your father, I guess that means you're not the countess at all," the governor said, shaking his head sadly.

"Darling! I had to tell him something," Sally said, throwing her hands in the air and starting towards the governor. She stopped as the governor took a step back and the soldiers closed ranks, their bayonet inches from her chest.

"Not darling, I’m afraid. The young Miss Hamnquist? I should have recognized you," the governor said. "Or I guess it's Mrs. ... Mrs. What?" he said, turning his eyes to Ol' Chumbucket, who had been edging slightly to the side in the hopes of flanking the guards. The muskets moved to cover him.

"That would be telling," Chumbucket said.

"Well, it would be nice to know, to make sure I've got all the loose ends tied up, but I'm not one of those villains who just talks and talks and never gets around to villainy. So, while it's hardly the wedding night I'd planned, and I'd have loved the chance to marry into the royal family because you just never know what quirk of fate might propel you to the throne, I think I'll just take my chances and end this now."

"Guards," the governor said. "Kill them."

A shot rang out.

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