A Caribbean Tale (revised)

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksiesilk Classic Group

Featured Review on this writing by Amy F. Turner


A Caribbean Tale (revised)

Adrift in strange latitudes, a young woman gazed beyond the shifting currents to a dot on the horizon. Tiny waves lapped her vessel's hull. On the boards of her dory sat a purse with a vial of sparkling fairy dust and pieces of amber. She'd brutally gained these treasures and now needed to watch her back.

She lifted her spyglass, and, as the ship drew nearer, she noted the Jolly Roger hoisted to its mainmast. Seabirds circled as she lifted her face to the sun's radiance. An updraft lifted her lush hair.

On the pirate's approach, she waved a silk handkerchief, but many were the crewman who feared an antic ocean, and most thought her a mermaid.

She quickly called out, holding her head aloft while her locks whipped in the salty breeze.

"Ahoy, Captain, these are strange latitudes, and I fear I'm in desperate straits."

 "Hard over!" yelled the pirate captain, "bring her about."

"Aye, Captain, boom about," called his helmsman.

As the pirates tacked, the Captain ordered a rope ladder over the side.

The lady slipped the purse into the folds of her garments.

She grabbed an oar and paddled. When within reach, she leaped onto the ladder. Her toes dragged on the waves, and a shark glided by. Tumbling head over petticoats onto the deck, she jumped to her feet.

A bedraggled seaman offered his hand, but she grabbed a marlin spike and dealt him a blow to the head.

"Will you have more?" she hissed. She pulled the knife from the pirate's waistband and stepped forward with a slashing motion.

"I'll cut you to pieces!"

The Captain's voice rang out above the pirate mob.

"I fail to see why you gentlemen make it so consistently hard on yourselves. Offer the poor girl tea, for heaven's sake."

"Aye, Captain, fetch the tea service, boys; what about crumpets?"

"Well, Goldman, I shouldn't think we have any."

"Aye, then it'll be sea biscuits for sure, Captain. Argh, did ye mark the backside on that lass?"

The excellent lady brandished her weapons and advanced on Goldman.

He cowered away.

She tossed her weapons aside and took the Captain's arm.

"Thanks for the lift, lover. Strange latitudes, eh?"

"I'll ask the questions, young lady. How is it you became stranded?"

She grasped the ship's rail and stared out over the ocean.

"Perhaps by misadventure. Unless it's a dream, I'm guilty of a crime."

"But, dear, do not equivocate. What sort of crime?"

"Some called it a murder."

"Yes, dear, but a murder of whom?"

"It was not a whom; she was a thing—a rancid little think who flit fornicatiously about thinking nothing but pure thoughts."

"You don't mean to say…?"

"Yes," returned the lady, "I murdered a fairy. I stepped on the blithering slut, and drew the boy's disfavor."

"The boy?" Captain asked.

"How quickly you forget your past, El Capetian."

The Captain took a step back. An expression of confusion spread over his face.

Pickles, his parrot, flew from his shoulder and landed on a spar.

"Braaaak! Fallen fairies tell no tales!"

The lady jerked the Captain's flintlock from his belt and took aim.

"I'm terribly sorry about this."

A shot rang out, and Pickles exploded in a burst of green feathers.

"I had great empathy for Pickles, but there's no use crying over spilled milk,"

"Or fornicatious dead fairies," added the lady, picking up a green feather and tickling the Captain's nose.

"I shouldn't think so. Would you mind very much if I called you, Tink? I'm especially fond of the name." The Captain giggled effeminately.

"That depends. How big is your treasure chest?"

"Well, if you don't mind my saying, it's quite large— I've had no complaints."

"I'll just bet you haven't," she said coyly. "But why does your crew leer at me so? I've done them no harm."

"There, there, Tink, your safety is guaranteed."

"Perhaps the lady is no lady, called a voice from the pirate mob.

Cradles, a desperate-looking fellow with a toothless mouth, jumped to the fore, pulled a squeeze box out of an open barrel crushed out a tune. He rushed to the Captain with a startled expression.

"Perhaps, she's a mermaid from Neverland."

He ran to the poop deck, high-stepping and crushing.

"How very loathsome," she said, sniffing and calling for his immediate execution.

"Are you quite sure of this, Madam? Cradles is a fine seaman."

"Good for a keel hauling, I'd say."

Cradles leaped from the deck and ran to the Captain. "I say she's a witch, Captain."

She batted her eyes and looked askance. "Waste no time in sending this fool to the bottom."

The Captain became very serious. "You've had quite a run of it, woman. But I'm afraid it's time you walked the plank."

"I've always been keen on romantic farewells," she said breathlessly. "Remember me always."

With that, she dove into the ocean, grabbed hold of a dolphin then sailed to the offing.

 

***

 

The Captain shrugged, then went below decks to study his charts. The ship sailed on under blue skies, its main mast creaking, its sails billowing while its bow cut the emerald expanse.

Night approached. The sails slackened under a listless breeze. Each man received a measure of grog, a salted fish, and a ship's biscuit.

Cradles took up his squeeze box and sang a mournful tune.

Oh, if only me mother hadn't

Jumped off the quay

And sank to the bottom

While they pulled me away

I'd still be a lubber on land and

Not sea. And not have the hangman

Still following me…

They drifted through an infusion of moonlight and fog, then crossed suddenly from darkness to a sunlit realm. An island with jungle and white beaches lay before them. Goldman ran to the companionway and called for the Captain.

"I hope you have a sufficient reason for disturbing me, Goldman."

"Aye, Captain, but the sky is queer, mighty queer."

The Captain came out of his quarters, blinking at the shaft of light pouring down the companionway stairs.

"What is the hour, Goldman?"

"Three a.m. Captain. We sail the Caribbean."

The Captain walked across the main deck and stood in the bow.

"And it's a queer-looking island," Goldman said, coming alongside his Captain.

"Indeed, it is, Goldman, uncharted. Fetch my sextant."

Goldman ran below decks, reappearing with the Captain's instrument a moment later.

The Captain maneuvered the sextant's filters and calibrated the barrels. He pointed its telescope at the sun and adjusted the mirrors. He couldn't draw the sun to the horizon for all his effort. He instructed Goldman to drop a sounding line.

Goldman took the line to a small platform on the ship's side.

"On the chains, Captain."

"Plummet away,"

"Aye, Captain, by the mark, she's seven fathoms, but by the deep, she's eight. An uneven bottom, sir."

"Prepare to drop anchor, Goldman. Then bring her broadside and have her steady. Peters! Gather your cannoneers and be at the ready."

Goldman shouted orders, "Foxwood, unlash the main anchor. Cradles, prepare to drive the chain wedge. "All hands clear! Have on it, Cradles. Let her dredge."

Cradles dealt the wedge a blow. The anchor plunged into the ocean, dragging the unraveling chain violently off the windlass across the deck, following fast through a scupper.

The Captain took up his spyglass and studied the shoreline while cradles stood at his side.

"She's three hundred yards off, Cradles. I see no movement beyond breezes in the treetops. 

Prepare a skiff for lowering. Goldman! Have Peters give the tree line a taste of our cannons."

Goldman passed the order, and shock waves ripped the air a moment later. The ship rolled to port and righted itself. Salvos tore into the jungle. A thousand colorful birds flew into the air.

The Captain watched for movement and then called to his first mate.

"See to the ship's discipline. I'll have a closer look at this island. Cradles, see we are well-armed and that our powder is dry."

The Captain and Cradles lowered away together.

Cradles pushed off the ship and locked his oars. A thick mist engulfed them as he rowed through to the breaking beach. They bottomed out in the shallows, dragging across the sandy bottom as they leaped into the surf to pull the boat ashore. Sand stretched north and south to the vanishing points. The jungle lay before them. The Captain looked to the sea but saw only the glimmering ocean and its line on the horizon. He called out to Cradles as they hauled their boat higher on the beach.

"The ship," he yelled over the breaking surf. He pointed out to sea.

"She's gone—sailed around the island, Captain?"

"After having dropped anchor. What of the fog bank?"

"Gone as well, Captain."

The Captain walked to the jungle's impenetrable edge, only then remembering something of its lost interiors. A stand of palm-like trees with oval fruit clusters stood nearby. One fruit fell to the ground, and he picked it up, tearing its skin, inhaling a glistening spume; a syrupy odor brought back a distant memory. The jungle's flora rioted before him, impassable, shrinking away or clamping carnivorously at the touch of a hand. He glanced at Cradles.

"Oh, mother!" Cradles cried, suddenly transforming into a youth and disappearing into the foliage.

Hook rubbed his eyes, growing dizzy in the swirling verdancy. Against reason, he stumbled forward. Finding a pool, he fell to his knees and splashed water on his face. The droplets hovered in the air, turning to fires and shooting into the jungle. He stumbled to his feet, pulled along by a whispering breeze as the jungle fell into position behind him. He reached for his compass and held it steady. The needle spun in every direction. He searched for the sky and found it lost beyond the canopy. Time stood still or rushed forward; he could not say. What had been whispers gained steadily in volume, becoming the laughter of many women. He lay on his stomach and crawled, pushing foliage aside. A lagoon lay before him, surrounded by flattened boulders on which mermaids sunned themselves while tying flowers in their hair and softly slapping their variegated tails on the rocks. 

There came a swell from the center of the lagoon. Amber emerged and swam to the rocks. The other mermaids attended their queen.

He heard a rustling above his head and looked up to see a young boy smiling at him through the leaves. The boy leaped to the ground and drew his sword.

"En Garde, Hook!"

 

 


Submitted: July 15, 2022

© Copyright 2022 Laird. All rights reserved.

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Amy F. Turner

What a lofty tale of cheeky pirates! Quite amusing too besides being well written. Thank you for sharing.

Mon, October 3rd, 2022 7:03am

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