May 12, 2010

Short Story: Bloody Mary ©

For your enjoyment - a short story I wrote a couple of years ago:
Bloody Mary ©

“Avast ye stinkin’ dogs! Get that midsail in afore we snap a mast,” yelled Bloody Mary, the captain of the Salty Dog. The wind had been steadily picking up and the waves were beginning to fling foam across the deck. The ship itself was as gnarled and cracked as the captain’s face. As the ship groaned and moaned in protest on the heaving ocean, so the Captain snarled and swore under his breath as his crew went about their tasks.

A young lad of no more than 13 years, hair bleached white by the sun, raced up to the captain, saluted in a half-hearted way and said, “Beggin’ the Captain’s pardon.”

“What is it Shirley?” asked the Captain. Shirley Temple was the name given to each new cabin boy until he’d “earned his stripes”. Upon earning a commission to general seamen, he was then granted a proper nickname.

“The cook, Tom Collins, he sez we gotta find port soon, as we done run outta flour and them tater’s eyes are growing noses and such,” the boy replied in a rushed voice.

“T’aint nothin’ we ain’t lived through afore,” growled Bloody Mary, “Tell him to serve an extra ration of rum tonight and the men’ll hardly notice.”

“Oh, but Bloody Mary Sir, we’re plum outta rum too see!” the boy took a step back, and put his arm up in self defence, waiting for the Captain’s blow.

“Blast the scurvy mongrel,” screeched the Captain, reaching around to grab the boy by the collar, “Tell the good-for-nothing, low-down, mud-swilling toad, that he’d better find something to keep the crew happy, or we’ll have a mutiny!”

The boy nodded quickly and executing a quick salute at the spluttering captain, he made his way down to the mess.

“Right!” yelled the captain, “Daiquiri and Harvey Wallbanger, yez fellas go below decks and see what yez can scrounge up for food and booze. Maybe there’s a barrel of somethin’ we’ve missed. But find something, or there’s going to be hell to pay. We won’t be getting into port until sometime tomorrow afternoon, so get busy!”

Daiquiri and Harvey had been with the captain for over 20 years, and were quick to head below decks in search of sustenance.

The picking’s had been lean lately, and Captain Bloody Mary was worried. The last two ships they had plundered had contained cargo hardly more precious than tea-chests filled with tea-leaves and several harpsichords, bound for England. The thought of the wasted time and lives made him curse under his breath. He’d lost his best mates Tequila Sunrise and Pina Colada, and Singapore Sling was still recovering from his wounds.

The Captain shook his head, his mind returning to the good old days, when he’d been cabin boy on the Jolly Roger. A corner of his mouth lifted in memory of those days. He’d been known as Virgin Mary back then.

Baptised Mary Francis Black, by an indifferent father too apathetic after sixteen children to care anymore what the child was named, he’d learned to fight his way in and out of trouble before he the age of six. When he was ten, he heard the Jolly Roger had berthed nearby and had shown up on deck with his few belonging tied up in a large kerchief.

“Please sir,” he’d said to the first seamen he saw, “I wanna join yez and be a pirate and get treasures and stuff. I’m a good fighter I am.”

The crewman looked at the scrawny boy, who was short for his age with large protruding ears. “So what do they call ye then meboy?” he asked.
The boy blushed in embarrassment and muttered, “Blacky sir. They call me Blacky.”

The crewman noticed the red face and said, “Now come on lad, tell us the truth. What’s yer real name then?”

Looking down at his feet, he responded, “Me name’s Mary Francis Black. Bloody Mary Francis Black.”

The crew guffawed in laughter and the boy, looked around at them, a dark scowl on his face. He swore to himself, that he would get even with everyone of them that laughed at him.

As luck would have it, the last cabin boy had died of fever and they took him on. At first they’d called him “Virgin Mary” while he was cabin boy. But after the viciousness of his first killing at the age of 12, they’d renamed him “Bloody Mary” and welcomed him as a worthy seaman.

Forty-odd years had passed, and not one man remained alive that knew that Captain Bloody Mary’s real name was Mary. He’d made sure of that.

Now here he was in the middle of the South Seas, trying to keep the ship ahead of the storm raging behind them, abysmally low on supplies and having no luck with plundering any cargo of worth.

“Ahoy, Captain,” yelled the Black Russian from the lookout, “Ship astern.”

The Captain pulled out his spyglass and sure enough, there was a British ship, damaged in the storm and wallowing in the rough seas. Yelling out commands, to his crew, it wasn’t long before they reached the ailing ship and leaped on board. Although the British crew fought valiantly, they were too exhausted to fight well and were quickly overcome by the superior strength and numbers of the pirate crew.

“Brandy Alexander, take Gin Sling, Martini, Whiskey Sour and Fluffy Duck down below with you and see what we can salvage. I reckon she’ll be partially flooded, but there might be something worthwhile we can use,” said Bloody Mary.

The crew quickly returned with the unspoiled cargo. There were jubilant shouts when several barrels of flour, and oats were located, along with half a barrel of apples.

“Captain, we’ve found a small chest with some dubloons, but no rum at all sir,” said grasshopper who was still a bit green from the storm.

There was a groan from the crew and an angry muttering.

“Wait sir,” said Shirley, “I was helping and I saw two barrels with the word punch on ‘em. Ain’t that a kinda drink?”

The crew nodded and the Captain stroked his chin, “Let’s bring it on board. It’ll have to do.”

That night the crew of the Salty Dog got very merry on Punch which had been made by two sweet old spinsters in the New World. Although the drink had started out as simple apple cider mixed with other fruit juices, the months at sea had caused the liquid to ferment. I guess you could say they all got rather, Punch drunk. ©

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