THE PIRATE GAZETTE: Ship's News
This story just in by way of stool pigeon: The infamous Captain Hook was admitted yesterday to the Caribbean ophthalmology clinic with a severe eye injury. When asked how the horrible injury occurred the bombastic boater boasted, "I'd been holdin' a tankard of warm grog in me good hand when a pesky bumble bee began to harass me by diving repeatedly towards me cup of brew. In retrospect I shoulda put me cup down and dealt with the buzzing pest but I were afeared that me tankard might be pilfered by one o' me thirsty mates, so I took a swing at the flying intruder with me other arm. Much to my chagrin, I missed the little bugger and swiped me own eye out with the tip of me hook.
I were mighty shocked to see the stunned expression on me face from a whole different perspective as me orb dangled from me cheek."
Doctors assured us that the Captain is in good spirits and should make a complete recovery, although he will be wearing a patch over the empty socket for the rest of his days. When asked what effect this might have on the Captain's sailing career, doctors replied, "Well, he's going to have trouble sailing a straight line for a while."
The Captain isn't worried though, "The ocean be a mighty big place. Sailing 'round in circles won't stop me from pirating!"
It is rumored that the good Captain is considering having his hook replaced with a detachable tankard, but our reporter could not confirm this.
The ship's news was brought to you by BARNACLE BILL'S.
All Stories written by Steve Romano, Photos by Heidi Bosch Romano
Ye Olde Ship's Log
I sat perched high in the forecastle with my quill and parchment pondering our journey to date and trying to find a place to start my journalistic report of our adventures as we sailed through placid seas towards a welcome port o call and much needed shore leave on our good ship The Morning Star.
Inga Cuckoo resided at the helm as was her practice. I could easily hear her shout an occasional command to the crew but for the most part there was little to do to keep the ship in the proper trim. Admiral Laktos stood behind her and kept a keen eye on the sky. Every few minutes he paced the breadth of the ship from port to starboard as if he sensed that something was amiss but could see no fault.
The sky was clear and blue with scattered white clouds forming on the horizon. The smell of the ocean breeze coupled with the gentle roll of the ship as it easily crested the small surf lulled me into a relaxed state. All was serene. I nodded off into a light slumber.
Hours later I was awakened by the insistent squawking of Polly. The sky had turned dark
and the surf had become decidedly rough. I looked towards the sound of Polly's cries and spied
Peg Leg Pete as he sat on the deck below me sipping his grog with Polly precariously perched
"Stand tall, me hearties. Slip loose those sheets and secure the lanyards tight to the mainstay!" shouted the captain.
Just then lightning struck the top of the main spar and sent a three-foot section of the mast spiraling towards the deck. The iron tip of the mast crashed through the decking and went straight past the hold, and pierced the hull.
Water began to pour in from the three-inch hole that it made.
"Polly wants a life boat! Polly wants a life boat!" squawked the panicky fowl.
Despite the crew's best efforts to stop the incoming flood, our ship was in dire danger of being sunk. The sea dogs were in a panic and some had already begun to scramble for the life boats when a slightly inebriated Pete swaggered into the hold asking what all the fuss was about. While shuffling towards the panic-stricken crew, still trying to stem the flow of incoming water, his peg leg jammed into the hole and plugged the leak. At first he tried to pull his leg free but some of the crew quickly stopped him and held him down.
"Let me go, ye scurvy scalawags!" he shouted.
"Hold him fast mates!" ordered the admiral. "His wooden leg has plugged the hole! We may yet see safe port after all!
Well, we made it safely to port two days later with hardly a mishap, save that we had to constantly fill Pete's tankard for him and of course Polly had her fair share of crackers, to boot.
For certain there be more to tell but that be worth savin' for another day.
This 'ere be a Halloween story
Gusting about twenty knots out of the east, the amorphous wind churned the ocean swells into whitecaps, with sharp crested waves that reached six feet above their valleys before cascading down to form anew. Bright moonlight turned the wave froth bone white against the ebony water. The surface of the ocean sparkled with flashes of moonbeams in the starry night.
The evening air was cool but not uncomfortable. I sat in the crow's nest, as was my habit on many a night such as this, just letting my mind wander. Admiral Laktos and Inga Cuckoo were huddled together at the stern rail talking quietly.
Below me, at the base of the main mast, sat Peg Leg Pete and his prolific parrot Polly. That squawking fowl was a noisy pest, but I must admit that she did help save our ship on more than one occasion.
Sal and Raziel sat in the forward lookout post. Theirs was a smaller basket so they both sat with their backs to the masthead and let their legs dangle over the edge.
I could see by Sal's hand gestures that he was engaged in conversation although I could not hear his words. It may have been my imagination, but from my vantage point, Raziel looked as if he were completely ignoring Sal. Of course Sal had that affect on everyone, but this seemed different. I strained to see them more clearly. Fortunately, the fullness of the moon aided my desire.
Within a few minutes, I was able to determine that the object of Raziel's attention was something that had caught his eye far out to sea. I watched as Raziel poked Sal in the ribs with his elbow. He had to prod him several times to get him quiet. They both looked off to starboard, as did I. At first it was difficult to see anything and I thought them both daft from grog.
Then I did see something: a disturbance in the water slowly making its way towards us.
"Captain, object off the starboard bow!" hollered Sal.
"We're doomed!" squawked Polly.
I could hear the captain shouting commands, but they barely registered, I was so enraptured by the spectral monster that was fast approaching.
I couldn't see it clearly. When I focused on the beast, it blurred before my sight: a blinding white mass undulating through the waves seemingly hell-bent upon our demise. It disappeared beneath a crest, sliding beneath the water in total silence as if it never was. My bladder felt full and I knew that I had seen the devil himself. Suddenly I felt cold and scared out there on his ocean.
"Thar she blows!" piped Polly.
It breached the surface a hundred lengths ahead of us like a cursed island rising from the sea. Its rank smell drifted across our deck like the rancid breath of Satan himself. A swirl of fog seemed to follow the behemoth and enshroud it as the beast swam away from us.
As I watched it move away, I silently let out the breath that I hadn't realized I'd been holding. My pulse was almost normal again when...
"Ship off the starboard beam and fast approaching!" Sal's urgent cry spun my head around. I couldn't fathom what could be more frightening on this night, unfortunately I didn't need to. My eyes nearly left my skull when I saw the ghost ship slicing through the waves under full sail and headed straight for us. She appeared hell bent on pursuing something and I could only fear that I knew what that something was.
"Hard to starboard!" shouted the captain.
I watched helplessly as the mysterious ship plowed the sea oblivious to our presence. Just when it seemed the two vessels would collide,
the Morning Star shifted her stern around and ran parallel to the ghost ship, their hulls scraping as they passed within inches of certain destruction.
I could see right down on her deck from my lofty perch. My blood froze and I swear my heart pushed down on my tongue so terrified was I.
Our ship creaked and groaned with each touch of the other's rotted hull as if she were alive and pained by the nearness of the dead whaler. The stern deck of the doomed ship was passing beneath me and I couldn't help but stare at the capstan and the spirit that manned the helm.
I could see him as plain as anything else on the deck of that deserted ship. He gripped the wheel with bony hands. His skull was bearded and weathered from years at sea. He wore a hat upon his head and a yellow slicker that hung wraith-like around his skeletal form. His fleshless legs were braced wide apart and I could easily see where a belaying pin replaced his right limb from the knee down. He turned and I swear he looked right at me with those empty eyeholes and smiled a lipless toothy grin. He raised his right hand on high and beckoned me to follow him on his damned journey for eternity.
My knees turned to jelly and had I not been sitting, I think I might have been coaxed from my perch like a mouse drawn to a python. The cold sweat upon my brow caused me to blink and when I could see clearly again the ghastly ship was nearly gone.
My curiosity would not let me alone and I silently hoped that only cats met their demise from this affliction as I stared after the ghost ship with the hope of logging its name in my journal.
I tell you there be more to say but my hand grows shaky from the retelling of this eerie tale and I must rest my nervous heart. I will leave you with this one last warning: the ship was called "Pequod" and I hear tell she's looking for a stout crew of whaling men...
This tale brought to you by
Tale scrawled by Laktos the Intolerable
A Christmas Yarn
We had sailed for weeks upon a frozen sea with naught but an icy wind for company. It blew down from the north and cut across our stern, biting at our flanks and coating the deck with a sheet of frost.
Icicles dangled from the rigging like a thousand daggers suspended above us. Occasionally one would break loose and hurl down upon the deck sending broken slivers of ice skittering across the worn planking.
The water was black as night where it could still be seen through the ever-thickening ice floe. The sight of it pulled at my courage until I was unsure of the cause of my shivering, the cold or primal fear.
Our bow sliced through the thin pack with a sickening crunch that put my nerves on edge. I felt certain that the prow would stave in at any moment and we would all meet a most grisly death in the frigid arctic water.
Admiral Laktos guided our ship with steady hands while Inga Cuckoo took our course and heading with the sextant. She glanced at her charts then spoke. "We're here," she said.
Laktos scanned the bleak seascape ahead with an experienced eye. He looked unconcerned by our circumstances. "The north pole, at last."
I could hear the helm squeak in protest from a lack of grease as he steered the Morning Star around a sizable mound of snow and ice. I caught myself praying for deliverance from this frozen hell, my greatest fear that we would become stuck in this ice field until the spring thaw, supposing of course that we should live that long.
"Stand by to furl the main sail and drop the anchor!" ordered the Admiral.
I could hear the Captain and Laktos discussing the merits of continuing on our present course.
Inga Cuckoo spoke in hushed tones. "I tell you tis madness to continue further. No one has ever sailed this far north before! Beside you don't really believe in those fairy tales about the pirates patron, Saint Plethora? Do you?"
Laktos didn't answer her, but just smiled as he gave orders to the crew securing the ship for the night. "Come. Let us go to the galley and trade stories over a hot cup of grog."
Inga shouted out the command to those still on deck. "All hands to the galley!"
Well, I never heard more welcoming words as I pried my frozen fingers from the ships rail and descended with the rest into the galley.
The room was brightly lit by several lanterns, and the coal stove burned hot in the corner. Somebody shoved a warm cup into my hands and I eagerly drank the steaming brew within.
The Admiral seated himself at the head of the table and waited. He looked over each of us until all was quiet before he spoke. "I know some of you are questioning our reason for sailing to this god forsaken place. I say now. It is for riches and bounty that you cannot imagine."
Although we each had our doubts, none spoke aloud of his discord.
Peg Leg Pete and his prolific parrot Polly could of course be counted on to follow their own wind. "We have all heard the tales of Saint Plethora since we were suckling our mother's breast. I don't believe them." Pete paused to spit. "And I never will!"
"Never will! Never will!" parroted Polly.
Pete continued. "Who could believe that a boisterous pirate decked in a red and white long coat would travel the world giving away gold. It's poppycock!"
Mind you, we all had our misgivings about such an unlikely character. The obvious sprang to my mind and before I could stop myself I blurted out, "Besides. How could he travel around the globe in a single night?"
The admiral gazed at me as if in sorrow for my ignorance. "He flies through the sky in the back of a magical whaler's dory rowed by eight strong oarsmen."
Being the ships scribe, I naturally asked for their names, not really expecting an answer.
Polly piped up, "thar's Gonner, Smasher, Glancer, Plastered and Vixcent."
Pete finished the list without missing a beat, "Vomet, Stupid and Blinza."
I was sorry I asked.
Laktos begged the room be still. "I swear that by midnight tonight you shall have your answers and let the morrow be," shouted Laktos.
"Hear! Hear!" cried the crew in return.
"Let us all drink and forget our cares!" hollered the Captain.
The hours passed in record time, and before we knew what hit us, we were fast asleep in our berths, saving me, passed out at the galley table.
My sleep was slightly interrupted by the ship's bell as it chimed the hour of midnight. The sound however barely reached my slumbering ears as I started nodding off when all of a sudden, I heard a noise and a clatter upon the deck above. With a start, I picked up my head and went to the porthole to see what had caused all the fuss.
As I clearly heard much clanking and fumbling from above me, my first thoughts were worrisome and filled with dread.
Quiet as a church mouse, I made my way to the gangway and slowly, ever so slowly, I crept up to the cabin door. The noises were clearer from my new vantage point, and I could hear what sounded like several men working with a heavy load.
So great was my haste that I burst through the door with neither flintlock nor saber to protect me. With a quick look around, I discovered the deck was empty of life. I say empty of life because it was not completely bare. Stacked near the forecastle was a pile of riches so grand that ten pirates could not have plundered it all in their lifetime!
Standing frozen, mouth agape, I heard something from high overhead and looked up just in time to get glimpse of, none other than the legend himself, Saint Plethora.
My jaw hit the deck as I stood there befuddled, struck dumb by the sight of his dory flying across the sky being pulled along by eight sets of oars. And there in the bow of the skiff, leaning far out in front, guiding the way with his rum red nose, was Rudolfo the sot.
Looking down from above at the sight below, at me with my eyes bugged out of my skull, Plethora leaned over the side of his boat and waved down to me. With a mighty belch he bellowed out, "Arrrgh to all! And to all a good night!"
I know how it sounds, and am certain there be more to tell, but that can wait till another day.
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