The deck of the Grim Bastard was awash with the bitter tears o’ the sea, her sails slashed with the fury of a scorned harlot.
Aye, and she had just cause to toss me vessel ‘tween her troughs, for once again in our drunken folly we’d spurned the hairless beasts spawned by her salty nether-fountain. Ye assortment o’ horrors fishy, be-toothed and tentacular what thronged in her deeps (venturin’ too oft also into her shallows) had besieged us as we sought naught but honest trade in the goods of others.
We sought to escape the ill luck that had pestered us by taking a cultural tour of the Baltic. Our first stop was the bustlin’ port town o’ Gloomåë Bøstardsen which, despite its glummy name, was the finest whore-filled harbour of opportunity and delicious vice on the coast of Finland. The normally suicidal folk o’ the Norselands’d found a place to spend ’emselves in wench and wine before expirin’ in a sauna, thrashin’ one another with sticks.
We interrupted their genial knife-fighting to enquire about their famed whale pummellin’ contest. Me most morose crewmate, Shänkly Morbidsonsen revelled in the many grudges and humiliations he’d acquired as a child in this bleak land. Perhaps could regain his manhood with a spot o’ dolphin-slappin’. He slapped down his huge fists and enrolled the crew in this highlight of the Finnish calendar. All the sons o’ Bøstardsen’d signed up to beat the hell out of a cetacean punchin’ bag and show us upstart pirates who’d be dead in the snow the mornin’ after.
The contest was a terrifying display of drunken bravado and maudlin mammal mauling. Tis a curiously ill-defined sport, for ye object was to dash out as far as ye dared and punch the largest whale ye could reach. We waded out into the shallows and while ye big Fins punched through their tears and me lads met ’em blow for blow.
The sea was as dark as the looming month-long night to come. For reasons unknown to the locals, the whale kin chose this bit of coast on which to prance and fornicate. Twas a poor choice, for there was surely some other enhumpinateable sand bank where folks were less prone to drunken punching and knife fights.
Me boys were acquitting themselves well, though there’d been some upsets – No Hands Mick’s prosthetic fists’d been banned so he could only batter ‘em with his stumps, bless him. Barry was found pluggin’ a dolphin in its blow hole – tis not the accepted form o’ punching hereabouts. He was gently dissuaded and spent the remainder of the contest wooing porpoises.
Now me lad Shänkly had stunned a humpback whale with one blow and drawn the attentions of a great lass, by which I mean huge, who lay about the whales with a meanness born o’ young nights terrified by tales of the albino hippopotamuses dwelling in the forests. Surely tis an awful prospect and one that drives ye Fins to drink and incomprehensibly violent music. Gaargh, despite the gravity of the woman (for she drew waves and even the moon seemed larger) I could not help but compete with Shänkly for his femininish prize, for such be me pride.
With the bravery of spiritual libation I swam out to deeper waters where ye larger sea moose cavorted. I must have stumbled upon one mid-thrust for it squealed and reared up. At first I thought it an impressive male, for its horn split the moon in two – then I realised twas from its head. In some state o’ startlement meself I lamped it in the face with all the strength I could muster. The horned beast tumbled backwards, snortling bubbles as it fell back into the sea.
I turned triumphant to the shore to the roar of me crewmates and a somewhat less heartening gasp o’ horror from the locals. The great barrel of a woman that Shänkly ’d his eyes upon (how could ye not for she eclipsed the landscape) bellowed at me, “ye fool ye’ve doomed us all”. In truth, the number of times I’ve heard that has quite diminished the worry it ought to incite. In addition she used an exotic range of vowels which reduced her intelligibility to whalesong. However on this occasion it was backed up by the frantic dash of Fins for the sanctity of their saunas, and by Shänkly grabbing me by the collar and bellowin’ “ye’ve knocked out the narwhal princess! Tis time to be gone.”
In haste we splashed towards the Good Ship Lollipop and her alluring rope ladders. From behind came the deep hoon of irate cetaceans. As they surged forwards their fresh wake drove us onward. We’d almost made the ropes when a forest of twisted horns rose out of the sea beside us – the narwhal court set to avenge the honour of their princess. Brave Shänkly tugged Barry free from the enamoured porpoise he rode and forced us up the ladders before turning back to the big spike-faced fish.
Gaargh, I almost leaped back to fight by his side, but the grim set to his face reminded me of me duty to the crew and me preference for survival. Shänkly took a mighty gobful o’ the vodka from his traditional flask and spat fire impressively but futilely, for the beasts were sodden; though he did surprise ‘em before fisting ‘em roughly. As we gained the deck he’d been joined by his lummox woman who rivalled some of them in size, though not, as it turned out in sharpness. The pair fought with courage till they were caught by the brutes, their horns punchin’ through ‘em till they became glum pin cushions pierced in the narwhals’ bloody needle-point.
We set sail. Behind us the leviathans were launching themselves out of the sea onto the beach, flattening the saunas which offered scant protection, and the birch flails still less. The narwhals pursued us but fell back as they grew weary of the impenetrability of our hull, where they dangled from their faces till we cut them loose. I’ll miss Shänkly. Though he was a melancholic fellow he did tell fine tales o’ them white hippos to scare the cabin lads. For my part I’ve a lovely new unicorn o’ the sea peg leg, and a new-found enemy in whale-kind. Twas a good night out. On then to the festival village of Guttering Honk and their notorious owl-gargling rituals.