The Reluctantly Hospitable Adventure

Bantams Spank“Turn ye face away, I’ve no wish to endure the dim-witted gaze of ye mooncalf features.” Under me fierce scowls the thick-cheeked passenger sulkily turned his face back to the sea. Very soon he’d be filling the belly of one of the excitable sea beasts which presently cavorted in the bloody lumps that used to be his companions. Wesley was his name, Wesley of Oingham, a lord of minor repute with acres of land – a  worthless commodity to the ocean and its folk. Within an hour of boarding he was exhibiting all the traits of one born with silver forks up his arse by chundering copiously about the decks and demanding the feathers of a baby swan to swab his sticky chin. Ye will likely sympathise with me immediate instinct to set the fellow a-fire. “Zero tolerance for boorish landlubbers”: that’s me newest motto and we’d be executing the notion, and the lord, at ten bells.

Ye see, after a difficult few months while we lingered in the economic doldrums (for piracy and even honest tax fraud may be challenged when no one’s got gold for thieving), No Hands Mick had proposed that we draw in ye tourist shillings by offering passage on The Grim Bastard, or rather on The Bantam’s Spank as we’d renamed her so as to appeal to the soft-witted and gentrified land algae. By the second Thursday of offerin’ a boating service we’d ferried endless elderly matrons across the river and filled our books with those keen for seaborne adventure and the thrill of seeing a fishy in its proper place.

Coddling’s not the way to deal with pirates, for they takes every inch ye offer and are then reluctant to cling to the mast in a storm. However, we found that the lard-swaddled lord and lady had different expectations of their “cruise”. The shit-seats at the stern disturbed ’em and they were noisily resentful about bunking with the mates in the Stenchhole. Don’t get me wrong, tis a vile and villainous deck on which I’d not set me foot without first dousing it (the deck, not me foot) with alcohol and fire, but this Wesley lad was furious and bellowed fit to affright an amorous walrus. Even his lady-wife expressed alarmed by the shade of scarlet his cheeks achieved. For the sake of peace from his wobble-chinned rage we emptied out the little cupboard by the powder room, kicked a bed into it and rammed the pair into their executive suite. Gimpy, the powder monkey was a mite put out but since he could fit neatly into a drawer beneath the galley’s clam drainer, everyone was equally unhappy.

Half a week later in the middle of a fine dessert of neck custard and knee biscuit, in spite of our sightings of a dead dolphin, a killer squid and just two minor sea battles, the ham-faced lord slammed down his fist in protest. In doing so he propelled a knife across the table and into the remaining eye of poor Gimpy (t’other was lost to a fuse error) who stood by the table, bearing a lamp so as to light our meal. Justly, for cutlery belongs to the table not the face, Gimpy ran off screaming. Knives in the eyes will do that to a young lad. We were plunged into darkness and surprise. Uncommon laughter spilled out of Lord Wesley’s mouth and he slapped his breeches with glee. Less than a second later he was flat on his back with Mick’s cutting hand pressed to his throbbing throat. No Hands Mick’s a touch protective of the young ones: he mourns them all, crab-eaten, gull-snatched, accidentally made into yoghurt – they all have his prayers.

Now I must confess myself torn: I likes a spot of slapstick and the be-flung blade had the hallmarks of the circus. And yet but our passengers had been naught but grief since they’d boarded, and they had just blinded me powder lad. Of course he might have some use yet as bait, or decoy. Me mind was made up when planking and caulk fell upon us from all directions and a vast boom rocked The Bantam’s Spank. Poor Gimpy had fled to his old comforting nook but in his blindness had bumbled into the powder room with his lantern a-dangle.

Quelling the Lord’s moans with me fist and a light touch of peg to rib, I stomped off to assess the damage. Twas not good. We debated our options, in accordance with honest piratical practice. Realising that we’d already taken Lord Wesley’s payment was a moment o’ brilliant revelation for me. So in short order we tossed his servants overboard and perched him on the diving board and jammed his wife in the jacuzzi for later ransom (we’d made a number of alterations for cruise comfort). That’ll teach him for being rude about me ship. Oh and the eyeball thing. And the explosion. Bloody passengers.

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