Dark clouds started to congeal in the sky above The Blackadder; the waves of the open sea were no longer gentle and rolling, and began to crest as they smacked into the side of the wooden ship; and a cold arctic wind blew down from the north.
Captain Laurie swung open the door of his private quarters and stepped out onto the main deck of his pirate ship, the wooden peg that replaced the lower section of his right leg thumping as he went. He glanced at the dark clouds forming overhead, and then at the men on deck mulling about. “Mr. Rowan, what be the meanin’ of this lollygagging. Can’t ye see thar’s rough waters on the horizon?!”
“Yes sir.” Mr. Rowan, the ship’s first mate, replied. “Sir, it’s just that…”
The captain didn’t stop to hear what Rowan was about to say, and instead pushed him out-of-the-way as the rain began to fall, and strode forward to address his crew. “Now look here ye lily-livered, yellow-bellied, flea ridden sea dogs, stop ye standin’ about gwakin’ at the purdy clouds and batten down the hatches, and stow away that main sail before she’s ripped asunder.” Unsheathing the cutlass from his side and flailing it around he continued to lambast them, “Now get to it before I run everyone one of ye scurvy infested, parrot stranglin’ harbour hogs through.”
All of the men ran in different directions to carry out the captain’s orders except one. Captain Laurie fixed his irate gaze on the lone man half hanging over the side of the ship. “This is no time to be fishing for mermaids, ye can find ye a wife the next time we make port. Now get to work ye grog-snarfing, hammock hoggin’ rapscallion.”
“Sir,” Rowan timidly interjected from behind the captain, “that’s one of the new recruits we took on before leaving Tartooga. I believe this is his first time at sea.”
Captain Laurie approached the young man, and stood behind the recruit that was still bent over the railing of the ship. With a much kinder tone he addressed the young deck hand. “Is that right son? Is this ye first time on the high seas? Does she be havin’ ye a bit weak in the stomach with the rockin’ to and fro?”
“Harrrhgrhhrmragl…” the man tried to reply but was sick again.
The captain turned to Rowan, “Well I can’t be abiding some landlubbering freebooter on me ship. We are pirates are we not, we do have some standards.” The captain then turned back toward the young man, “Please, be givin’ me regards to Davey Jones.”, and the captain kicked the man hard with his peg leg, sending him screaming into the waters below.
The splash the captain heard came sooner than expected, “Mr. Rowan, why we be sittin’ so low in the water? Do ye not have the men working the bilge?!”
“Yes sir, but as I was trying to tell you earlier, it seems that the bilge is being blocked by something.”
“Probably just a rat, stuck in the pipe. Must I be doin’ everything around here.” The captain shouted behind himself as he headed below deck. He headed for the intake to the bilge pumps on the lowest level, the pumps were used to remove the water that seeped in through the hull.
Rowan stayed on the main deck and saw to it that the crew finished preparing the ship for the storm that was coming in. With everything finally stowed away and the sails all secured; the men gathered around the bilge pumps, working the handle and waiting to see it once again expel the water that was seeping into the lower reaches of the ship. As the ship began to set lower and lower in the sea Rowan ordered the men to ready the life boats, and as the first of the waves began to break over the ship’s side Rowan and the crew wearily watched the doorway that led below deck.
“And so you never saw Captain Laurie again after he went below?” Rowan was asked by the captain of the ship that had rescued the crew of The Blackadder after they had been adrift for nearly a week.
“No. I ordered the men to cut the life boats free from the ship.” Rowan explained as he looked blankly out across the now calm horizon, “I sat there and waited, but he never came back.”
written for – The Speakeasy #146
photo by: Peterconcept