The Pirate’s Spill (short story)

“No, I don’t think they did it on purpose… it’s just a bummer, that’s all -” he said, speeding down the sidewalk. One hand on the handle, the other gripping the clunky little phone to his ear. “I just thought the plank-walk was going to be a full team event, but I was on a zoom call with the Curse– you know how hard they are to get a hold of, especially floating around in the Bermuda Triangle, reception’s a nightmare. And while I was down in the co-working cabin, the captain went ahead and threw him overboard like it was nothing. No plank, no memo, no nothing. We’re still docked in London, so I decided to just bike back to my apartment for the night before shipping off tomorrow morning. I just didn’t want to be stuck in the hammocks toni-“

Just then, the melancholy, maroon-clad man fell hard off the bike, hitting the pavement with a crash. His three-pointed hat flew off, tumbling to the ground as his silver cutlass clattered several feet down the sidewalk. He was a pirate and junior officer on the Royal Fortune. His name was Carl

Slowly, Carl started to push himself up, searching the ground for his now cracked cell phone…

“Mum?” He said, spotting it next to his boot and again holding it to his ear. “Are you there? Oh, good. I just crashed my bike – I’m fine, I just gotta go. Yea. Yea, I know. Love you – yea. Love you too, mum. Okay. Bye.”

Jabbing the red button through the dense spiderweb of cracks, he slid the phone back into one of his dozen coat pockets. He looked down at the pavement. His bike looked alright, but his cutlass was bent in the middle where he’d fallen on it. His two pistols, his laptop and his log journal had all slid out of the leather messenger bad onto the ground. Looking down at himself through the thick curly beard, he saw a couple fresh scuffs on his boots, and worst of all, an unfortunately large tear at the hem of his new coat. It had been a gift from his mum for the promotion on the ship, only a week and a half old. He saw now that the corner of his coat had caught quite firmly in the gears on his bike, causing the crash.

Carl collected everything back into the back, slid his bent sword through a belt loop and squashed the dented hat back onto his head. Picking up the bike, he pulled up the hems of his coat and crammed them firmly between his large backside and small plastic bike seat. Peddling slowly down the street again, an ache started to rise in his right leg. And his shoulder. And his head. A frown crept onto his face as tears began to boil up from the thick lump in his throat.

The sun, already dark behind typical London gray, was dipping beneath the horizon now and lamps started to flicker on as Carl rode. A tear finally forced its way and ran down his cheek as Carl thought about the last several months aboard the Royal Fortune. He had always dreamed of becoming a pirate. His dad had been a pirate, his uncle ran a ship in the gulf and had written a couple books on captaining. Run Your Ship Right and Canonfire: Building Community in the Crosshairs. His great-grandfather had been third mate to Davey Jones! He was born a pirate. He’d always wanted to be a pirate… But finally landing a spot on a ship, and doing well – Carl thought about how difficult much of his time aboard had been. He didn’t really like most of his co-workers, and his captain was not a very good communicator. Even given a lot of responsibility aboard the ship, he was having trouble finding his place and his motivation.

There were moments of course that were fantastic. Sublime. The rush of blowing the bow right off a ship 50 yards away with a well-aimed canon blast. The thrill of leading a man down the plank at sword point, the comradery after a well-fought battle. But he it wasn’t everything he had hoped.

As he rode up to his small flat and locked his bike to the chain link fence, he pondered the launch the next morning, just a few hours away. A three month trip across and around the Americas. “Three month” bounced around again and again in his mind as he clomped up the steep stairs and unlocked the front door. His white cat jumped up on the counter meowing loudly as he stripped off his boots, coat, hat, belt, frilly and stained button-up. He finally sat down in the large plaid recliner, now just in his trousers and slightly shrunken Dr. Who t-shirt.

Pearl jumped up to his lap, purring as he stroked her ears. Carl, exhausted from the day of calls and troubled by his thoughts of discontentment, started to drift into sleep.

Outside, a bird squawked in the night, flying low past the window. Just a yellow square to the bird, one of thousands in London. The silhouette of a large, burly man asleep in his chair, his cat still awake peering up at him. His alarm clock in the other room.

One Reply to “The Pirate’s Spill (short story)”

  1. Ah yeah. I love this. I love the juxtaposition of content/subject to style/voice. You’ve drawn me into a character’s discontent and quandary right out of the gate. This is superb. Worth playing with more.

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