(originally posted 9/17/2018)
I think the hardest part of writing a pirate story is deciding what to name the pirates. When you Google ‘Most common pirate names’ all you get are a list of famous pirates. Being that none of the pirates in the upcoming take are particularly noteworthy I was just looking for run-of-the-mill pirate names, not the big hitters.
It didn’t help that they also listed famous privateers and Buccaneers. While they were at it they might as well have thrown in venture capitalists.
In the end I chose Bartholomew, because it’s very long and will give me the opportunity to whine about having to type it over and over again if I so choose, and Stede, after Stede Bonnet. Stede Bonnet was famous only because he was such an incompetent pirate. His story, however, is awesome and I strongly suggest you leave this story now and instead go read about him instead.
Ok… but don’t say I didn’t warn you.
The young pirate put down the scrub brush for a moment to look up at the stars. Stede had been aboard the ship for two months and had yet to see any action outside of swabbing the deck. When he joined up he had no idea there would be as much swabbing as there was. Feeling inquisitive, probably egged on by the cloudless sky and delightful breeze, he approached one of the older pirates to ask about this excessive need for swabbing.
Bartholomew looked a lot like Tony Robbins… if Tony Robbins had a lot of moles and sores. And liked to dress in pirate gear.
Bartholomew (holy shit he has a lot of letters in his name) (I’m tempted to just shorten it to Bart but that would show a complete lack of commitment on my part) looked Stede up and down before answering.
“You see that fella over there?” Bartholomew began and pointed a bony finger at another pirate who I will choose not to name. “He has a stone that we call a ‘holystone’. He throws down sand and then rubs the stone over it to get rid of the splinters.” He then looked down at their bare feet as if to answer why that was important.
“It also smoothes away the tar that pops up from the between the planks” he continued. “Then you come along to wash off the sand and make things all dry again.”
Stede was clearly impressed with this well-thought-out reply. He was also very impressed by the sheer number of warts a single face could hold without pulling the skin right off of the skull.
After a pause the older pirate asked Stede “Not what you thought it would be like?”
“Not really” was his reply.
“Well, that’s life I suppose” said Bartholomew and Stede braced for what surely was going to be a long-winded allegory about sailing and destinations and storms and battles and calm seas and swabbing and death.
What he got was this;
“When I was your age I slept twelve to fourteen hours a day. I was known as the laziest man in town. Sure, I held a job but you can be sure that the moment that the work day ended I was headed back to my bed.”
Bartholomew looked at Stede and awaited the inevitable “Why was that?” but it never came. Instead Stede seemed to be counting the number of visible lesions on Bartholomew. Having started his tale, Bartholomew ignored this social faux paux and continued.
“When I reached the age of thirty I realized that I’d slept enough and became a pirate. I’ve never needed to sleep a wink since.”
“St. Nicholas of Myra!” thought Stede to himself “I have never seen so many scabs!”
“I speak the truth or let the captain have me walk the plank” Bartholomew said sincerely. “If you come out here in the depths of night you’ll find me in this exact spot.”
“I think that would be much better” Stede again thought to himself, “Your complexion leads to darkness being an ally.”
“So what do you make of that lad?” asked Bartholomew.
“Do you ever regret spending so much of your time on land, as a youth, asleep?” he was finally able to query.
After a long pause Bartholomew looked him the eye and roared “Shiver me timbers you yellow-bellied swab, get back to work before I send ye to Davy Jones’ locker!”
Stede turned and walked away. “Finally… some real pirate talk” he thought to himself and got his first erection at sea.