Passive Passenger

Tonight my kids and I were playing pirates. Our journey turned out to be murderous and epic. After they went to bed, I decided that I really wanted to document the events of the evening, so I put together a faux narrative in the form of a pirates journal entry. Check it out below!

May 20th, Two-Thousand and Twelve.

I can’t remember how long it’s been since we set sail on our voyage, but I know that I never could have predicted the course we’d follow to our fates. I had joined with a small band of pirates on their makeshift boat – just two others besides myself. The first mate is a young blonde woman that speaks as though she’s been on voyages like these before. She has an odd authority about her. She wears an eyepatch over her right eye, and she speaks so proudly of it that I can’t help but wonder if the injury to her eye was self-inflicted so that she might have something to brag about. I should have turn and walked away at this thought, but I remained. Our captain was younger still than the first mate. I wasn’t sure if he had ever been on any voyage at all, but he insisted on wearing the Captain’s hat, so we followed his orders. This chaotic chain of command may be the very thing that allowed us to elude the authorities for so long.

We set sail in the evening, and the Captain’s intent became clear immediately. From the front of the ship, the first mate called out, “I see another pirate ship!” I thought surely, with our small crew, we’d steer clear of any trouble. But our Captain had other plans entirely. To my surprise, he leaped off the boat and swam across the open water to the pirate ship we’d come across. The Captain single-handedly mounted our opponents ship, forced his way directly to their Captain, grabbed him by the neck, then dragged him across open seas back to our ship! It was truly a sight to behold! He swam with the might of ten men, and the fury of an entire army.

Once our captive was aboard, I asked his name. Monkey Bones. I’d heard of this dread pirate before. He was once the scourge of the Indian Ocean. The authorities considered him “as slippery as a banana peel.” And yet we’d captured him so easily. Our Captain was like a possessed man. He shouted “MONKEY BONES” in the man’s face, then kicked him out onto the plank. With a single shot, Captain Monkey Bones fell into the drink. We set Monkey Bones ship ablaze, caring not for the other pirates aboard. And then we sailed off into the night. We took nothing from our enemies. No food. No supplies. No information. As the night wore on, I watche their burning hulk drift into the horizon, and then ultimately sink to Davey Jones’ locker. It was in this moment that I realized that I was not feeling the uneasiness I had anticipated. Though brutal, our Captain was enchanting.

So it went for three more days. Each day we discovered a new pirate ship, and each day our Captain repeated his herculean act of kidnapping his counterpart, screaming his name, then sending him off the plank to die a cold death at sea. Orange Beard, Strawberry Beardcake, Scurvy Dog. All dead, their ships and crews left to burn until they were swallowed up by the unforgiving sea.

It was the next day that our first mate jumped overboard. Without explanation, she dove off the ship and swam across the waves until I could no longer see her. When she returned later that afternoon, still swimming, she wore a fluffy, lacey pink dress, not unlike what a princess might wear. To that point, I dared not ask our one-eyed companion where she got the dress. Upon re-boarding our vessel, she gazed at us with her one eye and said, matter-of-factly, “Sometimes pirates wear dresses. Because they’re pretty.”

That night, we pulled in our fifth Captain, SpongeBob Squarebeard. As our Captain dragged Squarebeard aboard our ship, I felt compelled to speak. “Shouldn’t we ask him for treasure or something?”

Our captain stared at me, his authoritative hat slanted just to one side. With the roar of a lion, he yelled at me “No treasure! Only the plank!” And before I could blink, Squarebeard was face down in the salty sea. I never again spoke to the Captain out of turn.

In the morning, I asked the first mate exactly how many ships were out here with us. The seas felt awfully crowded to me. With her one eye, she looked at me and stated plainly, “32.” I don’t know what divine inspiration brought her this number of our foes, but it was henceforth our mission to shuffle 32 pirate Captains off this mortal coil. We would never get the chance.

Fire Pirate, Purple Ears and his Parrot, Monkey Stripes, Captain Kenobeard, Sleeping Beardy, Fire Cow Pirate, and Hello Pirate. All fell at the hand of our young Captain. After the twelfth Captain had been left at sea, a strange calm set in. There were no authorities following our trails of destruction, though I was sure they must not be far behind. More importantly, there were no other pirates. The sea had become calm and vacant. Fear had driven them out. I heard eventually that some gave up the pirating lifestyle altogether for more terrestrial pursuits. Anything to be clear of our ship at sea. Others chose to stay at sea, but did so in seas far to the East and North.

It was on our second day of empty seas that the strangest thing happened. Miles out to sea, a small, white poodle puppy paddled its way up to the edge of our boat. I feared the Captain would exercise his blood-lust on the small creature, but instead he gently brought it aboard and took it as his own pet. He held it gingerly and cared for it personally. When I asked him why we needed a poodle on a pirate ship, he informed me that the animal stayed up at night barking at ghost ships to keep them at bay. This spectral poodle from the sea itself was now our protector. As long as the Captain believed this, I dared not question him.

After a week at sea with my frightening ship mates and our kindly hell-poodle, the first mate came to the Captain and I proclaiming that she had a treasure map. Without hesitation or even a heading, our Captain steered the boat to a nearby island. After he’d single-handedly hoisted the anchor over the edge of the boat, we all disembarked, including the hell-poodle, and made our way ashore. With little to no searching, we instantly came upon a treasure chest. Upon opening it, we found a bounty of princess dresses, crowns, a strange futuristic helmet of some sort, and other assorted accessories. Our one-eyed first mate peered greedily at the chest before proclaiming, “We are the richest pirates in the world.”

We carried the treasure chest and it’s bounty back to our ship, where we loaded it into the Captain’s personal quarters. He gave us orders to set back out to sea as the first mate made up a song about being the richest pirates in the world. It was to this developing tune that I fell asleep that night.

When I awoke, we’d made port in a land I didn’t recognize. The Captain and first mate motioned for me to help them unload our treasure chest. After we brought it ashore, I asked if maybe we ought to bury it or something so that no one else would steal our riches. They both disagreed with me, and the Captain suggested that the hell-poodle would stand eternal guard over our beached treasure, and that we needn’t worry. I am content with this explanation.

I sit now, in a comfortable chair in a local establishment, quenching my thirst. The Captain and first mate are standing up on a makeshift stage, singing a duet together about being the richest pirates in the world. If they’re going to continue to go on like this, then I certainly hope the Captain is right about that hell-poodle. I look forward to what adventures tomorrow may bring.

– Passive Passenger


(Image: Detail from “Walk the Plank” by Howard Pyle)

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