6. The Tweedle-Dee & Tweedle-Don Juans
Now, I swear to you that, between the two, ex girlfriends are much scarier that pirates. Having said that, when Goblin called down from the bird’s nest that a pirate ship was gaining on us, I looked at Winston wide-eyed. He was cool as a cucumber.
“Goblin: can you make out their flag?” he called up to the bird’s nest. Goblin chirped back a response.
“Ramone: hop on Pirates.net and tell me what you can find out about these guys. Lima, we’re going to be fine--pirates are no problem, but you’re gonna have to change into some of my clothes. Girls can make them a little crazy. Put on an eye-patch.”
I went downstairs and rifled through his drawers. Eye-patch: check. Long-sleeved, well-worn, smelly shirt with rolled-up sleeves: check. Long, cut-off pants: check. Bandana covering hair, pulled back into a pony-tail: check. I threw on a fake moustache for good measure.
When I got back on deck, Goblin was barking down information to Winston, Willoughby and Ramone. “mhaark, mharrrk, mharrkmark”
“Yup. Go on”
“mharrk, mharrrk, mharmark, mhhhark”
“Got it, Gobs. Thanks.” Winston turned to me, “So...oh! you look great!” he interrupted himself. “So, these are the Don Juan Pirates. They can be pretty violent--they’ve sunk four ships already this year and they are primarily interested in treasure-hunting and women. They don’t harm the women--apparently they just take them on board and then try to seduce them. According to the reports on Pirates.net, the large majority of women either go crazy or jump ship.
“Oh. God!” I gasped, involuntarily.
“Don’t worry,” he laughed, “you’ll be fine. Especially in that outfit.” “They’re a motley crew, headed by three Spanish pirates, called Javier, Pablo and Manuel, but they also seem...erm...not that bright. We can deal with these guys. Ramone, why don’t you make a pitcher of ‘Special’ Sangria.”
Ramone grinned and went down to the galley.
We stood on deck, then, and watched as the Spanish vessel got closer. Sure enough, as it approached, three figures could be made out standing on deck.
“Ahoy, there!” one called, smiling with a devious grin. They were a terrifying sight to see--each with long, greasy hair, rings on their fingers, and shirts unbuttoned too far down their hairy chests. Winston nodded cooly back.
On deck were two girls, tied to chairs in the shade. They looked at us with pleading eyes, but a bald ogre with a peg-leg--I’m not making this up!--was guarding them with a musket.
“Hello friends” yelled Winston, “I’d be happy to turn over our women and gold to you, if we had any.”
The three Spainards looked somewhat disgruntled. One of them called back:
“How can we be a-sure you tell us the truth?”
“Well, we’re pirates same as you. You could fire at us, we could fire at you. You could sink our ship, we could sink yours. Or, you can come aboard for some icy sangria and some tea sandwiches and then have a look for yourself and leave peacefully.”
They conferred with each other in Spanish, talked to the ogre watching the girls and threw a gangway across to connect the two ships.
They were even more horrible close up. My GOD, did they smell! Not of sea, and sun, and body odor, but of sea, sun, body odor and an ungodly amount of cologne. And they all three were equally horrible looking, with their long hair, mustaches, and rings all over their fingers. I looked across at the girls on their ship, pained, but I could tell that Winston had something up his sleeve.
We sat down in the shade of the sails. Winston introduced Ramone and me, as his younger brother. I grunted. Ramone fetched and served the sangria, one pitcher for them, one pitcher for us. Loosened up by the sangria, and thinking themselves in the company of men alone, they proceded to speak of their conquests--the vast amount of gold they had stolen from this or that ship; the treasure they had discovered at this or that port, and the beautiful women they had wooed all over the world. Of course, any person, animal--even plant--could tell that not a tenth of what they were saying was true, and I often had to gulp my sangria so as not to roll my eyes.
After a solid hour of this torture, I sneezed off my mustache. You would’ve thought somebody had thrown a gauntlet. Pablo (or whichever one it was) was going on about a bar brawl he had encountered in New Zealand last year, and was just knocking out five men at once, when he stopped dead. The other two straightened in their seats, staring at me intently.
Winston glanced over and, understanding immediately, set his cup down slowly, then rolled up his sleeves.
“Thees!” one of them ventured “Thees ees a woman!”
Winston lept up and socked on of them in the face. We’ll call that one Manuel. A gold tooth went flying. The other one, who we will call Javier, lept at Winston, and the one who had been telling the story (Pablo?) lunged at me. I pushed my chair over with a swift kick and lept to my feet, ripping off my eye patch. I ran a few paces and then--you guessed it--fell right over the railing as usual, landing in the salty water with a splash. Herman gathered me up within seconds and I could hear the brawling on board.
“Put me back, Herman!! Put me back!!”
It only took him a few seconds to deposit me back on deck, and Winston had already dispatched with the tweedle-dee and tweedle-Don Juan triplets, plus the ogre from their ship who can come to their aid. He’s pretty able bodied, Winston.
I gave him a looking over to make sure that he hadn’t incurred any serious injury--in truth, he hadn’t been injured at all--and then I went to untie the girls on board their ship while Ramone went scavaging around for stashes of gold coins. The girls were able to identify a few stashes.
“Winston?” I called over to The Star Dust, “Aren’t they going to come looking for us now that we’ve stolen these girls and their money?”
“Nope” he smiled up, dragging Manuel (?) back across to their ship and laying him out on the deck. “That sangria had a special ingredient. They won’t remember a thing about it.”
“Smart!” I remarked, impressed, “And what about the ogre?”
“Ramone will give him an injection of the same stuff.”
“Wow! You’re like the Robin Hood of pirates, Winston!” I took out my notepad and jotted down a few particulars of the incident.
I bumped into him as he dragged Javier (?) back across the gangway. “Ugh! Winston! You smell like cheap cologne!” He made a grimace.
The girls were French and sittting, smiling wide smiles, on our deck, so very happy to be liberated from their smelly captors, saying over and over: “Merci, mademoiselle! Merci beaucoup, monsieur! On peut pas vous remercier assez!!”
After the last of the Spaniards had been loaded back onto their ship, and the most of the gold taken off of it, Herman got their ship drifting West and we set sail due East. Then, Winston went below deck to clean the reek off of himself, and we had dinner with the French girls on deck as the sun set. As we ate, they told us the harrowing adventure of how they had been captured:
“Celeste,” one began, “eez a friend to us. She made a birthday party two weeks past, at ze beach. We ate cakes, we laid in ze sun, we played with ze ball and in ze water. Ze two of us fell asleep because we had lots of wine and when we woke up, eet was getting dark. Celeste and ze rest of our friends decided to go to ze pub. Eet was not far from ze beach. So, zhey left us there to get ze zhings and meet zhem zhere. But, when we get to ze pub, zhey are not zhere. We zhink perhaps zhey have gone to a different pub, so we go to different pubs. At zhe zhird pub we decide to rest and zhink of where zhey could be. Eet is not a very beeg town. And so, we are resting, and have a glass of wine. And we see zhees guys sitting at ze end of ze bar. And we zhink, zees guys are creepy, so we try to Eegnore zhem. But, zhey come over to talk to us. And we pretend zhat we can’t speak Spanish. And zheir French is horrible. So we are trying to Eegnore zhem, and zhey smell very bad. But zhey must have put zhomething in ze wine because zhen we wake up and we are on ze ship! And zhey are trying to be zweet to us. Zhey say ‘we are tough pirates’ and zhey tell us stories and try to impress us, and try to scare us, but we still think zhey are gross and smell badly. And they’ve had us for two weeks and we don’t zhink we will ever escape. One of zhem tried to kiss Stephanie,” she motioned to the other girl, “and Stephanie tried to jump sheep and I was crying but he smelled so bad zhat she just fainted instead. Mademoiselle et monsieur, eet was really very horrible. Zhank you so much for saving us. You are welcome in Bordeaux at any time.” She batted her eyelashes wildly at Winston, who coolly pretended not to notice.
“Psst, Winston,” I whispered to him, “frenchie here is flirting with you.”
“I know” he said.
“And she’s pretty,” I ventured. I wasn’t trying to encourage him into bad behavior per se, but, as a journalist, I guess I was curious to see how the mischief happened. But he would have none of it.
“Uh huh,” he said. And turned back to the conversation, conscientiously avoiding her flirtations. And those of Stephanie, who didn’t know how to speak English, but who spoke “dimples and winks” fluently.