Friday, September 5, 2008

A Ship of Drunks

Quick Change - This Weeks Prompt...

Pick a book of fiction you’d never read (e.g., if you read sci-fi, pick a romance). Open to a random page and read the last couple paragraphs of the page. DO NOT TURN THE PAGE. Now continue writing the story. Feel free to change the genre as you write.

This was quite a difficult challenge for me as I read all types of fiction. However, flicking through my fathers books I found what looked like a war story from the second world war.– and that is not a type I would choose to read.

Battle of the April Storm”, Larry Forrester – I'd never heard of it… so flicked it open and here is the last paragraph of that page....

“The men know a ships as good as her skipper and theres an ugly word for a commander who persistently avoids battle”

Anger flared in Fielden. A guilty anger, for Doc was only voicing his own secret suspicions. Its as obscene to hear them expressed so brutally – the reading aloud his own………

Well there is only one place I can go with this…

For those following the weekly updates on Captain Juan, this is the next installment... for all others - please subscribe to a message in a bottle and join us in a ripping yarn about The Astonishing Adventures of Captain Juan - a story being co-written before your eyes by Paul , Jodi and myself.

“The men know a ships as good as her skipper and theres an ugly word for a commander who persistently avoids battle.”

Anger flared in Fielden. A guilty anger, for Hobbs was only voicing his own secret suspicions. Its as obscene to hear them expressed so brutally – the reading aloud his own fears and thoughts.

Brunos harm suddenly swung from its listless resting spot; a dagger buried in the table, appearing within inches for Hobbs wrist.

“I’ll have no words against the Captain. Have either of you forgotten what he saved you from back in Malta? He keeps his own council. Who are we to question his directions? He’s never steered us wrong before.”

Fielden and Hobbs sheepishly gulped their ales and looked away, unable to meet the eyes of their other shipmates.

A drunken braw erupted in the far corner. With a look and unspoken command, the men eagerly pitched in – venting thier frustrations and confusion into the bloody fist fight that erupted over a spilled drink.

Wiping the blood from his spilt lip as he sat down after the fight had been settled, Garcia ventured to the huddled group, “Are any of you signing back on?”.

Calisto flipped a coin between his fingers, dancing it dance effortlessly along his hand. He looked up through his craggy eyebrows. “Humpf. Got nowhere else to go. Unless I want to go back to my nagging wife and screaming brats.”

A humorless acknowledgement by the married men amongst the group was then met by an uneasy silence.

“The Captains changed since he heard about La Contessa and Intaglio.” Pietro ventured.

“The Captains changed since he took that woman on board.” Rael countered.

A widening uncomfortable silence grew as each man thought on the last few months. As one, they finished their ales and ordered another round.

“Why turn us in as pirates? We are all hunted men in some port or another, but with this brand we are not welcome anywhere.” Hobbs voiced the unsaid concerns.

“I tell you, the Captians got a plan. You’ll see. Hes got the smarts up there” Bruno defended Juan; tapping his head as he spoke. “ Heres to more adventures. Heres to another Sardinia!” He held his drink aloft and saluted the Captain.

They all laughed, the tension broken and began toasting one another reminiscing on scuffles and squirmishes they had shared.

“So, are any of you signing back on?” Garcia asked again.

Amongst grizzles and groans of the group, Calisto answered for all of them, “Five days of this” he swept his drunken hand around the grimy tavern, “Gambling, whoring and drinking. My moneys run out. What else can I do?”

Fielden added,”And besides, one Captains as good as another”

“Not our Captain. He sold us into piracy, a sure death sentence.” Hobbs grumbled.

Bruno hissed, “Damn you, keep your voice lower – do you want all of Lisbon to know about it?”

“Captains be damned. Who runs the ships hey? The quarter master!” Pietro saluted. Cheers from all sides as they raised their mugs.

Calvin slunk into the inn and sought out the group. He whispered into Brunos ear and nodded enthusiastically as he accepted the mug of ale and sat down.

Hobbs sat staring into his mug, the scummy foam stick to his whiskers. His stale breath overwhelmed Calvin as he attempted to sink into corner away from the baleful glares of the tavern keeper.

Bruno sloshed his mug high into the air again, spilling most of the contents on the surrounding group. “Well boys! Pablo and Pete have taken one of the long boats and are heading towards La Gongozzler. Seven Days be damned. I say we get back to the ship now.”

Drunken cheers and shouts erupted from the crew.

“This land life is for sheep. Who’s with me?” he shouted above the roar.

Drunk, disheveled and rowdy, they headed towards the harbour, arguing who were the most fit to row, stumbling and carrying those too inebriated to walk by themselves.

Bruno oversaw the crew as they stumbled into longboats, some from their ship, others temporarily borrowed and with a shout and cheer, began their row out to La Gongozzler.

Nearing the ship, Brunos keen eyes picked out tiny figures running on board. He alerted the other two longboats and they rowed close to one another to stare and exchange opinions.

“Who’s on the crows nest?” someone shouted in one of the longboats.

Calvin pulled out a telescope. Bruno frowned and shrugged, unwilling to comment on the dubious ownership of the expensive item in the boys hands.

Calvins face drained of colour as he handed it mutely to Bruno. After a long look at the events happening onboard, he grunted and silently shut the telespcope, handing it back to Calvin.

The entire crew looked on as a tiny figure climbed steadily up the rigging.

Shouts of abuse from both figures could be clearly made out across the water.

As they drew closer, Pablos curses began to drown out the abuse being hurled between the two.

Silently the crew drew up to the ship, their jubilance and drunken bravado lost at the bizarre scene before them. A surly Pete threw a rope and ladder down and secured the longboats.

As the crew attempted to climb up, laughing at the clumsiness and uncoordinated attempts to climb aboard, Pete, shook his head realizing their state.

“Wonderful, a ship of drunken pirates.”


Wild Iris said...

Well this is in keeping with my own quick change theme as well. What a coincidence. I can say that I look forward to the further adventures of this boisterous crew!

~willow~ said...

heh I'm thinking Capt Jack Sparrow as Capt Juan - will have to read more to see if that fits :) I like how you successfully blend the prompt into a continuation of an existing tale you have.

Jodi Cleghorn said...

Well that was a bit of sychronicity pulling a paragraph like that from you Dad's book. I like the fact we get to see into the thoughts of the crew. I imagine almost that there are a core group of crew members, and then lots others. And what's up Hobb's bum?

Willow - we've described Juan as a cross between Capt Jack Sparrow, Daniel Craig's 007 and I like to throw in a little of David Tennant's Dr Who just for a little bit of interesting emotional relief!

Calvin's a little tittle tattle - and looks like he's been out spending Ruby's gold on a telescope. So please dont tell me - that it's Ruby up in the Crows Nest arguing with the Captain ... aren't I in for some fun writing ... you did tell me that I would have to get Juan down.