With pirates you can never really be sure. Oh, they’ll make someone walk the plank sooner or later, at least if they can get hold of a plank, but about everything else you can’t be sure. Take the crew of the Jolly Robert, a particularly nasty bunch who have just successfully boarded a ship carrying dynamite to the fabled island of Los Temrabel, where it is needed for silver-mining. At the moment they are killing the crew, but this is merely for business purposes rather than any pleasure they get out of it; indeed, the captain has a deep self-loathing for himself that can only be assuaged by regularly giving money to good causes, such as the Bingham home for psychotic stray cats.
This cry, the death-yell of an overenthusiastic pirate who has just impaled himself on a pointy thing being held by the man he has cornered, has an electric effect on the Jolly Robert’s crew, mainly as it causes them to break out into a chorus of ‘arharrrrs’ dominated by baritone and tenor. There is at least one soprano, plus a falsetto that is the product of Fat Tony, the would-be opera singer. His parents had forced him into a more useful profession, and so here he was, but he still harboured the desire to do something truly epic. As he isn’t a smoker he is going to miss his chance.
Slim Yellow Jake is a smoker, and so he is going to do something truly epic. It is actually a surprisingly small gesture, just the dropping of the match which he has lit his pipe with- bloodbaths always making him nervous- down through a crack in the deck. There is no silver in the sea, but if there were he would have contributed a bit to its recoverability due to a complicated bit of chemistry involving the still-lit match and the until-now-unlit dynamite. It is a spectacular bit of chemistry, and things become very interesting for a very brief moment in time.
‘Make him walk the plank!’
Considering the circumstances, you might tend to sympathise just this once with the old pirate custom which the Captain of the now-destroyed Jolly Robert wishes Slim Yellow Jake to benefit from. The newly re-named Flat Tony, who now has the beginnings of a lifelong-hatred of the letter ‘L’, certainly sympathises. Still, one of the other pirates has to point out the obvious problem-
‘Captain; we are on a plank.’
There is a pause while this is considered.
‘Well he can walk it, can’t he?’
The pirate cursed with the flaw of being practical (he never stuck burning things in his beard, for example, due to carcinogens,) spoke again.
‘It will tip over. And there aren’t any sharks and there are loads of other planks he can get hold of. All that you’ll achieve is that we’ll all get wet.’
The Captain thought about this.
‘He’ll get wet as well.’
‘He’s wet already.’
The Captain now thought he saw an opening.
‘So it shouldn’t matter if we get wet either, as were all wet!’
‘Yes, but we’ll get more wet. Or is it wetter?’
‘Alright, you’ve convinced me. Make him walk the plank!’
The practical pirate realising that he had been rather cornered into this, turned to the man clinging next to him.
‘Walk the plank. You heard the Captain.’
Slim Yellow Jake shakes his head.
This seemed to flummox the practical pirate
‘Captain, he says no.’
‘Well make him do it, poke him a bit with your sword.’
It is an interesting fact that people who are eminently practical when pointing out others flaws have a tendency to make very big mistakes themselves. This was also true of the practical pirate, who attempted to draw his sword from his belt. To do this he had to let go of the plank with one of his hands, and the next wave washed him away.
‘Ahhhr,’ sighed the Captain. ‘Now that’s much better. Annoying twerp.’ And he didn’t say anything else about slim Yellow Jake until they got to shore, at which point they decided to use him to make a three-dimensional skull-and-crossbones sculpture, although they couldn’t get all the flesh off. With pirates you really never can tell.