The air was crisp and clean, a faint scent of some flower floating with the wind. Although it was nice to get away from the sea every now and then, the smells were a little too foreign for me. My place was on Good Ole Calamity. It had been my home for almost as long as I could remember.
I even remember when the captain first stepped foot onto the ship. Of course, he wasn’t the captain at the time. He was older (and still is, of course) than me, a scared little boy in his late teens. I wasn’t even a teen yet. A young lad, really – but I already knew the sea life and knew what it took to survive. Age is no excuse on the open water.
If it wasn’t for me, Boyd Macnair would probably not have survived. Though he was use to life on board a ship, he knew nothing of the other side, the side that survives by the skin of their teeth (and sometimes not even that!). I helped him deal with the harsh environment that was thrust upon him without treating him like a bilge rat or a pansy.
I’ve never asked him, but I would be willing to bet that I am his only friend – true friend, that is. He rose to where he is today because of the bitterness inside and the stubborn refusal to give up. Deep down, though, everyone needs support. He found his with me, and that was good enough for him. But, he would never admit it.
Standing on deck not far from the gangplank, I greeted crew as they came back aboard. Most were respectful and some would invariably try to call me something special, but I would always stop them in their tracks, stare them in the eye and give them some horrible job to do. They wouldn’t call me anything special until the next time they filled their bellies and their bed with the products of landlubbers.
One guy, though, a carouser if I ever saw one, always received the worst job. Deep down Edwyn wasn’t a bad fellow, but when he had too much bumbo in him, he turned into a completely different person, one that I was not surprised that could only find his place on pirate ship. He has aspirations of getting off someday, but I doubt it.
The Good Ship Calamity is an equal opportunity privateering establishment, which is a fancy way of saying we have women on board. They come in all shapes and sizes, but they have one thing in common. To survive on a ship full of scoundrels, they practically have to be scallywags themselves.
After all of the crew were aboard, I went to the captain’s quarters to let him know we were ready to go.
“All are aboard, Mr. Ironheart, sir.” I used his nickname with as much bucko spirit as I could muster. The captain knew that but sneered at me all the same.
“One of these days I am going to throw you overboard for calling me that.”
“I would like to see you try,” I replied with a wink. “You wouldn’t know what to do with this ship once I was gone.”
“Too true!” He acquiesced, adding, “What do you have for me today?”
I handed him a local broadsheet.
“Did one of the crew give this to you?”
“No, I picked it up meself.”
He raised one eyebrow. “I thought you never left the ship.”
“No, I leave, but no one ever sees me.” Directing his attention to an article at the bottom of the broadsheet, I added, “Thought that might be of interest to you.”
After skimming it, he exclaimed, “Why do they make our job so bloody easy?”