I was minding me own business, enjoying a hot steamer of grog at the Parkway Tavern on I Street with me first mate, Skorvald. Skorvald was recounting a scurrilous tale I already heard, of an old mope named we both knew named Blimey, who threw his own crew a party on Dry Tortuga then slipped away to rob them in the blind of night. Hired on a fresh crew of mute Haitians and set sail on his eponymous brig that very eve. A true story, Skorvald insists, though the details get more blustery in each recounting.
I keep my wits about me onshore, as a matter of principle. But the grog was beaming strong and ‘twas a boisterous crowd to be sure: condition enough to make a lesser wag swoon. If I looked hard I wouldn’t have been able to see past the scuttle under me fingernails. Thus was I waylaid by a solid-seeming lass, who on first glance I took for a bar wench.
“I’ll have a pint o’ your bitt’rest ale, me young sharpoon,” says I.
“That’ll be two of ‘em, lass,” says Skorvald, who’s still knee-deep in his grog thanks to his busy mouth. “I thought we’d already ordered…”
“Matt. Matt Whitman. Don’t you recognize me?”
To be perfect truthful I didn’t. I goggled the waif up and down. My eyes were exceeding moist that evening and couldn’t retain focus well. I noted the golden hair, the ample bosom sheathed in cloak of dark wool. Spectacles, she wore, and I had half a mind to snatch them off her face to abet me own envisaging.
“Matt, it’s me, Cameron. Cameron Dell?”
I looked to Skorvald for a clue, but the bugger just shrugged with a roll of his good eye. I turned back to the lass, hoping for some dim epiphany.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Cameron says. “You asshole! You seriously don’t remember me.”
I fingered me brass earring. “Unless you be the lass in Curaçao who gave me healthy portions of both lobster and crabs, I’m afraid you’ll find me recollection dimmed with an affliction of mildew and scurvy…”
“Jesus, Matt. We took economics together. Professor Wahl?” I shook my head but she pressed on. “We were on the same dorm floor. That time you loaned me your toothbrush, and we ended up dating? For four years?”
“Tis been a long time I afear, and the sea, she is a harsh mistress…”
“You seriously don’t remember me. Holy fuck. Well … maybe you’ll remember this.” And with that, the young lady reached on her tiptoes, gaffed me neck, and presented me with such an osculation as to make swarthy Barbary giants swoon.
I nearly keeled at the shock of such licentiousness, but quickly adapted and found the embrace to me liking. I grabbed the hem of her frock and pinioned meself against her warm frail frame.
“Lo, ye find me saluting at full mast before a hale wind. Let fly, ye Eastern gale, and me hearty timber shall steer you true!”
Alas, Lady Cameron pulled away. “Eww! Matt! You do remember me!”
“As a sail remembers the wind,” I confessed.
I was about to confess more, but at this, the actual barmaid approached with our libations. “Two grande nonfat vanilla lattes, one with a cherry?” She set the cherry before my dissolute first mate, who commenced to drool and smack his lips. The barmaid left and I swapped the drinks in haste, for it was I who ordered the extra cherry, and my mate pouted in privation.
“You could have ordered a cherry just as easily, me friend. Now content yourself with thine self-assigned mediocrity!”
Skorvald stood, hand on his hilt. “Always a brash one, you is. Never could let a thing slide.”
Lady Cameron moved to intervene. “Guys, please. It’s a crowded café.”
“Measure your words carefully Skorvald, or I’ll measure your tongue. It was a quarter we took last time, was it not? Perhaps it has come time to relieve you of another quarter. Half a tongue ought leave you half as blithe in your denunciations of a superior!”
Skorvald drew his saber but, clumsy as he is, I was quicker with me cutlass. I slapped away me treacherous mate’s sword and jabbed my point toward his chest.
Lady Cameron shrieked but I could scarcely hear her, so hot boiled the blood in my ears. “Matt! Stop! Stop it, that’s enough! You’ll kill someone!”
Skorvald spat at me. “Superior, what superior? Rubbish! I should have been done with you back in Bermuda. You had no right taking them hairy native women like you did. Half of them were mine. You always take my half o’ things.”
“I’m your captain, you limey crook-nosed bastard. I’m supposed to take your half of things.”
I thrust once, cleaving deep into me first mate’s chest. I withdrew to wipe me blade, watching the scoundrel stagger and fall.
The tempestuous Lady Cameron, whom I could still not for the life of me recall, fainted straight away.
I kneeled beside my mate. “Dear Skorvald, what have you done? Where will I find another mate like you?”
Spluttering up a foamy blood that smelled faintly of iodine, he rasped, “I only wanted the cherry.” Then he fell eternally silent.
Suddenly, a revelation: “My dear Cameron! I remember you now! Doctor Wahl—but of course! We were in the same cadre, we joined forces, we were unstoppable!”
Lady Cameron did not stir.
“What was it we wrote?—monetary policy and the Federal Reserve System! O-ho, what a jolly treatise on the folly of the Aldrich Plan!
It was in this state of fond reverie that I neglected me surroundings, and soon found meself set upon by an entire constabulary, shackled and bound for yet another night in yet another eerie dungeon.