“Come on, Grin, we’re meeting Steel Steven and heading over to the village for lunch.” Leslie says to me as she unties my tether and steps down from Sonrisa into my hull. I sink lower in the water.
“Humph.” I say.
“What?” Leslie says, “I thought you’d be excited.”
I bob up and down a little bit, “I am, I am, it’s just…” I sink lower in the water again. “Humph.”
“What?!” Leslie says more emphatically this time. I hide beneath furrowed eyebrows and growl a little.
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
She puzzles, then shrugs and leaves me alone. She hates when I play the sullen card, but really, I don’t know how to explain myself other than to say this Steel Steven guy…I think he’s a bit…off. I can’t put my finger on it. The first night we hung out, they tied me up to the back of Steel Sapphire (Steven’s big boat buddy), and he seemed cool. I told him all about the pirates, and the hongs, and he was way into it. He had a plan to find some jewels for the ladies…(why didn’t I think of that?), and promised to trade me any Piece of Eight he finds in exchange for any “Fire of Hearts” rubies I find. Seems like a fair trade. But, then, as soon as we got over to the Hong, all he wanted to do was calculate cosine-tangent-blahdiddyblah for the stupid drone. I can’t complete an effective search pattern all on my own in an area that big, so we didn’t find anything.
Then, on New Year’s Eve, I show up and the guy has grease in his hair and a pack of clove cigarettes in his cup holder. “You smoke clove cigarettes? I love cloves!” But as I reach over to snatch one for myself, he tips away.
“Nah, man. Be cool. Cloves are for the ladies.” He swooshes that stupid looking greased hair back and throws a regular Marloboro at me, which I was not expecting so I dropped it in the ocean and it got all soggy.
“Gross.” I say, just as Donazita’s Tender arrives and swoons over his tan and well fit dinghy chaps. “Well, three’s a crowd,” I think as this guy is whispering to Donazita and heeling over to light her clove. I push the soggy cig back and forth as tobacco leaves start to break apart and flutter on the surface. I didn’t tell a single joke all night.
The morning of New Year’s Day, we sailed to the anchorage that will be our home until this storm passes. It’s scheduled to arrive tomorrow night at 3: 00 a.m., so we have some time to explore. The anchorage seems like a pretty good place to ride out a storm. It has 270 degrees of protection with big cliffs in every direction except Southwest, but the storm is not predicted to create wind from that direction. Andrew and Leslie paced Sonrisa around in circles for a good hour, eyeing the compass and calculating where best to set the anchor for the strongest expected direction of wind. They settled Sonrisa in the center of the circle, laid out 250 feet of chain in 20 feet of water and set up a system in which we can easily drop another 50 feet if we need to. Behind us are only mangrove swamps and soft mud flats, so even if something did happen and we broke loose, so long as we aimed just so, Sonrisa would have a soft bump into some mangroves at worst, then I’ll just pull her out when it’s all over. It’s a sound plan.
That’s when Leslie unties me and we start heading to the village. Dreading the hours I know I have to spend with Casanova at the dock, I wallow behind Steel Steven, I don’t even try to surf his wake. They tie us up, begin walking through the village to see what they can find. I can hear them stop at a road side food cart to buy purple hot dogs in a green, sweet chili cilantro sauce. Purple hot dogs? That’s just weird.
Three Thai Girls are tied up next to Steven and me, getting loaded with provisions for wherever they are heading next. I groan, thinking Steven will be distracted by them and won’t let me get a word in edgewise, again. But the longer we sit there, I realize he hasn’t even noticed the girls. He seems to be mumbling and whispering numbers to himself. His hair is no longer slicked back into that black grease wave, instead, it’s poking up in several directions, flat on the port side.
“Uh, hey, Steven. Want to search the mudflats for treasure?” He acts like he doesn’t even hear me. “STEVEN!”
“Huh? What? Oh. Hey Grin, what do you think about this anchorage?”
“It’s fine, it’s good. Why?”
He looks concerned. “I don’t know. There’s a lot of drag space between us and those mudflats. If you calculate the momentum Steel Sapphire could build if she breaks loose across that big basin…”
“Nah, man, we’re fine. The whole anchorage is one big protected circle. Seriously, this looks like a great secret trading post. Maybe there are Fire Heart Rubies here?” This doesn’t stop the calculations, though. He turns back to whatever chalkboard he is writing on in his imagination.
“What if the chain snaps? There will be a sudden jerk and Pete or Jen could fall if they are walking around below decks. Maybe they should be wearing harnesses…..(*mumbling*) initial wind speed at vector seven, wave height builds at a rate of .3 meters per meter of space of fetch….”
By this point on shore, Pete and Jen are regaling Andrew and Leslie with a story of how the two met, complete with Pete’s classic “stretch the arm and reach around” move. I can hear them howling with laugher, Leslie interjecting “and what were you thinking at this point, Jen!” They have found a nice place overlooking the anchorage for lunch. Leslie is taking pictures of Steel Sapphire who is peeking through a gap in the cliffs.
This guy is driving me crazy. I start looking around in the mud by the dock, maybe someone dropped a Piece of Eight here as they disembarked their pirate ship to meet a wench dressed in a petticoat and boots. My mind drifts down my list of available pirate jokes.
“Hey, Steven! I’ve got one for you: What are the ten letters of the Pirate Alphabet?” I’m met with silence, whispered mutterings about the physics of wave accumulation. “I, I, R, and the Seven C’s!”
My delivery is off, but I hear one of the ladies snickering. So, I grin and continue. “Hey! Hey! I ‘ve got another one for you….” The closest sweet gal turns her bow my way and smiles as her bow bobs up and down. “What’s Orange and sounds like a parrot?”
She rocks side to side in response.
“A Carrot!” I say with enthusiasm. She rolls her eyes, and I am becoming rather gleeful. I love a good eye-roller.
“Okay, Okay…Why did nobody want to play cards with the pirate????” I wait while suspense builds.
Then, Steven sloshes a big wave under his hull and splashes me. “GET SERIOUS! We have a storm building! We need to protect Pete and Jen! It’s the Queen’s demand!” The girls tied to the dock suddenly get quiet and twitter amongst themselves. “Oh, excuse me.” Steven says, “I’ve forgotten myself.”
“Duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuude.” I say. “You are killing me. You have all chain rode, a big heavy anchor, we are protected from every angle, and the max forecasted winds are only 60KPH. Look, these ladies are calm. Even Leslie is calm!”
The ladies tuck their bows into a tighter circle amongst themselves, leaving me at my wits end with Steven. “I have to make sure,” Steven says. “It’s my job.”
Now, I start yanking on my tether to see if I can escape. The tide is coming up, we aren’t sitting in the mud anymore. Maybe I could escape and go look for Pieces of Eight over there… “If I could just un-loop this rope….” I strain to bounce the lazy end of the rope currently drooped over my bow up and through the loop around the dock post until I look up and see Leslie watching me from temple windows that look over the anchorage. Her hands on her hips, she scowls and shakes her head at me knowing what I’m trying to do.
“Grin! STAY PUT!” I hear her voice in my head in time with the double finger poke command I can see from the window. Humph. I can see them the temple (still under construction), pet the Temple Kitty, then start the walk back to me.
When they finally return, I am more than happy to get on with this show. I help Andrew unloop my knot and hold steady while he starts Kitty’s engine. I look back at the girls one more time. “Wait!” she says. “Why didn’t anyone want to play cards with the Pirate!?”
I give her a lopsided Grin-grin. She’s so cute.
“Because! He’s standing on the deck.”