Friday, June 5, 2009

Leif's Pirate Story - A Beginning

I found this on Leif's computer after he died. It was labeled just "story." I don't know exactly when he wrote it but it had to be between September 2007 and April 2008. I think it is likely to be early in 2008. I wish he had written more. It seems like a promising beginning, and I am intrigued that he chose to write in first person from a woman's point of view.

Leif's Society for Creative Anachronism persona was a pirate, and because he was such a snappy and stylish dresser in those days, even as a pirate, he was dubbed "the GQ Pirate," and had email addresses that were, for instance. He had an affinity for the sea and this story seems well suited to his imagination. Leif also had an obsession with sex and romance, and I don't doubt that had he written more of this story, we would have been treated to plenty of romance and erotica.

I am also wondering where this English pirate would have taken his English captive and whether they would have shown up in Puerto Rico, since Leif mentions that is where she and her husband were heading. It would have been a natural locale for him to choose, since he lived there for two years.

The story was apparently envisioned as a series of diary entries, but we only have the first one to pique our interest.

Dear Diary,

It has been some time since I wrote as my master has only recently returned to me my pen and quill. I will try to recount the events of the last year as well as I remember them.

I was aboard a Spanish galleon bound for San Juan, Puerto Rico where my husband had accepted, or I should say been forced to accept, a position as a surgeon after we were banished from Barcelona for his unrestrained debauchery. Ours being a marriage of obligation my father in London owed due to contractual agreements, my husband never felt compelled to maintain his fidelity, dipping his quill in every Spanish slut he could find despite how it tarnished my already dubious reputation as an English woman living in Spain.

I remember the day well. It was bright and clear and the sails on the horizon could be seen for hours before they raised concern. It was beautiful, one of the few days of the voyage on which I ventured out onto the deck of our ship to enjoy the Atlantic air. I saw the other ship but paid it little mind as others did, just another group of wayward souls on a vast ocean.

But then there was a call of panic from the crow's nest, screaming in Spanish so rapid and desperate I could barely make it out, not being a native speaker. “Pee-rah-tez!!!” was what I heard, the Spanish pronunciation for the word “pirates,” and not just any pirates, it was the flag of the “Avarice,” the ship captained by the infamous Gaius the Grey, a former English privateer no longer under any royal restraint.

Quickly, the deck hands sprung into action as we attempted to change course but the wind was against us. I heard, and there was no heading we could take that would not drive us into the path of the Avarice. Our captain was a right proper Spanish caricature of machismo, and having the full cannon of a Spanish galleon at his disposal chose to maneuver for attack rather than escape. Despite my curiosity my husband forced me to go below deck. Were I a sensible or frightened sort I might have cowered behind the bed but I am a curious sort and so I found my face framed in a porthole watching the approach of the fearsome pirate.

It seemed an agonizing wait but after a time I saw a flash and plume of smoke from the Avarice. A few seconds later I heard the repot of a cannon, but not before I felt the impact of its ball impacting the deck of our ship. The sensation of the ship as it shook from the impact was terrifying. One shot from extended range and this pirate had hit us. There was a pause from the Avarice but our captain returned the greeting with a full broadside volley of cannon fire. It was deafening as the dozen cannon went off, like nothing I had ever heard, yet the balls fell into the ocean with inept splashes either too short or too wide to hit the advancing Avarice.

The cannons began to talk to each other. A single shot from the bow of the Avarice followed by massive broadsides from our own guns. I heard a shot whiz right over our deck with an eerie sound and watched more of our shots fall to the sea. It was clear that what this pirate vessel lacked in cannon it had amply supplied in experience. The next shot from its bow shook the hull violently and was followed by a loud creaking and crashing. I could hear the desperate cries of our crew and it was clear they had hit our mast. We were dead in the water. A sitting duck.

Only now did the Avarice change course. It shifted from its direct frontal assault and turned to the right, moving to our stern, to our rudder, to our least cannon. Our guns made a few last futile attempts to engage her as she circled in for the kill. I was terrified. This pirate was ruthless and deadly and clearly had the better of us yet I could not help but be impressed at his capability to disable a superior adversary, as our vessel would have been in more capable hands.

I moved to the stern and looked on stupidly as the Avarice sailed perpendicular to us, readying for a broadside barrage. I don't know what possessed me to stare into what must have been ten guns pointed my way as The Grey let loose all the fury he had on our rudder and wheel house. I saw the bursts and the plumes of smoke as the cannons hurled their balls upon us. I turned and ran from the bulkhead but it was to late. As I fell over the bed I looked up to see the deck above me splinter and the beam which broke away coming towards my face. Then. ... Blackness.

I remember a blur. A haze of smoke and blood and screaming. I could hear guns but not the big cannons of the ships; these were pistols and muskets. Something else; the clank of steel. Swords and cutlasses clashed. The screams of death. I tried to move. The only thing heavier than the beam which pinned me to the floor was my own head and my eyelids, one of which was matted with fresh blood. That was the last thing I remembered of our ship. Then ... nothing.

I don't know how long I was unconscious or what happened in the interim. I awoke to find myself cleaned, the matted hair cleaned of blood. I felt fresh and well, though my head still throbbed a bit. I gradually became aware of my surroundings, first sounds. I could hear the creaking of a ship on the waves and their splash on the hull. I was aboard a ship, but what ship? Where? I was not coherent enough to speculate. Slowly I opened my eyes, both of them clear. No blood blinding one. I had been cared for by someone. I felt my hair on my cheek and it was soft and clean. I opened my eyes fully and looked around. It was a cabin, a large stateroom aboard a ship. I could see light coming from the windows with too much brightness to be a mere porthole. No, this was a captain's suite, or at least a VIP room. I scanned the room groggily. It was littered with trinkets, many artifacts, some quite beautiful, but it was chaotic, unrefined. I could not help but think it needed a woman's touch.

My confusion began to subside as a I gathered my bearings. Where was I? What had happened? What was this place? As I came to remember the answer was obvious. There was only one place I could be. I was aboard the Avarice and this was the stateroom of Captain Gaius the Gray himself!!

Suddenly I became fearful. I am not sure what I was thinking but instinct told me to move, to run. I rose up out of bed, or at least I tried to. As I tried to move I became instantly aware that my hands were bound, tied to the bedposts above me with silk scarves such as are worn by wealthy pirates. I struggled against them but it was no use. My wrists were tied together and the knot was tied to the head of the bed. I tried to move my legs and discovered that my ankles were also bound together. I looked down at myself, and while my body was covered by sheets of a surprising softness, also apparently made from silk (this pirate had taste), I came to realize that below these soft sheets which preserved my modesty I was completely naked save for these bonds.


The picture is of Leif on Bellows Beach in Hawaii on the island of Oahu, in August 1989 when he was 14 years old.

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