The scourge of the seas


“Position 40 degrees 26 minutes North, 0 degrees 42 minutes East … Mayday … Mayday … Wait a minute, isn’t that supposed to be SOS? … I’m on a yacht for heavens sake, of course it’s S-O-S … Repeat … SOS … Position 40 degrees 26 minutes North, 0 degrees 42 minutes East … SOS …”

I look about in alarm as a countess clutches her throat and runs screaming past me, “They’ve snatched my jewels … Help!” … Another rough looking character brandishes a sword and chases a distinguished looking chap who has got his hands on his face delicately poised, not forgetting grace under pressure, as he screams his lungs out in fear … “Aaaargghhhh …”

I step out to take a peek from the bridge. Who are these people? Are they guests? Are they my guests? They look as bizarrely dressed as the rest of my friends … But my guests don’t steal … What has become of my costume party? Who invited these people? How did these beasts get on board?

“Helllpppppp!” … Another hapless victim is chased by a weirdly costumed guy. My friend over there, held by the scruff of his neck by a costumed goon, is shaken like a bag of crisps.

I quickly duck back on to the bridge to make another radio call. “Position 40 degrees 26 minutes North, 0 degrees 42 minutes East … SOS … Ship under attack. Repeat …”

One rowdy looking chap with an evil grin snatches the handset from me, cutting short the distress call, and thrusts an 18th century flintlock pistol into my ribs. I mock him, “That’s a relic, it should be in a museum” I say bravely, knowing fully well that it must be a hired from some costume shop. He calmly raises the infernal thing and lets loose a shot in the air, causing an immediate loss of bladder control. He unleashes a wicked laugh, his gold tooth catches the last rays of the sun and glints in the twilight.  He drags me on to deck.

“Listen everybody, I’ve got the main man, and this yacht is now under my control”.  He fires another round from his ancient gun. It’s now the turn of my  heart, it threatens to lose control too. He gives me a dirty look.

His mates round up my whimpering guests and pull out canvas duffels.  The guy holding me barks loudly, “Ok distinguished friends, let me have it … Let me have every little bauble and trinket and wallet and bankroll that you’ve hidden under those fancy clothes … I want it now … Everything!”

Nobody volunteers anything and this angers the guy holding me.  He squeezes my neck and tries to dismember it from my body. There’s a collective gasp all around. He reaches for my now limp hand, “Let me begin with you, fancy pants … Let me make an example of you …”

My 1932 gold Patek Philippe, a family heirloom, is the first to go. My valet gasps, he knows the history of that piece. He knows what it means to me and my family. He lunges for it, saying, “Give that back you scoundrel, don’t you dare touch that …”

He gets slapped down hard and he falls to deck with a sickening thud, the whiplash jerks his neck savagely.  This spurs on my guests and they begin to resist, fights break out.  I, too, resist. The ruffian grabs my head and begins slapping me rapidly, his unkempt nails cutting my chin with each swipe, leaving a bloody trail. Then he lifts his flintlock and thrusts it into my mouth and his finger goes slowly towards the trigger.

“No … Not this now …” I think. My spine becomes jelly. I open my eyes in fear. Pages of an open book are rustling past my chin in the wind, there’s a blue sky with soft white clouds smiling back at me. “I’m not dead yet?” Apparently not. I’m lying on a deck chair. I look around sharply. Where have they gone? Weren’t the goons bitch-slapping me just now? I wake up.

Where am I? I try and get my bearings. My valet, sensing I need something, brings over a glass of champagne. I wave it away. Laughter and noise wafts in, it irritates me. I ask him where we are, casting an annoyed look in the direction of the raucous laughter. “We’re currently off the southernmost tip of Spain” he replies. The recent past swims into focus.  Gluttony + Champagne + A strong Mediterranean sun + Siesta = Bad dream.

Pirates huh … that’s was some nightmare. I wonder what if they actually did come on board and … A shudder runs down my now re-formed spine.  A bikini clad leggy beauty slinks past me. Pirate thoughts are put aside promptly.  A catwalk gait and an allure about her captures my attention. I follow her as she joins another bunch of people by the jacuzzi.

I wonder who she is and resolve to find out her name later, I’m still feeling drowsy now.  I look at the bunch of people with her. Who is he? And he? And her? Who are they? Who are these people? How did they get on board? Are they my guests? I cast an eye to my valet. He discretely whispers that they are Manuel’s friends. “Damn”, I say aloud. I need some favours from him, I can’t throw his friends out. But so typical of him I think, to bring freeloaders. “Manuel the Moocher” is what he is known as in his circles. His friends must be the same, I’m not quite sure I want to meet the bikini clad leggy blond anymore.

And then right there under the Mediterranean sun, I come to the conclusion that there are two kinds of pirates. The sea pirates, who loot you of your valuables. And the land pirates, who loot you of your food and wine and your hospitality.

And both of them are still the scourge of the seas. Even today.

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