Them Shes Be Pirates

As this book opens, our hero finds himself in the midst of a marital dispute. Making his situation particularly precarious, he's balanced on a thin board 6,000 feet above the rocky coast of Maine, and the wives prodding him from behind are five of the Mortal Sins. Their collective mood might safely be called stormy—Wrath's a good deal more so than usual.

Even if he survives this confrontation, there are still three bloodthirsty pirates he'll need to contend with: his father-in-law, the incontrovertibly mad Captain Bonnet, late of Barbados; the epicurean Jean Lafitte, whose fiendish device of torture nearly did in our hero in Book One; and, perhaps most dangerous of all, Jack Tigue, a pirate who's made evisceration into something of a hobby.

And what of the Amazons who set things in motion by making off with a bundle of feminine booty from the S.S. Paris? Can Van Slyke steel himself to do battle with the ferocious she-pirates, and thereby liberate their captives (if they are indeed captives)?

Chances are slim. But that doesn't mean there aren't adventures and bed-hopping aplenty, including a trip back to reality from the world of fiction, and a perilous night spent with the Sins Wrath and Pride, both under the spell of a powerful aphrodisiac.

About M.E. Meegs
M.E. Meegs

M.E. Meegs began writing epic poetry while still in the cradle, though her first real recognition came only after the completion of her dramatic tragedy, Dolly’s Fourth, and Final, Crusade. Written when she was five, it chronicles the midnight adventure of a favorite doll, which ended sadly in the jaws of a neighbor’s mastiff.

She lives now—inasmuch as any pseudonym may be said to live—with a first-class typewriter and a middling husband, who will soon be in need of a food taster if he doesn’t begin showing a little more appreciation for her literary efforts.

A truly loving soul, she harbors neither children nor pets—fearing the temptation to make sacrifices of them to her tetchy muse might prove irresistible. She does, however, heartily enjoy correspondence and may be reached at:

Them Shes Be Pirates
(This excerpt is from the opening of chapter one: Mutiny of the Bounty)

This being my second outing on a plank that eventful year, I at least had some idea of what to expect: sheer, unmitigated terror. Only this time, it was a good deal worse. On the first occasion, I’d been perched seventy-five feet above the open sea, with my wrists tied, and wearing nothing but a tattered union suit. At present, I was six thousand feet over the rocky shores of Maine, with both wrists and ankles tied, and wearing nothing at all. Even the plank was inferior: barely ten inches wide and not one thick.

I believe the dissimilarities in circumstances can be attributed to two things. First, my prior foray had been on the luxury liner S.S. Paris, and the cord that bound me was silk. This venture was aboard Lucy’s Revenge, a run-down airship named for a venereal disease, and it was rough jute digging into my wrists and ankles. Second, my tormentors on that earlier occasion were middle-aged men—undeniably disagreeable, but overweight and slow-moving. This time, they were five of the Mortal Sins—all quite deadly, and all in their prime. And while I’ll grant that Sloth didn’t put much into the tormenting, her sister Wrath happily took up the slack.

I suppose an opening such as this begs some explanation. If you’ve read the previous installment, you know that I’d recently rescued Sesbania, the woman I called my wife, from Jean Lafitte’s auction block in St. Pierre (the French island just south of Newfoundland). And, a couple nights before that, been wedded to the Muses Clio and Melpomene and their half-sisters Pride, Avarice, Envy, Wrath, and Sloth, in a Mormon ceremony conducted by their father, the mad pirate Captain Bonnet. You also know a good deal else I won’t waste time recounting.

If you haven’t read the previous installment, you really don’t have much of a chance at all. Better go pick it up before it falls out of print.

We made our escape immediately after the rescue. The sun had risen by the time we boarded and we made excellent time, as steam-powered airships are wont to do on clear days. After setting us on course for Louisiana and the Lafitte brothers’ base at Barataria, I retired to my cabin and napped beside Sesbania until just after noon. When I emerged, Horatio—my executive officer and only crewman who could read a compass—informed me that my wives (Sins and Muses) had arranged to have the gun deck turned into a bathhouse.

I suppose I ought to have seen this coming. You see, along with their trousseaux, the girls had brought aboard a steamfitter named Percival. He was to make improvements to the ship’s primitive bathroom facilities. Anticipating that seven wives would make some serious demands on the plumbing, I voiced no objection. Nor did I object when they turned the oar deck into their harem. The oars were meant to power the ship at night, or when clouds occluded the sun. They performed this feat via some mysterious property which had nothing to do with rowing per se, but merely the work going into it.

As it happens, your average Sin puts a great deal of work into bickering, bad-mouthing, and badgering. Place several in close quarters, and you can add backbiting (both figurative and literal) to the list. Why, just setting a plate with an odd number of doughnuts before Avarice and Envy would be enough to create a perpetual-motion machine.

So the oars I considered expendable. The gun deck, however, I felt vital. Apart from a few cutlasses, it held our entire arsenal: a dozen steam cannons. They could shoot a variety of projectiles, but our magazine now held only offal. (Yes, that’s right, rotting entrails.) Not quite as effective as a dreadnought’s sixteen-inch guns firing high-explosive shells, but I currently resided in a fictional world where high explosive—or even gunpowder—seemed not to exist. And as they say, when in Rome, one must do as the Romans do. (Though whether even fictitious Romans fire offal from steam cannons is a question I can’t answer.)

With only this meager weaponry as defense, we sallied forth into a veritable sea of lethal hazards. As I mentioned earlier, we were then on our way to the base of the ruthless Lafittes, pirate brothers whom we’d already quite thoroughly annoyed. What’s more, we’d absconded with a good deal of loot belonging to my father-in-law, the quite incontrovertibly insane Captain Bonnet. Lastly, there was my apparent abandonment of the swashbuckling Jack Tigue, a man who made evisceration of the ignoble into something of a hobby. So, three bloodthirsty pirate bands to be reckoned with.

Needless to say, proceeding without our main armament would be utter lunacy. I went up to the gun deck to nip the foolish idea in the bud. And with such determination that I ignored Pride’s attempt to distract me with her charms—a matched pair, which she displayed to their full advantage whilst accosting me in the passageway.

I put my foot down, ordered Percival to cease work, and told the girls they’d have to make do without a bathhouse. That was about a minute and thirty seconds prior to where I began my account, out on the plank. When their interests are aligned, Sins work with a startling efficiency. All except Sloth, of course.

Avarice, who had plans to make further use of my resemblance to her brother-in-law and Bonnet’s number two—a man named Smedley—suggested some inconspicuous amputation. Envy and Wrath voted with her, with Sloth naturally abstaining. But their proud sister’s vanity would not be so easily slaked. When you spurn an offering of Pride’s, you do so at your peril. It was she who suggested the plank. Wrath warmed to the idea quickly and, with a little hair-pulling, Sloth made it a majority.

The situation could have been resolved much earlier, but even before stripping me naked and binding my wrists and ankles, the girls had gagged me. They stuck one end of a plank out a gun port and then Avarice, who by that point was caught up in the spirit of the thing, produced the horsewhip she kept ever handy. A few cracks, and I hopped up onto the board. I had to duck to make it through the gun port, which made it doubly difficult, but by then Wrath had taken control of the whip and the lashes were biting my flesh with conviction. I looked back at them entreatingly, but their sole reply was a cascade of cackling. (They were half-pirate, after all.)

It wasn’t until I was on the very precipice that Pride asked if I wanted to reconsider my decision. I nodded—carefully, given the precariousness of my position, but quite unmistakably. I wasn’t entirely sure which decision she meant, re her charms or the bathhouse, but my regret was complete enough to cover all three.

Once they allowed me to hop back in, all seemed forgiven. We even shared a laugh. Well, they shared a laugh. The best I could manage was a weak smile. But I don’t want you to get the idea I let them walk all over me. After some tense negotiations, they agreed to open the bathhouse to adult men on alternate Wednesday afternoons.

On my way out, I whispered a suggestive comment to Pride. She looked at me with disgust, then slapped me so hard my head spun. I took that to mean I’d repaired the damage I’d done earlier. It was imperative that she do the spurning.

Licking my wounds, I retired to the relative serenity of the control room. But the respite was brief. Soon hideous noises pierced the calm from above. Melpomene had found the calliope. If you remember your mythology, she’s the Muse of dramatic tragedy. Her singing lamentations a cappella had been bad enough, but the steam-organ accompaniment took the misery to a whole new level. I’d never harbored any illusions about married life, but neither had I imagined anything like this.

I looked in on Sesbania and saw she was still sound asleep in my bunk. Given her recent ordeal, waking up to Melpomene’s gloomy cacophony might well prove too much for her fragile condition. Valiantly, I made my way up to the loft that held the malevolent instrument of torture. (Calliopes may be de rigueur in a circus parade, but they really should be banned from all other uses.)

I found the mournful Muse weeping uncontrollably. She was nearly always weeping uncontrollably, but now she combined it with chant-like songs in what I took to be Greek. Mercifully, on seeing me she paused the infelicitous performance. Even the weeping became somewhat measured.

“What do you think?” she asked, but fortunately didn’t wait for an answer. “I had Percival make some adjustments to facilitate playing the pentatonic scale. I’ve been working on arrangements to accompany the chorus in Antigone. It really brings out the pathos, don’t you think?”

“Yes. Almost too well. I’m just afraid Sesbania might not be able to take too much pathos at the moment.”

“Oh. Yes, I see. That poor girl! One can hardly imagine what she’s been through…. I don’t suppose she’s shared any details yet?”

“No, and it seemed best not to ask.”

“Of course…. But should she later, you wouldn’t mind jotting down some notes? We really could use some new plotlines.”

“But you don’t write the stuff yourself, do you?”

“No, just inspire. Though it’s been rather difficult finding prospects lately. I do have one I think might work out. Have you seen any of Eugene O’Neill’s plays?”

“Not that I recall.”

“I’m testing him out now with the old Phaedra plot—you know, stepmother falls in love with stepson. I think he has potential. An admirably bleak outlook on life…. By the way, Clio stopped by earlier to ask my forgiveness. Said the Sins were giving you a rough time.”

“Why would she need your forgiveness?”

“Her destruction of Titus Andronicus, of course.”

“A favorite of yours?”

“Are you kidding? Betrayal, murder, rape, savage revenge…. What isn’t to like? Anyway, I did forgive her…. Poor kid. Father really did use her.” She’d been teary-eyed throughout the conversation, but now the floodgates reopened. “She’s so lucky to have escaped to you! …Of course, you may betray her…. Do you think you will? Or me?”

“Betray you how?”

“Oh… Yes. Nothing’s happened to betray, has it? No real wedding night… Sad… Not that I’m blaming you…. Your hands are full, aren’t they?”

She was looking decidedly forlorn. And, I might add, curiously fetching in the process. That may sound difficult to believe, given her pale complexion and waif-like figure—not to mention the constant sobbing. But unlike with other girls, the weeping somehow became her. Her eyes never became puffy. Instead, the tears gave them a glow. And her lips quivered in a way one could easily interpret as anticipation. Her long dark-brown hair fell straight and looked perpetually damp. Not normally attractive in a woman, but it worked in her case. I sat on the bench beside her and she fell into my arms.

She responded to my every kiss and each caress as if they’d saved her from the very brink of despair. So you can imagine how she regarded my work under the robe. I flatter myself I’m a bit of an expert when it comes to giving a girl’s gondolier a workout. But I can honestly say I’d never taken a woman to such heights of ecstasy—and I’m including the episode when I’d given Sesbania a whiff of the aphrodisiacal perfume [Ed. note: see Book One].

Melpomene didn’t conjugate Greek, or recite the Athens telephone directory; she just moaned. But that girl knew how to moan. She put body and soul into it. It would start with a quick, uncontrollable shiver, from the toes on up. Then the moan proper began, with a monosyllabic “Ahh!” followed by a rapid crescendo, which immediately led into a climactic trochee, the first syllable a sustained “Ohhh!” and then the finale, delivered in a higher octave—another “Oh,” though this one much shorter, and appreciably quieter. Afterward, the coda: another quick shiver, this one starting at the head and running to the feet.

When I ventured inside, I thought her tremors of delight would kill us both. Either our anatomies were somehow perfectly matched, or this was one very sensuous young lady. Whichever, I felt pleased to have her as a member of the harem.

The moment things were over, she pulled me close, then whispered in my ear, “Go. I know you must….”

“No hurry, really.”

“There’s no avoiding it! So go now!”

She shoved me away, and immediately took to bawling. I began then to understand her psyche: the lovemaking needed to be perfect so my departure would be all the more tragic.

Well, just so she was happy.

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To be continued…
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Them Shes Be Pirates may be purchased at: