No Time for Fish Tales

This final book of the trilogy opens as our hero is sprung from his Nassau jail cell by a comely young friend. After conveying his gratitude in the usual way, he finds himself once more entertaining thoughts of a settled life. But will the Fates allow him to pursue this dream of a quiet existence, filled with domestic pleasures?

Rest assured, faithful reader, they most certainly will not.

Neither they, nor their mischievous sisters, the Mortal Sins, are finished with E. Pluribus Van Slyke. Nor are the vengeful Furies, punishers of a whole catalogue of crimes, nearly all of which he’s committed. Nor are the rebellious nymphs who liberate him from two subsequent imprisonments—and express their thanks for his ministrations as only nymphs know how. Nor is their father, the irrefutably mad Captain Bonnet. Nor are his fellow pirates, the ruthless Jean Lafitte and the annoyingly smug Jack Tigue. Nor is La Baza, the fiendish Cyclops now more determined than ever to rid the world of his cagy antagonist.


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:

No Time for Fish Tales
(This excerpt is from the opening of chapter one: The Power of Suggestion)

I spent five long months as guest of the Nassau jailhouse—one hundred and fifty-seven days, to be exact—so I speak with some authority when I describe the accommodations as loathsome: a tiny cell with walls of perpetually damp stone, a single window too high to look through, and a steel door with a hatch just large enough for my meals to be passed in. These meager offerings almost invariably consisted of some form of beans and rice, though once a fortnight or so, I’d be afforded a sort of fish stew. I say sort of because I never saw any actual piscine flesh, only the skeletal remains.

On Sundays, I was given a bucket of cold water with which to bathe and clean out my cell. Not even remotely adequate under the best of circumstances, but especially so since during working hours my labor was farmed out to Mr. Higgins’ Abattoir. I doubt there are any particularly pleasant jobs at a slaughterhouse, but having never risen from the rank of chief offal packer, that’s mere supposition. I can attest, however, to the efficacy of festering entrails as appetite suppressant. I generally went without lunch on work days, and having seen where the stuff came from, never really minded the meatless diet.

How I came to such circumstances is too long and convoluted a tale to be entered into here. (Worse, to do so might cut into sales of Books I and II.) Suffice it to say, I’d been charged (unjustly) with white slavery and sentenced to life at hard labor. The documentary evidence, I’ll admit, was irrefutable: I’d placed an ad offering a girl for ransom, or possible swap. But what of the case’s nuances? Such as the fact that the ad was simply a lure for the Amazon queen who’d crossed over to the non-fictional world and abducted my intended from the luxury liner S.S. Paris, a contumelious she-pirate who answered to the name Marpesia. After listening to my explanation, the judge stared at me blankly—never a good sign.

I held out hope I might receive a reprieve from the de facto czarina of the Bahamas, an enterprising woman named Gertie Littko. She and I’d had a brief liaison, and even made plans for the future. Not long after, I ran into a girl of my acquaintance down on her luck. Out of the goodness of my heart, I treated her to a meal and a room at my hotel. All quite innocent. And would have remained so if she hadn’t happened upon the last vapors of a particularly potent perfume. Deux nuits d’excès, it’s called, or two nights of excess. (Though due to its paucity and the girl’s reserved nature, in this case it amounted to just one late evening of determined abandon.)

Anyway, by the next morning Gertie felt betrayed and I’d been arrested. A scorned woman is a dangerous thing, but never more so than when she happens to hold the power of life and death over those she perceives as faithless. Just a word to the wise, or anyone planning a visit to fictional Nassau.

Happily, I was on somewhat friendly terms with one of the night jailers whom I’d met on a previous stay in the same cell. He’d occasionally give me little updates on happenings about town. Such as a visit by the pirate Jack Tigue, who made off with that damsel in distress I mentioned earlier. Jack also found time to announce his intention to have me drawn and quartered. You see, that girl—the one I’d advertised, Eugenia—was a childhood friend of Jack’s. So his attitude wasn’t altogether unreasonable. Luckily, he was dissuaded from assaulting the jailhouse when another, larger pirate airship arrived with the same mission in mind.

The Midnight Sun was commanded by none other than the man-hating Marpesia. When she heard that Eugenia had been taken away by Jack, she became irked—very irked. And her resolve to have me dismembered doubled. Marpesia, however, was more subtle than Jack. Rather than laying waste the jail, she simply offered the czarina a bounty: ten thousand gold doubloons. She didn’t need to ask twice.

But for once Lady Luck sat in my corner, and it was not me Marpesia received. There happened to be a fellow named Smedley residing in the jail who could pass as my double. For whatever reason—sentiment possibly, a perverse sense of humor, more likely—Gertie sent him in my stead. And I was left to continue my career shoveling offal. (Lady Luck has a pretty perverse sense of humor herself.)

Those two incidents had occurred within weeks of my arrest, and in the months since, I’d heard nothing concerning my own circumstances or prospects. Nor had I even a single visitor. Until, that is, one night in December….

Asleep on my plank, I was woken by a nearly forgotten voice calling from the hatch of my door.

“Pssst. That you in there, skeezicks?”


“Yeah. Get a move on.”

She fumbled with keys, then opened the door.

“Come on. We gotta run…. Jesus H. Christ! What’s that stench?”

“Me, I’m afraid. You get used to it.”

“Like hell I will…. Better follow me—and be quick about it.”

It wasn’t until we left the dimly lit passage that I saw her blouse was open. Then we came upon my friend the night jailer. He lay sprawled on a bench, passed out, with a bottle of rum in one hand, and his pants down around his knees. Aggie took the bottle of rum and corked it, then led me down another passageway. Soon we were outside, skittering from alley to alley. When we neared the docks, she headed to a little shed.

Only then did she seem to notice her open blouse. She turned away to button it.

“I hope it wasn’t—”

“Put a lid on it. I drugged him, see?”


“I assume you know how to sail a boat.”

“Of course. What sort of boat?”

“How the hell do I know? One with a sail. At the end of the pier here. I figure we got about six hours until daylight. Let’s move.”

It was a fishing sloop. I untied it and rowed us out as quietly as possible. At about a hundred yards, I unfurled the sails. There wasn’t even the hint of a breeze. I rowed out past the tip of Hog Island, which forms the harbor, and finally caught a breeze from the northwest.

“Can we make it to Miami?”

“It’d be slow going, tacking into the wind.”

“What if we go with the wind?”

“Well, Cuba, maybe. Might take a few days. Do you see a compass?”

I gave her the tiller while I looked about. There was no compass, just a couple gallon jugs of water and a sack of foodstuffs she’d stashed aboard earlier.

“Can’t you navigate by the stars?”

“Well, in theory.”

“Jesus. And you went to Annapolis?”

“That’s where I learned the theory. But the sky never seemed as simple as the star charts—too many extra ones cluttering things up.”

“Well, isn’t that Orion’s belt?”

“Very likely. But see, then you have to know where Orion will be on the night of December such-and-such, 1924, at… I don’t suppose you have a watch?”

“Pawned it to get the grub. Speaking of spondulicks, my editor back in real New York give you anything for that story?”

“He had trouble believing it, but he sent you three hundred and said for you to get back in touch when you’re sober.”

“Didn’t you tell him it was on the up and up?”

“I did. But he seemed convinced you were hitting the pipe again. Do you frequent opium dens?”

“Nix. But a girl’s gotta follow a lead wherever it takes her. I suppose the cops in Nassau got my dough?”

“Yes—plus another thousand.”

“So what brought you back to this side? I thought you were plannin’ on stayin’ behind with the rum-runner’s whore-wife.”

“I wish you’d stop calling her that. She’s just a kid who didn’t know any better.”

Just a kid. Wrapped you ’round her finger, didn’t she?”

“I’m here, aren’t I?”


“Just worked out that way.”

I told her the whole story: the trip across to authentic Miami; my meeting up with Congdon; Gertie’s fleecing of him; my abandoning Clem to Baker; the Navy preparing charges of gross negligence; my visit with Cousin Emmie; the visit to her by the thugs; Rutledge’s false accusation of theft; and, finally, the real theft of the seaplane.

“I take it you don’t figure on goin’ back anytime soon.”

“No, it was quite a relief leaving all that behind. Albeit a brief one. It wasn’t a day later I got arrested.”

“I been meanin’ to ask you about that. How’d you wind up a white slaver?”

“Oh, a simple misunderstanding.”

I told her about my pledge to Gertie, my meeting Eugenia, my placing the ad—and about the perfume.

“Jesus. Nothing simple about that. And again this perfume… Where the hell do I get some?”

“Not sure. Definitely not your corner drugstore.”

By then, the sun had risen. I could see Andros Island off to the southwest and kept us running parallel to the coast. About midday we came to the channel which splits that island in two and I took it over to the Great Bahama Bank. When night fell, and the island well behind us, I dropped the sails and the anchor and bathed beside the boat. When I pulled myself back aboard, Aggie gave me a sniff—then sent me back in for another bath.

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To be continued…
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No Time for Fish Tales may be purchased at: