So the Pirate Drumpf secured a fine ark from a hapless seller who would soon find the bullion he held as payment was actually lead painted gold. It was sturdy and kitted out with heavy artillery and holds stashed full of the most tremendous stores, and he anointed to his circle of bandits those who praised the cut of his jib, even though that jib wiggled and wobbled not a little in firm breezes.
Each more loathsome than the last, his gang was noted for his or her unblinking service to the Pirate King, scarcely noting the sticky feel of blood that stuck to their shoes as they thrust forward to receive his blessing, his attentions, his tweets. We have waited all our lives for this moment, thought many, this chance to rape and pillage with the abandon of our forefathers who had no pesky people to record or take note, or who at least left behind none who could testify. The glory days, they called them.
Below decks were the sorry tangle of those who would be pulling the oars, supplying that blood and ruing the day the Pirate King had pulled into their harbour. Half were there of their own volition, promised jobs and a future on an island of constant sunlight, endless stores of food and fine maidens. They’d never been to sea, most of these fool soldiers, had no idea that the days they now dreaded would become endless weeks many would not survive. Oh, but the promises! The Pirate King had been many, many, many times, he assured them, as he furiously asked someone to go read Moby Dick for him, but who instead brought him a copy of the musical The Pirates of Penzance.
But the other half below decks were those who were held hostage, those taken against their will. They were the first to point out to other half that they were all ball and chained together, below decks in the dark with scarce rations. We’re in this together, they explained, as those on the other ends of their chains still rattled and clanked and told them they had it wrong. We are free, they exclaimed, freer than we’ve ever been! We’ve been promised sunlight and fine food and fair maidens, they cried, as they squinted in the relentless dark and gnawed on their leather belts. The fair maidens were up top, tearfully, yet futilely, trying to avoid the lecherous advances of the Pirate King and his Loathsome Gang who told those below their sacrifice was noble and would honour their families.
Fighting each other like the rats they were sharing quarters with, the huddled masses listened above as the Pirate King and his Loathsome Gang sent some of their number to the swirling depths from the end of a plank, for crimes both real and imagined. He called me fat, glowered the Pirate King, who was indeed fat, but owned everything in the world save for a mirror.
The weather was storm after storm, sending those below hurling against the walls of a thrashing ship as well as each other. The Pirate King’s quarters were lined in feathers but when that proved insufficient he had them relined with men pulled from the below decks. As the sky remained dark and the rain came day after day, the Pirate King, in incoherent and unpredictable fits of rage, took to sending even members of his own Loathsome Gang from the plank.
Those in the hold against their will asked yet again of those who had chosen if this did not give them pause. He is charting new territory! they hollered, their eyes sunken and their clothing in shreds, though some came to see those who had not chosen the Pirate King as their leader were finding solace in supporting each other, something those who had willingly followed were not.
The Pirate King and his unholy gang careened the seas, shooting up small fishermen and giant yachts, taking down cruise ships and tankers. There was no limit, because even two fish one lowly man no longer had meant two more for the Pirate King. Insatiable in his appetites, reckless in his movements and miserable to his core, he had only to look around at his Loathsome Gang of see himself reflected.
Below decks, diminished, distraught and realizing there was to be no permanent sunshine, no unlimited banquets and no fair maidens, those voluntarily in chains came, in time, to speak to those shackled by the fraud of the Pirate King. There are more of us than them, they all concluded. They are loud and they are armed and they have planks, but we have numbers.
And we have all been had.