He was leaning against a wood fence. As he leaned forward the vines came close to his nose. He could see the grapes. They were so bright and shiny that he could see the glint in his own eye within them. Monkeys were running up and down the branches having away with the prime fruit. It was their time, the sun was setting and the people weren’t ready to face the evening yet. He gave his beard a deep scratch. As he did it the fresh salt from the days sailing cut into his hand. It was a pain that had seemed immense the first day it had happened forty years ago but now comforted him beyond any other moment in the day. He always knew he’d done an honest days work when he had salt in his beard. Even if… especially if the day hadn’t been honest by other men’s standards. He knew what hard work was, and he’d never understood why one job was more honest in the eyes of the law than another. As long as you worked hard to get your money, as long as you worked the hardest to get your money then it must be your money.
A beautiful warm breeze fell towards him, the monkeys were chattering in the trees, and there was salt in his beard. This was the life for him. The only thing missing was women and wine. He turned around and walked into the bar.
Although it was quiet compared to his usual kind of establishment, there was murmuring from the tables. He put it down to the playing of cards which seemed quite intense. He approached the bar and sat at one of the stools.
The keep came over, and said, “what’ll it be?”
“The stakes must be high tonight.”
“Always high here.”
“Must be good for business.”
“We do alright.”
“The house always wins, that’s what they say.”
“That’s what they say.”
The keep looked at our man a bit more deeply. He suddenly realised to ask him something, “you don’t know where you are do you?”
“I’m in a bar aren’t I?”
“You’re in the most prestigious bar in all of the Windies. The most famous gambling den of the whole sub-continent. You’re in Tawnies.”
“Tawnies really. Never heard of it.”
“Well your loss,” says the barkeep.
“Not really my loss if I’m here is it?”
“No I suppose not.”
“Now lets get down to business.”
“Betting, drinking or pleasure?”
“Thought you’d never ask.”
“Thought I’d never have to.”
“Drinking first, pleasure later, and you’re to stop me betting at all costs. A piece for you if I’ve not bet by morning.”
“You’re on. So what’ll it be?”
“We don’t serve Bumbo here.”
“Well I’m not drinking grog.”
There was talk suddenly from the nearest table. Our man heard the word Bumbo being repeated several times.”
“We,” said the bartender, “don’t serve pirates here.”
“I’m not a pirate,” said our pirate.
“How do we know?”
“Serve me some rum, straight then if you must, but I won’t drink grog.”
“That doesn’t tell me you’re not a pirate.”
“Check my arm.”
“That just means you haven’t been caught.”
“Yes it does. But if you think you’re better than the entire Dutch West India Company then you’ve got another thing coming.”
And just as things looked to be getting ugly a square hat walked in. Rain dripping off his coat. He walked past everyone who had stopped playing cards and were only staring at him. As he walked past the window lightning cracked. highlighting what was left of his face. He made it up to the next door stool to our man and said, “This pirate causing you trouble? Because if he isn’t then I will.”
To be continued, please check back next week for Part 2.