A Pirate’s Life
My finger traces the swirling wood pattern. The surface is surprisingly smooth as from a distance it appears rough and grainy. I stare at the dark brown circles that are sprinkled over the boards; it feels like they’re staring right back, like eyes. The eyes of the ship that must witness so much life and adventure. The familiar longing fills me to the brim, and I feel the pang of boredom and lack of liveliness within me.

My attention snaps back to reality when I hear the gunfire start. The Waltzers have begun storming the pier in hopes of getting to a ship-most likely ours. I pull my gun out of my pocket and glance over to the other people hiding. Interesting. They’re not there anymore. I slink around the wide pillar that I had been hiding behind and peeked around the edge. I look over to the port side of the ship just as Jocelyn , my closest and most buff fellow prison escapee, leaps from the edge, across a thin pier, onto the surface of another ship docked next to ours. Why in hell would she do that?

My .38 in hand, I jog lightly over to the wall of the ship, and end up behind a large crate. I hope I don't have to use my weapon as I'm not necessarily a good shot. Plus, killing people is not a pastime of mine. I peek around the edge of the crate and note that none of my compatriots are on the deck of the ship. I look up to the roof of the cabin and I see the silent sniper set up with her rifle. I follow her barrel’s line of sight to see where she’s aiming. I see a dozen Waltzers in open combat with some of our pirate friends. Guns fire from both sides and melee weapons glint in the sun as they meet each other in the air. Shouts and grunts create the only noise on this cool morning.

I watch the shooting and slashing for a couple minutes as I decide what to do. I don’t want to jump in the combat since it’s really not my fight. I look back over to the door to below deck and decide the fifteen feet to safety is worth the risk. I bend my head down and run along the crates that are lined up near the edge of the ship. I only have a few feet of open space to run and then I will be safely below deck.

I peek over the top of a crate and see the fighting continue below on the pier. The crowd has moved closer to the ship, but nobody appears to be paying attention to what is happening up here. I dart across the open section of deck to the door. I open the thick oak door to a dark narrow staircase. I take one look back across the ship and pad carefully down the stairs.

The stairs open up into a spacious room. Light filters in through the portholes carved in the sides of the ship. A thin layer of dust has settled over everything in the room. Due to the poor lighting and dust, the room is in a gray haze. It appears to be about three quarters the length of the deck-about 20 feet long and 15 feet wide. The room is filled with more crates. These appear to be different from those above deck. The crates above are about three to four feet high and wide. These, however, are about five to six feet tall and wide. Holes about three inches in diameter are cut at the top of every crate, and there are four crates total.

I walk along the isles created by the crates. I touch the side of the crate, wondering what could possibly be inside. I turn the corner around the outermost crate and I hear a noise. I turn towards the four crates. The noise sounded like a slight cough, but I only hear silence as I pause and listen. I start to move back towards the crates to investigate further when I see light pour in from the door way to the top of the deck. I hear someone yell for me- I guess I’ll figure this out later.

I go to the bottom of the stairs and it’s the silent sniper. She opens her mouth and all she says is “Get up here."

I run up the stairs and there is chaos on deck. Pirates both wounded and not, run around frantically pulling sails and getting oarsmen together. The oarsmen, including a couple of my fellow prison escapees, pound down the stairs, presumably to get into position. I see the Waltzers advancing to the ship. A few fallen pirates litter the pier. The Waltzers step over them and continue to fight their way through. I see the few remaining fighting pirates give a few last shots and turn to get back to the ship.

Someone yells for the captain, Frank, but he is nowhere to be found. I hear someone respond that they haven’t seen him since the night before, at the bar. I grimace. We need to get out of here.

The Waltzer are getting closer and more run from the direction of the bazaar. This appears to be the first battle in the war, and the pirates may not be equipped to win. A pirate shouts, asking if anyone can captain the ship. My mind flashes back to when I lived in Madison, and I was trained to boat race on Lakes Monona and Mendota. Well, I’ve got some skill in boating. How hard can this one be?

“I can do it!” I scream over the noise. The pirate asking for a captain nods in my direction and runs over to help someone with a sail. The sniper gestures towards the cabin.

I follow the sniper into the cabin where the enormous captain’s wheel waits for me. She gestures to it and then takes a position near the door.

I put my hands on the spindles protruding from the wheel. The oak is smooth under my hands, and I can see worn out places where the actual captain steered this great wooden monster. I take a deep breath and turn the wheel slightly to the left and right, testing it out. I have some skill in sailing as I did some on the lakes and rivers in my hometown. This is different though. The boats I’ve dealt with have been about half the size of this one. I take another deep breath and hope that luck is on my side.