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Pirate Soul

Smashwords Edition 2012

Jennifer York

A pirate’s soul is a tangle of tarnished fish hooks and empty rum bottles, caught together with rope and a gaudy velvet sash someone that was someone’s weakness, because all the ladies like a little flash sometimes. Even a man who has spent eight months at sea might comb his hair and put on his best breeches and buttoned coat at one time or another. A pirate’s soul is an unclaimed thing, because God won’t take it, and the devil won’t have it, so it bobs on the ocean with a weird ruby red light.

I knew Thomas was in a dire spot, being charged with piracy. We had met in Port Royal many years ago. Because there was nothing else to be done with me, my family had secured a position for me on a British mercantile ship. After we were shipwrecked, I found myself wandering the lanes in the small town. To say I was frightened would have been a discredit to my manhood and my family, but I was nonetheless very, very concerned.

A series of hastily constructed shops lined a cobble road, with torches burning outside the door. These were two story structures, mostly, with crumbling balconies. There was a perpetual jangle of laughter mixed with argument. Strumpets leaned out of the windows, peering into the darkness, uncorseted to the waist, calling out wantonly to strangers in the dark. There were bottles of ale in the street, for everyone to partake, and partake they did. Parrots perched on the eaves, and sometimes they also dipped their beaks into the open containers of ale, flying off in a crooked pattern. Amidst all this confusion, adding to it, there was the dense tropical underbrush. Someone told me that natives still had a settlement in this tangle. That conversation now seemed like a long time ago, though in fact we had just reached the harbor a few hours earlier.

I met Thomas outside one of these taverns. His dark hair hung to his waist in greasy curls, and he had a silver scabbard. He had just lost a thousand pieces of eight in a gambling match, but in his inebriated state he took his loss with equanimity.

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