Tick, tock, tick, tock, tick, tock, tick tock, tick, tock, tick, tock…
The room was mostly austere. There was a small table in one corner on which sat several small casks of gun-powder with black boot logos painted on them. There was an off-white canvas sheet covering a small heap of junk or clutter or something. There was a small window on one wall, through which one could see the entirety of the Black-Booted Bay, so called because it was the location of the Black-Booted Fortress, headquarters of that scurvy rapscallion of a pirate, Black-Booted Bernie the 3rd. There were two wooden doors on two of the other walls. And on the fourth and final wall yet to be described there was not a single thing at all, except for a picture of some pretty flowers in a purple vase and a lightswitch with a little skull and crossbones themed border around it and two ornate black cast-iron sconces with five glowing light bulbs each mounted in the corners and the clock ticking and tocking and like a single scrap of torn wallpaper hanging off the wall.
Well, the clock on the wall went on ticking and tocking and ticking and tocking. It’s what clocks did while they were waiting for something to happen, and this clock was certainly no exception to that rule. The rule to which this particular clock was an exception was the rule that clocks usually are not persons. This was the Fabled Tick-Talking Clock of Person-Being. It opened its eyes and looked this way, and then thattaway, and then thissaway again. And then it sighed. Nothing was happening in this small room. You’d think the Black-Booted Fortress of a Black-Booted Evil Pirate Captain Lord would have a lot more of interest going on.
But no, all that was going on for this clock to listen to was its own unending mantra of tick tock tick tock tick tock. Even talking Clocks can’t shut up their own ticking. That would be kind of like stopping one’s own heart from beating and we all know how that usually turns out.
So the Clock looked out the window and saw nothing but a bunch of boring clouds and a bunch of boring water and a boring ol’ pelican grabbin’ a boring ol’ fish. The Clock sighed again and shut its eyes. Wow, it was bored.
Then it opened its eyes again in surprise when one of the wooden doors opened suddenly and a very out-of-breath pirate ran into the room. He had spectacles on and black boots and was not smiling. He shut the door again and ran through the room and opened the other door and ran through it right on out of the room again.
The Clock blinked. And then it blinked again. And then the pirate poked his head back into the room and shut the door, leaving the room as it had been before he had entered.
The Clock blinked again. But then it heard something. “Get back here, Black-Booted Bernie, you dirty pirate of a rascal!” shouted someone from somewhere beyond the first door. Then that someone burst into the room, knocking the door clean off its hinges with a single kick. It was some kinda pirate with a plain ol’ small regular pirate hat and a golden cutlass in his hand. Well, he ran through the room and also kicked down the other door and went through it.
“Gotcha!” the Clock heard the pirate say. “Stop right there, Black-Booted Bernie!”
“Curses!” came the response from the other pirate with the spectacles and the black boots. “It’s Captain Arrrrenan!”
The Clock’s eyes widened and it gasped. “Wow!” it said.
~ ~ ~
Captain Arrrrenan ran through the small room and into the next room. It appeared to be a luxurious pirate captain’s quarters with a big Black-Booted bed and gold coins and rubies and treasure maps and assorted skull and crossbone themed paraphernalia scattered all around.
There was also a Black-Booted bespectacled pirate standing in the middle of the room.
“Gotcha!” said Captain Arrrrenan. “Stop right there, Black-Booted Bernie!”
“Curses!” said Black-Booted Bernie. “It’s Captain Arrrrenan!”
“Ye got that right, ye scurvy ol’ rogue of a scourge! For ten minutes I been chasin’ ye all o’er this here Black-Booted Fortress o’ yours and now I gotcha rightly cornered! So it’s time for ye to die or else beg for mercy!”
“Wait!” said the Black-Booted pirate. “I’m not Black-Booted Bernie!”
“Ye can’t fool me, Bernie, ye ol’ scoundrel! I see them Black-Boots o’ yours.”
“Nay, ‘tis the right and proper troof!” he insisted. “Me ain’t no Black-Booted Evil Pirate Captain Lord.”
“If what ye says is tha troof, then why doncha proof it to me ‘stead of yammering with that ol’ jaw’ve yers? And maybe I won’t skewer ye to death.”
The lyin’ dog of a pirate turned and hung a large black-framed picture frame on the wall over the big Black-Booted bed. He stood back, and when Captain Arrrrenan looked upon the picture frame he saw that it was a large full body portrait of his scourge of a nemesis, Black-Booted Bernie, complete with spectacles and Black-Boots and everything.
Then Captain Arrrrenan looked at the pirate he’d been chasin’ and gasped!
Without the large black-framed portrait in the way, he could see this truly weren’t no Black-Booted Evil Captain Pirate Lord at all. T’were a plain ol’ scurvy underling of a pirate! His boots were regular ol’ brown, and he had no spectacles upon his face at all. He didn’t even have a pistol or cutlass or nuthin’, just a dirty ol’ feather duster in one hand and a bottle've off-brand chemical cleaning agent hangin’ from his hip.
“Curses!” said Captain Arrrrenan. “Ye fooled me with yer’ tricksy disguise! Where’s yer Evil Pirate Captain Lord?”
“I’ll tells ye,” said the plain ol’ pirate. “He’s on sabbatical from pillagin’ and plunderin’ so’s he can be searchin’ for a new Great Gunsmith since that ol’ master of a gunsmith Grant Granterson retired last week. Black-Booted Bernie told me he was leavin’ to do that and I was to mind his pictures and his favorite casks of gunpowder and dust ‘em twice a day. He ain’t here, so just set the thought’ve murderin’ him outta yer mind!”
“Curses again!” said Captain Arrrrenan. “I done successfully raided this here Black-Booted Fortress all by meself and not a single right defeated and proper slain eternal-sworn arch-nemesis of a Black-Booted Foe t’ show fer it. S’enough te drive a pirate right up the wall with anger!”
As if to punctuate the point, Captain Arrrrenan casually swung his golden fightin’ cutlass and chopped that great portrait in two right down the middle and two half Black-Booted Bernies fell down on either side of the room.
“Arrrrrrr!” cried the other pirate. “Me handywork! All that dustin’ and cleanin’ for naught!”
And the pirate drew his bottle of chemical cleaning agent and starting sprayin’ it at Captain Arrrrenan with all his might! But Captain Arrrrenan just knocked it out of his hand with the hilt of his golden fightin’ cutlass.
So the pirate swung his feather duster hither and thither with great gusto, but once more Captain Arrrrenan knocked that out of his hand with a well-placed front kick.
But the pirate, right and proper enraged by the destruction of his Evil Pirate Lord’s favorite portrait, still didn’t give up! He started kickin’ and punchin’ and just generally floundering with his lame pirate fightin’ skills. And so Captain Arrrrenan got so frustrated that he stuck out one thumb and poked him right in the eyeball.
“Ow ow ow ow!” said the pirate, holdin’ his face.
“There!” said Captain Arrrrenan. “I done poked outcher eyehole. That makes me yer new master pirate lord, them’s the rules.”
“Yessir, so’s they are and fair’s fair,” said the pirate, nodding his head and pullin’ an eye-patch out of his pocket and puttin’ it on over his ruined eye. “Ye poked out me eye fair and square and that means from today until the end of all piratey days of piratey doin’s, this here scoundrel by the name o’ Custodial Skip is yer good and loyal servant.”
Captain Arrrrenan sheathed his golden fightin’ cutlass and smiled a big piratey smile. “So’s ye are, but from now on yer name’s One-Eyed Skip. By the by, I got me a bully custodian a’ready, so ye’ll be on fightin’ duty once I get ye right proper trained.”
“Yo Ho Ho!” said One-Eyed Skip.
~ ~ ~
The Clock was still busying itself being a person and just generally eavesdropping on the previously described encounter since it couldn't really do anything else except just passively go tick tock tick tock and so on and so forth, when the two pirates came back into the small boring room.
“Okay, One-Eyed Skip,” said Captain Arrrrenan. “Ye keep a lookout on that door o’er yonder while I help meself to these here casks of gunpowder. I had me eyes set on nemesis-destroyin’ but seein’ as that ain’t possible, I’ll settle for doin’ a little gunpowder stealin’ instead.”
So Skip set about pointin’ his looker at the door while Captain Arrrrenan turned his back and started to pack up the casks.
Well a moment later, the Clock saw someone come through the door. It was a large dangerous looking rogue, to be sure, with thirteen single shot pistols hangin’ all over his muscular frame and a silver killin’ knife hangin’ from his side and a big wide-brimmed leather pirate captain’s hat on his head. The Clock looked at this scoundrel and raised its eyebrows. Then it looked at One-Eyed Skip, and raised its eyebrows a little more. Skip was lookin’ at the door into Black-Booted Bernie’s private bedchamber, not the door out into the Black-Booted Hallway, so he didn’t even see the new pirate come in. And so the Clock looked back over at the newcomer and raised its eyebrows again ‘cause this big villain of a scoundrel drew one of his single shot pistols and leveled it right at Captain Arrrrenan’s backside and pulled the trigger.
“Yow!” said Captain Arrrrenan, takin’ a bullet right in the back and spinnin’ round and facing his attacker. “Who’re you?”
The big pirate smiled a big piratey grin with several gaps in his big ugly pirate teeth. “I’m Thirteen Bullet Barry, the nastiest ol’ nasty ye’ll ever meet! And the one to be killin’ ye! I heard about how ye got offa that deserted island me ol' master Evil Pirate Captain Lord Black-Booted Bernie the 3rd right proper deposited ye on and ye didn't die like ye was s'posed te nor even lose an ounce a weight from right proper starvin'. But if ye thought all ye had comin' to ye was a little island starvation then ye'd better think again!” The Clock raised its eyebrows a bit more as Barry drew another single-shot pistol and fired it right into Captain Arrrrenan’s chest.
“Oy!” said Captain Arrrrenan, “Stop it, that hurts! Skip, ye scurvy rogue, why didn’t ya warn me ‘bout this scallywag afore he shot me?”
One-Eyed Skip shrugged. “Sorry, Cap'n. S’only one eye on me face now so’s I couldn’t watch both doors all at the same time. And ye didn’t really specify which door ye meant so I did the ol’ eeny meeny routine and alas it came up the wrong way.”
“Aye, s’a fair point, so’s it is. Nevermind.”
Thirteen Bullet Barry fired a couple more single-shot pistols on Captain Arrrrenan and after an “Ow” and an “Ow” Captain Arrrrenan asked, “Skip, why ain’t ye helpin’ me fight off this here ruffian?”
One-Eyed Skip shrugged. “Sorry, Cap'n. Ye ain’t done me fightin’ trainin’ yet and I don’t wanna mess this up, and besides, ye right proper emancipated me from me best weapons a second ago.”
“Aye, s’a fair point too. Nevermind.”
Well, the Clock watched as the big pirate kept drawin’ his single-shot pistols one by one and emptyin’ their chambers into the pirate captain, and each time a bullet was fired the Clock raised its eyebrows a little more until at last after thirteen bullets had hit Captain Arrrrenan the Clock’s face was really starting to cramp up with the strain. Captain Arrrrenan fell backwards onto the small gunpowder cask table and clutched his chest and stopped moving.
“Arrrrrrrr!” said Thirteen Bullet Barry, walking over to the fallen pirate captain. “That ought’ll teach ye to be burglin’ me favorite Black-Booted Evil Pirate Captain Lord.”
Well, the Clock’s eyebrows weren’t done raising yet, since just as T.B. Barry got within punchin’ distance of Captain Arrrrenan, the brave pirate captain’s eyes shot open and looked right into Barry’s villainous eyes. “Ye think a mere thirteen bullet wounds to me body’s gonna stop me, ye ol’ fool of a joker?” Then Captain Arrrrenan, still clutchin’ a cask of gunpowder, punched Barry in the gut so hard that his belly was right proper punctured and then he pulled his hand back out again without the cask.
“Take this, ye nasty ol’ scurvy dog of a Black-Booted Evil Pirate Captain Lord’s rogue of a second-rate miscreant of a crony!” shouted Captain Arrrrenan. Barry reached for his killin’ knife, but Captain Arrrrenan was a touch faster and when Captain Arrrrenan punched him again right in the gut, he punched with such force that the gunpowder ignited and Thirteen Bullet Barry exploded into thirteen little Barry pieces scattered all over the small boring room.
The Clock’s eyebrows just lifted right off its face at this point and fluttered gently to the ground. Captain Arrrrenan spotted them and then looked right at the Fabled Tick-Talking Clock.
“Whoops,” said the Clock. “Busted!”
“Aha!” said Captain Arrrrenan. “One of Black-Booted Bernie’s spies! I’ll hand it to me ol’ nemesis, he surely knows how to get his spies into the most remote and exotic of places. I can’t never keep the scallywag outta me business and so’s he’s always figurin’ out me plans and—Skip, why ain’tcha lookin’ at this here magic Tick-Talkin’ Clock with me?”
One-Eyed Skip shrugged. “Sorry, Cap'n. Me eyesight ain’t so good as it used to be since me vision range got right proper halved in half when ye done poked out me favorite eye-hole.”
“Aye, s’the fairest point ye’ve made so far, me bucko. Nevermind.” And Captain Arrrrenan walked over to the Clock on the wall and delicately cleaned a chunk of Barry’s guts off its topside and looked right into its two beady little magic Clock eyes and frowned.
“Ye listen well, ye good-fer-nuthin bilge-rat of a Black-Booted Pirate Lord servin’ magic Clock of a villain,” said Captain Arrrrenan. “Why ain’tcha announce yer presence sooner like a right proper polite buckaroo?”
The Fabled Tick-Talking Clock of Person-Being answered him in a right proper dignified fancy English professor accent. “My apologies, Captain Arrrrenan. The issue is that I've had such a scarcity of recreation for so many months and become so thoroughly accustomed to having nothing to fill my time nor even so much as a single civilized person to speak with, that I found my enthusiasm for speaking had drained right out of me, leaving me but a veritable shell of a Magic Talking Clock rather than the loquacious fellow you would be perfectly reasonable to expect.”
“Well, I ‘spose that makes sense,” Captain Arrrrenan said, scratchin’ his chin. “S’prolly right proper boring to hang on a wall all the time, ain’t it?”
One-Eyed Skip came over and eyeballed his last remainin’ eyeball at the clock as well. “Wow, lookit the time, Captain Arrrrenan, it’s four-thirty already?”
“Curses!” said Captain Arrrrenan. “I meant to be done with me dirty deed and outta here by quarter to four and here I am foolin’ around explodin’ Black-Booted Evil Pirate Captain Lord servin' enforcers and chattin’ up the local magic timepieces.”
Captain Arrrrenan turned and found Thirteen Bullet Barry’s head and plucked off his wide-brimmed leather pirate hat and took off his own ol’ stinkin' dungball of a hat and tossed it out the window onto the water of the Black-Booted Bay where it was immediately eaten by a great white shark. Then he put the new right proper hat on his head and gathered up the rest of Black-Booted Bernie’s favorite casks of gunpowder and turned again and said, “come on, One-Eyed Skip, time to go.”
But he stopped at the door and turned to look at the Clock, “Hear me well, ye ol’ dirty snake of a Clock. I ain’t done with yer master Black-Booted Bernie. Ye best be warnin’ him I’m comin’ for him again once he’s done romancin’ gunsmiths or whatever right proper villainy he’s up to. And he’d better have more up his nasty ol’ sleeve of his’n just thirteen bullets and remote desert starvation islands or he’s gonna have a hell of a bad day! And ye too if ye don’t mind yerself! Don’t think I won’t smash a clock just cause I feel sorry fer ya that ye can’t walk or play cards or nuthin, but seriously though that sounds pretty boring and I feel right proper sorry for ye.”
“Don’t worry about it,” said the Clock.
And then Captain Arrrrenan walked right on out of that Black-Booted Fortress with One-Eyed Skip followin’ behind him.
Then the Fabled Tick-Talking Clock of Person-Being blinked and blinked and ticked and tocked and got right back into its unending mantra of tick tock tick tock tick tock.
“Best day ever!” said the Clock. “Wow!”