Once upon a time there was a small pirate ship with a small crew of ten small pirates living on it. One day, one of the crewmembers by the name of Ol' Jim Crankyface found that his chest full of rusty old bent up bottle caps was missing.
"Arrrrrr!" croaked Ol' Jim, "some scallywag's pinched me favorite treasure box!" He raised the problem to the rest of the crew and demanded to know who the thief was.
"S'just bottlecaps," said One-Eyed Skip. "No great loss or nuthin'."
Ol' Jim found this quite an irksome attitude. "They's was me own treasure, so's they was! How'd ya feel if'n I stole ye torn up scraps've ol' newspapers?"
Skip laughed. "Ya think I care 'bout them scraps? They's just lining me parrot cage so's to facilitate cleanin' up the dung."
"I'll cleave ya to the brisket!" shouted Crankyface.
But Captain Arrrrenan put a prompt end to the bickering before any swords could be drawn with a tip of his wide-brimmed piratey captain's hat and but a few well-chosen words:
Treasure's treasure and dung is dung
A bottlecap pilfered's a rogue's heart stung
Now hear me well and do mind yer true duty
Ye'll search this small ship and find the lost booty
Ne'er a rogue's things should e'er go gone and missing
So if the thief be found, Davy Jones he will be kissing
You see, while they were truly pirates of a most reprehensible breed, the captain ran a fair ship according to rightful libertarian pirate principles. Never a pirate of his crew or a free passenger on his ship should ever have their private effects damaged or stolen or they'd be answering to the captain directly, and he wasn't a merciful man. 'Course the ship's law ended right there and so a violent hand raised against man, woman, or child outside the ship was good pirate form fair and true. But between brother rogues there was to be no violence or theft.
And so with a hearty "Yo Ho Ho" the ten small pirates searched the small pirate ship and quickly found the chest of bottlecaps hidden under the wooden steps leading down into the galley. The thief was not found. And that was that.
Until the next day when the bottlecaps went missing once more. Ol' Jim complained all the louder and Captain Arrrrenan gave the same speech as the day before and the ten small pirates resumed their Yo Ho Ho-ing and searched the small pirate ship and once more found the bottlecaps hidden under the wooden steps. And once again the thief was not found. And that was that.
Until the next day when the bottlecaps went missing yet another time. This time, however, Ol' Jim rose in the night and found them gone and ventured out onto the deck where he spied a dark and shady figure holding the chest. "Caught red-handed, ye arrrrr!" And Ol' Jim shouted, "Buckos! Me buckos! Avast! To arms, the thief!"
He couldn't tell who the thief was because he was wearing a mask. In fact, he was wearing a full body black latex costume with a black cat theme.
As the other pirates emerged from below deck they saw the villain and shouted "The thief! The thief! Who be the thief?"
"Ye'll never figure out who me is!" the roguish rogue declared! "Ye'll never see through me super-villain cat-burglar costume!"
"It's One-Eyed Skip!" said Two-Eyed Joe.
"Wuzza?" said the thief. "How'd ye see through me costume ye veritable super sleuth!?"
Captain Arrrrenan handled that one:
A scoundrel's a scoundrel, a thief is a thief
Mysteries and quandaries put pirates through grief
But counting is easy and we men count ten
Yet nine do I count and I'll count 'em again
There's one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine!
I know all yer names, and I surely know mine
One face is not here now, that is easy to see,
whether wearing one eye-patch or zero or three
The pirate now missing ain't Joe, Jim, or Zip
'Tis plain the masked villain is named: One-Eyed Skip!
The thief pulled off his mask and sure enough it was a one-eyed pirate with but a single eye-patch and a face that surely belonged to the rogue named Skip. He shouted, "Curse ye and yer basic logic, ye scurvy nerds!"
The scoundrel made for the mainmast and clambered as clamberingly as he could up the ropes towards the crow's nest. But a dearth of eyes made for a dearth of depth perception and while his effort was truly impressive, his inability to find sure footing on the ropes made his climb quite the challenge. And so he slipped and found himself dangling helplessly with his foot caught in a tangle.
"Help me, me buckos!" he cried. "I'm caught!"
So they climbed up and cut him loose and brought him down and took away the chest of bottlecaps and gave it back to Ol' Jim.
"Ye stole me bottlecaps," said Ol' Jim.
"Yarrr," said One-Eyed Skip that thieving scurvy dog of a thief.
"Why fore'd ye do it, ye scallywag?"
"Yarrrrrrrr," said One-Eyed Skip, "yarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr..." he said, scratching his chin, pondering his response, "yarrrr..."
And at last he answered:
A pirate has dreams
A scoundrel has wishes
Me wishes ye not makes me sleep with the fishes
Me wishes ye not makes me sleep with the fishes
For wishes be pow'rful
And dreams not relenting
Do goad, push, and prod me to deeds now repenting
Tis always me hunger
Since I's but a child
To bag a bit o' glee 'n be a wee bit o' wild
To adorn a cat costume
And burgle me best bucko
And pinch his paltry treasure and (alas) press me lucko
So be ye not vengeful
Me most fairest of friends
Tha's me dark secret, and there's me tale ends
The other pirates blinked. And they stared. And then they stared and blinked and stared some more. They didn't know quite what to think, so they just blinked and they blinked and they stood there and stared. Well, at last they took pity on him because he seemed quite pathetic. And besides, each one of them would be lying if they'd said they hadn't thought seriously about experimenting with illicit latex-costumed cat-burglary.
And Ol' Jim Crankyface, though his crankiness was legendary, came forward and was the first to lay a hand of forgiveness and understanding on the shoulder of the villainous man who'd taken his most trifling of treasures. And with tears streaming down the deep cranky wrinkles of his cracked and knotted face, he said, "Surely ye be me best bucko still now, and forever ye'll be me friend though ye stole me best box o' nuthins."
"Yo Ho Ho!" they all cried, and again, "Yo Ho--"
A huge blast of a cannon burst broke up the merry scene and then a cannonball tore right through the railing on one side of the ship and struck One-Legged Jonesy right in the back of his one remaining leg and he flipped over and flopped all around like a little pirate rag doll that had just been hit by a miniature cannonball.
"Avast!" cried Captain Arrrrenan. "It's that scurvy dog of a dirty rapscallion Black-Booted Bernie the 3rd. Arrrrrrrrr, me good-fer-nuthin' lost long half-brother of an arch-nemesis!"
Captain Arrrrenan was so angry that he himself readied his favorite pirate cannon for firing. First he carefully poured in the powder, and though he was super angry he was a pretty solid pirate captain so he kept his cool and was careful to load just the right amount. Then he pushed in the wad and then the biggest most deadliest cannonball he had with a red skull and crossbones painted on it even, which he'd been saving for just this very occasion. He rammed all that stuff down in there to the breech, and then he took the lit cigar out of his mouth and paused to say "Take this you dirty ol' sunnuva nasty rotten scallywag!" before he lit the fuse and turned around and put his fingers in his ears. (Safety first. Maintaining healthy ears is very important.)
The cannonball soared through the air over the water and for a few seconds there right smack dab in between the two small pirate ships the cannonball drifted in slow motion and it might have seemed to an observer who was watching a movie that there was a brief moment of calm and serenity and peace where the sweet-ass pirate theme music faded away to leave the soothing sounds of the ocean churning its pleasant little song of water lapping against the wood of two small pirate ships and maybe the call of a seagull or two, and strangely enough it was as though the red painted skull and crossbones was smiling a little piratey smile. But then the cannonball snapped out of its little slow motion calm before the storm moment and careened smoothly over and crashed right through the mast of Black-Booted Bernie's ship. First there was a little creak, and then a little crack, and then the mast started tipping over, and then it really started falling down, and though a couple badguy pirates tried to hold it up, it was just too heavy and it fell down and pinned a couple badguys under it. "Owwww!" they cried. "Arrrrrrrrr! Ow."
Well, the ships were right next to each other now, so all of Captain Arrrrenan's crew grabbed their swingin' ropes and swung right on over there to the other ship. Arrrrenan himself firmly held his rope with one beefy muscle arm while mid-swing he expertly drew his golden fightin' cutlass with the other and deftly lopped off three of Black-Booted Bernie's underlings' heads with a single swipe.
"Get over here, Bernie!" Captain Arrrrenan shouted. "You broke my ship's railing! And you're gonna pay for it to be repaired!"
"Oh yeah," shouted Bernie, "well, you broke my mainmast, so maybe you should pay for that, huh?"
"Psssh," said Captain Arrrrenan. "That was done in self-defense, that doesn't count! Now get over here and gimme your coin-purse!"
"Ha ha ha ha!" laughed Bernie. "No way! Come and get me!" And he scampered off towards the poop deck.
Captain Arrrrenan made a motion to One-Eyed Skip and Ol' Jim Crankyface to follow him and the three of them made a Triple Pirate Flying V Formation and chased after the nefarious black-booted pirate. A scurvy dog wearing a bandana and holding a knife in his teeth leapt out of a nearby barrel going "YARRRR!" and swingin' his cutlass at Ol' Jim, but luckily this guy was coming from the side of One-Eyed Skip's face that still had an eye on it, so Skip managed to turn in time and chop him hard right in the brisket, whatever that was.
"Skip," said Ol' Jim Crankyface, "ye saved me life!"
You see, thought Captain Arrrrenan about not having executed Skip for his wrongdoing. That's why forgiveness is always the best policy. Just as he finished thinking the profound thought, he hacked a couple of Bernie's pirates down and rushed towards the poop deck.
Just as he almost got there he saw a big pirate coming down the stairs.
"Aw crap," said Captain Arrrrenan to his two teammates. "This'll be Bernie's number one best UFC Fightin' Shaolin-Trained Champion First Mate Gun-Totin' Gary!"
"That's right, Captain Arrrrenan," said Gun-Totin' Gary. He pulled out his two seven-chambered silver revolvers, one with a glistening ruby handle and the other with a shimmering emerald handle, obviously taken very well care of and polished regularly even though this guy was a lazy ol' underachieving pirate first mate and not even a proper ship captain like any respectable pirate fightin' champion ought to be. He went on, "I've got fourteen bullets here with your name on them, and (Nota bene) I made absolutely sure to get fourteen shots ready for you 'cause I heard about you and how you survived that encounter with my cousin Thirteen Bullet Barry. Well, if you thought all you had comin' to you was a mere thirteen bullets then think again!"
And with that Gun-Totin' Gary pointed his revolvers and started alternately pullin' the triggers on both the ruby and the emerald handled weapons as quick as fourteen quick little lightning bolts. He made sure to count carefully so he didn't look like a doofus pulling the triggers on empty guns after he'd fired all the rounds. And then he spun his dual revolvers on his fingers and slotted 'em back into their proper holsters. And finally he looked at Captain Arrrrenan to make sure he had died.
And then he gasped!
Captain Arrrrenan had simply pulled off his hat and held it in front of his chest and caught all fourteen bullets with it.
"What the...?" said G.T. Gary. "How'd you survive? What hat is that?"
"Ha ha ha," said Captain Arrrrenan. "Yes, the stories are true. I can only survive up to and including thirteen bullet wounds, and of course that means that a full course meal of fourteen lead bullets would surely be my last. But you failed to realize one thing."
He paused for effect.
"You see, Gun-Totin' Gary," he said. "After I pulverized that cousin of yours, Thirteen Bullet Barry, I helped myself to his hat, which in my infinite knowledge of esoteric artifactual magic items I'd instantly recognized as the Legendary Impenetrable Leather Pirate Hat of Bullet Immunity.
"Later on I'd asked around the grapevine and learned the story of how he got it. He'd taken it from his brother Sharp-Eyed Rifle-Wielding Randy after pushin' him down the stairs and shootin' him thirteen times in the back, which, as you know, was his signature move. See, Randy had drunk all of Barry's rum and when Barry decided to make a mojito he found his rum cask empty and figured out who had done it and killed him in a crime of passion.
"Well, then their father the Great Gunsmith Grant Granterson was pretty mad 'cause he'd given Randy the hat as a birthday present, not even realizing that it was an ancient magical artifact of mystical usefulness. Plus, one of his sons had just killed his other son, so there's that too. Pretty annoying for a dad.
"Anyway, Barry fled and wound up hiding out in Bernie's stronghold, the Black-Booted Fortress, having joined up with Bernie's crew long before you had worked your way up to being Bernie's First Mate. Well, since you were there, you probably know this part of the story, so wait a sec, lemme go back to the part about how Grant Granterson even got the hat in the first place. You see-"
"Shut up!" Gun-Totin' Gary leaped forward and drew his larger-than-normal scimitar. (He was a large guy though, so it looked like a regular sword when he held it.)
But Captain Arrrrenan ducked out of the way and spun around to G.T. Gary's back side and slashed him open on one side with his golden fightin' cutlass. Half of Gary's muscles fell out through the hole and one arm deflated to become the arm of a wimpy little teenage nerd.
"Hey!" G.T. Gary said. "I need those muscles to fight!"
"Yeah, well, tough beans!" said Captain Arrrrenan, and as G.T. Gary turned to smash him with his other arm, Captain Arrrrenan promptly slashed open the other side of G.T. Gary's torso, and all the rest of his muscles fell out, and then G.T. Gary wasn't nearly so tough any more. G.T. Gary tried punching Captain Arrrrenan, but his punches just kept bouncing off 'cause he was all out of muscles and had no more strength.
"That's what I call a... a..." started Captain Arrrrenan, but he couldn't think of a clever one-liner, so he shrugged and just nudged G.T. Gary off the side of the ship where he splashed into the water and immediately got eaten by a great white shark.
Then he turned and raced up the stairs to where Black-Booted Bernie was waitin' for him up on the poop deck.
"Now," said Captain Arrrrenan, "you're in some deep poop!" Hey, he tried, okay?
"I don't appreciate your tone, Arrrrenan!"
"That's Captain Arrrrenan!"
"Oh right, Captain Arrrrenan, sorry. I don't appreciate your tone, Captain Arrrrenan, you dirty ol' dog of a scurvy pirate!"
"Well, too bad!" said Captain Arrrrenan. "I'm here to get repayment for that railing you broke on my ship!"
"I'm not paying for that! It was broken when I got here! It would have just fallen apart anyway."
"That's Black-Booted Bernie!" retorted B.B. Bernie.
"Oh right, my apologies," said Captain Arrrrenan. "Black-Booted Bernie. You broke my pirate ship railing! Why'd ya do it for?"
Black-Booted Bernie got a serious look on his face. He grimaced and he straightened his spectacles, and then turned and faced away from Captain Arrrrenan. Then he said in a stern voice, "you raided my Black-Booted Fortress and stole all my favorite casks of gunpowder. I didn't appreciate that very much, Captain Arrrrenan, I surely did not. Besides, I thought you were, like, some libertarian or anarcho-capitalist or something. What ever happened to the NAP?"
"No, no, no," said Captain Arrrrenan. "This is a really common misunderstanding. I'm a pirate libertarian. It's totally not even the same thing at all."
B.B. Bernie turned and scoffed. "What?"
Captain Arrrrenan explained. "In my little fantasy world, the NAP only extends as far as my crew and any other free passengers on my ship, like old college roommates or my lawyer friend who lives back in Port Royal, sometimes they come and get a ride on my ship, you know?"
"Seriously?" said B.B. Bernie.
"Yeah, I explained this at the beginning of the story, did you forget? Oh, uh... uh... I mean... you scurvy dog of a scallywonk?"
"I think you lost track of what this story was supposed to be about, Captain Arrrrenan."
Captain Arrrrenan scratched his chin. "Hmmmm, maybe you're right. Let's try this conversation again."
And he turned around and went right back down the stairs off the poop deck and then came right back up.
"Gotcha, Black-Booted Bernie!" said Captain Arrrrenan. "Gimme that coin-purse!"
"You broke my pirate ship railing! Why fore'd ye do it?"
B.B. Bernie straightened his spectacles, turned and thought for a moment, then turned and answered:
Sometimes in this pirate life
A pirate does what a pirate must do
And when a pirate does do what a pirate does
Then a pirate...
A pirate does what a pirate must do
And when a pirate does do what a pirate does
Then a pirate...
Captain Arrrrenan leapt forward and chopped off B.B. Bernie's head mid-stanza and caught the coin-purse before it hit the ground. He punted B.B. Bernie's head and it landed in a cannon on the main deck, and Captain Arrrrenan signaled to Fuse-Lightin' Fred to let 'er rip. He lit the fuse and the cannon fired and B.B. Bernie's head soared through the air over the water and for a few seconds there right smack dab in between the two small pirate ships, the pirate head drifted in slow motion and it might have seemed to an observer who was watching a movie that there was a brief moment of calm and serenity and peace where the sweet-ass pirate theme music faded away to leave the soothing sounds of the ocean churning its pleasant little song of water lapping against the wood of two small pirate ships and maybe the call of a seagull or two, and strangely enough it was as though the face on B.B. Bernie's head was smiling a little piratey smile and gave a wink even.