* * *
The parrot sailed into the room, riding the breeze from the open window. Sunlight played across the scattered empty bottles, turning the floor into a stained glass carpet. The remains of a steak sandwich sat on a plate on the table. A trail of crumbs led from the sandwich to the groaning figure on the bed.
Ah. Captain. You are awake.
The parrot’s voice echoed inside the captain’s head. He roared from the depths of his blanket nest.
“Thusie, go away.” The captain threw a sock at the parrot. It missed, landing on the floor in a puddle of beer.
I have told you before, Captain. My name is Methuselah.
“Your name is… well it’s whatever I want it to be, dammit!” Captain Scarlight sat up. He swayed, clutching his head.
The men await your orders, Captain.
“I can’t give any orders, you stupid bird! I’m dying!” Captain Scarlight groaned to prove his point.
I am afraid that you are not dying. You are merely hungover. I believe I predicted this very outcome last night before you embarked upon your drinking session.
“Do you enjoy being such a smart arse?” The captain glared at Methuselah with bloodshot eyes.
I am no smartarse, I am simply reminding you of the events of yesterday. Now get up and get ready, we have a visitor on board.
“A visitor? On my ship? And no one asked me?”
I believe the governor asked you last night, somewhere after the third bottle of rum. You seemed to think it a jolly good notion then.
“Well who is it?”
Katherine Weaver, daughter of the governor. He wants us to show her around the ship. By us, of course, I mean you.
“Oh damn him to hell. Is she here already?”
Yes. She awaits your presence most eagerly. It would appear that your reputation as a swordsmith has preceded you.
“I am pretty good with a blade, I suppose,” said the captain. He hauled himself to his feet using a bedpost. He swayed as though the berthed ship were caught in a rolling sea.
Indeed. I shall return to your men and inform them that you shall be with us shortly.
Methuselah flew out of the room in a flash of electric blue and scarlet.
* * *The governor’s daughter stood on the small half-deck outside Captain Scarlight’s cabin. She wore her red hair in ringlets, and a dusting of freckles covered her nose. A maid stood behind her with a fan, while another held a parasol over her. Methuselah didn’t like to say so, but he considered her long dress to be impractical attire for a ship. He wondered at the wisdom of her father, allowing his daughter to meet with pirates. Visions of a brigand’s ball danced before his avian eyes.
The cabin door opened and Captain Scarlight made his entrance. He’d managed to find clean trousers, though a burgundy waistcoat hid the mustard stain on his white shirt. The shadow cast by the brim of his immense hat hid his bloodshot eyes. He adjusted his belt, and cleared his throat.
“M’lady, this is Captain Scarlight. Captain, this is Katherine Weaver, daughter of the governor,” said First Mate Swein. He bowed to the captain and to Katherine.
“My lady Katherine, what a good honour it is to meet you,” said the captain. He removed his hat with a flourish, bowing deeply. Katherine giggled, and held out her hand. The captain kissed it gently. Methuselah was impressed; he rarely made time for such displays of chivalry, especially with a screaming hangover.
“Please, captain, call me Kitty. All my friends do,” replied Katherine. She fixed the captain with an intense stare, and suddenly it made sense. Girls often threw themselves at Captain Scarlight, hoping for a whirlwind romance or a life at sea. The captain never seemed to notice.
“Then I shall do so likewise,” said the captain.
“I hear you have a telepathic parrot. Is this the bird?” asked Kitty. She pointed at Methuselah.
“He is indeed. His name is Methuselah. I rescued him from an evil pirate several years ago. Yes, he'd be a goner if it weren't for me,” said the captain. Methuselah rolled his eyes; that’s not how he remembered it.
“Will he talk to me?” asked Kitty. She reached out a hand to pet Methuselah. He allowed her to gently stroke his feathers.
“Say something to Kitty, Methuselah, there’s a good chap,” said Captain Scarlight.
“Who’s a pretty boy then? Polly wants a cracker! Arrrrrgh! Pieces o’ eight!” screeched Methuselah.
Kitty looked at the Captain, her green eyes wide like saucers.
“I thought you said he was telepathic?”
“He is. Come on, Thusie, say hello to Kitty the way you talk to me,” said Captain Scarlight. He prodded Methuselah. The parrot glared at the captain, puffing his chest up in indignation. He let out a single caw in reply.
“I do not think much to your bird, Captain,” said Kitty. She turned, and allowed herself to be led back to the main deck by First Mate Swein.
“Oh, you do delight in making me look stupid, don’t you?” The captain glowered at Methuselah.
I do indeed, Captain. Where else could I find such amusement, other than that which I make myself?
Captain Scarlight slunk back to his cabin, the sound of parrot laughter rattling around inside his brain.