* * *
"Have you seen this, Thusie?" Captain Scarlight leaned back in his chair, holding open the newspaper. His telepathic parrot sat on his shoulder, reading the advertisement.
Voodoo? You are not being serious, Captain?
Methuselah's words echoed around the Captain's mind. He shook his head; a conversation with the parrot left him feeling like his ears were full of water after a swim.
"Why not? She's offering to pay well, all she wants is supplies," said the Captain.
Methuselah leaned in to read the advert again.
MEN OF LOW MORAL FIBRE REQUIRED. THE FAMOUS MADAME LA STRANGE IS RUNNING LOW ON VOODOO SUPPLIES. CAN YOU HELP? MINIMUM PAYMENT 400 PIECES O' EIGHT. CONTACT THE MADAME CARE OF GOVERNOR TREBUS, THORNY ISLAND.
400 pieces of eight is a lot of money, that is true. However, there must be some catch.
"Oh catch schmatch," replied the Captain.
Why is a voodoo woman working with the Governor?
"Who knows? Who cares? Money is money, and things have been tight lately," said Captain Scarlight.
Very well, Captain. As always, you know best.
"Damn right I do. Now, to the Governor!"
* * *
Governor Trebus lived in a small shack a mile inland from Port Thorne. Dirty straw covered the roof, and old newspapers blocked holes in the thin walls. A scrawny dog guarded the front door.
I have a bad feeling about this, Captain.
"Oh shush, Thusie. It'll be fine."
Captain Scarlight stepped over the dog. It whined in protest. Methuselah gazed down at the furry bag of bones. A pang of pity plucked his heart strings.
The captain knocked on the door. It rattled in its frame, one hinge threatening to come away altogether.
Are you sure this is the right place?
"Oh do stop questioning me, Thusie. This is the Governor's mansion, alright. I have an indefatigable sense of direction." He wagged a finger at the bird.
The door creaked open. A woman with black dreadlocks peered out. Mould encrusted the eye patch over her left eye. Her right eye burned gold in a face the colour of burnt coffee. Rings hung from the bony fingers wrapped around the edge of the door.
"Good morning, Madam. I am Captain Scarlight, and this is my parrot, Methuselah. I am looking for either Governor Trebus or Madame La Strange," said the Captain.
"You 'ave found dem both," replied the woman.
"I am Madame La Strange, and I am Governor Trebus," said the woman.
I told you this was a bad idea.
"I 'eard dat!" said the Governor. She glared at Methuselah.
"Forgive my bird. He is telepathic," said the Captain.
I think she has potentially worked that out for herself.
"Yes, I 'ave. Dey are very rare, Captain. 'E could be very valuable," said the Governor. She eyed Methuselah with interest. The parrot sidled along the Captain's shoulder. He tried to burrow into the Captain's mass of tangled red hair.
"To me, he is priceless," replied the Captain. He pulled himself up to his full six feet and three inches. "Now, we have come here about the advert you placed in the newspaper."
"Ah yes. I need supplies but I cannot leave de island," said the Governor.
"Because you are governor as well as Voodoo Woman?" asked the Captain.
"No. House arrest."
"I see. Well what supplies would you need, in exchange for the 400 pieces o' eight?"
"Forget de supplies. I will buy de bird for 800."
"He's not for sale."
"He's not for sale."
You offer 2000 pieces o' eight for me, yet you cannot fix up your abode?
"6000 pieces o' eight. Dat is my final offer."
"No deal. Methuselah is not for sale, and I don't believe we can do business for your supplies. Forgive us for wasting your time," said the Captain.
He turned to leave. The Governor lunged for Methuselah. Her fingertips brushed his tail feathers before the Captain darted out of her reach. She tripped and fell at his feet, scrabbling at his boots.
The Captain bent down and grabbed a handful of dreadlocks. He lifted her up by the hair. She screamed, clawing at his hand. She struggled to get her feet back on the ground. The dog looked up, but ignored her plight.
"I have already told you, Methuselah is not for sale. If you ever lay one finger on him again, then Governor or not, I will have your guts as strings for my piano," said the Captain. He glared at the Governor. Hatred and fear mixed in her golden eye.
The Captain noticed a tree to his right. Methuselah sat on the lowest branch to bring it within reach. The Captain tied the Governor's dreadlocks around the gnarled wood. Methuselah flew back to the Captain's shoulder, leaving the Governor dangling by her hair.
"Good day to you, Governor," said the Captain.
The pair walked back toward Port Thorne. Captain Scarlight rubbed Methuselah's head.
"Don't worry, lad. I'd never sell you," he said.
Neither of them noticed the white fingerprints on Methuselah's tail.