Friday 15 October 2010

Friday Flash - Flintlock Roulette

“Garrrh, poker’s for wenches!” said Captain Scarlight.

He knocked back the last dregs of his grog, slamming the tankard on the table.

“You do keep winnin’, Cap’n,” replied First Mate Swein.

“That I do.”

“I heard talk of a game of roulette in these parts,” said Swein.

“Roulette is for wenches, too!”

“It makes a change from poker.”

“True. Garrh, alright then, where’s this roulette game?” asked the Captain.

“A bar near here. The Rotten Pegleg,” replied Swein.

“Then we go to the Rotten Pegleg!”

* * *

The Rotten Pegleg stood at the end of the quay. Candlelight fought its way through the grime caked on the windows, throwing misshapen shadows across the wharf. A peg leg infested with woodworm hung from a pole outside.

A toothless hag sat at the piano just inside the door. Her gnarled fingers laboured through a mournful dirge in the quiet bar. Four men loitered near a round table in the middle of the room. A fat man with a mop of hair the colour of dishwater stood behind the bar.

“Barkeep! I heard there was a game of roulette going on,” said Captain Scarlight.

“That there is. Yer in luck, me friend. We needed another player ‘fore we could get going,” said one of the men. He grinned, displaying a mouth of black teeth.

“Have ye ever played flintlock roulette?” asked another man. Twisted scars snaked up his face and under his bandanna, encrusted with sweat and filth.

“Can’t say I have, I’m a poker man, myself,” replied the Captain.

“I don’t like the sound of flintlock roulette,” said Swein.

“Ah, ye brought a wench with ye!” roared the black-toothed man. Swein blushed.

“This is my first mate,” said the Captain. “But I must have a drink before we play.”

The Captain walked over to the group. His gaze fell on a rusty cage in the shadows at the end of the bar. A beautiful blue parrot sat hunched on a perch, too large for the size of the cage. It looked at him with doleful eyes.

“What a beautiful bird!” said the Captain.

“He’s supposed to be my main attraction. I got ‘im from a passing gypsy. Little liar told me ‘e was telepathic, but I ain’t ‘eard anythin’ to prove it,” said the barkeeper.

“All the same, he’s gorgeous. What’s his name?” asked the Captain.

He stuck his finger through the bars and stroked the bird’s head. The parrot leaned nearer, enjoying the attention.

“Dunno, never bothered to give ‘im one. ‘E might end up in me dinner if ‘e doesn’t do something useful soon,” said the barkeeper. He handed Captain Scarlight a drink.

“I’ll take him,” said the Captain.

“Ah ‘e ain’t for sale,” said the barkeeper. “But if ye win yer game, I’ll reconsider.”

“Are ye ready, strange cap’n?” asked the pirate in the bandanna.

“That I am! So how do we play this?” asked the Captain.

“We put the deeds to our ships in the middle of the table. We get blindfolded, and walk around the table. The hag tells us when to stop. Ye sit down, pick up the flintlock in front of ye, and fire,” said the pirate.

“Only one of ‘em has shot in it. If ye get the shot, ye keep the ship of the man ye shot,” said the black-toothed pirate.

“That doesn’t sound like much fun,” said Captain Scarlight.

“Are ye yeller?” asked a third pirate.

“No, I just like my head where it is, thank you,” said the Captain.

The pirate in the bandanna pulled out a pistol. He aimed it at the Captain’s chest.

“Ye join in, or I shoot yer now.”

“I guess I’ll just have to play then, won’t I?” said the Captain. He turned to the barkeeper. “But I get the bird if I win.”

The barkeeper nodded. Swein moved to the door.

The pirates put on their blindfolds. They walked around the table, arms outstretched. The hag shouted, “Sit!” The pirates reached for the nearest seat. Captain Scarlight fell into a chair by the bar.

The pirates fumbled around the table. Their hands found the flintlocks, and five hands picked up five guns. Five thumbs cocked five hammers.

I would suggest you duck.

Captain Scarlight started at the voice in his head. He looked around, before remembering the blindfold.

My name is Methuselah, and I am the bird on the bar. Please trust me.

The voice made the Captain’s ears itch. He shook his head.

“!” said the hag.


Captain Scarlight ducked. The deafening crack of a flintlock filled the room, followed by the thump of a lead shot into wood. The Captain tore off his blindfold to see a smoking gun pointed straight at him.

Scarlight scrambled out of his seat. The pirate holding the smoking gun pulled off his blindfold. His expression morphed from triumph into anger when he saw the hole in the wall.

“Cheat!” he screamed.

“Captain!” cried Swein.

Captain Scarlight grabbed the bird cage and ran across the room. The pirate tracked the captain across the bar, pulling the trigger until he remembered flintlocks held a single shot. The other pirates pulled off their blindfolds to see the commotion.

Swein yanked open the door and the Captain darted into the cold night air. Swein ran after him as the four pirates fell out of their seats in the hurry to pursue Scarlight and the stolen bird.

The Dead Calm lay further up the quay. Scarlight and Swein sprinted up the gangplank. The crew hauled the board onto the deck. The pursuing pirates missed their footing and plunged into the sea. Scarlight’s crew jeered at them as they cursed the Captain from the dark water.

“What’s this then, Cap’n?” asked Billy the Bosun.

Scarlight stood up and opened the cage. The parrot hopped onto his forearm.

“This is the newest member of our crew, er...”

Methuselah. My name is Methuselah.

* * *

If you'd like to read more tales of Captain Scarlight and Methuselah, click here!


Sam said...

Hahaha! "I would suggest you duck," nearly had me cholking on my coffee. A brilliant parrots and piracy installment.

Icy Sedgwick said...

Pirates in Newcastle actually used to play flintlock roulette! I'd been struggling to think how they might have met, and I needed some kind of scenario in which they're indebted to each other, so when my haunted pub guide told me about flintlock roulette, it was perfect!

Anonymous said...

Nice idea, taking inspiration from the stories we were told on the haunted pub crawl. :D

Icy Sedgwick said...

I firmly believe you can find inspiration anywhere.

Anonymous said...

w00t! All kinds of fantastic awesome! Love it. These two are so much fun. More parrots and piracy. A great way of bringing these two together.
Adam B @revhappiness

Marisa Birns said...

Loved finding out how the Captain and Methuselah met. :)

Great description here! From the peg leg infested with woodworm hanging on the pole to the dishwater-colored hair, and the twisted dirty, sweaty scars.

Tony Noland said...

That is a very polite parrot.

The Four Part Land said...

Love the parrot, and its sense of humour. Had me grinning ear to ear.

Anonymous said...

This was great fun! Loved the parrot's lines, so matter-of-fact. Your descriptions are wonderful. The windows, for example, made quite an impression on me. Thanks!

Take care,

Unknown said...

Fun story. I'd be wary of a tavern with such a name. I like the hag.

shannon said...

Awesome job with the dialect! Nasty little game but I'm glad he rescued the bird. Wonderful story...inspired from a haunted pub crawl? I'm so jealous, that sounds fun.

Unknown said...

Marvelous! And what a... er, romantic meeting. :)

I love these guys more with every story you tell. Just excellent!

CathrynLouis said...

Cool. Would be nice to have a bird like that...

Laurita said...

What's more fun than pirate speak? Nothing. That's why your story is made of awesome.

Eric J. Krause said...

Awesome story. Glad we now know how Methuselah joined up with the captain. And that's one vicious game of roulette!

~Tim said...

We finally get the story of how the Captain and Methuselah met! And now I want to hear more about that haunted pub crawl.

Anonymous said...

Loved it! Sounds like a useful parrot to know- I think I'll be reading the other stories before too long...
Kari @ The Best Place By The Fire

Steve Green said...

Nice one, when flintlock roulette was first mentioned I thought "Nah, they only hold one bullet" but soon all was revealed. :)

I can see the parrot becoming something of a celebrity too, and stealing all the best lines. :)

Icy Sedgwick said...

Marisa - It's a story I've been wanting to tell for a while, so I'm really glad people have liked it.

Tony - He is very well-spoken, yes.

Mr Four - He's a debonair bird!

Jessica - Thank you!

David - Yes, you'd think the tavern's name might have put them off, but Scarlight's not known for his common sense...

Shannon - Yes, our guide dressed as Captain Jack Sparrow and took us around some haunted pubs - epic fun!

Grace - Oh there's plenty more stories there, too!

Cathryn - Oh tell me about it - I go to the zoo and see the parrots and get so disappointed when they're not telepathic...

Laurita - Ha, I'm glad you liked it!

Eric - Heh, yeah, I had to tell this eventually!

Tim - I might do a post about the haunted pub crawl, actually...

Placebythefire - I hope you enjoy them!

Steve - Methuselah's my little avian rock star.

Pamila Payne said...

I love Methuselah. He reminds me of Jeeves in the best possible way.

A. S. Boudreau said...

love the parrot! LOL :)

Crystal said...

Ha ha ha that was great!


Good thing he was smart enough to listen.

Monica Marier said...

Mexican standoff, roulette! Only slightly less awesome than a telepathic parrot! Truly fun and original, Icy. Well done, you!

Anonymous said...

Love the story of how they met. This was perfect! I love these two characters.

John Wiswell said...

It's clear you enjoy writing that mouthy bird, despite Methuselah's lack of a mouth.

Hurray for Mexican standoffs!

mazzz_in_Leeds said...

Methuselah rocks!
Did anyone else have a childish gigle at the thought of a parrot saying "duck"?

AidanF said...

Another origin story this week. I enjoyed learning how Captain Scarlight and Methuselah met. One question, did the Captain ever put his deed on the table? I gather he didn't and the pirates didn't care since they thought they'd get the deed after his death anyways.

Carrie Clevenger said...

Getting around to reading...FINALLY! Apologies for being late to the party. This had a nice genuine feel to it reminiscent of real piratey-type activity. Thusie seriously wanted out of that cage, a clever tactic. But how did he know the good Capt'n was really good eh?

Mari said...

Ohh, finally we got to know how they met! Love the pirate talk and the connection between them. I'd hate to see Methuselah becoming some stinky pirate's dinner. He's too cool for cooking! lol

Cathy Olliffe-Webster said...

Icy, that was a terrific story. TERRIFIC! I read it this morning with my coffee and I was totally immersed in it! The captain is very likeable - I kept picturing a young Harrison Ford. The parrot is outstanding. I love the pairing but this, I think is the best one yet. My pulse raced as the adventure intensified.
Way to go, girl!

Genevieve Jack said...

When I grow up, I want to be a toothless hag. They are in all the best stories. This was fabulous! I love these two and to finally learn how they came together did not disappoint. You have the "pirate" voice down.

Anonymous said...

Love it! The dialogue in these pieces is so good. Really first class, Icy.

Anonymous said...

I will be reading your other Scarlight stories, but you are right, they can be really enjoyed as stand-alone stories. Are you sure you're not a pirate? The dialog is great Icy.And I love the hag: I have a picture of her drumming out a very perky pirate-type ditty.

Cat Russell said...

The bird has more brains than the Captain, and I'm glad they ended up together. Seems like they'll be good for each other!

Nicely told.

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