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Pirate dead ahead
By Chuck B Alianza
Saturday, December 23, 2006
Rated "G" by the Author.
Two young teens encounter a pirate, head on.
PIRATE, DEAD AHEAD
“C’mon Joan, hurry! Mom said I could stay till dinner if you were with me, and maybe he’ll be there and you can see for yourself.”
Joan couldn’t help but smile as she watched Angie bouncing on her toes, waiting across the street. Her red hair, cropped short pixie style, shimmered like a fuse on a bomb, a short fuse. She was always so hyper and last year embarrassed Joan almost to death. She had hoped that Angie’s mother would count her old enough to go to the fair alone this year, but not yet. Maybe next year. The noises of the fair being set up crackled across the park like lightning and seemed to charge even the ground with anticipation. The rides, the games, exhibits and every year there was something new.
Joan took the street in long easy strides. Her brown hair swept softly against tanned shoulders. Eyes to match her hair, she smiled at Angie as they both turned toward the park and the sound of fun. The mile walk across the park seemed much closer in summer when it led to the fair rather than school. Pine trees that sheltered from the snow in winter, were in summer a welcome shade and played tunes when the wind strummed the needles. The long grassy slope down to the stream and up the other side was mostly brown now. Some called it a moat, but it was a stream, it was alive, and in the spring the bridge was the only way across. It really wasn’r\t so much now though and a person could just as well jump it as take the creaky wooden bridge, but everyone took the bridge. They just did.
Angie bounced along the trail at a skipping pace, waving trees out of her way and talking non-stop about the beautiful pirate that had smniled at her on the way back from the store just the day before.
“Angie, he’s just part of the carnival.” Joan aimed at her bouncing cousin.
“I know, but you should see him! He’s . . . as if real.”
“Fourteen year olds wouldn’t know real from marshmallows.”
“Well, look at you,” Angie stopped, hands on hips, tossing her head in mock snobbishness. “So you’re all of seventeen and know everything.” Her voice had a snap in it, but she was too high on sunlight and afternoon breezes to be angry. She twirled away down the trail sending her skirt flying.
“Angie, please! Not with a full skirt on. Whatever possessed you to wear that thing anyway/ You look like a gypsy or something.”
“Or a pirate?” With that, Angie turned as if to face an open sea, feet planted apart against the roll of the ship, a hand on hip and the other shielding her eyes from the sun on a dancing sea.
“Oh, good grief Angie. I’m almost embarrassed to be your cousin. Suppose someone sees you?”
“So what? I’m gonna have fun . . . “ She twirled again cazusing Joan to shrink a little and glance around hoping that no one was looking. “I’m gonna have fun,” she repeated. “before I get old like you,” sahe finished, her green eyes glinting. Joan could almost see the skull and cross-bones in them.
“Angie Lee, you just wait till we get home. I’m going to get you for that.”
“Why wait?” taunted Angie, skipping sideways down the trail with a wary eye on her cousin. Joan was a track star at North High and would have no trouble catching Angie, but Angie knew she wouldn’t chase her. Joan would never do something loike that. Never. But just the same, Angie wasn’t taking chances.
Then looking over Angie’s shoulder, Joan let a look of shock spred across her face. Angie had seen that trick before. Take her eyes off Joan for an instant and she’d had it. Suddenly joan brought her hand up as if to p[oint and that was the signal. Angie whirled, flipping her skirt high to free her legs that were already stretching for distance. The excitement of a chase screeched out of her mouth, then ended abruptly as her face buried in the musky odor of a shirt. A pirate’s shirt. She recognized the wide, free smile an instant before the full length collision. Strong arms grabbed her as she slumped toward trhe ground and she wished she could die. Just die.
“Whoa there fireball,” came a voice deep and somewhat amused. Then followed a chuckle that could have been captain Blackbeard himself.
Angie heard herself mumble an apology or something, then stumbled away from his steadying arms. His dark, full beard was real, and laughing eyes were deep and kind. Not at all like a pirate’s, Angie thought. Then she felt her fdace flush as she realized she was staring.
“Don’t let the get-up scar you,” he assured her, and there was that5 chuckle again. He swept his weathered pirates hat off with a flourish and bowed low with a click of his heels. Then turning towards Joan who was stifling a laugh, “I’m with the fair, you know,” he said, spreading his arms and looking down at himself.
It’s a little far out, but it’s a job.” His smile put Joan at ease and her instinct to curl up and back away from meeting people seemed to get lost somewhere. He ran a hsand through the dark curls that teased his ears. “I was wondering if you might know where the library is.” He turned including Angie in on the question. Angie’s mouth opened but nothing came out.
“The library’s at the top of the hill, next to the malt shop,” Joan answered quietly tilting her head and pointing up the hill with her eyes. “It’s not far. I’m sure you—“ But her thoughts got all tangled up as she turned back toward him. He didn’t seem to be listening but was looking at her in a way she’d never known before. The breeze tossed a curl across his forehead and his eyes seemed confused. He searched for words.
“I had some free time,” he began haltingly, “and thought I’d better do some studying on my thesis. Oyh I’m sorry, I’m Stan. I attend the University of Wellburn,” he apologized. “Ah, you and your sister wouldn’t happen to be on the way to the library, would you?”
“Well I…I mean we—“
“I’m really sorry about bumping into her.”
“Oh, she’s not my sister…I mean, she’s not hurt. We’re cousins. Sh’s Angie, I’m Joan.” Joan was embarrassed at her own confusion, but again his smile put her at ease and she laughed. They both laughed.
“Hi,” he said, twisting the brim of his hat.
Angie’s mouth was still open, but he didn’t see. His eyes never left Joan.
Joan felt an urgency to say something, but didn’t know why. “Do you like Wellburn?” she finally got out.
“Yes, well it suited my purpose.”
“And that is…”
“Psychology. My thesis is on uniting body, mind and also spirit to truly win at life. It takes off from a sports point of view, but applies to life in general.”
“Really? Maybe I need to read it. I’m a runner myself. Hope to make the marathon next year.”
“Well, how about that? You know, what I’m trying to prove may really help you. Say listen, how about showing me to the library, and I could sure stand a good chocolate malt too, then we can talk about it. How about it?”
“Sure! We were heading that way anyway…right Angie?”
“Yeh, sure, we were heading that way anyway.” Angie fell in step behind Joan trying to match her easy stride, which seemed to have developed an interesting swing, but she quickly gave up and went back to her bounce. Oh well, maybe next year she’d be old enough, and besides, he didn’t even talk like a pirate.
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|Reviewed by Chrissy McVay
|Great write and Merry Christmas!