Aaaarrrr, me hearties!”
“Oo-arrr, me hearties!”
“No,” Captain Greyflash sagged, his voice returning to normal. He pinched the bridge of his nose with his left hand. “Not ‘oo-arr’. We’re pirates, not farmers.”
“Actually, Captain, I am a farmer,” piped up a smaller recruit. “I was travelling across to open a sugar farm on Barbados when you attacked our ship and pressed me into service.”
“It was always voluntary!” the Captain protested.
“Yes,” replied the recruit. “You said I had a choice. Join the crew or be cut into tiny pieces and fed to the marsupials.” A few crew members nodded approvingly at this threat. No-one on board knew what a marsupial was, for sure, but they knew they lived in Australasia and that was a feared and dangerous place.
“And you volunteered to join the crew,” Greyflash twiddled the end of his large beard into a point, then rolled it through his fingers. “Perfectly reasonable bargain I struck.”
“NOW,” he roared, re-finding his professional voice. “BACK TO YER STATIONS, YER LILY-LIVERED SWABS OR I’LL KEELHAUL THE LOT O’ YER!!”
Later, in his self-consciously sumptuous cabin, Greyflash sat on the edge of his hammock and turned his cutlass over in his hands.
“Am I a good pirate?” he asked himself. “Is my work here true to the spirit of piracy?”
A noise made him look up. A puff of dust, red and shining, glittered in the sunlight slanting through the timbers of the ship. A laugh, tiny and delighted. Something zipped past his face and he felt a tiny pressure on one corner of his tricorn hat. He took it off to see what had landed there.
He was face to face with the tiniest person he had ever seen. A woman less than a hand’s width in height, entirely red. Red skin, red clothes. She grinned at him.
“I’m the Red Fairy, Captain Greyflash,” she said, in a voice like tinkling bells. “I’m here to grant you one wish, and one wish only. But I warn you… it must be a pirate wish!”
Captain Greyflash was almost too dumbfounded to think. However, he recovered himself magnificently and pulled himself to his full height to announce “I have no need of wishes! I am the most feared pirate of the Caribbean!”
“Suit yourself,” the Red Fairy shrugged, flying off his hat. “I can always give the wish to a member of the crew.”
Back on deck, the crew lined up. The former farmer now sported a greasy bandana, foraged from who knows where. Captain Greyflash paced up and down the ranks.
“Arr, me hearties!” he cried.
“ARR, CAPTAIN!” the crew replied in perfect unison.
“What do we want?”
“BOOTY, CAP’N!” Oh, Cap’n, too. This was too perfect.
“And how do we get it?”
“PLUNDERING LANDLUBBERS!” a trill of red sparks whistled past the mizzenmast, noticed only by Captain Greyflash. Today would be a good day.