The Salts of Mutiny

[Prompt: A pirate crew confronts their captain about his drinking problem ]

    Augustus paced the deck while the surly eyes of his shipmates tracked his limping gait. He knew they weren’t happy to be there, but this lot were never happy to be anywhere unless it involved fighting, women, or booze. The latter of the three was the reason Gus had gathered them all so early in the morning. He came to center deck, folded his hands behind his back and turned to address the sea worn faces of unconcealed impatience. He gave them a hearty sigh, “It’s got to be done, lads. There’s no two-steppin’ about it.”
    “Ain’t this mutiny,” Grim, a stout fella with a bad eye, voiced the hesitation of the group.
    “It ain’t,” Gus assured him.
    “Feels like mutiny,” The big fella crossed his arms, his head cocked to peer at Augustus with his one good eye. “Cap’n made it clear what we were ta do to mutineers.”

    Behind his back, Gus’s fingers tightened together as he feared the mob before him might turn against him if he didn’t get on top of this mutiny business right away. “Grim, do you remember how ya got that bad eye?”
    Grim lifted a hand to probe at the edges of his blind eye, “A sword.”
    Gus nodded, “Aye matey, and who’s sword was it?”
    A collective murmur went through the group which made Grim shuffled his feet before he answered in an embarrassed tone, “The Cap’n’s.”
    “One of many who were injured by the Cap’n’s sword when we raided the Pelican,” Gus accompanied his words with a solemn nod. “Aye lads, we spilled more of our own blood that day and those gibberin’ traders weren’t even fightin’ us.”
    Augustus could feel the mob beginning to side with him. Truth be told it didn’t take much to rouse the crew to take action, but he’d see it through to the end because it allowed him to stall before taking the next step. “Petey, what happened to lil’ol’ Ploppers?”
    “The Cap’n killed him thinking he was a rat,” A thin man blubbered at the memory of his pet Jack Russel.
    “Who thought the ship was going ta sink, forcing us to toss our fortunes over board to light’n her?”
    Half the group answered this time, “The Cap’n.”
    “Who cut the sail ropes ‘cause he thought they was the enemy trying ta raid our ship?”
    “The Cap’n.”
    Augustus had the majority of the group, but he wanted them all. “Don’t get me wrong, lads. I’ve been servin’ the Cap’n since I was but a spit on the docks. But things have changed, aye? This ain’t the man we once knew, and if we don’t act now, our sailin’ days are over. Do ya wanna be a bunch of bilge suckin’ land lubbers?”
    No one answered.
    “Do ya wanna be hardened men of the sea, free to take what ya want and live how ya want?”
    The group either cheered their ayes, or nodded their heads in agreement. Augustus riled them up a bit more with a few cries which they answered with gusto. Together they brought down the door of the captain’s chambers, yet espite all their shouts and cries, the man they revered as their captain continued to slumber. The man laid on his stomach, out cold and snoring soundly. The group circled around the bed to make sure the sleeping man wouldn’t be able to leave and waited for Augustus to continue the charge.
    Gus put his foot against the hip of the captain and rolled the man on to his back. A gurgling came from captain and after briefly choking on his own spittle, he began to stir into a wakeful state. He took in their blurry faces before muttering and reaching for one of the many bottles strew across the floor surrounding his bed. When he found nothing but empty containers, he lazily directed his ire at his crew.
    “What are ye survy infested swabs doing in me room?”
    “Cap’n,” Augustus set a foot against frame of the bed, bringing himself forward so the half-sober man could focus on him. “We gotta bone ta pick with ya.”
    “Ya pox-faced old fish, I ain’t got time for yer feeble motherin’,” The captain pushed aside his blankets and stood naked before his crew. “We’ve got work to do, aye? Whose ready to set sail for Port Royal!”
    An excited shout went through the group and Augustus smacked a hand to his sun-cracked face, “You half-wits, yer goin’ ta listen to this grog-head? The man can barely stand!”
    Indeed there was a drunken swagger to the captain’s walk, but it didn’t hinder him from finding his belt knife to point accusingly at Augustus, “Are you tryin’ to stage a coup, Gussy?”
    “I ain’t, Cap’n.” The odds were turning against Augustus.
    “You sound mutinous to me, old friend.”
    “I ain’t,” Augustus bit back on his anger, “We’s just wantin’ ta talk.”
    “Who think this man here is tryin’ ta stab me in the back?” The captain kept the knife pointed at Augutus, but walked among the other men to rally them to his side. “Who thinks he trick all you sea dogs into a mutiny?”
    Augustus could feel the tide turn against him and remained silent.
    “Men, what do we do to mutineers?”
    “Make ‘em walk the plank!”
    There wasn’t much Augustus could do once the crew had the plank in mind. If he put up a fight he would likely get stabbed, so he glowered as the hands came toward him and hauled him back out on to the deck. It didn’t take them long to set up the board and to harass him out to the edge with the point of their swords. They cheered with hoops and hollers while Augustus shook his head at their idiocy. “Ye’ve all gone mad. Scuvy’s got to yer brains and rotted it out!”
    “You still flappin’ them lips, Gussy?” The captain smiled from where he stood at the helm. “Dun disappoint the men. They want ta see ya swim.”
    More cheering ensued and Augustus regretted having even tried to remedy their dire situation. He gave one last look over the crew he had served with for the majority of his life. It was a shame that they turned on him so easily just for a bit of sport. He turned his back to them and after a deep breath he stepped off the edge of the plank.
    As Augustus disappeared over the edge, the men still on board erupted in a chorus of cheers. Augustus looked up at them in amazement from where he stood in water that barely came up to his thighs. Due to the captain’s latest drunken stint at the wheel, the ship had been beached on the sandbar of an unknown island for the last three days and unless a storm came to pull them back out to sea, there would be no sailing for those men. The captain had forbade them to leave the ship in order to get her back out to sea, and like the loyal dogs they were, the crew stayed aboard and did little but watch the sails for a portly wind while their captain crawled into yet another bottle.
    Augustus walked the beach while casting the occasional glance back over his shoulder at the beached ship as he was uncertain about who was being marooned, himself or those on the ship.



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