Tag Archives: Dogs

Chapter 2- Reggie the Terrible

The real Reggie the Terrible

Sometime later we headed out to sea again, looking for treasure to steal and adventures to tell about. This was my third or fourth voyage on the Vice Grip and the previous journeys had been profitable but not overly exciting. But all of that was about to change as we set to sea in those turbulent times. The British Empire had set its eyes on expanding its influence in the Caribbean and while the British Navy and the Spanish Navy fought like cats and dogs we would often hang around out of the line of battle and swoop in to either attempt to pick like vultures through the remains of ships that wrecked upon the shores of the islands or capture wounded ships and attempt to sail them back to Tortuga or Jamaica to repair and refit. It was during one of these raids that Reggie the Terrible enters our story. Once again, we partnered with Captain Silver in seeking to profit from the conflict that raged in our sea.

As we sailed along the shore of Cuba we happened upon the Tigre, one of the Spanish ships of the line we constantly had to avoid for she would outgun any ships we could throw at her. She was engaged in a heated battle with a couple of English frigates and a sloop. Even though those English devil dogs had numbers on their side, the Tigre was a much larger and more heavily armed ship. The first frigate’s captain made the mistake of allowing the Tigre a clear shot along her broadside. Even though the frigate got off a first shot, the Tigre showed her claws by unleashing over thirty cannons at once. The initial salvo threw smoke into the air and knocked the unwitting frigate backwards in the water. The frigate was soon taking on water as the Tigre unleashed a second salvo to finish off its first opponent.

Pirates know when to enter a fight and when to sit on the sidelines and wait. The Tigre would be a mighty prize, but she would be almost impossible to take without sinking because of the number of feline marines and sailors that would protect her. Yet the English frigate and sloop were not going to give up the fight. When the battle ended in a draw with the frigate and sloop retreating with significant damage to their hulls and the frigate losing one of its masts. The Tigre turned towards Havana to lick its wounds and to fight another day. We decided the two English ships would be our quarry for the day. Silver commanded the Specter to pursue the larger, but more heavily damaged frigate while we set our site on the smaller and faster sloop. While we sailed through the wreckage of the first frigate seeking any easy pickings before setting off in pursuit. We pulled up a few valuables, rescued a few of the English dogs (we may be pirates but former sailors often made the best recruits) including one soaking wet Yorkshire Terrier named Reginald.

“Was that Reggie the Terrible?” asked one of the pups.

“Well he would come to be known as Reggie the Terrible, but that comes a little later in our story. Anyways, with new dogs pulled from the sea locked up to ensure they didn’t interfere and a slightly heavier cargo hold we set out after the sloop which was attempting to escape to the colonies for repairs. We were hours behind them after our brief pause for salvaging but we had a good captain and crew and a quick ship. The Vice Grip sailed through the seas, gliding upon the water like we had wings and by evening of the second day we could see the sloop in the distance. We crept up on her through the night and by morning we were nearly upon her. She was a pretty ship, sounds strange to call a ship pretty but even in her wounded state she looked like she could put up a pretty tough fight.

As we approached we could see how deeply the Tigre’s cannons had dug into its skin. Its starboard side had taken the lion’s share of the damage and it was listing slightly to that side. That proved to be a decisive advantage for us since it would make it difficult for the guns on that side to have the same range as ours. We unleashed our pirate colors, our black flag with the bulldog skull cracking a bone and loaded all of our canons in preparation for battle. The English captain, an English Setter or royal bearing, was in a difficult position. His ship was already heavily damaged and doubtless his crew had suffered heavy casualties in the previous battle. Yet, the prospect of surrendering his ship to a crew of pirates without a fight would permanently stain his honor. We approached as he fired his first salvo of shots which fell harmlessly into the ocean well short of our ship. We fired shots into right side, but at a modest pace, not wanting to damage the ship too much. Ultimately our goal was to capture her as intact as possible. We took a little damage as the Vice Grip pulled alongside and we began to send our fighters onto the ship to capture her.

The battle for the Royal Beagle, as we soon learned the ship was named, was fierce but quick. The ship’s dogged crew was undermanned and those numbers had been further reduced by two battles in short succession. Captain Smith, the English Setter who commanded the Royal Beagle was forced to surrender the ship to the Ghost. Ghost gave command of the captured ship to Old Jack, his former first mate, an old English Sheepdog whose loyalty to the Ghost was fiercer than even his loud bark. To crew the two ships, we were stretched very thin and we gave the opportunity to some of our captives to join our crew under close guard. As a part of Snarl’s gun crew, we were brought over to the Royal Beagle and were one of only four-gun crews on the ship. In a fight, we would be in real trouble, but the Vice Grip would escort us back into port at Tortuga. To reinforce our gun crew, we were given two of captured or rescued crew. One of these was a Jack Russel Terrier named Peppin and the other was Reggie the Terrible.

“So why was he named Reggie the Terrible” asked a couple pups.

Well a part of our bounty from the raid was a store of chocolate that we captured. You all know that chocolate isn’t good for dogs, but well Reggie never let that stop him. So, as we were heading back to the island of Tortuga, Reggie managed to break into the stores. That dog always seemed to be hungry and there he would devour anything you set in front of him. Anyways, he was looking for something additional to eat after his kibble, some kind of a midnight snack while he was on duty with Rusty. Rusty must not have paid attention because he found the chocolate and began to eat and eat and eat until he was stuffed and his belly bulged from being stuffed full of chocolate. When Rusty later discovered him lying on the deck with his belly up in the air Reggie was moaning and groaning something terrible, and that was only his stomach. Reggie, Rusty and me were responsible for four of the guns on the port side of the ship and we were attempting to get them ready for battle in case we needed to assist the Vice Grip in a fight. All that day Reggie’s stomach lurched and turned and growled and groaned and the gas that was coming out of that dog was potent enough to make a polecat cry. When Old Jack learned of Reginald’s theft from the ship’s supply of chocolate he wondered about what an appropriate punishment would be, but when he heard the commotion in the dog’s stomach and could see the obvious discomfort of not only Reginald but also the gun crews forced to work in a confined space with him he chuckled to himself and said, “Reginald, let that be a lesson to you. From now on I dub you Reggie the Terrible. Terrible to look at, and terrible to smell. I suppose I don’t have to worry about putting a guard on the chocolate tonight.”

Reggie looked terrible, he was ashamed of his actions and he was in pain as he labored on the gun deck attempting to clean, load and work with the rest of the crew to repair the damaged guns as best we could at sea. He didn’t eat anything the rest of the day and he looked terrible. By the following day he was looking and smelling better and he attacked his kibble with his previous zeal always looking at everyone else’s plates hopeful that they might leave something. He also attempted to redeem himself in the eyes of his fellow shipmates as they made their way back to refit and repair. But thankfully the temptation of the chocolate was just too great for Reggie the Terrible to resist. I suppose we all have weaknesses and vices, but Reggie’s attraction to chocolate would continue to something we would have to watch for all throughout his time at sea.

As I mentioned Reggie’s attraction to chocolate proved too strong for him and three days after the initial foray into the chocolate we seized in the previous battle once again Reggie relapsed and broke into the chocolate stores eating his fill and was found the next day lying on the deck his belly swelling and groaning. Old Jack was about to decide upon discipline for Reggie the Terrible when the lookout cried out an alert for all dogs to man their battle stations. A ship was approaching our two ships from the west and she was another ship-of-the line, a massive ship with rows upon rows of canons. We signaled the Vice Grip to run, since they were still capable of outrunning the approaching ship, but for those of us on the Royal Beagle we knew running was hopeless and fighting would be futile. But that was when Old Jack came up with a terrible plan.

“Oh no, where you captured sir?” Shrieked one of the pups.

Well, we would have been for sure if Old Jack hadn’t been as quick thinking as he is. Although he never put up the white flag of surrender he ordered the sails to be struck and for our ship to drift like it was mortally wounded. He ordered the gun crews, except for Reginald, to go to the port side guns and have all of them ready to fire on Snarl’s orders. He was going to have the ship come in as close as possible to board us and he wanted to capitalize on the angle of the ship and elevate the guns to aim at the masts on the incoming ship. We worked feverishly aiming and elevating the gun barrels in preparation for our one shot at surviving an encounter with a far superior enemy.

The approaching ship was the Spanish ship, the Puma, had a midnight black cat as its captain known for his razor-sharp claws and lack of mercy. His feline crew climbed up and down the masts ready for their assault upon the wounded Royal Beagle. Their gun crews fired several shots across the bow as warnings not to engage them in combat, but their goal was to capture the sloop intact as a trophy for their captain and their crown. Their crew was efficient and the Puma swiftly moved in to pounce upon its much smaller prey. With swords and pistols in their hands they prepared to board the ship and they positioned sharpshooters with rifles upon in their stations on the top of all three masts. They had us outnumbered, outgunned and in almost every way outclassed. As they threw over grappling hooks to bring their ship alongside to begin boarding the only thing they saw waiting upon the deck were Old Jack with a torch in his hand and Reginald laying in obvious pain upon the deck.

The felines taunted our crew and called out for our captain’s surrender but Old Jack stood there silent and stoic while the felines began to put out the boarding planks and nets. As the cats began to make their way across the span between the two ships they began to wrinkle their noses and hiss and gag. “What is that smell?” one of them screeched as it began to cough. Through watering eyes, the cats still continued their advance, although more cautiously than previously. Below deck we waited, with our shirts pulled up over our noses, for the sign that Old Jack had prepared for us.

The Puma’s captain demanded once more that Old Jack surrender to him the ship or face boarding and ultimately destruction or enslavement. But as the captain of the cat’s words were spoken he began to cough and choke as the odor emanating from Reggie the Terrible lived up to his new name. The gas was filling the air when the captain threw his torch into the air igniting the gas and burning the hair off of several of the cats attempting to board at the same time. At the same moment in sequence we fired every canon on the port side causing chaos on the deck of the Puma as the main and the mizzen mast were shattered.

Take us out of here, best possible speed, called out Old Jack. The Puma’s gun crews hadn’t expected a fight and were unready to fire on us in return for the damage we did to them. Most of the gun crews had been pulled up top to assist with the boarding party. Their captain attempted to order the crews below to pour their fire into our ship, but confusion reigned as we pulled away and cats fell from their boarding planks and nets into the sea and we moved away from the side of the Puma.  Their forward canons managed to get a few rounds off a close range into the aft side of the ship, but we escaped an impossible situation thanks to some quick thinking and a dog with an addiction to chocolate.

We managed to put a couple parting shots into the Puma, but it would’ve been impossible to sink her or capture her so we turned and limped for home in the Royal Beagle. As we pulled away we shouted, “Hurrah for Old Jack the Clever and hurrah for Reggie the Terrible.” Anytime he entered the room the crew would shout out, “Reggie, Reggie, Reggie!” until he blushed all the way through his fur. But bad stomach or not he was one of us now. He was one of the tiny terrors, who had now expanded in their role among the guns of the Royal Beagle.  In one mission, we had captured a sloop and survived run-ins with two ships of the line of the Spanish armada.

As we were spotted approaching the island of Tortuga, the crew of the Vice Grip came out to meet us as we came up to the port. We were greeted by our brothers in amazement and they listened attentively as we told the story of Old Jack the Clever and Reggie the Terrible. By morning the tale had traveled around the island and in his own way Reggie the Terrible became a local celebrity.

From that point, onward chocolate was kept under lock and key on any ship that Reggie would sail upon and he would go on many other adventures upon the high sea throughout his time as one of the Ghost pirates. The tiny terrors became recognized as one of the finest gun crews after the battle with the Puma and they became a select fraternity among the pirates, only accepting the toughest dogs of smaller breeds to be a part of their crews. The Royal Beagle would be refitted, reequipped and renamed after returning to port. Old Jack would become its captain and continue to serve as the Ghost’s chief lieutenant in the Ghost fleet. The sloop would be renamed the Dirty Drawers in memory of the smell that Reggie the Terrible gave off during that fateful battle when it was the Royal Beagle.

“So, he was called Reggie the Terrible because he had terrible gas!” Exclaimed one of the young pups no longer able to restrain himself. Even Shimar smiled as the young pups rolled upon the floor laughing and howling and a few even crying because they were laughing so hard.

Never underestimate the power of chocolate. Now when your mothers tell you that chocolate isn’t good for dogs they aren’t kidding. Doesn’t mean it doesn’t taste good but stay away! It isn’t worth it.

One of the pups named Clint who also has a tendency to overeat had been laughing so hard that he accidentally let out a loud fart and for a minute the room filled with gas. As the other pups started to cough, Shimar looked with his one eye at Clint and said, “Especially you Clint, you could easily find yourself branded as Clint the Calamitous.”

And the laughter started again.

 

Introducing Shimar the Pirate Dog

The Real Life Shimar in the inspiration for his ship’s name, the Dirty Drawers

For the last couple years I have been trying to imagine what is going on in my dog Shimar’s mind. I have a number of stories I have been developing and sharing with kids, co-workers, and others and I realized that these stories were beginning to create their own little world in my imagination. So one of my goals over this week while I took some time away was to put some of these short stories on paper and see where it went. They are more children’s stories than anything else. They are not strictly historical, although they do pull on some historical places and times (even though a good historian will see all the places where I combine different times and places-for example the lead up to the Battle for Havanna with the pirate use of the Island of Tortuga (which declined almost one hundred years earlier). But it is a story of cats, dogs, and ferrets who command ships so don’t expect strict the story to be bound by strict historical accuracy. In a time where there are a lot of serious things to talk about sometimes it is important to take a little time to tell children’s stories, to indulge in foolishness and to imagine what is going on in the mind of a one eyed dog with a lot of personality.

Welcome to the world of Shimar the Pirate Dog, Reggie the Terrible who will eventually become his first mate and their ship the Dirty Drawers that I hope to have episodes coming out over the next couple days. They are long reads for a blog but for fiction each chapter is fairly short, each of the first two chapters is about five pages, single spaced. I will include this page as a holder for the table of contents.

Shimar and Reggie are real dogs and their personality is the inspiration for the two main characters. The ferrets, Nick and Leah are also real but most of the other characters were made up to fill in the story. In casting the sailors and people Spanish and Portugal as cats while the English and many of the pirates are dogs is simply intended to play on the long running trope of the battle between cats and dogs and placing it in a historical battle. Portugal made a nice play on words for Purrtugal, and since the history of the Caribbean is a history of struggle between the English and Spanish empires around the time of pirates.

Chapter 1- Shimar the Pirate Dog
Chapter 2- Reggie the Terrible
Chapter 3- T-Rex Island

Chapter 1- Shimar the Pirate Dog

Shimar on one of his favorite spots

“Listen up you young pups, now I know when you look at me you see a dog of small stature with only one eye, bare skin where once there was a long coat of crème and white fur and a limp in my back leg but don’t’ forget that you look upon the legendary Shimar the Pirate Dog.”

“Shimar the Pirate Dog?” puzzled the puppies as they looked upon the small dog perched upon a pillow that rested upon the arm of a sofa. “You, but you aren’t much bigger than we are! And we are nowhere near the ocean. How can a little dog like you have been a pirate on the high seas?”

“Well pipe down and I will spin you a tale, a tale of me, the Pirate captain Shimar, of my first mate Reggie the Terrible, and our ship the Dirty Drawers.” Said the old dog.

“So why is your ship called the Dirty Drawers?” Said one pup

“And why is your first mate called the Terrible?” spoke up another.

“And how did you lose your eye and your fur?” ventured a third.

“Quiet, quiet,” cautioned Shimar, “all in good time, they are all a part of the story that I am about to tell. It all begins many years ago, a little while before Reggie enters the story or before any other parts of the adventure when I was a prisoner, serving a life sentence in that worst of all prisons, the pound.”

“No, not the pound, not that horrible place!” Shrieked one of the youngest pups.

“Yes, the pound, locked away with all the dogs and cats and other critters. Confined to a small cage, far from the oceans swell and the sea breeze. I thought my days were done. As a young pup, I had escaped any fence that someone tried to enclose me in and I loved to run free and wild, like our ancestors the might wolves, but one day they managed to snag me, they put me into a cage and oh the sad songs I heard in the jailhouse. The wails of caged dogs protesting their innocence, the evil cry of cats vowing vengeance upon their captors. Yet, while I could tell you all kinds of jailhouse tails but you don’t want to hear about that place with its hardships, what you want to hear about it my life as Shimar the pirate dog, am I right?”

“Yeah!” cried the pups.

“So, prison life was hard. There was the confinement, there were the guards and worst of all were the cats. Many of the cats in prison were hardened catnip addicts who would take on a Rottweiler if they thought they could get catnip for it. I had attempted to escape several times. I had tried looking cute, at that point I still had a soft, bushy coat of crème and white fur and even though I only had one eye I was still a pretty attractive pup.”

“But you only had one eye, how’d that happen?”

“Oh, well I got into a fight with a prison gang called the Fierce Feral Felines who were running a catnip smuggling operation in the pound. That my young friends is a tale for another time, but if I stop to tell every tale you’ll never get to hear about my adventures as a pirate. So where was I, ah yes, I was being rescued and it was an epic jail break. The alarms were blaring, the dogs were howling in rhythm with the alarms, the light went out, and they broke me out of my cage, and ran with me out of the pound with a hoard of dogcatchers shouting and trying to stop them as this group of dogs came in, opening all the dog cages and it was epic. Our rescuers barked at us to head outside and there waiting on a horse drawn carriage was an old solid white bulldog directing the smaller dogs to get up on the wagon and the larger dogs to run alongside. Some of his pack were holding the dog catchers at bay while we loaded up and then with a loud, commanding bark the horses began to move and the remaining dogs fell back as we fled into the setting sun. The dog catchers furiously shouted and yelled and some even for a little while ran after us. We rode and we rode, and I would be happy to never ride on a horse drawn carriage as long as I live. The road was rough and we were thrown all about the carriage as the bigger dogs ran alongside howling and barking and jumping as the night began to set in. We journeyed across open country for what seemed an eternity stopping only to let the horses and the bigger dogs rest. It was an awesome sight, some sixty dogs of various sizes and ages moving across the countryside. Once we were far enough away all but the oldest were commanded to run and stay together with the pack. It was hot and my little legs were tired and there was never enough food but I was a free dog and I ran and yipped and barked with my companions. Eventually several days later, though it seemed like weeks upon weeks we reached the ocean.

Never before had I seen the ocean or smelled the salty air. I ran in the hot sand yipping and rolling like a young pup, although I had already spent my youth behind bars. I was free, it was a freedom I had never known before. No fences to keep me in, no leashes or chains constraining where I could run, just the sand and the sea. I chased after seagulls, I ran through the waves, I dug tunnels in the sand, I got pinched on the nose by a crab- I don’t recommend that, smarted for days afterwards, and my liberators laughed and laughed and laughed at my foolishness as well as the foolishness of the other dogs on the beach. I was free at last and I didn’t care how foolish my antics might look to anyone else. I was covered in sand and seaweed and salt when I saw the ship for the first time.

The captain, the white bulldog who oversaw our rescue who I now knew was called Ghost, told us he expected some of us to join his crew of the pirate ship Vice Grip, named after his jaws once he held onto something. It would be hard and dangerous work, the pay was poor, the living conditions small but you it would be a pirate’s life where you could take what you wanted and perhaps one day one of us might command our own ship.

The first time the captain looked upon me he snorted, “You’re no sea dog, you are a land lover who should stay on the shore.” But I was determined to prove him wrong. I would stand on the prow of the ship as the waves broke on her hull. I would swab the decks until you could eat off of them, although admittedly for dogs that didn’t have to be that clean, I would chase every rat that stowed away on board trying to eat our kibble that we took with us, and I would become a fierce and fearless pirate. I already had only one eye, so all I needed was an eye patch to fit the part. I would be a sea wolf, a terror of the seas, I would set sail on the Vice Grip and prove myself to the captain and his fearsome crew.

The Vice Grip was a sleek and powerful brig with 20 guns and a crew of around 150 pirates who were fiercely loyal to the Ghost as we referred reverently to our captain. We set off on what was my initial voyage into the dangerous Caribbean Waters setting off for the pirate port of Tortuga where we were to rendezvous with a couple other ships to prowl the waters searching for fame, fortune, and most importantly for me at that point adventure. That initial voyage was difficult, I was continually sea sick and I often had to ‘feed the fishes’ if you know what I mean. It took me a little while to get my sea legs under me and much of life upon the open ocean is repetitive and boring, especially as a newbie sailor. There are long patches where you see nothing but the blue of the seemingly endless ocean stretching to meet the endless blue of the sky, you are a small wooden ark in the vastness of the abyss. Occasionally we’d see creatures leap out of the ocean, and sea gulls would pursue us and call out continually for food. But aside from aching bones from hours of hard work and an uneasy stomach that initial voyage upon the waters of the Caribbean was uneventful until we pulled into Tortuga.:

“But I thought you were a pirate captain, sir?” interrupted one of the pups.

“Patience my young friends, you don’t become a pirate captain overnight, you have to start at the bottom and I had already moved from being a prisoner to being a pirate on what I thought was one of the greatest pirate crews of the age. The Ghost had demonstrated his courage to me when he orchestrated our jailbreak and his crew seemed to hold him in an awe approaching worship at times. I only saw someone challenge him once, and that was in Tortuga when we were taking on supplies and a Mastiff barked that he couldn’t believe that such a ship could be commanded by someone so small. The Ghost quickly turned towards this massive dog and moved towards him slowly, bulldogs don’t move anywhere too quickly, and growled in his deep, gravelly voice, “Is that a challenge you filthy cur dog?” When the mastiff growled bag, Ghost, quicker than I thought possible lunged and grabbed onto his rear leg with his strong massive jaws. Oh, how that mastiff cried and howled and begged to be set free and Ghost held on until he decided it was time to let the challenger limp away with tail dragging between his legs.

Later that day he came up to me and said, “Never let anyone challenge you or intimidate you just because you are small in stature. Being a small in stature simply means that you must be big in attitude and that for your bark to be respected your bite has to be worse.” I was surrounded by several dogs bigger than me: Pit bulls, Dobermans, and German Shepherds but we had our share of Terriers, Dachshunds, and even one Chihuahua who was meaner and tougher than any of them. We loaded the ship with kibble, gunpowder, and rolled the cannon balls and stowed them on the gun decks. While in port I was assigned to a 12-pound cannon crews, one of our smaller guns and I stored the munitions that were for the two 12 pounders. While we were in port the leader of our gun crew showed me what my responsibility was as we practiced cleaning, loading and positioning for fire our gun. We worked and drilled until I could do my job in my sleep, and I think I did at times as I laid there in my hammock. Our cannon was nicknamed tiny terror, since the Chihuahua I mentioned above commanded it. The Chihuahua’s name was Juan but we all called him Snarl since his lip seemed to be locked in an eternal snarl. He drove us mercilessly but we were his crew and he made sure that nobody else messed with his crew. Being one of the smaller guns we were a small group of dogs of smaller breeds: there was Rusty, a good-natured mutt, and Gunter the Dachshund in addition to me who were responsible for keeping the tiny terror ready to bite at a moment’s notice.

And I learned to take care of myself, pirates are a rough group. Once while we were on Tortuga a group of pirates from another crew threatened us tiny terrors one night as we were eating and drinking and when Snarl said attack and launched himself from the table onto the back of the Rottweiler who was barking threats at us. I found myself matched up against a boxer and my speed came in handy as I darted around nipping at his back legs and every time he reached for me all he could ever get was a mouthful of fur. Before long the Rottweiler was pleading from mercy from Snarl and we tiny terrors proved equal to our name. From that night on we didn’t have any trouble in port.

After a couple days of refitting, rest and planning we joined up with the crew of the Specter led by Captain Silver, a greyhound whose daring raids were spoken of across the island and the Hyena a massive older ship, not as fast as the Vice Grip of the Specter but more heavily armed and able to carry a larger crew and a more cargo. The three ships were going to sail in the direction of Havana in search of ships carrying treasure from the new world back across the ocean. Finding ships once they entered the Atlantic would be near impossible but within the Caribbean there was a greater opportunity to find ships and to capture their cargo. So, we set off and I was in high spirits for I was finally earning a place among the pirates and I would have a part, even if it was a small part in the prize that was to come.

We departed on a rainy morning in March, and the rain was colder than I thought possible for that part of the world, and it wasn’t long before all of our coats were drenched with rain, but Ghost’s commands were heard above the wind and the rain as we moved away from Tortuga into the deep waters. The days were filled with drilling on cannon drills, cleaning the deck, and in joyous expectation of our first contact with a treasure ship. We sailed at a modest pace, to allow the Hyena to run with the faster Vice Grip and Specter. Apart from the rains the initial day the winds were favorable and the weather good and on the evening of our third day of patrols the Specter signaled that she had spotted our prey approaching. We moved to begin the long task of intercepting the ships, initially approaching at a pace where the Hyena wouldn’t be left too far behind but as we saw the ship growing closer the Vice Grip and Specter set their sales for speed and began to outdistance the Hyena, but this was all a part of the plan agreed upon by the captains. The ship we were approaching also didn’t change course which was a bit unsettling, either their captain was a fool or there was some danger we were not yet aware of, but as we scanned the horizon we didn’t see any evidence of danger.

We quickly approached, and the captain ordered us to fly our colors and the black flag with a bulldog head biting through a bone flew from our mast while captain Silver’s slender skull with crosses sabers on a black background flew from his ship. The announcement that we were pirates had its desired effect, the captain of the merchant ship struck his sails, allowing us to move alongside and board it without contest. Its crew cowered as we came alongside and began to board. Quickly chests and food were carried back across from their ship to ours. We searched their ship from top to bottom for anything that was worth taking back to our ships to split with our comrades on the Specter and Hyena. We made quick work of it, but even though we worked quickly before we were finished we heard our captain order us back to the ship. We grabbed one last crate and returned to our home on the Vice Grip to learn that the Hyena had spotted a frigate approaching. Even with three ships we would be hard pressed to take on a frigate unless we were able to coordinate all three ships. Captain Silver signaled all three ships to separate and meet back in Tortuga in two weeks. Our two faster ships would attempt to lead the frigate away from the Hyena. It would be a challenging ordeal because even though a frigate was larger than either the Vice Grip or Specter it was just as fast on the open seas. We would pass closest to the path of the frigate to attempt to get it to change its course away from the Hyena. We were ordered to load the cannons and our crew got the tiny terror ready for action.

As we approached the frigate I got to experience the tiny terror’s bark. We were ordered to put a shell in the direction of the frigate, even though we were still out of range and so under Snarl’s orders we fired the canon and it was louder than anything I had ever heard. A spray of water erupted from where the 12-pound shell landed and the frigate answered with one of her own cannons which landed close enough to our ship that I got a face full of salty water. We passed close enough that their captain changed course to pursue us, but we were already making our fastest pace as we moved toward the Bahamas where we hoped to lose our pursuers. The next two days were tense as the frigate continued to pursue us, but the winds were good and we continued to stay ahead of them until we were able to hide in the midst of the islands.

As we returned to Tortuga to reunite with the crews of the Specter and Hyena we began to examine the loot we pulled from the hull of the merchant ship. In many respects, it was not an exceptional cargo, pine and oak pulled from the forests of the Americas, sugar, molasses and spice which we could get a decent price for, but there was also one crate that the crew had seemed especially reluctant to part with. One of the German Shepherds cracked open the crate and gave it a sniff, wrinkled its eyebrows and said, “What is this?”

But I knew, and it made sense now why the frigate pursued us as long as they did. “That’s catnip!” I exclaimed, “no wonder the cats on the merchant ship looked so defeated as we took it away. We could get a good price for that on the black market. One sniff of that and cats will be rolling around on the deck powerless before you! They will do anything, anything for that.”

“But Mr. Shimar, how did you know it was catnip?” Said one of the listening pups.

Well, remember I said I had lost my eye to the Fierce Feral Felines in prison, they were running a catnip smuggling ring. I had seen what it did to other cats and how they used it. I also knew that this was high quality catnip, not some rejects from the edges of a field. There was a note inside that this was a special reserve harvest sent as a gift to Purrincess Maria, the daughter of the feline king of Purrtugal.

Three Small Poems from a Snowy Day

Snow day

Earth and Sky

The sky reaches out to embrace its beloved which lies locked in a deep slumber

The earth continues its hibernation cooled by the long winter

So the firmament sheds its winter robe

And crystal falls from the sky

Frozen tears from the heavy laden clouds

Fall to cover the soil in a cooling blanket

The beloved tucked in for their beauty sleep

As the ground rests peacefully dreaming of spring

When it sheds the blanket lovingly rested on its slumbering form

And from the bounty of the earth green shoots reach out

Bearing flowers, fruits and perfumes for the air to delight in.

snow-birds_00386155

Snow Birds

Feathers puffed up as small parkas while they congregate at the feeder

Singing joyful songs in the cold winter air

Flitting along the ground leaving no footsteps in their wake

Too light to disturb the covering of snow

Songs echoing as they share in the banquet of food and friends

Shimar in snow 5

Joy of the Pomeranian

Lustily leaping across a blanket of snow half as deep as he is tall

Yipping with joy as he crosses the expanse of the yard

Greeting his comrades behind the opposing fence

Bounding along the expanse of the border that separates them

Barking and chasing at the shadows and scents of his challengers

No greater joy than the thrill of the chase

And returning home, his long hair coated in the crystals of day old snow

Resting on the vent with his mouth open in an expression of fulfillment

Composed Neil White, 2013

purple rose 01 by picsofflowers.blogspot.com