My Journey Aboard The Whiskey Sour, Day 1
I've neglected this copybook lately - the pages that precede this are dry as leaves - but how should I remain silent? I am not given to flights of fancy but such peculiarness has swarmed around me like punch-drunk bees.
I will say it again I suppose before I end - What A Fallow and Strange Life That Can Appear Unbidden And Unasked.
It started with the Steward. A journeyman. His eye took my form easily and with a bit of madness that I should've felt as warning.
"Good morning," he said. "There's to be a performance later on. Find yourself quickly and hurry to the Jack who does the victuals. We'll meet again."
His eyes glinted like the polished dagger of a Royal Soldier; his manner was disquieting and his face pleasant, though devils lurked in the flat grayness of his sunglasses. My head was still with me then, and I committed the memory of his instructions.
Not yet below deck I found minstrels. Odd enough since they stood with the Captain. His face was drawn and I mistook it for some melancholy. I inquired as to his condition.
"Sir, are you ill?"
Though he need not have heeded my interrogation, he turned, a surprise actually as he was ringed by any number of Lieutenants and Confidants.
"No, not that," he sighed. "Today, I am the Shipmaster of Choice." Which startled me some as it must startle you, Dear Reader. "I am imperiled as I must choose the best man for this journey. A jewel of some price, though I have no shortage of -" and here he coughed "- gifted solicitors and advisors."
Awestruck amid such immediate confidance, I intented to reciprocate but my tongue remained firmly lashed to my mouth's shore. I wished him well and even curtsied and made to excuse myself. But before I could take my leave of him his gaze afixed on mine. And I swear to the blue sea that instead of the Captain it was the fresh face of his First Lieutenant which suddenly appeared and announced:
"This sea is pancake. The smartest bring a ladle."
I felt as if I was a bit mad. But every shadow on the taffrail, every coil of rope, every last affect was a bit mad from my first step onto this vessel. And I must admit to some stirring and rousement. Madness is after all the Devil's Contagion.
As I made toward the aft, I was given to slow my pace. Every few feet I encountered a marigold laced to a Petty-Officer. In each case the Officer would turn as my fingers lighted and pulled upon their flower whereupon they'd burst into a cloud of nitre and sulphur to then knock me to the deck and engulf me in black, hot waves. In their dark clouds I was instructed in the use of arms. Perplexed and sweaty I learned first Cutlass. Then Sword. Then Braggary.
I found myself Jack Dusty as the Steward had suggested. He was a bronzed mariner, sleek and muscular, with two ends of a silk handkerchief thrown loose about the neck that danced upon the glittery theatre of his chest.
"Hoom. You're smaller than I'd been led to anticipate."
But I'm a gentleman, sir!
"Aye. A longshoreman, as I see." His grin was a gift, the applause of thousands; a stadium roar. He plucked an avocado from his night-stand and rolled it along the deck.
Behind him, in shadows, stood the Steward. The vulgar rascal that saw me shed the landsman's life. Ah, but I had misjudged badly. Not a simple Steward at all.
"Let me introduce you to one you know." The Master's dagger glint returned but deeper and with a promise. Was there an unspoken challenge? My hand sought my scabbard as I threw the busted leather flintclaw over the loose weave of the saddlecock.
A Soldier entered. The Mainmastman, who I recognized as a brother, had been long anglicized in the service and faintly hummed with power and wisdom. He held the ship's great spar in his delicate hands and made to dip into the Aegean the great sail by passing it back and forth in his kneading grip as if by nervous condition. In years hence, a bright red Ribbon fell across our graves. The coincidence I felt keenly and I was taken to swoon. What Bedlam's den was this?
And the Master knew! He laughed like the damned! "Your mottled faces now will keep me entertained in my dotage!"
Right away, as you could well expect, I retreated to the lower decks and slept. But rest was not forthcoming for, you see, the Master-of-Arms appeared later in my cabin and laid a glove across my kit.
I bestirred smartly. My heart lurched. The cabin smelled of saffron as we drew and nearly engaged, but the sea's swells crave constant attention from the stout-of-foot and the Master left as quickly as he had entered.
What excitement! And, well - dare I say it?
As if by magic I spied some number had slipped into the murky memory of this log. As yet I cannot reason its existence or purpose.
So fares the fated Whiskey Sour, Dear Reader.
Ah, and to you my Dear Dear Diary, I am certain of only one thing. I left our shores a boy, I shall as yet return a -