Insult To Injury
The first thing I realized when I awoke was the extreme hangover I had. The drilling in my head would have been torturous to any other man. Lucky for me, however, alcohol and I had been long time acquaintances, so the pain was merely an annoyance.
After disregarding the hangover, I opened my eyes and stared up at the ceiling, made of what looked like grass and palm leaves. Listening closely, I could hear the roar of the tide crashing into the rocks at the shoreline and a warm sea breeze blew into the room.
Rubbing my head, I groaned and tried to sit up, but as I did so, a pair of hands gently forced my shoulder back onto the cot.
"Stay down," a voice ordered.
"Mate, I don't know who the hell ye think ye are, but you best not be tellin' me what to do." I reopened my eyes to look at the bloke who had ordered me around.
He was an African, sixty or seventy in age. His black hair had streaks of gray, and his beard was gray as well. He had a strong jaw line and broad shoulders. What kept my attention, however, was a scar that ran from the top of his right eyebrow down to his chin, leaving his lip twisted into a permanent sneer. The whole time I was studying him, though, I couldn't shake the feeling that he seemed familiar.
I suppose I stared too long. The man put two fingers to the scar and said, "I know. It is hideous."
"What the devil happened to you?" was all I could ask.
"That . . . That is a story for another time," he said, awkwardly looking away. He seemed to be reminded of something tragic, and he made it apparent that he didn't want to talk about it. Changing the topic of conversations, he added, "My name is Jocard Bowlen." He put his hand out to shake.
I took his hand. "Name's Dread Pirate Flint."
"As the young lady said." Jocard pointed to Read in the far corner of the room. She was sitting in a chair with her back against one arm of the chair; her right leg was over the other leg, and her left was folded so that her foot was tucked under her right leg. Her head was tilted down slightly, leaving her wavy brown hair covering part of her face.
"Read?" I asked, astonished to see her. Blinking, I tried to make sure that it really was her in the corner of the room.
"Cap'n!" she cried, suddenly coming to life. She lifted her head and came to the side of the bed, squeezing me into a hug.
The instant she grabbed me, I yelled out in agony. It wasn't that her grip was too tight; it was merely that my body couldn't handle it. Pain ripped through my lower back all the way to my neck, leaving me with nothing but unbearable shock.
"C-Cap'n?" Read worriedly asked as she quickly let go.
"Molly," Jocard cut in, "Captain Flint has gone through a physically traumatic experience. Her injuries are – while moderate, considering what they could have been – still going to require more time to heal."
"Speaking of which," I interrupted as soon as I could speak again, "how bad am I?"
Jocard pursed his lips, as if wondering whether or not to answer my question. "Well, you have at least two broken ribs," he finally responded, "your lungs could be punctured, and both of your legs are probably broken."
"Bugger," I mumbled. "How long have I been out?"
"'Bout six days, Cap'n," Read quietly said.
"Six? Good God! How's the Pride?" I wondered. I thought about the mast having tumbled down, and I wanted to make sure that she was being fixed while I recuperated, though I knew the damages and my injuries would both take time to be repaired.
"The boys are tidyin' 'er up as we speak."
"Good, good. Now, Jocard, how'd ye manage to keep me asleep for six days?"
Jocard chuckled. "Well, it was not easy. Do you have any idea how much alcohol I had to give you so you would not wake up?"
Well, that explained the hangover. I looked at Read and noticed her usually warm brown eyes were dull and dark rings were under her eyes. "Oi, ye've been up with me this whole time," I accused. It wasn't a question.
Read always knew she could never lie to me. Every time she had attempted, I'd caught her, so she had soon learned after I had put her in my crew that she might as well tell me the truth. "Aye."
Sighing, I shook my head slightly. "Go get some sleep." At first, she didn't move. "Read," I threateningly said, pulling the cover off of me, preparing to get up.
Read left after that.
"That girl cares for you dearly," Jocard commented casually.
"She thinks she owes me for savin' her life," I flippantly responded, shrugging my shoulders.
When Jocard started to laugh, I shot back, "Oi! Just because I'm a pirate doesn't mean I can't show some human compassion!"
"I bet it is an interesting story."
"Nay, but before I tell ye, I have to quench my suspicions."
Knowing Read for as long as I had, I knew her personality and how she acted. And right then, my gut was telling me that she was standing on the other side of the door, listening to the conversation Jocard and I were having. Read didn't like to hear about her past, but I was betting she also didn't want to leave me.
Putting a finger on my lips, I whispered "Shh" to Jocard. I slowly lifted my legs over the edge of the bed. I heard him take in a large breath, readying to protest, but I turned back to him and challenged with my eyes that he talk. Wincing from the pain burning in my legs, I stood and immediately swayed and leaned onto the wall near me to regain balance. Using it as a crutch, I limped over to the door. I gently turned the knob and yanked the door open. Read, who had been leaning against the door, as suspected, fell into the room.
"I thought I told ye to go to sleep." Leaning against the door frame for support, I looked down at Read.
She didn't even respond. She glanced up at me, sheepishly smiled, and walked away. It reminded me of when a dog leaves with his tail tucked in between his legs after being caught stealing table scraps.
Quickly hobbling my way back to the bed, I collapsed on it and exhaled deeply as the pressure on my legs was relieved. I cannot begin to explain how painful that had been, but I knew if I hadn't gotten up and made her leave, Read wouldn't have left. "Well, my legs ain't broke," I mumbled below my breath.
All the while, Jocard was laughing hysterically. I grinned, but didn't join in the laughter. "You want to hear about Read or not?"
He nodded. "I do," he said after finally calming down from his fit. He leaned forward slightly, an intent expression on his face.
"Alright. Ten years ago, me an' the boys weighed anchor in Tortuga. We went into a bar to raise some hell, but when we stepped in, I saw a little girl leaning against a support beam, crying. I asked her what was the matter, and she said she had been left by her caretaker. I took her in, an' she's been my first mate since."
"She didn't have any parents or relatives?" he asked.
"Well, see, that's the eerie part. Read doesn't remember anythin' before livin' with her caretaker. That damned woman was all she had, and what did she do? Left her there to die," I spat, disgusted at the memory.
Jocard stroked his short beard as silence settled over us.
Finally, I couldn't stand it any longer. "Jocard, have we met before?" I asked. I knew he looked familiar, but I just couldn't place where I'd seen him. It was really starting to irritate me.
"Yes. You do not remember?"
"Well, I was the pilot on Calypso's Wrath for several years."
"THE Calypso's Wrath? As in, James Teldman's ship? By the powers, ye sailed with him?" My voice warmed automatically at the mentioning of Teldman; we had sailed together five years back.
"Yes, I did."
Teldman had been like a father to me, but I hadn't spoken to him in at least two years. "How is the old sea dog?" I wondered aloud.
Jocard set his line of vision to the ground. "You mean, you do not know?"
"What are ye talkin' about?" He didn't answer. "Jocard?" I questioned.
"Flint, James is . . . James is dead," he quietly said, still looking at the ground.
"He's . . . What? H-He can't be . . ." I murmured to myself. The man couldn't be dead!
"I am very sorry. He died like a man, though. He fought until the end."
"Fought? Then that means he was killed! Who killed him?" My voice was rising with hysteria, and my body tensed.
"Commodore Nathaniel Bonnett. I am so sorry to have to be the one to inform you."
I gripped the bed sheets so tightly that the feeling in my knuckles started to slip away and turn white. "Commodore Nathaniel Bonnett killed Captain James Teldman," I spoke in monotone and reality struggled to sink in. My mind tried to process what information Jocard had given me, but it simply couldn't comprehend. I was in awe that I had seen the murderer of my father figure only a week before, and I had had no idea!
When I finally found my voice, I ordered, "Jocard, leave."
"Will you be alright?" he asked, sounding concerned.
"I said – GO."
He nodded. Standing, he put a hand on my shoulder and then left. As soon as I heard the door shut, I immediately felt tears streaming down my cheeks, and they continued to do so until the numbness of sleep took me away.
A/N Finally! Rioux has made an update! :D It's only been, what? Two months? ha. Better late than never, I suppose!
R&Rs are appreciated, loves! I hope you liked this chapter!