It was a good day for walking about, the sun blazing high over the sea without a cloud in sight. Children ran about in the streets, their red faces and wild hair parading proudly around the town. Women bustled around selling various items and men strolled about, some of them for work and some of them to satisfy their craving for bustling city life. The docks were also teeming with life, filled with fishermen, men in military uniform, and even the occasional suspected criminal. Robert took all of these sights in as he breathed in the salty air.
He was on a walk for pleasure really, taking in the first sights and sounds of the summer season. Summer was his favorite time because of all the life that abounded in the city surrounded everyone, and the nights were even better. Lamps would glow from inside charming houses and the sounds of roaring fun echoed down the streets from local pubs. His favorite sound, though, was the gentle echo of the waves crashing onto the shore. There really was no place like this in the summer time.
Robert approached a fruit stand, leaning over to smell the crop. A man, who was the vendor, looked pleased with a potential customer. Robert leaned into the carton that held the fruit. Suddenly, it collapsed beneath his elbow, falling to pieces. Roly-poly melons and bouncy citrus scattered all over the ground, tripping several pedestrians in their path. Robert slowly looked up at the vendor, a sheepish expression on his face while the vendor turned as red as a pepper, a look of rage upon his face. Robert felt ready to die.
Robert was an extremely clumsy boy. At seventeen, he figured that he would have at least learned to walk around without injuring people. However, Robert was constantly knocking over things, as well as citizens, and sometimes injuring them and himself in the process. He would never forget one day that he knocked the governor into a horse's drinking barrel. He remembered that day and laughed while Addams remembered it and sighed.
"You're a character, Robert," he would always tell his black-haired child.
Robert walked down to a dock, the boards creaking beneath his shoes. The unmistakable smell of salt water and drenched wood hit his nose and his heart suddenly began to ache. With all of his might he wanted to be on the ocean. For many reasons, or so he said. One reason was his love of the sea. Even as a child, Robert loved the sea despite Addams' skeptical opinions of his curiosity. Addams was a protective caretaker, always watching out for his Robert and making sure he didn't get into too much trouble. The other reason was his personal, innate desire to find his father. All through his life, even in the earliest years, Robert had ached for information regarding him. Addams had denied him any sort of truth whatsoever until Robert basically forced it out of him. And one day, Addams finally let it slip that Robert's real father was out on the sea and, more specifically, was a pirate.
Once Robert knew that his father had been a pirate, he found the fact terrifying and also curious. Pirates were villains of course, but they were also gritty, unlikely superheroes. At least they were to Robert. Robert had always felt hopeless in the reality of finding his father. The only way to do it, he figured, was to become a pirate himself. And if that ever happened, Addams would practically die of panic, and possibly rage. But Robert would still do it if he had the chance. He would do anything, no matter what it took, to find his father. He had always wanted to go on adventures like pirates and live life free, never fearing death. Or knocking governors into barrels, at least. But the whole reality of it all made it seem like some sort of impossible goal, something he could never accomplish and only dream about.
Robert walked further onto the dock, watching the bustling activity around him. Men were scuttling about, tying ropes and packing cargo into ships to be taken to other lands. Some of the men were very important looking and other men looked nearly barren of all money. Suddenly, walking in a trance, Robert bumped into something large and uncomfortable. He looked up and realized that he had run into a very bulky man. And a very scary one at that. The fellow glared down at the wide-eyed Robert, scowling at him menacingly. Robert's heart pounded. The man was massive, tattooed on his enormous arms and scarred all over his body. His weather-beaten face looked anything but friendly and his clothes suggested that he was about as peaceful as Attila the Hun. The man glared at him, his rage almost coming over the brim before he decided to walk away and continue about his business. Robert, still in shock, backed away slowly, managing to run into something else. Luckily, it was just a bench.
"Ya know, you really should watch where you're going," a voice said. Robert looked at the bench and realized someone was sitting there.
"Oh…I-I'm sorry…" Robert stammered, already embarrassed and shaken up enough.
"No, no, no, it's fine. Don't apologize to me. And certainly don't apologize to the guy you just rammed into. He's not so nice." Robert looked at the person talking to him and saw that it was a man, not much older than himself at maybe twenty years old. The man, who looked more like a mere boy, had messy red hair and a friendly yet playful face. He looked concentrated, weaving together some nets. He had some gunpowder on his face suggesting that maybe he worked on one of the ships.
"Do you know that man?" Robert asked, surprised.
"Unfortunately, yes," the boy sighed, "he's not as bad as he looks but he tries to scare the living daylights out of kids like you." This remark insulted Robert a bit.
"I'm not a kid. I'm seventeen, and I'm guessing you're not much older than I am," he barked. The red-headed boy looked surprised at this sudden change in tone, yet somewhat impressed.
"Alright, fair enough. I'm a few years your senior but not by much," the boy said, going back to weaving his nets together. Robert, however, felt curious about the young man and pressed on.
"Do you…do you, erm…are you a sailor?" Robert asked. The boy didn't tear his eyes away from his nets, but shrugged with a grim look.
"Sort of. I'm a type of sailor I guess you could say. Name's Boone," he said holding out his grimy hand. Robert shook it.
"Mine is…" he said before his voice trailed off. He hated his name, especially since it wasn't even real. Addams had named him as a baby, and it was the vilest name in the world. And certainly not as curious as "Boone."
Boone looked at him inquiringly.
"Well…what are you down here for anyway?" he asked, Robert realizing his cockney accent was quite thick. Robert shrugged.
"I don't know really," Robert said lamely.
"You've gotta be down here for some reason," Boone said, looking up at Robert with drawn-in eyebrows. Robert shifted uncomfortably.
"It's none of your business why I'm down here. Why are you down here?" he asked, giving him a challenging look. His attempt at intimidation didn't faze the boy named Boone.
"Well, I'm just working on some stuff," Boone said nonchalantly. "Trying to make cap'n happy for once. It's harder than you think, the sea. Cruel world. But it's wonderful." Robert sighed.
"I wish I could say I was a sailor like you. Or even in the navy. Or even a pirate."
There was a pause in the air and Boone's fingers suddenly fell still on his nets. Robert thought maybe he had said something that he shouldn't have said. But he had been telling the truth. He would do anything to get out on the sea.
"You don't mean that," Boone said, his eyes suddenly getting too curious for Robert's liking. But Robert continued.
"Oh, I do. I've been in love with the sea all my life. I'd do anything to get out there, no matter what it takes. Navy, piracy, anything."
A mischievous look lit up Boone's eyes. He stood to his feet and clasped Robert's shoulder, his nets falling to the ground.
"Kid," Boone said, "do you really, really, really want to live a life at sea? No matter how, no matter who you sail under, and no matter what you become? Is that what you're telling me?" Robert nodded abruptly.
"Absolutely," he said, his blue eyes glowing. His heart pounded. Boone grinned.
"Alright," Boone said, a satisfied look passing over his face. But then he sat back down suddenly as if nothing had happened and went back to tying his nets. Robert became frustrated. Was that it? He was angered with this sudden dropped conversation and kicked Boone in the leg.
"OW!" Boone yelped, rubbing his shin.
"What does it matter to you? Why did you ask me all those questions? Why do you even need to know?" Robert nearly shouted, drawing a few uneasy eyes over to their direction. Boone's gaze became uneasy.
"Cripes, kid, you're gonna get us both in trouble if you keep making a fool of yourself out here...but anyways, I'm gonna be back here at this same dock tomorrow. If you really honestly and truly wanna leave this place behind and get out on the sea, meet me back here in the evening. I'll make it happen if you just come. Are we agreed?"
Robert's eyes lit up.
"We are definitely agreed," he said, and in his excitement he enthusiastically shook Boone's hand. Boone laughed and gave him a smile. Robert walked off in high spirits of the circumstances, realizing that finally he was getting the chance to be someone else besides Addams' boy, the one who knocked things over all the time. And maybe even be a sailor.
Boone's eyes followed him as he walked away.
"I hope you know what you're doing, kid," he said to himself, "you won't be coming back with what you'll be doing. If you do, they'll send you to the gallows. And neither sea nor the Lord is kind to just anyone. Especially men like us."