A short story by
Robert Louis Meek n’ son
LOCKDOWN EDITION 2019
Why did the pirates have to go into lockdown? Because the ‘Arrrrrrrrr’ rate had risen!
Cast of characters
Long Terry Silver
Squire Fenton of Park Crescent
Dr Bumbo Blackboots
The Iron Chancellor
Dan-Dan Pirate man
Jerry the Brasher
‘The fortune of war, I tell you quite plain, is a wooden leg or a golden chain.’
Double D and the rest of these gentlemen having asked me to write down the whole particulars about the match against Chipstead, from the beginning to the end, keeping nothing back but the bearings of Shabden Park, and that only because there is still treasure not yet lifted, I take up my pen in the year of grace 1767 and go back to the time when my father kept the Constant Service Inn, and the brown old seaman Biffy Bones, with the sabre cut, first took up his lodging under our roof.
I had been serving grog for many moons but dreamed of adventure and buccaneering on the high seas. Nothing changed day in day out and my horizons were narrow with work being dreary as rain save for old Bones watching me from his corner with a demeanor seemingly uneasy as though running from something.
‘What bothers thee Bones? I asked one evening.
He turned his head slowly toward me and met my gaze.
‘Tell me young Robor, do you know a man called Long Terry Silver? Walks with a limp after a misfortune at Staplefield, a colossus of a man who casts a long shadow.”
“This man be a dangerous man, you ever see a man like this or hear his name uttered you be sure to tell me, do you hear?”
I wanted to question him further but refrained fearing his gruff manner.
Then one dark and dismal evening somebody came for Bones.
I recognised him, his name was Ricky Pew and although ancient and blind he located Bones without hesitation before placing something in his hand and leaving with a chuckle.
I watched Bones study the object, ashen-faced.
‘What is it Bones’? I asked
He opened his palm to reveal a small black spot and then spoke in a low whisper.
“Tis a summons. A pirate summons and I am a man not long for this world’.
He said no more then slowly climbed the staircase to his room. That was the last time I saw him, the next morning he was gone.
He left without settling his account, but under his bed I discovered a large wooden chest, which I opened the following morning.
All manner of objects were inside. Small silver trinkets, a ping pong ball, rizla papers and an old and worn leather notebook.
Inside, scrawled in an untidy hand was the following:
In the year of our Lord 1766 Captain Flynt was laid low from a surfeit of rum and beer, and with his demise came mine. I left him for dead near Hove Lagoon some 6 months passed.
Once a master mariner who had learnt to pirate with Teach, he was now ruined along with his ship, The Mighty Grey.
My captain ruled the seas and feared no man save his own quartermaster, Long Terry Silver. They had once been Good Companions but fell out over which drinking establishment to frequent post-raid.
For many a year we patrolled the channel accosting Spanish bullion ships from Hispaniola and the New World.
I trusted him as a friend but all pirates treacherous be and when he died 70 pounds in gold and subs was unaccounted for.
I thought the treasure lost and buried forever but found this map in his pocket as he lay on the ground unconscious that night.
The map was clearly a treasure map, X marked the spot, and the spot was Chipstead.
Now I am not a man of means but I will recover this treasure if it is my life’s last work. But alas, it is a dangerous journey that few would countenance, few except Silver, who also knows of the map but must never find it…or all in the path of that gold will perish!
The map was folded at the back of the notebook and looked like this.
Well gentlemen, I could not believe my luck, in this map my dreams of riches had come to pass. Bones had fled and the treasure could now be mine.
As I sat and reflected the journey to Chipstead seemed more and more treacherous and I realized that I am no sailor. I knew for sure pirates were after the map as a pair of grizzled sailors called Jerry the Brasher and The Chancellor had continually asked for Bones at the bar. But where would I get the money to enlist a schooner and competent crew? I needed help.
And that is why I approached you two fine gentlemen when I overheard you speaking of investment opportunities over firkins of frothing ale.
Having listened intently to my words Squire Fenton, the wealthy venture capitalist of Park Crescent renown, finally spoke:
“I will help you recover the gold Robor for a a full half share in what is found. Boots and I have commissioned the perfect vessel, a schooner called The Prius1. We found her in dry dock in Hollingbury, near the Associated Dairies market”2.
His friend, the esteemed Dr Black-boots, continued: “She is a sturdy vessel and comes complete with crew, cook and Admiral Clunkett; the finest helmsmen Sussex has seen.
Clunckett will take us to Chipstead but he must not know of the treasure, do you understand me Hawkins?”.
Fenton, dressed in a shirt from a distant island in the Pacific, continued: “We set sail tomorrow from Shoreham Harbour at 12.40pm sharp. Do not be late as Admiral Clunkett demands punctuality!”
The hull of the Prius confronted us like a wall rising from the water.
As I made my way below deck I caught sight of several crew. A rougher bunch you will not see with beards of red and black and cutlasses at their sides. The smell of rum was dense in the air despite the early hour. The men seemed in excellent spirits and one, Dan-Dan Pirate man, sang as he searched on the poop deck for bog roll.
“Fifteen men on a dead man’s chest
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum
Drink and the devil had done for the rest
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.
The mate was fixed by the bosun’s3 pike
The bosun brained with a marlinspike
I did not know what the song meant but felt me uneasy as I made my way deep into the Prius’ dark bowels.
In the darkness of the galley a tall man with long silvery hair and only one leg suddenly appeared before me, a small scrufffy parrot perched on his shoulder.
“Pieces of eight, pieces of eight” squawked the bird.
‘Quiet Flynt! said the cook.
He limped towards me with sabre draw, casting a long shadow across the floor,
“If it isn’t that bilge rat Bob Hawkins. I watched your inn for many nights and you and those knuckleheads fell into my trap! Now where is the map?
“I do not have it sir” I said.
“Down to the depths with you, do not lie to me Hawkins! I know you have it! Give it to me now!”
1 Prius is a Latin word meaning “first”, “original”, “superior” or “to go before”.
3 a petty officer on a merchant ship who controls the work of other seamen
And he reached out and took it from my pocket.
“Do you know that this is my ship Hawkins and these sailors my men! This is my map and that (pointing to Chipstead), is my blunt4!
He looked at me closely
“Now stay out of my way Hawkins, you parley to anyone and you’ll sleep forever with the fishes! Do you hear me boy!”
It was unmistakably that scourge of the seven seas, Long Terry Silver.
The hours passed slowly as we made our way towards Surrey. I dared not approach Fenton and Boots, who stayed with Clunckett on the quarter deck playing cards with Texas Holdem and his girlfriend, Ali.
Silver’s men patrolled day and night and all seemed lost until one morning a sudden shout of ‘Land ahoy!’
All raced to the deck to look to the horizon.
I could make out the silhouette of a ship in a distant bay and as we drew closer, to my surprise, saw the flag of the Mighty Grey fluttering in the breeze.
Could it be that Captain Flynt was still alive? And what of Bones?
I used the commotion to find my friends and tell them Silver and his crew had hijacked the mission.
“Wait till we are nearer to shore then jump overboard and swim to land. We will meet you there” said Boots.
Six hours later I jumped from the gunwale into the cold water and swam for land in the moonlight.
It was a long swim to shore and nearly morning when I arrived on a Welsh beach.
As I dried myself I saw movement in the trees.
Shaking from cold and nerves I shouted toward the disturbance – ‘Who goes there?
A man dressed in rags, brown as a berry and with long unkempt hair appeared from a cave.
“Tis I, Ben Gunn! Former Grey’s captain.” he said with a wild look in his eye.
“What are you dong here Ben?” I asked
“I was marooned 4 years hence for challenging Bones for the captaincy. I’m so hungry, have you got any cheese?
Only this old bit of cheddar, I’m afraid Ben” I said. ‘I’ll take it, thanks!’ said Gunn.
As he ravenously ate he began to speak.
“Have you come for the treasure? It a few miles in that direction. Somewhere between the tribes of Chipstead, Coulsdon and the people they call the Wallcountians.”
He motioned inland while consulting a compass he has made from driftwood.
“I have to warn you that they have joined forces and refuse to concede the land unless we defeat them at a game they call ‘creckett’.
‘Clunk-ett? Said I
‘No Creeeeeck-etttt’ said Gunn.
“It’s like bowls I think, but with a bat”
As we spoke Fenton and Boots arrived on the shore.
“We haven’t got long until Silver finds us”, said Boots.
“As this is an emergency, I suggest we hold an Emergency General Meeting”, said Gunn.
“Item one of the agenda:
- How to get the map from Silver?
- Do we invest the treasure in premium bonds?
As we deliberated the returns on premium bonds three figures appeared on the horizon.
“Avast”, said the Chancellor, “It’s Bones, Calico Sewell and the ghost of Flynt”.
Everyone turned to see them approaching.
“Ahoy there” said Captain Flynt.
“Flynt is not dead after all!”– declared Bones – “He’d just collapsed after attempting a lockdown PB 5km along the seafront’
‘Silver’s going to skin you for hiding the gold’ said the Chancellor.
But before Flynt had time to reply Silver was upon us with his gang of cutthroats.
“Flynt, you son of a biscuit eater, where are my subs?’ he cried, drawing his pistol and cutlass together.
“Don’t shoot!” said Flynt, arms raised.
“You cursed horns-waggle Flyntt, what was you thinking? You should be made to kiss the gunners daughter5 for what you’ve done!
“Calm yourself John Silver”, said Flynt.
But the irascible Shadow would not be calm.
“Listen you cursed drivelswigger!” Said Flynt “Calico and I buried the subs for safekeeping tween games as the Chancellor was not playing.
We marked the spot on a map for safekeeping, then Bonehead here took it as he thought I was dead. Obviously I am not dead.
“We never meant to keep it, I swear.
“Is that true Calico? Asked Silver
Calico nodded sagely
“Argghhhhhhhhhhh, you scallywags!!”, said Silver, satisfied.
‘Now that’s all cleared up, go on and get our treasure!
The motley crew assembled on a clearing outside the hamlet of Chipstead. A dry wicket had been prepared and a large beech tree loomed over the far boundary,
The best men Chipstead, Coulsdon and Wallnutians could muster gathered at the club house, ready for battle.
The Grey’s sat in the away changing room, and devised a plan.
‘We are fielding’ said Gunn.
‘For fuck sake’ said someone.
‘Fucking tap won’t turn off! Help’ said I.
‘Robor, what have you done!
Fenton, Clunckett and others tried in vain to stem the flow but to no avail.
Water gushed for many minutes before help arrived to stem the flow.
A sign of byes to come!
“This game requires someone keep wicket”, said Squire Fenton.
5 A punishment consisting of being hoisted over one of the ship’s guns and flogged.
“It can’t be me as I’ve hurt my thumb”, he continued.
‘Roborbob I believe you are the man for the job’ he said (As we won’t miss your bowling!) he thought.
No problem thought Hawkins, how hard can it be?
Hanover, Hove, Southwick, Hastings and Shoreham CC took to the field with Dan Dan Pirate man the first to attack.
It was a fiery spell from Red Beard, beating the bat with many rapid fire deliveries until one pummeled into the pad!
‘Arrrrrrr zaaat!’ cried the pirates in unison and the finger went up!
Sensing weakness the Grey’s rolled out the big gun, Double D. Double Deadly.
Total control as the ball swung and seamed .
The ball is smashed hard at Bones who pulls out the ‘chaise longue’ to stop a tough half chance at Mid-off. The incident left him with a sore thumb and a Wet Leg in tribute to his new favorite band. He trudges off to the changing room in search of ice leaving the Greys temporarily with ten
… On the chaise longue, on the chaise longue, on the chaise longue
All day long, Biff on the chaise longue
On the chaise longue, on the chaise longue, on the chaise longue
All day long, Biffy Bones on the chaise longue
Play continued and in the commotion Captain Clunckett nearly took his first catch for the greys, the ball passing tantalizingly close to his outstretched hand.
Moments later and Robor Hawkins stops a ball flying down the leg side. Caught in the excitement of the moment he exclains: “I will concede no byes today. You shall see’.
An over later the ball flies through his legs to the boundary off a Ben Gunn in-ducker.
Another evades his right foot. A third hits him in the face.
‘Unlucky Robor!’ calls Boots.
‘Let’s try and keep the byes under three figures’ from Jerry the Brasher. Byes top scorer!
Then came the the moment of the match. Double sent down a fast, fizzing delivery that bounced steeply off a length surprising the number 4 batsman. It clips something on the way through (bat? pad?) and it pouched by the outstretched webbing of the Grey’s fourth choice glove man. He appeals in surprise at having stopped one and is further surprised as the umpires finger goes up. A fine catch to lift the morale of the becalmed Greys. (PSM)
Chipstead found themselves 5 down for only 30 runs when skipper Ben took two quick wickets (7-1-37-3). The second bamboozling George Boosey for an eight ball duck. The Grey’s sensed victory and the treasure was close.
Adam Barber had other ideas. Coming in at 6, he played with skill to negate the Greys attack and protect the treausre. It took the returning DD to dislodge him for 85 on his way to recording another impressive Michelle for the Grey team (5.4- 1-6-5).
The tail were quickly mopped up, with Fenton taking a smart catch to remove their number 9.
158 didn’t seem like a lot of runs. But there were a few gremlins lurking in this wicket for sure.
Bones had recovered from his injured thumb bone and opened up with Jerry the Brasher. The treasure was within our grap.
But Nestor and Huitson bowled tight lines and found movement and bounce with the old ball. Brasher was soon back in the hut having knicked off.
The Chancellore took a commanding guard, dust bellowing from the crease as he surveyed the field. A bowler transformed to a top order batsman.
But he and bones were both bowled through the gate by the parsimonius Huitson.
A top order collapse ensued as Fenton, Admiral Clunckett and Captain Flynt succumbed in quick succession. The Grey’s treasure was all but lost at 51 for 5 and 78 for 6.
But Robor Hawkins had travelled too far to let his dreams of riches and adventure die in a field in Chipstead.
He buckled down and repelled the danger before lauching a swashbuckling counter attack.
With 10 overs left the Greys needed an unlikely 68 for victory. But Boots had joined Robor and together they plundered the bowling of Webber. The extra pace finding edges that went to the boundary or the middle of the bat that into the trees. Two big sixes relived the pressuee. Boots lifting the ball high into the air on the leg side as The Iron Chacellor giggled with glee.
The game with done with an over to spare.
A timely reminder not to fuck with the Mighty Greys.
With the enemy vanquished the time had come to locate the hidden treasure=.
X marked the spot and the spot was Chipstaed.
“So where is the treasure?” the Greys asked Calico Sewell.
Sewell thought for a second a smile broke over his face. “Now I think about it I think I left it behind the bar at Headquarters!!!
Onwards to the Constant Service, the Mighty Greys cried.
And here is the book version…