Remo Cutlass, formerly a pirate, had turned his life around and was now sailing a cargo ship. He carried only the finest of rocks and rubber bands between ports in the Atlantic. He was three days’ overdue with an emergency shipment of rubber bands to Boston, and no one had heard from him.
His friends and customers searched everywhere. His former cabin boy, Daron, who now manufactured specialty rocks, contacted the Coast Guard, which launched a search and rescue mission off the coast of New England. There was no sign of Remo, his ship, the S.S. Bedouin, his crew or his cargo. Remo was simply gone.
Daron was heartbroken. So were Remo’s other friends as well as customers in Boston and elsewhere. After work, Daron went to the apartment he shared with Zivon (who went by Zivvy) and their mutual girlfriend, Carmeline. Daron looked it up, and learned that their arrangement was called a polyenema. Carmeline didn’t believe that was the term, said that couldn’t be true, so she looked it up. They were in fact a polyamide.
The trio realized that, since Remo had disappeared at sea, that’s where they would need to look. They contacted a ship owner, Jelly, who sometimes carried cargo for Remo. Jelly used to go by the name Milton Quiggley Fahrquart III, but he was always getting confused with the other one. Anyway, Daron arranged to charter his boat, the S.S. MNBBNAEIEIO. Zivvy was still angry with Jelly, who had played with one of Zivvy’s toys without his permission, and the two avoided one another as much as possible.
Daron still had some contacts in the pirate industry, and, before the trip, called them trying to track down Remo’s former pirate crew. A couple of brothers ran guns, ammunition and gunpowder for pirates. They operated a front business called Microton, which sold fireworks. Daron didn’t trust them, with good reason. They had sold Remo some defective gunpowder, and it blew up, injuring both Daron and Matthew, who maintained the sitar that Remo enjoyed playing. Daron almost lost an eye, and Matthew’s hands were burned, so he left the crew and started a photo business.
The brothers claimed to have no knowledge of Remo or of pirating in general; then again, they were both lawyers, hence known pathological liars. Zivvy and Carmeline distracted the brothers, while Daron looked at their Rolodex. He copied addresses for Matthew, Jolly Roger (Remo’s former deck hand) and Miles Johnson. Johnson, when he worked for Remo, had sabotaged the Bedouin and started his own pirating venture.
First stop was Matthew. He had always been fond of Daron, to the point that Zivvy and Carmeline were a bit jealous. Matthew suggested Johnson or Remo’s former first mate,
Dugout Mucks, who was rumored to be in cahoots with Johnson. Matthew and Daron caught up and shared fond memories, especially of Matthew’s socks. Zivvy suspected that was code for something else, and threw a snit. It missed the wastebasket and fell on the floor, amidst the rest of his snits.
Carmeline, the smart one in the group, thought they should check at Remo’s house. His wife, Mellifluous, was frantic. She was alone with their son, Chevrolet, and hadn’t heard from Remo in weeks. She gave the group the names of all the bars Remo frequented, and the three broke up the list among them. Most were on the Atlantic Coast, so Daron got New England (327 establishments), Carmeline got the mid-Atlantic (481 establishments), and Zivvy got everything south of the Mason-Dixon line (296 establishments).
Six weeks later, badly hung over, Daron and Carmeline met up in New York. No sign of Remo, and no sign of Zivvy, either. Daron called Zivvy’s cellphone, and got the voicemail greeting. “Hi, it’s Zivvy. I’m not available. It’s complicated.”
Another two weeks went by, and Zivvy finally showed up. He had gone to karaoke night at a bar in Fort Lauderdale, which led to a role in a short-lived musical about a poultry farm (Choke Your Chicken), which led to a four-week stay in a guest house in Key West. He wouldn’t talk about the guest house, but pictures showed up on the internet, after which Zivvy got film contract offers from several studios, including Adonis Films, Man Eater Productions, and Boy Toy International.
Their next stop was at Jolly Roger’s apartment in Rhode Island. Daron wondered if Roger still gave full-body massages for free. It wasn’t Daron’s full body, it was Roger’s. When Daron and Roger bunked together on Remo’s sip, Roger would lie on Daron’s back and use his whole body to massage him. Afterwards, there was always some white lotion left on Daron’s back. He never knew where Roger got his endless supply of the stuff.
Jolly Roger wasn’t there, but a group of very nice poor people invited them in. They knew the people were poor because they couldn’t afford any clothes. After a week of interrogating the poor people, exhausted, aching, sore and with raw throats, they left without any news of Remo.
They were getting desperate. They found Miles Johnson in a movie theater he managed. Johnson hadn’t changed at all; he was still watering down the popcorn to cheat his customers. And, whenever an employee asked for a raise, he was fired on the spot.
Johnson said he couldn’t help them. He wanted to, but corporate wouldn’t let him. This sounded a bit odd to the trio, because there were rumors that Johnson owned the corporation. They tried plying him with sexy girls, but he had no reaction. Then they tried sexy boys, but still there was nothing. Finally, they decided his hard heart could be softened by a pet, so they bought him a sheep. The next morning, Johnson was in a much better mood. In the background, they could hear a recording, playing Chorus 26 from Handel’s Messiah.
Johnson related a rumor that Remo had been spotted in Somalia last month. Daron immediately called Jelly and arranged for his ship to set sail the next day for Somalia. Jelly told Daron that he would need to look at his maps and charts, after he learned how to spell Somalia. That seemed reasonable.
They packed for the trip, Carmeline taking evening dresses and high heels. Zivvy took a few of those, also, but mainly packed artfully ripped jeans and T-shirts with strategically placed holes. Daron forgot to pack, so he wore some of Zivvy’s clothes except when he was working. To save money, Jelly required the passengers to work as crew. Daron made himself a work outfit from a spare sail, and they took many photos of Carmeline and Zivvy in matching strapless gowns with Daron in his sail-or-suit.
The voyage was pleasant, right up to the mutiny. Zivvy came upon Captain Jelly playing with Zivvy’s favorite toy, and was incensed. “I told you never to play with any of my toys without my permission. Now look. You’ve poked a hole in this one!”
The toy looked at Zivvy in astonishment. “That hole’s been there all along, as you well know. Anyway, we were just playing. It’s not as though I love him or anything.”
Zivvy agreed that the hole had been there all along, but his mind was made up. “Jelly, I’m taking over. I’m the Captain now, and you will confine yourself to quarters.” That caused both of Zivvy’s toys to jump in.
Carmeline reminded Zivvy that at home when there was a big decision to be made, it was always a vote. Daron added “Yeah,” not that he was following the conversation. It just sounded like the right thing to say.
“I vote for myself,” announced Carmeline. Zivvy laughed.
“Well, I vote for myself, and you know Daron’s my minion and will follow my lead.” Zivvy gave Daron a kiss on the cheek, then whispered in his ear, “Vote for me.”
Daron had been lost during the talk, but he did catch Ziggy saying, ‘Daron’s my minion.’ He didn’t like the sound of that, so he said, “I vote for Carmeline.”
The deck was soon covered completely with the snits Zivvy was throwing around with great abandon. “Why? Daron, why did you vote for Carmeline instead of me?”
It took Daron several minutes to put together his answer. Finally, he explained. “Zivvy, you’re pretty, but Carmeline is prettier.”
That was the worst possible explanation Daron could give, at least from Zivvy’s perspective. “I’m the prettiest one in the whole world, and you both know that! See how the heels accent my perfect ankles, and the dress emphasizes my glorious figure!” Zivvy turned to Daron, his feeling of betrayal evident in his scowl and his half-lidded eyes.
“Daron, this whole thing is entirely your fault. I demand an apology, right now.”
Daron said, “I’m sorry,” but wasn’t sure what for. That, though, was typical.
Zivvy sneered at Daron, then turned on his heels (which did in fact accent his perfect ankles), and stormed into the Captain’s cabin. He saw Jelly stretched out on the bed smoking something, and ordered him out of the room. Zivvy shouted through the door, “Go on, enjoy yourselves. I’m not going to have anything to do with either of you for the rest of the trip.”
Unfortunately, after ninety minutes without sex, he couldn’t stand it any longer. He left the cabin, told Daron he accepted his apology, and asked Carmeline to join him in the Captain’s Quarters to discuss strategy.
Daron was left alone on deck, except for Jelly, who was lounging in a chair still smoking something. The strategy discussion must have been animated from all the thrashing around, groaning, moaning and hissing he heard coming from the Captain’s Quarters. They must have come to agreement, because after nearly an hour he heard Carmeline scream “Yes!!!!!!!!!,” so everything must be OK.
Captain Carmeline ordered Jelly to use the crew quarters, three bunk beds in a broom closet. She moved herself, Zivvy and Daron into the Captain’s Quarters, which was furnished with a King-plus size bed. They enjoyed themselves immensely in the lush quarters.
It was supposed to take three people to crew the sailing ship, but Carmeline figured out how to do it with one. So, every member of the crew was on duty eight hours a day, and spent the other sixteen in the Captains Quarters with the other off-duty person. Daron felt bad for Zivvy and Carmeline, because they had to be sleeping during their eight hours together and couldn’t play bedroom games, like pillow fights and so forth. He knew they were exhausted because he spent four of his eight hours with each of them playing other bedroom games.
They ate well, having manatee, green sea turtle, or hammerhead shark for every meal. Daron had found them listed on a government menu site about Entangled and Threaded Species. They were most savory.
One day, as Carmeline was supervising, and Daron and Zivvy were trimming the sails, Carmeline made a frightening discovery. They were out of hemp rope. Sails and stanchions and other sailing stuff depended on a good supply of hemp, and none could be found. They enlisted Jelly in searching the whole ship, but not a foot of rope was to be found. Carmeline decided they had to stop somewhere and get more rope, so they put into Lagos, Nigeria, and went hunting.
A very nice Nigerian Prince offered to find them as much rope as they wanted, for free, if they would just put ten thousand dollars in his bank account. They transferred the money, but then couldn’t find the Nigerian Prince. Another Prince made the same offer, and the same thing happened. The trio determined that using a Nigerian Prince’s help must be dangerous to the Prince, because they kept disappearing. Zivvy found a branch of Tower Ropes in town, and they bought several hundred feet of the stuff.
When they got back on board they told Jelly the good news, but he didn’t seem impressed. He just lay on his bunk, smoking a very odd looking spliff. They gave him the last of their manatee for lunch, then dined on green turtle soup.
Rounding the Cape of Good Hope, they encountered a terrible storm. The wind blew the small ship nearly to the Falkland Islands before they regained control. Eventually they made their way back to the southern tip of Africa, where they encountered a blue tang fish helping a clown fish search for his lost son. Zivvy thought it would make a great story, and wrote many songs proclaiming the clown fish’s love for his offspring, and the blue tang’s lack of memory. Carmeline told Zivvy the story would never sell, so he changed the songs a little bit and wrote a different story called Mama Youa. Years later the script was found and turned into a successful stage play.
Nearly out of food, they put in at Madagascar to restock their galley. Sick of seafood, they sent Daron out to find something new from the Entangled and Threaded Species menu. He found a farm where they were growing Giant Pandas, and had three slaughtered and turned into steaks. They ate well for the rest of the journey.
Just north of Madagascar they were fired on by a pirate ship, the Hive Positive, named for a cheerful beekeeper. Having no weapons themselves, and with the wind at their back, they were being pushed closer and closer to the Hive. Jelly saved the day.
He had found the lost hemp, or at least part of it, and set it on fire. A giant plume of smoke made its way to the Hive, which shortly thereafter ceased its bombardment. Curious, they made their way gingerly (or maybe it was cinnamonly, Daron often got them confused) to the other ship and boarded it. The crew was in a good mood and eating the furniture. Draped over the helm they found none other than Jolly Roger, the unusual masseur. They interrogated him, and a few of his responses actually made sense.
It seemed that Jolly Roger had been sent out to capture treasure and booty to finance the operation in Somalia. He had captured a ship and found, to his delight, a cargo of rare and expensive rubber bands. That was the treasure. He took a particular liking to several of the crew, and took their bootys. If you know what I mean.
They asked if he had seen Remo, and he nodded his head. “Remo’s being held captive in Somalia by Dugout Mucks, along with a number of other former pirates, such as Dizzy Disbourne, Jimmy Ban Jivvy, and Axel Chrysanthemum. He’s planning to make a super-pirate crew out of them, and rule the world.” The brains behind the whole operation was a white Nigerian Prince, whose name Jelly did not know.
This saddened the trio, because each of the men named had been a pirate, but turned his life around and found a new profession. Dizzy was giving elocution lessons, Jimmy was paving Runways, and Axel was selling rifles decorated with chrysanthemums. Each had been moderately successful in his new career, and the trio knew none of them – including Remo – would agree to this except under coercion.
Daron had to look the word up in the dictionary and knew that Remo would eventually give in if he was being held under Korean Ocean; Remo had never learned to swim. Newly-invigorated, Daron demanded they set sail immediately for Somalia, which is near Korea. Fortunately, Carmeline knew where Somalia really was, so she headed due north.
Arriving in port at Mogadishu, they spied Jason Alexander coming out of a tool store, called the Hoe House. The trio asked Jason if he knew where Remo Cutlass was, and he blanched. Then he said he had never heard of him.
They let Jelly off the ship, and took him to the tool store because he was the only one who knew what tools to use on the ship; it had received no maintenance during the voyage, and Captain Carmeline knew it would need some work. Jelly did a double-take when he entered the store.
“You look exactly like Dugout Mucks. Where are you holding Remo Cutlass?” Jelly asked.
Jason assured them that he wasn’t Mucks, but Jelly wasn’t buying it. They tried bribing him with beer, then with blowup dolls, then with money. Nothing was working. Captain Carmeline ruled out torture; she couldn’t go through with it. Zivvy, however, had planned ahead for this part of the voyage and had downloaded the Grandeur App to his smart semaphore. With Grandeur one could locate nearly unlimited men who liked to play certain games.
When eighty-four men showed up on the Grandeur App, Zivvy invited them all over to the Hoe House where he had a special treat waiting for them. The eleven who weren’t chewing khat at the time arrived shortly to find Dugout/Jason attached to a St Andrews Cross. Daron had borrowed a ring from a rooster and put that on Dugout/Jason, too.
Two of the Grandeur customers were so excited they began kissing each other, and Jason said, “Cut out the faggy shit.” That was Dugout’s favorite line, so they knew he was not Jason, but Dugout.
Zivvy took charge. “Dugout, if you don’t tell us immediately where Remo is, we’re going to lock you in a room with these eleven fine gentlemen, who are addicted to “faggy shit.” That’s all it took. Jason admitted that Remo and the rest of the crew were being held at a cover location, a glass-blowing factory, and they were disguised as blow jobbers.
Arriving at the factory, they found a combination lock on the front door. Daron suggested they try “One, Two, Three,” and it worked. Inside they found Remo leading a musical group including Dizzy, Jimmy, Axel and many more former pirates. Remo was singing and playing the sitar. Axel was playing a seventy-two-string celestial harp, which was accompanied by a thirty-eight-string bazantar played by Jimmy. Dizzy was simultaneously playing the saw and washboard, and others could be seen playing kazoos, bagpipes, gongs and ukuleles. It sounded innovative, alternative, original, authentic, and otherwise awful.
Seventy-six other pirates were gathered around a glockenspiel, which none of them could play. Daron volunteered that he could play the glockenspiel, and joined the group. Jelly had seen a music store in Mogadishu that sold brass instruments. He led the rest of the pirates there, and all seventy-six bought trombones.
Now that the band was complete it needed new music, so Zivvy wrote a guaranteed hit in under ten minutes. It was called My Right Hand. Daron contributed a choral piece, Headboard Banging on the Wall All Night. They developed and rehearsed three dozen other numbers that afternoon. The band was a fusion of punk, metal, ragtime, doo-wop, gospel, disco, bluegrass and waltz. They were debating whether to look for a record deal, when in walked the white Nigerian Prince, who represented a megafirm that dealt in music, movies, televisions, vibrators and butt plugs. If it brought in money, they sold it.
Remo blew the Prince’s cover. “Miles Johnson, you are not a Nigerian Prince.”
Daron said, “For your own good we’re not going to do business with you. It seems that every time we do business with a Nigerian Prince he suddenly disappears.” Heartbroken, Johnson left and was never seen again. Daron suspected Johnson really had been a Nigerian Prince.
Over the next several years the band made history. Called “Bedouin,” after Remo’s old ship, they changed the face of music forever. Suddenly, everybody was trying to produce music with a glockenspiel, sitar, seventy-two string celestial harp, thirty-eight string bazantar, kazoo, bagpipes, gong, saw, washboard, eleven ukuleles and seventy-six trombones. Bedouin scheduled a world tour, and its new genre swept away the old categories.
The highlight of the tour was when Dugout, who had become a devout orthodox Jew and then a rabbi, married the polyamide.
And they all lived happily ever after.
[A few notes:
1. There will be a SATURDAY POST thanks to the generous folks who filled the tip jar.
2. We still have open slots for fanworks posts. If you’d like to submit or want more information, this post has it all.
3. Planning is underway for the first ever DGC Fan Gathering, 20 August, in Louisville, KY. If you’re interested in attending, let ctan know.]