These Are The Stories Part V
A Short Story by Doug Dean
Written using the suggestion "Mission"
Originally featured on 10-28-2009
As part of our series "The Words That Seem to Justify Anything"

The narrator leaned with both elbows on the counter, staring at the toaster.

“I don’t have time for this,” he muttered.

He tapped his fingers, looking at the jar of Skippy to his right and then back to the toaster.

“C’mon, dammit!”

He flicked the toaster with his finger. His face changed. He reached out his palm and rested it on the side of the toaster.

“Dammit! I’m out of time!”

He reached his arm quickly past the toaster. Then, pulled it back. His lips pressed tightly and then opened to reveal clenched teeth. In a flash of anger, he swatted the jar of Skippy across the room.

He turned and held the end of the cord up, nodding angrily, to nobody in particular.

Then he began again.

 

***

 

Darren, Steve and Brian held their thin branches over the campfire.

Billy finished urinating, walked over and picked a marshmallow out of the Jet-Puffed bag and returned to his seat on the big log with the others.

Billy retrieved his thin but firm marshmallow stick which he had left leaning on the big log. He held the Jet-Puffed marshmallow out in front of him and then slowly moved the carved end of it towards the center of the milky-white, soft, cylindrical puff. At this point Darren, Steve and Brian were watching Billy, his stick and his marshmallow intently.

The group gasped in unison as the stick penetrated the taut skin.

Billy grinned at everyone.

“How’s it going everybody?” Billy asked.

“Really good,” replied Steve.

“Yeah,” Brian chimed. “I love how these marshmallows melt in my mouth…so gooey.”

The others chuckled.

Brian suddenly pulled his stick out of the fire. “I don’t want this little guy to get too brown,” Brian said, grinning. “Not if I’m going to put it in my mouth.”

The others chuckled more.

“So this turned out fabulously,” began Steve. “Who knew that an innocent little foray into the woods could turn out to be such a hoot?”

The others shrugged enthusiastically.

“I didn’t,” Brian said, chewing. “I always thought the Oregon wilderness was bo-ring. But it’s not. Not at all.” Then Brian began licking the white orb of goo left by the marshmallow at the end of his stick. “Mmmm.”

“Hmmm, that looks good,” Billy said. “Do you mind if I try a little bit of that?”

Brian shook his head. “Here, have some of this goo, it’s to die for,” said Brian, extending his stick within reach of Billy’s mouth.

Steve farted, but it was absolutely silent and nobody heard.

“Careful,” said Steve. “You could take his eye out. And don’t get any on his face. I mean it, okay?”

“I’m being careful,” said Brian.

“Here,” Billy said, sticking out his tongue. “That should make it easier.”

Brian smiled, and moved to shove the gooey orb onto Billy’s tongue.

Suddenly, intense wind filled the forest. The campfire roared, its flames rising high in the air. Thunder boomed.

“Stop,” a deep voice commanded.

The four boys turned to see a tall dark figure behind the flames.

“Jesus fucking Christ!” yelled Steve.

The boys all leapt up from the big log.

Billy, tongue still outstretched, moved to grab Brian’s stick.

“I said, ‘Stop’” the Narrator’s voice boomed.

Billy eyed him and tried to go for the stick again. Billy lunged with his head, tongue outstretched, but found that there was some sort of invisible force-field blocking the gooey orb of Jet-Puff.

“Fine,” the Narrator said. The boys were flying through the air. They landed on the trunks of four separate trees, stuck against them.

“Let me go, Goddamnit!” cried Steve.

“Hey!” cried Billy.

Darren struggled, but characteristically said nothing.

“What is this, man?” yelled Brian.

The boys continued to struggle, but their backs were inexplicably attached to their respective trees.

“There’s no use, boys,” said the Narrator.

The boys struggled even harder, Steve clawing at the bark of his tree.

“I said there’s no use!” boomed the Narrator. “Cut the shit!”

Then, the boys’ bodies all at once hung limply.

“There,” said the Narrator. “Is this how it’s gotta be?”

They could still move their heads. Their eyes blinked. Then Steve spoke.

“What are you going to do with us?” said Steve. “This is so fucked up. We were just out here on an innocent camping for-“

“Foray into the Oregon wilderness. Yeah, I know Steve.”

The boys gasped.

“How does he know your name?” whispered Billy to Steve.

The Narrator rolled his eyes, shrugged and shook his head at once.

“Look, I’ve got lots left to do,” he started. “This little foray just got a little out of hand. You see, I was distracted, I’ve been too busy to eat and I’m starving and I was pissed about the toaster-“

“Toaster?” whispered Billy to the other boys.

“-and stuff just started happening out here that, well, I don’t even know where it came from. I’m kind of at a loss myself to explain why this took such a…well, I don’t know the PC way to say this, but why things got so gay out here.”

“Oh, that is just great!” declared Steve sarcastically. “Well who the fuck are you anyway? We’re just out here on an innocent little for—“

“Yeah, I know. That’s my point, this little foray has gotten far from innocent way too fast. I mean, I wasn’t able to even describe a single tree before you guys started seducing one another. And, really, I mean, I have nothing against you guys…’bonding’ the way you were about to—”

“Oh, and what were we about to do? How the fuck would you know?” demanded Steve.

Darren nodded emphatically.

“Trust me, things were headed in a certain direction. I can’t even explain it myself, but I just needed to put to a stop to it for now. Trust me, you’ll get to go on another foray into the Oregon wilderness.”

“Oh, and when is that going to happen? Huh? This was it! This was our innocent foray!” argued Steve, Darren nodding along.

The Narrator sighed. “Look, soon enough okay?”

“Well, school starts in three days and—“ started Brian

“Oh, Lord,” said the Narrator shaking his head. “See, you’re all too young, there’s…there’s a lot of stuff wrong here. I’m gonna pick it up again when I’m not so distracted and revisit your foray then, with a clear head.”

Steve, Brian and Billy all sighed indignantly at this. Darren nodded, staring at the Narrator with indignance.

The Narrator shrugged.

 

***

 

Blondbeard and his crew stared at their captives, the Irish family Creigan, who were tied to the main mast of The Lobos.

Blondbeard’s crew was a lackluster crew and he had assembled them purposefully. While Blondbeard had both legs intact, nearly half his crew stumbled around on at least one, if not two peg legs. Others had merely stumps and hobbled around at waist level. Many of the stumpwalkers had lost their pegs at the hands of cruel debt collectors. Others had traded their pegs for whiskey or gotten so drunk that they’d forgotten where they’d hidden their own pegs. Most of the crew were horribly out of shape, their hairy guts hanging down over their oversized black belt buckles. They were a badly beaten collection of hobbled pirates. They had been beaten by rival pirates, as well as by the British navy, but the cruelest blows had come from shortcomings in 19th century medicine. Despite having all his limbs and a spectacular figure, Blondbeard understood their plight best of all.

For, Blondbeard came from a long line of pirates. His father had crewed with many infamous pirate crews, including Greybeard of the Outer Banks. Blondbeard, before he was Blondbeard, before he could even grow a beard, back when he simply Demetrio Jr., had witnessed the brilliance of his father’s pirating. Little Demetrio had sailed with his father. He had been a Cabin Boy on numerous ships. Then as grew in size and experience, he had become an Assistant Porter.

Demetrio Sr.’s career had taken a similarly upward path. Demetrio Sr., or Nobeard the Pirate as he had become known, had started as a Crewman 3rd class when he first brought his six year old son onboard a ship, but had reached the position of 1st Mate by the celebration of his son’s fourteenth birthday. Nobeard’s reputation began to spread as an incredibly capable privateer, an excellent fighter and a master of advanced naval strategy. Word of Demetrio Sr.’s temperance in the face of incredible duress had spread as well. It seemed as though the Age of the Vicious Pirate were coming to an end in the wake Nobeard’s success.

That was until the ship with which Nobeard sailed traveled to China for a pleasure mission. Nobeard went ashore with Demetrio Jr. for some much needed shoreleave. The pair took in shows and treated themselves to the finest in Szechuan cuisine. On the second night of shoreleave, Nobeard purchased some low grade fireworks and took Demetrio Jr. and a bottle of sake to a secluded part of the city. Nobeard danced as the waves lapped up on the shore, fireworks exploding close overhead. Demetrio Jr. was enthralled. Right up until his father lit up the cheapest looking of the explosives.

Chang, the man who had sold Nobeard the fireworks had a history with pirates. His sister had been verbally assaulted by numerous pirates at the bathhouse she worked in. Unbeknownst to Nobeard, Chang had laced one of the explosives with numerous small shards of metal. After Nobeard lit the fuse, Demetrio Jr. watched as his father danced around it and then fell to the ground. He wasn’t dead. But suffered numerous small wounds in all of his limbs. Demetrio Jr. carried his father first to the ship, only to find the ship’s passed out doctor. He then carried his wounded father to the office of a local doctor.

Amputation was the primary care option recommended by the medical community at the time. So from then on, Nobeard became Nolimbs. He couldn’t give up the life of pirating, nor could he remain in China. So Nobeard waited until his nubs healed, and then got a job as a dancing limbless pirate aboard a ship headed back to Italy. Demetrio Jr. was taken on as the ship’s porter and did well with the position, despite being forced to watch his father prance limbless across the deck to the errant sounds of an aged fiddle.

And so it went for years. Nobeard and his son would work on ships. Nobeard danced and suffered abuse at the hands of his drunken shipmates, while Demetrio Jr. focused on learning the trade of being a pirate. Eventually, he surpassed the level of pirating achieved even by his father.

Blondbeard spoke to the Irish family Creigan directly.

“We’ve killed every passenger on the ship you were aboard. But we’ve spared you.”

Shamus Creigan nodded. “Why sir, may I ask?” said Shamus.

“It’s a good question,” said Blondbeard. “The complicated answer, is because you were clearly the poorest, the most malnourished of the bunch. And I know something about that.”

Shamus nodded. His wife and daughters ducked their heads, afraid to look at any of the freakish pirates directly in the eye.

“We’re going to do something special for you,” said Blondbeard. “You’ve suffered enough, I say. And so we’ve killed and prepared the pig accompanying you in the finest fashion-“

“Mick!” cried the women.

“Fantastic,” thought Shamus.

“We’ll eat soon, but first,” said Blondbeard. “We’re going to grace you with a dance number,”

The fiddle started. The pirates removed their pegs. And then they began to limblessly prance in a circle around the captive audience.

The woman were crying, as Mick was a beloved pig. A tear came to Shamus’ eye as well, but for a different reason.

It was the happiest Shamus had ever been.

***

 

Darren, Steve and Brian held their branches over the campfire.

Billy finished shaking the dirt off of his cap. He leaned forward and picked a marshmallow out of the Jet-Puffed bag before plopping down on the dirt. Unfortunately, they’d been unable to find a log to sit on.

Billy pulled his marshmallow, which he’d been attentively roasting out of the fire. He held the Jet-Puffed marshmallow out in front of him and nodded at it. At this point, Darren, Steve and Brian were watching their own marshmallows attentively.

The group nodded in unison as Billy removed the marshmallow from the stick with his dirty hands.

Billy grinned at everyone after taking a bite.

“Good marshmallow. You boys doin’ alright?” Billy asked.

“Yep,” replied Steve.

“Yep,” Brian said. “Good marshmallows…they taste good.”

The others nodded.

Brian casually pulled his marshmallow out of the fire. “I don’t want this little guy to get too brown,” Brian said, frowning. “Not if I’m going to eat it, anyway.”

The others nodded more.

“So this turned out alright,” began Steve. “Who’d’ve thought that an innocent little foray into the woods could turn out to be such a good time?”

The others shrugged casually.

“I didn’t,” Brian said, chewing. “I always thought the Oregon wilderness was boring. But it’s not. Not at all.” Then Brian bit the white marshmallow in his hand. “Mmmm.”

“That looks good,” Billy said. “Do you mind if I try that?”

Brian shook his head. “Here’s the bag, make your own,” said Brian, throwing the bag at Billy’s face.

Steve farted loudly and everyone reacted.

“Careful,” said Steve. “You don’t want to smell this. I mean it, okay?”

“I’m being careful,” said Brian, holding his collar above his nose.

“Here,” Billy said, holding out a book of matches. “That should cover it.”

Brian smiled, and grabbed the book of matches. He lit one and then put it out on his tongue.

“Nice,” said Steve, nodding.

Darren readjusted his cap, nodding. But Darren was nodding for a different reason.

It was the happiest Darren had ever been.

Read More By Doug Dean

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Portland Fiction Project

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