A man records his life as a sailor, and how his dream took an unexpected turn.
| Account of a Washed Up Sailor
In the mountainous reaches of the Peruvian Andes, there lived a hermit by the name of Juan Halcon. Senor Juan Halcon was a strange man, one of those people who tip-toe on the edge of sane and insane. He was a broken man, he didn’t know what to and not believe anymore, scorned by the ones closest to him. He moved to Peru in an effort to escape his very mind, but only by leaving what he adored most.
Senor Halcon dealt with a constant paranoia that he was about to perish. He often freaked over the most minute of medical problems. This was one of those days. Senor Halcon had assumed his final resting place, and wrote of his life; his adventures; his dreams; his story.
I grew up in a land rather far away from where I am today. I was born in the magnificent city of London, on the twelfth of May, 1785; my name being John Smith. My Mother was one of the premier nurses in the city, few of her patients died in her care. Mother’s aptitude for medicine probably resulted from her copious worry over hygiene, and her extreme caution around disease. She frequently went mad over even the smallest fever, a trait I also shamefully admit to have. But Mother’s paranoia over disease didn’t keep her safe from contracting small pox while helping deliver a homeless woman’s child. She quickly perished from it. I was only five years old.
My father was a sea merchant, working for the British East India Company. He spent quite a lot of his time at sea, being a merchant and all, so I seldom saw him. I had to keep residence with my grandparents, I must refrain from speaking of them, they don’t deserve to be immortalized by print and all I have is negatives. Whenever my father came back from a voyage, he would lavish me with stories of pirates and rough seas, exotic lands and the colorful cast of characters he met along the way. Stories of gallivanting pirates that attempted to raid their goods; gold-encrusted palaces hidden within lonely, desolate deserts; and native tribes who had never seen a boat before; All of them different and more exciting than the next. Oh how I dreamed to be like my father, a man of the water had such an appealing sound. I had a fiery passion for life on the sea, so when I had finally gotten to the required age, fifteen at the time, I had joined the merchant navy.
My father lied. A dirty, filthy, grossly over-exaggerating, no good piece of scum. The merchant navy was nothing like what he described, nothing like it at all! My father wasn’t even a sailor; he didn’t even have a job! I found this out when I asked to be assigned to my father’s ship; I hadn’t told him so I could surprise him. It turned out that Father had just come up with stories to try and impress me, when he was actually a drunkard and a beggar. Once I got over the shock of finding out about my father, I went back to the East India Company. They assigned me to “Deck Sweeper” on Los Santos, an insignificant, pint-sized, trashy isle in the Caribbean.
While on Los Santos, I met a man by the name of Floyd Fillmore. Floyd was a fellow deck sweeper, who also joined the East India Company with dreams of the high seas. He came from Delhi, India, and was part Indian, part British. We became friends on October thirtieth, 1800, a cold breezy morning for the Caribbean. As we were sweeping the decks of the docks, I slipped on a barely visible patch of black ice and went careening into the frigid water. Floyd saw me topple in and rushed over from the adjoining dock. Then he slipped on the ice, also tumbling in and we sat there laughing in the brisk water. From then on, Floyd and I hung out together every day, complaining about how crappy our jobs are, who we’d like to court and how we could get to the high seas.
For three years, I stayed on that tiny little rock of an island, and little changed. Floyd and I hung out together. We got promoted to “Dinghy Driver”, a job that entailed us lugging sailors to ships moored in the harbor. I grew a beard. The port of Los Santos got a tad larger, not as quite as boring and empty anymore. I started collecting sugar cubes; I planned on making a castle. The only change that was rather dramatic was the increase in Caribbean piracy around the Los Santos isle. In one week alone, four ships had been raided and the island just south of us had been completely taken over by the bandits. Floyd and I were puzzled on what to think.
“Imagine if they let us join their crew?” I would frequently ask Floyd.
“But, wouldn’t it be more likely of them to just shoot us where we stand?” Floyd would often retort.
On and on we’d debate whether or not to join to try and join. It was all we ever wanted, the stories I heard, the stories he heard, all would be possible if we were pirates. And so when Los Santos was eventually raided, we sat in the town square, bags packed, white flags all around us and our hands behind our head.
The ship was called the “El nido”. It was captained by a man named Horatio Aguila, a tall, burly, dark haired Hispanic man. Aguila wore a long, dirty green tunic with a gold rimmed tri-corn hat, a saber at his side and a pistol in his holster. He welcomed Floyd and I to his crew, the “Los Aves de Muerte” (the birds of death) with open arms on condition that we would change our names to a bird of prey and that we would serve aboard the ship indefinitely. Floyd became Floyd Buho and I became Juan Halcon. We were assigned to the crow’s nest, and watched for other ships and islands. Our dreams were being fulfilled, slowly but surely.
Everyday Floyd and I did an hour of weapon practice. A crewman by the name of Antonio Buitre taught us how to fight with swords and muskets; usually just pitting Floyd and I against each other and while he threw ball bearings at us. But within a month we were masters of war, slicing and parrying each other back and forth for hours.
On the night of the first, July 1804 we had been ambushed. Floyd and I had been on El Nido for about a year now, with sixty-seven ship raids under our belts and countless kills. We had traveled the Caribbean for close to six months, but sailed over to the Mediterranean when we heard of all the U.S. merchant ships we could pillage. We learned of them at a saloon in Saint Augustine, from a fellow pirate captain who had helped the Barbary Pirates kidnap an American diplomat. He spoke of gallivanting pirates and their ambitious raids; gold-encrusted palaces hidden within lonely, desolate deserts; and native tribes who had never seen a boat before; Just as my Father had spoken of. I had to go there, I had to see if my father had deceived me all along! So I convinced Captain Aguila that Los Aves De Muerte had to go to the Barbary Coast and that the riches were just to plentiful for us not to take the chance.
It took about two months to get to the Mediterranean, but right away it looked ripe for the pickings. Ships of all sizes ambled across the crystal clear waters toward the plethora of different ports. We were given a flag by the man at Saint Augustine, he told us to fly it once we got into a secluded area. Captain Aguila sailed us into a cove and I threw up the flag, it was night time now, so it would be time to attack.
From out of nowhere a barrage of cannon shells flew at us, noticeable only by the bursts of light in the darkness. The explosive blasts echoed through the misty, ebony sky.
The crow’s nest started to violently wobble, I held on for dear life as my life flashed before my eyes. The mast was hit dead on with a shell, snapping the post and sending the crow’s nest tumbling violently into watery abyss.
“Wake up ya’ dirty bandit”
I got a firm kick in the side, and went into a vehement coughing fit. Blood and Salt water came pouring out of me. I slowly opened my eyes and rolled over, An American flag flew overhead, El Nido lay smoldering off across the cove.
“Dad!? I questioned in a raspy whisper, astonished to see my Father looming above me.
“Son? Is that you?” Father dryly asked in a firm, rough voice, that was void of sympathy. “Captain Smith, I’ll deal with him.” Bellowed Floyd, strutting forward in a strange sailor outfit, carrying a musket.
Father sneered at me and walked away. Not even a touch of uncertainty in his step. My best friend, or so I thought, dragged me past other Los Aves de Muerte crewmen, all hogtied and roped together. They stared with empty eyes far beyond me and into the distance. They’re probably in shock, they’ll be fine; I thought, trying to comfort myself. Floyd would tell me it was a big joke, the crew would hop up and laugh and we’d be just fine, just dandy, just like before.