A tale of a pirate dog. Third place in Holiday Short Story Contest, October 2019.
|The Dog with the Grog
Despite first impressions, the Dog with the Grog was not a St Bernard. He was instead a little-known breed called the Pirate Terrier. There was a time when there were Pirates throughout the Caribbean and Grog (as we shall call him for convenience) was the most fearsome of all Pirate captains. His ship was named the Dog’s Barque and his crew (or pack, as Grog preferred it) was the most villainous collection of mongrel pariahs on the high seas.
It is said that Grog had a gargantuan thirst for his liquid namesake, especially the mariner’s favourite tipple, Jamaica rum. In all their attacks on trading vessels, all Grog’s pack took only the barrels marked with three Xs. The ship and its remaining contents were allowed to continue on their way, the crew, dry but grateful to be spared for another day. So successful was Grog in this strategy that, ultimately, he cornered the market in rum and became indeed the Dog with the Grog.
All the captains, Pirate and trader, man o’ war master, commanders of naval vessels from all the competing nations, were forced to deal with Grog if they wanted to supply their men with the traditional slug of rum each day. Half the time, Grog would then intercept them at sea and relieve them of their newly-purchased spirits. He took great pleasure in thus raising twice or even thrice the price for the rum he sold. He was, after all, a Pirate.
In time, Grog became the richest of the Pirate captains and he began to think about where he should bury his treasure to keep it from harm. This was a more difficult endeavour than we might expect, since his adventures amongst the ships he preyed upon made him rather unpopular and he was tailed by gunboats wherever in the Caribbean he sailed.
For many months he tried to shake the hunters from his trail and finally, near the end of the season, he managed to hide in a last hurricane off the coast of Cuba. When the storm cleared, the Dog’s Barque floated, battered but alone, in a flat, calm sea. Grog set sail for the island he had chosen as the best place for his threatened riches.
It is said that Grog made a map showing the location of the unnamed island where he buried his treasure but, as far as I know, such a document has never been found. Many are the expeditions that have searched in vain for Grog’s treasure and I do not recommend that you join that hopeless quest. It is interesting to note, however, that the name Grog gave his island, the Isle of Dogs, is forever enshrined by an area of London being named in its honour.
Be that as it may, we do know that Grog landed and succeeded in burying his treasure on the island. This was expertly done since, as we all know, dogs are great at digging. Grog drew a map of the island and marked the treasure with three red Xs (presumably to celebrate the means by which he had come by such wealth) and, every now and then, old and faded maps are discovered in attics around the world and declared to be the fabled chart. Yet still the treasure remains hidden.
Grog is next recorded as visiting Kingston in Jamaica. He was there only briefly as the British navy was rumoured to be close behind him but, being slightly drunk in his favourite bar one night, he swore that he was giving up the Pirate life and “going straight.” He sailed from the harbour the next morning and was never seen again.
So we are left with a mystery. Was Grog caught and sunk by the navy before he could escape into anonimity? Or did he dig up his treasure, sail to another land and live like a king for the rest of his days? Perhaps he left the treasure there and sailed the seven seas, expecting to return one day to collect his ill gotten gains, only to founder in some tropical storm far from anywhere. Is the treasure still there or is it long gone and all our efforts to find it doomed from the start?
Such questions will probably never be answered. In the end, all we can be sure of is that Grog demonstrated, in spectacular fashion, that every dog has his day. He was, indeed, the top dog of all underdogs.
Word Count: 745