The Voyages of the Waved Albatross
Author's note: This is only the first two chapters of a longer book, which I am in the process of making, if you... Show full author's note »
To Be RememberedThe next day, Dr. Cropper came down and found a cluttered mess in the kitchen, the cabinets nigh emptied, and right in the middle of it all lay Bones’ tri-corner hat, sitting there on the table like it was waiting for breakfast in the sailor’s place. The doctor went and picked it up, only to find a slip of paper beneath it. It was a scrap of Bones’ sea-chart. He opened it carefully, and stared at the black smudge in the dead center. Below it in a spidery and illiterate hand read: ‘When the sun touches the horizon, the Jamaican’s dog shall lead ye.’
“Oh!” the doctor cried. “Won’t he just leave me alone?” And he tossed the paper into the fire.
The rest of the morning was spent cleaning up the kitchen and the guestroom, which was also in a terrible state. Dr. Cropper left Bones’ hat on the dresser in his room, thinking that he might sell it later. At midday, the doctor was called to the home of a couple that lived on the opposite side of the cove from where they lived. After he had gathered his tools together (not many at all, just a few bottles of crude disinfectants, some tweezers, and some knives and drugs), he kissed his wife goodbye and went on his way, finding it hard not to keep an eye out for Jamaicans with dogs. The town was divided in half by one wide road that went all the way through it, other smaller streets branching out from it, and so to get through to the other side, one would first have to go across this road. Many street-vendors had set up shop here, trying their best to entangle anyone who came their way in an over-rated speech concerning their merchandise. The doctor crossed street cautiously, stepping out of the way of a passing cart, from behind which stepped Dutchman, dressed in common seamanlike fashion: a doublet made of black canvas, white canvas breeches, and a Monmouth cap to top it off. He had a plump, squashed face, small hazel eyes, and a wide, smiling mouth, above which was a bulldog nose, though not quite as upturned. His hair was curly, and colored a dark reddish-brown.
“Ahoy, sir!” He said cheerfully, raising a hand in greeting. The hand seemed terribly boney considering his pudgy face.
Dr. Cropper jumped with surprise at the man’s slang so similar to Bones’. All he managed to say in reply was, “Oh! Hullo!”
“I’m Geert Visser, and I must say, it really is good to see ye!” The man bobbed his head up and down like a turkey as he said this. “We will see ye tonight won’t we?”
“Oh, you’ve completely forgotten haven’t you? Well not to worry, we shall see to it that you don’t have any unnecessary distractions. Say, where are you headed at this moment?”
“Well, never mind, I’ll see you tonight shall I? Goodbye!” And off he went; pushing past the doctor with not the slightest bit of courtesy, indeed, the man’s shoulder was hard as it hit Dr. Croppers, causing him to put a hand up to it and clutch it with pain. He stared after the Dutchman as he walked energetically down the street, whistling a sailor’s tune merrily. The doctor turned in bewilderment and continued on his way, oblivious to the two oddly dressed sailors following him a good distance away.
At length, he came to the other side of the town, and approached the couple’s home, noticing to men slip silently behind the house. There was the creak of a door, and then nothing. Dr. Cropper lifted the knocker, but the door opened suddenly, and there stood a woman, looking very flustered.
“Hello,” she said, looking back into the house nervously. “What do you want?”
“You called on me this morning, you husband is ill I believe?”
“Oh no!” She cried with agitation, “No, no! You’ve come to the wrong house! My husband is feeling quite well, in fact, I’m not even married! Oh! Goodbye!” And the woman slammed the door closed hastily.
“I never in my life!” Wondering what in the world was going on, the doctor returned to his house, thinking over his whole encounter with Bones and the Dutchman.
“Ahoy, ‘der!” Said a strange voice. Withdrawing from his thoughts, Dr. Cropper saw, sitting beside his door, a Jamaican and a big black and white, furry dog. The Jamaican’s face was as black as pitch, he had shady eyes with ivory whites framed against it. He had a wide nose, long at the tip, underneath was a wide mouth with thick brown lips, and yellow teeth grinned back at the doctor. Bound about his head was a light red, almost pink bandanna, holding back long, matted brown dreadlocks bleached by the sun. They looked like ragged ropes dangling from his head. He was dressed in a red button-less waistcoat, hanging on his thin body like a rag. Canvas pantaloons covered his legs down to slightly below his knees, and his feet were shoeless. His muscular, bare torso was glistening with sweat, and Dr. Cropper wondered how long he had been sitting there.
“Weelcome home, sa!” The Jamaican said, pronouncing the e’s long, and lingering on the o’s for a moment.
“What are you doing here?” The doctor asked with as much politeness as he could muster.
“Weeting far you.”
Dr. Cropper stepped back and looked his visitor up and down. “Did Bones send you?”
“Are you a friend of his?”
“Ya cood sey ‘dat.” The Jamaican inclined his head, eyes sparkling.
“What are you doing here?”
“‘When ‘da sun tooches ‘da horizon, ‘Ole Captain here will lead ye.’”
Dr. Cropper had had quite enough, and so he hurried up the steps, stepped inside and locked the door behind him. Wearily he climbed the stairs to his room and threw himself onto the bed.
“Oh!” He groaned. “Oh my! What am I to do? Well drat the lot of them! Whatever vile business Mr. Bones is up to, why should I get mixed up in it?” He sat up and stared across at his dresser, freezing. Bones’ hat was gone. He didn’t really know why he was afraid, but he was; terribly afraid. He stood up and grabbed a broom from the closet, brandishing it above his head comically. He opened the door and slowly inched down the stairs. Every time the wood creaked beneath him he would freeze, and then, after a moment, continued stepping down stair after stair.
He reached the living-room, and searched all of the three downstairs rooms (guestroom, kitchen and dining room), but Bones was nowhere to be found.
“Rebecca must have put it away,” he thought. “Where is Rebecca anyway? Rebecca? Ben? Rebecca!” He looked outside for them, researched all the rooms, but he could not find them. “Wait a tick! She was going to go shopping for a few things to replace those that Bones stole; maybe she took the hat to sell it. Maybe.” The doctor dropped onto the sofa and watched the clock. It was 5:00 PM. He forgot about all the calls he was supposed to make. It was 7:45 when he came to his senses. “She should not have been gone this long!” He exclaimed. “And Bones is responsible for her and Ben’s disappearance! That Jamaican knows something he does!” He rushed outside into the dark night and pulled the Jamaican off the street in his frenzy and held him by the collar of his waistcoat. “Where are my wife and son? Where are they?!” He cried.
The Jamaican just grinned and gestured with a broad sweep of his hand at his big black and white dog, which had run ahead into the street and was looking back over its shoulder at the doctor, its short floppy ears perked up. Dr. Cropper released the Jamaican and hurried after the dog, which always stayed just within sight.
It led him through the town, down alleyways and through across streets, all the way to the very cliffs that Bones had shambled down that morning to make his bizarre appearance in the cove. The dog led him panting up the rough path to the top of the cliffs, and then along a narrow ridge looking down to the right on a great cliff that went vertically down to the battling surf that was the end of the vast ocean.
It was pitch black when, ahead, Dr. Cropper saw the flickering of torches and of a blazing fire. A camp had been set up on the top of a little bay, made of logs from the forest a while to the right of the crags.
The doctor broke into a run, stopping at the first post of the camp. It was basically just a circle of logs stuck into the ground, with a tarp of white canvas tied to the tops, and then staked outward at a sideways angle to the ground, making a great tent. The center of the circle was clear, and it was there that a bonfire had been set up. Gathered around it was a hoard of swarthy seaman, dressed in odd, flamboyant costumes, much like those of Bones. The doctor gasped when he noticed, on the far side of the circle under the tarp, his wife and son tied to one of the poles! Disregarding caution, Dr. Cropper rushed into the firelight, only to be grabbed roughly by two large ruffians, who dragged him through the throng of seaman, and dropped him on his face right beside a pair of large leather boots. The doctor lifted his head, looking straight into the stormy blue eyes of Bones.
“Ahoy there, Dr. Cropper. Thought you’d never come we did!” He said cheerfully, pulling the doctor off the ground by the collar of his shirt. “Let his family go, mates!” A man that Dr. Cropper recognized as Geert Visser trotted over to his wife and son and untied them.
They both ran to the doctor and embraced him, seeking protection in his arms, though he himself sought protection in their embrace.
“Oh! Touched I am. Touched! But, we have work to do.” Bones beckoned to a few of the men around the fire, and said to them. “Alright, get us some stools that we may sit on, and make a place for this lovely family to sleep for the night.” The men hustled off in all directions, bringing round wooden stools, which they placed in a semi-circle near the fire. Bones seated himself across from the Croppers, and looked them in the eye, one by one, until he came to rest on Ben, sitting in his mother’s lap. He smiled at the boy with tenderness that Dr. Cropper had never seen before, outmatching all of Bones’ previous moods, angry, sad, or detached. “Now listen here, lad,” he said. “Ye be frightened, I can see that plain as day. Not to worry, me boy. Not to worry. All I want is for your father to help us in our time of great trial. All I want. None of us, ya see, can write proper like; maybe a little bit, but not at all enough to imprint ourselves in the only way we can: in the written word. That’s how all the great people of the world have been preserved, in Histories great books and tales. For to be remembered is the greatest thing ye can ask for. That be where your father comes to our aid.
“Doc. You will help us to be remembered.” He turned his gaze onto Dr. Cropper, who cringed under his stormy eyes. “I will tell ye my story, and through it…” He gestured to the throng around them. “Our story.”
“That is what you brought me here for?” Dr. Cropper could not understand anything that was being said.
“Aye. Now get to sleep, we start early tomorrow morning.” Bones got up from his stool and forced the Croppers up, leading them under the tent to where a bed of sheets and blankets had been made for them, heated with a box of coals from the fire. Casually, he compelled them to lie down at the point of his pistol, and then left, leaving a tall, muscular Irishman to guard them.
The family slept terribly that night; they felt like they were prisoners condemned to death, at least Dr. Cropper and his wife did. They could hear, all through the darkness, people shouting and running, coupled with the odd night-noises that were unfamiliar to the townspeople. There was no moon, no stars, not a comforting light in the sky that could give any reassurance to the terribly frightened family. The canvas above them seemed to come closer and closer to them, trying to suffocate them. The roar of the ocean on the cliffs did not make it any more bearable.
The Dr.’s face was sheened with sweat when morning came, accompanied by a loud voice shouting: “Geet up, mates!” Following this, the smiling face of the Jamaican was staring down into the doctor’s eyes. “Tis’ time fer ye to heelp us, mate!” He said. The doctor pulled himself out of bed and followed the Jamaican to the fire, where a table had been set up with many sheets of paper, a container of ink, and a quill-pen. Bones sat next to it on a stool.
“We supplied these fer ye,” he said, gesturing for him to sit down. He then proceeded to direct Dr. Cropper to write down just what he told him, but to make it, “with the correct grammar and the sort.” And so, in the month of June, 1721, Dr. George Cropper took up his pen to record the astounding tale of Marc Bones.