Archive for the ‘Flash Fiction’ Category

Well at least I won’t have to worry about getting captured by the Raven, I’ll just be blown to smithereens instead. I mean seriously, who keeps a stick of dynamite in their back pocket?
The fuse hisses, sparks fly.
“Let’s see how you like some river-pirate thunder!” Phinck’s insane laughter rises above all other noises.
How can any man be that loud? Oh wait, I forgot, he’s Mike Phinck.
Does it really matter if I keep yanking on this rope? The other boat is going to be caught in the explosion with us. I should just make a jump for it, I’ll have a better chance against the rapids than that stick of explosive.
Spray hits my face, whitewater crashes all around the boat, the rest of the river glows from the moon like it’s filled with the specters of the dead.
Maybe the dynamite isn’t so bad.
Shot continues to whiz overhead, keeping the mist off our backs, Phinck better throw that dynamite soon.
“Captain?” Moe’s eyes looked worried, it’s about time someone else has noticed that Phinck’s holding onto that thing like it’s a firecracker.
“Are you mad, Phinck?” Koufax keeps pulling on his rope, some of The Dodger’s crew are still on the floundering keelboat. “Throw the cursed thing!”
Phinck smiles, but that’s not a good thing. “You forget sky-barny, down on the river, everything is about timing. Ha!”
Phinck chucks the stick-of-death as straight and true as…well…Koufax’s namesake. The sparks do look kind of pretty, twirling end over end, I really wish it was a firecracker…please go far enough.
Waves of sound, force, and water hit simultaneously.
Who just said that?
“Get on yer’ feet and pull the ropes, or do you want to be known as the biggest lubbers who ever poled a keelboat?” Definitely Phinck.
Someone pulls me up, where did the mist go? Phinck’s drunken plan actually worked. The pit in my stomach returns as I notice the mist re-gathering only a hundred feet away, we’re not out of this yet.
The broken boat continues to scrape along, a few more jerks of the rope should do it…but the mist is moving
If I never hear that word again, it will be too soon.
Thud! Crash!
“Hurry mates, get aboard ‘fore she sinks.”Phinck preps another stick of dynamite, just how many does he carry around with him? “I’ll pound the Raven to dust for sinking my keelboat, go back to hell, mist-devils!”
There goes the dynamite hissing overhead, at least Phinck didn’t hold onto it this time.
The deck creaks and groans against the weight of the others, even I can tell the boat has dropped a little in the water, is it going to hold us all without tipping over?
“Cut anchors. Push off!” Phinck bellows as the dynamite goes off in the distance.
Little Moe steps up, pole in hand. “Spread yourselves out, we need an even keel. Ready…and heave.”
Ice blades. I wasn’t expecting the boat to lurch so suddenly, I really need to stop falling down and hitting my head, no one is going to want to be led around by a klutz…not that I think I’m this ‘chosen one’ everyone keeps talking about, this isn’t Star Wars. Still, being a klutz in general is not a good thing, I’ll never get a girlfriend if I keep flopping around like a jellyfish. Wait, jellyfish can’t flop around, whatever. It was supposed to be an analogy, not a factual statement. I should stop, girls don’t like morons who can’t think coherently, but what about all the girls that fall for the stupid jocks, I mean—
“Get up, Al! Stop falling down like you don’t have a spine.” Squirrel pulls me up.
Great, now instead of lacking a figurative spine, I apparently don’t have a literal one either.
Mist tickles my face. Rocks slide against the hull as if trying to hold in place. The broken keelboat falls into to water, pulled in as if by a giant squid.
The plumes of smoke waft away as the other keelboat turns and heads for Darkmist rift. We follow. The Raven’s mist follows us, gaining once more.
“How is going to the rift helping us escape the mist?” I ask one of Phinck’s men.
“Because only Phinck knows how to navigate the swamp beyond it.”
“And that’s important why?”
“Because not even the spirits of those long passed can get out of there. The Raven’s mist won’t be able to find us there.”
Cliffs of stone a hundred feet high loom over us, as we pass under its shadow.
I might feel better if Phinck was sober.

“Hard to port!” Phinck’s face is aglow in golden-red, a demon couldn’t look more sinister. “Push for the rift!”
“The rift!? I thought we’re in the rift?” I hope I don’t sound as squeaky as my voice sounded to me.
“We’re in the rapids, sky-barny.” Moe shoves my arm, “now pole!”
Why doesn’t Moe actually do some poling?
I turn my head, the scream was far off. Wood groans in distance…one of the boats! “Koufax, look!” I point my finger to the, uh…por—er, right side.
Koufax turns, “Phinck! Your men!”
Phinck doesn’t hear.
Koufax flies to the helm, “Phinck! Listen to me! One of your ships is on the rocks! Think of your men, captain!”
“My men?” The rage deludes from Phinck’s face, human clarity returning. “Get the hooks!”
“Are you insane? That will tear the boat apart!”
“Aye, sky-barny, but she’ll float long enough to get to us and I’ll get my men. Moe! Take the Helm!” Phinck plops down from the ‘bridge,’ his hands pulling at his pistols. “Time to use your shot for something other than whiskey jug, sky-barny. Port side! Make Anchor!”
I’m starting to notice the deck planks are really quite smooth, good thing, otherwise I’d be picking splinters out of my face.
Guns are cocked and ready.
“Starboard side, prepare to throw hooks and repel boarders.” Phinck chuckles. “I haven’t had a good fight since last Tuesday, far too long of a spell.”
Muscles burn as I raise myself up. Phinck’s men have somehow pinned us against some outcroppings of rocks while the current keeps us in place.
“Throw hooks!”
The mist billows closer, crystal eyes glowing.
I cover my ears as flames shoot out in violent abandon. The urge to hunker down is overwhelming, bullets whiz past like buzzing bees. Hissing murmurs from the mist in retaliation, I really hate those things, and I’m supposed to beat the Raven somehow?
“Get up, bo.” Furry paws tug at me. “You can’t do any good by hiding, and you’ll do little good for your reputation.”
“I could care less about my reputation, I just want to get back home in one piece!” When will the people here finally get that through their heads?
“You can’t get back home without defeating the Raven first, and to do that you will need allies, you have
little enough as it is. So stand up and be brave!”
Who knew a rabbit (albeit a large one) could be so persuasive?
Bullets continue to whiz, the third keelboat has made it through the rapids and is now providing firing support. I hope they are good shots, it’s hard to keep the rioting butterflies in my stomach under control.
“We need help with the ropes!” One of Phinck’s men shout.
Offrey bounds ahead. “Come on! Now is your chance!”
My hands suddenly find a rope in them, I guess I’m pulling.
“With me men. All together…and heave!” Someone shouts.
Shattered wood scraping against rock is almost enough for any non-barfing muscles to finally give way. They are all going to die.
“Heave, men, heave! We have to get that heap o’ wood o’er here ‘fore she sinks!”
Snap! Twang!
The mist creatures are cutting the ropes!
“Eat lead you Mist-Devils!” Phinck steps forward, bursting shot and smoke, roaring louder than the rapids.
The mist recoils back.
“Pull!” Who are all these different people shouting?
The boat moves closer, but the mist presses again.
But Phinck will not budge. “Not today you dram-basted devils. I am the Demon of River and I’ll send ya’ back to yer’ cavortin’ ruler of shadows!”
Did Phinck just pull out a stick of dynamite?

Crack! Crack! Choom!
The mist still nips at the aft of the keelboat, the few free-handed river-pirates are pouring shot into any crystal eyes that draw near.
“Keep poling, men!” Never once has Phinck looked back since he took the helm. “We’ll beat the demon at his own game!”
Phinck bursts into maniacal laughter, I look at Louis and Offrey, I suppose I should be happy Phinck is on our side.
“Al! Put your back into it!” Koufax reprimands. “We can’t have Phinck thinking we don’t know our way around a ship.”
I would be angrier if it wasn’t so funny that he called this keelboat, a ship. Probably doesn’t want to offend Phinck, he’d be liable to throw us over if he heard us ‘impugning’ the ‘honor’ of this assortment of planks. I wouldn’t be so anxious to reach Darkmist Rift if my back and hands weren’t madly burning.
“Keep going, just a bit further!” Phinck turns his head to the men to the aft. “Lifelines!”
Lifelines? That doesn’t sound good.
Rope suddenly wraps around my waist. “Whoa, whoa, whoa, what are doing?”
“What, do want to die once we hit the rapids?” Breath reeking of tobacco hits me like a hammer. “If you don’t die from falling overboard, the mist will getcha’.”
Needless to say, I let the man finish his task.
A roaring rises above shout and gunshot.
“Here she comes, captain!” Little Moe checks the knots one last time.
One last swig of whiskey, Phinck’s face is flushing red. “She ain’t the Missus, and ain’t no other woman but her has whipped me! Bring yer’ worst you black-blooded wench!”
I wonder if Phinck realizes the approaching rapids can’t talk back…oh wait, he’s drunk, and he’s steering. Great.
The moon is out but I still don’t see much of anything, maybe if I just looked out—“whoa!”
Water. Lots of water. Didn’t see that dip coming. My clothes kind of stick to me now, at least I don’t look like Offrey, he looks gaunt with all his…poofiness gone.
“Don’t say a peep, bo.” His nose twitches.
“Poles at the ready! Prepare for rocks!” Phinck hasn’t missed a beat.
The other two boats are already among the rocks, tossed to and fro by the current. Splintering wood flies through the air…and the yells of men.
“Ready, boys! We’ll make it through this!”
I hope so.
Crash! Thud!

The world spins. The ice blades return, darkness pulls at my vision. “My head…” At least I’m still for now.
“Push off men! Push off! We ain’t gonna have a vessel to sail if you don’t get her off the rocks.” Phinck, that has to be Phinck.
“Keep her straight!” Little Moe.
“Get up, Al.” Louis pulls me up.
Everything still spins, I wish I was on land right now. “Thanks Louis.”
“Here’sth your pole, help uth out.”
I still feel useless with it in my hands.
The hull pulls, strains, and creaks, I think we’re hitting every rock possible. I hope the others on the boats are okay, not that I care about the river-pirates so much, but Squirrel and a few of Koufax’s crew were on board the other keelboats.
“Hard to port!” Phinck shouts. “Push! Push!”
Little Moe staggers forward. “But that will put us closer to the rift, captain.”
“It’s the only way to get this tar-thunderin’ mist off our backs. Use the flare, I need the other boats to follow, goin’ down the Mississip’ is gonna’ get them killed!”
“Aye, cap’n.” Moe moves forward, hand held aloft.
Crimson and gold join the silver moon in the starry sky.

“All hands to stations!” Phinck bellows commands left and right as his men ready to push off the trio of keelboats.
“Captain, it’s time for us blow or do I need to brace ya’!?” Offrey pulls Koufax towards the bank.
Squirrel, Bojangles, and the remaining Dodger crew (including myself, although obviously I’m not one of the crew, I bathe too regularly) beat feet to the shore, how did the Raven find us? Images of Wooden Pete float in my head, I’m sure the others can’t help but think of him and we don’t have Johnny and Grim to help us this time.
Ropes fly, poles swing, cargo is secured. Feet slam everywhere, the rivermen are too caught up to pay any attention to us, but we have to be faster, they could push off any moment!
Bojangles breaks off, “hurry Cap’n, we need to get goin’.”
Mist speeds over the water, feet sink into soft soil…salvation.
“The Raven’s devilry! Look up!”
What is it now? Mist descends from the landfill, can things get any worse?
“Back to boats!”
Yeah, real simple, it’s not like they aren’t about to push off any second.
“Phinck we require you assistance!” Shouts Koufax, he can’t be heard, the yells of the river pirates drown out any noise we could make, guess it’s just up to us to get to the boats in time.
Clink-clank, clomp-clomp, thud-thud-thud.
Needless to say, we’re running like madmen.
“Ready to push off!” Bellows Phinck, “hurry men, the mist approaches, let’s not be caught in its foul grip.”
“Captain wait!” Shouts Little Moe, or at least that was the guy they pointed to when they sang the verse about Little Moe.
“What is it!?”
“Look, Koufax and his men are coming back, the mist is chasing them too.”
“By Blackbeard’s scruff! That darbundin sky-barnacle will be the death of us all! (Still seems a shame to leave such a fine shot to die a terrible death in the Raven’s mist though) Blast! Push off as soon as they make plank, we have unpleasantness ahead of us, the Raven will push us to Darkmist Rift.”
“What makes you so sure cap’n?”
“It’s the Raven, he don’t do anything but try to kill any who don’t tow the rope, he hates freedom-loving folk as call the Big Muddy their home, now push off!”
Mist nips at our heels, crystal eyes burn our back, we can feel their shadowy-breath…wait, shadows don’t breathe…well maybe they do here…whatever. They are making a screeching noise, like nails on a chalkboard, you know, pleasant sounds.
“Take our hands, sky-barnacles!”
Bojangles, Dreary Ann, Lithy Louis, they all jump, arms and hands extended. I join them, so does Squirrel and Koufax.
“Wait, where is Offrey!?” Koufax looks back, “There, he’s just a few paces away! Jump Offrey!”
“What happened to not leaving a goose behind?” One hop, two, three…the keelboat’s moving away! Offrey puts a little extra gumption behind every hop.
The gap between pier and boat is increasing. “Hurry Offrey!”
“What do you think I’m doing? Catch me!” He leaps.
I don’t think he can make it, it’s awfully far and he’s rather small…I mean compared to us, he’s a giant compared to the rabbits back home…whatever. He’s falling, he’s probably going to die, although I guess we could still fish him out of the water, but everyone is so panicked about the mist I don’t know if they could do that and…
“Gotha mathe!” Shouts Louis.
So Offrey did get caught! But wait, where is he?
“I know you got my leg, bo, but who’s got my hat?” Offrey reaches in vain for his falling hat, he’s only dangling a foot or two above the water. “Curses! Do you know how hard it is to get a hat like that since the Shadow’s fallen?”
Hands grasp around a half-dangling Louis and pull the two back onto the boat.
“Quit your bellyaching, you can always get another one when we make it back to Tinkertown.” Koufax berates.
“It’s not the same!” Offrey pulls the trenchcoat tighter around him.
“All of you sky-barnacles need to stow it!” Phinck grabs the wheel, his men propelling us downstream, mist flowing right behind us. “Make yourself useful or the mist will be the least of your worries! Pole, men! Pole!”
“Do as the captain says,” Little Moe hands each of us a pole. “It’s easier to outrun death itself than the Raven’s mist.”

“I must protest Phinck, I will not shoot a glass off your man’s head. I will not run the risk of killing a man…a pirate of honor will not—”

“Oh swallow yer’ honor Sandy and shut yer’ yacker, be grateful Hob is such a natural at this, otherwise you’d be shootin’ glasses off of yer own crew’s heads.”

“It is Koufax, not ‘Sandy’.” Even with dark skin, one can see the redness in Koufax’s face, I hope anger doesn’t affect his aim. “No one calls me that, you understand? NO ONE!”

“Very well…I will stop calling you Sandy if yer are able to beat me (the Mississippi will scarce have a drop of water in it before that happens) and yer crew will walk free and not have to worry about polin’ my keelboats for the rest of their lives.”

“Oh I’m behind the eight-ball…” Offrey adjusts his fedora, “my arms are much too short to be of any use as a poler, or rower if it comes to it.” Nose twitches, “Burn powder captain! For all our sakes!”

I feel the same as Offrey, now if only hope can make a shot hit straight…

Koufax glances down at the elderly man, “Are you sure of this? Won’t he flinch when he see’s us level our guns?”

“No more than anyone would and even less so…” Phinck tubbles next to Koufax, “there’s a reason we call him ‘Blind Hob.’”

“But I ain’t deaf yet Phinck!” Hob takes a swig of…something probably alcoholic, and smiles.

Ewww, is that whiskey dripping out of his mouth? Or Spit? I don’t think I want to know, just look away.

“Youins’ better take a few more steps back. Make sure I can’t hear ya’ real good.” More whiskey for Hob.

“Is he going to be able to sit straight with him going like that?” Worry crosses Koufax’s face, I guess none of us had thought about him hitting a moving target.

“Tar-thundering rock and rapids! Hob’s a true keelboater through and through.” Phinck’s face is aghast, “he’s only had half a gallon so far today,” (even though it’s nighttime) “he’s got at least another quart to go before he be startin’ to get all woozy like. Enough talk! Time to shoot and see if your honor is as great as your words!”

The boat begins to shake, Phinck’s crew are cheering again. Home-field advantage I suppose. The lantern-light shimmers against Koufax’s pistol (I have said it is quite beautiful and cool-looking before, right?), his eye peers straight down the sights, arm straight as a rail…if the rail in question was made to be straight…okay, anyways…


And the jug shatters. A sigh of relief from us, groans from Phinck’s crew. Koufax smiles.

“Ol’ Hob could have done that, move out of the way sky-barnacle, this is how a real pirate shoots.” Phinck throws his pistol behind his back, twirling (Phinck’s surprisingly agile for such a large man), swigging whiskey (I

should really just mention when he’s not drinking), the pistol lands in his left hand, finish the twirl…and Kercrack!

Shards clatter around Blind Hob, who places a bottle on his head. I guess there is no EPA or Sierra Club or anything here in Whimsy, otherwise we’d all be slapped with poisoning the water with lead and pottery/glass shards. Of course I don’t know if they would be willing to reprimand a bunch of drunk pirates, you know, run the risk of getting held hostage awaiting some terrifying fate.

Five paces back, Koufax, face set as steel, lowers, aims…and Hob puts another bottle on his head. There is no smile this time. Phinck takes his next shot with no fanfare, save the obligatory drink. Five more paces.

A hand lands on my shoulder, I jerk from the hit (it was rather hard) not from nervousness or anything like that. I can stay calm under pressure, do you even know how many penalty kicks I’ve made?

“You two need to not worry so much.” Squirrel smiles. “The Captain is the best shot I’ve ever seen, there’s no way he’ll let us down.” Fingers cup around his mouth, “show that fat, tottering dredger what sky-pirates can do, captain!”

I cringe. “I wouldn’t be insulting Phinck if I were you, not while we are surrounded by his crew.”

“You don’t know our ways Al, shouting insults it part of being a pirate. Any pirate worth their salt can give out a decent insult.”

“Yet you are not a pirate of any sort if I recall,” do Offrey’s eyes actually have a little bit of menace in them? “Unless Bunyan call his crew pirates? Darb! There’s something funny for you, lumberjack pirates! Ha!”

“Guys!” Two pairs of eyes suddenly turn to me. “Shut up and watch Koufax! I don’t want to die!”

“Koufax will hit regardless of whether or not we’re chinning,” Offrey bobs. “I’m just going to make sure I put up a good fight when they bring the Brunos over. Don’t worry Bo, we’re not going to do the dance, Phinck’s not a madman, just a boozehound.”

Glass shatters, men cheer, Phinck raises his pistol in celebration. Five more paces, but this time Blind Hob puts a shot glass on his head.

“You’ve down well yer scalawag, but this is where we separate the men from the boys…at least if there were any men that could shoot as well as me!” More cheers.

“We’ll see.” Arm down, gun down, eye straight, hammer down…the glass is no more.“Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Phinck!”

“I would if I smoked, never like the taste of tabacca’ myself. But never mind that, I have a sky-barnacle to stomp on.” Flame and smoke, five more paces.

“We’re running out of ship Phinck, why don’t we call this a draw.”

“We ain’t gonna’ stop if we hafta’ walk out on the great Mississip’ herself to finish this. No way I let any man who impugns me honor settle for a tie, I’ll see ya’ tar-whipped yer skag! Now shoot!”

“Captain!” One of Phinck’s crew yells, dozens of eyes turn. “What’s that across the water?”

The eyes turn toward the river, a heavy mist creeps toward Phinck’s ships.

“It can’t be…”

“And to whom do I owe the burbunden honor of having a barnacle such as you, disgrace us with your presence.” Phinck takes another swig; I think there is a crazy look in his eye, in all their eyes. Why did we willingly allow ourselves to be surrounded by river-pirates?

“Barnacles can’t live in the river, I thought a snapping turtle such as yourself would know that.” Koufax’s hands rest not-so-nonchalantly on his sword’s guard; he’s practically jutting it out for all to see, maybe that’s the point.

“Indeed they don’t, but that don’t be changin’ the fact that you still is one. A sky-barnacle if there ever was one; a crusty spot on my bombastic whale of a hull!” Cheers respond, it really wasn’t that good of a comeback, but I’m not going to bring that up to a bunch of drunken river-pirates. “Besides I hear your pride and joy is down in dumps, quite literally.”

Ssshhhhiiiiinnnnggggg! Koufax’s sword sounds as perfect as crystal, but that’s not the only sound…

Click. Clack. Ter-tick. Click. Click. Tunk. Tick. Click. Clock. Clack. Click. Tick. Tock. Tick-Tock. Click. Click. Click. Click. Tuck. Tink. Click. Click. Clack. Tunk. Cla-click. Click. Click. Etc…(seriously I had to stop, all of them have guns, most have two and I could have sworn I saw a one-armed man holding three…)

“Um Captain,” Offrey’s nose isn’t the only part of him twitching. “I know you are keen to defend The Dodger’s honor—”

“And she is a fair lady, a Mona Lisa to these Picasso’s of clunky geometric workmanship.” Koufax slams his foot down for emphasis, like he really needs to do that when we have who-knows how many guns pointed at us.

“Hey! I ‘appen to like Picasso.” A burly man with enough chest hair to constitute a shag carpet steps forward. “Me mum named me Pablo in ‘onor of ‘im. No one says nuthin’ bad about me mother!”

“I would never insult a man’s mother, I am a man of honor! ‘Pirate’ may be part of my job title but I bring honor to our vocation; not to act as lubbers expect me to. Would you want your mother to see your behavior at present?”

Shag Carpet backs down, everyone gets rather quiet…mother…I haven’t really thought about her since all of this. I wonder what’s going on over there, back on Earth, but is this a dream? Am I in a coma like in so many of those fairy tale stories, and I’ll just wake up with family and friends surrounding me? But Koufax talked about traveling between the two words, said something about a shadow coming between Whimsy and Earth. Best not to tempt fate, I want to get out of here alive; speaking of which, I think there is about ten guns pointed at me.

“A sky-barnacle has no notion of river-folk such as we. River-women have the Great River water running through their veins, you need to be half-alligator, half-otter, an’ half-wild horse just to make it day on the Mississippi. We are men cut from a different cloth, a burlap sack ya see’; we’re just plain an’ simple folk, enjoying the simple pleasures of life and the freedom the mighty river brings!”

More cheers, more anger on Koufax’s face, more nose-twitching from Offrey; the river-pirates aren’t even pointing their guns at us anymore, I guess they’re more enamored with Phinck’s bellowing and old-style sailor cursing.

“We may be too uncouth for the likes of high-follerin’, gull-swallowin’, pomp-and-presh folk such as you; people who think honor is all in the looks. But can you drink white lightning all day an’ still shoot straight; roar like the rapids and be gentile enough to love only one woman (the missus would shor give me a wallopin’ if she caught me with another woman); be as cunning as a water moccasin and still fair as a preacher? We play as much of a tightrope act as those curious circus folk, you and your fanciwonderous clothes and gleemin’ sword and gun and

buckles and buttons mean nuthin’ for honor.”

“I doubt anything you have to suggest could be considered honorable.” Why must Koufax keep antagonizing Phinck?

“Never said it would give yah lubber-honor, but you want honor amongst pirates? Yah, gonna need to do this sky-barnacle; you’re on my ship barney, you abide by the captain’s rules.”

Koufax’s teeth glow orange but still shine brilliant, “then let us do the challenge.”

Cheers. Phinck smiles. Whisky sloshes everywhere. I hope the ‘challenge’ just has to do with honor and not lives of the crew.

Lights like fireflies twinkle by the river, raucous laughter, joyful music, cheerful carousing waft through the air. How could these men be causing trouble for Wolfgang’s troll friends?

Bang! Crack! Sha-Boom!

So they have guns, lots of people in Whimsy have guns, what’s the big de…

“Pass the whisky! Pass the rum, the grog! Pass it all!”

Okay, now I can understand why they might travel to the Scrapyard to shoot some pot-shots at ‘some stupid trolls,’ or at least that is what Wolfgang says…about what the rivermen say about the trolls…anyways…

“Rivermen; a blight upon all reputable ship-faring folk, all show and no substance, all flamboyance and no backbone, and so uncouth.”

I can’t believe Koufax is being serious.

“and there is none worse than—”

“The King of the River! The mighty Mike Phinck!

With river-water in his veins, born in his mother’s sink!

The Salt River roarer! The Mississippi Torror!

Half wild horse, half cockeyed gator.

He sent wicked Prater to see his maker!

The river is his mother, whiskey is his father

Has no need of sisters, and we are his brothers!

Three cheers for mighty Mike Phinck,

Fighting for us all and keepin’ us in the pink!”

There’s probably only thirty or forty rivermen, (hey it’s dark out, I can’t tell exactly, give me a break) but their shouts rivaled that of any soccer match I’ve been to, even the Seattle Sounders game I happen to go to once. I guess that’s what whiskey will do to you.

“What a tar-thunderin’ good ballad me joyous boys!” Mike Phinck’s tooming voice could give Bunyan a run for his money, though Phinck’s sounds like it wandered off to the bottom of a barrel of whiskey. “But you know that we couldn’t do this without each other, even if I can swallow lighting and fart thunder!”

And I thought Beauregard was bad, maybe Koufax does have a point after all.

“Just as I am the best keelboater ever to call this river my home, you are the best rivermen ever to pole and row its currents! A red-hot snappin’ turtle as myself needs some frogs and fishes with which to slam down glasses of whiskey and shoot the buttons off women’s bodices with!” Whiskey cascades off Phinck’s face, taking a gargantuan swig.

The ground vibrates at the rivermen’s shouts and laughter, how can so few humans be capable of doing this? I guess the tall tales were true after all.

“And so now my burderen boys and landering laddies, it is time to sing a song!”

These guys must be totally wasted and yet still they stand ready to sing an old folk song. Who knew the Land of Whimsy was like a Mark Twain novel?

“Come all you jolly rivermen, who run the river down,

Be careful where you run your raft or you will run aground!

And boys, shove your grog around, the scores are on their own

For we’re the boys that fear no noise, although we’re far from home.

Well we rowed around old Carson, and nothing did we fear,

Until we came to Darkmist Rift, and plunged against the pier.

Now, Lucas Louge stood at the oar, his voice so firm and strong,

For when he struck the rock by Jove, he dove in first headlong.

There is one among our number, his name is Little Moe,

He plunged right in among the logs, and saved most all our clothes.

And boys, shove your grog around, the scores are on their own

For we’re the boys that fear no noise, although we’re far from home!”

“I’ve had enough of these amateurs. ‘River Pirates’, hah! It’s time for them to see what a real pirate with honor looks like!” Koufax raises himself over the dirt brim we’ve been hiding behind (he called it ‘scouting’, but let’s be honest…we were hiding) looking every bit a captain; but those aren’t fellow sky-pirates…they smell worse.