The Pirate Queens Play Tiddlywinks
“I was thinking of calling it Love in the Time of Cholera,” Rapunzel said, as she tossed the crossbones. “ — Check. Your move.”
Bianca handed over one of her bones, cursing under her breath. “Already been done,” she said.
Her bones landed wrong. “Bloody hell.”
She handed Rapunzel another one of her bones. “ — You’re creaming me.”
She took another slug of rum.
Rapunzel smiled. “Double or nothing?”
Rapunzel rolled her bones. Bianca glowered, as Rapunzel won the game and raked all the bones in. Bianca sighed and handed over a fistful of gold doubloons.
“ — How far have you gotten?”
“Not far,” Rapunzel said. “ — I always get stuck when I have to give the lovers dialogue. Creating harmonising yet conflicting authentic motivations that continually turn and build on every sentence that comes before turns out to be quite difficult, especially when it comes to romance.”
Bianca didn’t answer. She was looking out at their galleons, lolling listlessly in port, their hulls gathering barnacles while their sailors gathered the pox in the local whorehouses.
Bianca did not do well with enforced shore stays. Rapunzel seemed happy enough, writing her story, but Bianca chafed, pining for crashing waves, salt air, raging storms, undiscovered islands, for the threat of mutiny, for flashing sword-fights, for unexpected encounters with dashing Spaniards….
Rapunzel looked at her friend with pity. The doubloons jingled hollowly in her hand.
“I’ve never seen you look so bored,” she said.
“ — Well that time we were marooned on the sandbar for eight months came pretty close,” said Bianca, woefully picking her teeth with her cutlass. “But this is even worse. And I’ve already taught Fred all the Creole I know.”
She sighed enormously.
Rapunzel put her arm around Bianca. “ — The Plague can’t last forever, you know,” she said.
“ — Oh can’t it?”
Just then Fred fluttered into the scene and landed on Bianca’s shoulder. They rubbed beaks.
“Laissez les bons temps rouler!” he squawked. But even he looked rather forlorn around the wings.
Rapunzel was not used to these two looking so pathetic. “Look, I’m sure you can find some trouble to get into if you look hard enough!” she said, nearly out of patience.
Bianca was enjoying feeling sorry for herself, and she made a big show of looking widely around the harbour. Her eyes made a huge exaggerated sweep, taking in men walking with gold-tipped canes, jambalaya hawkers, black lace on women’s skirts, flowers dripping from iron balconies, rats drinking from drainpipe puddles, the heavy glare of the afternoon sun, a tattered bum lurking in a corner and looking furtive, dark palmetto fronds, gospel singers, someone selling pralines from a huge tray….
Her eyes darted back to the tattered bum. It couldn’t be…what was he doing here of all places…would he remember her…he probably remembered the scar she’d given him….
The bum glanced around the corner and slipped into the alley.
But he wouldn’t get away so easily this time, Bianca thought.
“I think trouble just found me,” she said….