Sundry ships are crossing the seas, bringing us to the new wild shores. On each ship a cook, a baker, a captain, a whore. I swab the deck—wiping the footprints of each away in what I hope is a fluid and efficient motion. I love the whore but she is above my class.
I am a cabin boy, as my father was before me and his father before him. All of my ancestors have been cabin boys, even the women. It is our fate and our plight. We never set foot on land, but wait patiently on ships while the pilgrims unload themselves and their provisions, make there way into the wilds, with axes and guns and slide-rules.
My captain is a cruel man with a wooden leg and a plastic arm and an ear made out of tin foil. He likes to shout “Save you’re pennies lad,” whenever he sees me, sometimes taking shots at me with his sidearm. I don’t know what it means or why he does it. He also shouts: “Hedge your bets, laddy.” And “Don’t let the moss grow greener on your bum than the tree.”
I suspect the captain of growing madness. He mutters in his sleep about rendering plants, his wooden leg jerking like a dreaming dog’s tail.
At night, the ship anchored well off shore, we hear the screams of the new pilgrims as they meet the natives.
Maybe the captain has the clap and has lost his mind. He tells the cabin boy to save his pennies, lest he too gets the dreadful French / Italian disease, the scourge of Napoli.
One never knows, Jimmy. Though my theory is that he suffers from an advanced case of sea sickness, the chief symptoms of which are dementia and ennui.