Wanderings through life, landscapes, and occasional loopiness. So pull up a log and have a bit of a sit-down ’round the virtual campfire.
Is that a parrot on your shoulder or are you just happy to see me?
Greetings, mis peeps, from the other side of the mountain. Mountains. Uh…continental divide. Or something.
Suffice it to say that I have finished something and am now embarking on other things, one of which involves a major-ass road trip to LA via the entire state of New Mexico on the way out and the entire state of Nevada on the way back. What sort of insanity is this? The usual.
So today, I’m thinking of pirates. But then, I’m generally thinking of pirates. All kinds. High seas. High deserts. High-flying. Emotional, physical, and spiritual. Pirates, rogues, bandits, and outlaws. The stuff of which dreams and amazing novels and stories are made. The reason maps to scores of buried treasure are drawn, followed, and stolen. Ah, yes! Pirates! Behold, Anne Bonney:
Now THERE’S a tale. Bonney was born in Ireland sometime in the 1690s. Her parents immigrated to South Carolina, where they managed to scare up a plantation. But Bonney was a restless soul and she bailed from landed gentry life, hooking up with a small-time pirate named James Bonny (or Bonney–spellings vary). The two ended up in New Providence (Nassau, in the Bahamas), a veritable seething pit of pirate heaven. There, Anne dumped James and sailed with Jack Rackham, the pirate allegedly responsible for inventing the skull n’ crossbones and thus spawning myriad bad tattoos.
On board that ship, Anne met fellow woman pirate Mary Read, who was sailing disguised as a man. Legend has it that Read and Bonney became friends and raised holy havoc across the Caribbean. To which I say, “you GO, girls.” Pirate lore, however, says that both ended up captured by the Bahamian governor’s pirate-hunters. Rackham hanged. Both Read and Bonney were apparently pregnant and escaped the noose because of that though Read died of a fever in prison, waiting for the birth of her child after which she would be hanged. Nice. “We can’t hang a pregnant pirate, but gosh darn it, we’ll hang her AFTER!” That’s probably where baby pirates come from. Imprisoned mothers treated badly. Anyway, Bonney disappeared and the record remains unclear as to where she ended up or what she did.
See what I mean? Fascinating stuff, pirate-teering. Nasty, brutish, vile, evil, heinous people, most pirates. So why, then, do they capture the imagination of so many people? I mean, I don’t want to string somebody up and remove their entrails through a hole in his or her neck. Nor do I particularly want to pull people’s fingernails out in order to acquire yet another treasure map to yet another deserted island where the damn iron chest is buried under the 5th palm tree at the foot of the dormant volcano beneath the shadow of the monkey-king idol 19 paces from the crossed sword emblem chipped into the boulder beneath the idol. Or wherever the hell it was stashed.
But what if…
What if pirates weren’t so bad? What if a couple were kinda good? What if they were sort of sexy, too? And dashing and interesting and…well, okay. Roguish. But in a sultry or maybe debonair way, depending on your proclivities. And what if they became pirates because they were forced by circumstance to do so and they try to steal only from evil British or French government ships and give some of the loot to the poor. Like seafaring Robin Hoods or something.
Yeah, what if? And that, my friends, is why pirates embed themselves in the wandering souls of writers. That’s why they dig at the buried psyches of our own internal treasure chests, reminding us that there’s a world outside our windows.
So I spent today thinking about pirates. And about Anne Bonney and Mary Read. And Calico Jack Rackham and maybe even Blackbeard. And I thought, “what if?”
May you live more of your life asking just that question.