She wasn't sure what it was about him that first caught
her attention. Perhaps it was his rugged weatherworn face. Maybe it was the frizzy beard. Perhaps it was the eyepatch. Or possibly the pegleg. Or the hook in place of his left hand. Or perhaps it was the large green parrot perched on his right shoulder squawking "Pieces of eight!"
Judy hadn't gone to the HyperMart looking for love. She
was looking for Haagen-Dazs. The pirate was at the opposite end of the frozen food aisle. She couldn't take her eyes off him.
She watched as he pushed his empty basket down the
aisle, the tapping of his wooden leg growing louder as he approached. His head nodded up and down as he intently scrutinized the contents of the freezer compartments. Judging from the scowl on his face and the occasional outbursts of cursing, he wasn't having much luck finding dinner. Suddenly he stopped, his eye lighting up.
"Arrrr!" he muttered. He opened the freezer door and
began loading his basket with Mrs. Paul's fishsticks. When he finished he reached into his worn, blue coat and produced a flask, from which he drank. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and returned the flask to its hidden pocket. He looked around, apparently to see if any other shoppers had noticed. It was then that their eyes met. Judy smiled.
He quickly looked away, down into his basket, his
naturally red face becoming slightly redder.
"Excuse me," Judy said. "Arrrr?" He looked up and removed his hat. "I couldn't help noticing your fishsticks. I have this
coupon that I'm not going to use." She held out her hand.
"Er, why thank ye very much, Miss. That's mighty kind o'
ye." He extended a calloused, scarred hand and delicately took the coupon.
"My name's Judy, by the way." "Arrr, pleasure to be makin' yer acquaintance, Miss
Judy. I'm Brownbeard."
"Pieces of eight," the parrot squawked. "Aye," Brownbeard continued, nodding toward his right
shoulder, "and this be me trusty bird, Stan."
"Hi Stan, you're a pretty bird." She extended a finger
in front of the bird's face and made kissing sounds. "Yes, you are!"
"Thanks. Nice to meet you, Judy. Brownbeard here is
a bit of a nerd, even more so in the presence of such a beautiful woman as yourself, so please don't misconstrue his awkwardness for disinterest."
"Arrrr!" Brownbeard swatted at the bird with his hat.
Stan flapped and hovered directly above him, squawking and whistling. "Stupid bird! Fire only knows whar he pick'd up such language."
"Oh don't punish him. He's adorable!" Brownbeard stopped swatting and Stan settled comfortably
back onto his shoulder.
"Aye, Stan's a good one. Why, in all me years of work
Stan's been the only one I kin always count on. Stan's the only one I would be willin' to give me own life to protect. Stan has never betrayed me trust. Stan would never toy with me affections. Stan's the only one who's never strung me along, allowin' me to think we had something special, only to crush me like a bug when I was at me most vulnerable. Stan's the only one who's never ripped out me heart and pecked it to shreds, cackling with glee as I twitch'd an' squirmed in a puddle of me own rancid, sticky emotions."
"So how old is he?" "Attention, HyperMart shoppers," a voice boomed over the
PA system. "Rhino tusks have just been marked down by 50% on aisle 12. Also, there has been a murder on aisle 85 and no one is allowed to leave the store. Thank you."
Customers began screaming, running frantically for aisle
Judy looked up at the sign. "We're on aisle 87. I hate
when crime hits so close. You never really think about it when it's at the far end of the store."
"Aye, well don't ye be afraid, for I've got me trusty
cutlass right here." He patted his empty sheath. "What th'– now where the bloody 'ell did I leave that thing? Ahwell, still don't ye be fearin'." He patted a coat pocket. "I've still got me stun gun."
"Excuse me! Let me through! I'm a doc-- I mean I'm a
Sergeant O'Malley weaved his way through the shoppers,
flashing his badge at anyone who cared to look. "Excuse me, ma'am, I need to get to that corpse, thank you. Excuse me! Sir, don't step on the– oooh!"
O'Malley knelt down and examined the body. Judging from
the weatherworn face, the eyepatch, the wooden leg, the hook instead of a hand, and the dead parrot lying on the floor beside his shoulder, the man appeared to have been a pirate. A cutlass was embedded in the man's chest.
O'Malley noticed an inscription on the handle of the
cutlass. He grabbed ahold, pulled it free, and ran his fingers across the inscription as he read.
"Property of Brownbeard the Pirate. If found, please
drop in nearest postal box."
The sergeant turned the cutlass around in his hands a
few times, admiring the craftsmanship. He set it down and returned his attention to the body to try to determine the cause of death.
A deep, gravelly voice bellowed from behind the
sergeant. "Arrr, thar he be!"
O'Malley spun around and found himself staring at
another pirate and a young woman. The pirate froze as he recognized the face of the dead man.
"Well tickle me scrotum with a machete... oh, pardon me
French, ma'am… but that's me old mate, Deadbeard!"
"And who might you be?" Sergeant O'Malley inquired. "I'm Brownbeard the Pirate, this be me trusty bird,
Stan, and this be me fiance, Judy– hey, thar's me cutlass! I was wonderin' where I left that!"
"Mr. Brownbeard, I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask you
to come downtown with me for questioning."
"Excuse me," Judy said, "but the announcement said no
one could leave the store."
Sergeant O'Malley scratched his head. "Hmmm, that's
right. Okay, then I'll have to ask you to come with me to the courtesy booth." The sergeant placed a pair of cuffs on Brownbeard's hand. He produced a card from his pocket and began to read aloud. "Arrr. Ye be havin' the right to tell no tales. Anything ye say can an' will be used agin' ye in a court o'law, matey…."
"I be a victim of circumstance!" Brownbeard shouted as
he was led away.
"I'll wait for you, Brownbeard!" Judy cried. "I'll wait
right here by this corpse until once again you breathe the sweet air of freedom!"
"Clean-up on aisle 85," the PA announcer boomed.
Flashback to Simpler, Happier Times
"Fifteen men on a dead man's chest..." The sinister chorus rang out across the bow of the
Edmund Fitzgerald, and the merriment was infectious. Everyone within earshot shouted out the reply, "Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!"
Brownbeard, Deadbeard, and Old Blind Pew were passing
the time playing a game of shuffleboard.
"Arrr, this be the life!" Brownbeard proclaimed.
"Sailin' the seven seas, pillagin' the decadent filthy rich, and playin' shuffleboard."
"An doan fergit masturbatin' in our cabins," Old Blind
"Pew, ya dumb fool." Deadbeard hit the old man with his
Another voice sang out across the deck. "When that shark
bites, with his teeth, yeah…"
All the pirates joined in, "An' he keeps them pearly
"Ship ahoy!" cried the lookout in the crow's nest. "Oooh, I hope it's the decadent filthy rich," Brownbeard
Captain Lightfoot appeared on deck. He raised a spyglass
to his eye, and after a moment, he lowered it and smiled. "Men," he said, "this is the big one!"
"Bigger than the Goodship Lollipop?" Deadbeard asked. "Aye! Raise the Jolly Rancher!" "Roger, Captain!" "Exactly how big is it sir?" someone asked. "Bigger than any of us have ever known. That ship," he
said, pointing, "that's the goodship S&L."
A hearty cheer arose. Brownbeard scowled. "S&L, Captain? But doesn't that be standin' for
'Savings & Loan?'"
"Aye, indeed it do, matey." Brownbeard's jaw dropped. "But Captain, we can't pillage
that ship. It would cost the taxpayers BILLIONS!"
All the other pirates laughed. "Taxpayers!" Captain Lightfoot bellowed. "Who cares
about the stinkin' taxpayers! This be our ticket to easy street!"
Another cheer arose. Brownbeard stood in stunned
silence. "Don't tell me ye haven't been payin' yer taxes?" Again all the pirates laughed. He continued, "Well I, for one, will be havin' no part of it. An I'll be puttin' ashore at the very next port!"
"No matey," Captain Lightfoot replied, "I think you'll
be headed for shore sooner than that!"
Chapter 3... or 4
"Did you know the deceased, Mr. Brownbeard?" Brownbeard squinted as Sergeant O'Malley shined a
flashlight into his eyes. Stan shifted uneasily on the pirate's shoulder.
"Arr, I did, Sir. Deadbeard and I were old sailin'
mates. Tho' I haven't seen him since we had a difference of opinion regardin' the S&L mess."
"A difference of opinion? And that's why you killed
"Aye. I mean NO! No, I didn't kill him. But, yes, we had
a difference of opinion."
"And that's why you killed him?" "Aye, that's why I killed him. I mean NO! I didn't kill
him! Quit twistin' me words around."
O'Malley shined the light into the parrot's eyes. Stan
"How about you? Are you going to talk to me? If you
cooperate, I assure you the state will go easier on you."
Stan whistled. "I ain't no stool pidgeon." "Arrr, ya dumb bird!" Brownbeard swatted Stan with his
hat. "Yer only supposed to say that when I'm GUILTY." Stan squawked and fluttered.
Sergeant O'Malley scribbled a few notes in his notepad.
He set it down and picked up the cutlass. "Do you recognize this, Mr. Brownbeard?"
"Aye, that's me cutlass." "Can you explain how it came to be embedded in the
dead man's chest?"
"Well, I lost it somewhere. Prob'ly left it in the deli
meats department when I fixed meself a snack. Somebody musta found it an' used it to do in Deadbeard. I'll bet if ye dust it fer fingerprints you'll find yer killer."
Sergeant O'Malley blushed. He set the cutlass down and
wiped his hand on his shirt. "You just answer the questions and leave the detective work to me, got it?"
Brownbeard nodded. "Pardon me." An elderly woman tapped at the window of
the courtesy booth. O'Malley turned to face her. She held up a frozen pizza package. "I have a question. Can you tell me if this pizza comes in six pieces or eight?"
Stan squawked. Everyone looked at him. He looked
around, meeting everyone's gaze. "Naw, it's too easy. I believe you have to cut it yourself, ma'am."
"Oh. Okay, thank you." She turned and walked away. O'Malley quickly placed a big "CLOSED" sign in the
window and turned back to Brownbeard. "Now, where were we?"
"You were jist about to let me go?" Brownbeard offered. Again someone tapped on the glass. O'Malley spun around.
"What now? Can't you read the damned sign?"
Standing at the window was an older man with a
weatherworn face, a hook instead of a hand, a frizzy beard, and a parrot perched on his shoulder. He was wearing an eyepatch over each eye.
"Excuse me," he said, "but do ya be havin' a public
Brownbeard stared in disbelief. "Pew! Is that really
The old man's face suddenly went pale. "Arrr, uhm,
nevermind, thankye, I'll find it for meself. Bye!"
He turned and hurried away from the window, swinging a
cane from side to side in front of him, his parrot squawking out, "left… left… right… slow down…"
"That WAS Pew!" Brownbeard said. "The guy from the flashback?" "Aye. This is really odd. What are the chances of me
runnin' into two of me old pirate mates, one of 'em dead, here at this HyperMart?"
"Hey, you'd be surprised how often it happens. Anyway,
you're allowed one phone call. Would you like to call a lawyer?"
"Ooooh," Brownbeard said. "I may deal with cutthroats
and rapscallions every day, but I have SOME scruples! Could I instead make one PA announcement?"
"Arrrr! Miss Judy to the Courtesy Booth! I repeat, Miss
Judy, come to the courtesy booth!"
Judy placed a hand against the cold glass of the
courtesy booth. Brownbeard placed his hook against the same spot from within.
"Oh, Brownbeard, I hate to see this happening to you." "Well, to be honest, I'm not too crazy about it meself.
I've seen another one o' me old mates here in the store, an' I'd be willin' to bet that he's had a hand in this murder. If ONLY there was a way for one of us to disguise ourself as a pirate, win Old Blind Pew's trust, and get 'im to confess to the murder on this tape recorder…."
Judy bit her lip.
Judy and Stan sat across from each other at a table in
the HyperMart cafe. Judy had a salad and a glass of Coke. Stan was eating a cracker.
"I get the impression Brownbeard's been hurt." Stan patted his beak with his napkin. "Yes, I think the
eye was the most painful."
"No, I meant emotionally. I sensed a bit of trepidation
when we first met. I was beginning to think he was never going to ask me to marry him."
"Ah, yes. Well, Brownbeard has certainly had his share
Judy looked down at the table. She took a long swig from
her Coke, emptying the glass. She set it down and cleared her throat. "So what was her name?"
Judy spotted the old, blind pirate back by the lobster
tank. She adjusted her beard and approached him.
"Excuse me, but aren't you Old Blind Pew, the famous
The man spun around, his parrot teetering precariously
on his shoulder. "Who wants to know?"
"Errr," Judy muttered, "I be Fakebeard, an aspiring
Old Blind Pew scowled. "Fakebeard, eh?" He reached out
and felt her face, finding her beard and tugging on it. "Okay, I believe ya. So have ya ever pillaged or looted?"
"Not yet." "Arrr, well then, follow me." He began tapping and
swinging his cane. Judy followed. After bypassing several aisles, Pew stopped and groped at the contents of one of the shelves. "Arrr, here we are. Kitchin Wares. Go ahead, Fakebeard."
"Um, go ahead and what?" "And what!" Pew shook his head. "Pillage, man! Pillage
Judy looked around nervously. There was a woman and two
children down at the far end of aisle, but there didn't appear to be any HyperMart employees. She took a deep breath.
"Well? Are ya gonna pillage or not? Ya sure don't seem
like pirate material to me!"
"Perhaps I should get a basket."
"Har har har! You was great, man! I've NEVER heard
pillagin' like that before!"
The swinging doors to the back room opened with a crash
as Judy and Old Blind Pew pushed their shopping cart through. Judy was breathing heavily.
"That was fun!" "An' it's more economical than clippin' coupons." Judy froze as she suddenly realized that the back room
was full of pirates. And they were all staring at her.
One of them spoke. "A newbie, Pew?" "Aye, everyone, this be Fakebeard." "Hello Fakebeard," everyone said in unison. "Looks like you made quite a haul there, Fakebeard,"
someone said. "Are ye gonna give us some booty now?"
Judy tensed. "I beg your pardon?" "Yer booty," the pirate repeated. "It's mighty
impressive. Are ye gonna give us some?"
Pew leaned over and whispered in Judy's ear. "Er, it's
sorta traditional. The new guy has to give a little booty to all the rest of us."
"Listen," Judy said, backing up to the doors, "I realize
you guys have probably been at sea for a long time, but I don't think I'm ready for that sort of thing."
Judy and Old Blind Pew sat across from each other at a
table in the HyperMart cafe. Judy had a salad and a glass of Coke. Pew was eating a cracker.
"So what made you decide to become a pirate, Mr. Pew?" "I think it was probably me natural tendency toward
wanton violence. That, and the fact that me father was a pirate, and his father before him. Why, I remember sittin' on me pappy's lap, he used to bounce me around, an' I'd giggle with glee and cry 'Harder Pappy,' and then he'd bounce me really hard, until I'd stop gigglin' and just sorta make a guttural gurglin' sound. My pappy knew, even way back then, he knew I was gonna grow up to be a pirate just like him. I remember one time in partic'lar, he suddenly stopped bouncing me, and he got real serious. He said to me, 'Old Blind Pew, someday you're going to grow up to do something really violent and nasty. Someday you're going to KILL a man. You're going to commit MURDER.' And damned if he wasn't right."
"Testing, one, two, three." "What was that again, Fakebeard?" Judy pressed the rewind button. "Oh, I'm just testing
out this tape recorder." She pressed play.
"TESTING, ONE, TWO, THREE." "Arrr!" Pew groped for the source of the sound. "A
device which can capture yer voice! Let me try!"
Judy handed him the microphone. "Just speak normally
into this." She pressed the record button.
"Arrr, ahem, okay. Hello? Hellooo! This is Old Blind
Pew, the pirate, speaking! Okay, play it back."
Judy pressed a few buttons. "ARRR, AHEM, OKAY. HELLO? HELLOOO! THIS IS OLD BLIND
PEW, THE PIRATE, SPEAKING! OKAY, PLAY IT BACK."
Pew howled. "That's amazin'! Do I really sound like
that? Let me say something else."
"Okay, hold on." Judy rewound the tape. "Okay, go
Pew cleared his throat. "Helloooo! This is Old Blind Pew
again! I just kilt another pirate by the name of Deadbeard earlier this evening, on accounta he swiped some evidence which woulda implicated me and me mates in the S&L scandal, an' he was gonna try and find his old friend Brownbeard the Pirate and blab to the authorities, but I used Brownbeard's cutlass and ran 'im through! Okay, play it back."
Feeble Attempt To Wrap All This Up
"Brownbeard, it looks as though I owe you an apology."
Sergeant O'Malley loosened the straps of the chair and raised the headpiece.
"Arrr, twas an honest mistake. The hair will grow back.
An' I enjoyed talkin' to the priest."
Judy rushed over and hugged him. "Oh Brownbeard!" Stan flew over and landed on his shoulder. "Pieces of
Old Blind Pew stood sullenly in the corner. "I would've
gotten away with it if it weren't for those meddling kids."
"Honey," Judy said, "will you teach me to swashbuckle?" "Twould indeed by heavenly to pillage and plunder with
ye at me side, me love! But we'd need to hitch up with a whole BAND of pirates in order to be successful. And, alas, I'm not sure where to go in this town to find good local bands."
"Er," Pew cleared his throat, "I don't suppose I'll be
needin' me band any more. They're in the back room. I guess ye can have 'em, if it's okay with the store manager."
"Really? Why, that's awful swell o' ye, Pew!" "Aye," he nodded, "I'm not really a bad man, just
"Yeah yeah, tell it to the judge," O'Malley said as he
sat Pew down in the chair and fastened the straps.