A young pirate captain was on his majestic ship, sailing across the vast ocean. His crew was happy, and they went on sailing for years, pillaging other ships that they would come across, overthrowing other sea captains, and often allowing the crew of the other ships to join theirs.
The pirate captain was happy.
One day, during an epic battle between the pirate crew and one of the biggest ships in the Queen’s Navy, the pirate captain was in a sword fight with three enemy sailors.
He fought like a warrior straight out of a tale, his dual swords slicing through the air and cutting his enemies down with ease.
Suddenly, a young boy came out of one of the barracks, carrying a pistol, and aimed it in the direction of the pirate captain.
Just as the pirate captain slashed at the last man standing before him, he saw the young boy, as well as the pistol aiming in his direction.
The boy fired.
The pirate looked down, and felt no pain.
Suddenly, he heard the thud of a body landing on the ground behind him. He turned around, and saw the Navy captain laying dead on the ground, his sword still in his hand, his outstretched arm above his head, his body frozen in the attempt of his ill-fated attack on the pirate captain.
The pirate captain was safe.
The pirate captain turned back to the boy who had saved his life. He stared at the boy, with his bright blue eyes open wide, giving away the fact that he had never once fired a pistol before, eyes which were partially covered by a lock of hair black as night.
The young pirate captain tipped his three-pointed hat to the boy as he leaned over with a slight bow.
“What’s ye name, me boy”, the pirate captain asked.
“Sebastian, sir”, the boy whispered.
“Aye, well Sebastian, me boy, a t’ousand t’anks and a t’ousand pieces o’ silver me owes ya.”
The pirate captain whistled to one of his crew, and ordered them to leave the young boy on the ship with a small chest filled with silver coins.
Then the pirate crew jumped back onto their majestic ship, and sailed off into the sunset.
Many years went by, and the pirate captain grew old, having lived quite the successful life of a pirate, which was quite rare, as they were constantly hunted by all of society for their ignoble actions.
One day, as the pirate crew was at harbor to resupply their ship, the pirate captain met a beautiful woman who not only failed to judge him, but was rather quite enthralled by his stories from the sea.
As they were sharing a bottle of rum, the pirate captain was reminiscing about his dual sword wielding days, which were no more, after having lost a hand to a stray cannonball many years prior, when the beautiful woman asked if he ever intended to settle down and have a family.
“Aye, me love, t’was always on the back of me mind, but me life has been wrought with adventure and chaos, and the thrills of a nomad pirate captain such as me’self were never too kindly looked upon by the fairer sex…”
The beautiful woman ran her hand across the pirate captain’s beard, caressed his face, and as she leaned over, she whispered “I always wanted to sail the sea… but I fear it was never in my stars, for I get seasick simply by stepping onto a ship. But your tales tell me that you have lived a mighty full life, and I fear I will never cease to dream of you after tonight…”
Then, the beautiful woman gently kissed the pirate captain on his lips.
For what seemed like an eternity, they stayed locked face to face, as the beautiful woman held the pirate captain’s good hand in hers, as he began to shake at the knees, melting at her touch.
As they pulled apart, the pirate captain said, “Bless the gods, me dear, I’ve never in me whole life felt the warm touch of an angel like that… just say the word, and I’ll follow you to the ends of the world and back.”
The night went on, and when it came time to part ways and sail off with his crew, the pirate captain realized that he couldn’t bring himself to go, for he did not want to leave behind the beautiful woman who had taken his breath away, and given in return a warm desire and fullness he had never felt before.
The pirate captain was in love.
He took his hat off, and handed it to his first mate, saying his farewells, wishing his crew the best of luck and long lives, and waved them away until they had sailed out of sight.
Again, many years went by. The pirate married the beautiful woman, they had a small army of children who grew up and set sail on their own adventures, and life went on.
The pirate captain was happy, but grew restless. Time had become a bitter enemy, causing his body to deteriorate even more and his mind to grow cloudy. His feet hurt from walking the solid land, and he missed his majestic ship, and his faithful crew.
His wife saw these things, and tried many times to lift his spirits, but it was fruitless.
The pirate had turned to drown his fears in his bottles of rum, and often could be heard hollering at the gravestones in the town cemetery, battling the ghosts of his past.
The locals had ceased to fear the once powerful and vibrant pirate captain, as he was now just an old shell of his former self.
He had grown fat, had lost most of his hair, and his long flowing beard had grown gray and disheveled. The hook on his hand had been replaced by a wooden knob with a cutout perfect for holding a bottle, and nothing more.
The pirate captain was sad.
Despite all her efforts, the pirate’s wife could not save him from himself. She grew tired and weak from all the fighting, until one day, she had had enough, and decided to leave him.
The pirate captain did not chase after her.
And so life went on, and the long days turned into long months, and the long months turned into longer years. The pirate was lost in a world he did not love, left alone with no friend to share a bottle with, and no enemy to swing a sword at. The pirate captain was alone.
He grew older, and weaker. His swords began to rust, and grew dull. His bottles lay strewn about his home, and his body regretted his heart’s decision.
One day, the pirate decided he would not end this way. He would go out as a pirate should. He would do whatever necessary to right the wrongs, or wrong the rights, in his case.
He would go down to the harbor, and steal a ship, and set sail into the sunset one last time.
Except, he could barely get out of bed. When he finally managed to, barely escaping a broken back in doing so, he barely made it to his door.
With a mighty tug, he opened the door, and what he saw outside his door almost made him fall to the floor.
There was a parade!
The entire town had filled both ends of the street, with children sitting upon their father’s shoulders, and women waving handkerchiefs at the performers in the street.
At first, the pirate was weary, and did not want to be surrounded by all of this joy, for he simply wanted his story to come to an end already, and dammit, these town citizens were getting in his way!
He shuffled along down the road, step by step, often having to put a hand against a wall or a fence post to stop and catch his breath.
His heart was beating a thousand times too fast, and his head ached with all the music being played in the street beside him.
Things began to grow dark in his vision, and sounds grew muffled.
He stopped to sit at a bench, wiping the sweat from his brow with his shirt sleeve. He looked around for a forgotten bottle of rum. Alas, there was none to be found. He saw a young boy running back and forth, peeking between the legs of the adults to catch a glimpse of the parade through the throngs of people watching the festivities.
The old pirate asked the young boy, “hey there, me lad…” The old pirate took a few deep breaths between his words, “would ye mind tellin’ an old man what all this fuss might be about?”
The young boy looked the old pirate up and down, curious why this old man was sitting on a bench not ten feet from the parade, sweating like a dog and panting like a horse.
“It’s the Queen’s Royal Navy, sir! They’re back! It took them 50 years, but they’ve finally killed all the pirates! The seas are free again!”
The old man chuckled at the idea that the sea was ever not free, but then took a sharp breath in as the boy’s words sunk in.
With the last of his strength, he pushed himself off of the bench, and walked to the street, pushing the bystanders aside with a roughness in him that had long been idle.
He looked at the paraders, who upon further inspection, were in battle dress. It was the Queen’s Royal Navy, indeed!
Then, standing on top of a box wagon, the old pirate saw what must have been the man in charge.
The man was middle aged, in peak physical condition, with striking black hair and blue eyes as big as the sea.
But it was what was in the man’s hand, as he waved it back and forth at the crowds, that caught the old pirate’s eye.
It was his old leather three-pointed hat.
This man, he was the one who had killed off the last of the pirates, and in doing so, had obviously killed the old pirate’s former crew, including his last first mate. As the old pirate stood there, wondering how he should feel, knowing that the life he had led and had dreamed of returning to could be no more, the man with the blue eyes turned towards him, looked at him, waving the hat, and continued to turn.
Stopping in mid-wave, the man turned back, and looked at the old pirate dead in his eyes.
The old pirate knew, right then, who this man was. He knew it like he knew the sound of sails flapping in the wind on a cool, cloudless night.
This man, he knew, was Sebastian, the very boy who had not only saved his life, but had felled one of his own crew in order to do so.
This man, who had brought an end to the life the old pirate once cherished, who had ended the lives of so many that had relied on the old pirate, was the one person that had ever saved the old pirate’s life.
The sudden epiphany took a hefty toll on the old pirate’s soul. He felt like he had been struck in the chest with a cannonball.
He almost lost his footing, falling back, reaching his hand out to find the bench behind him, with his wooden hand held to his chest to calm his heart.
It was beating too fast.
The man from the Navy, Sebastian, was running up to the old man, pushing his way through the crowd.
As he arrived at the bench, he looked the old man up and down.
The man, the boy, Sebastian, placed the hat gently on the bench beside the old pirate.
“I know you, old man. I once saved your life, and you repaid me with a ship and a thousand silver pieces. I have led my life in the hopes that I would cross paths with you again…”
The old man looked at the young man, and saw nothing but the young boy from that day so long ago, before him. He had dreamt of crossing paths with the young boy again as well, but his heart was hurting, and not in the heartbroken way he had become so used to over the years, but rather a physical pain, this time. It stopped him from being able to express the words in his lungs.
The boy with the blue eyes continued.
“…I lived every day of my life, and spent every last bit of silver I had because of you, trying to find you. When I ran out of money to fund my own ship and crew, I joined the Queen’s Royal Navy in the hopes that it would bring me to you…” The old pirate wanted nothing more than to reach out to the boy, to pat him on the shoulder, to thank him for finding him and giving him a last good memory to cherish on what was surely to be his last day on this earth. Perhaps he could ask the boy to send him out to sea, as a pirate should always be buried at sea… Sebastian continued.
“For, you see, I did not intend on saving the life of a murderer that day, I did not even intend on leaving that ship alive…
I did not want my last memories to be the vision of you and your despicable crew cutting down my friends, my crew…
…and had I seen my father behind you, with his sword raised and ready to strike you down, I never would have tried to fire that shot into your heart.
And I would have not missed, and killed my own father instead.”
The old pirate’s face grew white, his skin, cold.
The story he had shared countless times to his old crew and the land lovers at the pub, his favorite story of all of them… had all been a lie.
All because this boy was a terrible shot.
He had intended on killing him, and killed his father instead. And while the old pirate knew that his younger self would have reveled in this fact, his older self felt more guilty than he could have ever imagined feeling.
His entire life had been a farce.
He was not the least bit angry at Sebastian, nor did he doubt that he would pay for his actions today, likely at the gallows.
The boy continued.
“And so, here we are, having killed every last pirate sailing the ocean, and the one I have been hunting my entire life has been here in my hometown. Wasting away! A drunk and a fool, with no ship, no treasure, and a rusty pair of swords.”
“His wife left him!”, shouted one of the town members.
Sebastian looked back at the townsman, and looked back at the old pirate with a smug look on his face.
“And the old man had a wife, you say? It figures she would have left him! Who would want to lay by an old and dying pirate like this at night!”
The townspeople laughed and pointed their fingers, with mothers covering their children’s ears, yet standing there with beaming smiles on their faces. Sebastian picked up one of the old pirate’s swords, wielding it slowly and deliberately, feeling it’s weight.
“This must have been a wicked tool of death back in your day, old pirate. But now…”
He rested the tip of the sword on the ground, and gave a swift stomp to the middle of the sword, shattering it in half.
“…but now, it’s a piece of useless scrap. Now, tell me, old pirate, and do be kind, it’s the least you can do before dying on me after I’ve searched for you for so long, and after I’ve asked ALL your friends for your whereabouts…
WHAT, in almighty God’s name, HAPPENED TO YOU to make you such a feeble, weak, pathetic old geezer wasting away as the town drunk on a dirty bench so far from the ocean?
Please, tell me what caused this, and I might let you die quickly.”
The old pirate looked the boy up and down, realizing the boy was a man. A man that any mother would be proud of, and a boy any father would thank the heavens for carrying his name.
The old pirate coughed into his wooden hand, and saw blood which he wiped off onto his pants, and stretched to lean over with his good hand to pick up the hat Sebastian had placed beside him.
It took nearly all the energy he had in him, and as he righted himself, the world was spinning. His arm shot pains throughout his body as he raised his hat and placed it on his head.
He placed his good hand on the bench armrest, and pushed as hard as he could, raising himself from the bench to stand before the boy. A boy who was as tall, no, taller, than he was. But the old pirate had a bad back, and he was hunched over after spending so many years in his bed.
He stretched his back, and stood tall one last time.
He raised his good hand to grab the tip of his hat, and gently tipped it towards the boy, and as he bowed slightly, he could feel his heart pumping the last pulse of blood through his body… his fingers and toes growing cold, his vision growing cloudy, and his head feeling light, he uttered his last few words with every bit of strength that his soul would spare before finally leaving him.
With a smirk so slight, the Heavenly Father could have missed it, he answered the boy’s question.
“Sebastian, my boy…