Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Sally, Part 9

1.  One of my teachers talked about how his daughter died a few years ago.  Made me feel lucky.
2.  My classes don't sound like they'll be too tough.
3.  I've got a class with one of my buddies.  It doesn't happen very often at college so I fell blessed.

It will be hard to understand this post without reading Part 8.

Mutiny.  It might as well have been tattooed on their foreheads.  On his way to his room Stacey did not see any familiar faces.  The Captain, in his great wisdom, must have fired the entire existing crew because he thought this one looked better, all except his cook of course.  Stacey imagined the old crew back in Andrill, sitting in The Pig's Pajamas, cussing their horrible luck, to have lost their jobs and to have been left in Andrill.  Even under the circumstances, The Cook couldn't help but laugh a little.  They hated their situation, and he probably would have given his left eyeball to switch positions with them.  Mutinies seldom worked out well for sea cooks.  There was a general belief, as untrue as it was, that captains and their cooks were always the best of friends.  They were far away from one another on the chain of command on the ship, but they often formed a bond that was closer than brotherhood.

Stacey and The Captain held no such bond.  If anything The Cook found The Captain a revolting, spineless man, and The Captain found The Cook to be an uneducated moron.  The mutineers didn't know that though, and shortly after The Captain was disposed of, The Cook would follow.  Stacey looked out his little peep hole at the main sun setting on Andrill, with a minor one off to the left of it.  The two made an interesting barrage of colors that The Cook had to smile at.  This might be his last sunset as a free man, but more likely, this would be his last sunset ever, and in the grand scheme of sunsets, it was a pretty good one to end on.

 Once the main sun had gone down the entire way, and the second minor followed it, Stacey unrolled his blanket and laid down, hoping they would give him one more night of uninterrupted sleep.  They nearly succeeded, but Stacey awoke to the sounds of shouting and gunfire.  He imagined The Captain on the Quarter deck, fighting for what he would have seen as his territory.  Stacey opened his door slowly and peeked out to see several dark figures running down the hall in front of his door.  He closed it momentarily and waited for the boots to run past him.  He then ventured out.  Stacey wasn't sure what he planned to do once out of his room, but knew that staying there would be certain death, so he walked down the hall and up the stairs to the main deck.  He saw flintlock pistols and sabers in every sailor's hands.

Quickly, Stacey shrank down into a pile of ropes to watch the scene.  Surely some other ship had boarded, because the sailors weren't fighting The Captain, they were fighting other sailors.  Sabers met and clanked, hammers fell, and exploded, but each sailor seemed perfectly matched to the man in front of him.  The Cook had seen no sailor fall, and just as he was about to stand to see why not, a dark figure with red glowing eyes appeared in front of him.  The figure was half a man taller than he was, and just as The Cook was about to protest, the figure buried a saber deep in his chest, and Stacey woke with a start.

Sweat poured out his forehead and he couldn't gulp air fast enough.  It had been a dream, a nightmare, and Stacey looked out his peep hole to see a storm off in the distance, where thunder rolled across the ocean and to his ears.  Why did he walk back to the ship at all?  Why didn't he just run with the child when he had the chance?  In the morning he would likely be executed, and for what?  For a captain he never truly respected.  For a life of borderline servitude.  It was almost too much for the poor cook to bear.  He had a child to look after.  He finally had a reason to live, and the next day he might see a guillotine.  The Captain had purchased one back in Haresmoot.  It would make sense for them to use it on the both of them.

Stacey did not find anymore sleep that night.  The dawn came, and to his surprise, no sea dog was sent to drag him to the main deck.  As he fretted, he realized this to be just another bit of torture before the end.  Surely they had seen the terrified cook and wanted nothing more than to play with him before his demise.  So, The Cook got up and left his quarters.  Surely he would be killed, but he would not die the play thing of evil men.

The Cook came up the stairs just in time to witness The Captain's execution.  He stood on the plank, hands tied, with a sailor pointing a flintlock rifle at him.
"I have no wish to shoot captain!  Jump so that we may save the bullet!"
The Captain almost looked dignified as he stood in silence.
"Suite yourself!"  Was the last thing The Captain heard before the hammer fell and a lead ball sent him over and into the deep.  The executioner looked at the rifle and let it hang in one hand.  The coldness with which he killed was telling of him.  He was a pirate no doubt, and his companions must be also.  The rifleman looked up and down the length of the ship, "Now where's that cook?"

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Sally, Part 8

1.  I have an opportunity at an education.
2.  My daughter slept through me typing this.
3.  I woke up to my alarm ( I was a little worried).

This post won't make much sense without reading Part 7.

The voice brought fear to Stacey's heart, because it was The Captain, and if he came looking for you while he was in the mood to leave, you might as well brace yourself for a long voyage.  But, to The Cook's surprise, The Captain was trying to entertain some people with the story of The Woman and had just gotten to the part about the birth.

"Go on, Stacey!  Tell 'em how ya took care a tha li'll bastard."
Stacey was shocked at how angry The Captain's words made him.  Just as he'd assumed, The Captain had no idea what had happened to Sally, and assumed that The Cook had done the unthinkable.  Stacey loved the boy as only a care taker can, and even the thought that he somehow disposed of the infant made his blood boil.  But, he was all too aware that The Captain's blood seldom got cool enough to simmer and that blowing up now would mean his demise.  His mind raced over the past few months:  A child swinging in his kitchen, making a bottle out of a sheep's stomach, seeing Sally's first smile, looking for a care giver, finding the girl, leaving the baby, fighting back tears on the way back to the ship, and The Captain's words.  Then his dream about running toward the west and the inn.
"Well, go on Cook!  We don' have all day!"
Then a bullet in his back as he tried to run back to Scratch's hovel.  Stacey wouldn't be making up his mind about running today.  He had waited too long, and there was nowhere to go but the ship, and nothing to do but lie about what he'd done with the boy, the infant, the precious baby, his pride and joy. Sally.  The Captain, while always hot tempered, was not an observant man, which was a service to Stacey as he fought back sobs while making up an awful story about what he'd done that night.
"It wasn't too difficult.  The baby..."
"The bastard he means!"
Stacey gulped saliva in attempts of keeping down his rage.  "Was half dead anyway.  I just threw him overboard."
"Ha!  I knew ye'd do the right thing!"

The Captain, calling his own son a bastard, was almost too much for The Cook, but hard situations make cowards out of most of us, and words seemed a poor reason to die.  So, Stacey would forget Sally was a child of The Captain's at all.  Sally was, in his mind at least, a sea cook's son.  His dad had to go away for a little while, but would come back when he could.  Andrill seemed a horrible place to leave his only living relative, but The Cook had no choice.  He would continue sailing under the sail of a tyrant, and every night would be spent thinking of Sally, where he was, what he looked like, and what he was doing.  They would be together again someday... someday.

The Cook walked for the ship before The Captain was entirely done with his story.  The Captain didn't mind though.  Stacey had been there for the part The Captain needed him for.  Stacey's legs felt heavy, as if dry land didn't suit them, or maybe they felt that they were on a death march, and the longer they took, the more time they'd have to live.  The Cook didn't worry about it.  He had to carry on as if nothing had happened.

Stepping on to the ship sent a shiver up The Cook's spine.  He wasn't sure if something was actually different or if he was just sad to leave Andrill, but the ship seemed to have a new sway.  The rocking didn't feel right and as Stacey found his way to his quarters, he noticed some new faces.  The Captain had taken some new men for his crew and they didn't look like the rejects he normally picked up.  The Cook was hardly a judge of character, but even he could tell that these new men smelled of trouble.  They were too bright to have signed on with someone as dull as The Captain, and The Cook tried not to imagine what he already knew to be true.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Sally: Part 7

1.  I have parents who care if I succeed.
2.  My baby is still alive and well.
3.  School starts today.  I may not like all of it, but at least I have the opportunity to go.
You'll need to read Part 6 for Part 7 to make sense.

The walk back to the ship was longer than The Cook remembered.  It seemed every miscreant and rabble rouser was on full display, and that made each step tiresome.  Was leaving Sally with Scratch really the best idea?  Look at these people, charlatans.  Each one would sooner steal you blind than give you a hand, and half of them are standing BEHIND the store fronts.  How would Sally ever make it in Andrill?  The sack in his strong hands grew heavy as the worry did on his shoulders.  Maybe he could have kept Sally a few more months and dropped him in Shimbly, with the tribe there.  He may not have gotten an education, or lived past twenty, but at least his death would be at the hands of a troll instead of another human like it was bound to be in Andrill.  He might grow up to be honest too.  Respectable, at least in the only way the Shimbly tribe knows how.  In full disclosure, The Cook had come to love the boy and didn't want him to go anywhere except his little kitchen, but of course that was worse than everywhere else.  Assuming The Cook could keep him a secret from The Captain and crew, how would a toddling child stay around big open barrels of water, cleavers, and sacks of grain.  He'd be cut or suffocated before The Cook could say, "Bob's your uncle."  Scratch may not have been the best choice, but she was the only real one The Cook had.  While she seemed almost certain death to the boy, all other options were absolutely certain death.  Sal would call Scratch, 'Mom.'

The ship looked shoddier than it had when he'd left it.  The wood on it was warped and bowed, it was a wonder it stayed afloat at all.  The sails were torn, and the crew always seemed half drunk, which made him wonder how they got anywhere.  The Cook stopped about one hundred yards from the dock and stared through the ship.  He thought of all the nights alone, listening to the crew yell accounts of their sexual escapades, or shout sea shanties with their own vulgar verses.  Sally had been his friend these last few months.  Sure, he didn't talk much, or at all, but at least he was good company.  He didn't cuss or spit or drink too much (The Cook had only given him a little whiskey to help him sleep once or twice).  And perhaps best of all, Sally didn't call him The Cook, or make fun of his real name, Stacey.  Why his mother had named him after his Great Grandmother was beyond him, but Stacey was indeed his name.  When he protested as a boy his mother would tell him Stacey was a name for a boy or a girl, but had no answer when Stacey asked why he didn't know any other boys named Stacey.  And here The Cook stood, friendless, and on the cusp of a life he knew he didn't want to live.

For a moment, Stacey played with the idea of staying in Andrill.  He'd turn right around and walk, no run, straight back to Scratch's shanty beneath the brothel and he'd demand that Sally be placed back in his custody.  The Cook and the boy would head for the west, escaping the stench that was Andrill, escaping their fates as poor outcasts, and escaping the uncertainty of the sea, where both of them had found hard luck.  Where the boy had been unwanted by his own mother, and Stacey had given away every dream he had for a four by four room and a man who chose his every fate.  The two would run through fields and look for a small town to settle down in.  The Cook would build and run a little inn that would be known for miles around for its excellent cuisine.  Sally would learn the trade, and when Stacey was old, he would give the inn to Sally, and like a good son, Sally would keep the inn going and allow Stacey to keep on there to dispense of old age wisdom and cooking advice.Surely there was no better dream than this.  Surely they could make it.  Surely he would not take another step toward that awful vessel, which held nothing but pain and shame.

"Stacey!  Git to the ship b'fore we leaves ya!"

Friday, August 26, 2011

Sally, Part 6

1.  I have some awesome facebook friends who shared my blog.
2.  Figuring out this story has been easier than anticipated.
3.  I found a couple more people to help edit my dating book.

You'll want to read Part 5 if you want to understand this part.  Thanks for reading.

At first The Cook wondered if little people held the same time honored custom of opening a door when it was knocked on.  He tried to listen  for any sign of movement, but nothing came.  He looked closer at the door and noticed that there was hardly a crack to be seen.  This little person's hands had either done some marvelous work, or had found a real treasure.  The Cook knocked once more as a last ditch effort.  Perhaps it wasn't a good idea to leave a baby with a child.  He was reminded of "The blind leading the blind," but didn't all parents fall into this saying?

"What are you doing?"  The voice was high and quiet, but mysteriously powerful.

The Cook turned to see a little girl who he guessed was about seven, standing behind some boxes.  To say that she had surprised him would be an understatement. She was a submarine attacking a battleship, much smaller, but at an advantage.  If she had had a mind to stab The Cook he would never have made it back to the ship.  "I wanted to talk to you."

"Why?  You don't look like the men who sell us to the rich."
"No miss.  I'm the cook of a ship docked here.  I have..." he started to question his plan again, "I have something very special I need to give to someone."
"And what does that have to do with me?"  She took a couple of steps back.
"Well... well what's you're name?"
"My name?  I don't have one."  Of course she had no name.  Mother's give names, not dirty cities.
"Um... what are you called then?"
At this her eyes lit up and she stood up straight "The other kids call me Scratch."
"Why do they call you that?"
"Because of how good I am at scratching the bad parts off food and being able to eat the rest."
The chef in him cringed, but the foster father saw a survivor.  "How long have you been doing this?"
Scratch gave The Cook a puzzled look.  "My whole life."
"Well, how do you feel about babies."
At this The Cook saw the girl flash a big row of rotting teeth.  "Oh, I love babies.  I've got a bunch of them."
"A bunch?"
"Yeah."  The girl took a step forward, and then stepped back and stared at The Cook.  The Cook waited, but she just kept staring, as if she were expecting something.  After about thirty awkward seconds The Cook took a step away from Scratch, and she took a step forward.  He then took two, and she followed.  This dance continued until The Cook was far enough away from the door that Scratch felt comfortable using it, but close enough to notice that in that very well made door was a hole just big enough for Scratch's index finger.  Any big men looking for children to sell couldn't get their way in there without breaking the door or themselves.  Scratch stepped away from the door and walked back into the ally, so there was room for The Cook to walk to her door again and notice, neatly lined up, four good sized stones laying in little beds of hay.  Little Scratch did indeed love babies.
"This is great.  Would you like a real baby?"
Scratch looked offended, "Those are REAL babies!"
"Oh, I mean, would you like this baby?"  And he pulled out the infant he had been carrying around for so long.
Stars appeared in the little girl's eyes and it was all she could do to keep her distance from The Cook.  "Yes!  I do want that baby."
"Okay.  Well come here, so I can tell you how to take care of him."
This took bravery on Scratch's part, but eventually she stepped forward.  Not close enough for The Cook to grab her, but close enough to see what he was talking about.
"Do you see this sack?"  He held up the sheep's stomach.
She nodded with enthusiasm.
"Okay, I'm going to give you two of them in case one breaks.  I'll give you enough money to buy goat's milk to put in the sacks.  Put this much in."  He held up his thumb and index finger to show Scratch how much milk to put in at a time, "Keep giving him milk until the money for the goat's milk runs out.  Okay?"
She nodded again.
To be honest, he, himself, didn't know much more than that about how to care for a baby.  He did want to be able to find the child again though, so he asked, "What will you call him?"
"Sally."  The answer had come faster than he'd anticipated.
"Yeah, I name all my babies Sally."
"But he's a boy."
She spoke slowly, as if The Cook wouldn't be able to understand her, "I call all of my babies Sally."
The Cook almost gave his same argument again, but saw that this was not an argument he was going to win before needing to go back to the ship.  "Okay, well, can you call him Sal, for short?  Just so people know which baby you're talking about?"
Scratch thought a moment, "Maybe.  I'm not sure if I'll remember to, but I'll try."
"Okay.  Well, thank you."  And with that, The Cook left young Sally in the arms of what was actually a ten year old girl in the port city of Andrill.  Likening Andrill to 'the deep end' really doesn't do the city justice, it's more like 'the ocean near a pack of sharks.'  Sally had better not just learn to swim, but swim faster than the sharks, and soon.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sally, Part 5

1.  I have clothes.
2.  We have grapes going bad in our fridge.  I don't so much like that they are going bad, but that we have food enough to allow that.
3.  Silverware.  Without it, cereal would be much less enjoyable.

If you have not read Part 4 you'll probably want to.  This probably won't make much sense if you haven't.

Finding and buying the food needed for the voyage would be easy.  The Cook had already made many business partners in Andrill who always had food ready for him and who gave him remarkably good prices because he purchased in such quantity.  The idea of currency was still young in the world, but The Cook was of the first to fall in love with it.  Just two years before he had found himself running around Andrill, buying a mule from one man with gold so that another would sell him jerked venison.  For a man trying to catch a boat bartering was not an option.  So, as quickly as he could, he found vendors who dealt only in gold.  Gold was the way of the future, and The Cook wanted only to deal with those who were on board.  As an added bonus, the year he stopped bartering was also the year he had an extra two hours to experience Andrill (which was sometimes pleasant and sometimes not).  He figured this year to be no different and that two hours would be just enough to find someone to give the child to.

As The Cook walked from one vendor to the next he started to look for someone he thought would be a good care taker to leave the child with.  Andrill had no shortage of wealthy people and The Cook began to dream for his little ward.  Perhaps the boy could go to school.  Maybe he could ride on horses, and buy expensive jewels to be set into trinkets that had no use but to be pretty.  Perhaps he could buy a large mansion and have servants.  Then The Cook really began to dream.  Maybe he would hire an old sea cook for his kitchen, and that cook wouldn't have to buy awful produce and feed his creations to ungrateful mouths.  What better sea cook than he, the man who saved the boy in his infancy?

Angry shouting roused The Cook from his fantasy.  There, amid the throng, was a woman, dressed in a large purple dress with gold trimming, yelling at a small boy, dressed in rags and carrying a very high stack of packages, with one lying at his feet.  She demanded he pick it up and not let another of her boxes touch the ground.  The Cook then noticed more children, walking shortly behind rich adults, dressed in worse than poor pirates.  Only occasionally did he see a child dressed well, and when he did, that child always bore a strong resemblance to the adults he or she walked with.  He had never noticed it before, he had never had a  reason to, Andrill's wealthy enslaved orphans.  What The Cook could not see was that child slaves were practically a commodity to the rich.  A family was not considered respectable, or part of he elite of Andrill unless it owned at least a couple of children.  Granted, the slaves always had a roof, always had food, and were often taught a trade so that when their masters had no more use for them, they could find work.  But the labor was hard, too hard for little fingers, and many of the children would drop dead in the fields before reaching adolescence.

The Cook had worked too hard and risked too much to leave the boy to such a fate, but who else was there to leave him with?  The other adults The Cook saw were barely getting by themselves, he feared (and this was his prejudice of the people of Andrill) that the baby would end up in a stew for much needed protein.  An even worse idea would be to give him to one of the scampering halflings who were shrewd enough to sell him to a wealthy family for a tidy profit, and then The Cook would be back to his original fear.

The time to get back on the ship was drawing close, and still The Cook had not found a suitable guardian.  It could be argued that The Cook hoped too much for the child, after all, what could really be expected for the bastard child of a whore?  Perhaps fighting to stay alive as a slave was the best situation for him.  Just as The Cook was about to give up, and leave the boy to a destiny of servitude, he noticed a little face peering out of a darkened hole in the wall nestled within an ally way.  As he walked closer the face noticed him and disappeared.  The Cook investigated the hole she had been looking out of.  For a child, the deception was quite remarkable, as the hole was no longer there.  It had been crafted so that the face could live beneath a house, but that the panel that worked as a door to her dwelling was concealed whenever an outsider came near.  The Cook then got an idea, could this little face care for a baby?  The thought at first was ludicrous, but after seeing the other inhabitants of Andrill, The Cook began to think seriously about it.  He could teach that little face to feed the baby using goat's milk in a sheep's stomach.  The face had crafted a very deceptive door.  And, if The Cook remembered right, children often loved, even if it was not in their best interest to do so.  This cleverly disguised hiding spot might just be the home The Cook was hoping for.  Sure, the boy would not have an education, but he would have his freedom, and in Andrill, if he were clever enough, he could make his fortune.  The Cook hesitated once more, and then gave a sharp rap on the make shift door.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Sally, Part 4

1.  My baby likes the pacifier.  Judge if you want to, but that little instrument keeps her happy and gives me time to work.
2.  I wrote a Mantra two days ago that worked yesterday, and seems to be working today.
3.  Football has started.

If you haven't read Part 3 then this post won't make a lot of sense.

Andrill, the port between all lands, the hub of all commerce, and perhaps the most disgusting city to ever be built by hands.  Throughout the city was a horrible stench that wafted up and down ally ways, from street to wandered street that would occasionally make foreigners throw up just after stepping off the boat.  It was a mixture of rotting fish, feces, and some unknown scent that gave it a sour quality.  The people sweated it, the buildings were stained by it, and the food tasted of it.  How anyone stayed living there was a mystery to most in the world, but for Andrill's inhabitants, the answer was simple:  Money.  If someone wanted to get rich Andrill was the place to do it.  Ever since the invention of ships that could cross seas, Andrill had been known as The City of Commerce.  It lay just between the main continents of Bilnah and Calman, and near enough to all other major land masses to make it a gateway for all things exotic.  Two headed snakes from Hitno, swords from Callen, gems and rubies from places no one had heard of with sellers who didn't speak common well enough to tell.  If it's worth something, you can find it in Andrill.

The Cook stepped off the boat, his legs wobbly from being at see for too long.  He felt Andrill an awful place for him to have to get supplies, with the food tasting of sour milk or worse.  But The Captain was a man whose money purse was hard to please, while his taste buds were not, so Andrill was the right place to pick up produce.  Aside from the stench, and the discolored buildings, Andrill really was an amazing place to look at.  It teamed with life from all over the world.  For the most part the inhabitants were humans whose ancestors had founded the city centuries before, but one could also find Dwarves from the mountains, selling their weapons, or Wood Elves  from the western wood selling their bows.  And everywhere, like mice keeping their tails from carving knives, ran swarms of halflings who had left their homes beneath hills looking for riches in big cities, but found only filthy apartments and demeaning work.

More than a dozen times The Cook would almost step on a halfling, and more than twice he had to get after one for digging around in his pockets looking for gold.  The Cook had been here enough times to not be impressed by the wonders in the streets, and to keep his money hidden where pickpockets' hands would not find it.  Being a true man of his trade, The Cook had a very impressive sense of smell, which made his food breathtaking in the best of circumstances and eatable at the worst, but his sense of smell was his demise in Andrill, for each time he breathed in he was disgusted by what he could smell in the air, because while you or I could only pick out a couple of awful tidbits in the cacophony of odors, The Cook could pick out almost all of them, from what we could easily pick out as rotting meat, to what we would barely notice as rotting humans.  The city's worst qualities were laid wide before his nose, but again, he had been there too often to care.  He had two jobs to do, buy enough food to keep the crew alive for the next ten months at sea, and drop off one precious child.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Sally, Part 3

1.  I have friends, both blogging and otherwise who put me in my place.
2.  I've made a list of things to do today, so I should be able to get more done.
3.  My baby takes right to the bottle while my wife is at work (it was a concern).

You won't get this post unless you read Part 2.

Keeping the baby would prove to be more difficult than The Cook had anticipated.  Even finding a place to lay the baby while he cooked was difficult.  Each surface and sack had its own pitfalls: the maggots in the meat, the knives on the block, the insects in the vegetables.  In the end, the cook made a sling for the child, little more than a piece of cloth hung up with the sausages.  The Cook carefully laid the boy in his new hammock and then stared at it.  When he was satisfied, he took his bedroll and set it up underneath where the baby swung.  The Cook stared up at what looked to be the fattest tube of salami ever to end up in his seasick kitchen.  And finally the sway of the child hypnotized The Cook into a deep slumber.

To his relief, and to be completely honest, to his surprise, the sling had worked.  When he woke up to make breakfast the child still hung there just as he had the night before.  The Cook was also surprised that the child didn't end up seasick, but then again, he had been growing with the rock of the ocean his whole life.  Expertly, The Cook started making the morning meal while he took a bag made of sheep's stomach, poked a hole in the bottom, and poured a little of the goat's milk into it, as much as he thought the baby would drink.  He knew that he couldn't take the baby into the mess hall, so he put his mind to work again on how he could feed the child without disturbing the morning ritual, for surely The Captain would not come looking for his illegitimate son, but would come looking if breakfast was not on his plate at the usual time.  So, with the baby getting fussy, The Cook tide a string to the sack, hung it from the ceiling and down into the sling, and tied it off when it was just low enough for the baby to latch on to it.  Once again, The Cook was surprised at his success and was able to keep his shipmates unaware that he himself hadn't killed the child.

Don't be mistaken, The Cook knew little to nothing about babies.  It is merely by luck that the baby was not found.  He hardly fussed because he was soothed by the steady rocking of the boat, the hiss of the ocean's spray, and that his hammock kept his fist more or less in his mouth.  The Cook fed him every time he got a chance, which was just often enough to keep him happily full, and The Cook often had linens to wash so it didn't seem odd that he was washing a few more each time.  If it all sounds like a happy coincidence, it was.  By all calculations the baby should have been thrown overboard the night of his birth.  And yet, by exceptional luck, he lived through that night, and the nights to follow.  Then, when The Cook thought that there was no possible way to keep the child one night longer the sailor in the crow's nest finally let out the signal that he saw land, and The Cook knew that the boy was saved, because the next land would be the port city of Andrill, and there he would be expected to go and resupply the stock of food.  His plan was simple, though effective:  he would hide the baby in a sack, and while he was out buying the rations, he would leave the child with the first big hearted person he could find.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Sally, Part 2

1.  When the baby projectile pooped on me, it only got on my pajamas and not any nice clothes.
2.  Portal 2.  One.  Awesome. Game.
3.  Beating Portal 2.  It felt pretty good.

Part 1 of this story is here.

A cry cut through the night and into every sailor's ear.  The child, the horrible monster who might soon condemn someone to death had finally arrived.  The Cook commanded the woman to push again and its slimy body slithered the rest of its way out.  The Cook had been volunteered to be the doctor when The Woman was seen pregnant.  They had no proper doctor, but The Cook had dealt with meat and butchering, so he seemed the best choice.  He agreed to the job, not so much because he felt qualified, but because he knew The Captain's temper.  Once completely out, The Cook looked at the exhausted mother and made a noise in the back of his throat to get her attention.  She looked over and he showed her the infant, framed beautifully in his huge and expert hands.  The Cook knew that there was little chance of the child living aboard that ship, but he was a man of principle.  Surely, a hard life would not bring The Woman to doing the unthinkable, that of rejecting her own young.  And yet, even when she looked at her child, and saw that it was a strong and healthy boy that had a nice resemblance to The Captain, she glowered and then looked away.

As he showed the child to her, The Cook was looking at the men and could feel their relief at a large mass of thick black hair, olive skin, and clearly entirely human.  Word quickly got out to all those who could not see for themselves, and while they would not allow themselves to say a word, for fear The Captain would hear them, they did rejoice in their hearts.  With the looks of the child The Captain could not punish any of them.  The Captain was in the room too, and hardly gave a sideways glance at the child.  The boy was clearly his, but he was a captain, a tyrant in many ways, and he knew that having a child, even a strong son, would slow him down in ways he did not know and might keep him from directing the ship as he now did.

To look at The Cook one would think him a stupid man.  His head was entirely bald, he had soulless eyes, a slacked jaw, and what looked to be a wattle just below his chin.  His belly also spoke of him sampling his own cooking frequently, and a tattoo on his arm read, "Marm" with a heart around it.  But, behind what looked to be a moron stood a man who had been taught by his mother to love life and be a hard worker, so when he told his shipmate to tattoo "Mom" on his arm, he hardly meant for the title to be spelled so absurdly.  He could tell that The Woman didn't want the boy, and that The Captain would just as soon throw it to the sharks.  So, like the honorable seaman he was, he hid the baby under his apron and walked back to the kitchen, knowing that, so long as the baby stayed there, it would be safe from the tyrannical hands of The Captain.

So there ya go.  Again, if you want me to keep going with this let me know, and if you don't let me know also.  It's nice to always have something to blog about, but there was a wise author (Stephen King) who said that no one writes something entirely for themselves in a public forum, writing for one's self is what diaries are for. So, let me know.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Sally, The Adventure Begins

1.  My beautiful daughter is sleeping.
2.  I can write because of #1.
3.  I just finished watching Little Women (I know, I'm a nerd), and it made me remember a story I had an idea for.

It would be storming.  The whole voyage had been unsettling, but it made sense for it to be storming tonight.  This, the paramount of all that had gone wrong.  The Captain would later say that he had let her on board because she was destitute and she had said she would be no trouble.  He would explain that his heart broke at her story about a man who left her in St. Hollen penniless because she could not bear him a child.  And how it made him all the more amazed when she started to show six months in.  The truth of it though, was that she was beautiful, the kind of beautiful that The Captain found particularly fascinating, with long black hair, blue eyes, and long legs.  The Captain would also throw in that he would never again disregard the council of his crew, because they had all told him at the start that having a woman on board was bad luck.  In the end of his story though, he would finally tell a spot of truth, that he was angered at the fact that it was impossible to know whose the infant was, because he had not been the only one bewitched by her.

Thunder tried violently to drown out the exhausted moan of the woman on the table, but the sailors cared not for the storm.  Each of them had enjoyed the woman, and now each of them waited to see if it would tell who the father was.  Would it have red hair like Jimmy, or have black skin like Donba'.  There was also Zunkar, who was half Elven, who would give the child a distinctive look.  In most cases they would not know whose the baby was, but each certainly wished to pass blame if possible.

For surely, judgement would be passed on to whoever would allow themselves to be seduced by The Captain's woman.  For, although The Captain never said so, the woman was his, and any man found touching her would certainly feel all the wrath The Captain could inflict.  If there was any question as to what The Captain would do, one had only to remember Derek and Jeremy.  Derek had already been seduced and upon finding her with Jeremy, proceeded to start a knife fight on the main deck.  It's hard to remember now who won, but it is easy to remember that the dead one was tied to the mast to be pecked at by the seagulls and devoured by the flies, and the other was tied just below him, so that his blood would fall on his head, and the gulls would be drawn to him.  No one wanted the child to have their features, and none of them could sleep until they knew for sure.

So, that's kind of the beginning of it.  I'm not sure if I'll ever finish it, but I felt like writing it.  Hope you liked it.  I'm debating writing the whole story in short segments here on my blog... not sure yet.  Let me know if it's something you'd be interested reading.

I almost forgot, have a nice day.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Day 1: Paul May or May Not Ruin His Child

1.  A friend of mine told me how to play Oblivion so I don't get killed all the time.
2.  I have opposable thumbs.  They're just useful.
3.  The pacifier.  Whoever figured that out deserves the peace prize.

Well, today is my first day alone with the pretty princess.  I wasn't sure her mother would actually leave me alone with her, but today was her first day back at work and the girl is all mine.  The brain washing has begun.  Her and I are watching Remo Williams as I type this (a goofy action movie).  I want to make sure she likes the kind of movies I like so that when a vote is cast on what to watch it'll be like two votes automatically for my side.  I debated explaining their, there, and they're so I'd have another Grammar Nazi on my side, but thought it was too soon.  I mean, we need to teach her to act superior to everyone else and feel the joy of making people feel stupid before we get into grammar.  It just won't stick unless she realizes how much joy it can bring.

All kidding aside I was a little nervous for this day.  I don't think I've been alone with her for more than three hours in a stretch and now it'll be a total of eight hours.  I was afraid she'd start crying as soon as Mom left and then I'd have eight hours of screaming.  As it turns out, our little girl really doesn't seem to mind being around me, or she's just too nice to tell me so.  She slept until nine or so. I fed her at ten.  And now she lays in the little bouncer watching a movie.  Ladies and Gentlemen, this may actually work out.  I might not let our daughter die, or go crazy.  I have a feeling I'll have a good day.

You go and do the same.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I Don't Always Get Sick of People

1.  Burt's Bees Chapstick.  Just gotta love products that work.
2.  The Fisher Price swing.  It may not always keep my baby quiet, but it sure helps.
3.  When my wife recognizes something I've done and compliments me on it.

Most of the time, when I'm really sick of being around people, it's because of closed mindedness and prejudice.  Lately though, I've been amazed.  Not at how closed minded people are, but how accepting they've been.  I really have two big examples.

The first is how my wife and I have decided to care for our daughter.  Because we need my wife's employment, we'll be going the non-traditional route of me being the primary care giver.  We've even talked about this being the case in the future.  My wife is a school teacher who loves her students and loves teaching, and with me being a writer, I'll be able to care for our daughter while my wife goes to work.  I may be Mr. Mom forever.  When we first decided to do it, I was ready for arguments from every older person we came in contact with.  I imagined it going something like:

"So, will ____ be quitting her job?"
"Oh, no.  She'll keep working and I'll be taking care of ______"
"Hmmm.  You know, God made women to be care takers and men to be bread winners right?"
"Well, it's true that women are often better at being care givers, but that doesn't mean men can't be.  I'm a very loving person who isn't afraid of diapers or messes.  I think I'll do just fine."
"Is 'just fine' really what you want for your daughter.  Your wife was MADE to do what you are going to try to learn to do."
"Look.  As things are we need her income and we need insurance.  Do you really think that our daughter would have things better if we didn't have those things?"
"Maybe you should try being a man and getting a job."
"Maybe you should mind your business!"

I'm not sure why I thought it would go this way.  It could be because I try to think of the worst possible scenario to cope with anxiety, but that makes me think of worst possible scenario always.  What we've really received from everyone we've told goes something like this:

"So, will _____ be quitting her job?"
"Nope, I'll be the primary care giver."
"Oh, well that'll be good.  Then she won't have to quit teaching."
"Yeah, we have it figured out so that she can keep working and I'll keep going to school.  My mom is going to help while I'm at school."
"It's so great that couples can do that now."
"It really is isn't it?"

To say the least, it's been refreshing.

The second is me deciding to be a writer for a living.  I was expecing:

"So, if you're not going to be a therapist, what will you be?"
"My wife and I talked about it, and I'm going to try writing."
"What kind of stuff will you write?"
"Mostly novels."
"You know how much competition there is right?"
"Don't you care about your family?  There's no security there."
"That's not totally true.  I'll be my own boss, which means that I'll never get laid off.  I just sell my product to someone else."
"Think about it however you want.  I think you should be responsible and get a real job."

What I've really received:

"So, if you're not going to be a therapist, what do you want to be?"
"_____ and I talked about it, and I'm going to try to be a writer."
"Really?  That's great.  What kind of stuff do you want to write?"
"Novels mostly."
"That's awesome.  I didn't know that about you.  Let me know what you've published one and I'll go buy it."
"Thanks, I will."

Again, refreshing.  I just love the people around me.  They're so supportive, even when what I want to do isn't the convention.

Have a nice day.

Monday, August 15, 2011

I'm Back

1. I have a happy, healthy baby.
2. I have a great and supportive family.
3. I have an amazing wife.

As you've probably guessed by now, my wife had the baby.  I am the proud father of a beautiful little girl.  She was 8 pounds 4 ounces, and born with all of her fingers and toes.  Her name is unique enough that I won't put it on the internet, but I promise, it's a good one

Having a child is more or less what everyone said it would be, but I found out that even though what was said was true, it didn't exactly translate.  The bad stuff is often forgotten.  Parents say you don't get much sleep, but you probably get less than they remember.  Exhaustion sets in sooner and with greater force than imagined.  You hear of shaken baby syndrome and wonder how anyone could ever do it, and then you stay up all night with a crying infant for whom you've literally done all you can think of and she still cries, and just as your frustration reaches its zenith you turn to your spouse, or your mom, or your friend and say, "Can you hold her for a bit?  I've lost patience."  And as you hand her over you think of all those single parents who have no spouse, or family, or friends, and while the tragedy of shaken baby syndrome is not forgiven, it is suddenly better understood.

At the same time though, it's better than can be explained.  It's amazing to see your wife work so hard, and for so long, for something so precious.  Holding my daughter for the first time made me believe stronger in God, and yet, made me question.  My daughter had an obvious personality from the moment she was born.  I could feel that she was unique, and knew to thank God.  And then I remembered that she was under my stewardship, and then I wondered why a loving God would do something so cruel to someone so perfect.  Finally, I remembered that she would be under my wife's stewardship too, and my faith was restored.

She has little outfits and little blankets.  Tiny dresses for church and a tiny crib that attaches to our bed.  Socks and headbands that won't stay on and a look of amazement that doesn't come off.  I feel out of place in my own home.  I see her swing, bouncer, crib, diaper bag, carrier, and little jacket on our coat stand and know who the boss of our lives is.

I love her.  When people said that you love your child the moment it's born, I thought it was sentimental nonsense, but now I know it's true.  Not in the way you think though.  I didn't feel a cosmic bond that surged through each vein and made my knees week.  The feeling is more profound, more dignified.  It was a quiet admiration for the creation of life, and the need to protect that life.  It was honest gratitude to a Father in Heaven.  I knew, in that moment, that my wife and I would wear out the rest of our days trying to help her find a happy and productive life, and I don't know if I've ever been more excited about a challenge.

Anyway, thanks to all of you who worried and have wondered where I've been. She has turned out to be more work than expected, thought I should be back in the swing of writing my blog, and reading yours.  Thanks for waiting around.

Have a nice day.