Welcome to the new Stream of Consciousness fiction blog.

A serial adventure in fiction by Brad Sondahl

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Chapter 24
Pirates of the Puget Sound, or, tilting at windmills
    My wife and I were sort of weirded out by the experience with the guy in the bushes.  I suppose that seems odd, coming from a person who's been possessed by ghosts, kidnapped by extraterrestials, etc. etc., but existential attacks in your own back yard are a bit below the belt...  Assuming the guy was on the level, I think it's safe to say he's quit writing about us now, so we are free to continue our lives in peace.  And the best way we could do that was to take our yearly vacation to the Puget Sound, to kayak among the San Juan islands.  At least out there you don't have to be looking over your shoulder every minute for hack journalists...

   Alice's college room mate, Doris Knight,  had achieved the good things in life, in that she had a small cottage on the Sound, from whence she was always happy to go with us on a tour of the islands.   She was one of those healthy outdoorsy types, meaning that my banjo toting muscles did not compete favorably against her when crossing a shipping lane or fighting  a tide...  Alice and she rode in a double kayak, whereas I had a single, so perhaps that was why they consistently left me far behind...  This was not an issue for me, enjoying a bit of solitude with the seagulls and seals, except when the fog rolled in, as it tends to frequently on the Puget Sound.

    By the time I made it to the state park we were to camp at, they had already pitched the tent, and were working on supper.  Doris had sweet-talked some salmon fishermen into selling them a fish, so it was little wonder they were so far along in preparations.  If it were left to me, I'd still be fishing... In light of subsequent events, I have to wonder how long that fish had sat before the fish entered our possession.  I do know I felt queasy when I went to bed, and probably had a fever coming on as well.  

    The facts are these:  In the morning I was still feeling sickly, and Alice and Doris had already planned to walk to an antique store on the island.  Fortunately I'd brought along a book on pirates, and settled in to read, when I must have drifted off to sleep.  I know when I woke up, I was feeling very hot, and not thinking clearly.  While lying there trying to wake up, I'd slowly become obsessed with the fact that the other major candidates were amassing war chests in the millions, whereas I didn't even have the lost Iraqi money to fall back on.  The pirate stuff was washing around in my brain, along with a radio story I'd heard on modern day pirates in the South China Sea, preying on cargo ships.  So I was clearly out of my mind with fever when I drew up a hasty plan to hold up a container ship in my kayak.

    It's hard to remember fevers, but what I think I thought, was that modern day pirating was like modern day bank robbing.  No need today for brandishing Tommy guns.  The modern bank thief merely hands a note to the teller, with a polite addendum asking for no marked bills, homing beacons, or dye packs, and the tellers comply.  So it made sense to me that a note, and a bandanna over the face, should be sufficient to hold up a merchant ship. While I felt it was missing something--no swinging cutlasses, no bellowing broadsides, still, one must keep up with the times.  Their being so large, there ought to be a good share of booty to be had from the exchange.  They'd hardly miss one container, more or less.

    I do recall a bit of moral trepidation, but only a bit.  My more assertive side pointed out that after this adventure I could list "captain of industry" on my presidential resume,  since as sole pirate, I was certainly the "captain," and was showing my "industrious" nature by seizing the initiative.  I wouldn't be the first "captain of industry" to enter public service, I'll wager...  Then, on the other wing, it might look good as a stance against multinationalism...

    It was undoubtedly the fever that led me to believe that if I wrote, "Stand and deliver!" on a piece of notebook paper with a pencil, they would be able to see the note from the fo'castle or helm, or whatever it is the captains hang about in...  Clearly  I was deluded, as  "Stand and deliver!" was the choice of highwaymen and brigands, whereas, "Avast! Heave to, or go to Davy Jones Locker!" would be the appropriate nautical equivalent, although it doesn't fit on a piece of notebook paper so well.  And admittedly, a bed sheet  and barn paint would have been a better choice of media.

    It wasn't hard to find a likely target, as the shipping lane through the Straights of Juan de Fuca more resembles a super highway than a waterway.  Kayakers making a crossing feel like the little frog in the video game trying to cross the freeway.  In this case, however, I was not trying to cross the waterway, but stop in the middle so they would stand and deliver.  I had conveniently forgotten the fact that a large boat takes a mile or more to stop, not that it would have mattered, since it didn't even try to stop, although it gave a few honks on its horn in an unfriendly pattern.

    You would have to work hard to have a kayak sliced in half by the bow of a ship.  99 percent of everything gets pushed off to one side or another, and the bow wave pushed me aside as it flipped me over.   The cold water helped restore a sense of reality to me, at least enough to right the kayak, or pull free of the spray skirt.  I  paddled furiously away from the boat, before the serious eddies of the stern area arrived.  It was a humbled presidential candidate that returned to the boat launch area, and after changing to dry clothes, returned to his sleeping bag.  As I lay there I realized that boat piracy was a chump's game.  The real bonanza people have been missing since the James Gang is train robbery.  Fortunately, by the time I woke up from my nap, that idea also had lost its appeal.
    My wife and her friend mentioned hearing at the antique store about some nut that almost got run down by a freighter.  I said there ought to be a pedestrian overpass for kayaks, the way those boats come barreling through there.   I  was glad salmon was not on the menu that evening--I'd lost my taste for it, for some reason.

Use this chart to find the next of the cartoons (first 47  entries) or the stories (starting with  1 A River Too Far 5 rows below week 8)
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 6
Week 7
Week 8
Week 9
Week 10
Week 11
Week 12
Week 13
Week 14
Week 15
Week 16
Week 17
Week 18
Week 19
Week 20
Week 21
 Week 22
Week 23
Week 24
Week 25
Week 26
Week 27
Week 28
Week 29
Week 30
Week 31
Week 32
Week 33
Week 34
Week 35
Week 36
Week 37
Week 38
Week 39
Week 40
Week 41
Week 42
Week 43
Week 44
Week 45
Week 46
Week 47
(cartoon ends)
1. A River Too Far
2.The Reunion
3.The Daily Grind
4 The New Car and Treasure
5. The Big 
6. The old
7. The Ravine Runner 8. The Fabulous
Folk Festival
9. Druid
10. Goats of
Christmas Past
11. The Secret Six 12. The Great
White Hunters
13. The Old School
Lost in the City

What's in
a name?
The Curse of
Bently Manor
Shortbottom Possessed
The Lost
of Iraq
Phil Steen
for President!
Phil Steen
for Rehab
The Adventures
of Handiman
and Fiberwoman
Pirates of the Puget Sound
Building a platform, plank by plank
The Quest
for meaning
Larry and
Phil to
The Rescue
Hurrah for
the Reds,
Whites, and
How I spent
my summer
I am
trapped in
the Present
Help I am trapped
in the future
Nose of Death