“Life’s pretty good and why wouldn’t it be? I’m a pirate, after all.” – Johnny Depp
Sweet Trade of the Red Coral Part 1
Floor boards creaked as patrons passed to and fro, sloshing mugs overflowing with alcohol. The smell of rum perfumed the room, especially the breath of the men seated around a rickety table playing a game of high stakes poker. The Peg Leg was not a pub for the faint of spirit, but rather beckoned the cutlass of every gentlemen o’ fortune, in other words, pirates.
Captain Ezekiel Jones sat in one of the chairs around the poker table. Only one other player was left out of the seven that had started, Captain Argus the Black. The game became tense as each man kept upping the ante each round. The men were rivals not only at sea, but every time they met on shore. Jones had an unsettled personal vendetta against Argus. Beating him at poker would only satisfy a tiny portion of the dark, burning hatred that sat in his stomach for the man.
He watched Captain Argus’s eyes shift uneasily back and forth between his cards and the pot in the middle of the table. “Well, look at you all these years later. You turned out well for being a mutinous dog.”
Jones didn’t bother to reply, not willing to be sidetracked rehashing the history between them. His teeth tingled with anticipation. “It’s to you,” said Jones.
The rickety wooden chair creaked as Argus shifted his weight. “I tell ya what. . .”
Jones recognized the crafty look in Argus’s eye and forced himself not to grin in reply.
“. . .Let me loosen up the purse strings and throw in something that’ll really interest ya,” Argus said.
Jones paused, then leaned back in his chair. “And here I thought you’d thrown in all but the barnacles on the bottom of your ship.”
Argus scoffed and spit. “Ha, you wish.”
Captain Jones’s eyebrows rose a notch.
“I be bettin’ the Red Coral,” Argus said.
Jones took a deep breath and leaned forward. “I imagine it’s time to put you out of your misery then.” He pushed in the rest of his booty into the heaping pile of money, gold, jewelery, even a small jeweled scabbard already in the middle of the table. “I call. Your cards, Captain Argus.”
Argus grinned from ear to ear smacking his three Jacks down on the table. He leaned back in anticipation.
Jones took another deep breath. “Three Jacks. Well played and that does beat three nines.”
Argus’s grin widened as he leaned forward to sweep up the heap of treasure.
“But, it doesn’t beat a full house.” Jones let the words drop like an anchor.
Argus froze with his arms in mid-air then he brought his fists down hard enough to rattle the surrounding tables. “You lily-livered, scurvy dog, son of a…”
Jones fingered the hilt of his cutlass willing Argus to give him a reason to use it across his neck. “There’s no need to get all upset o’er a simple game of cards. You bet and you lost. I’ll be ’round tomorrow to pick up the Red Coral. What say you, noon?”
Several beats passed before Argus unclenched his hands and pulled back from the table. “Aye, noon it is.”
Jones didn’t believe Argus would give up that easily. “You wouldn’t want to cheat me on a bet, Captain Argus, I would chase you down where’er you sailed if you did.”
Argus kicked the table. “I ne’er welch on a bet.”