Captain Toliver has three weeks to consider how to handle the demon aboard his ship. For seven months after leaving the last of the Tunisian ports their employer required them to sack, the crew has unsuccessfully attempted to jettison the razor-mawed trickster into the murky waters of their passage. For seven months, the jack-bandy denizen has ascended the wooden hull to retake his place on deck, each time with a new helicoprion swaddled in his arms.
As I write this, the Captain sits across the cherrywood desk screwed into the floor of his cabin. Across from him, Jack Bandy, as the natives have taken to calling him, sits comfortably on thin air, perusing the shipping manifest.
“There is a thief on this ship, Captain,” he barks authoritatively to open room. “I have it on good authority that a member of your crew has witnessed me stealing bread plants from the hold. I have taken care of him.”
The Captain wistfully peers out the porthole to his right and squints to bring a large, dark cloud into focus.
“I have the man’s fist here, clutched in my own,” the demon demonstrates, waving the fisted fist before the captivated captain. “You would do well to abide my warnings, sire. There are greater evils than me on this voyage.”
Toliver ignores the the threat, and instead recalls his time aboard The Aweless. His captain, at the time, a man of excessive girth and witless mirth, was an abusive lout, the fourth of five brothers all pressed into naval service by their mother – who some men say bisected her fishtail to become human. Toliver had happily endured the intense labor, and soon found himself a frequent guest on the tip of the captain’s scabbard, which always sheathed the man’s sword (he was not a violent man, but pressed his threats through to bone with blunt force rather than blade).
The demon, smelling the Captain’s ennui as if it were aloe vera liberally applied to the baked redness of Sol-exposed skin, stamps his foot in exasperation.
“You are deliberately ignoring me,” the demon accuses. “How long until we reach Nebraska?”
Again, the Captain, this time heaving a sigh as he does so, attempts to bring the large cloud into focus.
Finding his performance not-at-all well received, Jack Bandy rises from the thin air he had been sitting upon, and adjusts the fish-bone skirt he wears as a joke, before exiting the Captain’s cabin in a huff.
Later, in the crow’s nest, Jack Bandy tells a sailor about his trip to the moon. The sailor, a man named Riley, being an atheist, does not hear a word of the randy raconteur’s creative constructions. By accident, he collides with the demon while raising his telescope, and Jack Bandy, all a-rattle with fish bones, falls to his death three weeks ahead of schedule.
Quickly, all hands scrub him from the deck. A chorus of Amy’s Dandy Lion erupts from the dock they have all forgotten to leave.
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