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Here’s how the cannons work.

You wedge door stops under the back end to determine the angle & trajectory of the cannonball, which is also known as the shot.

The shot would be long, & fly high above the other ship.

& typically hit the mast or be short & hit the water.

In which case the gunny would adjust & you would be on your way.

I carved the notches in the cannon frames with my own pocketknife.

My gunny tells me, “Yeah. Captain Lemons himself said that he almost wishes for engagement so he can see your skills.”

Word had gotten around I always hit mast on the first try.

Who captain is could change at any time on a pyrate ship, which is also known as a ship.

You have to be vague in your beliefs to accept a new god so easily so often.

After a full moony (one full moon cycle) on a ship I know her bearings.

It’s like picking up an exchange wench at port & wrangling yourself in a coma blur of urgent love—trying not to stumble or look out of place as if I’ve known her forever.

Even if she bears a king’s name, the ship is always a woman.

Deep down, in every nailed wooden board.

She nurtures & protects & carries men, young & old, out of the droll of poverty to excitement & pleasure.

The decks always respond.

You can feel it in your bare feet.

Pyrates are very open-minded human beings.

We understand vibes, how someone looks is secondary.

I heard there was a crew that took a one-legged man on board.

Which was illegal in the Navy.

I learned from another lad in the South End that if you lose a limb while on the account of an illegitimate privateering campaign (pyrate ship) you get a guaranteed share on every prize, & another quarter share for your suffering.

& here’s the best part, he is required to go below deck when capturing a prize.

I was like, “That captain knows what the fuck they’re doing.”

& that lad said, “That’s a good captain.”

But we don’t know what it’s like to live on that ship we’re referring to.

We just know we’re supposed to like them.

They represent us in some way.

The financially challenged.

A great captain isn’t concerned with success in traditional definitions; a pyrate’s definition of success is broken down to two things:

Would others deem it adventurous? & Did we have fun?

They mean that about life in general.

& that’s good enough.

This was utopian except it was impossible to find a ship that also had consistent structure but certain things are true on two ships.

You find that only the most organized flotillas successfully survive.

Where the captain acts like a captain.

That’s one thing you will find in the Royal Navy.

Say what you want about the poor swindled brothers tricked into working for his highness, they always took their responsibilities on like armor.

Then my gunny says, “They’re afraid you’ll go full-blown pyrate.”

Captain Fiston Lemons won’t be going to any heaven I want any share of.

But he was still that great captain who will always take care of his crew.

Sometimes captains can get out of hand.

Those royal vibrations making their innards into mush.

This is the chief characteristic of a captain.

They lose their grasp of reality quicker than a train of thought.

& explode with rage.

Instead of using long-barreled salt water & vinegar to clean the deck, we use sherry & rum.

The constantly sweet scent of drink I think can cause a subtle vibration of insanity to always linger in the crew, but especially a pyrate captain, no matter how good.

Because we’re all taking part in the illegal privateering campaign.

We’re all liable to be hung by the neck with a sign saying “pyrate” around our neck while our legs dangle near the dock of any port in the Colonies.

But going full-blown pyrate, that’s a whole nother story.

Like six or seven moony ago he was using his usual schtick.

Like a captain talking in a way that rouses the men the same way it did the first time he spoke about mutiny on the HMS Vulnerable.

Trying to remind people what it was like before he was captain.

& what was in store for us in the future.

Then eventually, as always, the lack of arousal caused him to launch into punishments that were not on the original charter.

Captains have their own handmade toolbox of torture techniques used for acts of conversion.

Then threatened to start shoving full lemons into the anus of every capture until they agreed to join the crew.

& I wondered about my intentions because I would genuinely like to see that.