Smash & Grab & Loot & Steal #1
“May I help you?” the stuffy man at the counter asked.
“Keep yer eyes to yerself, matey!”
“Ye best be helpful, dog!”
A dirty hand loaded with shiny gold rings reached across the counter and tweaked the salesman’s name tag.
“Don’t be thinkin’ we ain’t watching ye, Gary.”
The way the hand’s owner said Gary’s name made the salesman think of how someone might describe a pile of fecal matter. Another chorus of arrrr’s and grunts and snarls and other pirate-y noises followed the boisterous threats directed at the customer service rep. Tina held up her hand, and the store became quiet other than the rustling of sword scabbards and knife sheaths, the tinkling of jewelry, and the clink of coins within their purses.
“Don’t mind them,” she said to the man behind the counter. “They’re just…”
The man raised an eyebrow at her, waiting to hear what her answer could possibly be.
“They’re just a band of pirates my husband hired to follow me around to make sure no one gives me any trouble,” she said with a sigh, sounding as if she’d had to explain it for the hundredth time in the last ten minutes.
Gary gave a wary glance to the six pirates gathered around her. “I see,” he said. He looked back at the attractive woman standing before him. “How may I be of assistance?”
“Do you think you could fix this?” Tina asked, holding out her hand.
Gary leaned forward to get a look at the gold chain. He paused when he felt the tip of a sword under his chin. He glanced up to see a mouth full of shiny gold teeth greeting him.
“I see ya achin’ to get a look-see down M’lady’s shirt,” Captain Ironbeak growled, his voice dangerous and only slightly less toxic than the atmosphere of Jupiter.
Tina cleared her throat, and the sword disappeared. The pirate’s snarl morphed into a smile that promised a walk off the plank at the point of a scimitar. Gary blinked a few times, then turned his attention back to the gold chain. He studied it for a few moments before raising his head, making sure to focus on the woman’s eyes.
“May I?” he asked, holding out his hand, which caused a number of swords and knives to rattle in their scabbards and sheaths.
“Certainly,” she said, handing the chain to the salesman.
Gary gave another wary look around—the six pirates literally staring daggers at him—before he focused on the ugly knot in the woman’s chain. Within seconds, he saw the problem, and visualized how Frank, the master jeweler, would repair it. He’d just opened his mouth to give the customer a quote when a resounding crash erupted behind her, followed by much cursing, yelling, and gnashing of teeth.
“Get yer sticky hands away from here, pup!” Pirate Rustblade snarled, waving a saber at a small child who was sprawled on the floor of the jewelry store’s wide entrance.
Three other pirates were brandishing their weapons at the child’s parents, while a fourth gave a challenging stare to the mall cop who had finally left the Food Court to make his rounds.
“Uh,” Gary said in a voice loud enough to get everyone’s attention. A little too loud, he thought as six angry pirate faces swiveled back to wish evil things on him. “Please don’t get blood on the carpet.”
Gary was sure that he’d formed some other thought to vocalize, but his brain and mouth were on vacation at the moment. The only thing his mind had been able to focus on after the pirates had turned their attention to him again was how Mr. Douglas would erupt into a fit of rage at having to replace a section of blood-stained carpet. Gary thought Mr. Douglas was a pretty decent guy, other than the constant complaining about how much everything cost, how much money he was losing, how the government was out to get his every last dime, and how his employees were getting a free ride since jewelry practically sold itself to anyone who could afford it.
Tina snapped her fingers and the pirates immediately formed up into a tight mob behind her. She gave Gary a sheepish grin, one that said he was lucky all they’d done was accost a small child holding a cookie.
“Frank will be able to take care of this for you,” Gary said, once again making sure to keep his eyes locked on the woman’s face. “It will take him maybe three or four days, as he’s kind of busy this week, but it shouldn’t run anymore than twenty-five dollars, depending on how intricate the work is.”
An explosion of roars and threats and blustery howls met his ears, along with the three sword blades that met his neck.
“Let me have ‘is head, M’lady?” Pirate Bloodeye asked.
“I say we tenderize ‘im a bit,” Pirate Fangtooth rumbled, giving the fancy salesman a triple poke with the tip of his cutlass.
“Walk the plank!” Pirate Hookfist shouted.
The band of pirates exploded with cheers and shouts and calls and barks and demands that the criminal behind the glass counter be forced down the plank with a sword at his spine. Gary thought about asking the pirates where they’d parked their ship, since Idaho was a landlocked state, and Boise was too far upriver for a galleon—or a caravel, or a brigantine, or whatever type of ship a pirate crew would sail—to navigate safely. The three pirate blades waving near his neck and eyes made him decide to keep the question to himself.
“Twenty-five dollars is fine,” Tina said.
The threats and howls and grunts behind her turned into low grumbles of agreement, along with a single dissenting belch that sounded like a broken foghorn.
“Please fill out the top section of this,” Gary said, careful to slowly reach to his left and retrieve a repair ticket.
He looked at the pirate he thought might be the leader, though to his eyes, all six men seemed to be dressed in the same mash-up of tattered, torn cotton and fine vivid silks, with hair that ranged from long and greasy to longer and greasier. Captain Ironbeak nodded, the pirate’s massive, calloused nose hypnotizing Gary for a moment as he watched it bob up and down.
“Thank you so much,” Tina said after handing the form back to Gary. “Next Monday, maybe?”
“Frank will call you and let you know, but it shouldn’t be any problem to get it done by then.”
“Ye best warn yer ol’ pal Frank to get right on it,” Pirate Devildog threatened.
“Don’t make us angry!” Pirate Rustblade yelled, receiving a number of hoots and shouted agreements.
“You’ll walk the plank!” Pirate Hookfist cried out.
“Walk the plank!” came the chorus of whoops, yells, and shrieks, punctuated by the harmony of rattling swords, jangling jewelry, and plinking coins.
Gary could only stare when the customer gave him one last smile, as if she still had three hours of shopping to do while lugging around six small, cranky toddlers, then turned around and walked to the door. The pirates parted then closed ranks behind her, each shooting a final hateful glare at the landlubber behind the counter. The sounds of a jaunty pirate tune soon rolled back through the store’s opening, the occasional blustery shouting of the song’s chorus and the rattling of sabers and cutlasses and rapiers and spadroons slowly fading as the strange group made its way to the JC Penny anchoring the mall’s eastern end.