Sharks, ch. 1: the Ghost of Captain Brand

go to the Zoo Illogical Gardens, now




Pull a chair up by the fire.

Pour a drink of your desired strength, tonight we’re drinking

Caribou Coffee, dark Mahogany blend, with Vermouth.

Now, settle in your chair, pull your lamp in closer.

Read, and listen.



Dare you hear the tale of Barnaby True and

The Ghost of Captain Brand?


Thomas Matthews reads,

Sharks, three true tales of piracy, ch.1


One-Eyed Eli, ink on paper by D. Glover

One-Eyed Eli



Sharks: Three True Tales of Piracy

Chapter One: the Ghost of Captain Brand
Barney re-read his letter for the seventeenth time.  “Mr. True; meet us tonight at the Frog’s Back Bar, and this night may prove the luckiest of your life.  Leave your money, bring your pistols.”

This letter, awaiting him upon his arrival in Kingston, trembled in his hand as he sat by the table by the door of the Frog’s Back.  Surely a prank by his shipmates, surely soon they would pound him on the back, call him stout of heart for answering the letter.

Through the open door he looked down past the wharves.  Three men rowed across the harbor from the Ocean and moored their skiff alongside the pier.  These men were free islanders, born in the hills beyond the influence of Colonial Powers.  Bedecked in richest silks of far-Asian make, silks far beyond the accounts of honest men, they flashed their gold teeth and pistols toward the bar, and it’s last customer.


“How do you know me.”

“Never you mind that.”  The pirate reached in the pocket of a coat that stunk of the sea, to pull a coin the size of his eye.  He spun it on the table top.  The gold shimmered and whirred an elliptical trail across the surface of the table.  “On this same island, 20,000 of the same.  With you here now, we fetch them.”

“How do you choose me.  Who am I to you?”

“We must hurry.  A long boat ride proffers plenty time to ‘splain.”

“I sail for Boston on the morn tide.”

“Aye, ya sail, and with you 5,000 a gold piece.”

Barney’s finger fluttered near his pistol triggers as they boarded the skiff and rowed around the harbor to the South.

“You’ve heard, then, the stories of Captain Brand?”

“Aye, I’ve heard them, and changed my name because of them.  No good comes sharing a moniker with a murderer, rapist and thief Pirate.”

“Perhaps not,” smiled the sailor. “Of course, many a last-living descendent don’t share the name of he who precedes him.  We three, us here in the skiff now, you might call us the last-living crewmates.”

The Pirate raised his hand over his heart and raised his chin, head falling slightly to one side.  “Captain Brand never killed a man wasn’t trying to kill him, never raped a women wan’t his wife.”  The pirate smiled.  “As for thievery, Brand stole everything he saw, heard of, or sometimes that which of he merely intuited the location.  Arh, but the Spanish Navy blasted our pretty boat, the Royal Sovereign, well to bits well off the coast of Argentina.  Took us three years to make our way to this island and six months to find you as well.”

Barney loosened his other pistol.  “I don’t know nowhere with any treasure.  I never met a pirate in my life before tonight.”

“And you’d do well to never again.  The Captain buried five chests, and I dug for him on this same island.  I dug, and the devil himself also dug, the first mate of the Royal Sovereign, a man so mean the ship boards trembled below him.”

“So why do you wait six months for me?”

“Not out the kindness of my heart, I tell you, no.  I’m a haunted man.  On that sinking ship off Argentina I saw Captain Brand run straight through by a Spanish sword.  As he fell to the deck, where I lay injured, he looked in my eyes, telling me of treasure beyond imagining, and telling me of his daughter’s son, Barney Brand.  Then I watched him die.  I’ve seen him in me dreams every night I’ve been on this island.  He never speaks and drags manacles of Spanish steel.  He shows me the scar on his chest, and limps away.”  The man’s face froze and he seemed unable to speak.

“What’s your name, Sailor?”

“Abrajam Dawlish,” said the man with a numb tongue.

The boat turned up river, the Cobra River.  Barney Brand looked a stern and thought he saw the ghostly impression of another boat following far behind in the mist and the moonlight. There—no mirage—a boat trailing them.  Only two men, one steering in the aft, the other rowing with the force of seven men.  The standing man looked straight at Barney then turned to his monstrous companion who redoubled his efforts at the oars.

“Abrajam, whispered Barney.

Dawlish turned sternward himself.  The whisper barely escaped his throat, “I saw him die, I tell you, I saw him die!  The Devil himself.”

“What is it, Dawlish?”

The pirate spoke cowering in the prow.  “Back from the dead.  It was him who betrayed and slew your Grandfather.”  (Continued)




introductory music track:

Anacostia Sinderella,

by the Bogarts




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