Episode One

May 16, 2010

Welcome to Scurvytown

The road to Scurvytown was definitely not paved with good intentions. In fact, it wasn’t paved at all. It wasn’t even gravelly, but sort of a dirt path, and strewn with litter. The only reason there was any kind of path at all was due to the frequent traveling from the distillery to the living quarters of one Captain Benjamin C. Tullis.

Once that path was established, folks decided that it looked weird to have a path there and not anywhere else, and they were bored that day anyway, so they decided to walk around until the rest of the town had similar pathways. In the end, it took a week to get it looking just right, but that was fine because the TV had been smashed by a mysterious unexplained incident overnight on Monday, and the new one was not scheduled to arrive at the island until the following Wednesday.

The Captain himself didn’t help out the rest of the townsfolk, because he had more important things to do lately, or whenever work was mentioned or needing doing.

Captain Tullis never considered himself much of a proud man, or much of a man at all. He enjoyed wearing women’s underwear, bright red lipstick, and pearl earrings which he claimed to have caught himself. He left out the minor detail that he caught them on sale at a farmers market in the middle of nowhere in Iowa when he was passing through on the midwestern leg of his book tour, and that most likely, they weren’t even real pearls.

He was a quiet man, though he was fairly talkative, if not incomprehensible after twelve beers. Luckily, his faithful companion, Hopewell, was fluent in drunk, so it all worked out splendidly.

It was a bit strange, having a monkey for a best friend, but the Captain liked that it set him apart from the norm. He did get a little tired of explaining to people why exactly he had a stuffed monkey pinned to his shoulder. His favorite response to people was that if he didn’t pin Hopewell to his shoulder, he’d keep falling to the ground. The simplest explanation was to tell folks that his cotton stuffed simian was more reliable than most people he knew. Somehow, everyone could relate to that statement, which the Captain found to be a little sad.

“Y’know, Hopewell,” he sloppily slurred, “It takes a lot of hard work to gain the respect of an entire town.”

Hopewell nodded bleakly on Captain Tullis’s shoulder as he lumbered over to the deck of his houseboat and urinated off the side.

“Hey!” Shouted a somewhat drenched sounding voice from down below.

Captain Tullis chuckled and continued urinating. If whoever got in the way wasn’t smart enough to move, that was their problem. And anyway, this was an island, they could go jump in the ocean and be squeaky salty clean within five minutes.

He heard a chime on his doorbell, and the sound of his mail getting dropped through the slot in the door.

Excitedly, but carefully, as he didn’t want to upset his precious jewels, as he had lately become quite handy with a bedazzler in the lost art of balldazzling, he zipped up his trousers. He bounded down the stairs, with Hopewell clinging for dear life on his shoulder. Ah, that monkey was such a trooper.

He grabbed his mail from the pile on the floor and noticed immediately that it was a bit soggy. He sniffed it, shrugged, and wondered if it had started raining or something. He certainly hadn’t noticed while he was out on the deck.

Quickly, he separated a bunch of bills and tossed them in the oven to dry out, and turned it on to the self-cleaning setting. Paying bills was so simple!

He let the junk mail drop to the floor: a letter from his mother, divorce papers from his wife, and a summons for jury duty. Boring! He was much more interested in a bright red envelope with a wax seal on the back in the shape of the letter “P.”

“Well, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle!” He said.

Hopewell, from his perch on Captain Tullis’s shoulder, shuddered at the thought.

Carefully, the Captain gnawed the wax off with his teeth. It seemed a strange thing to do, but he couldn’t help himself. Ever since pre-school, he had a compulsion to eat wax. Yeah, he was that kid, who had to keep his art supplies across the room until art class because otherwise, he’d have no paste, crayons, or glue left for making fridge art.

“Mmmm, cinnamon!” He grinned the gaping goofy grin of a three-year old child who’d just eaten a red crayon.

As the drugs from the wax began to kick in, Captain Tullis swayed back and forth like he was doing the hula. He popped open the envelope and began to read out loud. He was slurring his words so badly that even Hopewell was having trouble deciphering them.

The Captain dropped to his knees, wavered for a few seconds, and then slumped onto his side. As he lost consciousness, he heard the his front door swing open.

“Drag him by the legs,” a gruff male voice barked.

“Want I should turn off the oven, Smoke?”

“Nah, leave it, it’s on self-clean again. We can turn it off when we bring him back, just like last time.”

“Okey dokey, Smokey!”

“Damn it, Poke, how many times I gotta beat you before you stop sayin’ that?”

“I promise I’ll remember next time,” Poke said, wincing in preparation for his beating.

“Aw shucks, Poke, I’ll let it go this time, but you gotta put the Captain in the wheelbarrow by yourself, and push him both ways.”

Poke relaxed, and shook out his hands, readying himself to lift the slumbering ship’s Captain.

Just as he bent down to lift the Captain, Smoke clocked him good in the side of the face, hard enough for him to lose his balance and slam into the wall behind him.

Smoke held his sides as he quaked with laughter. Stupid Poke was always falling for that old gag, and it never really got old. While his comrade nursed his face and tried to regain his footing, Smoke slung the drugged Captain over his shoulder and dumped him in the wheelbarrow.

He began to whistle as he pushed it out of the houseboat and along the well-worn path.

“Hey now, wait for me!” Poke said, rushing to catch up.

Smoke pushed the wheelbarrow down the path, and up a very steep hill to the spooky hut where Doc Popov lived.

“What do you think that old mad scientist wants with Captain Tullis every month anyways?” Poke asked, still rubbing his aching jaw.

“Not our business,” Smoke replied, sternly, wondering if he should punch Poke on the other side of his face to even things out. It was a rough way of life, having OCD.

When they reached the Doc’s hut, Poke opened up the cellar door and Smoke dumped the Captain down the ramp, where he landed with a thud.

Smoke tied the wheelbarrow to the fence post because of that one time when he was a kid and he forgot to lock his bike up and it got stolen. No one was going to steal the wheelbarrow, but it sure made him feel safer to see it tethered there as he took one last look over his shoulder as they bounded down the hill towards the bar.

Smoke put his arm around his good buddy Poke’s shoulder as they sauntered down the hill like kings. Poke winced from the anticipation of the next punch that he knew was coming at some point. You didn’t hang out with Smoke and not get clocked on each side of the face whenever he hit you, after all.

Smoke began to hum a tune to drown out the sound of Captain Tullis’s screams, which eerily seemed to be following them down the hill from the mad scientist’s hut.

Poke sure didn’t like getting punched in the face, but he’d take that any old day over whatever the mad doc was doing to the Captain in that creepy old basement. He began to hum along with Smoke to help drown out the noise, when Smoke stopped suddenly and cold clocked him on the other side of the face.

“That’s what you get for humming out of tune, dude,” he said as he walked into the bar.

Poke lay on the ground, writhing in pain. As he stood up, a tooth came loose in his mouth and he spit it in the dirt. A quick glint in the sun, and he realized it was the gold one. His heart leapt with excitement. He quickly grabbed the gold tooth, pocketed it, and skipped into the bar like a kid skipping home from school the night spring break starts. He had heard a story on the radio that gold prices were up, and he couldn’t wait to share the good news with his best pal, Smoke.

*****
This episode went live on Sunday, May 16, 2010.

Stay tuned next week when the exciting saga continues with the lovable characters from Scurvytown. Next week: Take a tour of the town, just like a professional tourist, when Captain Tullis starts a thriving tourism business. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll wish I hadn’t used the word “tour” three ways in the previous sentence.

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