In 2016, I wrote a novel of humorous historic fiction about Christopher Columbus. Here's a synopsis.

Columbus' Unsung Voyages, (Three Years of Maritime Madness)

PREFACE

     Columbus' Unsung Voyages is an R-rated novel of humorous historical fiction about a covert trade imbalance implemented by Asia against Europe, in 1504.

And although fiction, the story uses facts taken from actual ship's logs kept by Christopher Columbus during his life at sea. The story brings out both good

and bad characteristics of Columbus and begins when an Asian shipping conglomerate decides to sabotage Europe's economy.  After choosing the coastal

hamlet of Cadiz, Spain, (a small drinking village with a fishing problem),  as their test site, and under the cover of darkness of a midnight sky, China's largest

freighter, Zeng He off-loaded dozens of manned-rickshaws onto the Cadiz pier, then stealthy sailed away into darkness.

 

     Next morning, Cadiz villagers awoke to discover this new and ultra-cheap taxi service, and immediately became addicted to joyriding around the area,

rather than going to their manufacturing and shipping jobs; thus, paralyzing Spain's entire economy.

 

     Witnessing this chaos from high above Cadiz, and realizing the potential economic disaster for Spain, an infuriated Queen Isabella immediately began to

mentally design Spain's retaliatory move. First, she'd form a five-kingdom cooperative with Italy, France, Portugal, and Morocco. Once formed, the co-op would

pay for the construction of a state-of-the-art caravel-class, three-masted  ship, load it down with much sought after expensive European goods and merchandise,

sail to Asia, and sell the overpriced goods while locating and swindling as much gold and silver as they could from the Asians, before returning to Cadiz.

Within a month, her detailed plan was presented and eagerly endorsed by her husband, King Ferdinand, and leaders of the other four invited kingdoms.

 

     As co-op leader, Isabella ordered jailed inmate, Christopher Columbus, to assemble his multicultural, bizarre collection of Officers and misfit deckhands to

sail the new vessel, Clarissa, to Asia, swindle the Asians out of their gold and silver, then return to Cadiz. The fact that Columbus still had no idea as to where

The New World even was, did not concern Isabella, who'd brilliant mind took into consideration, Columbus' incompetence. As for the immediate rickshaw

invasion threat, Isabella had her Finance Officer draw up the first taxi tax regulation for every manned rickshaw in Cadiz, as well as any future taxis.

 

     Clarissa's maiden voyage was most eventful; encountering Barbarossa pirates, religious terrorists, a tornado at sea, cocaine-addicted natives, a deadly sea

creature, a USO, an insufferable, demanding monk and his congregation of pioneering missionaries, a gang-rape, the abduction of one merchant/ambassador,

and a mutinous group aboard. However, Columbus and ship's company managed to accomplish the demanding voyage from Cadiz to Asia's largest shipping

port, Vietnam, where they began selling the goods.

 

    During Columbus' absence, Ferdinand desperately needed a new Chief Navigator to lead Spain's war efforts and obligations. When Amerigo Vespucci, Italy's

preeminent ocean explorer returned from his voyage west of Europe, where he discovered and charted a huge land mass, but neglected to go ashore and claim

it for Italy, he was immediately recruited and hired as Spain's new Chief Navigator, since Ferdinand half-expected Columbus to either be killed at some point

during his voyage, or Clarissa would likely simply fall off the edge of the earth.

 

     However, upon Columbus' triumphant return, and after a week of celebrating, Columbus was given a new assignment and crew, which included Leonardo

DaVinci, who was being punished by Pope Julius II for criticizing the Pope's artistic plans for Rome, and who felt that a year or more at sea, would help Leonardo

"get his mind right". Columbus was promoted to Acting Admiral and given Vespucci's maps, and orders to guide a fleet of merchant ships back to Vietnam before

setting sail to, and claim what was later named America for Spain. This completely unhinged Vespucci with rage, and a hatred for Columbus, who he silently

vowed to get even with. He then sent a messenger to Rome, requesting some sort of intervention help from his beloved Pope.

 

     In direct defiance of Queen Isabella, and to avoid any contact with Vespucci, who's ship was leading the second voyage, Columbus drew up a map, gave

it to a runner with instructions, then set sail from Cadiz, one night before Vespucci and the fleet. However, a thick fog produced Columbus' second bad career

move, when Clarissa was struck by the Zeng He at sea. No injuries, but damages to the Zeng He forced Columbus to take on dozens of Chinese sailors, and a small

group of covert passengers, which Columbus agreed to take as far as Vietnam.

 

    Finally arriving at Vietnam, and off-loading his cargo to set sail again in search of America, Columbus was floored at seeing Vespucci's ship arrive and dock.

Vespucci immediately confronted Columbus with a document ordering Columbus to take on a dozen more missionaries and colonists and get them safely

settled somewhere between Vietnam and wherever America was.

 

     Months later, Columbus landed on what he thought was America, but was, in fact, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico where the locals had no idea where America was, but

insisted ship's company witness and celebrate with them, their annual Aztec crop fertility and "dues paying" ritual atop their mammoth-size pyramid temple.

 

     Weeks later, back at sea, and getting his true bearings, Columbus and crew realized that their present location, according to Vespucci's map, proved that

the world was, in fact, round! This discovery would make Columbus a global hero if and when he and the crew could get back to Cadiz.

 

     During this two-year voyage, they encountered religious terrorist hijackers, the first Blue Man Group of reptilian-like aliens, a 30-foot tsunami, overpowered

by marauders intent on abducting any and all females passengers, are forced to hastily set sail, or be implicated in the public murder of a slave trader that

Columbus had patronized the previous day. This and more, plus Leonardo DaVinci's constant search for volunteer crewmen to serve as  "lab rats" for testing

his endless outpouring of inventions, contraptions, and weapons, made the voyage a most memorable experience for all involved.  Available as ebook

at kindle.com for $4.95.

First chapter of Columbus' Unsung Voyages

CHAPTER ONE: Prisoner to Captain...Good career move.

     While the name Salvador Dali may come to your mind as the most popular celebrity associated with the small City of Cadiz, Spain, it was on May 11, 1504,

on Cadiz's small pier, that explorer, Christopher Columbus, took command of Queen Isabella's newest ship, and with a crew and passenger load of 140, set sail,

yet again, to discover The New World. This is a fictitious account of that, and a subsequent voyage.

     Columbus' celebrity from discovering Hispaniola, (Bermuda), ten years earlier, was by now, old business. Further burying his popularity, were his last two

failed voyages. The last of which resulted in his being put in chains upon his homecoming, courtesy of his, former champion, Queen Isabella, who, to make

her point further, had him thrown in jail for six months. It seems that word had gotten back during the voyage, that after Columbus begrudgingly baptized willing

Hispaniola natives as Christians, he then enslaved them in chains; an act completely contrary to Catholic Law, which forbade the enslavement of Christians. This,

plus having some of his own crew hanged(!) for insubordination during the voyage, was looked upon, even in 1504, as a bad career move; making Columbus the

first recipient of Isabella's "Three strikes and you're outta' here!" law. Now, freed, and upbeat about his retirement in two weeks, Columbus embraced the notion of

his new second career as co-owner of a fishing boat.

 

     Located on Cadiz's esplanade, the Anchor Bar was originally a two-story canvas factory, but after just one year in the sailmaking business, the new owner saw

that he could make a real fortune  by providing food and drink to the many sailors who, upon returning from a voyage, or passing through Cadiz, were always paid

in  cash on the nearby pier. So, it wasn't long before Anchor Bar became a magnet for sailors, whores, traders, and assorted derelicts; all looking for some action.

 

     Columbus and crew were well known at the bar, as they always spent the night before a voyage licking, among other things, their psychological wounds from

having failed three times to locate The New World. However, Columbus was so beloved by most of the locals, that his presence and long-winded speeches were

always a crowd pleaser with the night crowd of rowdies. So, Columbus' testifying, combined with unannounced acts and displays of talent and bravado, always

made for an engaging, and often life-threatening, evening of high-spirited, drunken buffoonery at the bar. To the locals, Columbus was a hero, but to Isabella, who's  

view from atop a hill that overlooked the village of Cadiz, Columbus now represented ineptitude in one's chosen career.

 

     Last night's multi-faceted gathering was typical- A guitar player and three scantily-dressed women danced and sang to flamenco music, while 30 or so others, soused on dark red wine, provided unintelligible lyrics and hand clapping tempo. And, like most nights, a second round of Tinta de Toro, (ink of the bull), launched the

"You've Got Talent" phase of the evening, as several sailors took over the stage and danced with the women or other sailors. This phase soon merged into the

inevitable testosterone two-step, where sailors became more competitive for female attention via wrestling; usually ending in torch, fist, or knife fights.

Simultaneously, the captive audience watched and/or participated in ongoing events like drinking contests, whore wrestling, apprentice knife tattooing, amateur fire-eating and spontaneous Feng Shui with the furnishings.

 

     So, by the time Columbus stood atop the bar to testify how sorry Queen Isabella would be when he left her service after 20 years, the audience was well

behind him. Unfortunately, on this night, being behind him proved to have it's drawbacks, when, in mid-speech, his face suddenly turned a blueish-purple, and

he windmilled backward before collapsing onto an occupied table of four. As always, his officers picked him up, and laid him on the bar to sleep,...which is where

we now find him on the following morning; staring straight up, through roadmap eyes, at a wooden center beam that ran the length of the ceiling.

 

     As he studied the beam, he thought about all the master wood carvers and builders who had pieced together the ships that he loved to sail. However, Isabella's

last insult of having him jailed had definitely removed any patriotic thoughts or interest in sailing big ships ever again. Staring at the beam, he wondered if he'd

been better off as a builder of ships, rather than a ship's Captain. He knew that in a few short hours, that question would be answered in trump, for his onetime

champion and most staunch supporter, Isabella, would no doubt rake him over the coals one last time before having him marched in further disgrace, down to

the public square, then denounced as Spain's most forgettable retiree.

 

     He took a deep breath, then exhaled heavily while simultaneously thrusting both arthritic legs over the left side of the bar; bringing his 51-year old rotund frame

upright. He gripped the front of the bar with both hands, and immediately shut his eyes and moaned. Eventually, his head cleared. He looked around the room,

assessing last night's carnage he had helped inflict on the furnishings and some of the patrons.The overwhelming stench of burned food, spilled drinks,

smoldering furniture, and collective wine-breath snores which permeated the room, fueled his intense hangover. Unable to prolong the inevitable, he inhaled deeply,

then shouted: "Everybody up! This is your captain speaking!", then immediately grabbed his head, regretting not having waited a little longer before making that

announcement.

 

     A clay mug could be heard as it rolled a few inches across a table before shattering on the stone floor. Sporadic sounds and signs of life and movement could

be detected from the dozen or so weary  survivors, who attempted to organize themselves; repositioning tables and chairs; all to a background chorus of

stumbling, groans, and assorted bodily function noises and accompanying odors. "Jeeez! Columbus said. The smoking light is out!" 

 

     Rising from the wide lip of the stone fireplace, was Lieutenant Gondorf, who made it to his feet, then used a woman's torn blouse to wipe away food stains from

the front of his officer's blue waistcoat. Zacharie Gondorf was one of those unfortunates who, at a young age, had fallen out of a tree; shattering both thigh bones.

Their slowness to heal, and the slowness in advances in medicine at that time, rendered him a normal sized man, but with noticeably short legs. And now, at age

30, he stood just under five feet tall. However, what he lacked in height, he more than compensated for with energy and feistiness. His shoulder-length, rust-colored

hair and love for picking fights, well suited his German-Irish extraction. Gondorf had served as Columbus' Communications Officer and chief lookout on two

previous voyages, as his compact stature fit in the topside lookout "bucket" atop the mast. To her Chief of staff, Queen Isabella once referred to Gondorf as "that

damn little badger with a sword!" 

 

     Using the end of a nearby wooden bench to slowly lower himself to the floor,  Columbus then turned, unfolded and shook out his blue tunic, which had served as

his pillow last night. Having been demoted from Admiral of the Seas to Captain, the gold embroidered Admiral epaulets on each shoulder had, in the past, made

sleeping on his tunic difficult. No problem now. He wondered if Isabella would let him have them as a keepsake. As he donned his tunic, he turned to see what,

if any, progress was being made by his Officers and boatswain. Seeing that they were able to stand and quasi-function, he smiled and said: " That's right my little

nephews of Neptune, rise and shine. We certainly want to be presentable for my ass-chewing El Grande by Her Majesty. Let's move it!" He then turned, looked

around, and bent down several times in search for his leather three-cornered Captain;s hat, but to no avail. He did his best to comb his now silver nest-like hair. 

 

     "Oakie wear boots today Captain?" a deep voice rang out from across the room. Columbus slowly shook, then lowered his head in resignation, then said:

"Yes, Oakie, Oakie wear boots today...Whenever you have an audience with Her Majesty, she prefers that you be wearing shoes, Oakie. I know that probably sounds

real picky to you, but things here are run a little different than in your village in Cuba."

"Oakie understand, Captain. Aye, aye sir!"

"Terrific." Columbus said flatly, then resumed the search for his hat.

     Acting Lieutenant Oakie was a tall, muscular, tanned, full-blooded Taino indian. He had an abstract dot-pattern tattoo on one side of his face, and kept his head

completely shaved except for a thick, raven-black ponytail that was held together by a leather strap. A single white-tipped eagle feather hung from the strap. A

completely fearless tracker and hunter, this was Oakie's first audience with Isabella, as he was hired by Columbus during the third failed voyage...to the Dominican

Republic.

 

     As Columbus made his way through last night's scene of debauchery and disaster, Oakie removed the pair of boots from around his neck, and sat down to put

  them on. Columbus walked past a table where a buxom woman was sleeping. Without waking her, he slipped his hand into her top, lifted her slightly, removed his

hat from under her head, then replaced her "pillow" with half a loaf of bread, then softly kissed her cheek, saying: "Rest in peace, my lovely tart."

"Captain, could I get your opinion on something?"

     Columbus immediately recognized the familiar high-pitched voice coming from behind him. He rolled his eyes toward the heavens, then turned, and with a fake

understanding smile, asked: "Yes, Lieutenant Fellows?"

     Richard Fellows was a tall, thin, African man in his 30s. He kept himself and his tunic in immaculate condition. His speech was articulate, He was clean shaven,

and kept his hair cropped short. He wore thick, brass earrings that, unlike the thin, narrow ones worn by most sailors, Richard's were polished. He held up a blue,

silk scarf for Columbus to see, saying: "I was thinking of wearing this light blue scarf around my neck, but then, I came upon this..." He took a few steps and pointed

down to a woman who lay passed out on the floor; wearing a knitted shawl. "I thought I'd just borrow her shawl until we get back this afternoon. What do you

think?"

     Columbus maintained his smile and winked, saying: "Go with the scarf, Richard. I hear Her Highness is into silk and leather."

"Just kidding, Captain." Fellows laughed. He then captured and placed a cockroach into the upturned mouth of snoring sailor, who's next deep inhale caused him to

gag and cough himself awake. When at sea, Fellows did accentuate his figure by wearing knee-high black leather "Pirate Rose" bots and stocking tights. Richard

was also a walking encyclopedia on first aid and disease symptoms. It was usually around the fourth or fifth week at sea when some of the new deckhands would

seek Fellows out for his knowledge of first-aid and/or his popular bedside manner.

     "Boats" was your typical drinking, brawling, whoring, scar-faced, weathered deckhand, who could navigate a canoe up Niagra Falls, and was quick to kick new

deckhands' asses into shape and responsibility. "Boats" has nearly worshipped Oakie ever since Oakie introduced him to tobacco, which Oakie had smoked, and

"Boats" chewed. Each morning before "Boats" put on his knee-trousers and shirt, he first filled his jaw with a fresh plug of tobacco.

 

     Satisfied with his officers' progress, Columbus escorted them past those patrons who chose to sleep in. Oakie stopped just long enough to jerk the half loaf of

bread from under the woman's head; bouncing her head on the table. After he ripped off a part of the loaf for himself, he tossed the remains over his shoulder to

the waiting hands of Gondorf.

 

     Once outside, the men went straight to the pier and shoreline, where they shed their uniforms before wading out far enough to wash. In their present state,

past experience had proved that they use the "buddy system" to reduce jellyfish stings and near-drownings. Within an hour, they set out on foot for the mile-long

trek across town; hoping to come across a horse-drawn wagon driver hauling hay rather than wood or melons, but no such luck. They hoofed it the whole way.

 

     A half hour later, they arrived at the Cadiz Town Square, where the municipal offices were located. At this hour, the local farmers and craftsmen were setting

up their tables and racks for market. Passing through the square, Columbus and party smiled and gave thanks to the vendors who handed them free fruit and

vegetables as a "salute" and recognition for their service to Spain and The Royal Couple.

 

     Columbus stopped, and pointing to the far end of the square, said: "Look! Look at those carts! Let's see what's going on."  As they got closer, they could see

several manned rickshaws. One of the drivers motioned for them to come over.A dozen or so two-seater rickshaws formed a small group; each with it's own

Asian driver, who wore short pants, wide-brimmed bamboo hats, and big smiles. The groups returned their smiles and nods of recognition.

"Good morning. I've heard about these...chariots." Columbus said

"Rick-shaw" said the lead driver. We Japanese. Come here on big Chinese boat. Sailor boys want a ride? Take you anywhere in two-mile circle. Only two pesetas

each rider.."

 

     Columbus rode by himself and the other four paired up. "Take us up to big castle on top of hill" Columbus said and pointed.

"We go!" said the driver, and the three rickshaws were on their way. As Columbus' driver moved his cart to the front of the other two, he said in Japanese:

"After this, we charge double for going up hills. This trip gonna' be real ball-buster!"

 

 

 

 

 

   

    

Thanks for looking. See ya' in the next one... (James L. Weaver March 1942-Dec.2018)