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
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
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
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
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!"