As I expected, Eric had no plans for Thanksgiving weekend. He found the whole concept a bit twisted. He understood the appeal of trying to solve the mystery, but not the costumes.
– “You mean people dress up to do this shit?” he asked.
– “They do indeed.” I told him. “And so will you.”
– “Alright. Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum. There will be rum, right?”
Sheila was a lot more enthusiastic, when she answered my phone call.
– “And we get to dress up? Like pirates?” she asked.
– “That’s the plan.” I agreed.
– “I don’t have to be a saucy wench, or a watery tart?”
– “No.” I laughed. “That’s Monty Python, as you well know. This is Teresa we’re talking about: women can be pirate captains, and swashbuckle like the men. If that’s a word.”
– “What part do I get?” Sheila wanted to know.
– “Teresa will be letting us know once we’re all aboard.” I said.
– “Ooh – ship puns. Or is it that shit puns?” she said. “I better start practicing.” She held the phone a few inches from her face, and let loose a loud ‘Aaaaargh, matey!’ With her deep, mannish voice, it sounded awesome. “I love the idea, Colin. You can tell her I’m in for sure.”
I called Teresa with the good news.
– “Perfect.” she said. “Thank you, Colin. We’re almost ready to start. I’ll send out the introduction and the character descriptions. But I’d like to use you as a guinea pig, if you don’t mind. Can I show you what I’m planning to send the others, and get your feedback?”
– “I would be glad to help.” I told her.
We met at the cafe again. Teresa greeted me warmly once again, and then turned her laptop around to show me the screen.
– “Here’s the intro.” she said.
For more than three decades, the dread pirate Redbeard terrorized the Caribbean, plundering and pillaging far and wide. No one was safe: Spanish, Dutch, English and French ships and towns were all targets of his insatiable greed and bloodlust. In the course of his far-flung depredations, Redbeard was said to have accumulated a considerable treasure hoard. According to legend, the old pirate was too paranoid to bury his ill-gotten gains on some deserted island. Instead, he carried them with him, aboard his pirate ship, the notorious Sea Demon.
Finally, justice caught up with the dread pirate. An anonymous tip led the Governor of Jamaica’s soldiers to the Mouldy Maggot, a dockside tavern where Redbeard and members of his crew were drinking and roistering while the Sea Demon rode at anchor in Kingston harbour. Thoroughly inebriated, Redbeard was easily overcome by the redcoats, and captured. His erstwhile crew scattered to the four winds. The Governor loaded the dread pirate with chains, and confiscated his ship, the Sea Demon. The vessel was appropriated by the Royal Navy, and re-christened HMS Retribution.
The Governor has ordered Captain Teresa Fairwind to transport the prisoner to Bermuda, where he will face a swift trial and public execution. Captain Fairwind has been given the Royal Navy’s newest vessel, HMS Retribution. A new crew was swiftly recruited from the experienced local sailors and sea-dogs.
YOU are a member of the crew.
Read the description of your character, and dress appropriately. Further instructions will be made available upon arrival.
When I had finished reading, I looked up at her.
– “What do you think?” she asked.
– Aren’t you always honest with me?” she asked, with that bewitching half-smile. It had been one of our favourite ‘pet’ phrases when we were dating.
– “It’s cute.” I said. “A bit melodramatic, a bit campy – like an old Errol Flynn movie.”
– “That’s fine.” she said. “Kind of what I was aiming for.”
– “And you’re the Captain?”
She nodded. “I thought it would be easier than coming up with complicated instructions for one of the players. Speaking of which: here are your instructions.” Teresa spun the laptop around, opened a new file, and then turned it back to face me again.
You are NED MULLIGAN.
– “Ned Mulligan?” I asked her. “Really?”
– “Remember that time you took me golfing?” she reminded me.
I did. Like most novices, Teresa missed the ball completely several times, but she also managed to knock three golf balls into the water, and hit two golf carts and a vending machine. She was able to laugh at herself, and enjoyed the outing, but she found the whole concept of a ‘mulligan’ fascinating’.
– “You mean I get to hit it again?” she wanted to know.
– “Yeah. Go ahead and tee it up again.” I said.
– “And it doesn’t count as a stroke?” She looked at me sideways, squinting, as if suspicious that I was trying to trick her.
– “That’s the whole idea.” I confirmed.
– “Isn’t that cheating?” she asked.
– “You wouldn’t do it in a tournament, or if you were playing for money. But it’s only a friendly game, and I’m the one inviting you to take a mulligan. A do-over.”
Now she just smiled at me. “Keep reading.” she said.
As a young man, you were a pirate, and a member of Redbeard’s crew. You were brave and clever, so that Redbeard made you one of his lieutenants. But he grew too bloodthirsty for your taste, and also promoted some unsavoury characters alongside you, including the Falcon, and the Scar.
You chose to leave his crew, and jumped ship at Tortuga, taking a bag of doubloons with you. Redbeard swore revenge, and offered a bounty for your head. Both the Falcon and the Scar vowed that they would earn that bounty. The Scar, in particular, promised to drink a toast from your skull. You have been on the run ever since.
You were in Kingston, Jamaica, and horrified to learn that the Sea Demon was in port. But you were equally delighted to learn of Redbeard’s capture – serves him right. You hear the gossip in the dockside taverns: Redbeard’s crew are all over the place. What if one of them recognizes you? The ship HMS Retribution is leaving for Bermuda. Is Redbeard’s treasure still hidden aboard?
You sign on as a sailor …
YOU HAVE – A PISTOL
– THERE IS A PLOT TO FREE REDBEARD AND HELP HIM ESCAPE
– THE FALCON IS ABOARD, DISGUISED AS A MEMBER OF THE CREW
– THE TREASURE IS HIDDEN SOMEWHERE ABOARD THE SHIP
– YOU ONCE CAUGHT A GLIMPSE OF A LETTER BELONGING TO REDBEARD. IT MAY HAVE CONTAINED THE SECRET OF THE TREASURE’S LOCATION. UNFORTUNATELY, YOU ONLY SAW ONE LETTER … IT WAS THE LETTER ‘C’
– “There’s a treasure, too?” I asked. “Or is that instead of a murder?”
– “Both.” said Teresa. “I’m going to space out the murder mystery clues, so that no one can solve it on the first day. But I thought a treasure made sense. This will keep people searching. Plus, we can have multiple winners – solving the mystery, or finding the treasure.”
– “Very clever.” I told her.
– “How about the character description? What do you think?” she asked me.
– “Couldn’t I be ‘Wicked Ned’, or ‘Lusty Ned Longsword’?”
– “You’re Ned Mulligan.” she told me, firmly. “Get used to it. If it’s any consolation, that’s your secret identity. Until somebody else guesses or uncovers who you really are, they’ll only know you as Able Seaman Colin. Everybody will use their real name as an alias.”
– “How many letters are there in the treasure code?” I had to try.
She wagged a finger at me. “No more clues for you. Seriously, Colin – what do you think?”
– “I love it. The description gives me enough of an idea to base my character on. And I’m all pumped up to go out and get a costume. How does the pistol work? Do I have to get a replica pistol?”
– “No.” she said. “I’ll put the items on pieces of paper, so that people can hide them in a pocket, or wherever.”
We discussed the mechanics of the game, without getting too specific. Knowing the people who were participating, I thought it would work well. I was more than looking forward to it: I was ready to start that very day.
Teresa and I discussed the weekend and the game for a long time. We both had two large coffees, and were beginning to feel the effects of too much caffeine.
– “Walk me home?” she asked.
As we walked, we continued to discuss her ideas. She seemed quite taken with some of my suggestions, but wouldn’t give me any hints about whether she planned to use them or not.
– “And you’ll help people get costumes?” she asked, again.
– “I promised.” I reminded her.
– “I’ll hold you to that.”
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