Another instalment in the ongoing series of interviews that The Postmodern Mariner held with the eight Sea of Tea Pirates…
The sixth conversation is with the pirate of the northeastern zone, Captain Scipio Faraway, and this is how it goes:
PM: You have two brothers, I believe?
CF: Yes, I’m one of three, but we aren’t triplets as is sometimes claimed. No, we’re a pair and a half of offset twins.
PM: That sounds painful, even dangerous!
CF: But it isn’t really. We went our separate ways soon enough. Even in the toy room our individual obsessions manifested themselves; for I, Scipio Faraway, played only with model ships, while Distanto could only abide balloons and dirigibles, and poor Neary cared merely for locomotives and the occasional traction engine.
PM: Do you ever hold reunions?
CF: They are difficult to arrange successfully and mostly we don’t bother with such events. Indeed we consider them damaging to the spirit of independent adventure and maverick exploration that all three of us continue to cultivate inside our hearts and within our budgets. And yet there occur rare occasions when we accidentally meet: to give you one example, my schooner once fell into a whirlpool and was sucked to the seabed; through a subterranean passage it was drawn and to stay alive I had to empty and invert large glass jars to keep them full of air and ram them down on my head one at a time.
PM: Most fortunate you were carrying such jars!
CF: Yes, they were alembics destined for a perfume festival: I do some commercial sailing too, just to earn enough to continue my exploits. Anyway, along that passage was sucked my ship until suddenly it was pushed up a vertical flue by a geyser. Blue light shimmered above me. I emerged, breathless but alive, on the surface of the lake of a flooded crater. This crater belonged to a volcano that occupied the extreme end of a long narrow peninsula. On the western shore of the lake stood a special kind of steam train that laid its own track as it went along. It had come to the end of its own line, for there was nowhere left for it to go.
PM: And brother Neary was the driver?
CF: Indeed he was. He waved and I waved back and we exchanged pleasantries through megaphones. That takes skill, I assure you! Suddenly a cloud obscured the sun. But it wasn’t a cloud: it was an airship, an airship belonging to my other brother, Distanto. He dropped his sky anchor onto a small island in the middle of the lake, then he leaned out of his gondola with a megaphone of his own.
PM: And called down more pleasantries to add to the ones you already had?
CF: No, to drop peas.
PM: Peas! Frozen or fresh?
CF: Dried. Thousands of them. The flared end of the megaphone acted like the barrel of a blunderbuss and scattered those vegetable bullets all over my head and my decks; they sounded like a healthier version of hailstones. He dropped them on Neary also and some fell down the chimney of his locomotive and were roasted in his smouldering firebox. The smell of barbecued peas drifted across the volcanic lake.
PM: Why did he do this to you?
CF: For fun.
PM: Did you retaliate?
CF: It wasn’t feasible. My crossbow had been sent back to the shop for repairs. I could have draped sludge on his sky anchor, I suppose, to give him an unpleasant surprise when he hauled it up, but I didn’t. The only sludgy substance I had available at that time was honey and that’s too good to waste on anchors. When he ran out of peas he went away. I slipped a few times as I paced the deck in dismay, just as if I was treading on organic marbles. Neary chugged away in reverse not long after and he didn’t wave goodbye; he didn’t even glance at me as he passed.
PM: How did you get out of that lake?
CF: There was no way I could do it on my own. I had to hire the natives to dismantle my schooner plank by plank and carry it in pieces down to the shore, where they reassembled it. Then they demanded payment. I gave them the peas, told them they were beads. They were natives, after all.
PM: How did they react to that?
CF: With a private prosecution. My remaining glass jars, the ones that were still full, were impounded.
PM: They sued you?
CF: For every last scent.