Fast little loans
I tell yer, Blackbird, I need a break, and a long one at that,” Long John Platinum, The Bountiful’s first mate, said to the captain.
LJP’s pallor was pale, his jowls drooped more sloppily than a spaniel’s, his eyes were greyer than gunmetal and his voice had less resonance than a flaccid balloon.
“Argh, LJP, you’re a sissy if ever I knew one,” Blackbird responded with his customary pirate sensitivity. “Oh, all righty then, get off with you,” the captain continued, witnessing the deepening slump of the first mate’s shoulders, and his darkening depression.
As LJP sloped down the gangplank, Blackbird ruminated, but not for long, on finding a temporary replacement pirate.
“Get yourselves down to the Piglet and Whale,” he instructed simple sailors Simon and Sipho, “and find me a pirate with a loose end. Someone I can rely on in stormy seas. We leave for the Tuscan coast at dawn.”
Simon and Sipho stiffened themselves for this task with two glasses of Scotch before spreading the word to the other sailors gathered for their spiritual sustenance.
Within a mere minute, Simon and Sipho were mesmerised by Short Sam Sulphur, an interim maritime specialist who sidled up to them. Triple S, as he called himself, proudly pulled up his baggy trousers and, winking sneakily, showed Simon and Sipho the 7.5 litre drums he had bolted through his feet and shins for added height.
“This was a unique and precious attribute,” said SSS, and Sipho and Simon could not but agree.
Then, SSS lifted his bandana, which was tying down a mop of frizz, to show his completely bald head. “The wig’s helpful with the ladies,” he added.
Finally, SSS, after downing a tankard of rum with one gulp, pulled off his face! But Simon and Sipho, horrified as they were, need not have worried, for there was another one underneath, completely different from the first.
Suddenly SSS was Spanish. And not an albatross wing flap later, he was Mongolian. “I’ve 67 different identities,” he said, “another 67 very useful things to have. I inherited the skill of mask-making from me father,” he added. “It’s an old and distinguished family trait.”
“Yes, that’s very plain to see,” agreed Sipho, “but much as your height, your wig and your faces are impressive, can you sail?” he asked.
Sipho’s critical questioning was the reason why Blackbird had trusted him with this important talent identification task.
Never has a more heroic, a more exciting, a more captivating, or a more thrilling tale ever been told, at least not in the Piglet and Whale, than the story SSS then spun for Simon and Sipho. When he had finished, the boys from The Bountiful were convinced that no pirate on earth enjoyed the experience, the expertise, the knowledge, and even more admirably, the yarn-spinning ability of Short Sam Sulphur.
The three pirates gaily sang their way back to the ship, but when they got aboard, they found Blackbird in a Scotch-induced stupor. Between bouts of semi-consciousness and sleep, Simon and Sipho regaled him with their good luck in finding such a short solution to LJP’s absence.
“Sounds more than good enough for me,” Blackbird slurred. “Welcome to The Bountiful, LJP, I mean, what do I mean?”
“SSS,” helped Sipho.
“Whoever,” the captain concluded, before passing out.
By the end of the following day, with The Bountiful making excellent headway easterly across the Mediterranean, Blackbird got increasingly grumpy, as the hangover took its toll on his mood.
During the day he had thoroughly enjoyed the entertaining company of SSS, who spoke with such confidence that Blackbird was happy, when he retired, to leave his temporary first mate in charge of the boat.
But around 10 that evening, the jagged rocks just off the Tuscan town of Versilia tore through The Bountiful’s hull, and it was wrecked on the coast of a calm sea.
As the pirates swam to shore, there was only one sailor swimming faster, a scoundrel by the name of SSS.By the time the crew had mustered on the beach, they could just make out the prints of his strangely shaped feet, and the silhouette of his hairdo, set against the light of the moon.
Treasure-hunting tip: Give the same attention to temporary placements, especially in critical interim management assignments, as you would to permanent placements. Also always validate the competencies of all favoured candidates, and never allow impression to supersede substance.
l Call Exclusive People at 011 440 8560 or visit www.exclusive people.co.za