Kenna MacLeod is a troublemaking Scots privateer and one of the three protagonists in the major project in our pipeline right now. This was a scene I did just for fun awhile back, but it doesn’t fit anywhere in the story arc. I bump into it in the working-files folder ever so often and decided today that it could go up on the blog since it’s got nothing better to do. There’s not nearly enough piracy up here yet, anyway.
A gentle breeze drifted through Corsair Harbour on a beautiful mid-June afternoon in 1756, cooling the sunbaked cobblestones along the wharf and putting Captain Kenna MacLeod in the mood for mischief. She lounged on a crate in front of the Curr’s Head, chuckling to herself at a snobbish, petulant gentlewoman passing by on the seawall.
The woman was overdressed for the tropical heat in a striped gown of the London fashion, complete with corset and matching—and completely useless—lace-trimmed parasol. She shrieked in panic at a handful of gulls swooping in to join more than a dozen others swirling around her feet. Her foppish, equally-overdressed escort wondered aloud at the reason for their sudden charge as he shooed them off, but they only retreated a few steps, chattering among themselves as if planning the next attack. Gentleman and Lady had no sooner turned to continue their stroll than the birds were charging across the boardwalk at them again, forcing Man to grab Lady’s parasol to swing at them in comically feeble defense.
Kenna giggled and raised the bottle for a drink, toasting the man for his valor. He shot a look her way but thought better of saying anything when she drummed her fingers over the pistol resting on her crossed knees. Taking his now quite hysterical companion by the elbow, he made to hurry on but stopped as a piece of bread the size of an orange landed just in front of him. The pair quickly found themselves besieged by a feathered, squealing feeding frenzy.
Behind them Kenna pulled a soft piece off the loaf for herself and cackled wickedly. This bread was still warm and fresh: probably better used in mopping up thick beef juices than feeding the birds, but she was feeling fickle and wanton at the moment. And rather drunk.
“So you’re the one behind all this,” a familiar deep voice came from her left, sounding somewhat put-upon. “Why am I not entirely surprised?”
Still snickering through a rum-soaked mouthful, she squinted up at the man standing there. “Aye, Constable Tucker,” she said, then hiccupped. “I’m findin’ this port o’ yers a mite boring.” As the next likely target came into range she pulled off another small piece and sent it skittering ahead of a high-strung palfrey. A trio of gulls ran straight out in front of the horse, chasing the morsel down with open wings. The horse crow-hopped sideways in terror, slamming its rump into a knot of pedestrians and nearly knocking its cursing rider into the water. Kenna laughed herself to tears amid shouts of disgruntled passers-by and took another long pull off the bottle.
“You’re bored, Lady? So you made up a drinkin’ game to torment the townsfolk?” He sighed. “Can you not find another means of entertaining yourself? Maybe one that doesn’t come at someone else’s expense?”
“Och, this bread and rum, sir, came at my expense, I’ll have you know,” she slurred. “What’s a little inconvenience on the part o’ these fine folk here havin’ to dodge a bird ‘r two—’r twenty, heh—when I’m so grossly inconvenienced by havin’ t’ be stuck here sendin’ gulls at ‘em in the first place? I could be harassin’ the Colonials up north right now if the Talon was in one piece, but she’s not. She’s still off yonder in dry-dock and so I’m…sssstuck here.” She smiled lazily and offered him the loaf. “Ye should try it: oddly cathartic, sendin’ a beast out to harass someone at yer whims. Almost makes a lass feel empowered.” She paused, regarding him. “Oh yeah…I guess ye would know about that then, wouldn’t ye, Constable?” When he shook his head, she shrugged. “The rum’s not bad, neither, but ye only get to drink if ye piss somebody off. Them’s the rules.”
“Is that so? Hmm. You’ve been at this awhile now, ‘twould seem. How long does this game continue?”
“Well…ye play until there’s no more rum.”
“All right, I’ll have a go at it.”
She grinned crookedly and handed him the bread again.
“Now bear with me, Cap’n. You’re not the only clever one in this port.”
He tore off a little piece and chucked it out onto the path. It was squashed almost instantly; the gulls milled about until the traffic cleared enough that one could run in to snatch it. None of the passers-by even seemed to notice. Kenna shook her head and leaned back with a disgusted snort, raising the bottle to take a swig.
“Not so fast, there. I’m not finished yet.” He reached over abruptly and grabbed the bottle away from her, downing the last shot.
“Just a mite outta order, but them’s the rules. You only get to drink when you piss somebody off, and you play until there’s no more rum,” he smiled, waggling the empty bottle. “Good rum, too. Now go home, Cap’n. Try to be patient…and try to stay outta trouble?”