Canto Thirteen – When You Have a Real Crush
Mom had a point about Conrad Doble. Every single time Valerie was in the same room with him, he looked at her with a look that meant… Well, it seemed that way. She made very sure that she was never alone in the same room with him. She almost wished some times that Mary Philips wasn’t so accepting and was willing to just kick the old slime-bucket out of the Norwall Pirates. But he was a link to the old Pirates. Valerie’s cousin Brent had led a group of Pirates that included Milt Morgan, Andrew Doble, Eddie Campbell, Todd Niland, and King Leer when he was the littlest pimple-head in the gang. Doble even claimed there were times when the Cobble Sisters, Sherry and Shelly, were considered Pirates too, but it was difficult to believe Conrad Doble because he always added random x-rated details to the stories whenever girls were talked about. But this particular time, when Valerie had been invited to the Philips’ house to discuss the Pirates, Doble was not even invited.
In the basement of Mary’s house, Dagwood Philips, her father, had built a comfortable family room. It was heated by a Franklin stove that Dag had put in with his own carpentry skills and ingenuity.
“This is a really nice room,” Valerie said.
“Thanks,” said Mary. “Pidney’s mother Julianna calls it our make-out room. She says it’s where Pidney and I kiss so much we give each other kissing disease.”
Valerie was shocked. “You kiss a lot here?”
“No,” said Pidney. “My mother is always joking about it. She says that if I know a girl as pretty and smart as Mary, then why am I not already proposing? Why am I always saying that she is just my best friend? She is my best friend.”
That was a relief to Valerie whose inner little jealousy-fairy had suddenly been shouting in the back of her mind somewhere until Pidney had said that one perfect thing.
“Your Mom has a thing about mononucleosis, too,” said Mary.
“That’s true. She had it when she was a teenager in Poland. She claimed she got it from kissing a boy too much.”
“Does that kind of joking bother your Dad?” Valerie asked.
“Of course not,” said Pidney. “When Mom tells the story, it was Dad that gave her the disease. They both had it at the same time.”
Valerie laughed, even though it was not funny.
Danny Murphy plumped down the big leather-bound album that he had brought to the meeting. It stirred up clouds of dust from the second-hand coffee table where he plumped it. It was fat with added pages, being one of those loose-leaf albums held together by a decorative cord, one you could add extra pages to.
“What’s that?” asked Valerie.
“That is the Sacred Big Book of Pirate Secrets,” said Mary. “I asked Danny to keep it for us until we needed it to look at.”
“What kind of secrets?” asked Pidney.
“The secret kind,” said Danny Murphy. “All of the Pirates wrote down things they thought were important, wise, or… maybe wicked.”
“Did you read some of it?” Mary asked.
“I did,” said Danny. “In several places in there, different Pirates wrote that seeing Sherry Cobble naked was a very good thing.”
Pidney was suddenly blushing furiously. “Sherry Cobble? Isn’t that Brent’s…?”
“His ex-wife,” said Valerie. “She was a nudist even back then. I guess they all saw her when…”
“Yeah,” said Mary. “About that. I got that book from my brother Branch. Not everything in there is necessarily put there by the original Pirates. My brother likes to tell funny stories.”
“He wrote down all the Pirate stories, didn’t he?” asked Danny.
“Yes, he has a very big imagination.”
“Still,” said Danny, “it is written in different handwritings. And I think Brent Clarke signed his name to one of the naked-Sherry comments. And there’s a lot of other dumb stuff and cool stuff in there as well.”
“Anything in there about Tiki idols and talking cats?” asked Valerie with a laugh.
“Not yet,” answered Danny. “I think that’s gonna be for us to write.”
“Is Ray coming today?” asked Pidney.
“He said he couldn’t. It’s just the four of us,” said Mary. “But we have more than just this silly thing to look at. Here’s the log book we talked about.”
She plumped the leather-bound volume down on the table next to the Pirate book. It had an anchor symbol embossed in gold on the front cover. And the title, Log of the Reefer Mary Celeste.
“Wowsers!” said Danny. “Can we read it now?”
“I thought Valerie and I might read parts of it out loud,” said Mary. “There are parts of this that just beg to be read out loud. And Valerie’s Aunt is a librarian after all.”
When the Captain Came Calling is the prequel to Snow Babies which is now available for free at this link; https://www.amazon.com/Snow-Babies-Michael-Beyer-ebook/dp/B077PMQ4YF/ref=sr_1_fkmrnull_1?keywords=michael+beyer+books+snow+babies&qid=1554128143&s=gateway&sr=8-1-fkmrnull