October 15, 2011

neon mayflower


neon mayflower
by Robert Caporale

The Mayflower is in full-tilt sail bearing down on Provincetown, Massachusetts.

High up in the crows nest, the young lookout, William Bradford, keeps a sharp eye along the western horizon. The Puritans are anxious to hear “land ho.” They are stressed from dealing with the unknown and sick of sucking on limes and eating porridge.

The lucky Puritan who spots land first wins the raffle.

Every now and then William Bradford catches a glimpse of something way off on the horizon that he cannot explain. It looks like tiny particles of pixie dust floating up and popping. He attributes these phenomena to tired eyes squinting into a sunset.

While William stands watch, Captain Myles Standish entertains William’s wife Priscilla in his cabin.

* * *

The Algonquians are a particularly fierce tribe of Indians living along the eastern seaboard.

A group of them are preparing their evening meal overlooking the North Atlantic. They’re lounging around and joking and smoking dope from clay pipes high up on a dune at Long Nook Beach. They have a fire simmering in a deep hole lined with seaweed and stones. They are steaming crabs, clams, lobster, corn and sweet potatoes. Dusk settles in on them and a stiff offshore breeze kicks up into their faces as the sky darkens into shades of pink, orange and gray. The Algonquians gather in closer to the fire and pass around the pipe while poking at the rocks with driftwood sticks and tripping out on the happy trails of sparks floating up and away on a offshore breeze.

* * *

Below deck in the flickering candle light Priscilla tells Captain Miles Standish that she’s in love.

It’s just the swaying of the boat that makes you feel that way, Miles tells her.

* * *

William Bradford pulls up the collar on his wool turtleneck sweater to ward off the chill. He yells down to Endicott the helmsman for the running lights to be engaged. Endicott waves up to William and flicks a toggle switch by the brass sextant and the Mayflower bursts into twinkling lines of light that ungulates across the choppy waters like a carnival midway.

* * *

It doesn’t take long before one of the buzzed out Algonquians spots the neon trimmed Mayflower shimmering out along the wispy horizon. The Algonquians flip out. They have never seen such an aberration before. A medicine man called Cadillac tells the panicky Algonquians that the vision is a ghost ship full of vanquished adversaries on their way to exact retribution. The Algonquians go wild and try to ward off the “Ghost Ship” by dancing around the fire hole chanting ancient spiritual entreaties.

But the Mayflower is relentless; it bears down on them with its lights glowing brighter as the neon silhouette of the “Ghost ship” eerily reveals itself.

The elder Algonquians huddle up. Cadillac assures them their world is about to change forever if the vengeful ship is allowed to make shore. The elders decide the only hope they have to save their sorry asses is to make a sacrifice. Cadillac chooses the young virgin Sweet Rain. Sweet Rain is well aware of what is about to happen to her and grateful for the opportunity because it is a far far better thing she does today than she has ever done before, and the tribe will surely transform her into a legend with full chorus harmony and a dance.

The Algonquians move fast. The fire hole is quickly emptied of their evening meal and more driftwood is added to the flames until the fire pit is a towering inferno. Sweet Rain’s leathers are stripped from her tender body and her bronze skin is painted in crushed blood-red Bayberry juices depicting lightning bolts, a crescent moon and the sun. Just as a precaution against a last minute change of heart, Sweet Rain’s arms and legs are lashed with corn husks. Two braves take hold of Sweet Rain and swing her like a hammock while the rest of the tribe chants her name until it begins to sound like a frenzied roar.

Cadillac signals to release her.

The two braves let her fly.

The tribe silently watches Sweet Rain float in a dream-like slow motion sequence before she drops into the center of the white hot fire hole, sending an eruption of sparks up into the darkening sky.

* * *

Off in the distance the plume of sparks is easily spotted by William Bradford. He rubs his eyes and focuses until he can make out the flames from the funeral pyre. He puts a long telescope to his eye and adjusts it. His heart starts pumping when he sees the wavy images of the dancing Algonquians.

William takes a deep breath and yells at the top of his voice, land ho!

* * *

Captain Myles Standish stumbles out onto the deck pulling up his pantaloons. He looks up to the crow’s nest. What is it, William? he shouts.

Fire, William gestures to the starboard side.

Are you sure?

I am.

Congratulation, Miles yells up to William. You win the two pound box of chocolate covered cherries.

The crew cheers.

Priscilla steps out onto the deck adjusting her petticoats.

Myles Standish points and orders Endicott to steer a course towards the flames.

Endicott spins the wheel hard starboard.

The neon Mayflower creaks as it lists severely in the choppy North Atlantic.

Hold on tight.

* * *

Robert Caporale lives and writes in Northampton, Massachusetts and has over thirty published stories to his credit. Check out his web-site at www.robertcaporale.com.

Where do you get the ideas for your stories?

Some just follow me around and make my life miserable until I write them.