Julie’s Story A Day prompt today was “Start with a bang.” This is also Sunday, and Sundays in May are Holly Jahangiri days. So since last week five Living Books had run off to be pirates…. Oh, also, happy Mother’s Day.
Holly Finds the Books
by Marian Allen
“That explains the swoosh,” said the captain. “We’re being fired on. Odd, that.”
While Chief District Investigator Pel Darzin calmed the other passengers, Holly said, “What’s odd about it? You said there were pirates in these waters.”
“Yes, but we negotiated for free passage. Paid in advance, as it were. Saves time, in the end. No, this is most irregular. I suspect somebody got a cannon for his birthday and just had to try it out.”
Since the swoosh had come before the bang, Holly suspected somebody had gotten a catapult and a firecracker, but it would have been rude to contradict, so she kept it to herself.
A ship pulled out of a hidden harbor. Not a massive schooner. A pleasure yacht. The rigging — such as it was — swarmed with roaring cut-throats waving cutlasses. If three people could be said to swarm. Another roaring cut-throat steered the ship, and a fifth, also waving a cutlass (which, Holly could now see, was made of woven palm fronds), stood at the bow.
Holly stood at the bow of the Grayline, fists on hips, elbows out, in the universal signal for Young Lady, You Are In SO Much Trouble.
“I see you, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” she said, in her sternest Assistant Librarian voice. Then, as if that weren’t intimidating enough, she used the Book’s civilian name: “Genesis Selinsky, you put down that sword this instant and surrender, or I don’t know what!”
The suddenly silent cut-throats all dropped their swords and climbed carefully onto the deck of the yacht, faces burning with shame.
Sullenly, the young woman who had chosen to memorize The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn shouted, “We just wanted to be pirates. What’s wrong with that?”
“Not a thing,” Holly called down to her (for the yacht was dwarfed by the tour ship). “Piracy is a respectable business. if gone about it the proper way. Do you have a license? No. Have you requested permission of the local Wandering Tribe to join them? No. Did you even ask leave of absence from your jobs with the Library? Again, no.”
All the formerly roaring former cut-throats looked down and shuffled their feet, even The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, who was hard to abash. Holly wasn’t an Assistant Librarian for nothing.
She continued, “We’ve been worried sick about you lot! I’ve had to come looking for you — during the Summer Reading Program! Children are asking for you, especially, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. And your mothers come every day, begging for news.”
At the mention of their mothers, three of the would-be pirates burst into tears, and the other two sniffled and pretended to have dust in their eyes.
“Now,” Holly said, satisfied that she’d done her work thoroughly, “suppose I come aboard and we all go home?”
She had climbed onto the prow, the wind blowing her hair, tunic, and trademark purple feather boa so that she looked almost like a second figurehead, when another ship flying a piratical flag — this one nearly as large as the Grayline — rounded the island.
“Pirates!” the captain shouted. “Real ones!”
Genesis Selinsky’s resentful, “Hey!” was drowned by the screams of the Grayline’s prize passenger.
Holly climbed down. Sometimes, even an Assistant Librarian has to bow to circumstance. This was a job for the law.