“Dahling Letisha, my flower – “ Jack whispered, then winked and twirled his moustache. Something in the back room crashed. Squawking noises. The hair on the back of Jack’s neck stood on end. His eyes grew large. His hands gripped his sword and he bolted up from his chair. He stood upright and drew his sword.
“Ah! Crimeny --- What in heck is that?” His voice shot up an octave.
“Jack. Jack.” I purred, as I rubbed the back of his neck. "Relax honeybuns. The Maitre D’ is bringing in the ducks.” I gave Jack my biggest blue-eyed, sad dog look. It always worked when Jack, AKA Cap’n Jack Sparrow got his breeches in a bunchie.
“Ducks? Ducks?” Living ducks?” He shrieked, his sword at the ready for any perceived assault coming his way. “I don’t want no stinking living ducks, matey --- I want them fried and grizzled on a stick, over an open flame, with honey duck sauce.”
“Jack.” I pleaded. “Jack. Sit here at the Golden Goose of Avalona. The Fortune Teller in the corner will read your Tarot and then she’ll” ---
“That’s another thing, Katydid – I don’t need no stinking Tarot – I just want me a penzance of pirates to raid on a ship that we’re leaving on tomorrow. And I sure as cripens don’t need no stinking Tarot to tell me what’s gonna happen.”
“Too late Cap’n Jack.” Elvira Fortuna called out from down the hall, her long black hair halfway to her knees, her long red velvet skirt swishing through the restaurant’s tables, her high black boots click-clacking on the Italian tile floor.
Sun streamed in from the palazzo outside, where pigeons flocked near the Cathedral.
An organ grinder played an old Romany melody as Elvira Fortuna swished down the restaurant aisles, her eyes aiming straight for Cap’n Jack’s heart.
“Too late, Cap’n.” Elvira purred. “Too late.” Her espresso eyes were heavily lined with kohl, which increased her mystery, her bed partners and her ample fortunes, the last two which were likely the same.
“I’ve got you in my snare, now, Jack.” She rubbed the back of his neck.
“Dahling, it won’t be painful. Just hold out your hands and let me see your life line.”
Jack held out his hands, palms up.
“Katy – fetch me a glass of darkest wine, will ya?” Elvira winked at me as if I’d been here in this place, in this game before.
As If I knew what she’d say and do and what Jack would say and do and that everything would be all right. That he’d sail around the world one last time and then he’d settle down in Tamany Hall with me.
Indeed. I believed Elvira Fortuna as much as any mark believed her. That woman was darned good.
I ambled through the crowded restaurant that Steve owned, a restaurant of white linen tablecloths and small candles, with walls of exposed brick. The scent of a foreign incense I couldn’t identify hung in the air. I gulped. A violinist in the corner.
“Steve, darkest wine. Elvria wants the darkest wine.”
“Yeah. We stock the special for her. Don’t you worry none, Katy.”
I gulped. Looked at Steve hard with my big baby blues.
Steve winked and patted me on the head as if I were a puppy. Or worse, if I were a small child too young and ignorant to understand the byzantine ways of the world.
“Just do as she says. That’s the only important thing. I’ll bring the lunch.”
“Lunch? We haven’t ordered yet. Jack wants ---“
“It’s on the house. It’s Elvira’s fortune. Trust me. Would I lie to you?”
He would, indeed. I gave him a weak smile and swallowed, then sashayed my way back to the table.
“Steve’s bringing it, isn’t he Dahling Katy? You’re such a very good girl.”
Elvira patted me on the top of my head. I was definitely beginning to hate this place, full or weirdos.
I barely know what happened next. I fell asleep after the first three sips of the darkest wine. A rich, dark wine of soured grapes, a strange, deep salty taste and a heavily alcoholic base that was as delicious as it was enticing.
The room spun around and I fell asleep.
When I awoke, I was dressed as a gypsy and Elvira and Jack were dancing under the Japanese lanterns outside, a few nighthawks squawking.
The violinist, thin and rangy looking played a sad gypsy melody on his half-broken guitar. I was certain I was in a dream.
But no. This was no dream.
This was …quoi…??
I couldn’t tell what was going on.
Jack and Elvira dined on Duck L’Orange, while other ducks squawked in back.
Steve’s white apron was smudged with blood.
Wait. What? Whose blood?
The appetizers were Spring Rolls and Romany biscuits.
More of the darkest wine, please, I squeaked.
Steve poured more of the darkest wine. I felt sleepy again, yet satisfied. Full, as if I’d eaten a very large boar.
Elvira pulled me onto the dance floor with her creamy white fingers and long dark nails. “Dahling Katy. You’re initiation has begun. Jack has transformed and you will soon, too.”
Her words were velvet to my ears. She spoke a language different from the words she spoke. I believed she’d said we’d be transported to aisles of gold.
Elvira pushed me next to Jack, who was quite drunk, by this time.
Jack leaned close to me. I could sense the wine on his breath. A rich grape aroma that tingled on my lips as he brushed against my cheek. “Elvira’s our first mate, Katy.”
“Really?? What’s her talent?” I pushed him away from me. I could not believe what he was saying. My eyes bulged and my voice raised an octave.
Panic struck my heart. The green demon stabbed my heart and made me doubt Jack. This conniving, evil woman was planning to steal Jack. I was certain of it.
Jack seemed to know what I was feeling. His lips hovered over mine. “I can only whisper this to you. Listen close.”
I nodded. I hoped he’d kiss me. His breath was so close the anticipation was killing me.
“ She will get the passengers drunk with darkest wine, then steal their gold watches and money.” He winked.
A smile quirked from the corners of my mouth. “Ah.”
“And the wine? She brings it?”
“She makes it. From grapes and chicken blood.”
I must have fainted, because I don’t remember what happened.
When I awoke, we were already on the steamer, bound for the Orient.
The pages in my vellum were old and cracked, for this was a good two centuries ago. But as I read over my account of the days when Jack and I raided kingdoms and when Elvira Fortuna provided us with a constant supply of jewels, watches, gold coins, impoverished royalty and whopping good times, I knew the century with Jack was worth all of it.
He’d ended in a bad way, Jack did… but it would have happened a century or two earlier if Elvira had not joined our troop of pirates.
The best meal we ever had was at The Golden Goose of Avalona. Much better than bleeding fish 'n' chips.
And the cheapest. Only a gold dollar and a penny farthing.
I rolled up the parchment and lay in my bed of feathers and straw, took a glass of darkest wine and closed my eyes.
This would be my sleep for the ages.
- Put this challenge statement at the beginning or end of your submission so readers will know what you’re supposed to do.
Challenge: Pretend that you just had a meal in a fictional restaurant. Using prose or poetry, give us the name of the restaurant, where (and when) it’s located, a description of it, tell us something about the other patrons, describe what you had for breakfast/lunch/dinner, and finish with a review of the overall dining experience including the price.
- There is a limit of three submissions from each member per day. If you’re extremely prolific, spread out your work and post only three submissions per day.
- Post to Gather Writing Essential.
- Tag your submission with SatWE.
- Include (Saturday Writing Essential) as part of your title.
- I ask that you make your submission(s) by next Friday afternoon.