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Excerpt for Minjy the Robot - A Pirate's Life: Minjy's Third Adventure by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

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Minjy the Robot – A Pirate’s Life

Copyright © 2016 by Steven Michael Krystal

All rights reserved.

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or

transmitted in any form or by any means, mechanical, electronic, photo-

copying, recording or otherwise without the prior written permission of the publisher.


This book/e-book story is a work of fiction. All names, characters and incidents depicted in this book/e-book story are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, organizations, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental and is not intended by the author.

Published by Steven Michael Krystal

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

E-mail: smkrystal@bell.net

eBooks

By Steven Michael Krystal


Minjy the Robot


Minjy the Robot Returns


Minjy the Robot – A Pirate’s Life


Minjy the Robot in Glitter City







Chapter 1

Port Marcia

Turquoise blue waves gently caressed the white sand beaches of Port Marcia. The sun provided a calm backdrop to the seagulls drifting peacefully on the trade winds high above the sea. Nature’s serenity is what Cheddi now awoke to each morning. This was in contrast to the life he left behind in the small town that had a workshop that made clocks.

Cheddi had slept well. He was rested and ready to enjoy the blessing of a new day back at home in his tropical town.

Cheddi Mullbery

“Don’t be lazy,” said Cheddi to himself. “Soon your customers will be lining up to buy the things they need and you must not disappointment them.”

He got out of bed and was happy and smiling.

Cheddi worked at ‘Pappy’s General Store’ which belonged to his father, Ernest Mullbery. The store was once owned by Ernest’s great grandfather, Pappy, and it had been passed down through the generations. Ernest’s customers endearingly nicknamed him ‘Pappy’, and the town’s people eventually knew him by that name as well.

Ernest ‘Pappy’ Mullbery

“I’m not sure if I’ll have time for breakfast this morning. Pappy is getting impatient in his old age and is probably waiting for me already. After all, his store is his baby,” thought Cheddi.

The quiet morning was interrupted by a telephone ring. Cheddi wondered who could be calling so early. It was very rare for the phone to ring during the morning, if at all. In Port Marcia there was a phone in every house, but it was used for emergencies only. Otherwise, people enjoyed speaking to eachother in person.

“Hello, this is Cheddi speaking. Who may I ask is calling?” he asked politely.

“Good morning,” replied the constable, “this is Royal Police Constable Winston Patrick speaking. I apologize for interrupting your morning and calling so early. Please forgive me.”

Constable Winston Patrick

“An urgent matter has taken place at Pappy’s General Store,” he said. “The situation is still unfolding as we speak, but please be assured that everything is under control. May I suggest that you and your father proceed to his store as quickly as possible. Please don’t delay.”

Needless to say, Cheddi was alarmed by his conversation with Constable Patrick.

“What could have happened?” wondered Cheddi. “It must be something quite bad. Otherwise, Constable Patrick would have waited until I arrived at the store to speak with me. I better go to pick up Pappy and head to the store!”

As Cheddi rushed out the door he paused and turned around. He went to the table by the front door and removed his fishing knife from the drawer.

“Better safe than sorry,” thought Cheddi.

Although he had not been home for many years he nevertheless remembered that Port Marcia was very peaceful. Yet he also knew that it had its share of crime from time to time.

As Cheddi closed the door and locked up, he was startled by a man standing behind him. Cheddi froze still for a moment.

“Dad, what are you doing here?” asked Cheddi. “You’ve scared the wits out of me! How did you get here?”

“I’m sorry to have frightened you,” answered Pappy, “but we must go at once. I received a telephone call early this morning from Constable Patrick. He called me first as he knew I’d be up and you’d still be fast asleep. After speaking with him I got dressed and walked to your house.

“Cheddi, you sure do have a reputation for sleeping in!”

“Dad, what has happened?” asked Cheddi.

“I’m not entirely sure. Constable Patrick assured me that he had the situation under control. He said that we must get to the store as quickly as possible. Apparently there was some kind of skirmish that occurred outside the store,” replied Pappy.

When Cheddi and Pappy arrived they saw their porch bench overturned and resting on the sidewalk. Then they noticed three women standing around. At first Cheddi and Pappy were puzzled. They had never seen two of the women before – they only recognized Babs.

Barbara ‘Babs’ Chatsworth

As they got out of their truck, Cheddi and Pappy saw Constable Patrick separating Babs from other women. They all looked angry and were yelling at eachother and at Constable Patrick.

“Please ladies! Stop yelling and settle down at once,” said Constable Patrick in a frazzled but firm tone of voice. “The owner of the store has arrived. Babs, please do not say another word. As for you two ladies, please co-operate as this investigation is about to proceed.”

“Yes okay, Constable,” replied one of the women.

“Don’t let those two fool you, Winston Patrick!” said Babs in a rough tone of voice. “I’ve seen their type before. They pretend to be pretty and sweet on the outside, but they’re rotten on the inside. Lock ‘em up I say!”

“Quiet please!” responded the constable. “Babs, show respect and please call me by my professional name which is Constable Patrick. Only my friends call me Winston Patrick.”

Then the constable approached Babs and spoke quietly so the others wouldn’t hear.

“Babs, do I have to remind you that you are still on probation? Don’t make me have to arrest you again. Please settle down,” said Constable Patrick.

Babs quieted down.

Constable Patrick motioned to Cheddi and Pappy to come closer. As soon as they did there was another outburst from Babs.

“I’m innocent! Let me go! Those two are lying through their teeth!” yelled Babs.

By now Constable Patrick had lost his patience. He looked annoyed as he reached for the handcuffs in his holster. Babs became frightened and was silent. Unfortunately, she had learned the hard way not to get on the wrong side of the law.

Chapter 2

The weeks leading up to Mid-Winter Festival were the busiest time of the year for shipping companies. Packages of all shapes and sizes were sent all over the world in preparation for various celebrations which made the festival so popular.

There were many ships in Port Marcia that day which was busier because of the upcoming festival. The freighter that was the next in line to be unloaded was large and filled with lots of cargo. Its captain was reviewing his crew list. Whenever the ship was in port there was usually a changeover of crew. It was common for many of them to leave the ship and take vacation. They would be replaced by other crew members who were returning to work.

The captain disliked this time of the year. The upcoming festival made the ship’s schedule much busier. As well, it was difficult to keep track of the cargo being delivered to all of the different ports. It was even more challenging with crew members leaving and returning from vacation. It often resulted in confusion as some of the crew did not know which cargo was to be unloaded at which port. Needless to say mistakes happened and cargo was often dropped off at the wrong port.

The captain signed off on the last crew member, Francis Armstrong, to leave the ship for vacation.

Francis ‘Armie’ Armstrong

“Hey, Armie, I bet you can’t wait to get off this floating heap of metal,” said one of the crew members to Francis, whose friends called him ‘Armie’.

“Tell me something I don’t know, professor!” replied Armie. There was a roar of laughter from the crew.

“Armie, where’s the first place you’ll be heading once you leave the ship?”

“To the nearest pub for a cold beer, that’s for sure!”

Again, there was laughter from the crew who found Armie’s humor to be entertaining.

“Have a beer for me,” shouted one of the crew as he waved good-bye to Armie from the deck.

“Thanks mate, and as a matter of fact I’ll have a couple!” shouted Armie with a warm smile on his face. The large freighter moved slowly away from the dock.

From the conversation and jokes it was obvious that the mood among the crew was light hearted. They had their minds on their vacations more than their work. Some cargo was mistakenly unloaded at Port Marcia where Armie disembarked the ship. As the freighter began to gain momentum and left Port Marcia for open sea, a dock worker noticed the cargo that had been mistakenly dropped there.

“These crew people are always making mistakes. What am I suppose to do with all of these boxes? Our warehouse is already full and there’s no space left. I’ll think of somewhere to put them,” said the dock worker to himself.

It was time to leave and the boxes were left outside beyond the fenced off area.

“I’m sure they’ll be safe there overnight. After all, it’s just until the morning and I’ll have more space tomorrow to store them properly,” thought the dock worker as he headed home for the evening.

Chapter 3

Constable Patrick had enough of Babs’s poor behaviour. He removed his set of handcuffs from his holster when suddenly there was the sound of the telephone ringing from his police car. The constable paused.

“Please wait here while I attend to the telephone call from my car,” said Constable Patrick. “Cheddi, please do me a favour and keep an eye on Babs.”

“Yes of course,” answered Cheddi.

Constable Patrick answered the telephone.

“This is Constable Patrick speaking. Good morning and how may I be of assistance to you?”

“Good morning. Is this the police?”

“Yes, you are speaking to the police.”

“Are you sure?”

“Of course I am sure. To whom am I speaking, and what may I do for you on this fine day?”

“This is Louis Simpledon speaking. There’s been a robbery!”

“Oh my! Where are you located?”

“At the dockyard. Pier number four.”

“I’m presently conducting an investigation and then I will be on my way over to see you.”

Constable Patrick hung up the telephone and returned to Cheddi and the others. The constable led the two women, Babs, Cheddi, and Pappy towards the entrance of the store.

“I’m afraid there is an emergency at the dockyard which I must attend to at once. I apologize for any inconvenience,” said Constable Patrick.

“What has happened at my father’s store?” asked Cheddi. “Has someone broken in? And who are these two women? I’ve never seen them before. What’s going on?”

“One of these women claims that Babs tried to steal her purse,” replied the constable. “The other woman claims that she witnessed what happened. I’ve also spoken with the store owner from across the street. He said that he heard a loud commotion and saw Babs knocking over your bench. That’s it over there resting upside down on the sidewalk. However, he told me that he did not see anything involving the purse.”

“Exactly who are these women?” asked Cheddi.

“The woman who claims that Babs tried to steal her purse is Monique Hevelle,” replied Constable Patrick.

Monique Hevelle

“The other woman is her sister, Juliette. They are tourists and here on vacation in Port Marcia.”

Juliette Hevelle

“What Babs has done is terrible,” said Pappy. “Trying to steal a purse and knocking over my bench is no way to behave. Everyone must obey the law. That is the reason why Port Marcia is such a peaceful place. Constable, what are you going to do about this?”

“I agree with you,” replied Constable Patrick. “Obeying the law is what keeps our town safe. Babs, based on what these women claim and what the store owner from across told me, I have no choice but to charge you with ‘disturbing the peace’.

“It carries a fine of two hundred and fifty dollars and you’ll have to come with me. Will hand cuffs be necessary, or will you behave yourself in the police car?” asked the constable.

“Yah, I’ll behave. After all, I ain’t dumb!” replied Babs.

“Good,” said Constable Patrick, “and as for the rest of you, please excuse me as I attend to the emergency at the dockyard.”

The drive over there was long but scenic. The road gently wound its way alongside the shore of Port Marcia’s beautiful bay. The still waters played host to the occasional sailboat clipping along the calm sea. Further in the distance were cargo ships that were anchored in the bay and waiting for their turn to dock.

Constable Patrick tried to reach the dockyard as quickly as he could. The road, however, was only one lane and hilly which slowed things down. Driving safely always came first when the constable responded to emergencies regardless of their urgency.

Constable Patrick finally reached the dockyard and stopped his car at the entrance. He and Babs got out.

“Babs,” said the constable, “if you don’t mind I’ll drop you off here. It is very close to the center of town. As for the two hundred and fifty dollar fine, if it is not paid and since you are currently on probation, you may have to go to jail.

“Babs, I know my police business and I urge you to take my advice. After all, I have a lot of experience in these matters. Now listen to me carefully. I know that you’ve had your share of run-ins with the law. So far it has been for minor things.

“I also know what the inside of a jail is like and I can tell you that it is no place for a lady. During my career I have never sent a woman to jail and I’d like to keep it that way. Babs, you must do everything possible to pay the fine. Otherwise, you are looking at a sentence of six months in jail and the possibility of two years behind bars since you’re already on probation.

“There is a lot at stake for both of us. The next time I convict a criminal I will be promoted to Chief of Police. This is something that I’ve worked for my entire career. I will be promoted if you are convicted, but I won’t let that happen. I will do everything possible within the law to help you. I would rather wait and have a real criminal convicted rather than you. As I said, jail is no place for a lady.

“Babs, what do you say?”

“Okay, Constable,” replied Babs. “We both know that I don’t have a penny to my name, let alone two hundred and fifty dollars, but I’ll get the money somehow. I’m a lot of things but I ain’t dumb. I know you’re right when you say that jail ain’t a place for a lady.”

“Babs,” said Constable Patrick, “I’ll try to help you as much as I can. You have my word.”

“Can I tell you something?” asked Babs.

“Sure, what would you like to tell me?” asked the constable.

“You’re a good man Constable Winston Patrick. Thank you for your help,” said Babs.

The constable smiled as he got back into his car and drove away in search of pier number four.

The dockyard was always busy and today was no exception. It had a bustling pace to it and was routinely clogged with trucks and cargo. Best of all, though, was its happy atmosphere thanks to the workers who loved their jobs by the sea.

Pier number four was the busiest dock. It was the biggest in the entire yard and was the temporary home for the largest ships that arrived in Port Marcia. As busy as the dock was, its trucks always made room when a police vehicle passed through. This gave Constable Patrick a sense of gratitude as he considered it to be a sign of respect to the police.

As the constable drove along he noticed one of the workers waving his hand. He stood next to a fence by the outskirts of pier number four. The constable parked his car and got out to speak with him.

“Constable, I’m Louis Simpledon,” he said, “and I’ve been robbed! What took you so long to get here?”

Louis Simpledon

“Louis, please calm down. I have arrived as quickly as possible. What has been stolen?”

“All of the boxes on the other side of the fence!”

“But there are no boxes on the other side of the fence.”

“Well of course, Constable. That’s because they’ve been stolen.”

Constable Patrick was amused by Louis’s remarks, but was far too busy for antics.

“I’m going to do my best to try to help you,” said Constable Patrick in a firm tone of voice. “I need to ask you several questions and will need your co-operation. Do you understand?”

“Yes, Constable.”

“First of all, please state your full name.”

“Louis Simpledon.”

“Thank you. Now tell me once again, what has been stolen?”

“Boxes.”

“What kind of boxes?”

“Square boxes.”

“Louis, can you please tell me how many of these square boxes were stolen?”

“Many, many boxes, Constable Patrick.”

“I see. And what where in these boxes?”

“I don’t know. Stuff, I suppose. It was cargo from a ship.”

“Louis, do you have any proof as to the existence of these stolen boxes?”

“Proof?”

“Yes, Louis, proof. Do you have anything to prove that these boxes were here before they were stolen?”

“No, I do not.”

“Are there any witnesses that can confirm that the boxes were here or that they were stolen?”

“No.”

“Well then, Louis, I’m afraid I cannot proceed any further. The law requires proof or witnesses in order to proceed with an investigation. You have neither and I regret that your claim is insufficient.”

“Well that’s not very good! Constable, how do you expect me to get back my boxes?”

“I’m very sorry, but I’m afraid you’re on your own. You may look around Port Marcia and try to find the stolen boxes by yourself. If you do find any then please call me immediately and I will try once again to help you.”

“Constable, you haven’t helped me at all!”

“Louis, please show respect. May I remind you that you are speaking to an officer of the law?”

“I apologize, Constable Patrick. I will indeed contact you if I find any of the boxes.”

“Very well, Louis. Have a good day.”

As the constable drove off, Louis wondered where the missing boxes could be. Then it occurred to him that the most likely place was at the nearby central market. That was where most of Port Marcia’s food and supplies were bought and sold.

The strangest things always ended up for sale at the central market.

Chapter 4

“Good morning, Cheddi. How are you?” asked Pappy.

“Good thanks,” replied Cheddi. “It’s going to be a busy day! Mid-Winter Festival is just around the corner and our shelves will have to be well stocked. This is always our busiest time of year and people will start shopping for the festival before you know it!”

“You’re right. I suggest that you go to the central market today. Please empty the back of the truck so you will be able to bring back as many supplies as you can,” replied Pappy.

“Okay. The truck will be bare to the bones in no time and I’ll be on my way to the market. No one can call me lazy!” said Cheddi.

“Cheddi,” said Pappy, “one more thing. Please don’t forget that we need to decorate the store for Mid-Winter Festival. It creates a festive mood and our customers like it. I also find that it makes them more eager to shop.”

“Don’t worry,” replied Cheddi. “This year’s decorations will be better than ever. The market is always full of interesting things that we can use as decorations. I have a good feeling that this year I’ll find something extra special!”

Cheddi wasted no time and was off to the market. With the approach of Mid-Winter Festival, shoppers from Port Marcia as well as the neighbouring towns were coming to the market to stock up on food and other household supplies. While many of the same items could be bought closer to home at local grocery stores, people still enjoyed saving a few pennies here and there by shopping at the central market. Aside from the savings, the market also offered many unique products that weren’t available elsewhere.

“Wow, it’s sure busy here today,” said Cheddi to himself. “I hope I can find a parking spot. I can still feel the sweat rolling down my back from emptying the truck. This trip better be worth my effort.

“I guess I’ll just have to take things slowly and enjoy this beautiful day. I’m sure I’ll find a spot in no time. Remember what Pappy taught you – patience is a virtue!”

As Cheddi drove along the market’s dirt road, he was forced to stop due to a large truck that was blocking the way. Cheddi did not like to honk the horn but did so after waiting patiently for a few minutes.

“Who’s making all that honking noise like a plump duck waiting for food?” asked the truck driver.

“Snake Anderson, is that you?” asked Cheddi.

“Yes. Who may I ask is shouting?” asked the truck driver.

“Snake, have you lost your hearing? It’s me, Cheddi, from Pappy’s General Store. What’s wrong with you? Have you already forgotten your best friend?” asked Cheddi with a grin.

Snake, whose actual first name was Baxter, was about the skinniest man in all of Port Marcia. He was given the nickname ‘Snake’ by his childhood friends. He was tall and lanky with a friendly disposition and he moved very slowly.

Baxter ‘Snake’ Anderson

“Cheddi, why are you honking at me? Don’t you see I’m busy trying to earn a living by driving this big truck?”

“Yes, Snake. I too am trying to earn a living. I’m honking so you’ll move your truck – before nightfall that is!”

“Cheddi, is that how you talk to your oldest, childhood friend?”

“I was just kidding with you. Snake, tell me something. What are you hauling in that big truck on this fine day?

“Boxes.”

“What kind of boxes?”

“Brown ones, hahaha!”

“Snake, don’t try to be funny with me or I may ask the wind to blow you over! Move your truck off the road and let me take a look inside. Maybe you can give me some good deals on supplies for Pappy’s store?”

“Sure. I’ll have this truck out of your way in no time!”

“Today, Snake. After all, you move slower than a sea turtle in the sand!”

Snake did not know what was inside the boxes on his truck. Nor did he know that these boxes were the cargo from pier number four that belonged to the shipping company. He had just picked them up by the dockyard, and they were the boxes that Louis Simpledon had left outside overnight.

Snake knew that dock workers routinely left boxes of unwanted items outside in hopes of them being taken. This was a cheap way to get rid of what they considered to be junk which would otherwise cost them money to be dumped.

After Snake and Cheddi parked their trucks they got out and greeted eachother with a warm hand shake.

“Tell me, Cheddi. How is Pappy doing?”

“Very good, Snake. He’s getting on in years although you would not know it. He has more energy than ever! Bright and early each morning he’s waiting for me to drive him to the store. Sometimes I think he’s the one waking up the roosters!”

“That’s wonderful, Cheddi. And tell me, how is the store? Busy as a bee hive?”

“Yes, Snake. We are truly blessed with a good livelihood. Customers come and go all day long. Pappy and I often welcome the off season when tourists aren’t visiting Port Marcia and things are less hectic.

“Pappy still has his wits about him and is sharp as ever. He knows if the store has enough supplies and he knows his prices. He’s still a stickler for keeping the store spick and span! If there’s so much as a speck of dirt on the floor or windows, he’s on at me until it’s cleaned up. Pappy still runs a tight ship!”

“That’s great to hear. And how about you, Cheddi? How have you been keeping? You look a bit tired.”

“Thanks for asking and I’m fine, but this morning we had a bit of trouble when we got to the store. Nothing serious though. Constable Patrick called Pappy and me early this morning due to a little skirmish that took place outside the store. It seems that Babs got herself into trouble again – this time with some tourists.”

“Babs never seems to learn her lesson. She’s still the same as when we were all together in first grade. She’s always causing mischief. Cheddi, isn’t that right?”

“I guess so, Snake. Now open the truck and let’s have a look at your fine wares.”

Snake opened the back door which rolled upwards without much effort. As soon as the daylight brightened the inside of the truck, Snake and Cheddi noticed that many of the boxes had tumbled to the floor. A few broke open and caused their contents to be scattered about.

“Oh man, this is not good!” said Snake.

Suddenly, one of the boxes tumbled off the truck. It broke open and an unusual looking object rested at Cheddi’s feet. He immediately picked it up. At first he thought nothing of it, but when Cheddi saw what it was he gasped and threw it down.

“Cheddi, you look like you just saw a ghost!” said Snake. “You look spooked! What’s wrong with you?”

Then Snake stared at the object lying on the ground.

“What is that?” asked Snake.

Cheddi looked at the object in disbelief.

“Minjy!” uttered Cheddi.

Chapter 5

Minjy the Robot

“Minjy?” asked Snake. “What is Minjy?”

Cheddi was stunned and could barely speak. After a few moments he responded.

“Minjy is a robot,” replied Cheddi, “who I knew a long time ago.”

“A robot who you knew? That makes no sense! What do you mean?” asked Snake.

“Do you remember when I left Port Marcia to work abroad several years ago?” asked Cheddi. “Do you recall Pappy telling you that I got a job in a small town working for a man who made clocks? It was a nice place to work but one day things changed for the worse. The workshop’s manager was a fine, decent, young man. Unfortunately, he was mistreated and forced to leave by the owner. This would not have occurred had Minjy not put the owner up to it.

“He was a mean, dishonest man and Minjy convinced him to be cruel to his staff. He listened to Minjy and put her in charge to ensure that happened. Eventually the owner turned on Minjy. He hit her over the head with a sledge hammer and had her thrown into a dumpster. She ended up being melted into pieces in a pool of burning acid – or so I thought. How she has ended up here before my eyes is a mystery. I thought she had been destroyed forever!” said Cheddi.

“Cheddi, you must be mistaken. It cannot be who you think it is. That’s impossible.”

“Snake, indeed it is Minjy the robot!”

“Now you are spooking me! I’m frightened by enough things without the thought of Minjy the robot on my truck.”

“Snake, don’t behave like a child. You have nothing to be frightened of. Minjy won’t harm you. She’s run out of power and can’t do a thing. Just put her back on your truck and try to sell her at the market.”

“There is no way I’m putting Minjy back on my truck. Cheddi, please get rid of her or take Minjy for yourself. You can have her.”

“Snake, what am I suppose to do with her?”

“I don’t know. Why don’t you take Minjy back to your store and try to sell her? After all, I’m giving her to you for free. Cheddi, please take Minjy away.”

“Okay, I will try to sell her at the store. If worse comes to worse, we’ll use Minjy to decorate the store. It will be a conversation piece for our customers.”

Snake thanked Cheddi and they shook hands and were on their separate ways.

As Cheddi drove around the market he was deep in thought and wondered about Minjy.

“I must be dreaming,” thought Cheddi, “or having a nightmare. Oh my, Minjy the robot here in Port Marcia. Wait till Pappy sees her. He won’t believe it!”

Once Cheddi was done picking up supplies at the market, he drove back to town and passed the dockyard along the way. This part of Port Marcia was always clogged with traffic. Cars and trucks were coming and going from the piers that serviced the visiting ships. The narrow streets could not accommodate the growth that the dockyard experienced over the years which caused the roads to be congested.

One of the busiest streets was Royal Albert Road which was lined with many shops and restaurants. ‘Fish Your Wish’ was located there and was Cheddi’s favorite place to eat. As Cheddi drove by he saw Babs sitting at one of the outdoor tables. She was all smiles as she sat across from a large man who Cheddi did not recognize.

“Hmmm, I wonder who that man is?” thought Cheddi. “I haven’t seen him before. He must be visiting Port Marcia. Wow, he’s the size of a lumberjack! If he’s with Babs he cannot be all that good. I’ll get the scoop from her the next time she’s at Pappy’s store. That Babs, she’s always up to something!”

Meanwhile as Cheddi continued driving back to his father’s store, Babs sat at Fish Your Wish enjoying the company of her new friend. She still had difficulty with his name – Francis Armstrong.

“I’ve never heard of such a thing! You gotta be kidding me. You mean to tell me that your parents actually named a big man like you Francis? Why don’t you just tell me your real name?” asked Babs, with a smile on her face.

“I’m not kidding,” he replied. “My real name is Francis. But don’t worry as I get the same reaction every time. Most people don’t expect a man like me to have a name like Francis. Even more so, most people don’t even know that Francis is both a man’s and woman’s name.

“I met a guy not long ago – his name was Nash. He was a real character and we had the same conversation about my name. I’ll tell you the same thing I told him. My name is Francis Armstrong and my friends call me ‘Armie’. Why don’t you do the same? And besides, who are you to talk with a name like Babs? What kind of a parent names their kid Babs? That can’t be your real name.”

“Well,” said Babs, “you’re right and it isn’t Babs. My name is Barbara Chatsworth. When I was a little girl the kids at school use to make fun of my name. They thought that only old ladies were named Barbara.

“I use to get teased, especially by the boys, and I ended up in a lot of fights. It really upset me getting teased like that. It hurt my feelings – do you know what I mean? Every time I asked them to stop they wouldn’t. They were very cruel. I ended up fighting with the boys and needless to say I got into trouble with the teachers.

“Even though it wasn’t my fault, everyone thought I was bad and a trouble maker. It stayed with me throughout my school years. No one understood how painful it was to be teased, and once the teasing started it didn’t stop.

“Eventually I was the victim of bullying. It was absolutely horrible and no one understood. It’s sad that it turned out that way and it forced me to drop out of school. I tried my best to stick up for myself but it was so difficult. Even sadder is that hardly anyone offered to help me.

“Teasing and bullying are wrong and should never be tolerated!

“It still continues to be a very serious problem for kids today. Fortunately, now there is more awareness about teasing and bullying. It’s out in the open and discussed in school, on social media, and on television. Nowadays if kids get teased and bullied they aren’t as reluctant to speak up and to let their parents and teachers know. I wish it would have been like that when I was in school. Back then I felt so alone and with practically no one to turn to.”

“That’s a very sad story and I’m sorry to hear that you were teased like that. I guess I had it easier, especially because I was so big and tall. People would think twice before trying to tease me,” said Armie.

“Thanks, Armie. Well I survived. So tell me about this guy named Nash. You mentioned that he was a character. Why so?” asked Babs.

“Oh, he was a character all right!” he replied, “and a gambler and a cheater too. He tried to trick me while betting on his shell game. Man, did he ever learn his lesson!”

“Hmmm, sounds interesting! Tell me the whole story,” she said.

“It was a cold, snowy night and I was at the bus station waiting to catch a bus to the coast,” replied Armie. “I had finished my vacation and it was time to head back to work. I’m a deck hand on an ocean freighter.

“Anyways, I sat down next to this skinny guy, Nash, who’s carrying a striped knapsack. I’m minding my own business and not causing trouble. All of a sudden he takes offense to me sitting beside him. He tells me to get up and sit somewhere else. He wasn’t too friendly about it either.

“He had an awful cough. He sounded like he was choking.

“So I thought to myself for a moment and then I stood up and stared him down, just to intimidate him a bit. After all, I wasn’t looking for a fight, but rather, I figured maybe I could pass the time talking with this fellow.

“As soon as I got up he took one look at me and slumped down on the bench. He must of thought I was gonna beat the daylights out of him. So what did I do? Just the opposite! As a friendly gesture I extended my arm to shake his hand and I smiled. He did the same, albeit reluctantly.

“So we continued to talk and then he pulled out a ball and some shells from his pocket. Like I mentioned before, he tried to cheat me out of my money by playing a shell game. What this Nash fellow didn’t know is that I’ve been around and I’m no one’s fool. I pretended to be naive and that I didn’t know the first thing about gambling.

“I intentionally lost the first game. When we played the second game I raised the stakes and then I caught him cheating. When he thought I wasn’t looking he removed the ball from under the shell so I couldn’t possibly win.

“I accused him of cheating and he knew that he’d been caught. He saw the look on my face and knew that I wasn’t amused. I took my winnings and we shook hands. Afterwards he ended up coming with me to the coast where we boarded the ship together.

“Eventually Nash told me that he had made a lot of money by cheating at gambling while he was in jail. He had just been released from there before we met.”

“Jail?” asked Babs. “Why was he in jail?”

“I don’t know,” replied Armie. “I never asked him and he never told me. All I can tell you is that they don’t put the good guys in jail – only the crooked ones like Nash.

“When we arrived in port on the other side of the ocean we parted ways. I still remember that really bad cough of his. I told him that he better see a doctor and I wished him well. Where that skinny thief ended up is anyone’s guess.

“So Babs, what about you? How do you pass the time and stay out of trouble?”

At this point in their conversation, Babs could tell that she enjoyed Armie’s company and that he was a nice man.

“Who said anything about staying out of trouble?” asked Babs jokingly. “I just had a run in with two women, one of whom accused me of trying to steal her purse. Now I’m in hot water with the police. I got a two hundred and fifty dollar fine for disturbing the peace. I may end up in jail if I can’t pay it.”

“That doesn’t sound too good. Babs, what are you going to do?”

“I don’t know but I’ll think of something. How about you, Armie? What are your plans while you’re in Port Marcia?”

“To tell you the truth I’m not too sure. All I know is that I need some time away from the sea. Every time I leave the ship for some time off I go far away from the water. As my ship approached Port Marcia I noticed mountains in the distance. Maybe I’ll head up to the foothills and take it easy.”

“That sounds like a great idea. Armie, if you’re looking for a place to stay I know a really nice gal that runs a small hotel called ‘The Alison Inn’. It’s not fancy but she keeps it super clean. There are a bunch of small stores nearby where you can buy food and whatever else you need.

“If you decide to head up there, just ask for Al. It’s short for Alison but everyone calls her Al. She owns the place. While you’re at it, tell her that you’re a friend of mine. Or perhaps that’s not such a good idea, hahaha.”

“I’ll tell you what, Babs. All this talking has made me hungry. Let’s order some food and the meal is my treat. After all, I hear Fish Your Wish has the best food in town. Sound good to you?”

“Well, Armie, that depends.”

“Depends? Depends on what?”

“Depends on whether you’re one of the good guys. I don’t want to share a meal with a bad guy like your old friend, Nash.”

“No worries, Babs. I assure you that I’m one of the good guys. In fact, I’m one of the best!”

“Well in that case, how could I say no to a nice offer from a kind gentleman like you?” asked Babs with a warm smile.

Chapter 6

Cheddi turned the corner and was almost at Pappy’s General Store. As he drove along he saw the two women that had run into trouble with Babs. As he passed by, one of the women noticed Cheddi and waved to him.

It was common courtesy in Port Marcia to be polite, especially to tourists. Cheddi parked his truck along the side of the road and stopped to say hello.

“Good afternoon, ladies,” he said, “it is very nice to see you again. I hope you are enjoying this beautiful afternoon in Port Marcia.”

“Yes we are thanks, but I hear it may rain later on today,” replied Monique, the lady who accused Babs of trying to steal her purse.

“Rain? That’s not a pleasant thought on this beautiful day. I assure you there will be nothing but clear, blue skies today,” said Cheddi with a warm smile.

“He’s absolutely right, Monique,” said Juliette, her younger sister. “So tell me Cheddi, are you having a good day?”

“Yes thanks. I’m just on my way back from the central market where I picked up supplies for our store,” replied Cheddi.

“Well that sounds interesting,” said Juliette “the central market must be a busy place.”

“Yes indeed!” said Cheddi.

“Did you see anybody that you know?” asked Juliette.

“As a matter of fact I did. An old friend who I thought I would have never seen at the market, or anywhere for that matter!” he replied.

“Well that must have been a pleasant surprise,” said Monique before Juliette got a chance to respond.

“A pleasant surprise? I’m afraid not,” said Cheddi.

“Why’s that?” asked Monique.

“Let’s just say it’s a long story,” replied Cheddi. “Now enough about me. Are you ladies enjoying your stay in Port Marcia?”

“Yes we are,” replied Juliette. “It’s a welcome change from back home. I live in a small town called St. Belle, and my sister lives in Glitter City. We decided to meet up here in Port Marcia to enjoy some relaxation in the sun.”

“That’s right,” added Monique. “Everyone can use some time off now and then, and what better place to take a vacation than here in Port Marcia? St. Belle and Glitter City are a long way from here but it’s been well worth the trip. This place is absolutely beautiful!”

“Yes, Port Marcia is great and you certainly picked a wonderful place to vacation,” said Cheddi. “I’m just sorry you had an unfortunate experience this morning outside my father’s store. That is a very rare occurrence. Our town is a peaceful, quiet place most of the time.”


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