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Every Grog Has Its Day
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Chapter 3: Cheating Death

“Hey Guybrush!” Murray whispered, or at least tried to.  It was difficult to tell how loud one was speaking when one lacked a definitive pair of ears. 

Guybrush leaned down, wiping some foam from Murray’s brow where it was sizzling through.  “What is it?”

“Oh thanks, I was wondering what that was- but Guybrush, whatever you do, don’t drink the grog!”

Guybrush twisted his eyebrows indignantly.  “Why not?” he protested.

Murray gritted his false teeth.  They really were starting to grow on him, figuratively speaking of course.  “First of all, you’re too young. Second, would you look at everybody else for a minute?”

Guybrush ignored Murray’s first statement, knowing he could prove him wrong if he could only find his library card… yet then he saw why Murray had given him the warning.  All around, ghosts and ghouls alike were gulping down the pungent liquid, but it didn’t stay in them for long.  Dark, steaming puddles tattooed the floor where they stood, blistered wood slowly giving ways to holes as the grog worked its wicked way through the boards.  Like a wave crashing against a briny beach, the realization broke over Guybrush.  “It’s as if they’re just pouring it on themselves. You can’t taste it, can you?” he hissed curiously at Murray.  

The weathered skull grimaced, his teeth twisting his frown into a giddy grin.  “No! We can’t. But if we can’t have it, you can’t either.”

“Is that why the Scab-Picker has been blockading Lockjaw? So nobody living can get it?”

Murray sulked, tipping against the grog bowl.  “I think you just answered your own question.”

Guybrush sighed, staring at a poor dead soul who had just lost his battle against the Scab-Picker’s captain.  “I’d still like to know more.  Something smells of LeChuck, but I can’t put my finger on it.”

“Guybrush,” started Murray, “You’re surrounded by decay and PURE EVIL.  How can you NOT smell LeChuck?”

“Good point.”

Three friends of the hapless skeleton were hauling him and the rest of his parts past Guybrush, who watched them attentively.  Finding a nice empty barrel, they left him there, where he hollered and cursed at them as they went to investigate some other lovely young ghouls.  Guybrush meandered over to the barrel, leaving Murray to nurse the few drops of grog dripping from the bowl’s rim. 

“Hi,” said Guybrush.

“Hi,” said the disassembled skeleton.

“Vangoughderfassenson. Jethro Vangoughderfassenson,” said Guybrush, starting to extend a hand then realizing the futility of it.

“Reese,” volunteered the skull exasperated, “and as you can see, here are my pieces. Some friends I’ve got, huh?” 

“Can I get you anything?” Guybrush offered, hoping the skull would take more kindly to his questions if he helped him a little.

“Yeah, bring me a drink.  We’ll toast that sweet shallow grave over there.  She winked at me, and she looks like she might have been a blond once.”

Guybrush retrieved two mugs, but wouldn’t drink after the toast was raised.

“What, she not good enough for you? Afraid she might ruin your costume or something?”

Guybrush shook his head.  “Nah, I’m driving tonight.”  The last thing he needed was to be the only dry guy at the party.  Lacking the essential puddle beneath him might make him seem uncool, or just not dead.  Either way, Guybrush preferred being a wallflower tonight.  This whole espionage/undercover fandango might have been grim, but boy, was it exciting!  Guybrush started to giggle, and pretended to instead cough on his sleeve. 

Reese stared at him perplexed, and Guybrush shrugged it off.  “Old habits die hard, just like me,” he boasted.  “The scurvy took my lungs before I followed.  Call it phantom pain.”

“I know what you mean,” affirmed Reese.  “Even right now I feel like there’s something gnawing on my leg.”

Guybrush looked and sure enough, there sat a monkey carving away at the bones with his little banana-munching teeth.  “Timmy!” he cried, and the monkey skittered out through a hole in the corner.  Another scrutiny from Reese made Guybrush shake that off too.  “Timmy…Jiminy… Cricket! Wow, that was strange. A monkey! I remember when I had one of those little crap-flinging beasties! Why, we used to- but I digress.  So what’s up with that game over there?”

Reese sighed.  “I could have won, really! But one way or another, the captain is hiding cards.  Man, if I had had sleeves or something, or maybe skin, I coulda won. I coulda been a contender.” He wistfully sighed again.

‘Sleeves?’ thought Guybrush.  ‘How much easier could this get?’

“So what ship are you from?” he asked languidly, hoping to end the conversation and head over for a challenge, maybe.

“I had been from the Aquaholic, but then last week Captain Tiddlywink and his gang showed up and killed everyone on the ship. That’s why I’m here now.”

It was Guybrush’s turn to stare. “You got beaten by a guy named Tiddlywink? What kind of a pirate are you? What kind of a lily-livered, sea slug of a mother would pass on a pathetic doughface name like Tiddlywink?

Reese tried to hush Guybrush, but to no avail.  Suddenly a surprisingly strong flesh and bone hand clamped itself over Guybrush’s eyes.

“Guess who,” growled a malignant voice.

“Hmmm,” Guybrush pondered, his skin squirming, and his organs crawling at the cold and musty touch.  But he must be brave.  The fate of grog-swilling pirates everywhere depended on him.  “It’s not Largo LeGrande, unless you’re standing on a box, eh?”

“Wrong,” came the emphatic scoff.

“El Pollo Diablo! You have returned for me!”

“Try again, barnacle breath.”

“Well that was a hurtful comment.  Very smart.  How long did it take you to come up with that? Only a complete moron would retort with an insult that INFERIOR, so I’m going to guess that you’re,” Guybrush turned defiantly, “Captain Tiddlywink.” He found himself face to face with what normally is a sternum.  This one happened to be scantily covered over with an old salt-stained shirt and a baldric strap, as well as ragged pieces of skin, still desperately clinging even after death.  Guybrush tilted his gaze upward, where a pair of gold coins glittered in the eye sockets down at him. 

“Captain Tiddlywink, I presume.”

“At least you got something right before you were thrown into the bowels of hell.”

“Aw, c’mon, I was just kidding.  Why don’t we play a game together? Let’s be friends. Pick a game. Your choice.”

“How about you apologize and I only rip one limb off.” The corpse smiled.  “Pick a limb. Your choice.”

“Now that you mention it, I have been a little concerned about- Look! A three headed monkey.. or something!”  Fortunately, whereas all of the living had grown tired of that ploy, this deteriorating dead guy was a little less than clever. After all, his IQ could not be measured. It had to be dug for: six feet down.  Guybrush dived under the grog table, which would have worked if there had not been seven other ghoulish party goers cowering underneath it already.  Tiddlywink recovered from his gullibility, and hauled Guybrush out by his feet, placing one bilge-soaked boot across his chest.  Leaning down, he glared at Guybrush, the heavy cloud of sod and sea threatening to make Guybrush sneeze.

“I wish you weren’t dead,” sneered the monster, “cause I’d take pleasure in guttin’ you, boy.  But you’ll have to settle instead for a little impressment.”

“Oh that’s okay,” stammered Guybrush, “I’m already very impressed.”

Tiddlywink shook his head contemptuously, and snapped his fingers at two of his crew.  They pulled Guybrush to his feet and began to drag him after the captain.

“What is all this? Hey!” protested Guybrush.

“Impressment means we steal you and make you work on the ship or something.  I wouldn’t want to be you, oh no, even if I could have me life back,” shivered one of the captors. 

“And find Reese as well!” hollered Tiddlywink. “We can’t leave without a navigator!”

The cohorts glanced about and spied him on the barrel.  “Reese, that you?”  one cautiously ventured.

“Are you kidding?” bluffed Reese.  “I’m Vangrogandfashion. Jethro Vangrogand fashion.”

“Hey!” Guybrush remonstrated.

“The guy you’re looking for is hiding behind the punchbowl.”

Murray attempted an innocent smile as the two tugged him out, but no one bought it.  Before he could howl any catastrophic threats against the fate of their bones and any other of their possessions, he was shoved in a bag and slung over a bony shoulder.  Guybrush contemplated pulling out the bottle of rootbeer, but he only had one, and he did not want to risk popping off Murray as well.  Murray would never speak to him again, if he could.  As the waves pushed the rowboat higher against the night sky, Guybrush leaned forward to the one guiding them with the rudder.  “So where are we going?”

“First, the Scab-Picker, and from there, Lockjaw Island.”

Guybrush leaned back, feeling the cold night breeze whip his hair about, and a chill settled over his skin.  ‘Oh Elaine,’ he thought, ‘this really wasn’t supposed to happen.’


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