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Monkey Island 5 - Operation Guybrush.
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Chapter 7: Last steps before leaving the Melee

Elaine approaches the Scumm bar and enters, ever so slightly cautious, due to rumours she has heard about certain drunkards who frequent the Scumm bar and have a tendency to holler lewd slogans at any woman who dares venture into their territory. At once, the stale, acrid stench of grog shoots up her nostrils, and any weaker woman would have recoiled, overwhelmed by the fumes, but Elaine merely sniffs to clear her nose and slowly takes in the action around her. Immediately, she assumes that some kind of riot must be taking place, as the patrons all jostle each other ferociously, and some take the violence to extremes, upturning tables, pushing and shoving, even brawling on the slatted wood floor of the bar.

“Wow,” exclaims Murray in awe, fighting to suppress the urge to vocalise his thoughts about how evil most of the people in the bar appear to be. However, Elaine quickly realises that many people are merely fighting for a prime position at the bar, and comes to the conclusion that the actions that seem quite violent to her is simply drunken revelry, and she strides confidently towards a burly, muscular seaman.

“Hi,” she coos alluringly.

The man glances upward, almost choking on his grog when he sees the governor beaming at him. “Ms Marley!” he splutters, immediately consciously attempting to sober up. “Wh... What are you doing here? You never usually come down here. In fact, we very rarely find any women in this place, let alone incredibly attractive ones such as yourself.”

Elaine feels a slight wave of anger wash over her, as she feels patronised and offended by the comments, but she stifles the feelings with a sunny smile directed at her prospective crewmember. “May I buy you a drink?”

The man gapes, his mouth hanging loosely open, and he pinches himself hard and, on realising he is not dreaming, heartily accepts the offer of a drink. Over a watered down grog (“The real stuff would burn holes in your gut, and mine too, come to think of it. On second thought, I’ll just have a half grog, same as you.”), Elaine discovers the gentleman is named Joshua, and learns all kinds of things about him. He talks constantly and vivaciously, and demonstrates such zest for discussing the ocean that he knocks his grog flying attempting to demonstrate the actions of swash and backwash.

“Oh! Sorry, Elaine!”

“That’s okay, Josh. I found everything you said fascinating, so I almost didn’t notice the grog spill.”

“You’d better get it cleaned up. The acid eats through anything amazingly quickly.”

“Oh, I don’t want to be a bother, I should be ok,” Elaine replies coolly, knowing her clothing has been treated with industrial strength starch and is so very well protected. “Say Josh, are you occupied with any projects at the moment?”

Josh’s eyes almost bulge out of his head with amazement. “No, Elaine. Uh, why do you ask?”

“Well…” Elaine moves forward slightly, seductively. “I really need a favour, as I’m in a bit of bother at the moment.” She sighs gently, wrapping a finger round one of her chestnut curls.

“Some guy giving you grief?!” Josh leaps to Elaine’s defence.

“Yes, that’s exactly it. A diabolically evil animal, and I want revenge, but I’ll need your help.”

“Brilliantly put!” whispers Murray excitedly.

Elaine pauses and rests her hand softly on his shoulder. Josh swallows, barely able to contain his excitement. “Elaine, I’d travel to the ends of the earth for you.”

“Great. Would you be willing to help me cruise to Monkey Island?” Josh gulps, the awe he feels for Elaine turning into raw dread in his stomach, but he gazes into Elaine’s eyes and is hypnotised by her kind, considerate yet deeply anxious face, and forces himself to relent.

“Well… Sure, I’ll help you. I do love the ocean, after all.” Elaine suddenly and quickly embraces him in a hug as her relief and gratitude rise to the surface in a rapid flurry, but she releases him the instant she hears a high pitched wolf whistle. She smiles, ever so slightly coy now.

“Welcome aboard.”

By using a very similar method, she is able to persuade another young man, Michelangelo, to be a second sailor. “Oh, thank you!” she gushes profusely. “You shan’t regret this!” However, Elaine still lacks the most crucial member of her crew, the navigator, as all the patrons of the bar evade her eyes and questions when she requests a navigator. Eventually, she asks the bartender, a stout, rather temperamental middle aged man, if he has seen any navigators in the bar, and he chuckles, guttural and sardonic.

“Miss, there’s only one navigator who comes by here now, he’s frightened off all other navigators, fiercely competitive and aggressive, he is. But he would never harm you or me, he’s just terribly protective about his job as navigator, so protective in fact, not a soul on this island knows his real name. We all just refer to him as…. The Navigator. He’s over there in the corner, his usual spot.”

Elaine’s eyes follow his pointing finger to a reclusive man huddled alone in a dark, dank corner of the bar.

She saunters over to him, and, at the sound of her footsteps, he glances up sharply. “Oh, hi. Mind if I join you?” The navigator shrugs and shifts slightly to allow Elaine to squeeze up beside him. “Thanks.”

Elaine sits by him, trying not to betray the squirming, sick sensation in her stomach at being so close to him, for he gives off a stench of sour grog constantly, has a closely cropped head that reminds Elaine of a diseased peach, and a general aura of dirtiness about him. “So… I hear you’re an excellent navigator.” Her companion nods and passes her a customer survey. Elaine is very impressed, as all reports are exceptionally positive. “Well, this is great!” she beams. “Would you be interested in taking the position of navigator on my crew?”

The navigator raises his eyebrows in distain as if to suggest, “You have a crew?”

“I do indeed, but you will be the most important member of the crew, and I’d be happy to discuss wages.” Again, he raises his eyebrows, silently questioning the offer, then shakes his head. “Well, if you’re sure… “ Elaine murmurs calmly. “Of course, you’d be entitled to extra benefits, but if you’re not interested…”

She rises, but The Navigator catches her arm and speaks for the first time, in a harsh, raspy quiver. “Where be ye going, on this li’l trip?”

Elaine gently pulls free from his grasp and, turning to face him, animatedly explains about the voyage, finishing with, “So I really need an expert navigator just like you.”

He nods again, almost understandingly, but then pauses. “Mmm, love to help, but there seems to be a, ahem, ahem…” He is suddenly taken aback by a horrific coughing fit, and, recovering, continues. “A very high risk factor. ‘Course, if I were offered special, uh, unique benefits, I may just forget the hazardous nature of the voyage.”

“Ok, fine, but before we discuss that, I’d appreciate seeing some of your navigating skills firsthand. Statistics are all very well but…”

The navigator’s face flushes vindictively, and he snaps, “Don’t you believe my statistics? The opinion of all my customers not good enough for you?”

“My dear sir, I’m sorry if I gave you that impression. Of course I can see truth in the statistics, I was merely seeking clarification of your exact skills. I don’t doubt your abilities at all.”

The navigator grins, showing repulsive yellowing teeth. “If you don’t doubt me, accept me offer, and I shall be able to tell if you be deceiving me. And ye are aware o’ the fact I’m near the only navigator in these parts?”

“Yes, I am aware that navigators are in somewhat short supply, which is why I’m so glad I found you. What do you propose?”

“You mentioned, uh, special benefits, and I was wonderin’ if I might suggest a few…”

“Well, that’s settled then. We have the premium food package, all expenses paid plus the normal wages, and, of course, half any treasure we find, and, in light of your personal request, an hour every day in my company. So, are you now ready to join my crew?”

“Aye, I’ll join yer crew for that.” Elaine shakes The Navigator’s hand as warmly as she can bear to. “Pleasure to have you aboard.”

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