All Things Bright and BeautifulBY: Briony
Ch. 1: The Call to Prayer
Jack Sparrow woke up somewhere in an alley on Gibraltar.
Never mind how he had managed to get himself there, it was a
dangerous place for him to linger. His memory was definitely
hazy, starting from Tripoli when he'd shipped out with a Barbary
crew, owing to the overindulgence of kif. He wrinkled his nose.
Damned stuff, that, sticky sweet and didn't he still reek of it!
Besides, the captain had started eyeing him in an all-too-familiar
fashion and he didn't fancy another turn in harem pants. He'd
jumped ship at Malaga and found a fishing crew. That's right,
they'd dumped him here after he'd sworn once too often in
He drew his legs up and leaned back against the wall,
considering his options. There was no going back to the Indies,
not with the memory of the Celeste still burned into his brain, not
to mention the brand burned onto his right arm. He grimaced
and spat out a mouthful of sour saliva. One day, when he got his
Pearl back, he'd even things up with Peter Garrison, but first, he
needed to head west, back to the Caribe. Problem was, how to
get there. He couldn't simply join a merchant crew now, not with
that brand blazing for all to see if he so much as turned up his
sleeve. One hot day on deck and someone would be sure to
spot it and he'd be hanging from a yardarm quick as Bob's yer
Feck all, what he needed right now was a good, honest drink to
clear his head of all that smoke. He pulled himself to his feet
and yanked his hair back, pulling a kerchief around it. He looked
like any other scruffy Spanish sailor with his dark colouring and,
for that, he was decidedly grateful, Gibraltar being English and
all. As he stumbled out into the street, he ran headlong into a
slight man in dark clothes, struggling with a large portmanteau.
"Perdona", he mumbled, neatly lifting the man's purse from his
coat with clever, grimy fingers. The nervous little man backed up,
eyes wide and terrified, then shuddered with obvious disgust
and Jack watched him continue on his way, feeling the weight of
the purse hidden in his hand beneath a fold of his sash. Not bad
for a quick bit of juggling. He smiled and headed down to the
nearest tavern for a much-deserved drink.
The only tavern was below the only inn on the God-forsaken rock
and he bought himself a bottle of calvados and found himself a
nice, dark corner with a good view of the room and a back door
conveniently close. Never knew when you'd have to cut and run,
he reasoned. No sense being sloppy, especially with all those
lobsters milling about.
The inn was nearly empty, it being late afternoon, past that
damnable Spanish custom of eating hugely in the middle of the
day and snoring until four or five.
He leaned back against the wall, his feet up on the bench,
lounging and drinking.
He had nearly dozed off when his ears pricked up to the sound
Well, well, if it was his little dark scarecrow, looking a bit less
nervous and talking animatedly to what appeared to be an
Jack shifted himself back into the shadows and listened idly.
"Yes, yes, " the slight man was saying. "I put out on the Jeremiah
tomorrow, bound for Nassau to take up God's work there. I am
quite extraordinarily excited to have the opportunity to work with
the poor natives there. Of course, the parish is small but
missionary work can only be for the good of all people,
regardless of colour."
Bloody pompous ass, Jack thought, tossing back another
swallow from his bottle.
"Indeed it is, Reverend Meadows. And I'm sure that you will be
much rewarded for your efforts."
Jack tuned out so boring a conversation and contented himself
with drinking and dreaming of the various ways he was going to
gut Barbossa when he found him. A stray thought drifted into his
reverie and the beginnings of a plan started to form in his mind.
He listened a bit more.
"Well, Reverend, I must get back. I am on duty at the fort in but an
hour. It has been most pleasant talking with you. May God speed
your journey tomorrow."
My thanks, Lieutenant. I intend to dine in my room here and enjoy
the last of my stay on land for a time. God bless you and keep
The officer's chair scraped on the wood floor and the Reverend
sat quietly reading for a time.
In the shadows behind him, the dim light glinted gold as Jack
Sparrow's lips curved into a smile.
"Now, what in blazes you got in `ere, mate?" Jack asked,
rummaging through the open trunk. "Books, books an' more
books. I tell ya, Reverend, you need t'get yerself a girl. These
things'll rot yer brain, they will. Ye'll do yeself an injury. Much
better off wi' a nice, long shag."
"Wot's that ye say?" Jack smiled broadly over his shoulder,
pulling out a clean shirt. "Cat got yer tongue, matey?"
The slight, nervous Reverend Meadows was trussed up on the
bed quite nicely, Jack's kerchief stoppering his mouth. His
watery blue eyes were fixed on the pirate who was busily
ransacking his cases.
"Ahh now, don't you worry yourself. I'm not gonna hurt ya, luv. But
I am goin' to commandeer a few things. Savvy?"
Jack paused to glance in the mirror. "Hmmm. I guess this will
have t'go." He held up a braided lock of his hair. "But, as the
Good Book says, vanity is the Devil's work, ain't that right,
He found the man's shaving kit and used the razor to shear off
his long hair, littering the floor with tangled elf-locks and trinkets,
then dunked his head in the basin, shaking it like a dog. He kept
up his amiable conversation while he briskly whipped up lather
of foam and began to shave.
"Y'know, you might just thank me f'this. You really don't seem the
type who'd enjoy the Caribbean sun, it bein' so hot and all.
Damn. I bloody hate shaving!"
He held the towel to the small nick on his chin and smiled at his
own reflection. No, no Jack Sparrow there looking back at him.
His drying hair curled around his head like a dark halo and the
clean-shaven face looked very young, and quite fetching, if he did
say so himself. He smiled again, then grimaced. Must
remember to keep me gob shut, with them teeth, he considered.
Trying, but certainly not impossible.
He began to strip off his ragged clothing, enjoying the good
Reverend's bug-eyed perusal of his assortment of tattoos and
scars. Of course, the man's eye was trained on that damned
brand. Jack grinned at him, blithely wandering around the room
"Go on, look all you want, ducky." He turned his back and
glanced over his shoulder provocatively. "Now that's a pretty bit of
ink, ain't it?" He laughed softly, regarding the enormous
Japanese warrior that spanned most of his back in the mirror.
"Got it in Macao off some Japanese feller. Hurt like the devil, but
we weren't goin' anywhere fast, y'see, stuck in a Portugee jail. I
must say, Reverend, that the Catholics do feed a soul a mite
bettern' the English. At least in prisons they do. Sumpthin' you
might remember when you take up your calling in future. Just
because a feller's gonna hang or get the garrote don't turn his
belly off an' a nice last supper is definitely an act o' Christian
Jack pulled on the clean linen shirt and and sat down on the bed
to slip on the dark breeches. He paused and leaned over to pat
the bound man's cheek.
"I'm only takin' the one. Yer welcome to all the rest of it. Nothing
of value t'me mate. I have an appointment, ye see, back in the
West Indies and I simply can't be late. " He paused, one finger to
his lips. "On second thought, I'll be takin' it all, mate. Y'know,
matter o' pirate honour. "
"Ya don't say. Truly, Reverend. I will always remember your
kindness i' this matter. I'm sure that God will be most pleased at
your extraordinary generousity in `elpin' out yer fellow man."
Jack stood up, brushing the black breeches down and stopped
to consider his hands. Quickly, he pulled off all the rings and
frowned, then resumed rummaging through the good
Reverend's effects until he found what he was looking for: a
small bottle of walnut oil, thought by some to be good for curing
seasickness. Stupid landlubbers, he grinned, working the oil
well into the white flesh above his knuckles. Only real cure for
seasickness was a good drunk and a lie down between `em. He
looked down at his hands, then returned one ring, the one with
the oval onyx, to his left forefinger.
"Can't give that one up, Reverend. Present from a departed mate
He checked again through the littered contents of the trunk,
picked up the brand-new Communion case, bit his lip for a
moment and stuffed it back, then sat down on the floor, rifling
through the books.
"Hmm. I suppose I'll be needin' this one." he tossed the
well-worn Book of Common Prayer into the trunk and picked up
another. "Shakespeare. Very erudite, Reverend, but ain`t
playgoin' considered a bit of a lapse in a clergyman?" He threw
that one in, too. "Mind ya, I like a bit of theatre, as it were." He
grinned wickedly up into the man's eyes.
He threw in a few more. "An' I imagine I'll need a bit o'reading
material, not being occupied topside on this journey. Ahh," he
held up a bottle of port. "Now that will definitely come in handy."
By the time he had repacked the trunk and the portmanteau and
cleaned up the room, the dawn was beginning to grey the night
"Well, Reverend, this has been most fun, but I'm afraid our
acquaintance, as it were, is coming to an end. I do thank you
from th' bottom of me black heart."
He muffled the sound of the blow from a large candlestick with
the bedclothes, knocking the Reverend into dreamland, heaved
him with some difficulty into the wardrobe and locked the door.
He took a long breath and looked at himself once more in the
mirror, tugging at the collar and bands about his throat that fell
neatly over the sober black coat. Very nice. Respectable, and
clean, at least from the outside. He grinned at himself, collected
the rest of his shorn hair and pulled out the locks with various
beads and charms attached, wrapped them carefully in a
handkerchief, opening the trunk and tucking them away in the
Communion case. He threw the rest of the hair into the fire
where it flared up, then died away, leaving a rather pungent
smell like burning dog.
Keeping a clean handkerchief close to his face, he went out into
the hall and tapped the servant snoring on the landing awake.
"Please take my case and trunk down to the docks immediately."
That done, he descended the stairs, made sure that the
innkeeper was still abed and left payment with the maid, and
followed the servants with his luggage down to the dock.