“Ahar!” said Long John, hitching his Chinese quilted doublet over his privatised Kevlar blade-leg and adjusting the carbon fibre Windows 8 parrot on his shoulder. “Find the cripples and throw ‘em overboard. Them what sinks is innocent of being a burden on my ship and them what don’t sink is guilty of freeloading, so should be drowned!”
The crew cheered enthusiastically, apart from those with any kind of infirmity, who confined themselves to polite clapping and checking whereabouts the lifeboats might be situated.
“What about old people?” shouted young Jim Hawkins.
“Over the side with ‘em.” Long John said.
“How old should they be?” Jim asked, with a measure of trepidation.
Long John counted up on his fingers and beamed “Any of them dogs what’s older than me, Jim, lad.”
Jim breathed a sigh of relief. “How old are you, Long John?”
“Not old enough for Davy Jones’s locker, Jim, lad. And not young enough to divulge the account number of the offshore bank account I have in the Caymans.”
“How about the malingerers and shirkers, John Silver?” Doctor Livesey enquired.
“Hang ‘em from the yardarm, good Doctor, particularly them what’s never had a job and are aged fifteen or so.”
“Isn’t that age demographic still at school, Long John?”
“They be. That be where all the future malingerers and shirkers are spewing from, so we’ll hang ‘em afore they can get to the Jobcentre and swell the figures. Then we’ll keelhaul them wot lost their job through being in the wrong place at the wrong time. And them wots been daft enough to get caught in negative equity. That’ll larn ‘em.”
“And what about the Bankers?”
A silence descended on the ship. All eyes swivelled to the questioner. Long John, pneumatic blade-leg fully working, was by his side in an instant. Even the parrot looked worried and rebooted, leaving an unpleasant stain.
“What’s that you say, mad Ben Gunn?”
“I was just making an enquiry about bankers, that’s all. I’m not mad, yet. I have an NVQ in Facebook. Anybody got a nice bit of cheese? Stilton? Gruyere? ” Ben scanned the crew, who were still silent and avoiding eye contact. “What?”
“I allus knowed you was a troublemaker and cheese abuser, Ben Gunn.” Long John cocked a beady eye at Ben. “Are you seriously suggesting that we should kill the golden goose, the one industry wot makes doubloons galore for us, the only industry we has left on Treasure Island, sorry, England?”
“But didn’t they cause the last financial crisis by running off with the all the gold and aren’t we still suffering the consequences? And won’t we still be paying off the debts they ran up for the next 200 years?”
Long John put a friendly arm around the slight figure of Ben Gunn. “Ah Ben, me lad. You have a hold of the wrong end of the stick and if you isn’t careful with that lip of yourn that stick’ll stick you good. Let me explain. The Bankers only had to borrow treasure because we woz spending it all on cripples, coffin dodgers and feckless youngsters, see? They woz looking after it for us.”
“So, where is it now?”
“Safe. On special islands in the Caribbean.”
“So, when will they give it back?”
“That’s the beauty of it Ben, they won’t ever give it back, otherwise it’d be wasted on the so called public.”
“So, to get this right, the Bankers stole our money which resulted in the collapse of health care and housing, caused recession, unemployment, soup kitchens, riots and produced starving children and pensioners in this green and pleasant land. And they’re going to keep all the money?”
Long John looked uncomfortable. “You is putting a black face on it, Ben.” The crew hissed. “Oh all right, you is putting a face of undefined colour on it, Ben.” He turned to the crew. “Satisfied?” The crew nodded.
Ben continued, his parchment face reddening with indignation and perhaps a little blusher: “And they’ll never give that money back? Ever? That sounds preposterous; they should be… “
“Seize the traitorous dog!” Long John shrieked, the anger on his face as flimsy as a Greek five Euro note in a mild breeze. The crew pounced on poor Ben and soon he was bound hand and foot. Long John gave him the eye, but then returned it to its socket. “You’ll rue the day you crossed me, Ben Gunn. You’ll be marooned on an uninhabited island off Tortuga, me lad. And there you’ll rot and earn the epithet of ‘mad’.”
“Is Tortuga in the Caribbean? Is there cheese? Will I have access to the gold the Bankers stole?”
“You’ll have access to the crabs, Ben Gunn, that all.”
“Had those last year, so no benefit there, then.”
“Ahar. Ahar. Ahar. You an’ me both. Portsmouth town has a lot to answer for.”
“Will this mean no day-care for my old mum and no benefits for the Swedish au pair who looks like a member of Abba and with whom I’m having a one sided affair that is frowned upon by the Church and most godly Englishmen, but not necessarily the Abba Apreciation Society?” Jim piped up.
“You can keep the Swedish au pair, Jim lad, under the European Human Rights Act, Part Sixty Four: free exchange of labour and even get another three au pairs from Romania and a tax credit for each, but your old mum, sadly, will have to rot in her own urine. ‘Tis only fair.”
“Ship ahoy!” The shout came from the topsail crow’s nest.
“What is it?” Long John roared.
“Long thing, sails, made of wood.”
In a flash Long John drew his pistol and with one shot the lookout fell into the sea.
“And such is the fate of all comedians and dissenters” he said, sticking the pistol back into his extravagantly crafted silk waistband made in GuangDong Province by cheap labour under a totalitarian regime and sold in a chain store in Port-au-Prince, Haiti (formerly Hispaniola) for $1.05, 74 pence or half a groat.
“It’s a Portuguese man o’ war, Cap’n!” cried lookout number two.
“I ain’t afeard o’ no jellyfish,” Long John said.
“It’s not a jellyfish, Cap’n. It’s a long thing, sails, made of wood…”
Once more a shot rang out and once more a lookout fell to the sea, but this lookout had observed the fate of lookout number one and was wearing a Kevlar vest fashioned from Long John’s spare leg. Sadly, it was little protection against the sharks.
“Such is the fate of all those without a hedge fund and shark repellent,” Long John grunted, blowing the smoke from his pistol and executing a short, highland reel on one leg, to the nervous amusement of the crew.
Without warning, a cannonball crashed through Squire Trelawney, removing his braces and causing his trousers to drop. The crew were ecstatic; no TV on a long voyage meant little entertainment apart from knifing each other through the extremities, which usually palled after about ten minutes and could sometimes turn nasty. “Do it again!” they shouted, but the Squire could not answer since his lungs and intestine were hanging from the mizzenmast. “Boo!” The crew expressed their disapproval at his lack of guts.
“Man the cannon!” Long John bellowed. “It’s them filthy Eurobucanneers after me endowments. If there’s any cripples left, push ‘em in the cannon. Nothing them Portugee likes less than Stephen Hawking landing on ‘em from a great height.”
The crew burst into life, running backwards and forwards to stirring music reminiscent of an Errol Flynn or Johnny Depp movie and before long the Portuguese ship was close to starboard and her crew were hanging over the side, leering and making rude reference to the lack of insurance of and scarcity of comfortable chairs on, the English ship.
The crew drew back in horror as they beheld the opposing crew.
“Captain!” Jim screamed in a girly voice, unsuited to a young man, but acceptable on ‘Britain’s Got Talent’. “Captain! The Portuguese… they are….!”
“The undead, Jim, lad… or lass,” Long John said, eyeing him with renewed interest. “Bankers.”
At the word, the sky split open like a ripe Liechtenstein based derivative and an unearthly light enveloped the two ships.
“Tis the ghostly aerial fire of the Bank of England,” Ben Gunn said, in awed tones. “That tool of the US Federal Reserve and thinly disguised money machine for the rich and famous.” Almost immediately or at least within the hour, he dropped to his knees, “Mad. Old Ben Gunn. Mad, that’s what he is, mad, mad, mad!” Upon which, he fell to the deck, drooling and singing the names of the top companies in the FTSE 100 to the tune of ‘Old MacDonald’s Farm’.
“Saves us popping in to Tortuga and burying him on the beach as the tide rises, then, but he’s not the first to be driven mad by interest rates designed by the Bilderberg Group, so he’s got off light.” Long John’s further musings were interrupted by the ghastly Bankers, who streamed over the side of the ship like vomit from a Cross Channel Ferry carrying Manchester United supporters on a day trip to Calais.
“Defend the Pound!” Jim shouted bravely, before being throttled by a dead Belgian carrying a clipboard complete with the latest exchange rates and a list of European Union rules about piracy. With a crafty manoeuvre involving a draft Fisheries Plan designed to gift the entire North Sea to Russian factory trawlers in return for a numbered Swiss bank account, Jim managed to slip the deadly grasp and bounded for the poop deck.
Long John tried to rally the men, most of whom were hiding under printouts detailing the latest mortality rates for those unfortunate enough to become involved with the once proud, but now dreaded National Health Service.
But it was too late.
One by one the men fell, dying, as coward always die, safe in the knowledge that they died for nothing except a handful of crumbs from the rich man’s lunch box, until only two figures stood alone on the poop deck, against the horde of savage Bankers.
“Oh dear,” Jim said, fearfully.
“Now you know why it’s called a poop deck, Jim, lad,” growled Long John, turning upwind from the boy and unsheathing his Chinese cutlass, from which the blade promptly fell with a tinny rattle. Long John picked up a piece of paper rolled into the hilt of the ex-cutlass. Help. I’m trapped in a cutlass factory. Enquiries please phone ShanDong 32781526. No Returns, it said.
“What can we do Captain, they’re going to kill us, or worse, involve us in pay day loans and insurance mis-selling scams!” Jim’s voice had assumed a falsetto now and he had acquired dreams of appearing on ‘America’s Got Talent’ before an operation to remove his…
“Nothing you can do, Jim, lad.” Long John turned to the approaching zombie throng, their pinstripe suits twinkling in the eerie radiance. “Looks like you’re a goner.”
“Me? Surely that should be us…?” Jim cast a sideways glance at Long John, as the pirate’s tunic dropped away to reveal a pinstripe suit and the cleverly contrived silicon mask slipped sideways to expose the grey, dead face of a Banker.
“Just you, Jim, lad. Just you.” The host shuffled forward, bespoke leather shoes creaking, immaculate Turnbull & Asser shirts crisp and well ironed.
It was over in a second or two. Just before he lost consciousness and as his soul was being stripped from him by a series of bribes and legal violations of his humanity, the face of John Silver swam into view.
“Captain…” Jim croaked, “We all… trusted you. I trusted you.”
Silver smiled and there was a tear in his eye. Rousing music in a similar vein to ‘There’ll Always Be An England’ struck up from a captive male voice choir on the quarterdeck. “Always trust your Captain, lad. And you will trust me again, Jim, cretin that you are. When you’ve forgotten all this. When you get back to your beer and skittles. When you can watch Chelsea play in the Champion’s League again or the Red Sox at the Superbowl. When I give you enough Oriental cushions to choke a horse and cheap bread that’s been crossed with a gecko, plump chickens stuffed full of hormones, tasty sausages made of genitals, lips and ears, wind farms that are only there because my brother makes ‘em, TV shows devised for an IQ level below that of a tree sloth, politicians that are essentially the same people with different coats, nationalities and skin colours but who will always say what you want to hear… and so much more. All yours, Jim lad. All yours. And all you have to do… is forget….”
“Is that all there is?”
“For you, Jim, that’s all there is.”
Jim’s eyes closed and John Silver looked down at him fondly. “You are essential, Jim. Without you and your forgetfulness there can be no me, and that would never do. Ahar.”
Behind him, the Bankers laughed and waited for the yacht to take them home to Monte Carlo.