This here be The Saga of Capt’n Neaubeard

as imagined by the old salt Stevie Ray of the Bingo B.

Steve is an artist and writer in New Orleans by way of Oklahoma by way of Guatemala by way of…oh, you get the picture. He’s a transient trouble-maker and the pirate-philosopher-captain of the Bingo B. He also happens to be our neighbor down the dock – at least for the time being.

He’s been a tremendous source of encouragement to Jack and me in Fain’s absence, supplementing our steady diet of sandwiches with homemade chili and pot roast and equipping our future galley with his perfectly good castoff gadgetry.

Now that my “little crow” is back in his nest, Steve’s taken on the role of incorrigible influence on young Neaubeard. When Fain returns from a trip round the RV park to settle down with The Motorcycle Diaries on top of the forward cabin, I know he’s following in the footsteps of Captain Steve. When he settles down to sketch, it’s because he saw Steve do it. And, yes, when he calls me “wench,” I can thank Steve for that as well.

While it’s dubious whether Jack and I have accomplished much since moving aboard our dilapidated Sea Shanti, we can rest assured that Fain, at the very least, has inspired a riveting tale of piracy and mayhem in our beloved neighbor.

There exists quite a list of notorious pirates who have terrorized the coastline of the Carolinas including the most renown, Edward Teach, known more commonly as Blackbeard. There was also the infamous Captain Bluebeard who most believe to be the creation of some long forgotten novelist. Unlike the fiction of Bluebeard, I am about to tell you the ever so truthful yarn of Capt’n Neaubeard.

Well, in my mind’s eye this is the gospel truth. But be forewarned that I don’t always perceive things in the same manner as the rest of the population. When a vision enters into most human eyeballs the optic nerve rushes the image straight to the brain. With me, this path isn’t always a straight high speed expressway. There are often detours, or the traveling image might lose its way, causing it to swerve through the noises in my head or bounce through the ruts left by a youthful predilection for things that glowed inside my brain. Upon arrival at the proper lobe some of my visions might be slightly warped. Then when I want to paint that vision or write about it, the thoughts have to backtrack through that same circuitous and hazardous route before reaching the paint brush or keyboard.

With that disclaimer out of the way, let the story continue.

There is no question in my mind that Capt’n Neaubeard is a direct descendant of one of those buccaneers that plied the waters of the Carolinas back in the day. He was conceived, born and spent his early childhood in North Cakalaky as the only son of Autumn Ware. Of course the surname of Ware only came about in later years.

Autumn’s life has followed a course similar to that of Anne Bonney, a notorious female pirate of the 18th century. Anne Bonney married a sailor in America in 1718 and journeyed to the pirate-infested island of New Providence in the Bahamas. There, she abandoned her husband and fell under the spell of “Calico” Jack Rackham, a flamboyant buccaneer who plied his trade in the Caribbean.

Autumn too abandoned her husband and years later was taken in by the charms of “Saxophone” Jack Ware in the rollicking port of New Orleans. Bon temp roulet. Then there was a wedding. Of course they chose to make a boat their abode with great aspirations of practicing the brigand ways of their ancestors along the inter-coastal waters of the eastern seaboard. On the surface they seemed like any other couple one might meet in a marina. But this all changed with the arrival of Autumn’s son. I should have known something was askance, since he blew into town in the middle of a hurricane. He was introduced to me as Fain. Within one day of being on the boat he took on the attitude and character of the most notorious of buccaneers. He quit shaving. Well he didn’t exactly quit. His tender years actually precluded the need to shave at all. Yearning to be a pirate and knowing most pirates had beards he prayed for his facial hairs to grow. Lo and behold they started to sprout. It wasn’t a big bushy beard like that of Blackbeard or Captain Bluebeard. I likened the nearly translucent hairs on his chin to a little league baseball game. Nine tiny ones on each side. Hence he was given the monicker of Capt’n Neaubeard.

With his crew of Autumn and Jack, Neaubeard jumped to work on getting their vessel in ship shape before they sailed off to terrorize the jet skis, pontoon boats and water skiers of the East Coast. Although he didn’t really approve of his new name, he was still wearing that cloak of tenderness that he had worn throughout his childhood. This kindness from within prevented him from complaining. But being a precocious teenager, he got his evens. As the captain of his new ship he grasped onto that authority and renamed his entire crew. Saxophone Jack became “Bald Spot the Terrible” and Mom he simply started referring to as “Wench.”

Unlike most pirates Capt’n Neaubeard had no taste for grog. His wench, being the doting mother that she is, told him not to worry about it. She would imbibe enough for both of them. The wench can handle her liquor, but it causes her to have the strangest of dreams which she then posts on Facebook the very next day for all of us to enjoy. In the middle of the night I often hear screams rolling down the dock from their boat. I simply roll over and chuckle with the thought that Autumn must have scored another bottle of wine at bingo.

Bald Spot the Terrible shows a great fondness for Neaubeard. Bald Spot’s paternal guidance is now evenly balanced with his subservient attitude toward his new found Captain and Master. Of course the Wench, she can talk of little other than her son. This proclivity of hers gives tremendous credence to the saying that every old crow thinks her chick is the blackest.

Neaubeard is a student of history. Being in his formative years, he has had a hell of a time trying to determine whether he wanted to be a conservative, a liberal, a progressive, a communist or an anarchist. All of this was before he discovered piracy. A buccaneer on the high seas. Yes that is the path that Neaubeard has chosen.  When I asked him if he was at least a little concerned about the dangers of his chosen profession, he just gave me a knowing smile. The smile that an adult gets from a teenager who is obviously wiser than a tottering old man such as myself. When I reminded him that he would be plundering vessels in American waters and that the news these days is about little else but the propensity of these same Americans to own automatic weapons, he seemed to start rethinking his direction.

I then told him about the misfortunes of a pirate I had met in the Bahamas.  I was tending bar on Ship Channel Cay when this fellow limped in. He had a wooden leg, a hook for his right hand and a patch over his left eye. I served his rum and then asked him how he had run into such bad luck.

He said,  “Years ago I landed to this very same Cay and was out in the bush when a big boar pig attacked me and chewed off me leg.”

“That’s too bad. What about the hand?”

He stated ,“I was trying to capture a ship down near Norman Cay and when I swung across to the enemy deck the captain of the ship cut me hand off with his cutlass.”

“So what happened to your eye?”

“Oh, a seagull pooped in it.”

I said, “But that would not make you lose your eye.”

“Eh matey, but it happened the first day I had me hook.”

Who knows if Capt’n Neaubeard will ever plunder a ship or storm the bastions along the shoreline, but until I sail out of here, I will continue to vicariously enjoy the life of one of the coolest pirates I have ever met.

Stevie Ray
Stevie RayCaptain of the Bingo B.