Previously the ghosts of Haggismarshe and the Prime Minister were upset.
The S. S. Twit’s crew calmed the passengers, telling them there was no iceberg. The panic turned into an applause, then the passengers dispersed. The S. S. Twit steamed along like the Little Steamboat That Could, happy with the knowledge that it was not about to be sent to Davy Jones’ Locker.
In the ballroom, Tootles “The Tootler” Tootle Lou and her Orchestra swung its swing with The Doodlebug Ragtime and “We’re going to rock it like it’s 1899″. Then they changed the pace with a rendition of “France may be a country, but Paris is a city.” It was a waltz.
“How exciting,” Lady Marye Caterina Wimpleseed-Prissypott said, her ladyship following her German companion’s dance steps. “We were almost on a sinking ship.”
“Some people like to follow the weather,” said the monocled German Pipsqueak Pimplesquat. “That does not mean they long to live through a hurricane. I have been through two sinkings, and I can guarantee you, fraulein, it is never exciting.”
There was such a longing in the music, the violins leading the singer into sadness territory. It had most of the listeners sobbing. It was that sad.
Such a loverly waltz with such a loverly man, her ladyship thought. Goose pimples pimpled up and down her spine. Her bosoms were blossoming at the possibility of establishing diplomatic relations between Haggismarshe and Bavaria with this Bavarian gentleman of a German. Her monocled partner seemed to fit her bill as a candidate for Mr. Right. And he spoke very good English too. So there would be no need for a translator between the sheets.
Outside a dark cloud moved out from the land, across the sea, and toward the S. S. Twit. It was very dark and very foreboding; that’s the kind of cloud it was.
Pipsqueak Pimplesquat, his face directly facing the tall woman’s bosoms, overcame his reticence to advance the relationship to a new level of diplomatic partnership and asked, “Shall we repair to my drawing room? I have some very nice drawings there. Drawings you most certainly will admire.” It seemed to be the right good move in his way of existentialist thinking, and it was well put.
Slam! Bam! The ship hit … something. Something big. Something hard.
Pipsqueak Pimplesqueak and Lady Marye Caterina Wimpleseed-Prissypott had a close encounter of the bodily kind. “My darling,” he said, feeling her bosoms up close and personal. “I did not know you cared.”
“I did not know I cared either,” her ladyship said.
From the crow’s nest, a sailor cried out, “We’ve been hit. I am not kidding. We are sinking. Oh, my gosh, we are sunk.” Then he jumped, flying off the tippy-top top of the ship and crashing down toward the deck. He missed the deck and hit the side of the ship and thumped off and into the sea.
Smythie Smathers was taking a dump, got a bump and a pump went up his rump. Thwump! and he was thumped across the plump toilet. Then he slumped and he crumpled. He was dead as a doorknob. Deader than a doorknob. He was really dead.
Crepe Suzette bit off more of a companion’s meat platter than her French tartness could chew, swallowed hard and choked to death.
Studdley Duddley stood and announced to his fellow poker-playing pals, “It has been an honor and downright fun to take your money. But I do believe it is time to skedaddle and rope myself a lifeboat.” He rose and left his tablemates stammered and stunned. Quick thinking was always Studdley’s greatest strength. Especially when it came to self-preservation.
The S. S. Twit had hit a snag. A rather big snag. The biggest snag you can imagine, dear Reader. It hit the Rock of Gibraltar. How the ship had gotten that far off course was anybody’s guess. After all, it should have been in Alexandria’s harbor, not the western Mediterranean.
Some blamed the ship’s pilot, Wongway Wongway, and his pilotage. His ineptness had guided him through a career of screw-ups. Though he kept screwing up, he kept being hired. You see, he worked cheap. Very cheap. What can a guy named Wongway Wongway do besides pilot boats? Open a Chinese restaurant even though he was not Chinese and could not cook? Maybe if Wongway Wongway had a gps or Google Earth, he would not have hit Gibraltar. No, he would have read the coordinates upside down. It was the way of things. The way the yin meets the yang and blows up in your face when you least expect it, that way of things. And some blamed the Captain for hiring him.
Pipsqueak, a gentleman’s gentleman in his best gentlemanly form, pried himself from her ladyship’s body and escorted her off the dance floor.
The floor shook. It shook a lot and it began to lean to the port, then to the aft, then back to the portside. Everyone was heading for the doors, including Pipsqueak, her ladyship and the toot-toot-tootler. The singer pulled the door open and went through, shouting, “Tootle lou and skip to my do, my darlings. It’s toot, toot, tootsie goodbye. The Toot is out of here. Exit stage left.”
Lady Marye and Pipsqueak were right behind her out the door. On the deck, they encountered lots of pan and lots of demonium and lots of pandemonium. People were running to and fro, fro and to, and to and fro again. Pipsqueak yelled, “What’s going on?”
Someone passing someone else yelled back, “We’re running to-and-fro and, if that isn’t enough, we’re running fro-and-to.”
“I am going tootle-lou,” Tootles said and jumped over the side of the ship. On her way down to the water, she cried, “Yippee. I’m having a ding-dong daddy in a ping-pong-paddywack-give-a-dog-a-bone kind of day. Gee, I always wanted to say that and now I have.”
The ship started to shake, rattle and roll.
Sgt Mack Truck took it all in his Girine stride. He had faced down Jessie and Frank James in Missouri. He had faced down the notorious Billy the Kid in Tombstone. He had faced down Sitting Bull at Little Big Horn. He had faced down the Spanish at San Juan Hill. He was a Girine and there was nothing he had not met before.
Standing on the deck, helping the ladies into the lifeboats, the sergeant did not see the thing coming. The flag pole above him broke loose from the ship and fell, fell, fell and ran straight into The Truck’s head, through his body, and out his foot. He stood on the deck for moments without thinking. That’s when it came to him. “I am dead. Oh yes, I am dead. No more United States Gyrenes for me.” Then Sgt. Mack Truck of the United States Gyrenes fell to the deck.
A lady was in the Captain’s Bed, her hormones hormoning next to Captain Pedro Emmanuel. Suddenly their hormones stopped their hormonizations. Out popped the Captain’s pooper from her amusement park of love, and he was on his feet. Something had happened to his ship.
“What the … ?” Captain Pedro Emmanuel asked as he pulled his pullover on and slid into his pants.
The woman in the Captain’s Bed said, “Slam bam thank-you ma’am. Just like a man. Always eating and running. You’re abandoning me like all the others.”
“Madame,” the captain said. “Have you no sense of decency? My ship is sinking and this is not the time for more piddle-paddling.”
“Excuses, excuses,” the woman said. “Always excuses.”
“Well,” the captain said, “why don’t you wait here. I will be back in a jiffy.”
“Right,” the woman said. “You know how to break a woman’s heart. You get your way with her, then you’re out of there.”
The captain gallantly leaned over and kissed her succulent lips. “I am sorry, my darling Señora. When I come back, I will take over where I left off. You will be satisfied. That I promise. Extremely satisfied.” Then he was out the door.
Of course, he wouldn’t come back. They never came back. It was always like this. She was always a woman on a sinking ship. But a woman could hope the Titanic wouldn’t sink, couldn’t she?
Captain Pedro Emmanuel Montoya Henandez Gabriel Garcia de Toledo San Cristobel y Mendoza Cantabria headed fore, then aft, then athwartship, then starboard, then port. He ran through the ship’s companionways and out onto the fo’castle and he ran smack dab into the Big Rock. The monster stared into his eyes. He stared back at Gibraltar and felt the S. S. Twit slowly sinking. Not much time.
“Everyman for himself!” he yelled below at the First Mate.
“Skipper!” the First Mate called back. “What about the passengers?”
“They’re all tourists, Señor First Mate,” the captain yelled above the screaming and the whining and the complaining and the crying and the yelling. “Get the hell off the ship.”
“Whatever happened to the captain going down with the ship?” the First Mate cried.
“You have been promoted,” the captain cried back. “You are the captain now.” Then he jumped.
That dark cloud I told you about earlier, dear Reader, it had arrived. It filled the sky above the S. S. Twit. The world had gone black.
Pipsqueak and her ladyship ran to the edge of the deck. They looked down into the waters below. The sea was azure. Besides that, it was blue. Bluer than blue. It was indeed blue.
“Shall we dance the light fantastic, mine fraulein?” Pippy said.
“You betcha,” Marye said. Over the side of the deck, she followed Pippy as he jumped. He let go of her hand and shoved her out to sea. His body hit the side of the boat and bounced into the water.
Next Week: A Nice Night for a Long Swim