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Old 08-06-2012, 03:35 PM
norvbrooks (Offline)
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Icon6 Message in a Bottle - Jean Lafitte

Jean Lafitte stood on the quarterdeck near the helmsman looking off to the distant skyline. He looked to his first mate as he gave the order to batten down the hatches and prepare for a storm. Something flashed in Johnny’s eyes and he looked up from the pages of his book scanning the surface of the sea. He could see nothing out of the ordinary. He had found his favorite spot on the beach just a few yards up from the water line. He had planted his beach umbrella firmly in the ground and settled his beach chair comfortably in its shade. His gaze turned from the distant sea to the water rolling up on the beach making a soft slapping sound as it reached it farthest point. Johnny returned to reading his book when it happened again. He looked again to the sea. This time he saw a quick flash reflecting off of something bobbing in the waves about a hundred yards off shore. He could not make out what the object was and he had lost it in the undulating waves. He attempted to return his focus on to his book, but the warmth of the gulf breeze and the rhythmic sound of the slapping water on the beach began to make his eyes heavy. He tried to keep his eyes opened but to no avail. “I’ll just close my eyes for a moment” he thought.
He felt something wet hit his eyelid. There it was again. Once again he tried to open his eyes and this time was successful. It was dark. He felt something hard, cold and wet. He had that sensation once before when in the rain he had taken a hold of the wrought iron fence around his home. He reached out to his left to a large, dark silhouette and touched it. It couldn’t be! But it was. It was a canon. He was sitting between two canons on the deck of a ship. “Ahoy, Captain” a voice boomed out from above him! “We be having a stowaway aboard the ship!” Suddenly he had been grabbed by a large, strong hand and hoisted to his feet. His mouth dropped open as he stared at the captain standing on the quarterdeck of a three masted wooden pirate ship. “Close your mouth, boy” bellowed the first-mate. “What be your name?” Johnny managed to stammer out “John – Johnny – Lafitte, sir.” “Be ye joking, boy” demanded the first-mate? “Do ye know who the captain is?” “Yes, sir. He’s Captain Jean Lafitte” Johnny responded in awe. The captain let out a deep throated laugh. After he gave orders for the crew to batten down the hatches and make ready for a storm he told the first-mate to bring the boy to him. But before they could move the lookout’s voice shouted a warning “A flash off the starboard!” He followed quickly with “A ship three points off the starboard!” There was a screaming sound of a projectile coming in and suddenly Johnny was flying into the air and overboard. The canon ball which had been fired by the approaching ship had struck just below deck line and blown away a portion of ship where Johnny had been hiding sending a canon, ship railing and Johnny over the side. He had not been aware of flying through the air, hitting the water nor floating to the surface. When he had opened his eyes he had a blurred vision of the Captain Lafitte and his ship slipping away into a rain cloud canons blazing away. Barely conscious he found a portion of the ship with some rigging that he was able to lash himself to his makeshift raft. As the storm driven waves became more turbulent, his eyes had closed again.
Johnny was aware of a slow rise and then slow decent. He opened his eyes slightly and was aware it was nearing daybreak. The sea had calmed. His eyes closed again.
There was that lapping sound again. He opened his eyes. It was day time. He loosed the rigging and sat up and surveyed his surroundings. He was alone. As he surveyed his situation, he saw some debris floating close by. Using his hands he paddled over to it. It was another portion of railing, rigging and some canvas. Something flashed in his eyes. He looked around and a few yards away was some kind of a bottle bobbing in the waves. Dragging his new found debris, he paddled over to retrieve it. It picked up his spirit momentarily having found these new items, but reality soon set in. Even a young boy realized that without fresh water and food he would not survive for long. For a while he sat there dejected and forlorn. Then he found some of the tattered sail he had discovered and was able to tear out a small piece. Having closely examined the charred remains of the railing, he found a piece that still had a charcoal substance to it. He wrote a note on the piece of canvas. He made sure all the water was out of the bottle, rolled up the note and put it inside the bottle. He then tore off another portion of the canvas and fashioned a stopper for the bottle. Satisfied that he had properly prepared his message in a bottle, he threw as far as he could from his raft. He saw it bob for a moment or two and then disappear in the undulating waves. He lay back down and closed his eyes in order to conserve his strength.
There was that slapping sound again. Slowly Johnny had become conscious of someone calling his name. “Come on, son – wake up!” said his dad. “The tide has come in. If you don’t wake up and get your things together, you’ll be knee deep in water.” Johnny woke up and grabbed his book from his lap and folded up his chair and collected his umbrella as the water lapped over his ankles. When he had gotten up the beach a few yards away from the water line, he looked back to the water. There washed up on the shore was a bottle. Johnny had started to put his things down to go back for the bottle, but his dad interrupted “What are you doing Johnny?” “I want to get that bottle that washed ashore.” His dad insisted that Johnny takes his things a little farther up the beach and he would retrieve the bottle. His dad had picked up the bottle and after giving it a once over, said “It looks like there’s a message in it.” He got a piece of rolled up canvas out of it and read it. Then as he had walked back towards Johnny, he said “Did you do this as a practical joke?” “No, Dad! Honest.” His dad started reading aloud, “I fell overboard during an attack on Jean Lafitte. This is the last statement of Johnny Lafitte.” He looked at Johnny with a “come on be real” kind of look. Then he felt something on the edge of the canvas and looked at it closer. “Well, I’ll be …Petit Milan the name of Jean Lafitte’s ship is stitched here in the edge of the canvas!”