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Sitting on the Dock

“Johnny Dawkins! You little son of a bitch!’ Petharic exclaimed, startling the young boy who had been absently walking along the port. The urchin, absorbed by his own daydream adventures, had barely taken note of the disheveled individual sitting on the end of the pier, smoking a pipe and occasionally cursing the sea gulls. Too late to avoid a confrontation with the unhappy mark, little Johnny realized now, his best avenue of escape from this predicament would be to employ whatever charms his urchin manner could convey. ‘Good morning to you, Mr. Petharic sir; a pleasant day i’tis.

‘You can stop it right there with your little show of social etiquette.’ said Petharic, maintaining a tone that finely blended indignation and intimidation. ‘Give me one good reason I shouldn’t squeeze off a couple of shots right between your eyes?’

‘I’m just a kid is all.’

‘That’s no excuse! Petharic snarled. Then he thought about it a second time. ‘Okay, maybe that is an excuse.’ he conceded. “Regardless, I wouldn’t have shot you as I am practicing abstinence at the moment.’


‘Yes,’ said Petharic, ‘I still believe abstinence to be the only proven method of self-discipline.’

The boy eyed the pipe Petharic clenched tightly between his teeth; wisps of a sweet pungent smoke tinged with purple rose from its smouldering bowl to dance across the currents blowing off the Vernian.

‘Oh, this?’ said Petharic having caught the boy’s questioning gaze. ‘It’s research.’ he explained with a casual wave of the hand. ‘I’m trying to get into the head of Emerson Lighthouse so that I might better understand my quarry.’

‘What’s that like?’ asked the young urchin.

“A little muddled; perhaps a little too easily distracted by tangential fantasies, but in generally somewhat pleasant.’

‘I’d always heard that particular blend makes one somewhat paranoid.’ said the boy wrinkling his nose at the scent.

‘What? No, that’s what I used to think too but it couldn’t be further from the truth.’ Petharic paused briefly during which time he regarded the boy as if appraising some unseen quality. After another uncomfortable moment he broke the silence. “Son, do you ever feel, sometimes, like the whole universe is conspiring against you?’ his countenance bore an intense seriousness. ‘If you don’t mind me asking.” He was quick to add.

‘No, I don’t mind you asking sir.’

‘It’s ‘mister’, son. I’m no ‘sir’ that’s doubly for sure.’

Yes sir, mister sir, and I don’t mind you asking neither.



‘Nevermind.’ said Petharic.

After a few moments Johnny piped-up breaking the silence. ‘Can I ask you how it is you remember me? The last few times I seen you it was like you were all blank and didn’t remember me and I thought to bless my luck. But now… now you remember.’

‘I can’t explain it either son… my past is riddled with gaps, unexplained periods of black-out.” Petharic paused to puff on the pipe. “At times, however, a sparkling spontaneity of memories will surface… things that I’ve forgotten I never remembered.’

Johnny’s brow knit as the boy tried to make sense of what Petharic had just said.

“You know, I have a feeling it will surprise a lot of people when I finally kill off Emerson Lighthouse. It will be a bit of a sad day because it is for duty, not for pleasure that I will kill him.’

‘Duty?’ Johnny had been going to question how Petharic could kill Emerson Lighthouse while exercising homicidal abstinance but thought better of it.

‘The duty to doll out righteous judgement against those who offend… and who offends more than Emerson Lighthouse?’

‘Has he offended you personally?’ asked Johnny.

‘His very nature offends me. That someone can muddle by without any plan; can flaunt societal morals with such callous disregard for order…’ Petharic paused and pursed his lips. ‘What really gets me is how he gets the girl. Do you know how many hours of belly dancing I put in last fall… then he comes back from a supposed adventure with pickled squid and a few words of sincere affection and it’s good-bye Petharic. I’ve been marginalized by a jar of cracker-toppers.’

Petharic attempted another puff off the pipe but it had burned out. ‘Something is on the verge of happening though. My sources tell me Emerson has got some wild plan about flying off to Mars in order to collect mushrooms he believes to be growing along the canals. From what I understand he’s already built himself a ship but that he’s delayed because he doesn’t know how to paint the thing. While he’s sorting that out he’s got some material called ‘Cavorite’ hidden under that pub he and Ms. Ginsburg own.’

‘If you were to ask me,’ said Johnny Dawkins, ‘Mr. Lighthouse ought to be less concerned with what’s on Mars and more concerned with what’s under Clockhaven!’

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  1. Mr. Arnold Mr. Arnold April 30, 2012

    When I said I’d invest in whatever Emerson came up with next…I hadn’t quite figured on…this.

  2. Bookworm Hienrichs Bookworm Hienrichs May 1, 2012

    “Ahh, Bookworm,” said Mariah Lanfier as Bookworm Hienrichs arrived home from running some errands.  “Have you looked out the back door lately?”

    “No,” Bookworm replied warily.  “Why?”

    Mariah said nothing, simply beckoning Bookworm to follow her through the kitchen.  She threw open the door, and Bookworm poked her head out.

    “Oh, for the love of–” Bookworm shook her head angrily.  “I have got to have a talk with that man!”



  3. Mumsy Abigail Mumsy Abigail May 1, 2012

    Abstinence indeed! It’s all well and good to keep that gun of yours holstered when your quarry is out of range, son, but do let us know how matters proceed when she…I mean he is back in your sights.

    • Petharic Petharic May 1, 2012

      Madam Abigail, I relieve my tension with a little target practice from time to time so I have no doubt when the quarry is in range I will be more than capable of maintaining my composure.

      By the way… I want my livestock back.

      • Mumsy Abigail Mumsy Abigail May 1, 2012


        I’m sure I have no idea what you’re on about this time.

        *scribbles off a note for an urchin to give Arlo a double-portion of hay*

        Just remember, Sunglasses, that while you’re popping off rounds in wishful preparation for a chance at the real thing, Emerson Lighthouse bumbles through life blissfully ignorant to how truly fortunate he is.

        It’s a shame.  Really.  No one would blame you for taking matters into your own hands.

        • Petharic Petharic May 1, 2012

          My dear Mrs. Sharp; forgive my earlier brusqueness, I was not aware your encroaching senility had advanced to such a state that you would not recall our transaction of just a few months past. Please, keep the goat as a gift.

          • Mr Tenk Mr Tenk May 2, 2012

            hey, that’s MY goat. what is Ilsa doing in Mumsy’s yard?

            • Mumsy Abigail Mumsy Abigail May 2, 2012

              Hah!  The hooligan tried to pay Juniper’s brideprice with a stolen goat!

              Oh, how I love this fellow…

              *wipes tears of laughter from her eyes*

            • Petharic Petharic May 2, 2012

              I just want to point out that the goat was not wearing a leash or a collar at the time we became acquainted and it responded to ‘hey goat, follow me or I will shoot you.’

  4. Cadmus Lupindo Cadmus Lupindo May 1, 2012

    *Shakes his head.*
    Seriously, a little cussing then a nice chat?
    Do you really think that will deter future theft?

    If you won’t shoot them, box their ears, the least you could do is toss him off the pier!

    As for your … other … problem. I am guessing burning down the Gangplank and shooting him, while he runs out ablaze, is somehow against that code of yours?

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