upon a time, Jack Sparrow cut his finger.
It was a long cut. It was a deep cut. Well, for a finger, anyways.
Joshamee Gibbs laughed at him.
Because Jack, for all his bravado and courage in the face of danger and
Jack was an absolute pansy, as it turned out, about the sight of his
own visceral body fluids, exposed to the night air involuntarily.
"Oooooooer," said Joshamee, a smirk in the corner of his mouth. "Ye have a
bit of a droplet o'blood there, Jack. I guess ye won't be rowin' the boat
over t'the shore, to make that ronday-voo with yer favorite lad, now. Will
Jack's eyes shone big in the moonlight. The sight of the gash had him rather
flummoxed. He'd known bones were white, yes. But to see his own here,
looking back at him, well, it made a body feel a bit... a bit of concern.
Jack was starting to weave on his feet, something that Gibbs was accustomed
to his captain doing on dry land, but never on the aft deck of the
Grabbing Jack's elbow to steady him, Josh peered into his face for sign of
shock or fever. There hadn't been that much blood, had there? Though
Jack's visage was a bit wild and wooly, it held no serious malady, to Gibbs'
"Jack, it's nobbut a wee scratch. Nothin' t'worry about. Come on, let's get
ye patched, an' ye'll be jes' fine."
Gibbs led Jack by the elbow to the captain's cabin; once there, he rummaged
through the sea chest, searching for the needles and catgut.
Soon, the littlest needle, the one made of yellowed ancient bone with the
bit of an arc to it, rested in Gibbs' stubby tar-stained palm. Not a needle
for sail or trouser. This needle's purpose was the skin of men.
"Rum." Jack demanded, so Gibbs brought the greenish bottle from the table
near the door, along with the needle and suture-thread. Jack's face was the
palest Josh'd ever seen it, hand cradled in his lap, index finger wrapped in
the end of his sash.
"Let's see it, now." Gibbs hooked the spare chair with his foot, and spun it
round to be seated in front of his patient. He held out a questing hand, and
gingerly, Jack presented his finger, unwrapping it as if it were the finest
"Have a care, there, will you?" Jack's voice wavered slightly. "Hands are
very important in my line o'work."
"What about all the pirates havin' hooks an' peglegs and eyepatches, Jack?"
Gibbs chuckled at the thought of Jack with one of each of these items.
"Oh, sure. That'd be just dandy, for the piracy aspect of things." Jack
seemed to find his sense of humor again. "But my plans for me twilight
years, after the pirate business fades? I'm goin' t'be a class-act gigolo in
New Orleans, and serve alllll the high-toned and fancy ladies of the Spanish
Main. So I'll be thankin' ye to keep me digits in good order, mate."
A little color was returning to his face, as well. Good, thought the
quartermaster, passing the thoughtfully unstoppered bottle over to Jack's
uninjured hand. He watched as Jack took several prodigious swallows, then
asked, "Ready now? I'll need ye to be steady as kin be, fer work this fine."
"Better now than after I've spent the time waiting and brooding, man."
Jack's serious tone returned. "Get on with it. But think of pocket
handkerchiefs and embroidery, whilst ye do so, and not mendin' th'jib,
"Aye, pocket handkerchiefs, stitches fit to grace th'bosom of the finest of
ladies, Jack." Gibbs paused for the briefest flicker, then reached into his
own shirtfront, and tugged out the little flask he kept warmed there, next
to his own heart. Not more'n a swig left of the blessed, numbing mescal, but
for a good cause, this was the time. "To yer next career, then," and Josh
made as if to toast with Jack, but bobbled the container, and spilled some
onto Jack's outstretched hand.
"AUGH!!" Jack caterwauled, as the stinging liquid entered the open wound.
"Blast it, Josh! Have a care!" and he shook his hand vigorously, flinging
droplets of strong alcohol and blood everywhere.
"I'm so sorry, beg yer pardon, all of me apologies, cap'n!" but Gibbs was
secretly pleased. He'd managed the sleight-of-hand even more deftly than
usual, if Jack hadn't noticed it.
Ever since that time, early in his naval career, when he'd accidentally
spilled his rum ration in his own wound, and it healed up a treat, he'd felt
there were some magic of the poured-out libation and a silent, blessing
prayer, if made by his own hand and a thought given to the Gods of old. A
tradition as old as sea-faring, give to the deities, and they'll give back
to you, if they find your offering pleasing. Pour it in the wound itself,
feel the pain and suffer a bit, for their pleasure...
And the mescal, who wouldn't find that pleasurable?
Every time he'd pulled the stunt, he'd had his patient pull through; no
deaths, no fevers, not even much significant scarring. 'Cept for Cotton,
o'course. But the fact that the tongueless man lived was wonder enough,
considering his dreadful condition when they'd found 'im.
Let them call me a superstitious old coot, thought Gibbs. Just
so's Jack's got the full use of 'is hands.
And he set to work, stitching closed the long, deep rent in his captain's