Teresa gathered us all in the living room, or on the main deck, as she called it. She handed each of us a new set of clues, which we were allowed to read, but then had to return to her. She would, however, allow us to write down our own copies, if we so desired. Mine looked like this:
– LEO IS NOT A PIRATE, THOUGH HE PRETENDS TO BE
– YOU REMEMBER THAT REDBEARD USED CODES TO PROTECT HIS SECRETS. THE LOCATION OF HIS TREASURE, HE SAID, WAS GUARDED BY ‘THE TWELVE APOSTLES’
– THERE IS A BIBLE ABOARD. IT HAS MORE THAN ONE USE.
I looked around at the others. If Claire had the same clue, she would want her Bible back. But she was eager to meet and join forces with the Falcon, whoever that was – my enemy.
So I immediately did two things. First, I wrote some notes on the paper Teresa had provided. But I did not copy the clues she had given me. Instead I wrote down the pirate recognition signal, the fact that Claire wanted to be a pirate, and then my own piece of fiction: that the Scar intended to betray the Falcon. It was a lie, but only I knew that. Later on today, I might ‘lose’ my secret clues, or leave them lying around where someone else would find them.
The second thing I did was to sneak back into the den, and hide two pieces of paper. One was Claire’s Bible. The second was my paper that said ‘Pistol’. Upon reflection, I didn’t want to be caught with it; since Redbeard had been killed by a bullet, if anyone knew that I had a pistol, they might suspect me.
It had begun to rain, softly, and the dark clouds did not look promising. Teresa took me aside, to ask me a favor.
– “Would you organize a table tennis tournament? And perhaps billiards as well? Mix up the teams, so that everyone has a chance to play with everyone else.”
– “I can do that. Will you be participating?” I asked.
– “No, thank you.”
Teresa then announced that because of the weather, we would not have duty stations. “This afternoon,” she said, “will be devoted to games. Able seaman Colin will draw up a schedule. To add a little incentive, the winners of the table tennis and billiards tournaments will be granted a special clue concerning the whereabouts of the treasure.”
I drew up the teams in no time, and then designed a quick round-robin formula. Five teams, to play each other team, best two records meeting in a playoff final. If Teresa could play matchmaker, then so could I. First team: Craig and Claire.
Leo would kill me if I paired him up with Eliza so obviously. Also, he was a pretty weak ping-pong player. He wouldn’t want to embarrass Eliza, who had to be pretty decent – it was her table, after all. So I put Eliza with Eric, one of the most uncoordinated, un-athletic people on the planet. Leo could have Sheila for a partner, because I had seen her play once, and she was pretty good.
I would take Lena as my partner. Hopefully, she would feel more comfortable with me. And I had promised Teresa to look after her. That left Ben and Barb for the final team.
It was surprisingly entertaining. Claire was obviously nervous, perhaps distracted by having Craig for a partner. He played reasonably well, but Eliza simply returned every shot right at her best friend, knowing that Claire would squeal in panic, and either miss completely, or hit the wall, a spectator, the fridge … you name it. I should mention that we all played in costume, so it was fun to watch, too. Especially the way Ee’s breasts threatened to leap out of her shirt when she smashed the ball.
Ben and Barb then took on Sheila and Leo. I had to make a rules call. I decided that costumes count, and that Barb therefore had to play with her eye patch on. Didn’t matter; she and Ben narrowly edged Sheila, who was virtually playing alone. Leo produced a pretty funny running commentary, but it might have helped his teammate a little more if he had returned a shot or two. I decided, privately, that watching Barb’s tits jiggle was the real highlight of the match.
Lena and I then played Claire and Craig. I’m not sure if ping pong is popular in Slovenia. All I know is that Lena had never played it. You would think, with her incredible wingspan, that she might be effective. But she had the reflexes of a three-toed sloth. It was a race to see who could make the most unforced errors. Craig and I had our share of those, too, because we were both laughing so hard.
In the end, Lena and I managed to finish 4th, with a win and 3 losses. Claire and Craig were winless, while Eliza and Eric split their games. Barb and Ben, undefeated, were in the finals, against Sheila and Leo, who had lost only one game. They played an epic match, with Sheila practically standing on her head, but Ben was too much for her.
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