A Tall Ship Tale #48: A No-Bull Sentiment

As usual, it has been too long since we have visited the ficton of Paul de Anguera’s Tall Ship Tales.

The heavy glass door of the empty Alexandria Library swung open with a clatter of blinds. An American sailor slipped inside and quickly closed it against the Egyptian desert air. He introduced himself to the First Mate as George. “Washing, ton of other things to do while I’m ashore,” he grumbled.

“This will take just a minute, man” the First Mate assured him. “My name is Cilantro,” he lied, “and I’ve mislaid a personal letter. I’ve looked everywhere for it, and the only thing I can think of is that one of your passengers, a fellow named Yassar, accidentally carried it away. What I need you to do is, very discretely, retrieve my letter. Now, there’s no need to speak to him about it; Yassar is very sensitive, and I wouldn’t want anybody to embarrass him by pointing out his mistake.”

“The U.S.S. Goober is leaving today for Thera. It wouldn’t do for us to be seen meeting on the waterfront. But I could bring the letter to you at a china shop I know there,” George suggested, giving the address.

“This is for your trouble,” the First Mate said, handing George a dubloon. George turned it about thoughtfully. It looked sort of like a balloon, and sort of like a dumb-bell. Taken together, they seemed a most peculiar medium of exchange. The dubloon made a squeaky, rubbery sound as he slipped it under his arm.

The H.M.S. Legume shadowed the Goober’s voyage to the island of Thera, whose uniformly white houses clung like barnacles to its sheer sides. Captain Quid and the First Mate located the china shop on a steep, crooked alley of stone stairs. At the door they were startled to see a familiar face; it was Dr. Sigmund Fraude.

“This is just a little hobby business I’ve developed,” the doctor explained. “Since I moved here from Constantinople, I’ve specialized in eating disorders such as the dreadful binge-and-purge syndrome. My approach is unique and, if I may say so, uniquely effective! I win the patients’ commitment to reform themselves by confiscating their dinnerware.”

“And then you sell the plates and cups and tureens and serving platters, and suchlike that they were using before they entered treatment, here in your store?” the First Mate asked dubiously. “Do people buy them?”

“Well, ahh… no. In fact, they stay away in droves! And I can’t imagine why. My prices are low, and the dishes are of the best pre-owned quality. Who would not like to visit such a source of bargains?”

“I, for one,” the Captain volunteered with finality, “would under no conditions …

“… Like a bulimia china shop!”

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