To about a thousand spectators, it’s so anticlimactic they don’t even notice it.
The gun you’re holding didn’t fire, but you’re not surprised in the slightest. The blunderbuss you just aimed at the handful of pirates across the improvised stage was never designed to fire, which is why you’re not at the end of the firing line, with all the “real guns.”
So you pull your toy back into your chest and begin spectating.
It’s terribly disorganized. Well, at least the line you’re standing in is — in front of you there are a handful of actors who know what they’re doing, wielding swords and whips and talking pirate. It’s a wonderful show.
So wonderful, actually, that you realize you’re smiling from ear to ear.
It’s fine that you’re enjoying yourself, but your side is losing, so wipe that smile off your face!
The show goes on and your militia finally beats back the pirates, although you have to assume it’s only because the invaders don’t know that of the 16 members of the militia, only four have guns that truly fire.
Hell, you don’t even have shoes. A well-placed buccaneer boot onto your toe would probably be enough to convince you to surrender — especially since you wanted to be a pirate anyway, but that’s out of your control.
It was truly the next chapter of a story that began in May, just across the inlet from where the Pirate Invasion was taking place.
There, at Fort Macon, I had rubbed elbows with some of the most dedicated Civil War re-enactors in the area along with the college professor who essentially built the fireable cannons that now guard the bay (just as effectively as the ones that fired real cannonballs did, I might add).
The professor had taken me under his wing since the re-enactment. He mentioned the pirate festival, almost in passing, one day at the pub and I flipped out.
I’ve walked the line between thinking I’m a pirate and being a pirate ever since high school. I’ve taken classes on pirates, written countless historical essays on them and have purchased a remarkably small amount of CDs and iTunes when the extent of my musical library is taken into account. Rum has been my drink of choice since I began my favorite hobby, I used to lift weights to Pirates of the Carribean and I have continuously kept an eyepatch in the drawer of my nightstand since I began college — just in case.
I thought it over carefully for a few weeks before deciding that it would be in my best interest to follow my trusted friend down to Beaufort to be a pirate...(Italics, in this case, implies bullshit sarcasm)
I was sold. Immediately.
He assured me I could find a sponsor for clothing, especially since one of the re-enactors I had met at the Fort was a master seamstress, so all I brought was a sleeping bag and a pillow. (He told me there would be plenty of room in the Civil War-era tent they were pitching. Not exactly period, but I wasn’t running the show so I didn’t care.)
I left work Friday and drove through the rain to Beaufort, where I met my pirate benefactors and donned my garb at once, but not before being treated to tails of “the redhead,” a nameless female pirate that had captured the attention of all of the middle-aged men in the camp. I thought nothing of it, but that night, truthfully became the last night I wouldn’t think of her for weeks — more on that some other time though.
I was handed some pants best described as 18th-century gauchos.
As I pulled them on, I realized they were already warm and wet.
It occurred to me to complain, to pull them off in an effort to assure I didn’t contract whatever was clearly growing in those pants, but by the time I had them around my waist, I was a pirate and pirates don’t complain about things like that. They save their complaints for real issues, like the price of rum (which was astronomically jacked up during the weekend, to say the least).
As I walked about in my pirate uniform, the transformation became clearer.
Dozens of people stopped us to pose for photos. They had no idea I was just a guy who followed his friend to another weekend of assumed debauchery — to them, I was a pirate.
That aided in my ability to embrace my situation rather than viewing it through the eyes of an observer as is typical for me. The voices of journalist Ty speak loudest during those times, so the photos helped. Usually it’s just booze.
The next day was the actual invasion and the shad boat my crew sailed on, noble vessel that she is, could handle only about a dozen pirates, casting me in the role of a shoeless militiaman, bent on protecting the little town from the pirates.
You’re formed up across the street from the crowd, which has its collective eye fixated on the performing pirates.
Your part is that of an extra, really, but you don’t even realize that yet. It still seems so far away.
You’re under the command of a woman who passes more for a member of the militia than you do. It’s no wonder the baker’s dozen of volunteer soldiers couldn’t fight off the pirates if any number of them were as lost and pathetic-looking as you.
You’re formed into two lines — the first bit of order you’ve noticed among the pirate rejects, just before you’re to march out in front of the crowd.
It doesn’t concern you much, though. Performing or speaking in public had never been an issue, but what are you supposed to do with a gun that doesn’t fire? What happens if you get shot at? How should you stand? What they hell happens in this skit? Who wins?
You step out as there’s a cue from one of the performers “Oh, you sent for the militia!?” or something to that extent. You can’t really tell because it’s drowned out by the crowd’s cheering and applause.
Apparently the narrative convinces the audience that you’re the good guys, and it almost comforts you. You ended up a pirate hunter, but at least you’re the crowd favorite.
So you take your place opposite the pirate firing line and try to control your facial expressions.
It’s just another incalculable situation you’ve been thrust into. Embrace it.
So you draw your gun, take aim and squeeze the trigger. There’s your climax.