Don Quitamo Sails

This story appears in the Harvey Duckman Presents Pirates issue.

 
I explain the story’s genesis here. Subscribers get to read the full story below and should also pick up a copy of the Harvey Duckman Presents Pirates issue. All others, here’s a taste…and do pick up the Harvey Duckman Presents Pirates issue, as well.


Don Quitamo Sails

Don Quitamo rested his head on fine silk pillows and pulled the most excellent satin sheets over his body. Waves rocked his ship lulling him to sleep.

“Sleep well, Lord Quitamo.”

His cabin door closed quietly and latched, secured. He relaxed and allowed his mind to wander. Seldom did The Lady Eglesia’s captain get a full night’s rest.

Behind closed lids the cabin grew dim. He thought ‘She snuffed out the candles’ and soon slept.

How long he slept he wasn’t sure. The ship chronometer’s eyes glowed in the dark, moving back and forth as they ticked off the seconds of the watch, its tail swishing rhythmically as if time, too, obeyed the sea’s waves.

First Mate León, his shoulders like a lion’s and his hair a golden halo about his head, called through the horn. “Your forgiveness, Lord Quitamo. The Merchant Vessel Tyree hails us from the shoulders of Orion.”

He shrugged off sleep with his satin sheets, rising and reaching for his cutlass in one continuous motion. “I know no Merchant Vessel Tyree. What colors do they hail?

“They hail safe and well, Lord Quitamo. They say they’ve been followed through four starfields but the other ship won’t identify.”

“Call for full sail.”

His command spread like fire. The Lady Eglesia spread her wings until so much white filled the sky nebulae grew jealous.

The Lady Eglesia, the smartest ship of the fleet, emboldened her icon and stood it before him. “Where are we questing today, Lord Quitamo?”

“Show me suns I’ve never seen. Show me skies that have never known man.”

The Lady Eglesia’s ports opened. Energies spread along her sides like water spilling from a deck’s good washing. In a moment her hull hardened such that no life, no forces, weapons neither energy nor mass driven, could penetrate her.

“Now, my lord?”

“Now.”

Once again her wings lifted, filling with so much sunlight she rose from the oceans and gravity no longer claimed her.

“Prepare me for the bowsprit.”

He strode confidently, knowing The Lady Eglesia would protect her Good Captain, and in a moment felt her energies caress and cover him with a second flesh. Seals opened and closed as he walked until he stood with nothing but space under his feet.

The Lady Eglesia sent her energies forward, questing like dolphins in the night, leaping above the surface of the space-time continuum until they found entry, and diving they pulled her through the folds of space to the Tyree, her aft guns blazing at a ship flying no colors, dark in the night, the Tyree’s shells falling far from their mark.

The Lady Eglesia surfaced from deep space, Lord Quitamo’s Golden Sunfish on her prow.

The Tyree’s mainlight signaled: May the Tides of Space befriend thee, Lord Quitamo.

Don Quitamo gave the order and The Lady Eglesia’s lights signaled back: And you as well, Good Captain.

Quitamo called into the horn, “Bring me along side her.”

First Lieutenant Oso, The Lady Eglesia’s gunnery officer, called back. “The far ship won’t answer a hail, Good Captain, and her battledoors are open. She could be preparing to fire.”

“Lady Eglesia, rig for battle. Prepare the batteries. Strengthen your sides and hull.”


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“Don Quitamo Sails” is in Harvey Duckman Presents Special Pirates Issue!

C.G. Hatton, the gracious and EverWise editor of the Harvey Duckman Presents series, mentioned a few months back that Harvey was planning a special Pirates issue. Would I be interested in submitting a story?

 
My immediate response was “Sorry, I don’t have anything in inventory even remotely to do with pirates.”

But then I remembered a story idea I had almost two years previously. I was driving around back country roads (a favorite pastime of mine. Gives me a chance to relax, think, flush out some cobwebs, work out story ideas, plots, develop characters, refine dialogue, all those good authory things. And smoke a cigar), turned around a bend in the road and BOOM! I saw a ship plying the ocean, a man straight out of Procol Harem‘s Conquistador, one foot up on the gunwhale and staring ahead from the bow, humanish creatures racing about the deck, the ship, The Lady Eglesia, under full sail and suddenly her sails became wings as she lifted from ocean to air and then changed again to a hull as she slipped through the atmosphere into space.

 
I literally pulled over to the side of the road and made notes. A full page and a half. The opening straight through to the introduction of the Merchant Vessel Tyree calling for help as a dark ship pursued her through space. Even the title, Don Quitamo Sails.

Wow.

I mean, just wow.

“Yeah, sure, I may have something for you. Give me a bit.”

I had no idea where the story was going. Truth be told, I had no idea what the story was about.

And aside from a few books I’d read researching anthropology and linguistics issues, I didn’t know much about pirates, ancient through modern (although they are a fascinating study, I’ve come to realize).

So where did the story go?

Stop being the author, start being a character.

 
My studies of storycrafting and storytelling caused me to create helpful (to me) adages. Example: when you’re stuck, stop being the author of the story and start being one of the characters in the story.

Another great one comes from Cozy author Donna Huston Murray; when you’ve run out of things to do with your protagonist, write about what the antagonist is doing.

Thankee, Donna, works every time.

So I became Don Quitamo for fifteen-twenty minutes.

And the story revealed itself to me.

And here’s what author and fellow Harveyist Mark Hayes wrote about Don Quitamo Sails:

Joseph Carrabis first came to my attention in the third Harvey Duckman volume with one of the oddest and in many ways most beautiful short stories I’d read in an age. In this regard he represents all that is great about been involved in the Harvey Duckman Anthologies for me, because they give the reader (and the writers for that matter,) a chance to discover new authors they would never otherwise have come across. He is not alone in capturing my interest, he is one of several authors that I have been lucky enough to discover through Harvey and while not every Harvey author may have become my favorite, every one of them has becomes someones I suspect. Joseph in this regard, is one of mine, (but don’t tell him that…) mainly because I never know what to expect from one of his stories.

Yeah, I’m liking it.

And thanks to #weareallharvey for signing me aboard.

Other fine authors are in the Pirates issue include Liz Tuckwell, R. Bruce Connelly, Nils Nisse Visser, Mark Hayes, Peter James Martin, C.G. Hatton, Andy Hill, and Kate Baucherel (and you should read them all).

Empty Sky Chapter 1 – The Cabin (28 Aug 2020, Audio)

The version of the chapter presented here is a far cry from the version currently in print (and I have a standing offer regarding the current version; Buy a copy, leave a review, I’ll send you a signed copy of the rewrite when it’s published). For that matter, the version presented here is a stretch from the previous versions posted on this blog (most recent here).

The version here is my reading at a Read ’em and Weep online workshop I recently attended.

Fascinating experience.

Creator and above level members can listen to the reading here.


Chapter 1 – The Cabin

Jamie reached for Shem’s tail. The big golden sat on Jamie’s bed staring out the cabin window. His coat glistened in the moonlight, his tail thumped with excitement. Peepers and crickets chirped outside. Raccoons chittered. Opossum and skunk barked. Owls hooted. Loons called. Far off a wolf howled. Another answered in the distance.

Jamie caught Shem’s tail and held it motionless. “What is it, boy?”

Shem looked back at Jamie and whined softly.

Jamie ran a delicate hand through his ginger hair. He looked past Shem to the oak, elm, and pine of the northern Michigan forest. The Moon, full and bright, illuminated the trees and the small, one-room cabin at their center.

“Do you have to pee?”

Shem jumped off the bed and scratched at the door to go out.

“Shh.” Jamie glanced at his parents, Ellie and Tom, asleep on the other side of the cabin. “You want to wake mom and dad?” He crawled out from under the covers and tip-toed to the door. Standing on a chair, he drew back the bolt and lifted the latch.

Cool winds changed rustling treetops into brooms sweeping low-hung clouds from late September skies. Dust devils spun mists where night air met day-warmed rocks. Trees bowed to the rising Moon.

Shem walked into the night. Jamie followed.

The Moon continued her ascent. The woods fell silent.

Silent.

Ellie sat up in bed, her hands clenching the blanket, holding it tight against her. A cold, dank wind swirled through the cabin, lifting things slightly, inspecting them, putting them down, drawing a musk of old earths in its wake.

Moonlight entered the cabin’s single room.

Her eyes fixed on Jamie’s empty bed.

“Jamie! Shem!”

Tom rose and put his boots on in one motion. “Where are they?”

Ellie pointed at the open door.

Tom threw Ellie her coat. “They must be together. Shem won’t let Jamie out of his sight.”

“Something’s got them. Some wild animal.”

“There’s no blood anywhere, Ellie. Shem’d raise hell if something got in the cabin or near Jamie.” He grabbed an iron poker from the woodstove.

Ellie stopped at the door, a silhouette against the night. “Shh.”

Tom came up beside her. “What the…?”

“Shh!”

“What are they doing?”

“It looks like they’re playing.”

“With whom?”


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Shaman Story Chapter X – DeathSong

This is the last of the “Childhood” section of Shaman Story. The next section, Adolescence, tracks Gio through elementary school to college. But that’s for later. Now, “DeathSong”.

Read Shaman Story Chapter X – Council of All Beings.


Shaman Story Chapter X – DeathSong

 
“You promised.”

“Gio.”

“You said you’d never leave me.”

“Gio.”

“I won’t do it.”

“Gio.”

I turn my back. I won’t face him. I won’t I won’t I won’t.

I feel his arms encircle me, hear his voice inside me. “Do you feel me, Gio?”

I don’t answer.

“Gio.”

“No, I don’t feel you. Alright?”

He withdraws. The energy that cradled me, rescued me, taught me, pulls back.

I spin, reach out, fall into his arms. “No, Buppa. No. Don’t go, Buppa. Don’t die. I need you. I don’t want to go home.”

He holds me against him. I feel his heart, not strong. His arms are weak. Still he holds me. I hear his breath, smell his clove aftershave. He rubs his beard stubble against my forehead, he sings an old Sicilian song.

Inside I hear. “Am I with you now, Gio?”

“Yes, Buppa. Yes.”

“As long as you keep me there, I’ll never leave you. Do you understand, Gio?”

I don’t want to understand. I don’t want to know.

“I’ve done all I can here, Gio. I’ve learned all I can learn. Is it right for me to stay here when The Universe needs me somewhere else?”

“Yes.”

He chuckles. His chest rattles. “Gio.”

“No.”


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Shaman Story Chapter X – Council of All Beings

Read Shaman Story Chapter X – Mr. Zelli’s Ice Cream.


Shaman Story Chapter X – Council of All Beings

 
Voices dance over me like ants at a harvest. I shake with the deep bellow of whale song, the answering trumpet of elephant, am tickled with the chirping of crickets the size of busses. A spider wraps me in her web, places me on her back. Her chalice’s grate “Ha-angg—on-n,” and she balloons up into the sky.

“Where are we going, Grandmother?”

Her chalice’s grate again. “Coun-n-c-cil-l—o-of-f—A-a-ll—Be-ei-ingg-s-s. Yy-you-ur-r—Ggrannd-d-ffa-a-ath-ther-r—i-s-s—wai-ai-ait-t-inn-g-g.”

We descend through clouds, through fog, through mist, through water, through waves, through oceans into the earth, through boiling rock and land on an island deep in the sky.

“Buppa!”

He lifts me in his arms. “Are you ready, Gio? Are you ready to meet your friends?”

The island grows and grows and more and more arrive. John and Running Water and Apara and Chan and Joe Swota and Erdös and Lan and Han and Timbe and Rose and Bee and Spider and Moose and Hummingbird and Hawk and I recognize them even when they don’t look like I’ve seen them before.

“You’re passing!”

“Do you see me who I am, Gio? Do you see me who I am?” It’s a game to them, too!

My friends teach me to play their games and ask me to teach them mine.

Then a voice I’ve not heard before. A voice of fire, like a mountain. A throat clearing that sounds like trees falling in a forest. “Hello, Gio.”

“Hello.”

A wall of sky offers me its hand. I hold stars and planets and galaxies in mine, not even knowing what they are.

“Who are you?”


Greetings! I’m your friendly, neighborhood Threshold Guardian. This is a protected post and requires either General Membership (free) or a Subscription (various levels). Members and Subscribers can LogIn. Non members can join. All posts are free to all members save certain posts in the My Work category. Enjoy!