Exit Strategy

by London Lampy

Chapter 30

The old lady is stood on a wooden box snipping away at my hair. "I thought you were a seamstress." I say, watching as one blue black lock falls to the floor beside me.

"I'm a woman of many parts duckie." She replies, taking my head between her hands and tipping it forward. "Got my fingers in a whole lot of pies so to speak, made a pretty penny that way, I can tell you. No one can accuse old Magda of being lazy."

She steps off her box and moves it round in front of me, then gets back on and starts to snip at my fringe. I'm sat on a dining room chair that's been put out on the verandah at the back of the house to keep the mess outside. Topher's already been and there are small piles of his jet black hair all around my feet, I prod one with my toe.

"Hold still lad!" She grumbles. "You don't want it all wonky, the Captain told me to make the two of you look as tidy as I can, and I'm not about to disappoint him."

"It's strange stuff your hair isn't it?" She adds after a bit. "It almost reminds me of a cat I once had, great big thing it was, had long fur that stuck out all over, it's kind of like that."

"It's hair, not fur." I say sharply.

"Don't be so sensitive duckie." She gives a few final snips. "There, all done, go and see what you think."

I stand up and brush myself off, then go and look in the mirror in the hallway. It looks better, it was getting quite long and scruffy, but I was also thinking of growing it out and braiding it like Tallis', according to him short hair is just for children. The skin on my face and arms is the same colour as his now, I push up the short sleeve of my shirt and look at the difference between the colour there and that of my forearm. My arms and shoulders look more muscular than they once did too, my shirt is almost tight across my back, and I'm trying to look at the back of my shoulders in the mirror when Topher comes down the stairs.

"What the fuck are you doing?" He asks when he sees me.

"He's looking at how nicely he's filled out since working on the ship." Quints voice comes from the living room doorway, and I wonder just how long he's been standing there.

"He's turning into a right handsome young man." Magda's voice joins in, and I feel myself blushing, I could do without them all staring at me.

The old woman walks toward me carrying her wooden box and tucking her comb and scissors into her apron pocket, she reaches up to pat my cheek. "You know duckie, if I were a few years younger..." She doesn't finish her sentence but starts to laugh as she heads for the door. "See you all at the party, especially you." She nods in my direction. "Who knows what naughty things I may get up to with a few drinks inside me?"

"You look fucking terrified." Topher points out when she's gone. "She's just a little old lady."

Quint seems to be trying very hard not to laugh.

Admiral Blasie's seventy fifth birthday party seems to be the social event of the year on Nightport. Endless groups of old retired pirates have come over from the mainland to help him celebrate and the population of the island has more then doubled. Dozens of barrels of beer and rum and cases of of wine and champagne have been brought over as well, along with enough food to feed a small army, and all of it is being loaded into the town hall.

Topher and I have come to watch the preparations, the admiral is also here overseeing everything, leaning heavily on his stick and occasionally barking instructions at the delivery men, which mostly seem to disrupt rather than help proceedings.

"Hello boys, what do you think eh? I might be an ancient bugger but I still know how to hold a party. Getting a load of girls shipped over from a cat house in Kipp to act as waitresses, all dressed alike in tiny little little frilly dresses, down to here and up to there." He indicates his chest and thigh with his free hand. "Give all me old comrades something tasty to look at, and sample, for the right price, if you know what I mean." He gives us a wink and a loud laugh. "Although looking at the pair of you is making me think maybe I should have hired some boys as well, tend to forget some of the lads prefer outdoor to indoor plumbing. Don't suppose the two of you fancy stripping down to your knickers to hand round drinks? There'd be a few dollars in it for you."

"I do not think Captain Quint would like that." Topher says quickly.

"No, he wouldn't." I add, just to make sure.

"Ah yes, I suppose not, just girls it is then. I was rather hoping they'd be here by now." He peers away toward the harbour hopefully, running his hand across his hair to smooth it down. "I'm planning to help Magda with their costume fitting." He winks at us again, then adds." For the god's sake don't tell Teena though." And looks around to check she's nowhere nearby. "Say, do you boys fancy coming along too?" He grins.

Topher and I exchange puzzled looks. "What for?" I ask eventually.

"What for lad? A whole lot of beautiful girls in their scanties, do you need any more reason than that?"


"Well I'm sure they're very nice girls, but..." I start.

"I bloody well hope they're not nice girls, I've laid out a lot of money on them, if I'd wanted nice girls I'd have gone to a convent not a cat house!" He huffs.

"...but." I continue. "I don't really think I'm that interested in seeing them undress."

"Me neither." Topher puts in.

"Strange boys." He shakes his head at us. "When I was your age I'd have been at that like a rat up a drainpipe."

A man I don't recognise calls out to the Admiral to ask him where he wants the beer set up, and he limps off to speak with him.

"How the hell is he the Captain's father?" Topher asks once he's out of earshot.

I know what he means, Quint is rather serious and dutiful. I find it hard to picture the admiral in is younger days captaining The Firebrat the way Quint does.

We retreat to the other side of the pathway and sit on a low wall in the shade of a tree, hopefully we're far enough away for the admiral not to notice us again.

"My father used to hold parties frequently, not like this though, he'd never had hired whores as waitresses, he had more class than that. Once he had a whole circus troupe set up in our grounds to entertain our guests though." Topher says as we watch four men struggle to get a large piano through the town hall doors.

"Do you miss your parents?" I ask him after a moment..

"What sort of fucking question is that?" He retorts.

"I don't know, I just wondered. I'm an orphan, you don't miss what you never had."

"Of course I fucking miss them, my sisters as well, but there's nothing I can do about it so don't ask stupid questions monkey."

I sigh, despite refusing to promise he wouldn't he hasn't called me monkey since I got the cat. I'll steer well clear of asking him anything about his family in the future.

We both sit in silence for a while until a noise comes from down the pathway. It sounds a bit like a tree full of parrots all squawking at once and we both look round to see a dozen or so figures walking towards the town hall.

"I think that's the Admiral's "waitresses"" I say, shading my eyes against the sun.

As they get closer the figures reveal themselves to be young women accompanied by a couple of members of crew. They are all different heights and have differing skin and hair colour, but they all have one thing in common, very large breasts.

The Admiral comes out of the town hall moving faster than I would have thought possible. "Hello my lovelies!" I hear him say from across the way, he doesn't exactly have a quiet voice. "Welcome to Nightport, I'm your host Admiral Blaise." A couple of the girls step forward and he kisses their hands in turn, then leads them all inside, with one of them hanging off his arm.

"You know how lucky we are to belong to Captain Quint, imagine being owned by someone like the Admiral." Topher says, watching the last of the girls disappearing into the door.

"But we wouldn't, he likes girls." I point out.

"No stupid, not actually Admiral Blaise, just someone like him, you know, an old perv."

I laugh. "You don't think the captains a bit of a perv? He always wants to tie me up."

"Don't you like that?" He asks surprised.

"Yeah, I do." I confess, thinking about the last time we had sex, it was a few days ago and just remembering it is getting me hard.

"Hey." Topher says, waving his hand in front of my face. "Stop thinking about getting laid."

"I'm not." I lie.

"Well something has given you a hard on, and I sure as hell hope it wasn't the Admiral." He grins, pointing to my lap, I glare at him and wrap my tail across to hide it.

"There the two of you are." A voice comes from behind us, we both turn around to see Quint standing under the tree smiling at us. He steps forward and rests a hand on each of our shoulders.

"We came down to watch the party preparations." I say by way of explanation.

"The Admiral has got a load of working girls over from Kipp to act as waitresses, he asked us if we wanted to go and look at them in their underwear, and he offered us money to hand round drinks in our pants too." Topher gossips.

"Oh gods." Quint exclaims. "I love the old sod, but sometimes I wonder if we truly are related."

Topher and I exchange glances when he says that.

"We said no to both." I add.

"Good." He says, sliding a hand inside my shirt and toying with a nipple, I notice he's doing the same thing to Topher who makes a small gasping noise that has me wrapping my tail over my lap again.

The sun is starting to set as I slip into my smart jacket and look at myself in the wardrobe door mirror. I look good, but I wish I was wearing a suit. I hope we go back to Kipp soon to pick up the one that's being made for me. Topher has one on that I didn't even know he owned, it's a proper evening suit in fine black wool with satin lapels. He's wearing it with a white dress shirt underneath that he's left unbuttoned at the throat, his silver chain glinting against his dark skin. He looks more than good.

"What?" He questions when he notices me staring at him.

"Nice suit."

"It is isn't it?" He grins smoothing it down and turning round to look at his back view in the mirror.

"Exit, I take it you've remembered to put shoes on this time?" The Captain appears in the doorway.

"Yes." I say, pointing at my feet encased in the brogues he bought for me.

"Good." His eyes travel over us both in turn. "Oh look at the two of you." He says appreciatively.

He doesn't look bad himself, he has on a suit similar to Topher's with a wine red shirt underneath, also worn open at the neck. In addition he has a black cumber band, and his hair is caught back in it's usual black ribbon.

The light in the room is fading fast and for a long moment we all just stand there looking at each other. The Captain swallows and is about to say something when the maid bustles in with a taper to light the lamp.

"We should be going." Quint says huskily.

It doesn't take long to walk through the warm night to the town hall, outside is a crowd of people standing around drinking smoking and chatting, a few I recognise but most I don't. Several large torches have been driven into the ground around the entrance, and the flames from them are making shadows dance along the side of the building. From inside I can hear the sound of a piano floating over the voices and the smell of food drifts out.

A few people stop and greet Quint as we head toward the door, he chats briefly with a couple then ushers us forward, one hand resting on my shoulder, the other on Topher's hip. "Come on, lets go and find my father, before he gets too drunk to remember who I am."

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