by Sarah Kourkoulis

There were five pirates who had been about the business of pirating for so long that they were now wanted in every country, port and dock for robbery. They decided that the only hope that they had of ever being able to have any semblance of a real life lay in hiding for a few months or years, until the world realized that they weren’t the only bad pirates that it could worry about. So they sailed to a little known island in the Mediterranean Sea that was uninhabited, and there they proceeded to make for themselves a home.

Like I said, there were five of them. Alphonse was the giant. He was huge, at least seven feet, but no one was quite sure exactly how big he was, because at that time, they didn’t make sticks tall enough to measure him, since most men were six feet and under. He wasn’t too happy being a pirate, but it was the only thing he could do, since his size got in the way of being anything else. He couldn’t have been a ballet dancer, because he would have definitely hurt someone, and besides he would probably have killed the lady he was supposed to dance with, since she would be so little and he so big. In his parents’ minds, then, that left only pirating. So, a pirate he was, and his job was to carry the hostages below for the other pirates.

There was Louis, who had royal blood in his veins, an earl or something. Back home, Louis was by far the most eligible bachelor: he had the money, and he was an earl or something, and he was absolutely gorgeous. So, needless to say, the young ladies flocked to his house, desperate for a peep at the hunk next door. He was never without a female companion, and quite frankly, he hated it. He didn’t like being thrown together with a woman, just so that he would get married. Darn it, he didn’t want to get married at all! In fact, he decided that what he wanted was to be a pirate. No women to worry about, no sappy stories to listen to. Just him and a bunch of guys, sailing around, taking money that wasn’t theirs, and kidnapping people to get away. That was the life. At least, that’s what he thought until his first night aboard ship. Louis got so seasick, he didn’t leave his bunk for the next two weeks. Eventually, he got over it somewhat, but a good storm could still set him puking.

There was Jimmy. Now, people always whispered “He’s not all there” when speaking about Jimmy. They were only partly right. The truth was that Jimmy wasn’t there at all. His head was always in the clouds and a person always had to call his name four times before Jimmy realized that they were calling him. If it weren’t for his uncanny ability to tell whether a ship really had a bunch of money on it, before the pirates even got close enough to see its sails clearly, they would probably have thrown him overboard, because he wasn’t really much use to them otherwise.

There was Dieter. If anyone loved his job, that was Dieter. He absolutely adored pirating. He loved the screams of the people and the splash of the sea, he loved the stale food and the neverchanging scenery. He had a patch that he wore whenever they were going to attack a ship, and he had a red bandana that he tied on his head then too. He also had a clip-on earring that he sometimes wore. He’d even tried a wooden leg, but he didn’t like the idea of cutting off his leg in order to get one, so he contented himself with wooden shoes.

And that was it. The five-oh gosh, I forgot George. Everyone forgot George. He was easily the most boring person ever born. None of the others ever spent any more time with him then they could help, and it was kind of sad. He’d become a pirate to spice up his life, and if there ever was a boring pirate, George was it. His life was this: he was born, he had a childhood, he went to school for a while, he reached adulthood. That was it. Nothing else had happened. The kids he went to school with sighed in relief when he left, knowing that their lives could only get better from here, because if he was the most boring person they’d ever meet, then at least they had never had the opportunity to marry him. There’s really nothing else to say about him.

Anyway, those were the five pirates, and they stayed on the island for a good three months before they met Molly.

In Spain, there was a princess named Molly. She was absolutely drop-dead. She had everything: gorgeous eyes, hair, lips, figure. Everything. And she was eighteen, so she was also eligible. So, suitors came from thousands of miles to seek her hand.

Now her father (her mother had been dead for twelve years) wanted to see his only child marry well and bless him with a multitude of grandchildren, so he encouraged the suitors to come and try to win his daughter’s hand. It took a while, but he finally started to notice a trend: as many suitors as there were, he never, ever, saw the same one twice. They never came back.

This baffled him, to say the least. He hadn’t thought that his daughter was repulsive, but he couldn’t think of any other reason. So he decided to start spending more time with her, and see if he sensed anything wrong with her.

Days passed, and the only thing that impressed him was that she really did have a lovely personality. She was witty and inteligent, so what was the problem?

One Thursday, Doug (her father) woke up and went about his day in the normal way, but he was in a bit of a bad mood. He snapped at the servants and kicked the dog, things he normally would not have done. He sat down to lunch that day with his daughter, just like any day, and proceeded as though everything were normal.

“How are you, Dad?” she asked him.

“Well to be honest, Molly, I seem to be in a bit of a bad mood. I snapped at the servants and kicked the dog, things I normally would not have done. I don’t know what’s wrong.”

“Well, Dad,” she answered, “It’s because you slept on the wrong side of the bed.”

Doug was a bit shocked. He was lost as to the connection of his sleeping positions and his bad mood. “What?”

“You slept on the wrong side of the bed. See, you normally sleep on the right hand side, right? Well, last night when I went in to say good-night, you were sleeping on the left hand side. Now the mattress on the left hand side is not as soft as the mattress on the right hand side, so you were a bit too stiff this morning for your morning exercise. You pulled your back just a little when you carried that old trunk down here, so that you were forced to sit inside rather than go out riding like you always do. So you’re in a bad mood only to the degree to which your left hand side of the bed is harder than your right hand side.” Molly grinned at her father, who was staring straight at her, incapable of saying a word.

It shocked him the way her mind worked. He’d never seen anybody pull together two completely unrelated topics the way she had, all as though it made perfect logical sense.

That night he decided, just for the sake of debate, that he would sleep on the right hand side of the bed. The next day, however, proved to be the same as the day before. He snapped at the servants and kicked the dog, things he normally would not have done. He sat down to lunch with his daughter, just as though it were a normal day, and proceeded as though everything were fine.

“How are you, Dad?” Molly asked.

“Well, to be honest Molly, I seem to be in a bit of a bad mood again. I snapped at the servants and kicked the dog, things I normally would not have done. And I don’t know why, because I slept on the right hand side of the bed last night.”

“Oh,” she said, “it’s because you have a hole in your sock.”

Doug was baffled. He could not, in his wildest dreams, think of why his having a hole in his sock should have anything to do with his mood. “What?”

“It’s simple,” Molly explained. “With a hole in your sock, your toe keeps poking out, so that when you took your daily run this morning, you cut off just enough blood to the end that it started to hurt enough so that you had to stop your run. Because you didn’t get the exercise you needed, you were forced to use that pent up energy somewhere, and you planned to use it in cleaning out the hallway closet, but you found out that your servants had already done that, so you had to snap at them, and the dog kept trying to bite your toe, so you kicked him. It’s all very simple.” Molly looked quite pleased with herself, and grinned at her father.

Doug couldn’t believe it. He finally understood why none of his daughter’s suitors ever came back. She had the potential of driving them absolutely crazy. So, he decided that since it was impossible to find a compatible suitor in Spain, he would have to send her to England to stay with relatives who hopefully would steer her toward that perfect man.

So, that’s what happened. When Doug told the servants what would be happening, they all gave a sigh of relief, proof that she had been using that brilliant, analyzing mind on them too. Anyway, he packed her on a boat and sent her off to merry England.

Molly was content to leave her home. After all, she’d figured out how everything worked already, and now she had a whole passel of new and interesting people to analyze. She spent the first few days exploring the ship, and figuring out how everything ran. It wasn’t long before she was telling the captain how to properly control the ship and the cook how to prepare the food.

The fourth day at sea brought a storm with gale force winds that effectively tore the ship in two. Molly ended up atop one of her trunks and explaining to the sailor treading water behind her, why exactly the ship had been effectively torn in two. After staring at her in confusion, he soon swam off to clear his brain of her strange connections.

After drifting for a while, Molly was picked up by a band of pirates (not the same five who were on the island). The pirates planned to keep her for ransom, thinking that she would be missed by her father or other relatives. What they didn’t know, and Molly didn’t either, was that the letter her father had mailed to the relatives in England had been aboard a ship captured by real pirates, so no one was expecting her in England. Her father thought she would be arriving soon, and didn’t expect a letter for three or four months, so there was no hope of ever being ransomed.

But, no one knew any of that, and it wouldn’t have mattered if they had, because the same thing would have happened to Molly. See, she started right off analyzing everything on this new ship, from why the deck was slimy to why the captain was always in a bad mood. And after she had come up with a satisfactory answer (for herself, not necessarily everyone else) she told whoever would listen. In no time, the captain was ready to drop her in the middle of the sea, but thankfully for Molly, one of the seamen persuaded him to wait until they were in sight of land, so that she would have a chance at life.

After thinking it over, the captain decided that the guy was right. I mean, why not just pass this problem onto someone else? So, he had her gagged and tied up until such an opportune time came. And it soon did. The ship sailed toward a little known island in the Mediterranean Sea that was uninhabited, and there they proceeded to untie the princess and throw her overboard. The very instant she was off ship, there was a collective cheer that rose from the boat, as all of the seamen made preparations for the glorious feast in honor of Molly’s departure.

As for Molly, she had known that she would soon be cast overboard, so she wasn’t at all surprised by this turn of events. She had analyzed enough about the captain to reach the conclusion that he didn’t enjoy logic at all, and because of that, she was glad to leave, being a lover of reason, however twisted it might seem sometimes.

The captain had made some minor miscallculations on the distance between his ship and the island, so Molly swam much of the night, trying to get to shore. By the time she reached it, she was barely conscious, struggling to just breathe. Even the most logical people can only take so much, after all. So it wasn’t until morning that she was discovered.

It happened completely by accident. The five guys were taking their morning walk, once again discussing exactly how long they were going to stay on this God-forsaken island. It had been three months, after all, and some of the them were beginning to get a little tired of nothing but gorgeous blue sky and beaches day in and day out.

“Louis, I gotta get off of this island. I’ve got an itch Louis, an itch to be a pirate. It’s what I was born for, man, not to be some stinkin’ lifeguard! Come on, it’s been three months.” Dieter was desperate. He really didn’t think he’d make it much longer. The sea was calling to him, and he had to answer.

“Diet, we’ve been over this ground before. I’m telling you, we gotta have more time. We were too good. Everyone knew us, they wouldn’t even come near us. Spies in every port. Have you forgotten how bad it got? By the end, we were barely making enough to feed ourselves, much less put up any security for the future! How’s that for making a living?” Louis was steadfast. “Give it another month, and then we’ll try it,” he said, making his final concession.

Jimmy wandered ahead, not at all concerned about the conversation. Things were always decided without him, and that was fine, because he barely noticed when things changed anyway. “Oooff.” He landed on his face. Now that he did notice. He’d tripped over something, something very wet, and hairy. The other guys were catching up, and good thing too. He wasn’t too sure what to do next, only that he wouldn’t be able to do it alone.

“Jimmy, why are you laying on your face? That would seem rather awkward to me. Is it comfortable for you?” That would be George. Jimmy managed to nod.

“Come up, little boy. There we go. Let’s brush you off. Oh, you have sand in your nose. Here’s a tissue. Now blow. Good job, Jimmy.” Alphonse towered over him, setting him to rights, patting him gently on the head when he was done.

“What on earth-? Good God, what did you trip over?” Louis jogged over to the mound, and bent down to get a closer look. “Well, if smell has anything to do with it, I think it’s dead.”

Alphonse glared at him. Really, the man could be so insensitive. “Poor creature. Let’s bring it in out of the sun, and see what it is.”

Jimmy had gotten his wits back together. It wasn’t much, but you work with what you’ve got. “It’s a girl,” he said.

And not one of them doubted it was true.

Immediate discussion took place on what they were going to do. Alphonse still wanted to care for her, and Dieter thought the idea of a damsel in distress was great. Pirates rescue damsels in distress, don’t they, he’d said. Even when Louis pointed out that Diet was talking about knights in shining armor, he couldn’t be dissuaded. He’d never had a damsel in distress before, and the idea appealed to his adventurous nature.

George was a bit distracted from the discussion. He was inspecting the sand on the beach, trying to see if it was possible to count each grain. The other guys knew that they’d lost him for the rest of the day.

Louis was the stickler. He desperately wanted to leave her. She represented everything he’d tried to run away from. In essence, she was the enemy. You kill the enemy. He would have taken a knife to her throat right then and there, except for that darn giant who wanted to treat her like a kitten. Man alive, you’d think these guys would know when they had it good! They actually wanted to help that- that- girl!!!

So, as Phonsy carried her to their little huts, Louis stayed to the end of their entourage, muttering and sputtering under his breath. This really was not what he had in mind when he became a pirate. Helping half dead girls, indeed.

“You know, she’s kind of pretty,” Jimmy said.

“She looks like a drowned rat. We should have just left her there to die.” To the end, Louis would tell them what a mistake they’d made.

Molly’s eyelids fluttered, then snapped open. “Who said that? Who?” She grabbed the giant’s shoulders, and pulled herself up so she could look behind her. Flicking her tangled hair out of her face, she glared at them all, looking for the one who’d rather see her dead. She met gaze after gaze of pure devotion, until she saw Louis. There, she saw nothing but anger and intense dislike.

“How dare you!” She hollered, or tried to. After all, she had been unconscious most of the night, and hadn’t eaten or drunk a thing in over fourteen hours. So it came out as more of a whisper. But it was a loud whisper. “I am the princess of Spain, only daughter of Doug, king of Spain. Do you have any idea what kind of power I’m talking about?”

Three of the pirates who were paying attention were sufficiently impressed. Louis however, couldn’t be budged. He ignored her, and boldly pressed on past Phonse toward the little huts in the distance.

Molly was not used to such insensitive treatment. Granted, she’d been treated a little roughly by those other pirates, but they had all been awed by her incredible beauty, and her status as princess of Spain. This fellow, on the other hand, didn’t give a hoot. She didn’t care for that at all.

With a woman in camp, new arrangements had to be made. Obviously she couldn’t sleep in a hut with one of the other guys, so two would have to bunk together. By common consent, Jimmy was given George as a roommate, and the four guys moved George’s stuff for him, since he was out counting sand.

Molly instantly demanded curtains, causing Lou to really blow a gasket. He had known this kind of nonsense would happen. It’s why he’d run like heck when he’d had the chance. Run off and be a pirate, sail all over the world, hide out on a deserted island for three months, and still they got him! He stomped out of the little village and went hunting for a while, not returning until dinner time.

He came back to an incredible smell permeating the camp. Whatever it was, it must be awful good, he thought. As he neared the fire, he saw the other guys devouring the food on their plates. Meal time had never been like this before.

“Seconds, anyone?” The angel turned around, spatula in hand, and looked at the hungry men holding their plates out for more. Louis fell down at her feet and nearly wept with joy. She proceeded to strike his head with her utensil, and then filled each of the plates that the others handed to her.

When he awoke a while later, the fire had died down, and he saw a plate, wrapped in aluminum foil, at his side. As each bite was tasted and savored, he pled forgiveness for every foul thing he had ever said against women in his entire life.

The next morning, however, was a different story. After another delicious meal, Molly insisted that each of the men bathe. George had returned sometime in the night, and was the only one who agreed with the idea. He had never been terribly fond of dirt, and this not bathing for months on end had really started to get to him. He immediately went to the nearest freshwater, which was nearly seven miles away, and began to scrape off layers of dirt and scum.

The others were not too keen on the prospect. Alphonse had always hated bathing because it simply took too long. There was so much area to cover, and it really wore him out. Dieter and Louis, however, objected merely on principle. Since when did pirates bathe? Since never, they said. It just wasn’t done. Part of the fear that was instilled into people was caused by the lice and fleas that were always surrounding the marauders.

Molly managed to reason with Alphonse, telling him to take each section at a time, and try to make a game of it. You know, she said, time yourself each time you bathe and see if you can beat your previous time. Well, he really liked the idea. He’d always been good at competitions, mostly because he was bigger than his opponents, and he really craved this challenge.

Dieter was convinced when she insisted that no lady would ever find him attractive when she could smell his stench four miles downwind. She reminded him that all pirates had mistresses, and wouldn’t he like to get the best that there was, and not the worst? That would only come by bathing, she insisted, so he promptly trotted off to get clean.

Jimmy, who had declined the notion of cleanliness out of allegience to his fellow pirates, opted to go with the majority on this one, and was soon with the others at the bathing hole. That left Louis at Molly’s mercy, and she began to work on him.

“I know what your problems are, Lou. It’s really not that hard to figure out.” Molly sat down in front of her hut, making patterns in her skirt with her fingers.

“Just what are you talking about, lady? I’m fine. I got no problems, except with you!” Louis really hated her at that point. Cook food, fine, but he drew the line at bossing him around.

She peered up at him, her green eyes glinting in the sunshine. She really made quite a pretty picture sitting there, her long blond hair neat and tidy, flowing down her back. If he hadn’t hated her so much, he’d have thought about how beautiful she was. But I hate her, he thought.

“Why do you hate women, Lou? Where did that start? Did you hate your mother?” Molly was certain she knew what lay at the bottom of this animosity. She just had to help him see it.

“I didn’t hate my mother. I loved her. I loved everything about her. Her smile, her laugh. Until she ran off with my pre-school teacher.” Lou caught on at that point. “Hey! What are you trying to do!”

“You yell an awful lot, did you know that? That may be caused by your intense fear of bees. Oh, that’ll have to wait. I just know that you’ll have a breakthrough today. All right. Now your mother ran off with your preschool teacher. Okay, things are starting to make sense. So, you have pushed every woman who has ever tried to help you away, because you’re so terribly frightened that she’ll leave you too, just like your own mother did. Yes, yes, and then you began to hate all women in general, blaming us all for what one woman did to you. Yes, I’m sure that explains it all. Did you have any sisters?” She needed his answer. It was critical to her analysis.

This was really starting to get to him. He didn’t need this girl delving into his psyche, trying to figure out his childhood. He found himself answering despite that. “I have four. All older. When Mom left, they were stuck with raising me...” He began to remember that time. They hadn’t been particularly gracious with him; he’d been four, maybe five, and a bit wild. And it started to hurt again. Louis leaned against the wall to her hut, then slid down, until he sat next to her, knees pulled to his chest, his head on his knees. He began sobbing. “Why did she leave, why did she leave...” Over and over again, he cried. Then the moaning began, and Molly just sat next to him, patting his shoulder, making comforting little sounds.

When the other guys finally came back from their bath, Louis was tucked into his own bed. Molly ordered them all to be quiet, and when Jimmy complained that Lou hadn’t had to bathe, she just told him not to worry. He’d get his tomorrow.

Morning came, and Louis came out of his hut, scratching his head, his eyes all red and puffy, and his hair a mess. To say the least, he didn’t look his best. He had some vague memories of vigorous crying the night before, but it wasn’t until he saw Molly and felt her comforting pat on his shoulder that he was sure. Oh my God, he thought. I did it. I completely lost it in front of a girl!!!

He suddenly determined more than ever that this girl was going to have no effect on him whatsoever. That he’d just become a puddle at her feet in two days was very disconcerting, but he was not going to be cowed into submission. She would have no hold on him. None whatsoever.

Molly walked over to him, holding a bath towel in her hand. She was so happy over the breakthrough the night before. Really, it felt so good when she was able to help her fellow human beings, using this incredible gift of logic she’d been given. And, you know, it was possible that underneath all that grime, this Louis could be a very handsome man. It was worth finding out.

She had no idea what she was walking into.

There was a shouting match almost immediately, and that drew the other guys over to check out what was happening. It wasn’t unusual to have Lou holler, but no one ever hollered back, until Molly. And boy, could she scream.

The essence of the argument, obviously, was whether Louis would bathe or not. But on either side, undercurrents of emotion ran. For Molly, betrayal and intense confusion churned in her otherwise logical soul. She was quite confused over the complete and utter change in this man. As for Lou, he was driven by a desperate attempt of maintaining his manhood, which he felt would be somehow negated by bathing.

The fight lasted about fifteen minutes, and ended in a draw. Molly walked off, looking for a quiet place where she could sort everything out, and Lou retreated into his hut, certain that he’d won the day. It took Molly almost two hours to fully recover. The fact that it took so long in relation to how long the argument had lasted was really hard for her to swallow. Somehow, this arrogant, dull-witted man had gotten under her skin. He was completely immune to her very noticeable charms, and this in itself was a kind of insult to her. But to have him treat her with such venom really got her mad. And no one had ever been able to get her mad before.

Lou, on the other hand, was flying on the wings of this victory. He’d done it, by gosh. He’d outsmarted that female creature! She could try and analyze his childhood, she could hoodwink his companions, but he could still call his soul his own. He’d figure out some way to get rid of her, but in the meantime, he was determined to have nothing to do with her.

A woman’s wrath is a very funny thing. It can be either very cold or very hot, but it is always felt. Louis felt it that evening.

Molly had made dinner again, putting together another miracle with normally tasteless food. As she worked over the fire, her hair piled on top of her head in some ornate fashion, glints of fire could be seen coming out of her eyes. She made up five plates, her hands moving quickly, and the fire kept coming out. Lou was patient, watching her give the guys their food, ready to give her space. She was the weaker vessel, after all. Poor weakling.  She didn’t stand a chance against him.

It was then that he realized that everyone was eating except for him. Molly sat by her hut, devouring a plate of food. The revelation caused him to get up, and look into the pot only to find...nothing! The wench had left him without dinner!!! Anger burned deep within him. She might think that her being princess of...someplace, meant something here, but he was Louis! He had royal blood in him too!

Even in his thoughts, Lou yelled.

He somehow managed to feed himself that night. Determined not to even acknowledge Molly or her actions, he made it quite known to all that he was ticked off. More than that, he was deeply offended. Of course, deep for Louis was pretty shallow for nearly anyone else, but still there was the whole principle of the thing. And Lou was a stickler for principle.

Molly, in her wonderful, logical, regal way, barely noticed. It was too bad, really, because he tried so desperately to show her exactly how much he was ignoring her. Over the next two days, he used Jimmy to pass messages to Molly: “Pass the salt”, “Pass the bread”, that sort of thing. When he had to cross her path, he walked a good ten feet around her to prove his point.

It was all pretty childish, but then that fit so perfectly with Molly’s analysis of him that she barely batted an eye. She had known he was going to act this way. It was so pathetically predictable. So many inane acts on his part stemmed from his very screwed up childhood, and she really wanted to get to the bottom of it. But he had to want it first. She wouldn’t push him.

The other guys really didn’t understand Lou’s problem. This beautiful princess who they had literally stumbled onto, not only cooked for them and did their laundry, but she was brilliant. She had helped Alphonse solve his problem of left and right, connecting it to his fear of hair loss. Once she began to put him on a daily regimen of hair care, he found that he really could tell the difference between left and right.

She had preened Dieter on the art of courtesy, explaining how truly terrifying a polite pirate is to one who is rude. She helped him overcome his dislike for all green veggies, reminding him that not all mice were bad. (That whole deal was terribly complicated. Dieter himself didn’t completely get it, even in the end, but somehow it made green vegetables taste better, so he let it slide.)

There wasn’t a whole lot to be done for Jimmy. When you’re working with less than half a brain, it doesn’t leave much room for logic, beyond the most basic kind: this smells bad, so it must taste bad. So Molly didn’t really work a lot on him. She did make the somewhat obvious conclusion that there may have been a great deal of inbreeding in his family tree.

As for George, well, it was really sad. Even an incredible, brilliant mind like Molly’s got bored with George. She tried, she really did, but there was absolutely nothing to find out. It was like staring at a bowl of oatmeal; stare all you want, it’s still just oatmeal.

It went on like this for two days. That’s not normally a very long time, but when you’re trapped on a deserted island with five other people, it feels about a month and a half. Neither one ever apologized; Molly, because she knew she was right, and Louis for the same reason. They more or less decided to just skip it.

The peace lasted for nearly a week, and then it exploded.

It started when Molly told the guys that she wouldn’t be making dinner that evening. She had a date. One by one they all stared at each other, trying to figure out what she was talking about. And then they realized that Dieter wasn’t doing anything but smiling at Molly. It came as quite a shock to them all. Phonse had the feeling Dieter wasn’t Molly’s type. Diet was a little too wrapped up in his career to focus on her. Still, if it would make them happy...George had clung to the hope that she was a little attracted to him, and now to see that it had been Dieter all along...well, it was discouraging. Would no woman think him exciting?

Jimmy only cared that she wasn’t making dinner. Actually, that was the only part he’d understood or even heard for that matter. He was pretty careful what he allowed to pass into his cranium. He had only so much space, after all.

Louis, however, was angry. He couldn’t even come up with a good excuse. It wasn’t for lack of trying though. Pirates don’t date! Well, actually most of them had a mistress or two or even three...She’s a princess, for goodness’ sake! Three cheers for Dieter, he got lucky...They don’t even like each other! They must, since they’re going on a date...He smells bad! Actually, I think that’s me...

It went on this way for a really long time, all through breakfast, and all through lunch; while Molly got herself all dolled up, and Dieter groomed himself in the mirror; as Diet left his little hut to go pick her up, and as they walked to the end of the camp, where a pretty little table had been set up for two, with a candle in the middle, and two dinners waiting.

Louis was sitting in a chair by his hut, watching them, and scowling the whole time. But, it wasn’t until the second glass of wine was being poured that it hit Lou. He had a crush on Molly. Well, crush was really childish...he really really really liked her...oh, well, he might as well admit it- he might actually be in love with her. The revelation was astounding. He hadn’t expected it. He wasn’t sure that he believed it. After all, she really tended to get on his nerves. You don’t fall in love with people who get on your nerves, do you? He didn’t know, he only knew that this date thing had riled him terribly, and this seemed to be the only reasonable explanation.

He paced back and forth in front of his hut, thinking everything over, and glancing at the table from time to time. He knew that she was a drop dead girl, with gorgeous eyes, hair, lips, figure, but that wasn’t all. She really had tried to help him solve his anti-woman sentiments. And she’d been right too. His mom running off with his preschool teacher had really hurt him. His sisters had been pains from the time they had cared for him, constantly worrying when he went anywhere alone, and often yelling at him for being a boy. He’d had some serious anger issues because of that.

On top of all that, she wasn’t after him. Him, an earl or something, the most eligible bachelor back home, the one the girls went crazy over. She wasn’t trying to marry him. It was incredible. He knew he was handsome, or at least he was when he bathed regularly. Hmm...Maybe a bath wasn’t such a bad idea. That might get her to think a little better of him. After all, that was what this whole thing was about, in a way.

So, he gathered a few things, and ran seven miles to take a bath. He was gone for a long time; months of grime don’t just fall off, you know. By the time he got back, everyone was in bed, including Molly and Diet. So he didn’t know whether they had-gulp- kissed good-night.

Molly, on the other hand, had been all set for a pleasant evening. She had accepted Dieter’s offer, and when she told the guys that morning, she was simply announcing that they would have to fend for themselves. She knew that Louis would be a little jealous (that fear of trees always kept coming up), but she hadn’t expected his reaction to be so extreme. Nobody was that scared of trees! She wasn’t sure at all what that meant, which was unusual for her. She didn’t like not knowing what it meant. It left her powerless, somehow. She had to figure it out, she just had too.

The rest of the day went by in a quandary for her. She finally started getting ready for the date, putting her hair up in a very stylish way. Every girl was doing her hair like this in the royal court. Louis would know that. Now why did she think of Louis? And her quandary became a quagmire.

The date hadn’t been a complete failure, all things considered. Dieter was just so thrilled that she said yes that he wasn’t much of a conversationalist. His mouth hung open most of the time, and he had this vacant stare that just wouldn’t go away. When she could manage to get a few words out of him, they were more like “beautiful”, “thank-you”, or worse yet “I’m on a date with a princess”. That one happened the most. It was all very strange, and she was pretty sure she didn’t want to do this again.

Dieter, in fact, was so awed by her that he didn’t even attempt to kiss her good-night, which was fine with her. She really didn’t want any more unpleasant experiences tonight.

The next morning, she was surprised to see a bouquet of flowers laid at her doorstep. A note was attached. “Anything for one so beautiful.” How strange. She hadn’t believed that Dieter was that elegant, or thoughtful. She’d have to thank him.

She made breakfast, and noticed that Lou wasn’t there, although there were the same number of guys. She looked over at the new one, a bit overwhelmed. He was beautiful. His hair was down to his shoulders, shiny and curly. His eyes were black, and they kept finding their way to her. His white teeth showed when he smiled and he smiled at her a lot. She was used to men showing her attention (you don’t get to be a gorgeous princess of Spain without getting used to those sorts of things), but never anyone so handsome, and never so sweetly.

It wasn’t until George asked Lou to pass the salt that everything came crashing in on Molly.

She nearly fell backward in astonishment. She did manage to spill the rest of her breakfast on the ground. She just wasn’t used to being so shocked. I mean, you go to bed, thinking that you’ve just had the worst date of your life, and that’s bad enough. But to find out that the very human who had been attempting to make your life miserable was now making eyes at you was just plain weird, and well, shocking.

There was also the matter of his looks to clear up. She had figured that he would be fairly handsome if he bathed, but not like this. She was pretty sure that no one in Spain was his equal, because most of them had paraded in front of her, seeking her hand.

And suddenly, Molly began to lose her reason. She tried as hard as possible to hold on, but it was a losing battle. She really had no chance. Louis could be very charming when he chose, and he was choosing. Breakfast ended somehow, but it was a blur for her. Lou cleared away the dishes, and offered to help her back to her hut, but she brushed him off. She had to get away from him somehow. If she was near him for another second, she just might flip out and beg him to make her his wife or some such ridiculous notion.

She ran to her place, and shut the door as hard as she could. She sat on her bed, concentrating on her breathing. Finally, she calmed herself, and her heart stopped racing. She lay back against her pillows, and proceeded to think it through. That didn’t last too long. Love was not something that could be tackled rationally, and she was getting the idea that that could be her problem.

She started at the beginning. Louis had peaked her interest from the moment they had found her on the beach. He had treated her terribly, and said horrible, mean things to her, but he’d been able to get her angry, something that had never happened in her otherwise logical life. She had occasionally been annoyed by various idiots, but no one had ever treated her with such contempt, and for no reason too. And somehow, she knew that even though he hadn’t respected her for what she was (princess of Spain), there was a fair chance that he would respect her now for who she was (just plain Molly, a beautiful, brilliant girl).

Someone knocked on the door, and she answered it, only to be greeted by an enormous bouquet of exotic flowers. They were being delivered by Jimmy, who had no clue what was going on, only that he really hoped that she would be making dinner that night. He’d gone hungry the night before, and while he might miss a lot of things, any fool knows when he’s hungry. He handed her the flowers. “You making dinner tonight, Molly?”

She was breathless with the idea of such affection from Lou, and said, rather distractedly, “Oh yes, don’t worry about a thing.” And she slammed the door in his face.

Oh, the wonder of it. The flowers were gorgeous, and again, there was a card. This one said “Your face makes these flowers look like weeds.” Really, the guy was a poet. She fell back on the bed in bliss.

Louis had seen much of the scene: her dreamy face, her distraction, He was pretty far gone himself, and he spent the next few hours trying to write poetry, which was pretty difficult for him. He really wanted to give her a beautiful, epic poem, something that say, Homer would write. Well, it wasn’t as easy as it looked. Finally, in desperation, he turned to Alphonse.

“Hey, Phonse, I need your help to write a poem for Molly,” he said as he walked toward the giant.

Phonse turned and began walking the other way. He wanted no part of this farce. He really liked the girl, and he knew what a jerk Lou could be when he wanted to. He just knew that this was all a joke on Molly, and that somehow, that poor thing would be hurt.

“Wait up. God, your steps are huge. I guess that’s why they call you a giant, huh?”  Louis tried to lighten the mood. Alphonse glared at him, so he tried another tact.

“I really love this girl, and I want to write her an epic poem, you know like Homer’s the Alias and the Oddity.”

Phonse couldn’t take anymore. “It’s the Iliad and the Odyssey,” he said, giving him an appropriately disdainful look.

“Oh, yeah, okay. Whatever. Anyway, I can’t seem to do it-”

“Small surprise.”

“So I need your help.”

“To do what? Fake a poem to this young woman, so that she thinks you are something that you are not. You want to make her believe this, why? So you can tell her in the future that you lied to her, that the joke is on her? That she fell in love with a fake? Who wants a love like that? You do not understand a woman, Louis, or what a woman wants. And I do not believe that your ‘love’ is sincere for her. So I will not help you.”

Alphonse stalked off, glad to get that off his chest. Louis watched him, dumbfounded for a minute. It had never occured to him what might happen when Molly found out that he didn’t write poetry.

And suddenly, he wanted to give her a gift from his heart. He wasn’t sure what that might be, but it would be something he did all by himself. No help on this.

He went back to his little hut, thinking about the gifts and talents he possessed. There was his physical beauty, of course, but it’s hard to actually give that to someone. He had the ability to gargle saltwater for eighty minutes straight, but again, that’s not something you can give. He leaned against his dresser, thinking hard now. Back home, he was known for...well, not for much, other than being an earl or something, and being gorgeous.

And suddenly, he wondered what on earth he could offer to this girl. Compared to her, his title was nothing. I mean, she’d said it herself. Princess of Spain, only daughter of King Doug. That’s a lot of weight. His looks were great, but just what did that mean? That’s not something real permanent. Age could really affect that.

He had to sit down. He, who had been so sure that he was all that, now felt anything but. This girl, she deserved so much more than someone like him. Molly was perfection itself; well, most of the time anyway. She really needed someone more like that.

He stayed there for the rest of the day, finally emerging for dinner. And when he came out, he was a great deal humbler than he’d ever been in his life before. He’d had to face several things that day, among them the fact that he wasn’t the only fish in the sea.

Molly noticed the change almost immediately. She had been sure that she loved him earlier, but now, with that softness in his eyes, she was lost. She made his plate special, taking extra pains in presentation, and handed it to him with love pouring out of her face. When their eyes met, she blushed a deep red.

These were new emotions for her. In her eighteen years, she’d never understood the giddiness and insanity that many of her friends partook in. They were just men, after all, and usually pretty dumb too. But now, with Louis glancing her way, with that new humility in his face, she felt like a child who had just been given her dearest wish. She wanted to laugh and dance and jump up and down and cry all at the same time. Her hands shook from keeping it all in.

She didn’t eat much that night. After the dishes were done, she was walking to her hut when Alphonse came over to her, concern on his huge face.

“Would you go for a walk with me?” he asked.

“Sure, not a problem.” Molly wasn’t at all sure what he wanted, but thought that maybe he was having problems with that directional thing again.

“It’s about Louis. I wanted to warn you. I have watched him for the last day or so, and I think that he...well, I think he may want to take advantage of you. I don’t trust him, Molly, and that’s the truth. He is a good pirate, but he is a horrible human. Maybe that is why he is a good pirate. I think you deserve better, Molly.” Phonsy’s face was filled with compassion for her. Really, she was convinced that he had made the wrong career move. He ought to have been a doctor or a veterinarian.

“I appreciate your concern, Alphonse. But I think that Louis has more to him than that. He has many deep problems, that’s true, but I think that once we get to the bottom of them, you will find that a very different Lou is buried inside. It will be quite the sight to see, I am sure.” Molly needed to stay in the intellectual part of this conversation. If they began to talk about feelings, she would be lost.

Phonse wasn’t convinced. “Molly, I think he likes you, and I think that he will try to make you love him. I do not believe his motives are pure. You are beautiful, but you are still a woman, someone who can be hurt. All Louis can see is that you are beautiful.”

Molly could feel it start to happen. She was starting to lose her reason. She fought against it hard. “I’m sure that he has some issues from his past...Did he tell you that he likes me? I mean, did he actually say that? And did he tell you that I’m beautiful, or were you just making your own observations? That shouldn’t matter. That’s not what my concern is. I only want to see Louis be able to function fully as a man. Yes. But did he tell you anything about me? Anything at all?”

Alphonse saw it. This girl was acting crazy, like two people. On the one hand, she only wanted to help Lou, but on the other, she was madly in love. And he knew it was too late.

He walked her back toward her hut, and there they encountered Louis himself. Phonse had tried his best, and now he left her with the one man he trusted least. There wasn’t a lot he could do to prevent it, but he was determined not to let them out of his sight. He would watch from a safe distance, just to make sure she was all right.

Louis certainly didn’t have in mind what Phonse thought. He wasn’t sure exactly what he would say, only that he had to be honest with Molly.

He walked beside her, trying to figure out how the heck he was going to broach the subject with her, when she brought it up.

“Louis, what’s going on between us?”

He looked her way just in time to see her face go red at just having said that. He stopped, and turned her to face him.

“I have to be honest with you, Molly. I don’t have much to give you, hardly anything really. But I believe that I love you. You’re the only woman I can stand to be around, and more than that, you’re the only woman I want to be around. You’re sweet, kind, helpful, beautiful-”

At that point, she started sneezing. They started coming one on top of the other, and at first she tried holding them in, but it just didn’t work. There she was, practically being proposed to, and sneezing her head off. If she could have fallen into a very deep hole at that moment, she would have. But there was no way out.

Louis was taken aback. He’d never declared love to someone before and he wasn’t sure if Molly’s reaction was normal or not. He just stood there, getting a bit wet, and watched her. She finally stopped after twenty sneezes.

He looked at her with concern. “You okay?”

er face reddened again, this time with frustration. “I don’t know what it is about you, but you make me feel like a fool.” Now why did she say that? It wasn’t really his fault, except that somehow, it just had to be. She had never done anything like that before.

“Now, look here. I did nothing to you. How dare you insinuate that I caused you to sneeze?”

“Insinuate. That’s an awful big word for you. Who’d you learn it from, some teacher at the University for the Rich and Stupid?”

“Hey!!! All I was trying to say was that I love you and would you marry me! You don’t have to get all nasty on me!”

Molly was pacing now. “Marry you! What on earth for? Just so I could be treated like some worthless piece of baggage, something that you could wipe your feet on?”

Louis really didn’t know what to say. But, he’d always preferred to do things rather than say them, so he did that now.

Molly melted under his kiss. She didn’t stand a chance. Lou was a very experienced kisser, and on top of that, he loved the socks off this girl. That’s always a key part of good kissing.

When they came up for air a while later, she was putty in his hands. Louis proposed on the spot, and she said yes without hesitation. When she asked him when, he said “Now.”

That brought her back to earth quickly.

“What? That’s impossible. I refuse to have anything but a religous service. No justice of the peace for me. And, in case you haven’t noticed, Louis-love, we do happen to be on a deserted island.”

“No problem. George can marry us.”


He held her close to him, hardly believing his good fortune. “Yeah, he’s an honest-to-goodness minister. And Molly, I just can’t stand the thought of being on this island and not being married to you.”

She had to ask him one thing before they were married. “So you weren’t out to take advantage of me, like Alphonse said?”

He was a little shocked. Lou had definitely had some woman issues, but they had all been psychological. Never had he done something like that. “Absolutely not. I wasn’t so sure that you’d say yes, but don’t worry dear, that never even crossed my mind.”

They were married that evening. George was as excited as he had ever been in his life. He was a key player in this little ceremony, and he felt the full weight of his duties. It all went wonderfully, and the happy couple went off into the woods for their honeymoon.

Needless to say, the pirates’ hiatus on the island was drawn to a close. With Lou married to the princess of Spain, he was ready to give up his job to settle down and live the life of royalty. Alphonse was more than ready to quit, since he believed he had found his true calling in the field of animal medicine. He became one of the top doctor’s in his field in Western Europe. Dieter went on to another boat, and another bunch of pirates where his enthusiasm did wonders for the crew. Eventually, he got his own ship and made millions, with mistresses and yes, in due time, a wooden leg. Louis couldn’t bear the thought of throwing Jimmy off by himself, so he gave him a job as janitor of the couple’s summer castle.

But the one who surprised everyone was George. After marrying Louis and Molly, he went to Switzerland and bought a piece of property on a major highway, where he set up the very first Chapel of Love. It was complete with gaudy decorations, and a Bach impersonator who walked the bride down the aisle.

Copyright 2014