Chapter 11

“What nonsense,” said Miss Parsnip as Mr. Arg stomped away. “I hope that rude man knows that I’ll be reporting this to the school board and the Chamber of Commerce.”

“Report the smell too,” said Barnaby. “Peeeyoooo.”

“It’s just horses Hootsman,” said Fay.

“Plus pirates with no deodorant,” snorted Barnaby.

“Oh, they’re not real pirates,” said Miss Parsnip. Her usual enthusiasm seemed to be returning. “They’re called re-enactors. They dress up to teach people what pirate life was like.”

“To smell what pirate life was like,” added Barnaby.

“Yes,” agreed Miss Parsnip. “Very authentic. In fact, if you two wait right here I’ll go ask them if they could appear at our school for Pirate Day.”

“She is so totally obsessed with pirates,” said Fay as Miss Parsnip trotted off briskly.

“What’s the matter Fay? Don’t you believe in ‘Bonny Patty Parsnip,’ the lady pirate?” asked Barnaby in a tone that Fay didn’t find at all respectful.

“I believe in Barnaby Hootsman the deck swabby,” said Fay.

“You a swabby?” grunted a demanding voice. Fay turned to see a scrawny man in a bloodied apron clutching a meat cleaver and staring at them.

“I need a swabby,” he said, “to clean up the feathers an’ gizzards an’ such.”

“Well,” said Barnaby, looking a little nervous, “I need a Coke…to quench my thirst and such.”

“And I bet,” said Fay, “they sell them right there at that store. You coming Hootsman?”

Something hit the back of Fay’s leg with a “plink.” She turned. A red-haired pirate was concentrating very hard at popping a small coin into a tin cup by pressing on it with a large coin.

“Flippin’ eights,” said Barnaby. “They’re playing flippin’ eights!”

“Scram ya’ little Missy Pattycake!” yelled the grizzled old pirate next to the red-head. “Ya’ messed wif’ me shot!”

“Sorry,” said Fay. She took off toward the green store. When Barnaby caught up he looked at her with fake concern.

“But, Fay LaFarge, our teacher Miss Parsnip told us to wait for her back there, with the stinky men.”

“Right Hootsman,” replied Fay, “As if she won’t be able to find us. Anyway, did you want chicken-man to start butchering you?”

Ahead of them, the door of the white carrot store swung open with a creak and a woman’s voice bellowed from inside.

“Off with you scalawag law-breakin’ rum-swillin’ pirates!” bellowed the voice, “unless you’re sure your head’s tougher than my skillet!”

“Take it easy lady,” said a bald man with a lizard tattoo who was backing onto the porch. A shorter man followed him on tiptoe.

“I never take it easy with vermin,” snarled the young woman in the long gingham dress who was holding a cast iron pan as if it were a baseball bat.

“That’a girl Patricia,” cackled an older man behind the woman with the skillet. “Show ‘em ya’ mean business!”

As the pirates scuttled off the porch, Patricia’s attention turned to Fay and Barnaby, and she lowered her pan. “Do you young folks need something?”

Fay had a feeling the woman might be nicer if she hadn’t just been shooing away scalawags, but the pan still made her a little nervous.

“Coke?” suggested Fay.

The old man hooted and coughed. “This ain’t coal-minin’ country little miss,” he cackled. “What’d your mumsy send you for? New clothes? Or is girls dressin’ up like hurdy-gurdy farm-boys the latest from Paree?”

“Okay,” said Barnaby, “how about soda?”

“That’s inside,” answered Patricia. She held the door open. “Come on in.”

“What the heck kind of store is this?” asked Barnaby in a hissing whisper as they entered. Fay shushed him instead of answering. Because she didn’t know. The room was full of wooden bins and jars, and nowhere did she see what she really craved–a cooler stocked with cold drinks.

“Don’t mind all the ruckus,” said Patricia as she hung the skillet from a hook on the wall with some other assorted pots. “Those pirates have been getting out of hand this last week or so. Those two just came barging in here like bulls in a glass shop tellin’ me they want cereal. I show’em rolled oats and they got all unruly, like they think I must be hiding something better.”

“They oughta’ be puttin’ out to sea soon,” said the old man, nodding.

“They’d better,” said Patricia. She opened a flap on the top of a barrel and held up a scoop of white powder. “Soda’s right here,” she said. “Doing the wash today?”

“No,” said Barnaby, “ know, like…the kind you drink?”

Fay suddenly remembered her mother tossing baking soda in the washing machine to get odors out of Lynette’s barfy baby clothes.
“Oh, I get it,” she said knowingly. “You’re showing us what things were like in…what year is this supposed to be?”

Patricia looked at her oddly. “This is seventeen-hundred and eleven. Supposed to be and it is.”

“Not to be rude or anything,” said Fay, “but is there a real store nearby?”

“Yeah,” added Barnaby, “with refrigerators…not like the White Carrot here.”

“Carrot?” replied the old man, with another cackle. “Don’t you know your vegetables, boy? That’s not a carrot, that’s a parsnip. Like our name. I’m Joe Parsnip and this is my little girl Patty.”

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