Chapter 15

The coin hit the floor with a “plink.” Fay hit the floor with a “bump.” This time it was the green linoleum floor of the Crunch & Barley broom closet. Fay felt relief…for a few seconds. Then she felt smothered as the tiny room filled to the corners with putrid pirates, jostling each other for every square inch of wiggle room.

“Arg set us a trap!” growled one squashed and outraged pirate.

“We fell in a hole!” snarled another.

“Get off my foot Fatso!” yelled Barnaby.

“Blast and bloody cod-livers,” muttered Mr. Arg. “me piece o’eight…whar’d it go now…”

Fay made herself small and squeezed between one pair of legs, then another until she reached the door. But before she had time to open it, it abruptly opened itself. She flattened herself against the door frame as Mr. Green, of the Crunch and Barley Board of Directors, was knocked rudely off his feet by Mr. Arg bolting out of the closet.

“Why don’t you ask him if you can have your coin back now?” snickered Barnaby, squeezing into the hallway beside Fay.

“Because I’m not a psycho with a death wish,” Fay replied.

“That’s ok,” said Barnaby with a smirk, “I’ll ask him for you! Mr. Arg?”

“ARRRG!” growled Yellow Tooth jumping into the hallway, and unsheathing his cutlass.

“MISTER Arg!” barked Board of Directors chairperson Mrs. Pink, stepping sharply into Mr. Arg’s path to block his escape. “WE are due for a SERIOUS discussion about the quantity of Jolly Rogers presently in the warehouse!”

“Jolly Rogers?” cried Yellow Tooth. “In the warehouse? Where be this warehouse?”

Mrs. Pink looked coldly at Yellow Tooth and sniffed. “Employees only. And please put away that sharp object.”

“Where be the Jolly Rogers?” demanded another pirate as the remaining eleven staggered into the hallway.

“WHERE?” bellowed Yellow Tooth as the ghastly crew formed a ring around Mr. Arg and Mrs. Pink.

Mrs. Pink showed no fear. “Employees ONLY,” she repeated insistently.

“Rrrrrrrrrrg…” The twelve pirates began a rumbling growl, and drew out daggers and cutlasses.

Mr. Brown, peeking around a bend in the corridor, was visibly quivering. “First floor, end of the hall, green metal door!” he said. “Please don’t kill me! I’m only thirty-four!”

Yellow Tooth stood tall and grinned a nasty yellow grin. “Have at it mateys!” he shouted. The pirates stormed toward the stairwell in a clanking stampede.

Mrs. Pink glared at Mr. Brown with a look that would wither a tree, then turned to confront Mr. Arg. “Now you’ve done it,” she said. “If you think four-hundred and ninety missing crates were trouble, how do you intend to replace five-hundred?”

“Lady, that’s not half the problem,” said Fay. “What happens when the cereal is all gone?”

“All gone,” twittered Mr. Twicky, hobbling out of the broom closet. “That’s when them varmints’ll have to settle fer’ Pappy’s hardtack. Or chicken. Ooh! I like this place! Squeaky clean!”

Mr. Arg fingered his beard and shook his head. “With ol’ Yeller Tooth in command of them scallywags there’s no tellin’ what’ll happen. All’s I can say is…Elbow Harbor better brace itself.”

Elbow Harbor better brace itself? Fay wondered how dangerous Yellow Tooth and his foul crew could be.

The hallway’s harsh fluorescent light glinted gold off the floor by the broom closet doorway. Fay quietly reached toward the source of the flash and, once again, stashed the pirate coin in her pocket.

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