“I hate to say it,” the pirate captain said, “but I guess they were right. Crime doesn’t pay.” He flipped another page of the account books and sighed.
“I don’t understand it,” one of the pirates said sadly. “We even stole candy from a baby. You can’t do worse than that, right?”
“Maybe if you hadn’t given it back, we’d have gotten somewhere,” Pirate Two said.
“He was crying,” Pirate One said. “Besides, he’d licked it already. Who wants an already licked lollipop? That’s gross.”
“That’s true,” Pirate Two said. “I thought the smuggling would work, but no one in the movie theater wanted to buy the food we snuck in. Not even when we offered black market prices for the cheesy popcorn.”
The captain sighed and ran his hands through his thinning gray hair. “I suppose I failed you. Not even the water guns we shipped to the desert sold. Everybody said they already had one. I just don’t know what to try next.”
“There are just too many pirates in this country,” Pirate One said. “I heard it on the news somewhere. There isn’t any room in the market for independent start-ups. “
“Yeah. Maybe everyone is a pirate now?” Minion Two said. “Who knows? It’d not like they advertise it. I’ve been to the festivals; they all talk like pirates while wearing flip-flops and tee-shirts.”
“That’s it!” the captain said. He grabbed his pen and started scribbling.
“What did I say?” Pirate Two asked.
“Is he going to start advertising? Wouldn’t that make it easier for the authorities to find us?” Pirate One asked. “I don’t really want to go to jail. College was bad enough. I barely made it out of there still sane.
“Who said you’re still sane?” Pirate Two asked.
“I did run away and become a pirate as soon as I graduated,” Pirate One said.
“Me, too. See what I mean? Not quite sane.” Pirate Two said.
Just then the captain put down his pen and smiled. The pirates both turned to see what he’d say. “Boys, let’s start a tourist attraction,” the captain said.
Pirate One frowned. “What, like Pirate World or something? Am I going to have to wear a big heavy costume? I’d rather be a political analyst, and I really, really don’t want to do that.”
“Of course not,” the captain said. You can wear your trench coat and eye patch and bandana and such, just like you always do.”
“What’s the catch?” Pirate Two asked.
“Well, I’m afraid that you’ll both need to start a blog. And do a few guided tours of our hideout. And maybe some podcasts and boat tours on the lake and such,” the captain said. “I think I have just enough funds to print up some brochures and some quality signs to hang out front.
“What will they say?” Pirate Two asked.
“Pirate Hideout. I think we’ll need to rent a billboard too,” the captain said.
“Advertise that there’s a public restroom. That should work,” Pirate One said.
The captain jotted down a note on the edge of his paper. “Great idea. Any other suggestions?”
“We’ll need to sell postcards. And souvenirs and such,” Pirate Two said. “Will we have to talk like pirates now? I never was good at learning foreign languages.”
“I always thought it was more like a regional dialect than a separate language. All the same, I’d rather it wasn’t an occupational requirement,” Pirate One said.
“We don’t have to talk any different,” the captain said. “It will throw the authorities off track.”
“Great thinking,” Pirate Two said. “You always have the best ideas.”
“That’s why I’m the captain,” the captain said. He grabbed some cans of root beer from the little fridge. “Grog?” he asked.
The two pirates smiled and took a can. “I thought you’d never ask,” Pirate One said. “A toast to our newest grand scheme?”
“To our scheme,” the others said, and they clinked their cans together.