THE SHIP'S COOK - T-ISLAND SCREENPLAY
All was going according to plan. William Gray had secured his seat with two Geographical Society members endorsing him without question. Then, acceptance was included from Commander Maynard, Royal Navy. William knew that James Maynard had been making enquiries about him from his sources, so must have found out he'd been dishonorably discharged. Meaning that he must have an agenda other than that being fronted. Or, maybe he had similar objectives, aligned in some way with the recovery of treasure, perhaps. And wanted those waters left unstirred.
William set about making himself invaluable to Lord Huntington. By being super efficient, he was soon tasked of finding additional crew members, being keen to volunteer for organizational jobs, the tediousness of which others might find unexciting - and good he was too at getting those done - very speedily, efficiency personified - and without fuss. Mr Gray set about installing useful allies, for when he might be in a tight spot, those with lesser morals who would be keen to do his bidding for a share of the loot. No questions asked.
So it was that adverts were placed online in crewing portals, and in other mediums known to be read by seagoing scallywags on the lookout for a fast fortune.
The first to reply was a tall sailor going by the name of Robin Longstride. He was broad, with a fast gait, that attested his name, as he covered the space between door and desk in but blink of the eye. Yes, a noticeably long stride.
The second thing that strikes you on meeting John Long, to his mates, is not his rugged features, or his mastery of shipboard eloquence, but his talking grey parrot, Indeed, one might be forgiven for wondering who was doing the thinking, for this speaking bird has the characteristic phrases of many a sailor, and humor to equal most able seaman as they go about their business of navigating the seven seas. His feathered friend was called Captain Flint, named after the colorful parrot in the classic pirate story; Treasure Island. Except that Flint, was a plain grey parrot, know for their exceptional intelligence and problem solving.
"Ah, Mr Longstride, is it not?"
"Aye that it be matey."
"I see you have brought a pet with you. Does it speak?"
"Why don't you ask him. Flint's the name. Captain Flint."
Gray thought to humor the old sea dog, "Captain Flint, how are you today?"
"Chipper me hearty, what is your poison? replied the parrot in a high pitched tone.
"Brilliant! Okay. Now, according to your resume, you've had a lot of experience onboard exploration vessels as a cartographer."
"That's about the size of it. Map making, where shore and depth details are a little hazy. Navy and private, on archaeological missions, and mine clearing duties."
"And it says here you can cook?"
"Aye, that I can. Good honest food to fill a sailor's belly. And spicy for those that likes it. And now I thinks on it, I recall cooperatin on a sortie, with Uncle Sam, where you be there, and here tell there was some trading under the counter - so to speak - that we took delight in. And glad of it. But that's between you, me, and Captain Flint here." Longstride gave a knowing wink.
"Aha, admirable." Gray grinned, also a knowing acknowledgment from Gray. He continued. "We understand each other. Tell me, have you any preferences for shipmates. Also of the understanding persuasion?"
"I can think of two men good in a tough spot, and like minded, for a share in undeclared spoils, and silent as a Church mouse."
"Just what the Rector ordered. How do I, we, get in touch, for the asking?"
"Best I have a word beforehand, to smooth away any waves of skepticism, if you'll be trusting an old sailor so."
"For sure, I'll be naming you Honest John, in not too long. Meanwhile, let me dwell on some names - if you'll be trusting an ex navy type thus far."
"Both Church mice as to the spoils?" enquired Gray.
"Their finest qualities, mates from years back. One Eye was a marine, then SBS. He got into a spot of bother with His Majesty. But, be warned, there had best be gilt edge incentives for the kind of loyalty I'm offering. Though, I smell treasure in the air."
"You're not far off course mate, save that the fine print eludes me thus far, with timing critical, as to where and when to strike - as those intelligences reveal themselves. Please then test the water John, if you would. It being understood between us that this stays between us. Not the Captain, nor other crew, must detect even the faintest whiff of our intentions. This is just between us. Agreed."
William extended his hand, Longstride spat on his. The two men shook a strong hard shake. The deal was forged.
John Longstride doffed his non existent hat and moved to the door.
"Please bid the next applicant to enter, if you've a mind John."
Longstride took his leave, on his way through, inviting the next in line to enter Gray's office.
The next applicant was Scott Tremaine. He knocked and entered.
"Good day to you. Please make yourself comfortable," indicating the seat in front of his desk. Tremaine was stout, average height and well presented.
"Thank you. Mr Gray is it?"
"That it is. And your name please?"
"I'm Scott Tremaine. Professional salvage skipper, looking to fill the post advertised. If it is still open."
"What makes you think there is salvage involved? Not that you are wrong."
"I'm a member of the British Geographical Society." Tremaine smiled a long smile. "I attended Lord Huntington's lecture, telling of a shadow in Canale de la Gonave, Haiti. And most interesting it was. Then there was this post advertised. I'm just joining the dots. Not that this post was mentioned by Sir Rodney, but we've a common interest in ocean exploration"
"Well, a BGS member. Yes, I seem to recall now, we may have brushed in passing. Am I right?"
"I was present in another group meeting, where my name may have cropped up. I know your face from before that last meet, where you mentioned funding of projects."
"Uh, huh. That explains Lord Huntington's comments." There was a short silence while Mr Gray read some notes, then he looked up. "Sorry about that. Okay. How are you set for say, three to five months as ships captain, mostly in the Caribbean?"
"Suits me Mr Gray. If this is to chart that area. Though a word of caution, the Haitian situation is far from stable, after the brazen assassination of President Jovenel Moise in 2021."
"Go on please Mr Tremaine."
Scott Tremaine had been sailing these waters cautiously for many a year, so kept tabs on current events.
"As you may be aware, the United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti,
MINUJUSTH, short for their peacekeeping mission, came to an end in October 2019, after 15 years of UN peacekeeping operations.
"So what are you saying Mr Tremaine?"
"I'm saying we must proceed with extreme caution. Maybe even put the expedition off. Take a rain check."
"But, as our intel leaks, that is sure to mean those vandals, pirates if you will, are bound to disturb the archaeological site on their doorstep. Perhaps steal whatever they can."
"That's the risk of it Mr Gray. Have you come across Blue Shield?"
"I've heard of the organization, but what of them, we have our funding?"
"Yes, indeed, but are you familiar with the name: John Storm?"
"Not until today. Who is he, do tell?" Gray was genuinely interested.
I still don't quite follow. Sorry?"
"Storm's ship has the finest array of underwater sensors, of any ship in the world."
"Aha." William Gray felt a shiver down his spine. Lord Huntington had not apprised him of another mission in the Caribbean quite so close, and not mentioned the Elizabeth Swann's capabilities, in effect, making 'Operation Hispaniola' an also ran.
"I see. You are saying this Storm fellow is a better bet?"
"No, not quite. I'm sure he's busy with his discovery of Henry Morgan's resting place. I'm just pointing out that this chap is only a few hundred miles short of Haiti. And he does the occasional spot for Blue Shield. At least that is how it seems."
"What of Henry Morgan - the pirate, right?"
"It was on the BBC World News a few weeks back, that Storm had found the Captain's remains. But no sign of his hidden treasure of course." Tremaine chuckled. "You see, Port Royal is a potential World Heritage Site, and there was a significant tremor, to worry Blue Shield. Just thought to mention."
"Okay, much appreciated Mr Tremaine. Then you are available, if Lord Huntington decides to go ahead?"
"Oh yes, most assuredly. I'd relish the challenge. Sign me up."
William Gray had fulfilled the crew quota, weighed heavily in his favour. He now knew to find out about John Storm, making a mental note to put out his feelers within the CIA and MI6. Maybe he could kill two birds with one stone.
William Gray helps John Long and his band of cut-throats to crew for Huntington's Hispaniola, on the basis of purloined data from a UNESCO report on a description of Henry Morgan's wooden engraving. John Long poses as a cartographer, but proves to be a dab hand on the galley. He is elected ship's cook.
SCENE 5. SUNKEN CITY SURVEY - Present Day, Swann's sensors scan the ocean bed, revealing mausoleum former Governor of Jamaica.
JILL BIRD - London. John
Storm's finds lost Henry Morgan's pirate remains. "And for those of you wondering,
there was no treasure."
SCENE 10. SHIP'S COOK - William Gray helps John Long's cut-throats to crew for Huntington's Hispaniola, Long a dab hand on the galley.
SCENE 12. SKELETON ISLAND - Intrigued by map proffered by Lord Huntington, John agrees to switch attention to location, to coast of Panama. .
SCENE 17. BLACKBEARD'S CURSE - John retakes Swann, Hal immobilizes Black Jack and Billy Bones and rescues prisoners on Hispaniola.