This story was originally printed in CODE 7, VOLUME II, published by Bound in Leather Press in 1982. All 4 Code 7 zines are available again through Agent with Style. Her web page is: http://www.agentwithstyle.com, or you can email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Special thanks to Daphne G. for translating to electronic format. Comments about this story can be sent to Flamingo.
The sun blazed down on Jamaica Bay as the Ocean Queen set sail from Kingston. On the deck stood Dr. Kenneth "Hutch" Darwinson, fair-haired boy of the Biology Department at Harvard, and the Queen's sole passenger. His job: to oversee the transport of one hundred banana trees from the Indies to New York. They were to be replanted in Central Park, there to provide shade for an overheated populace, and an unlimited supply of banana daiquiris. New York had run short of fresh fruits.
The seafaring life appealed to Darwinson - the salt spray, the ambiance of the sailors' quarters, the salty language (he'd noted several colorful phrases in his diary), the rousing cries of "Mr. Christian!" from the captain's cabin - At all hours, too, Darwinson reflected, suppressing a yawn - the all-night calypso parties . . . He suppressed another yawn and paced the deck, allowing the wind to ruffle his hair and the sun to bleach it to a pleasing gold . . . with just the tiniest hint of honey blond. As far as the eye could see was sea, miles and miles of sea and nothing else. Darwinson felt quite giddy at the hugeness of it.
"Doctor, sir, excuse me, sir . . ."
Darwinson swung 'round to confront a young sailor. "Yes? What is it, my good man?"
"I be wonderin', sir . . . I've been poorly of late. Could'ee come down and give us a bi' of a check-up t'night, sir?"
Darwinson laughed. "I'm not that kind of a doctor."
"Aye, sir, but I've been in a bad way f'some time now. It's to do with . . ." His voice dropped. ". . . me privates, if you catch me meanin', sir."
"Well, sailor, you see, I'm not qualified . . . I mean, they call me Doctor Darwinson because I have a Ph.D. . . ."
"Oh, it's a luvly peeaitchdee, too, sir, I can tell'ee that."
"What I mean is," Darwinson continued, becoming a little exasperated at the fellow's dimness, "it's in biology, not medicine."
"Well, if you'll forgive me sayin' so, sir, this 'ere's a bi-o-low-gee problem if ever there was . . . if you get me meanin', sir."
"Sailor, I suggest you speak to the ship's doctor about this."
The fellow made an impatient gesture. "Tha' auld sow? My gawd, 'ee's limp as a dead fish in all th' wrong plaices."
Darwinson frowned. What was the fellow on about? "I understand he's a first-rate physician when he's sober."
The sailor slouched off, muttering something about "dim." Then he turned. "If yer lordship ever decides to exercise yer peeaitchdee, keep us in mind?"
"Impudent rascal," Darwinson remarked as he watched the man cross the deck and climb a rope ladder. "Wonderful musculature, though."
"Impudent to be sure," another voice agreed. It was the ship's doctor, whose eyes followed the sailor as the man swung around in the rigging, doing whatever sailors do in the rigging. "May I thank you for the commendation?"
"Nothing at all, I assure you," Darwinson assured him. "I would do the same for any reasonably sober physician."
"Still . . ." The doctor watched as the sailor slid down the rope. "Ah, look at the way the fellow grips with his thighs!"
"Amazing," Darwinson agreed.
"We wouldn't want the man to be taken ill, no indeed. Did he . . . ah, become specific about his complaint?"
"To some degree. He did mention his 'privates.' If I may venture an opinion as to the probable nature of the malady . . ."
"Indeed, indeed . . . but was he . . . specific? Um, that is to say . . . ah . . ." He licked his lips. ". . . graphic?"
Darwinson coughed modestly. "He did mention his . . . May I speak scientifically? . . . his naughty bits."
The doctor swooned against Darwinson's broad chest.
"You appear to be ill. Do you think you should lie down?"
"My dear fellow, how kind of you! Will you be so good as to help me to my cabin?" His arm snaked around Darwinson's waist. "It's the drink, you know," he confessed as they crossed the deck.
"Doctor! Your hand! It's . . ."
"Oh, the tremors, the tremors . . . oh, my!" He chuckled. "OH, MY!"
"'Ere, guv, leave 'im to me." The sailor in question came up behind them and unwrapped the doctor's arm from Darwinson's waist. "C'mon, you auld swish - cop yer feels 'ere cos ya won't get nuffin' from 'er. She's a bit dim, she is."
"Darling," the doctor said to him, "you have to be more specific." His hand settled on the sailor's bottom.
"Whacher want me to say? Me pecker needs exercise?"
They trailed off, bickering.
"What a queer ship!" Darwinson remarked to no one in particular.
Later that afternoon, during nap time, as he was being lulled to sleep by the usual thumps and bumps and assorted noises ("Just the ship, ah, settling," the captain had explained), there were new noises - loud ones - on the deck. Cries of "Oh, get her!" mingled with the groans of the ship. Then a new voice - one filled with authority - rose above the clamour.
"All right, ladies, break it up!"
Darwinson hurriedly threw on a pair of tight breeches and a lacy white shirt open to the waist and rushed up to the deck. There, surrounded by the most evil-looking band of cutthroats he'd ever seen, was the infamous Long John Starsky. Darwinson recognized him from the wanted posters.
In the flesh, Captain Starsky was even more impressive. His thick dark hair curled over the collar of his shirt, and framed a stern handsome face set with eyes so blue they were almost violet. Darwinson was struck with the savageness of the man, with his trim figure and tight breeches.
"C'mon now, cut the hysterics, honey," he was saying to the captain, "and tell us what you're carrying."
"Enough for you, big fella."
"Yeah, sure. Let's get down to basics. We're here to loot. What have you got that might interest us?"
There was a collective titter from the crew of the Queen. "You gonna rape and pillage, too, handsome?" came a falsetto cat-call from the knot of sailors. A wave of giggles rose from the group.
"That's tired," Starsky groaned. "Hey, Randy!"
A slight young man with large dark eyes appeared. "Yeeessss?"
"Go below and check out the cargo. Just the cargo."
"Spoilsport." Randy disappeared below deck.
"While you're waiting . . ." The ship's doctor trailed across the deck, dressed in his best suit and smelling faintly of lavender.
"Who is she?" Starsky asked the Queen's captain. "Who was she? Who does she hope to be?"
"That tired old thing is our doctor."
"Who you calling tired, Miss Captain?" the doctor snapped.
"Look, Pearl . . ."
"Cap'n Starsky!" Randy yelled, hoisting a banana over his head. "There's nothing down there but fruits."
"Ba-nah-nahs, Cap . . . you know, long skinny fruits . . ."
"I checked everything."
"I'll just bet. Miss Captain, c'mere. Bananas?"
The captain blushed furiously. "Captain Wigglesworth, sir," he proclaimed. "But you can call me Bunny." He unfurled a black flag on which was emblazoned a lavender skull and crossbones. "At your service," he said with a wink. "Yo ho ho."
Starsky grimaced. "Hey, you," he said to Darwinson. "Over here."
Darwinson approached warily. He was familiar with the blood-thirsty reputation of the intruder. "Yes?"
"What's your name?" Starsky asked.
"Doctor Kenneth Darwinson. I'm in charge of the bananas."
"You a real doc?"
"I have a Ph.D. in biology from Harvard."
"Oooh, lawsy, I may faint!" one of the Queen's crew shrieked.
"Sharrup. Ph.D., huh?" Starsky asked with an insolent grin. "Pretty, hung and deadly?"
"I beg your pardon?"
"Terminally dim," the doctor whispered to Starsky.
"Pretty, hung and dim, then. You raisin' bananas here?"
"It's my life's work," Darwinson replied with a proud lift of his chin.
"How'd you feel about comin' over to the Golden Hind and raisin' a few bananas there?" His grin had become what Darwinson could only describe as a leer. Could the man be so inordinately fond of bananas?
"My job is to make sure that they survive for planting in New York. Where I do it is of no consequence."
"Is he for real?"
"Naturally, as long as the trees are aboard your ship, I would expect you and your men to avail yourselves of the fruit. Bananas are very nourishing and a good source of potassium as well as being quite good on cornflakes."
An awed hush fell over the assembled company.
"I had hoped," Starsky said in a low voice, "to avail myself, as you say, of something more than bananas."
"To the best of my knowledge, bananas are our only cargo." Darwinson stole a look at Captain Wigglesworth. It would be like the old fool to try to keep something back from the pirates. "I shall go aboard your ship and survey the accommodations for the trees." So saying, he crossed smartly to the deck of the Hind, accompanied by a chorus of wolf-whistles. What a queer lot of pirates, he thought.
Below deck, in the cargo hold, he found ample space for the trees, but there was not sufficient light and the décor left something to be desired. "If we moved the bar back a ways and took down the leather straps from the ceiling . . ." He looked around again and sighed. It would never do. He went back up on deck.
Aboard the Queen there was music playing. The pirates seemed to be searching the members of the crew, apparently suspecting that the sailors had valuables hidden on their persons. The pirates were terrifyingly thorough. He shuddered. What those brigands were capable of, he could only imagine. He walked to the rear of the Hind and looked around. There was room here and enough light. He heard moans from the other ship and his heart sank. "Savages," he muttered. "Bloody savages!" God alone knew what outrages would be committed aboard the Queen as night fell.
Darwinson's eye was caught by a small greenish patch on the deck. He bent down to take a closer look. "Not possible," he murmured. He drew his magnifying glass from his breeches and studied the patch more carefully and with a growing feeling of excitement. It couldn't be . . . it was! He was almost positive. He let out a loud whoop of delight and ran to the railing.
Aboard the Queen, he saw Captain Wigglesworth being pursued by a large, hairy, evil-looking sailor. "Devils," he said to himself.
"Captain Starsky!" he called sharply.
"Yeah?" Starsky was holding the pretty cabin boy in front of him and the lad looked overwhelmed.
"Have your men bring my equipment over immediately."
"You look like you've got all the equipment anybody could ask for," Starsky observed with an insolent grin.
"This magnifying glass is useless to me for any but the most casual investigation, Captain." Really, the man's stupidity was incredible! "Please do as I ask. I need my equipment. Barbarians," he muttered under his breath.
"Don't we all?!" someone yelled.
"All right, don't get those lovely buns in an uproar. Men . . . and I use the term loosely . . . finish whoever you're doing and get ready to roll."
Darwinson supervised the transfer of his kit from the Queen and set to work arranging things in the largest cabin. He had only begun to inspect the slide he had made from the patch of mold when the door opened and Starsky sauntered in.
"Who do you think you are?" Darwinson demanded.
"The captain. Who do you think I am?"
"Get out of my cabin at once!"
"My cabin, Mr. Ph.D. Darwinson, and don't you forget it."
"Yours? This is your cabin?"
Starsky swung himself up onto the bunk and crossed his arms behind his head. "That it is, mate. Like it?"
"Well, yes . . . it's very nice. I appreciate your sharing with me."
"It's not so much a matter of sharing. Y'see, I need a new cabin boy."
Darwinson laughed. "You expect me to be your cabin boy?"
"My last one jumped ship in San Francisco."
"What were you doing in San Francisco?"
"Never you mind. The fact is, it's not like work at all, Darwin . . . Don't you have another name?"
"My friends call me Hutch."
Darwinson shrugged. "I have no idea."
"That's a very sexy shrug you've got, Hutch."
"Would the duties interfere with my research?"
"The bananas, you mean? Well, the fact is, we helped things along a little. Y'see, I had the crew pick all the fruit and throw the trees into the ocean. I bet they're on their way to New York right now. They took up so much room," he added in a confidential tone.
Darwinson exploded. "This is really too much! You and your band of cutthroat brigands have gone too far! Now you have Hutch Darwinson to deal with and my anger is formidable!" So saying, he fell upon Starsky.
"Oooh, Hutch, this is so sudden!" Starsky cried as he caught hold of Darwinson's wrists. Darwinson struggled furiously, barely a match for the tough, muscular pirate captain. But he held his own and seemed to gain the advantage as Starsky flailed helplessly beneath him, moaning and crying out to heaven. Suddenly he collapsed and lay still beneath Darwinson. "Jesus, Hutch, what a tumble," he panted.
"Do you yield?"
"For you, lover? Anything!"
It occurred to Hutch then that he could not restore the trees by any means. His struggle, though valiant, had been for naught. He sat up and buried his face in his hands. "Ah, God, what shall I do?"
"Hey, don't feel bad. It happens to everyone eventually."
"Not everyone . . . this was my fault - mine! I should have been more careful."
"Listen, don't worry. I won't say anything."
"Don't you see? I've failed. The university depended on me."
"What price a college education, huh?" Starsky muttered. "Make you save it for the right guy, do they?"
"Professor Finnoccio. He'll be so upset."
"Look, he'll never know."
"Never know? With everything gone?"
"Baby, there's more where that came from." Starsky patted his fanny. "Look, I've got to go check the crew, but I'll be back soon and we can, uh . . ."
"No, I don't wish to discuss it any longer. What's done is done."
"That's the spirit, Hutch." He swaggered out and Darwinson watched him go - noticing the play of muscles under the sun-tanned skin, the lithe grace of the slender body, the firmness of the thighs and buttocks. "Damned fine specimen," Darwinson admitted as he followed Starsky out and watched him climb to the deck. The man's ragged clothing concealed very little. "Poor devils," Darwinson mused as he studied the man's walk, noting the fluid grace, the almost feline sensuality. "They have barely enough clothing to preserve their modesty." He returned to the cabin feeling curiously high-spirited.
"The mold will do," he decided as he settled himself at his microscope. He studied the slide for a long time, growing increasingly excited. "This is magnificent!" he cried. He wanted to share the moment with someone, and he felt an inexplicable bond with the captain. "Yes, I'll tell Starsky."
He searched the deck and peered into the rigging, but there was no sign of the man. Finally he approached the sailor on watch.
"Down in the orgy room," he was told.
"The bar. Say, you got a match?"
Darwinson checked his breeches only to find that he had no pockets. "No, I'm sorry. I don't."
The man grinned at him. "Mind if I check?"
"Yes, I do."
"Well, if you're gonna be that way . . ."
Darwinson walked away, shaking his head. "Queer fellow." He found his way back to the bar and entered cautiously, his eyes adjusting slowly to the dimness of the Italian lights strung from the rafters and the flashing of the strobes from the dance floor. This is a most peculiar ship, he thought. Someone pinched him. "Good heavens!" he yelped. To his left, the leather straps were being made use of. He was horrified. Torture? Good God! He would speak sharply to Starsky about that. He was pinched again.
"Gives new meanin' to Golden Hind, doesn't it?" a voice observed.
He was offered a drink and pinched twice more. "Minor league torture," he decided, rubbing his bruised backside. He finally found Starsky at the bar, smoking a strange-looking cigarette.
"Captain . . . this is a very queer place . . ."
"You don't know the half of it. Wanna hit?"
"No thank you, I've been pinched. It was quite enough. Do you come here often?"
Starsky began to giggle helplessly.
"I wanted to tell you that I've positively identified the mold. It's from a secretion that is particular to the reproductive organs of sheep . . ."
Starsky stopped giggling. "Sheep? SHEEP?!!"
A hush fell.
"Sheep? There's not enough for you lot without sheep? I don't want to hear about sheep on board again."
"Baaaaaaaa," chorused the crew.
"Are you all vegetarians?" Darwinson asked, greatly perplexed.
"Not at all . . . I like a nice piece of meat, but animals on board . . . that's nasty."
"I-I think I should go back to the cabin."
"Hey, there's an idea!" He followed Darwinson through the room and out onto the deck.
As they approached the cabin, Starsky yawned and stretched. "Yup, just about that time," he said to Hutch.
"Indeed." They entered the cabin and Darwinson surveyed the interior. "But there's no place for me to sleep."
"I thought you'd share with me, y'know?"
"Share? It's not that big," Hutch observed disdainfully.
"Big enough, I promise. Yo ho ho," he added with a piratical gleam in his eye.
Darwinson shrugged. "If you say so. I still have some work I want to do with the mold. I'll turn in later."
"That shrug drives me wild, Hutch."
"No, I mean I like it."
"Oh, then I'm glad . . . I guess."
"Hutch?" Starsky was lying in the bunk, staring up at the ceiling. "There's a nifty bit of mold growing up there."
"Above the bed. Here, lie down and you'll see it."
Darwinson stretched out and gazed up. "I don't see anything but wood."
"It's a small patch," Starsky insisted, kissing Darwinson's ear gently. "Keep looking." His hand slid into Darwinson's shirt.
"Ahh, Captain . . . I don't know how to say this . . ."
Starsky chuckled. "I understand that it's a scientific fact that one sees better when one's breeches are removed." He yanked off Darwinson's boots and unfastened the breeches.
"I get the feeling you're kidding me," Darwinson said with a knowing grin.
"No, honestly! I saw it on NOVA." He pulled off the breeches. "Jesus, Mary and Joseph, willya look at that!"
Darwinson propped himself up. "Look at what?"
"You, big boy. Where you been keeping it?" He stroked Hutch gently.
"This old thing? I tuck." He lay back and looked up. "I don't see anything more than I've already seen . . . and that's a pity."
Starsky shrugged out of his clothes and stretched out on top of Darwinson. "There is no mold," he admitted, kissing Hutch on the mouth.
"No mold?" Darwinson glanced up, then back to Starsky. He felt a hardness against his belly. "Starsky, you haven't been honest with me."
"I'm ashamed of myself."
"And well you should be. You've been kidding me."
"Yes." Starsky ran his tongue around Hutch's ear. "I confess I have."
"Never kid a kidder, Cap." Darwinson grinned evilly.
Starsky was taken aback. "What?"
Hutch flipped Starsky over so that he lay on top of the captain. "In the future," he murmured between kisses, "you might save time by saying 'Let's fuck' right away." Starsky's arms snaked around his neck. "Now, Captain Starsky, you're going to get a first-class biology lesson. Turn over."
Starsky was sleeping, head nestled on Darwinson's shoulder, drooling lightly on his chest.
"Lover," Hutch whispered. "Does this make me the captain's woman?"
From the orgy room the strains of Jamaica Farewell floated through the air . . . Down de way where de nights are gay . . .
Starsky struggled into consciousness. "What?"
Hutch kissed the slack mouth and ran his tongue over Starsky's lips. "I was just wondering . . . Do you come here often?"