It was a dark and dreary night and, unfortunately, Blossom was spending a time-out in the basement after putting a scratch in Mrs. Hatcher’s new leather loveseat. Blossom hated time-outs when the last of the winter winds were on the loose, whipping up dead leaves in the window well and making the foundation creak. Sometimes when the winds were near howling, they’d rattle the boxes lining the many basement shelves. When the boxes were rattled, the contents in them shifted, going rustle-rustle or shush-shush or clatter-clatter. This shifting that could only be heard and not seen caused Blossom to stop in her tracks and look hard at the shadows. Because once she thought she saw a troll.
On this night when Blossom felt jumpy as gerbil pups, she noticed one box on the bottom shelf was not as neat and orderly as Mrs. H normally kept her boxes. A hook protruded from this box that had not had its flaps properly tucked in. Heart picking up its tick at this unusual site, Blossom inched closer until . . . holy hairballs. She relaxed, feeling all the gerbil jitters drain from her tail. The box contained Willow’s old Halloween costumes. Blossom almost chuckled at herself, thinking how she’d expected a troll to crawl out.
Digging through the gear, she fished out the pirate hook that Willow had worn over her hand and an eye patch attached to a band. Blossom was able to get both paws inside the band and, stretching it a bit, snapped it onto her head. Slipping her paw into the hook was easy as cheese. She shivered a little at its evil looking curve, but quickly got over it. Holding her paw to the little light that streamed through the basement window, she meowed, “Arrr!” Blossom the Pirate.
The chattering leaves again danced at the window, making Blossom brandish her hook paw. But eyes drilling through the darkness, she realized she was looking at Wyatt, the garter snake that lived in the window well. He gazed into the Hatchers’ basement, raised head moving slowly, side to side, little forked tongue darting about. Even though snakes were a slippery bunch, Wyatt was OK in Blossom’s book because she’d let him into the basement once before and, upon leaving, he claimed he’d eaten a mouse. Whole. However, Wyatt was somewhat the snooping sort so she chose this night to ignore him.
Marooned in the basement and dressed in her eye patch and hook paw, Blossom was ready to search for a treasure chest, which just had to be in a room so filled to the eyeballs with old forgotten stuff. “X marks the spot!” she cried.
One of the walls crackled, making her jump. A gust of wind shook the house, causing one box to rattle. Blossom’s fur felt electrical as she looked about. Now, how was she supposed to plunder for pieces of eight if she had to keep checking her tail for trolls? Then she had an absolute meower of a thought. Blossom the Pirate needed a pet that ate trolls. Real pirates had parrots. Wyatt the snake could be her pet parrot. If he could swallow a whole mouse, surely he could polish off a troll.
And just like that, Blossom bounced up onto the shelves until she reached the window and flung open the latch.
“Greetingssss, Blossom,” Wyatt hissed, almost floating around the glass and gracefully dropping to the floor.
“Arrr!” Blossom meowed, wielding her hook paw. “Ahoy, Wyatt. I’m Blossom the Swashbuckler of the High Seas and I’m on a quest for treasure. You can be my pet parrot and keep watch for sea trolls.”
Wyatt’s long tail coiled into a circle as he raised his head, eyes searching the shelves. “What’s in all these boxessss?”
“Treasures and trolls.” Blossom wished she had a gold tooth but didn’t, so she pointed her hook paw at Wyatt. “Land ho, Matey! You will be Polly my pet parrot. And your job is to find the trolls and eat them.”
“Yo-ho-ho!” Wyatt replied. “I’ll seek out the marauderssss!” Wyatt’s glassy eyes turned serious. “But, Blossom, I want an eye patch like yours.”
Blossom didn’t want to give up her eye patch because it made her feel pirate-y. But the hook was getting cumbersome, so she said, “You can have my hook instead.” She hoped Wyatt wouldn’t realize he needed a paw for the hook.
Wyatt’s tongue flicked about. He appeared to be lost in thought. “Blossom, how can I sail the Seven Seas without an eye patch?” His smooth voice had turned just a whisker whiny. “I know! A pirate bandana is what I need. Tis there a bandana in all these basement spoilsssss?” he said, slithering off. “I’m going to drop anchor. I’ll set sail after I locate my bandana.”
“No, wait, Wyatt,” Blossom needed to steer Wyatt in a different direction. She tried lowering her voice so she’d sound cutthroat. “I’m the captain and you’re my pet parrot, Polly. Pets don’t need bandanas. Your parrot duty is to keep watch for the villainous trolls while I go pillage for doubloons.” Blossom huffed, watching Wyatt slip into the shadows. Snakes were so stubborn.
“I can’t be Polly the Parrot,” Wyatt’s voice sounded muffled. He must have gone into a box. “Wyatt’s my name and first mate’s my game and I’m off to the Spanish Main!” A box lid flew up on one side. Wyatt’s head popped out. “Shiver me timbers! I found a bandana!” Using his fangs he tugged at a red checkered handkerchief, pulling out an assortment of other scarves as well. They cascaded over the side and plopped into a pile on the floor. “Oopssss,” Wyatt hissed. “Scarves overboard!”
“Wyatt! I mean, Polly!” How was Blossom supposed to search for doubloons if Wyatt didn’t take orders? “Clean that up. I mean, swab the deck!” Blossom’s brain was getting mixed up. And she’d never sail the Seven Seas if she had to babysit Wyatt.
“Aye aye, Matey,” Wyatt responded. “Blimey, Blossom! How am I going to get this bandana to stay on?” He disappeared again, this time into one of Mrs. H’s Christmas boxes. When he peered out, a string of green beads was wrapped about his slender frame. “Avast!” he cried. “Get a load of these jewelssss.”
Blossom had to admit the beads did look pretty, gleaming against patterned snake skin. That is, until Wyatt flipped the beads onto the floor, making a glass ornament topple out with them. It smacked the concrete. The glass ball sounded like eggshell cracking but broke into a million more pieces than an egg would.
Wyatt continued to wind his way up the sinister shelves, spiraling around a closet rod with hanging garment bags. He slipped into the first bag that Blossom knew held Mrs. H’s wedding gown.
Blossom stamped her paw. “Wyatt, if you’re not going to play Pirate my way, then you have to go back to your window well. You’re not doing your troll duty.”
Wyatt poked his head out of the garment bag. “Trollssss? Blow me down, the scalawags!” He wound his way to the floor. “Blossom, I thought I made myself clear, but I’ve already appointed myself first mate. Now I’m off to explore the Barbary Coast!”
Blossom tried to catch up, following first this way, then that, until her legs were a-tangle. “Not fair, Wyatt! I’m the boss of you and you’re performing mutiny and that’s not allowed on my ship.” Blossom wanted to grab Wyatt and tie him in a knot. Which would be impossible because he couldn’t be caught, he glided about like a centipede. And he didn’t even have legs.
Blossom looked high and low but hadn’t a clue where Wyatt had disappeared to until she heard him call out, “What’ssss in this glass jar?”
Blossom’s tail was working itself into a tantrum. Thump, thump, thump. Wyatt had already made two messes, that she would later get blamed for, and she hadn’t even set sail. Maybe she didn’t need a parrot anyway. There hadn’t been any troll sightings tonight. She was contemplating how to persuade Wyatt to go back to his window well when a box on a lower shelf went clatter-clatter. Blossom backed up against the furnace, ears pricked and turning like radars.
Wyatt’s head popped out. “Ahoy! What was that?”
Blossom could barely breathe. Her brains felt as fossilized as old barnacles. “Trolls?” she mewed. She wished she’d hung onto the hook, she felt furless without it. She tried pointing a toe. “Yo-ho-ho,” she squeaked. “There’s trolls in that box.”
“Trolls?” Wyatt’s eyes were wide and bugged as a dragonfly’s. “Did you say trolls? Trolls for real? Clear the decks! Get me out of here!” Wyatt snaked it to the open window, slithering faster than streaked lightning. Over the window frame he zipped, vanishing into the leaves.
The open window had made the basement frosty. Blossom thought about leaping into the window well with Wyatt but the night air was cold as Creamsicles. With her one unpatched eye she stared at the box, now silent. Mrs. H really needed to clean out some of these boxes. Didn’t she realize how many stowaway trolls could be in them?
But instead of grumping over Mrs. H’s faults, Blossom decided she’d try her paw at swashbuckling. She sat tall, all alone and a wee bit shaky, but meowed, “I’m Blossom the Pirate and I plunder for pieces of eight.” Just meowing aloud made her feel a little better so she did it again, this time a little louder. “I’m Blossom the Pirate and I plunder for trolls.” She could hardly believe she meowed such a statement. But the meows made her feel bubbly with bravery. So she held up her paw, without the hook, and snarled so loud her ears flicked. “Arrr! I’m Blossom the Pirate and I plunder for trolls and make them walk the plank!”
Blossom’s whiskers quivered with courage. She took one step toward the box, then a few more, then proceeded with pluck. Settling before the box and extending a daring paw, she flipped the flap back and peered in. There were no trolls. Instead, it was loaded with old jewelry, perhaps belonging to Grandma Hatcher or Great Grandma Hatcher. Or maybe someone who was already dead. Blossom had never set eyes on so much gold and silver and pearls and gems.
Blossom the Pirate sat back and licked her paw. She’d found her treasure chest. Captured the spoils. Blossom’s Booty.