Explaining My Plight

Baron Britpop Blastfurnace • Part 9

Mark Starlin
6 min readApr 28, 2020


Cover design by Mark Starlin (royalty-free image by Andrey_Kuzmin)

Explaining My Plight

Once we were onboard The Jellyfish and out of view of the Sea Merchant II, Captain Peanut Butter retired to his cabin without saying a word. His first mate, a man with unusually large muscles and a scar that ran the length of his left cheek, walked up to us and abruptly asked, “Are you sailors?”

“I am a blacksmith, and Andelbert is a baker,” I replied.

“I thought as much. You are worthless to me. But you paid to be part of the crew, and you will be. You’ll be swabbin’ the deck and helping the cook. I got no use for layabouts. And we got a sturdy plank we ain’t used in a while.”

Then he smiled an unnerving smile and walked away. I instantly began to second guess my decision.

Andelbert broke my train of thought by saying, “Don’t lose hope. I watched the men working on the Sea Merchant II closely, and I am confident I can do several of their jobs. I will teach you. But for now, let’s begin swabbing the deck.”

So we swabbed the deck vigorously. The threat of a short walk into a vast ocean is a surprisingly powerful motivator. When we finished swabbing, we reported to the cook who tasked us with chopping onions. Andelbert asked me if he should tell the cook about his baking skills, and I said it was probably best to wait a day and not upset their routine too soon.

That night we slept in the hold with the crew. In the morning, Andelbert rose early and shook me awake.

“I am going to the kitchen to ask if I can bake bread,” he whispered.

“I will join you. We must stick together.”

We arrived in the kitchen, and the cook was preparing porridge. Andelbert explained to the cook that he was an experienced baker who baked bread onboard the Sea Merchant II.

“I am really quite good at it. Perhaps it will please the Captain if I make some bread for him. Of course, it is your galley, so you will rightly take credit for it if he enjoys it. And I will take full blame if he does not.”