Pirates of Pamlico Sound: Chapter 14

🏴 Present day * Kitty Hawk.

If I had a dollar for every time you said we were going out, and then we ended up not going out, I’d be a rich woman,” Nicki said. “I mean, damn, Victor, we said we were going to get out of this house today.”

It was nearing 8:30 a.m. in Kitty Hawk — a full hour past the time Nicki had wanted to leave, and they still had to stop somewhere for breakfast.

“We are, baby,” Victor said, rushing around the house packing last-minute items in his small duffle. “I’m just trying to get my stuff together here. We’re going, okay? We’re definitely going. And, by the way, baby, you are a rich woman.”

Victor was right. The Washington’s had a great home and owned two late model vehicles. One was a sporty Toyota Solara convertible, great for quick trips around town. The other was a full sized cargo van that Victor used mainly for hauling supplies for the ice cream shop. Normally, they’d take the convertible on outings, as that was simply more fun. However, Victor’s dawdling had given Nicki a bit longer to think this day through. She decided that a real get-away was what they needed.

“You know what, baby,” she suggested, “let’s bring the van today.”

“The van?” Victor asked. His tone indicated a bit of confusion as well as a considerable degree of disagreement.

“Yeah, sure,” Nicki said. “I’ll throw the picnic basket in there and some beach blankets, and you can strap the bikes on the back. You know, we’ll really get out of here for a day. I don’t want to see that damned Wright Brothers memorial one time today. I just want to head south and relax.”

Victor gave in. “All right, Nicki … I have to admit, that sounds good. Hey, we could go to Ocracoke.”

“Now you’re talking,” she said. “That’s my man.”

It was a pleasant drive — a bright, crisp fall day. They traveled down through Nags Head, hopped on 12 South past the Bodie Island lighthouse, through the Pea Island refuge, through Rodanthe, Waves, and Salvo on Hatteras Island, down to the Cape with its spectacular black and white spiraled lighthouse overlooking the Diamond Shoals, through Frisco, and finally to the ferry at Hatteras.

They arrived a good half hour before the next ferry boarding. Fortunately, there was a great little convenience store there to buy snacks and take a restroom break before the forty-minute ferry ride. It had been a while since they’d made the crossing to Ocracoke and they’d forgotten whether the ferries had bathrooms. “Not that forty minutes is going to kill you to wait,” Victor remarked. “But, if you have to go, forty minutes can be an eternity.”

Soon they were being waved onboard by one of the ferry’s semaphores, which Victor believed must be one of the best jobs anyone could ever want. “You know, that signaling they do is an art form, baby. You can’t just hire any bum off the street to direct people like that. I mean, look at that guy. He’s got an orange vest, a flashlight in each hand, he’s got a whistle in his mouth, he’s got sunglasses, and a hat. That’s an important dude.”

“Now, why are you making fun of the signal guy, Vic?” she said. “If it wasn’t for him, I’m sure there’d be ten guys a day just like you who’d drive their clumsy ass directly into the sound.”

“Aww, come on, baby. I’m just joking around.” He laughed and turned off the radio as they pulled onto the ferry. Moments later, they were sitting in the van, heading across the Hatteras Inlet. Through the windshield, they could see a procession of yachts entering the inlet. They each quietly imagined visitors, tourists, and sailors returning to port. They imagined locals who lived along the coast returning home from long, exhausting trips to out into the deep waters where the cold Labrador Current from far north meets the warm Gulf Stream.

When they arrived on Ocracoke, they continued south on route 12. In a few minutes, they stopped briefly at a small park to look at some of the island’s famous Banker horses. For hundreds of years, these horses’ ancestors roamed largely free all over the island. It seemed a shame that there were so few now, and that they lived within the confines of a fenced-in area.

“Hey, there’s a boardwalk here,” Nicki said. “Let’s take a walk.”

“This place is just magical,” she said as they passed through an area that had been overgrown on each side, causing it to appear as though they were inside of a tunnel of limbs and leaves. “Tell me a magic word, Victor.”

“What do you mean, a magic word?” he said.

“I mean, some secret incantation that’ll make me melt and attack you right here.”

“Are you serious? All I have to do is say some magic word like abracadabra, and you and me are going to get all risqué right here at the horse corral?”

“Hey, I still have a little freak left in me, Vic. Maybe not a lot, but there’s some, okay?”

“I understand, baby,” he said. “So, uh, check this out.” He leaned her against the railing, and looked as far as he could see in either direction to make sure they were alone. “Presto…” He kissed her neck on the right side. “Change-o.” He kissed her neck on the left side.

But, something just wasn’t working for her. Perhaps the jacket would help, she thought. But, then again, the whole scene just seemed too forced to her. “Let’s go look at the horses again,” she said, beginning to walk away.

Victor stood still for a moment. “What do you mean ‘look at the horses’? What about the magic word and all that?”

“Victor, please,” she said. “Presto change-o? I mean, what kind of nonsense is that? You don’t turn a woman on with a lame incantation like that. You’re gonna have to dig a little deeper, don’t you think?”

“Well, damn, baby, I’m an ice cream store owner, not a magician. What do you want me to whisper — Gimme a double scoop of Red Velvet Mocha?”

She thought about that for a moment. “Actually, that ain’t bad, if you say it under the right circumstances. File that one away for future consideration, Vic.”

Throughout the day, they biked along the highway and explored miles of beach. One of the great things about Ocracoke was that you could easily be alone on the beach for as far as you could see in either direction — even in the summertime when most of the Outer Banks were packed with sunbathers.

At one point, they stopped for a picnic on the sand. Nicki had packed several large blankets, which they laid down next to each other to form a large soft cushion on the sand. Victor used some rocks he’d found to hold down the corners as best he could, as the cool wind had begun to pick up near the shore. They ate smoked turkey sandwiches and potato chips over lunch, followed by a few small travel-sized bottles of red wine, which they sipped from the bottle because they’d forgotten to pack cups.

“So, tell me about this magic word again,” Victor said, attempting the impossible task of sipping red wine from a travel-sized bottle without looking ridiculous. “Here we are … nice beach, all alone. How am I supposed to know which word to say?”

“All I can say, Vic, is that you’ll know it when you know it. In the mean time, there’s always the Frisbee.”

They tossed the disc back and forth for a half hour, laughing and chasing after the seagulls. A few times, the wind shifted directions and the Frisbee landed in the ocean. When that happened, they both rolled their pant legs up and stood in the water to retrieve it.

By six-thirty in the evening, they knew they’d better return to civilization pretty soon; it was a long drive back to Kitty Hawk. They’d originally planned to return on the ferry during sunset, but it looked as though they’d missed that opportunity. In addition, the storm that appeared to be brewing all day to the southeast looked to be rolling in quickly now.

When they arrived at the ferry terminal station, they realized that they’d have to wait until the seven o’clock trip back to Hatteras. Seven or eight other cars waited there as well. Nicki reached back for the picnic basket. She leaned out of her window and tossed some bread to the seagulls that gathered there. Seagulls always seemed to know the best places to appeal for bread and other snacks from the tourists. Who could deny a gull a bit of bread, after all?

By the time they parked their car on the ferry, it had grown dark. A few scattered rain drops began to hit the windshield. Victor had switched on the overhead light to read a brochure he’d taken earlier that day at the convenience store near the Hatteras ferry station.

“What’s the name of this ferry, anyway?” Nicki asked.

He squinted a bit to read the caption. “According to the pictures, I think this one we’re on is called the Chicamacomico.”

“I kinda like that name,” she said, sitting up a bit and turning toward him.

He smiled. Perhaps this was the elusive word he’d been searching for all day long since their walk down the hidden path at the Banker horse corral. He decided to try it out. “Chica-maco-mico,” he repeated with a flirtatious lilt.

“Damn, Vic, I think I felt a little twinge as you said that.” The rain picked up a notch and began to fall slowly with occasional gusts. “Say it one more time.”

He looked into her eyes. “Chica-maco-mico.”

“Now that’s a powerful word,” she said with a slight shiver. “It sounds like some kind of secret pirate word.”

Victor realized that this was indeed the incantation he sought. “Well in that case, where’s that pirate jacket you’ve been telling me about? Maybe I should dress the part and say it again.”

“It’s in the back,” she said. “In my duffle bag.”

Victor climbed into the back of the cargo van just as the ferry began its journey back to Hatteras. He knelt and pulled the jacket from her duffle. He mustered his best pirate impersonation for her. “Arrrg, Nicki, why don’t you join Captain Victor Washington back here in the captain’s quarters, and I’ll whisper the secret password in your ear.”

In Nicki’s younger days, she’d have eagerly bounded into the back of a van under the same circumstances, even in broad daylight. But, she’d grown quite a bit more conservative over the years, which caused her now to hesitate a bit. She realized that she still liked to believe that she was adventurous like this. After all, didn’t she make a suggestive advance earlier at the horse corral?

But, then again, nothing happened at the horse corral, did it? And, perhaps she knew at the time that nothing would come of that. This situation was different, though. If she joined him in the back of the van, she’d be opening up a very realistic possibility of some rather inappropriate behavior for such a quasi-private space. Still, she seemed to take notice that Victor had so easily volunteered to don the jacket, and she wondered whether it would bring about the same result for her and Victor as it had for the others. Why not take a chance, she thought.

She remained in her seat for a moment and looked around along the deck of the ferry to make sure no one else would notice her moving to the back. Everyone else seemed to be staying in their cars as the rain began to fall. Unbuckling her seat belt, she decided to go ahead and take Victor up on his offer.

She sneaked into the cargo area. Victor had grabbed a utility flashlight he kept in the back and wrapped the dark brown sash around the top. When he turned it on, it cast a dim reddish glow in the back of the van.

He moved in close to her. “Do you still want to hear the password?” he whispered suggestively.

She nodded. “Yes.”

“Yes what?” Victor said, pointing to his fancy jacket.

Nicki understood what he was getting at and giggled. “Yes, captain,” she said, smiling at him.

“Well, this here is me captain’s chair,” he said, patting the large rear wheel well on which he’d placed one of the beach blankets. “Why don’t you sit here with me and I’ll whisper that word you’re achin’ to hear.”

“And what word is that?” she asked, climbing aboard.

“Oh, I think you know the word,” he said, bringing his lips close to her ears. “It’s Chica …” They heard the sounds of tug boats and barges passing not far away. The strengthening winds and breaking waves rocked the ferry rhythmically, sending rising pulses into the van’s shock absorbers and chassis. “Maca …” They were oblivious to a woman leaning out of the window of the car behind them on the ferry deck screaming to her husband to get back in the car. “Mico …” The full storm had rolled in at last, causing swollen waves on the sound that crashed into the side of the ferry, sending ocean spray over the van on several occasions. After a half hour, the intense portion of the storm had passed over and continued rolling out over the banks. The water of the sound smoothed considerably by the time they reached Hatteras forty five minutes after leaving Ocracoke.


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☠️ Jim Dee maintains his personal blog, “Hawthorne Crow,” and a web design blog called “Web Designer | Web Developer Magazine.” He’s also contributes to various Medium.com publications. You can reach him at: Jim [at] ArrayWebDevelopment.com. “Chapter number” background photo atop piece is adapted from “Light Reading” by Martin (Flickr, Creative Commons).