December 2My day has been plundered, and it’s barely begun.

My head, stuffy with a lingering cold, makes me slow this morning, but I can still hear the Hub talking in irate tones downstairs after I drag myself from bed. It can mean several things – he’s on the phone with the VA; he’s trying to reschedule a needed work release appointment locally after the VA sent them the wrong documents; or it’s with our “internet” provider.

Think of Austin Powers a moment, making finger quotes – that’s how I mean, “internet” provider. It’s bad enough that we only have satellite options in rural Idaho, but ever since we switched from HughesNet to Excede we’ve had nothing but problems. In fact, the company name means we “exceed” our quota of data every month. Satellite is slow – I dream of having dial-up – but we blow through our 15 gigabytes in about three weeks. With HughesNet we typically used 8 gigabytes a month.

This morning the company tells Todd that in July we had a service reset our router password. What? If they know that, why are they telling us in December? If I log into my Gmail from a new computer, I get an email alerting me to the action. If I change my password on a social media site, same alert goes out. We never changed our router password; in fact it’s the same password. But someone actually used a “service” to hack our router.

It’s Rocky Mountain piracy, that’s what it is!

You can actually purchase boosting equipment to pirate someone else’s satellite. And now we know you can also use a service to get access to someone’s wireless router. Pirates struck once before when we had no password, so we bought a new router and password protected it, thinking we were safe. Well, the Jolly Roger flies over Elmira once again.

That’s not all. I wander downstairs still not feeling hungry enough to cook, so I grab a box of Wheat Thins and pour a big mug of elderberry concoction. It’s my own health tonic from elderberries I wild-crafted in September and keep frozen. I boil a cup of berries, mash them through a strainer, add local honey, heaps of cayenne, grated fresh ginger and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Determine to kick this cold, I double the dose and heat it up in a mug. The cayenne burns my sinuses, throat and ears – ah, this is a good thing. The burn penetrates the good stuff quicker.

Now I’m super dizzy. I watch the flames in the fire, knowing I need to get to writing upstairs, but I just want to doze off instead. I wasn’t feeling this bad earlier. That’s when the Hub walks in and asks if I liked my spiked cold stuff. Spiked? What is he talking about?

Two nights ago when I was feeling achy I though a shot of whiskey in my elderberries might be the equivalent of Nightquil Cold & Flu Medicine before bed. I bought a small bottle of Jack Daniels for my cranberry sauce, but found it empty and grumbled to the Hub. He claimed innocence, and then I remembered the kids made squash nog and probably finished it off. Somehow the Hub thought my tonic needed booze. Without telling me, he bought rum and added it to my jar.

I drank a full mug of rum-spiked elderberries for breakfast.

How could I taste anything beyond the cayenne? The Hub just grins while I groan. He repeats some inane t-shirt saying, “Drinking rum before 10 a.m. makes you a pirate, not an alcoholic.” Now I have to see if Hemmingway’s theory holds up, “Write drunk, and edit sober.” Coffee, more crackers and a walk in the cold morning air takes off the edge and by the time I return feeling less of a pirate, the Hub has succeeded in resetting our equipment and getting a discount from Excede.

Arrr, mateys, we’ll get through this day, yet! All I need now is a parrot.

Last week, I caught a terrific parrot story. Writing for Go Idaho Magazine is a great gig for me. Although I tend to be an introvert, preferring my own port over sailing the high seas, I love stories. It’s how I best connect with people. I come out of my port for stories, and that’s my job with the magazine – find interesting and fun stories.

So, at Chateau de Pomme de Terre (earth apples are potatoes, so Castle Potato) there’s a beautiful oil painting, a copy of a Renaissance portrait featuring a parrot. The castle owner missed out buying the original and commissioned an artist friend to recreate it, using his own parrot. The collection of arms and armor at the castle reminds me of things pirates might clank around with, but you won’t get plundered if you stay at the guest castle.

Before you start wondering just how much rum I had for breakfast, let’s get to the prompt!

December 2, 2015 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a pirate story. It can be about pirates or piracy; modern or of yore. Swashbuckling, parrots and rum can be involved or maybe you’ll invent details beyond standard pirates.

Respond by December 8, 2015 to be included in the weekly compilation. Rules are here. All writers are welcome!

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Pirate of the Plains by Charli Mills

Frank Wilstach guided Sarah up the steps of the Robbins Hotel. “Table for two.”

The hostess regarded Sarah the way one might a dog seeking entrance. Sarah stood as straight as her 92-year-old frame allowed until the woman relented.

Sarah folded her hands. “Folks in these parts have long memories.”

“It’s McCanles, right?”

Sarah regarded the eager Hickok biographer. He wouldn’t understand the tensions of those past days, of church shunning and land grabs. “Yes, Sir. Let me tell how he became the pirate of the plains.”

Wilstach wrote furiously in his journal. Sarah smiled, enjoying her free lunch.

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