Uncle Pirate showed up at our house early one November morning with Clyde, his parrot.

“I wish you’d called to tell us you were coming,” Mom mumbled.

“That would have ruined the surprise. Besides, I hardly knew I was coming until I got here.” He hugged Mom and pulled a string of pearls from his pocket.

“For you.”

“May I take your sword?” Mom asked.

“You may not. A pirate cannot be without his sword.”


“Your hat?”

“I suppose.” He removed it and for a second, I thought he was going to put it back on, but he handed it to Mom.

I‘d heard Mom and Dad talk about Uncle Pirate, but had never met him. I knew he was named Duncan, but preferred being called ‘Pirate.’ His ship was Devil’s Claw and he sailed around the Caribbean with a crew, taking tourists from one island to another, telling tales about long ago pirate adventures.

Uncle Pirate was a few inches taller than Dad with a dark mustache and curly black hair that fell to his shoulders. He wore a red velvet coat, old fashioned pants called breeches and had a silver sword strapped to his side.

“You look like a pirate,” I told him. “Why don’t you talk like one?”

“Aargh, matey!” Uncle Pirate laughed. “Even a pirate needs a vacation from pirate talk now and then.”


“Did I hear you say vacation?” Mom called from the kitchen.

“Just overnight. It isn’t long enough, but it will have to do.”

Mom poked her head into the living room. She looked worried. “Les and I are going out to dinner and a movie tonight.”

“Great!” Uncle Pirate said. “I’ll stay here with Georgie and we’ll have a good time. That OK with you?”

He wasn’t talking to Mom, he was asking me.



As soon as Mom and Dad left, Uncle Pirate asked what I wanted for dinner. “Mom left a tuna casserole.”

“Well it’s my vacation and I want vacation food. I’m going to surprise you.” He scrolled through his phone and made a few calls. Soon a pizza arrived. Then a large order of tacos. A few minutes later, a chocolate ice cream cake. Too much food for just us.

“Call your friends.”

Soon every kid in the neighborhood was around the dining room table. Clyde yelled “Landlubber! Landlubber” at the top of his parrot lungs. Everybody laughed.

“Who wants to learn how to fence?” Uncle Pirate shouted when we finished eating. Every hand went up. He looked around for something that would serve as pretend swords. “Curtain rods!” I didn’t think that was a good idea, but before I could say anything, he pulled them from the kitchen windows.

My friend Lacey and I went first. Uncle Pirate showed us a few moves. We tried to copy them. Down went the floor lamp in the living room.


“Maybe we shouldn’t be doing this inside,” Uncle Pirate decided. “Let’s play walk the plank instead.”

“We don’t have a plank, Uncle Pirate.” I looked at the clock. Mom and Dad were not going to be happy when they got home.

“The dining room table can be the plank. Everybody gets to jump off once. Then the party’s over.”

One by one, each of us walked across the dining room table and jumped onto the carpet, giggling.

“You’re all pirates now,” announced Uncle Pirate “And now we need some pirate help.”

The house was a mess. Melted chocolate ice cream on the kitchen counters. Curtains in a heap. Crumbled taco shells on the floor. Smudges on the dining room table.

“Pirate cleaning crew, unite!” Uncle Pirate assigned tasks — scrub the counter, vacuum the floor, polish the dining room table, pick up the fallen lamp. He
hung the kitchen curtains and inspected the house. Everything looked good, maybe even better than when Mom and Dad left.

I peeked down the stairs when Mom and Dad came in. Uncle Pirate greeted them. Mom looked surprised. “Everything looks fine.”

“Of course it does,” said Uncle Pirate. “What did you expect?”

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