A Pirate Named Gianni Cobalto • Part 1

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Picture by unknown

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The sharp saltiness of the ocean flutters in the lazy afternoon breeze. A clavichord is giggling from the inside, beyond the wooden porch. It’s a tune from Scarlatti, the Neapolitan. Gianni is carried away by the melody. His memories at sea are intertwined with his future projections – very likely at sea. The Old World looks so precious now that it’s kept in the gilded casket of the past. But the pirate knows about the illusory nature of such coffer. “Memories are tricks of the little you, designed to hold you back from experiencing the wonders of the larger You,” said the bearded Indian guy in Pulau Ujong. “The little you likes to be right. Rigid in its beliefs, it likes to provide you with a sense of identity.” All these esoteric ideas strangely resonated with Gianni. His Christian upbringing taught him that God was up there, ready to judge you after your final breath. The Indian guy, instead, told him that God is within and is free of judgment.

“What do you like?” asked the man in orange robes.

“I like… What do I like…”

“Yes, is there any form of beauty you can appreciate fully?”

“I like music. In Italy, we have great music. Corelli, Vivaldi, Scarlatti, Pietro Boni, Albinoni… Poi ci sono i Tedeschi,” he inadvertently switched to Italian, his eyes shining, “Bach, Telemann…”

“So. The next time you listen to a beautiful sonata, let it become one with you.”

“How do I do that?”

“Listen to it with your whole body, not with your brain. Don’t listen to your parrot mind, let it fly away. Listen to the music!” he lifted and shook his palms with intensity. “Imagine yourself as a biscuit, soaking in milk.”

The voice of the swami fades away. Gianni is now in the New World, a land of great uncertainty and even greater opportunity. He promptly applies the method suggested by the guru to the playful sonata coming from inside the house. The clavichord melody, note after note, flows through the banks of his awareness like a river. The course of this river is initially twisty and restless. Then he expands his focus on the harmony: left and right hand, white and delicate, dance on the keyboard in the dimly lit room. The river is finally approaching the sea. It surrenders into the infinite waters of the ocean. The pirate has never experienced such a sense of peace. Of fullness and emptiness at the same time.

“Cobalto!” a male voice pops in the background. “Cobalto!” It sounds farther than it really is. He does not react to the desperate vibration of those shouts. The music stops. A gentle drumming of steps follows, out of the porch. A fresh hand touches his neck: he feels the love of a lifetime piercing his skin-shell through those fingers. “Jean…” The female voice chimes in like a timid violin: “The Spaniards…” He lifts up his gaze and her features astound him. She radiates a soft golden light. Her dark hair balances with the pale blue eyes and face. “You have to go, Jean…” He caresses her tender cheek. Thus, he calmly gets up from the creaking chair and inhales the last puff of smoke from his pipe. Gianni turns to the girl and smiles confidently. The green, tall palms behind her idly wave in the maritime breeze throughout the bay. The sun is hiding behind the clouds. The pirate doesn’t know what to do, but he doesn’t mind, as if he were guided by something smarter than himself. Jacmel Bay is as gorgeous as a dream, including the small Spanish frigate at the horizon. He turns to the French angel who had accidentally fallen on his lap. One kiss. He’s swiftly off to the stable, where Troussard and Cantley have been shouting his name. “Hurry up, Venetian!” said his English comrade. They gallop away at once. They cross the forest and villages and face a dilemma.

“Port-au-Prince lies a day away,” says Troussard in his strong french accent.

“Too late to join any ship…” answers Gianni.

“But the filibusters will protect us for the night.” suggested the Briton.

“Of course, Jack, they would, the Spaniards wouldn’t dare lift a finger there.”

“Why you’re so doubtful then?”

“Cause it’s what the Spaniards expect from us. They’re not only coming after us. They’re surely ahead of us.”

“We need an alternative plan, vénitien.” Agrees with him the French pirate.

They’re heading north, towards the coast. Gianni listens to the sound of hoofs knocking on bare soil; the air gets fresher and fresher as they climb up the road through the mountains. The forest is alive. He closes his eyes for an apparently infinite moment. No parrot is chatting in his head. His mind is clear like the water of the Caribbean. He’s listening to everything with his body like the Indian man suggested. He’s a soaked savoiardi biscuit. Suddenly he knows. He knows what? He just knows.

“Are we fucked up, Venetian?” genuinely asks Cantley.

“We could be. But we’re not. The Spanish head-hunters are probably waiting for us at Carrefour. We go straight to Gonâve Island. And leave tomorrow on the first filibuster ship stopping for supplies.”

“How do we reach l’Île de la Gonâve?” asks Troussard.

“Even if we steal or buy a boat on the coast, what makes you think we’ll cross the Canal du Sud alive? That is the most dangerous place in the whole New World for a pirate, now that the French want to kick the filibusters out of Port-au-Prince. Dutch, English, French and Spanish ships swarm in the area – untouched by the retreating pirates.” Cantley emphasizes his words opening his arms wide.

“God will bring us there.”

Gianni’s companions are both silent, in shock, for a minute. “Cobalto, do you suddenly miss catholic school? What the hell. We’re bloody pirates. Murderers and thieves! What makes you think that God would help us?”

Gianni bursts into laughter and the horse responds neighing as if it could get the irony of Cantley’s reaction. Troussard, renowned atheist, does not speak. “You, silly Briton. I’m not talking about the God of the Bible. I was just using a word you could understand. The Divine is not an old bearded man chilling on a cloud. The Divine is all around you and inside of you!”

“You’ve gone insane, Venetian…”

Je lui crois. I trust his plan.” Asserts the French man. “Even though I’m still quite skeptical about the mystical stuff,” he grins through his sharp mustache.

Jack Cantley is stunned on the back of his black horse.

Perfetto.” Gianni turns to the English man. “At worse, we’ll die with the saber in one had the bottle in the other,” he winks, “I have a bottle of cognac from Maxine.”

“Right…” he mumbles, totally spaced out. So he thinks about the half-empty bottle of smoky scotch whisky he’s jealously keeping in his bag for special occasions – to die fighting looks like a special occasion indeed.

The sun suddenly escapes the clouds and the forest radiates all its gorgeous colours. None of them was expecting such a sight on the mountain causeway to Leogâne: a kid, brown like syrup, appears in the middle of the road. Nine years old or something, he holds a weird carved stick on his shoulders; he stoically gazes at the three riders as they approach him on their horses.

 

Herons