Further conversations with the ghost of my great-great-great grandfather, Commodore 'Fighting Bob' induced as a result of prescription painkilers.
©2011 Bob Stockton. Excerpted from 'Fighting Bob' (AuthorHouse) by Bob Stockton. Unauthorized use is prohibited.
I spent all the next morning laboriously pecking out an outline of the Commodore’s adventures in the Mediterranean as best I could recall them. After…what was it, three, four, five nights or more of his revelations?… I was eagerly awaiting each nightly installment. If no more visits were forthcoming our project - I was totally committed to finish this - would have to be scrapped. Here he was, about to be arrested and possibly hanged after having fought and wounded a British Officer at the very top of Gibraltar and……..and…..well, that’s where the whole thing stood. The Commodore had left the building and in the process left me -you should excuse the expression - hanging.
Had he lost interest? Had a change of heart? Two nights passed uneventfully. No visit from Granddad. The next day I had a follow up medical visit scheduled and had all but given up hope of another visit from the Commodore. I was trying to figure out what I’d be doing with myself in those long, painful nighttime hours to pass the time until daylight.
The medical examination was uneventful, there really wasn’t much to be done other than assess my level of pain and prescribe the painkillers that would help me rest in some modicum of comfort. This was done along with the obligatory lecture on prescription painkiller dependency. I returned home to load up on the next dose and sit in that damn recliner which I had come to detest. I would have given my first born to be able to sleep in an actual bed. Well, I thought, nothing can be done about it so load up, grab another gin and assume the position.
I was soon asleep.
Sometime after nightfall I awoke, realizing that I was extremely thirsty. I eased up out of the recliner and shuffled off to the kitchen to retrieve a bottled water. While I was in the kitchen that strange sensation came over me again, the sensation that someone else was in the house with me. I smiled and headed back to my seat.
“You have been conspicuous in your absence, Commodore. I’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop.”
“Pardon? Shoe? Drop? If you are referring to my recent sudden departure there were other affairs which required my attention. Do not bother yourself about them.”
“Fine with me. I think that when we last met you were telling me that your opponent in the Gibraltar duel had confirmed that a trap had indeed been set and that you were set to hightail it out of there.”
“Correct. When I learned of this treachery I began to run at full speed down a path between the rocks toward the harbor. I presently came upon a British lieutenant and a cadre of soldiers that had been sent to apprehend me. The officer was a rotund little fellow and had a sneer on his lips, sure that he had captured a Yankee officer engaged in duelling. The officer and his men occupied a position on the pathway that led to the harbor next to a parapet-like structure. The pathway was completely blocked by the soldiers and the officer was laughing smugly at my having sprung the supposed trap that he had set. I knew that time was of the essence. I had to act quickly and in a manner that was completely uncontemplated by the chubby fellow.”
“I sprang forward and seized the lieutenant, forcing his head in a grip under my arm….”
“A HEADLOCK! OW!”
I must remember not to make these sudden motions. That hurt!
“As I was about to say before your undisciplined outburst, I grabbed the fellow by the head and neck and leaped from the parapet, the two of us tumbling down the rocky slope toward the mountain bottom. The soldiers above were in disarray, shouting and gesturing as the porcine fellow and I rolled toward the bottom. I soon released the Britisher and rolled to the bottom, covered with dirt and blood. I had gathered many scrapes and bruises during my descent.”
“Ha! Amazing! I’ll bet that the Brits were fit to be tied.”
“As I reached the bottom of the mountain I could hear the soldiers rushing down the path to intercept me. There was a considerable distance remaining to reach our longboat which was waiting at the pier. I was near exhaustion from the preceeding events and was unsure as to my ability to cover the remaining distance which led directly through the town. I was in peril of capture by the British.”
“Then, As God himself is my witness, it was at this very moment that a gentleman appeared on horseback taking a leisurely evening canter. I accosted the fellow and asked permission to borrow his mount for the remaining distance to the boat. He most naturally declined and as I could hear the shouts and footsteps gaining on me I grabbed the fellow by the leg and pulled him from his mount, gained the saddle and departed at a full gallop through Gibraltar town for the longboat waiting for me at pierside. I arrived there, dismounted and rushed to the boat, ordering the men to row as if their lives depended on it, whereupon I collapsed in a full faint in the bow. When we arrived at Erie I was lifted from the longboat and taken to my quarters where I was laid upon my bed remaining there for nearly a day.
“Amazing! Absolutely amazing! And that was the last of your duels?”
“That is correct, sir. I was soon to assume command of the Erie. There were other shipboard matters relevant to command which required my skills in both diplomacy and leadership. I was to assume command of my ship under quite delicate circumstances.”