“Silver had two guns slung about him–one before and one behind–besides the great cutlass at his waist, and a pistol in each pocket of his square-tailed coat. To complete his strange appearance, Captain Flint sat perched upon his shoulder and gabbling odds and ends of purposeless seatalk.”
from Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
In 2005, Mother signed up for a class about pirate literature. The course focused on Peter Pan and Treasure Island, as did most of our telephone conversations at the time. She shared bits of trivia regarding the authors and texts. She followed tangents of memory sparked by Peter’s exploits and Jim’s adventures. And she read from her notes, teaching me how the books fit into the history of literature.
A few years later, when she met a pair of orphan kittens named Captain Flint and Long John Silver, I was tempted to call it fate.
These two kittens arrived at Challenger’s House in the summer of 2007. Captain Flint was found, malnourished and abandoned, in front of a local business. Long John Silver was thrown from a car and rescued by the driver who witnessed it. As they were about the same age, and both too weak to keep up with healthy kittens, they were placed in a foster home together. To be exact, they were placed in my brother and sister-in-law’s home.
Flint had trouble gaining weight. Long John needed surgery to repair his broken leg. And Mother talked about them for months, calling with detailed updates after every visit. It seemed to me as if she visited my brother and sister-in-law more often, while the kittens were there, and her attachment to the little pirates grew with each week. All the while, she denied any desire to adopt them.
Then she called one day and said, “Guess what I just did…” She claimed that her decision came from an urge to keep the boys from being separated. They had finally been declared healthy enough to go to the adoption center, and she feared they would not find a home together. So they went to live with her, and our telephone conversations were soon filled with the antics of Long John Silver and Captain Flint.
Long John Silver is a charismatic troublemaker, a bit like his namesake. (Right down to the bad leg, which healed stiff because the joint was too damaged to repair.)
Captain Flint is both buccaneer and parrot, sometimes starting the trouble, and sometimes following Long John’s lead.
Last year, when Mother died, the pirate cats returned to my brother and sister-in-law’s home, which means I get to continue following their adventures. And their misadventures, because they are often very bad boys. A pair of mischievous rogues, well named and well loved.