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Fort Taylor Pyrate Invasion, Dec 2013 - Key West, FL

Introduction: It falls Mission in the Friday Battle
Photo: Mike Cuffin - Death Haunted the Friday Battle
to me, my dear Appensa, to relate what occurred while captive of those scurrilous pirate rogues, the crew of the
Mercury, as they journeyed back to that remote island in Straights of Florida. You may notice that this is the 7th such trip they have made with me as their captive. This trip was much like the others, spending nearly a week there, with them being a part of a cadre focused on taking Fort Zachary Taylor, camping, eating, drinking (and drinking, and drinking and drinking) and behaving as they usually do on these excursions. Unfortunately my account will not be as full as some of the previous ones due to a cab cigar. (More on that in its time.) However, I am happy to report all is well and our virtual crew is back in its virtual sea giving me time to think on our adventures, to write and to make up fictional banana spiders to whom I can write stupid letters as an excuse to avoid writing the usual introduction to the Fort Taylor Pirate Invasion.

Prologue: Of Wednesday, December 4th which mostly seems to have involved Obsessing about dinner; Getting into the condo; Obsessing about dinner; Breaking off the room key in the lock; Obsessing about dinner; Going over to Fort Taylor to watch people set up their sites (which was just as not interesting as it sounds); Finally going to dinner and Chatting for hours with William who claimed to be really tired.

William William at the Auction
Photo: Sandi Bilbo - Death Haunted William at the Auction
(OK, I admit that I don't have any photos for this Prologue,
so you're getting a bunch of these marginally relevant FX
Shots created using Efexio, a program that was shown to
me by my friend Joe Inman.)
Pace aka William Red Wake aka William Brand (the Mercury crew Quartermaster) picked me up from the airport in Keith’s van, which went without a hitch if you don’t count the security people yelling at him for parking in the wrong place. (I don't count that. Your mileage may vary.) I had tentatively arranged to go with Sandi Bilbo to Café Solé tonight. My thought, even then, was that we had to get back to camp so I could find Sandi and head out to Café Solé. I was hungry.

William got me to the check in building for Compass Realty where I picked up my room key. The life of the room key was not to be a long one, because I managed to break it off in the door with the help of my luggage; I had foolishly left it in the door without thinking. Not wanting to dwell upon this, I suggested we head for camp. I was still thinking of Café Solé.

So we went over to the camp and chatted with Lily and Keith and the Pirates of the Dark Rose. I rather inartfully suggested dinner at Café Solé to Sandi, but she was surrounded by crew. So she decided to stick with her crew. Her crew decided to stick with Lily. Lily decided to stick with the camp. (She was waiting until Fayma arrived to leave.) And Mission decided to stick with his plan to go to Café Solé before his blood sugar fell off the edge again.

Patrick Hand in 2011
Photo: Mission
The Estimable Pirate Patrick Hand Blows
Bread Stick Smoke at Death in 2011
I walked back to the condos where I found William at the door trying to retrieve the broken off bit of key from the lock with two needles and a pair of tweezers. That worked about as well as you’d expect; the key bit remained firmly embedded in the lock. He seemed determined to get it out in this manner until I explained that I had a pair of needle-nose pliers in the stuff I had shipped down to assemble the gibbets which would make the job go much easier. (I was still thinking of Café Solé.)

With that settled, I suggested that we go and eat. At Café Solé. This we did, discussing all the problems of the world, particularly those related to pirate reenacting. I also learned that the reason that the Mercury crew does not have a captain is because Patrick Hand, during the founding meeting of the Mercury crew, announced that we should not have a captain and thus avoid the usual power-struggle and control-freaky problems that go with that. So it was written, so it was done. (Patrick Hand is, and always will be in my book, a pirate's pirate.) The result has been most satisfactory, at least as far as I have been concerned. William was then elected Quartermaster of the crew.

Cafe Sole Sign with Skeleton
Photo: Some Tourist - Death Ate at Café Sole. You can hardly tell.

Following dinner, we waddled (and I mean waddled) back to the condo. Hopefully the walk aided our digestion – we had a lot of delicious escargot and hogfish to work off.

I had earlier invited William to spend the night on my couch rather than go back to the fort and try to put up his tent in the dark. He readily agreed to take the couch.

William had told me at least three different times that he was very tired, having taken the red eye flight from Utah and gotten only about an hour of sleep. With that clearly in mind, we sat around and talked about various things for at least three hours, focusing primarily on haunted house room design.

Photo: Someone - How Shadows Can Make a Haunted House Room Effective
Not to wander off topic (as far as you know), but William’s take on haunted houses is very classical. He had several ideas that had never occurred to me, such as strategically placing lights in rooms filled with complex mechanical objects so that the shadows cast would scare people.

He also told tales of using long walkways with existing, deteriorating walls and ceilings without any further dressing. I particularly liked his idea of wadding up newspapers and placing them at the bottom of a room with a slightly inclined floor and a strobe light at the end of the path out of the room. (The exit being at the top of the ramp via a sharp turn to disorient people.) The worker could then hide in the newspapers and move under them or jump out from them, the effect of which would be exaggerated by the strobe. But you didn’t start reading this to learn about haunted house rooms so I'll stop writing.

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