Davey watched from his window. It was past bedtime but he made sure he was quiet. The moon was shrouded in chiffon clouds, a fuzzy ball of light, a blind eye above the bay.
The sea was choppy that evening and a bank of fog was creeping in from the horizon like something inexorable – the passage of time, perhaps, or the onset of death.
Morbid thoughts for a young lad, to be sure, but Davey had had a rough time of it. He looked to the headland, a dark mass looming against the sky. The lighthouse was dark; Davey had seen to that. He had climbed up there that afternoon and smashed the mirrors. He had pissed on the wick and made sure old Patrick, the keeper, was blind drunk with a bottle of rum Davey had filched from the tavern.
There would be no light across the bay that night.
The fog sped up its advances, spreading like a voracious disease, like a pestilence, just as the brigands had spread, feeding off the best men in the area – men like Davey’s dad.
Come on, Davey urged, as if the weather was liable to do his bidding. How the boy had wished for it! How he had yearned for this moment of vengeance!
The Gypsy Witch was due back from Jamaica. Without fail it showed up on the same date each year, to press the best of the local men into service. Those that refused were shot right there. Like Davey’s dad.
It had been a tough twelvemonth, for Davey and his mother. She had withdrawn into herself, leaving Davey to roam, to shift for himself and do whatever he liked.
What Davey liked to do was read. And build model ships. And plot his revenge.
He lifted the model of the Witch and muttering incantations he’d conned from an old book, he twisted it this way and that.
Above the bay, the clouds cleared the moon. And there, out in the water, silhouetted in the fog, the sails of the pirate ship lurched. In that moment, the skull and crossbones of its pennant grinned out, as though daring the boy to do his worst.
Davey lifted the model high and with one last imprecation smashed it on the floor.
The next morning, debris washed ashore. The Gypsy Witch had struck the rocks, it was said. Old Patrick was asleep on the job. The locals combed the beach for booty and souvenirs. But not Davey. Davey watched from his window, watched his mother scrabbling in the sand for doubloons. Their money worries were over.
Behind him, in the fireplace, the old book crackled and curled.