The painting of Great Uncle Horatio’s final voyage hung in Grandma’s hallway and was always a point of conversation if not controversy.
Great Uncle Horatio had been a pirate. Not just a pirate in name but very much a pirate in practice.
He wore a patch over one eye, walked with a limp from a battle he once had with Bandit Pete, a rival pirate, where Pete landed a blow to his thigh that severed several muscles which never fully repaired themselves.
He sailed the seas causing havoc wherever he could. His reputation was such that many sailors when confronted by him preferred to throw themselves overboard rather than deal with him. Dealing with him often meant prolonged pain in places you’d rather not experience pain in and drowning or if you were lucky, a shark attack was often the preferred option.
He rejoiced in his name being the cause of nightmares to other sea farers. After he had taken a ship and removed whatever treasure it may have had he would indulge he and his crew in loud and drunken parties long into the night.
But his days soon became numbered for as he aged he found himself being criticized by some of his crew as to his behaviour towards the women he captured on some of his raids.
It was clear to them Horatio didn’t like women and treated them poorly. Among many of his crew, there was a code they stuck to that you didn’t harm women any more than you had to. Horatio didn’t adhere to that code and treated the women he captured as playthings, and so discarded them once he had finished playing.
It got to a point where there was a showdown one day after he’d been particularly nasty to a woman who challenged his authority and for her protests, he immediately lopped off her head.
On top of that Horatio was not happy when his authority was challenged and the man who dared to question him that day was thrown overboard and left to drown.
But his actions only stirred up more animosity among the crew who secretly discussed his behaviour and determined to act against him.
The next day they came across a ship sailing west, and as it was low in the water, they knew it contained cargo that would afford them a bounty to celebrate over.
The ship was easily overcome, and the crew dispatched. On board was a load of wine barrels, all full of rum, wine and spirits. As well there was food, enough to feed Horatio and his crew for several weeks.
Later that night with the captured ship tied up beside their own vessel they feasted. They emptied several barrels, and by morning all the crew were so inebriated they slept long into the day.
By afternoon a storm was building, and as the crew awakened, they became aware of the dangers facing them.
As they had taken from the captured ship all, they required they cut it adrift. The sailors saw their opportunity to finally overcome Horatio who still asleep was easy prey.
As a group, they went to his cabin and tying him up dragged him onto to the deck. Horatio by now awake screamed his protests and demanded to be set free, or there would be consequences.
But the men confronted him with their grievances and told him it was the end for him but they would give him the possibility of being saved. They bundled him into an empty barrel and securing the lid cast him into the sea.
At that time the storm was just building, and the barrel bobbed about in the now swirling water, and they watched as it was blown closer to rocks.
The crew set sail for home, and Horatio’s memory was all there was left of him.
The painting was done by one Gladimus Shanks a crew member who dropped the painting at the door of the family home. The painting was taken in and hung in the hallway, and there it stayed.
The family were not at all surprised to hear what happened to Horatio for they well knew what a low-life scumbag he was. But as the family, apart from Horatio, were accountants, the story of the pirate uncle gave the family a sense of infamy, and in their line of business that was like a breath of fresh air.