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20 Minutes 4


The Captain surveyed the clothes laid out on his cot and was confident he had chosen the right garments for the night out.

He was currently clad only in boxer shorts (black in color; loose in fit), socks (white in color; long in fit; tightly drawn up along his prodigious calf muscles). Water from his freshly washed hair dripped onto the arrayed apparel. With a nod of approval, The Captain got down to the business of getting dressed.

He selected his pants first, his favorite jeans. They had been with him for so long now that the jean was worn so soft the pants wore like fine corduroy. There was an airy, almost weightless quality to them that The Captain really enjoyed. Mister Hawthorne had already rolled the cuffs. Once pulled on, The Captain tucked and adjusted his boxers down the leg holes. He was not a fan of bunching. The belt came next, a thick belt of brown leather, oiled to a sheen by Mister Hawthorne. The belt buckle’s shape was nothing more than an open square, but it was large and bold. Once the belt was clasped and thus his pants secured, The Captain patted the pouch sewn onto the left trouser leg. That pouch was full, as it should be.

A crisp white t-shirt was next. There was a shocking quality of its whiteness. Immaculate. Crisp. Cool against his skin. Perfection.

A baldric now. Its design was almost the twin of the belt about his waist except for the row of leather pouches that ran its length. The Captain checked them all, one at a time– open the flap, check the contents, close the flap. Mister Hawthorne did his job well, but The Captain always double-checked. If Hawthorne had made a mistake and The Captain did not find it and correct it, it could mean injury or loss of life to he or one of his Crew. A good captain always checked his gear before a night out. The Captain was better than good. Pleased with the results of his inspection, he slung the baldric over his shoulder so that it slanted across his broad chest.

The jacket was heavy. Its red color had faded and the yellow trim frayed over the years, but it was still a coat announcing a captain of fine repute and worthy station. He slipped it on gently, reverently. He did not close it. Indeed the buttons had been removed long ago and no zipper had ever marred its appearance. He fingered the gold threads that dangled from his shoulders, straightening each strand one at a time– nine in total– lost in the ritual of the motion but acutely aware of its meaning.

Sneakers for his feet. He wiggled his toes inside, testing the room, after straightening from the task of lacing.

One item remained on the cot. It lay among the indentations left in the bed sheets by the other items. He left it there for now and turned instead to his weapons.

His sabre was secured in its scabbard. That scabbard was tough, dark leather over wood, and from a distance looked ordinary. The surface of that leather, however, was shallowly engraved with all manner of detail, the scrollwork of a blind hoodoo shaman that had offered The Captain shelter one stormy night. That was in the days before The Captain was The Captain.

He clipped the scabbard and the blade within to the baldric.

He fastened the brace of flintlocks around his waist. It hung low, below the belt securing his pants.

On another hook hung a length of woven mule-gut cord. Dangling from that was a large gold skull. A precious gem of deep red was set deep into each eye socket. The Captain removed the necklace from its hook and hung it around his neck.

He now turned back to the bed and selected the final item. For this, he went to the small, round mirror affixed to the wall above the cracked wash basin. With care and precision The Captain placed on his head the hat that denoted his rank. Its color and trim was identical to that of his coat. Indeed, the two were of the same craftsmanship. He did not need to fiddle with the cap. He had placed it perfectly in one go.

All that was left was to pause for a moment to look at his face. His black chin-beard he had combed and oiled to a point immediately after he had gotten out of the bath. His long mustaches he had oiled and curled as well. He made a few minor adjustments to beard and mustaches, each having been mildly disrupted during the process of getting outfitted.

That done, The Captain looked into the relection of his own eyes.

Yes, he still recognized what he saw there. Past and present. The same. As one. Him. The Captain.

He was ready.

A night out.

The Captain left the room to gather his Crew.

[20 Minutes is a self-imposed ritual in which I write, uninterrupted, for 20 minutes a day. No self-editing is the goal. Just 20 minutes hammering on the keys. After the 20 minutes, I am allowed to clean up spelling and grammar errors, but the rest must stay as is. 20 minutes a day. Every day. Today is day 4.]


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