You don’t want to reckon with a Dutch man. Well, you don’t really want to reckon with a Dutch person full stop. But one night, we not only reckoned with a Dutch man, but we brought him to his knees in quivering fear. And this is how we did it….
This story has to start at the beginning so you can understand how we ended up with a thick chested Dutch man on our doorstep blubbering to my parents. And the beginning starts way back with the Pirate.
After summertime, when the campers had taken their SUVs and designer kids back to the city, we were left with nothing but the chill of an approaching winter, and no campers to scare. We had no choice but to turn on our siblings, and seeing as there were 6 of us girls, there were plenty of young prospects to ruin, so we chose Zoe (Nearly 5) and Jodi (2)
Seeing as we had all of Autumn, all of Winter and all of Spring before those damn campers came crawling back for more, we didn’t mind stretching out a decent scare so in a nutshell, this is how it went: We told the two youngest that there was this pirate. The most treacherous and fearful pirate that ever sailed the seven seas. He loved treasure, and he knew where to find it, and rumor had it that he was heading toward Helena Bay. We urged the wee little girls to gather up all their valuables and bring them to Nelly and I, where we would help them bury the loot deep in our back yard. Being young and stupid, they submitted, and we buried their plastic, worn, fake, boring old jewelry and ornaments towards the back of our property near the old wood chopping block. Then we simply let the story sit in their soul for about two months. Patience see, you have to have patience.
Occasionally one of the wee ones would enquire of their valuables, and we would hush them ‘Shhh Child, don’t you know that damn pirate might be listening to us as we SPEAK’ And they would ask how they should know if he had arrived on land and was close by and with reluctance we told them: ‘You will know he is close if you hear the bells. He wears bells on his body. If you here the bells, its all over…’
Kids. They’ll believe anything you say.
How many months of this nonsense unfolded, I don’t know. two to three at least. But one day we decided we were growing bored of the facade and were growing tired of the questions from the young ones about the pirate, and so it was time to bring it to an end.
Dad rode a motorbike and seeing by this time Winter had closed in on us, he had pulled out his old oilskin coat to ride in. He was a tall man, six foot plus, and this thing hung heavy from his shoulders, stretching its way down to the ground. To go with the coat there were pants and a wide brimmed hat. Dark. All the pieces were dark. Now our inspiration for the persona of the pirate came suddenly when we heard Dads bike approach our seaside home one stormy night. It was raining. It was dark. There was lightening.
As he rode up our driveway that night, dismounted his bike, and took those wide strides along the path and through the garden, he looked like a fearful thing. Like a ghost? Like darkness?
Like a Pirate…
Two days later, just as the rain disappeared, so too did our father. Another unexplained departure, but he was good enough to forget that oilskin thing of his and so the pirate was born. There across the road sat that old abandoned church with weeds and a thousand grasses grabbing at the window frames and stained glass windows and the smell of the death of the rats who had lost their way and perished within the foundations of that chipped and aging wooden ghost. This was to be where they would first see the pirate. At fourteen, though I was taller than everyone in my class, I was still measurably shorter than my father and so buckets were tied to my feet and I became a monster. The pants bunched around my ankles but the coat kissed the ground. Along with the oilskin coat I wore that hat, but it wasn’t until we put the black stocking over my face that I really looked like something out of a thriller movie.
I ripped the bells that usually hung from the windows of my room and hid in the bushes of that old church. Nelly waited inside with those wide-eyed and ringlet-haired girls and as the clock struck on the agreed time, she casually asked them to fetch the mail. The letter-box sat down the end of our long gravel driveway and those poor, innocent little dears were more than happy to complete such a grown up task for their older sister.
From the bushes of the church, I saw them trot out of the house and slowly down that gravel driveway. There was no wind that day, which meant that I could hear the gravel move and crunch under their little feet….. this also meant they would hear the bells…
Zoe was several paces in front of Jodi, who was looking about at the birds in the trees, you know, being two and enjoying those things two year olds enjoy, like seeing a line of ants curl and twist their way up an old mossy post, or walking with one foot on the gravel and one foot in the grass and closing her eyes to take in the strange contrasting sensation on her soles… Looking back now, she was so innocent. Still a baby really.
At the time, I did give this some thought. I bowed my head for a moment to realise what it was we were about to do to this poor, miniature person and then I rang them bells. Yes, I rang them bells good, and I rang them bells hard and I charged out of those bushes and straight towards those poor little girls yelling at the top of my voice ‘RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA’
Zoe stopped mid step, dead in her tracks the very moment the metal from the tongue clashed harshly against the lip of those small bronze bells. Her chest began heaving, up and down, up and down Is that her PULSE I can see bounding out from her neck?
Remember that we had been conditioning these preschoolers for months to fear this pirate, to fear his impending arrival…. to fear those bells. And Zoe reacted to the sound of them piercing the clear, still day as we could only hope she would.
Our mother didn’t realise neither what we had been saying and doing to her young daughters for those long months, nor what they saw at the end of that driveway, and so she was naturally very confused when her normally sunny, bright, two year old girl suddenly became so clingy and fearful that mum couldn’t even walk into the next room without Jodi erupting into a mess of tears and cry ‘Muuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuummy’
It was driving our mother insane.
Gosh, I suppose it really would drive you mad wouldn’t it? Having a two year old glued to your side for six weeks, but eventually, after many weeks of mum cooing soft reassurances into the ear of the little frightened one, Jodi one day got up and ran outside to play in the garden Without our mother.
Yes, out that door she runs and down those steps she goes and up the path she flies and who should come around the corner having just pulled up on his bike? Well our father of course, and seeing his blonde, little girl running up the path, he puts his arms out and runs toward her to pick her up: In his big oilskin pants and that long oilskin coat and that wide-brimmed oilskin hat and the physical response produced by that wee two year old when she looked up and saw him striding toward her was one that seemed to defy physics and gravity itself and still burns bright in our memory…
Have you ever seen those cartoons where the cartoon bunny, or the cartoon dog or the cartoon mouse or person get such a fright that they leap up into the air and appear to hover there while there legs peddle backwards, round and round and round and round. Well, this little 2 year old betrayed the laws of physical possibilities that day and rose high in the air and those plump, little legs peddled backwards in thin air while her face contorted and in slow motion she mouthed one of the only words she knew at that age ‘NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO.’
Haha, wow, not even we could have predicted that little turn of events at the end there.
So how are the pirate and the Dutch man connected? Well, it wasn’t supposed to happen like it happened the night it did. You see, we weren’t even trying to target him in the first place…He wasn’t even supposed to be there…We didn’t mean to….
Alfonse is the man in question, and he lived on the property up the road and on land closer to the water with his wife and three children. two boys and a girl. Alfonse liked his drink and used to like it in our living room too so one afternoon he comes over and gets drunk with my father as his kids played in the garden. It got dark and he was still in our living room but we heard his three kids ask if they could walk home and he said yes and so Nelly came to me and said we should give that Pirate another roll and so I said okay.
Nelly wanted to be the pirate this time, and so up on those buckets she climbs and on go the oilskin pants, coat and hat and that dark stocking is pulled over her face and she slinks away into the darkness, creeps up the road and finds a spot in the gravel and just stands there and waits. Now there was only one street light in Helena Bay and it was a long, long way from where Nelly was standing on that road so the only light to see by was the moon, and it wasn’t full. If you were to walk up that road that night, you would not have spotted Nelly until you were nearly right under her nose. Perfect.
However back at the house things were going a little wrong. Alfonse decided that he wanted to walk home with his three children and as he’s getting up off the lounge suite, drunk and ready for bed I realised that due to the lack of light up that long, dark road there would be no way Nelly would have any warning that she was going to be face to face with an angry, drunk, Dutch man until she was, well, face to face with him. He might get such a fright that his fear may turn to anger and in his drunkenness, he might attack the tall, dark creature he stumbles upon in order to protect the lives of his children! Oh this is going to be SOOO good.
I watch him stumble out our front door and head down our path and depart through the little gate into the darkness with his three children following him like little ducklings and just waited. Nelly told me later that she never saw him coming. She had been waiting in the darkness with patience for a good half hour at least and heard her victims before she saw them and by the time she saw Alfonse, it was too late. She couldn’t go anywhere, so she had to stand her ground and just follow through with the scare and hope that this notoriously foul-mood, drunk man didn’t tear the head off her shoulders when he finally saw her.
Alfonse is walking, walking, walking with his head down, leaning this way and that, and then he looks up and sees the tall, dark figure standing there before him with no face…. shrouded in the shadows. Nelly follows her instincts and begins walking slowly, slowly towards them, scraping those buckets along the ground and Alfonse….. falls apart.
The next time I saw Alfonse was about three minutes after Nelly saw Alfonse turn and run in the other direction. There comes an urgent knock at the door and Dad jumps up out of his chair, pulls the curtains back, and is faced with a driveling, stuttering, knee-knocking, terrified man whose only sounds falling out of that scared little face were ‘ba ba ba, the, the, the, na, na, na, duh, duh, duh, ma, ma, ma bee, ba, ba’ carrying on like a great big womens blouse.
And that dear readers, is how two skinny little blonde white girls bought a proud, thick chested Dutch man to his knees.
P.S – This story is okay and all, but part 1 is just down right hectic. We should have been institutionalized really…. You can read that HERE