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"Mad Levi London"
The docks of London held the hopes of many people.
Wives and children waited anxiously to see if their loved ones had returned safely from sea. Others waited and hoped for a ride on the next ship.......a way out of the forlorning slums and poverty, or possibly to find a treasure or share in the bounty from some occasional looting.
The seas beckoned the hearts of men who longed for adventure and discovery.....the uncertainty of it all was a sight for the sore eyes of the would-be sailors.
One such man existed, at one time.....a hopeful young sailor. He waited his turn on the docks just like the rest of 'em.
He wanted to escape the dirty city of bugs and rats and the constant smell of death, vomit and urine.
He was of a slight build, standing no more than about 27 inches tall. He went largely unnoticed, at first, but at the last possible moment, he caught the eye of the Captain of The Water Witch.
The Water Witch was the most magnificent vessel to sail in those parts. The men were salty and 'rough as cobs', but it was a ship that most men dreamed of working upon. It was a Pirate ship, known to bring back treasures and fortunes for the men who sailed her.
There he stood.......with his pleading eyes, mentally begging the Captain to notice him.....and the Captain did.
At once, Levi London was hailed upon to board the infamous Water Witch, and his heart leapt with excitement.
He boarded the ship, she set sail, and after the next several day of hazing and other rituals had passed, Levi London began to feel like maybe he belonged there, that he might be accepted in among the men.
He had never felt a sense of belonging before.....he had come from around Dorset Street, in the east London area, from extreme poverty.
Levi was also uneducated, for the most part, and had a thick 'Cockney' accent that made it difficult to completely understand him, unless you were from his area.
However, as the weeks stretched into long months, Levi London was painfully aware of his position on the mighty Water Witch. He was oft' times ridiculed and teased........made sport of. He turned out to be little more than a joke, a 'gofer', and he was viewed as a ne'er-do-well.
The worst thing about being seen in this light was that you could never raise yourself above it. As long as those men drew breath they'd always see him as a loser and not worthy of respect.
It also didn't take the men long to realize that Levi London could be blamed for anything that went wrong. The men were free to do all sorts of evils and pranks, pinning the blame on Levi London.
It goes without saying that there were many times that Levi London was cast down into the ship's brig.
On several occasions, while in the brig, a few burlap bags of rats were tossed into the hold. Eventually, the rats chewed their way out.....and they were hungry.
As a result of this particular act of cruelty, Levi London lost his right eye......and now he had to wear a black painted and sanded patch over his eye, concealing the hideous black stitches.
During another time with 'the rats', Levi London suffered so many rat-bites to his right arm that he had to amputate his own hand in order to live. He then had to fashion a hook arm for himself. It was made of a brass hook and wood that he had painted black and sanded.
But sometimes, when the men were drunk, they were in a jolly mood and they'd all sing Pirate songs, including Levi......
Oh, blow the man down, bullies, blow the man down,
Way ay - blow the man down,
O Blow the man down in Liverpool town.
Give me some time to blow the man down.
As I was walking down Paradise Street,
Way ay - blow the man down,
A brass-bound policeman I happened to meet.
Give me some time to blow the man down.
However, the good times were far and few in-between and Levi London became more and more reclusive. He trusted no one, except for a small colorful Parrot that he befriended. He picked it up on one of the South Pacific islands. It stayed perched upon Levi London's shoulder at all times.
And upon his chest were two small skulls that hung from string. Levi London bought those from the Tahitian natives in the South Pacific.
As time went on, Levi London was given chores to tend to, like mending the fishing nets, while the other men were looting ships that they captured, leaving nothing for Levi. He carried a length of fishing net from his belt at all times.
Having to be on the deck in the hot sun had aged Levi London beyond his years. His wool hair and beard and mustache was scorched by the sun, yet his gold earrings could be seen peeking from his hair. He also wore a black head-scarf.
His face was leathered and weathered and wrinkled. His one button eye was half closed, and his lips were parched like white potpourri flowers.
Levi's clothing was old......he wore a pair of dark blue wool pants and a tattered and patched shirt made of loose-weave cotton that had been heavily stained. And even though he was allowed to keep a sword in it's scabbard (a real vintage 1930's toy) tucked into the belt of his shirt, he wasn't permitted to fight anyone while in battle. He wasn't trusted as a fighter.
One day, after a day of looting a ship, one of the men tossed a small black pipe (authentic 1960's toy pipe) towards Levi London....and during his quiet times, during the night, he enjoyed smoking it while sitting on the deck on a coil of rope. He enjoyed hearing the lapping of the waters as they rocked the ship......listening to the creaking of the wood and the tugging of the ropes as they gripped their station.
It was a lazy, relaxed feeling...late at night....
.....it was just Levi, the blue smoky haze from the pipe, the sounds of the ship, and the light of the moon on the black waters.
During one such wonderful night, Levi London had been enjoying his pipe and mending some of the men's boots, but he fell asleep and accidentally knocked one of the men's boots overboard. Levi was severely punished for that act of carelessness. The lost boot belonged to the meanest, most evil man on the ship, and he was known for his cruel revenge.....he was Ivan The Wicked.
It was at this time that Levi London lost part of his left leg.
Since Ivan's left boot was gone forever, Ivan The Wicked cut off part of Levi's left leg, and took Levi's boot in order to replace it.
Levi London had to make his own peg leg in order to still be able to get around and do his work. He knew the men would kill him if he didn't continue working.
So, after that incident, Levi London wore only one black boot that was made of real leather. (from the factory that makes leather seat covers for the BMW factory in South Carolina)
The boot was wrapped with a leather lace and a small black handled knife stayed tucked away in the laces. Levi used this knife many times, to fend off rats in the brig.
Levi London knew that little by little, the men were killing him.......whittling him away, one piece at a time. What would be next?
This began to really bother him and eventually he found a way to ward off the harassment of the men.....he pretended to be crazy. He'd do odd things that would make the men shy away from him. This proved to be very successful. They began to call him Mad Levi London.
It worked like a charm....they kept their distance, most of the time.
As more time went on, Mad Levi London grew more angry about being left out of the many treasures that were plundered from ships.
One day a ship was spotted.....the Talisman....the Water Witch made an attack on it, fighting the men and capturing the ship. Mad Levi London crept around and found his way onto the crippled ship.
While all the other Pirates were rushing around and finding the various treasures, Mad Levi London found an undiscovered cabin of wealth that nearly took his breath away when he entered. No one else saw him.
He quickly found a little loose-weave bag of coins and he attached it to his cloth belt.
Levi took a tapestry bag and filled it to the brim with beautiful jewelry.
He found pearls and chains and other jewelry, including a purple glass cross.
He even took a small antique candle stick holder and a shovel.
The bag was running over with jewelry, and he knew that once he reached his homeland, he'd be set for life! But first he'd bury his treasure, waiting for things to settle down.......waiting to make sure he got away with his spoils.
Mad Levi London slipped back onto his ship, unnoticed, and went down into the ship's brig, the only place he knew that would be safe to hide his treasures, considering he was the only one who ever occupied that room.
While he was arranging the tapestry bag of treasures behind some old barrels, the ship began to sway wildly......suddenly, the brig door slammed shut, and locked itself.
Unknown to him, another ship had been in the area and it came to the Talisman's rescue. The men began to fight violently.......blasting cannons and setting fires....the screams were deafening. There was nothing Levi could do but to wait it out.
Eventually, the rocking of the Water Witch calmed.....and no sound could be heard. All the men on The Water Witch had been killed while fighting on the Talisman.
There were no survivors.
All that remained on the deck of the Water Witch was Mad Levi London's identification tag......blowing in the breeze.......blowing out to sea.
The other ship had gone on it's way, possibly thinking there was no one left alive. But Mad Levi London was locked below, in the Water Witch, in the brig.
No one heard his pleas for release.
He eventually died a slow, agonizing death.
Months later, another ship arrived and approached the deserted ship. She was taken back to the docks of London and awaited a new Captain and crew.
She finally got one......and from that time on, she became known as the ship with the restless spirit.
Men who sailed on the Water Witch told of eerie tales of a Pirate ghost that haunted her. On stormy nights, they could hear someone screaming from deep inside the brig. It was a mournful cry that sent shivers up the spines of those who heard it.
It was also reported that on nights of a calm sea, a rise of blue smoke could be seen above a coil of rope on the deck.
And sometimes, the men would be in their bunks trembling at the sound of the *clump, clump, clump* of the wooden peg leg as the 'ghost' walked his rounds on the deck. And with each 'clump' sound, they can hear the jewelry tinkling and jingling.
Mad Levi London was finally wealthy with the riches and spoils of a captured ship, but all the money and jewels he carried couldn't buy back his life.
But one of the creepiest things that the ghost of Mad Levi London did on the ship, was to sing the songs of yore. He could be heard in a distant echo, singing from the bowels of the Water Witch.....singing of his happier times......
Fifteen men on a dead man's chest
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum
Drink and the devil had done for the rest
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.
The mate was fixed by the bosun's pike
The bosun brained with a marlinspike
And cookey's throat was marked belike
It had been gripped by fingers ten;
And there they lay, all good dead men
Like break o'day in a boozing ken
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.
Copyright © May 16, 2003 Cathy Palmer-Scruggs / Catt Alexander
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My dolls are not for everyone, they are my art. If you are offended, I suggest you hit the back button. It will not do you any good to write me 'hate mail'.
In spite of the dolls I create and the stories I write, I do not use recreational drugs, I don't smoke cigarettes, and I don't even drink alcoholic beverages.. I out-grew a lot of things a long time ago.