Submitted Date 10/23/2018

Phillip did not enjoy going to the annual company holiday party. He did not enjoy specialty cheese platters, he didn’t drink, and the gift exchange was always a waste of time. Year in and year out, it was always the same ho-ho-ho-hum.

Perhaps his boss felt the same way, because this year, Tom was inviting everyone to his beach house. The invitations had a swashbuckling theme, which Philip thought was pretty corny and particularly random for the holiday season. The main attraction would be a gift-giving exchange entitled “the Pirate Swap.” Everyone was supposed to bring a gift under fifteen dollars. Phillip had grabbed a scented candle and a gift bag on his way out of the drugstore before zipping down to the shore.

Phillip parked at the end of a packed driveway and stepped out of the car. Long grasses blew in the breeze, the air was salty, and he could hear the sound of waves breaking against the shore. The house was a nice cottage with a flagpole in the yard, and a black banner with a skull and crossbones snapped in the breeze.

“Great,” thought Phillip. “This party is going to be really tacky.”

He knocked on the door. A bearded pirate with an eyepatch and a hook-hand greeted him.


Phillip stared blankly.

“It’s me, Tom!” his boss said, taking off the pirate hook with his other hand, lifting the eyepatch, and pulling down the fake beard. He laughed, and pulled Phillip inside.

“Hi Philip!” his co-workers greeted him. There were about twenty of them standing around the house, sampling cheese, drinking wine, and making the casual conversation that gave Philip butterflies.

Phillip gave a shy little wave and walked into the kitchen to occupy himself with some food and drink. Tom had gone all-out on the decorations. A treasure chest spilled gold coins onto the counter. A fake parrot sat on top of the fireplace. A cake decorated with a ship was ready to sail into the churning waters of hungry stomachs. Phillip breathed a sigh of relief when it was time for the gift exchange.

“Gather round,” Tom commanded, waving his hook in the hair.

Everyone sat down around a small pile of bags and boxes resting on the brick base of the fireplace.

“This has been a great year for 7 Seas Software Solutions,” Tom began. “So I thought we would celebrate a little differently this season, with a party theme that reflects the name of our company. And we’re going to play a new game, instead of the regular, old, boring secret santa. This is a pirate game!” he exclaimed fiercely, and everyone laughed in delight. Philip smiled.

“The first person to go opens a gift. The next person can either take that first person’s gift, or take a new one. If your gift gets taken, you can take a new one from the pile, or you can take one from someone else.”

Tom passed a tricorne hat around, and everyone drew numbers. The game started, and Philip’s coworker Cheryll opened up a set of matching coffee mugs. Then Robert picked a gift from the pile, which turned out to be a cookbook. Becky chose to steal the cookbook, and Robert picked up an envelope with a pair of movie tickets. Janis picked up a set of coasters, which Philip really liked, because they had pictures of different European cities. He stood up to swipe them from Janis, when the cannon went off.

The whole house shook, and a vase fell off an end table, smashing onto the floor. Everyone ran up to the sliding glass door that separated the living room from the deck.

A three-masted ship floated by the shore, and a large skull-and-crossbones blew in the breeze, and a small rowboat was already plowing through the shallows. Inside the boat, some fierce looking sea-dogs were breaking their backs at the oars, and a dashing figure in a tricorne hat and bright red jacket stood with his boot on the prow of the vessel. As the skiff hit the shore, he jumped off and walked through waves, pulling out a cutlass.

“Wow, did you hire pirate actors, Tom?” Robert asked. “This is the best holiday party ever!”

“No, I didn’t,” Tom responded worriedly.

“Are we in some sort of rum commercial?” Becky asked.

The other pirates jumped out of the skiff, pulled it ashore, and walked up the beach toward the house. Ascending the deck steps, they stood outside the glass. They were truly a fearsome lot, scarred, dirty, and ragged-looking. The pirate in the red jacket, who was obviously some sort of captain, raised his scimitar, and smashed the glass open.

Everyone jumped back in fright.

“What the heck?” Tom yelled. “You can’t just break into someone’s house like that!”

“My apologies, said the red-coated captain, taking off his hat and bowing. “How do you do? I’m Blackbeard the Terrible. It’s an honor to make your acquaintance.” He put his hat back on.

“Now plunder and pillage!” he yelled, turning to his men.

They ran through the house, ripping open cabinets, smashing plates on the floor, and stabbing open the upholstery with knives, presumably to see if it was stuffed with treasure. One pirate in the kitchen picked up a bottle of scotch, put it to his mouth, and began to chug.

“Ay, Captain,” he said, “this is some mighty fine grog!”

“Do you have any idea how much that scotch cost?” Tom protested.

“Silence all of ye,” the captain commanded, sheathing his saber and pulling out an ancient-looking musket. Several of the other pirates pulled out guns that looked like they belonged in the armory section of a museum. “Now empty your pockets, and throw all of your treasure on the table here,” the captain commanded.

Everyone tossed their wallets onto the coffee table. One of the pirates stepped forward with a burlap sack, and examined the wallets. He opened a few of them up, and dumped their contents onto the table.

“Is this all you have?” the captain said picking up a few bills and random coins, and letting them fall through his fingers. “What are these?” he said, picking up the credit cards.

“Those are credit cards,” Robert replied. “That’s how we pay for things these days.”

“Is there money inside?” the captain asked, bringing one up to his ear and shaking it.

“Sort of,” Robert replied. “It’s hard to explain.”

A pirate ran in from the bedroom, holding a pile of clothes.

“There was no treasure in the other rooms, captain, but there was some sort of black box in the wall, so I smashed it in to take a look inside, but wouldn’t you know, it turned out to be paper thin glass.”

“That’s my flatscreen!” Tom wailed.

“Silence!” the captain roared. “Tell us where the treasure is!”

“There is no treasure here,” Tom insisted. “This is twenty-first century. We don’t have buried treasure. I’m sorry, but you’d have better luck digging in the sand by the shore, or going to a casino or something. There’s a few of them just down the coast, if you want to sail there…”

“We’re not looking for wenches and card games,” the captain replied angrily. “We’re looking for gold, do you hear me? And if it’s not forthcoming, we’ll slit your throats, and blow your heads off!”

While the rest of his coworkers were quaking in terror, Phillip was seized with a great idea.

“I have a real treasure for you,” he said, standing up and pulling the smartphone out of his pocket. He had a phone upgrade coming up anyway.

“What in the blazes is that?” the captain asked.

“It’s better than treasure actually. It’s a treasure map that can show you anyplace in the world,” Phillip explained, opening the maps app, and showing the screen to the captain. “Just use your fingers to move the map around,” he demonstrated, sliding his fingers over the screen.

“What is this witchcraft?” the pirate with the burlap sack asked.

“”It’s called a smart phone. Take it, it’s yours,” Philip said, handing it over.

The pirate captain looked at the phone, and moved the map around for a few minutes.

“This will do,” he said. “Come on boys, back to the ship!” the pirates lumbered back outside, and the captain removed his hat for a final wave. “Thankee for the gift,” he smiled.

Everyone watched as the pirates rowed back to their ship.

“Way to think on your feet, Phil,” Tom congratulated him.

“I can put this experience on my resume.” Phillip replied, and everyone laughed.

At least this year, the party was yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum.

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  • Miranda Fotia 10 months ago

    Great story! Nice modern twist with the phone. Thanks for sharing!