With his loyal and trusty crew of runts and brats that he bought from a white slave trader on the Black Sea, saving them from a life of child labour mining ore in the Ural Mountains, Cap'n Crunch trained them in all the necessary skills of the entertainment industry, preparing them for a life of singing and dancing and trading quips in the face of terrible cartoon adversity (the worst kind since this medium knows no boundaries in the multitude and relentlessness of punishments it can mete out upon the unsuspecting and innocent body), and successfully selling his delicious sugary cereal to households across North America. And they were rewarded generously. Children practically drooled at the TV screen on Saturday mornings as Crunch and his crew, in their adventurous commercials, won over the pickiest eaters and most villainous cheaters with his never-soggy-in-milk crunchy recipe. But that was then and this is now, which is how Cap'n Horatio Magellan Crunch came to be a Captain Stubing lackey, or for want of a better word, a wannabee.
Well, actually, he didn't want to be anything except captain of his own ship again but he needed the money. There had been talk in the Quaker Oats boardroom about Cap'n Crunch's fate. Investors and the board of directors were worried. Kids were eating healthier these days, or at least their parents were concerned about the stuff they shoveled down their throats and it seemed sugary cereals were going the way of the swashbuckling pirate. Not completely but revenues were down and the Cap'n, his royalties cut almost in half, had fallen on hard times. He couldn't even afford to pay his crew anymore and sold them as child labour to a Malaysian factory owner who made oven mitts and penis enlargers, both on the same machinery amazingly. Such is technology these days.
And then there was the Crunchberries fiasco where the Crunch Berry Beast mascot was arrested for drunk driving, illegal possession of a controlled substance (cocaine) and an unregistered handgun during a Superbowl weekend in Miami. Unfortunately the Cap'n had been in the car with him, asleep in the back seat after a long day of commercial shoots and that little episode had almost ended both their careers. And cost him a lot of moolah to boot.
So, here he was now, standing on the bridge of a ship that could pretty much run itself. He was about as useful as an albino at a sun tanning salon and they even took his Napoleon hat away, the cruise line insisting on him wearing a proper captain's hat. And where was Stubing now, he wondered. Off on some Tahitian island counting his coconuts and shtupping some native chick. Still, he shouldn't complain. If it wasn't for Stubing putting a good word in for him with the cruise ship, he would be piloting a dinghy right now, ferrying people between fishing docks for two bucks a pop. He was woken from his depressing reverie by his first officer who said, "We're getting close, sir. Shouldn't you make the announcement."
Cap'n Crunch sighed and reached for the microphone to the ship's intercom.
"Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. If you look off the starboard bow you will see we're nearing Cabo San Lucas. We will be docking in about twenty minutes. All those going ashore be aware that the ship will be in port for two hours. Please make sure you return to the ship at least fifteen minutes prior to departure. Also note that those shopping for souvenirs should try Cabo Wabo Willie's Emporium where cruise ship passengers receive a 20% discount on all merchandise. Just show your cruise ship billet and tell them Cap'n Crunch sent you. Thanks and have a wonderful time." After he clicked off the mike Cap'n Crunch turned to his first officer. "You take the bridge, Dierhorf, I'm going to my cabin."
"Aye aye, captain," Dierhorf replied. It wouldn't be long, Dierhorf imagined, before Crunch keeled over from a stroke or heart attack or aneurysm and Dierhorf would become captain. Maybe he should start poisoning Crunch's food and hasten the process. Nobody would miss him, that's for sure. All the officers laughed at him behind his back and he was depressing the passengers. And his mustache hairs were always stuck to the ship's control levers.
In his cabin Cap'n Crunch bent down to pat his mangy mutt. At least the cruise line company had let him keep his dog, as long as it didn't roam the ship. He adjusted the dog's little sailor hat on its bony head, rearranging the elastic that ran under its chin. The dog looked up at him with rheumy eyes, its forlorn expression a sympathetic sign of days gone by when together they sailed the ocean waves, were lashed to masts by pirates or made to walk the plank into the deep, dark sea but how in the end they always won over friend and foe alike with their delicious crunchy cereal treat.
"Never soggy in milk, never soggy in milk, never soggy in milk," Cap'n Crunch repeated over and over again like a soothing mantra, laying on his bed and he soon drifted off into a deep, dream-filled sleep where the clashing of sabres and the crunch of cereal between milk-coated teeth brought him an untold joy that his waking life would never ever know again.