Movie Night in the Cornfield

When I originally wrote my Pirates of the Caribbean novel (or two-hundred-page extended-joke, as I like to think of it), the second movie hadn’t even come out yet.  The characters ended up with very different lives compared to the later movies.  At the end of my story, Captain Jack Sparrow is still sailing the Black Pearl, Will and Elizabeth are married and living in Port Royal, and Commodore Norrington is still chasing Jack and his crew.

I’ve developed a tradition of going back and writing an extra chapter when each movie comes out.  I’m not trying to fit my story to the later developments–but I really enjoy having the characters, as I left them, watch the movie and comment on how things are going.  It’s that kind of story where you can do that sort of thing.

Since the fourth movie just came out a few weeks ago, I went back to the cornfield to write a new chapter in response.  If you haven’t seen Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, this is your warning that this has spoilers!  And probably won’t make any sense at all anyway.

But if you’ve seen the movie, I hope you’ll enjoy the POTC characters commenting on POTC.

*******************

It was movie night in the cornfield.  Movie nights were rare—although, considering this was a time hundreds of years before movies were invented, they were less rare than you might expect.  Every few years, the characters of the cornfield would gather to see what the latest developments were in their canon lives.  Tonight—On Stranger Tides.

“A brilliant piece of cinema,” Jack pronounced, after the movie—but not his Super-Extra-Large-Jumbo-Really-Big-size bucket of popcorn—had been finished.

“You only think that because you got to be the lead,” Will said.  He had found it all rather less engaging than previous installments.

Jack bristled with indignation.  “Got to be?  As if it was a new development?  I have always been the lead.  Always.  What we saw here wasn’t a change of lead, but a clear effort to focus in on the ones who really matter.  Separating the wheat from the chaff.”

“So that makes us chaff?” Elizabeth said, eyebrows arching in disapproval.

“But you’re attractive chaff,” Jack said with his most winning smile.  “Popcorn?” he asked, offering her a handful from his bucket.

Elizabeth looked at the state of his fingernails, and declined the popcorn.  She also declined to be charmed.

“Oh calm down, luv, no insult meant to either of you,” Jack said, with a wave of his hand that encompassed Will, Elizabeth—and came to an abrupt halt before reaching Norrington.  “You I can insult,” Jack decided.

Norrington shot him his most withering look.  “It seems abundantly obvious how very badly I was needed.  I’m barely gone and the Royal Navy falls absolutely to shambles, with notorious pirates becoming officers, ships of the line sent off on ridiculous chases involving mythical fountains—”  He broke off abruptly.  “Mr. Sparrow, do not throw popcorn at me.”

“Sorry, were you saying something?” Jack asked, bouncing a piece of popcorn off of the brim of Norrington’s hat, then tossing another up in the air and catching it on his tongue.

“I was saying that Barbossa in the Navy is an affront to all sensibilities, and probably a sign that the entire world has run mad,” Norrington snapped, then snatched off his hat to tip out the popcorn Jack had contrived to land in the crown.

“You mean you wouldn’t be amenable to welcoming me into your fine and noble service?” Barbossa drawled.  “For King and country, eh?”

Norrington clapped his hat back on his head.  “The only thing I would find more disturbing would be if Mr. Sparrow—”

“Captain,” Jack interrupted, hitting Norrington in the forehead with more popcorn.  “I keep telling you.  Captain.”

“—if Mister Sparrow decided to join the King’s Navy.”

“What a revolting idea,” Jack said, leaving off his popcorn assault as he considered this possibility.  “I’d have to follow orders.”  He gasped.  “I’d have to wear a wig!”

“You know what I found much stranger than Barbossa in the Navy?” Elizabeth said with a grin.  “Jack fell in love!”

“Woah!  No—nonono.”  Jack waved his hands in vigorous denial.  “Absolutely untrue.  There were merely stirrings.  Like…soup.  You don’t claim that soup is in love just because it’s stirred now and then.”

“How about that exchange at the end?” Elizabeth countered.  “She said she loved you, and you said…”

“As do I.  And I do.  I’ve always been very fond of me.”

Elizabeth sighed.  “You’re incorrigible.  And a cad.”

Jack grinned, gold teeth glinting.  “But lovable!”  He tossed up two pieces of popcorn and caught them both in his mouth.

“One thing I didn’t understand,” Will said, perhaps preferring to move the conversation away from Jack’s lovable-ness.  “Why zombies?  What was that about?”

“Any excuse to drag in the undead,” Barbossa said.  “I should know.”

“It made sense when you were undead,” Will said.  “But zombies?  So it was a case of ‘let’s have zombies because we can’?”

“A good reason to do anything,” Jack put in, in between tossing up and catching more popcorn.

Norrington shook his head.  “And that is the kind of thinking that lands a person on the gallows—”

“AUGH!”

Norrington blinked at Jack.  “You’re usually much more sanguine about hanging.”

“It’s not the gallows, you—butter, in my eye, ow, ow…”  Jack’s aim had been somewhat off with his most recent piece of popcorn.  “That stings, ow…”

“Oh stop being a baby,” Elizabeth said, drew out a handkerchief, and marched over to Jack.  “Hold still.”  She grasped his chin with one hand, and applied the handkerchief to his eye.

“Don’t smear the eyeliner!” Jack implored.

“Yes, yes, it’s fine.”

The eye that had been assaulted by popcorn wasn’t able to see much right at this moment, between the butter and Elizabeth’s handkerchief.  That still left Jack with vision in one eye, though, as he took full advantage of the view while Elizabeth leaned over him.

Will noticed this after about ten seconds.  “I think he’s fine,” he said abruptly, taking Elizabeth’s arm and pulling her away.

“I must remember this,” Norrington remarked.  “Why attack you with a sword?  I should obviously be using butter.”

“That would be inhumane,” Jack countered, nose stuck in the air with a superior expression.

“Don’t lecture me, Mr. Sparrow, about—”

Captain!”

“You are once again without a ship!  You have yet to hold onto a ship for the duration of a movie!”

“I have a ship,” Jack countered, neatly ignoring Norrington’s second sentence.  “She’s kinda small right now, and haunted by an evil monkey, but I have her.  And Gibbs can find me a goat.”

“Not only a goat,” Mr. Gibbs put in.  “We have an entire sack-full of ships.”

“That’s right,” Jack agreed enthusiastically.  “We have ourselves a fleet.  And you know what that means?  You can start calling me—Commodore Sparrow!”

“Truly the world has gone mad,” Norrington muttered.

“Perhaps this time I’ll let you keep the Pearl,” Barbossa said.

Let me!”

“Now that I have a better ship.”

“There are no better ships than my Pearl,” Jack said staunchly.

“The Queen Anne’s Revenge is considerably better than a six-inch long Pearl.”

Jack flapped his hands in rejection of this point.  “I just have to get her re-sized.  And of course, that means…”  He grinned, a classic Jack Sparrow grin.  “Bring on Movie #5!”

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