Treasure Trail

an excerpt



Chapter One

"Avast, ye landlubbers, we have reached our next destination. Step up and pay attention to this fine establishment we're gracing with our presence. Once you learn a bit of history, you can step up and get a pint of brew. This is one of the oldest brewpubs in St. Augustine and full of lore from the golden age of piracy. Ah, how I long for those days sailing on the high seas under clear blue skies looking for a fine Spanish galleons full of silver and prime for my crew to capture and plunder," a pirate captain called out through the popular bar. With ease, he lifted his voice to carry over the crowd. "This here be one of me favorite places to lift a frosty pint of brew or a bottle of rum, depending on the day I be having. The pub's crew brews a couple of their favorite types right here on the spot." The captain waved his gloved hand around the bar. "Welcome one and all to Matey's Tavern."

After wringing out the towel and wiping down the length of the battered mahogany bar, Derick Keyes lifted his gaze to watch the six-foot-plus captain entertain his latest tour group following the Pirate Pub Crawl, where they visited at least six different taverns with a history of piracy according to St. Augustine lore.

The commanding and entertaining aura suited his favorite pirate captain tour guide, Christopher Easton. It attracted everyone's attention -- male and female. Even those visitors not part of the tour stopped their conversations to watch the captain at work. Folks even leaned out around the edges of the deep-set booths to catch a glimpse of the fine frame and well-curved booty filling out those tight pants.

One of the older buildings in St. Augustine, Matey's Tavern had always been a part of the historical town, and Derick loved owning and managing it. Starting as a busser when he was seventeen, he'd risen through the ranks until he purchased the tavern from the previous owner.

"This gentleman behind the bar is her owner, Derick Keyes. How ye be doing, Cap'n? How's the wind these days?" Captain Chris called out as he pulled the tricorn leather hat from his head and offered him an elegant bow.

"Greetings to you, Captain Easton. The wind blows strong from the southeast. Sails are full. A fine day for a sail. Even better for a frosty pint of brew." Derick tipped his head in greeting toward the tour group. Though the greetings were the same, Chris changed things up between tours to keep it fresh and fun.

Captain Chris dressed in the finest of pirate's garb, copying his favorite pirate, Captain Jack Sparrow, but added touches of realism from history. His dark hair fashioned into long dreadlocks flowing past his shoulders, decorated with rings of gold and silver and beads. A blue scarf wrapped around his forehead and hair to keep the dreads away from his face. He wore the customary white cotton shirt with the large poet's style sleeves, opened halfway down his chest, and a blue velvet waistcoat. Another blue patterned scarf was tied around his slim waist, with the tails hanging down one thigh, and a magnificent silver-buckled belt was secured on top to hold his cutlass and pistols. His long legs covered in dark brown leather pants that fit like a dream. The knee-high leather boots had wide folded tops. Today he'd chosen a knee-length lightweight leather coat to complete the outfit. His bright sea-blue eyes rimmed with black liner and mascara to darken and thicken his lush lashes. Luckily, he didn't bother with one of those eyepatches to take away the power of his blue eyes. A trim mustache and goatee completed his captain persona and fit in well with his surroundings.

"This here bar always makes me feel right at home. A true pirate's bar and hangout, complete with the finest of grog available. Savvy," Chris said when he returned his attention to his crew. "Do have a look around at your leisure."

Derick smiled at the compliments and glanced around his tavern. Though he didn't change much when he took over the management, he did add new bits and ends over the years. The iron cannons tucked into spots with brass monkeys holding cannon balls, mixed in with stacks of aged barrels, rigging and ropes coiled in piles, and a massive anchor fashioned from an actual wreck dominated a corner. Lighted display boxes held all types of items, from old-style pistols, gleaming cutlasses and swords, to a tattered captain's log with a feathered pen and ink pot, and navigation equipment. Columns altered into masts covered with more rigging, ropes, sails, and flags. Two pairs of French doors opened onto the bright patio where the decoration continued around the walled-in area filled with tables. A ship's bow with a gorgeous, carved, angelic figurehead dominated the corner and protected the small stage where entertainers played live music from Thursday to Sunday, during the afternoons and evenings. Music poured out onto the cobbled streets, competed with other bars, and often drew in even more patrons throughout the night.

"How are ye faring this fine day, Cap'n?" Derick asked.

"The sun brightens whenever I get the chance to set foot within this establishment. I hear a jaunty tune playing outdoors," Chris said. He tilted his head toward the French doors to listen to the music.

"'Tis a local duo I discovered. It's their first weekend to play on the stage. Sounds like the crowd appreciates their music. Keeping us busy this fine afternoon."

"Ahh, the jaunty tunes are excellent. A good way to kick up your feet and listen while the sun sets over the ocean. Savvy," Chris said to his crew. He turned and pointed his hat at Derick. "What does your brewer have on tap? I wish a pint of Matey's favorite for my latest crew. They be a thirsty lot."

"We have our popular dark ale with a touch of rum. Tortuga Dark."

"Excellent choice. Pints of grog for all." Chris pulled out a small leather pouch and tossed it on the bar. It clinked with the sound of doubloons.

Derick picked up the pouch and bounced it a couple of times to assess the weight on his palm. Again, it was all part of the show they helped create for the pub crawl crew. "Best not be short a doubloon. Equal share of the plunder."

"On a captain's honor, there's not one doubloon short. Savvy," Chris said with a waggle of his eyebrows and a wink to his chuckling crew.

"Savvy. Please take the helm, Cap'n. I'll send the lasses over with the frosty brews." Derick gestured toward the renovated area he'd created for the tour groups. The renovations included a replica quarterdeck built with a helm, tiller, and carved gunwale surrounding it. Chris could stand up there while he entertained his latest crew. Multiple booths and pub tables gathered around the deck where the tour group could enjoy their pint and listen to Chris.

"Aye, I have a long sail ahead of me."

"Understood, Cap'n."

"Thank ye for the hospitality," Chris said when he climbed the stairs to the raised deck to take his place by the helm and front railing section. He dropped his hat on the rail to let it rest. Then he took hold of a spoke and spun the massive wheel. "Who has the correct heading for this tale?"

"Oh wow, look at that, Herb. It's a real wheel like in the movies," one woman said when she elbowed her husband's gut.

"'Tis called the helm, dear lady, when you're upon a pirate's ship," Chris said.

The lady giggled under Chris's attention.

"Twenty degrees starboard, Captain," someone called out while others laughed. "Toward Pirate's Cove."

"Aye, a good place to make berth for our tale. What a tale I have for this stop." Chris stood tall next to the wheel, as if ready to sail off into the sunset.

The rest of the group chattered and gossiped when they caught sight of the designated area. They settled amongst the polished oak tables with the rich velvet and leather seats to listen to more of the captain's tall tales about the golden age of piracy.

Chris rested one boot on the lower rung of the railing and his arm around a spoke on the helm. He balanced the wooden wheel, so it didn't spin and throw him off-balance. He continued to hold the attention of his crew.

Derick counted the heads and started pulling out chilled pint glasses to line up on the bar top.

"Once again, Captain Chris is in excellent form," his manager and bartender, Kari, said when she stepped out from the back and chuckled while she started to fill the frosty glasses with the dark ale. It was one of Matey's six craft brews they rotated in their microbrewery operation. She made sure to top each one with a rich froth.

"He's never off. Not one day or one tour. He treats every tour as a first for him and deserves his best work," Derick said while he concentrated on his work and not the gorgeous pirate.

"How do you know that if you never talk to him?"

Derick glanced over at Kari. She and the other bartender, Sarah, wore their best serving-wench costumes for the tours. Sarah moved around the other side of the tavern to take care of the other customers.

"Well?"

Derick didn't answer right away due to personal reasons. "Since I started to work behind the bar, I've watched him work a crowd. I picked up a few things over the years."

"Boss, you need to talk to him. Tell him how you feel," Kari said when she elbowed his side to nudge him along. "This shy nonsense needs to stop."

"He's way out of my league, Kari. Look at him. He's gorgeous and I'm--" Derick waved a hand over his five-foot-nine slim frame tucked under a T-shirt with the tavern's logo and black jeans. Sure, he knew the jeans hugged his bubble ass to perfection. The black leather boots he'd chosen for the day helped emphasize his lean legs. He outlined his understated hazel-green eyes in liner for a bit of punch. He didn't bother with his cropped brown hair except for a product to give the layers definition and style. Otherwise, he left it alone. Still, his appearance was nothing compared to the glorious captain.

"Oh, don't start that up again. You're perfect as you are, even more with the hot eyeliner." Kari gathered glasses on a tray. "Go for it. Put the plan in motion. The gathering begins next week."

Derick waved Sarah over to help with the tour and said, "I'm thinking about it. There are other reasons." He paused to make sure Kari got his meaning. "Private reasons I don't want to share."

"Sometimes I don't know what to do with you," Kari said.

"Same here," Derick said. "Take the first tray and serve their drinks. I'll send Sarah with the rest."

With a sigh, Kari added a saucy tavern wench tilt to her hips. She lifted the tray to her shoulder and went over to the tour group. She flirted and joked with the captain while she served the frosty glasses to the crew.

Instead of a pint of ale, Derick filled the last glass with fresh-brewed iced tea for Chris, who preferred not to drink at every stop to maintain a professional demeanor and not forget his lines or tales. Since Chris mentioned about having ‘a long sail ahead of him', Derick knew Chris wanted iced tea instead of ale. Chris played up the taunting trickster with a slightly dubious nature concerning all morality, sobriety scales, and behavior. Derick added the glass to Sarah's tray when she returned.

"Hey there, boss. Chris has a good group this time," Sarah said.

"Hopefully, the crawl will do the marketing we need, and they'll come back to visit the tavern again. It's the reason why I signed up for this particular crawl since it fit our theme." Derick tilted the handle slightly. "That's for the captain."

"Not a problem." She walked over to serve the rest of the enthralled crew. She handed the different glass up to the captain, who took it with a gallant bow and paused in his tale to take a long sip.

"Ahh, a fine frosty brew. Thank ye, lass," Chris said. He held up his glass and offered a toast to his crew, who answered with their own pints.

While listening as Chris regaled his captive audience, Derick filled more orders and left the bar to Kari. He went to check everything outside on the patio. After exchanging words with the exterior bartender, Jim, and listening to the band, he returned to the interior area. Though it wasn't his favorite thing, he forced himself to speak with customers to make sure everything ran smoothly.

"Hello there, I'm Derick, the owner. I'm checking in to see how your chosen drink and service was today," Derick said when he stopped at a booth with an older couple.

"Oh, everything has been excellent. Even more when the pirate walked in. He's a real cutie," the woman said with a giggle. "What's happening with that group?" She pointed toward Chris and his tour.

"It's part of the St. Augustine's Pirate Pub Crawl. It's one of the historic pub crawls offered to teach visitors the history of the nation's oldest city and be treated to decent microbreweries. Is this your first visit to St. Augustine?" Derick asked.

"Yes, we're visiting from Idaho with our family. We've driven all around Florida to see the different sights. This city is our last stop before we fly home because it came highly recommended," her husband answered.

"I'm grateful you decided to visit our fair town. Where are you staying?"

"Carriage Way Bed & Breakfast," the wife said. "I wanted to stay in the historic district to get the full feel of the city."

"The front desk fella mentioned this tavern as a spot to stop in for a drink," her husband added. He lifted his second pint of Tortuga Ale and sipped from it. "This is some of the finest ale I've had in a while. Where can I get it?"

"I'll be sure to thank him for the recommendation and hope you enjoy your time here. As for the beer, we brew it here at the tavern. We have a microbrewery in the back. My brewer, Richard, creates six different types of beer to go along with the regular drinks and meals," Derick said. "I'm pleased to know you enjoy it, but I'm sorry we can't offer it outside the tavern. Due to space limits, we're not capable of brewing more bottles. Here's our card so you have a way to contact us if it ever changes." He pulled a business card from his back pocket and held it out.

"Perhaps it can change with all the craft beers getting excellent ratings and requests," the husband said when he accepted the card and tapped the edge on the table. "This is one of the better brewpubs I've visited."

"Thank you for that fine compliment, sir. I appreciate hearing it."

"What about that pirate captain? Is that Jack Sparrow? Like in the movies?" the wife asked with a wide smile.

"That's our own Captain Christopher Easton, ma'am, and he's one of the guides for the Pirate Pub Crawl. You can sign up on the St. Augustine Pub Crawl site for a walking tour and visit this pub and five others while listening to your captain recite tales and legends of St. Augustine and her pirates. Captain Chris is one of four captains, but personally, I think he's the best of the bunch."

"Hmm, I can tell that from here," she said with a giggle. "Honey, we simply must sign up for this tour. I hope we get this captain as our guide. The kids will love it and you can have more beer."

Her husband nodded with an accepting grin while he continued to enjoy his dark craft brew. He set down the glass and picked up the card. He studied both sides and looked at his wife. "We'll check into it, hon."

"Everyone who attends this tour must be over twenty-one due to the alcohol provided at each stop. Unless they specify that they're not drinking. All the information is on the website, the one listed on the back of the card," Derick said. "Enjoy the rest of your time in St. Augustine. I hope you come back and visit the tavern again." After stepping away, he greeted new customers while one of the waiters guided them to a table, providing menus and additional information.