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Drama Adventure Kids


On this sunny day, the shoreline was to the starboard as the sun began to settle over a vast expanse of water, lowering to a distant shoreline, miles to the west. The sloop’s sails were furled, and the two-masted vessel lay against the lee side of the island. She was ready for duty, with the cannons charged and the crew anxious for action. 

In the waning hours of the afternoon, Captain Benjamin watched for the Queen Anne’s Revenge to appear in the setting sun. Benjamin was the swashbuckling young captain of a real fighting ship. He was lean and tanned with a tricornered hat, a black vest, thigh-high leather boots, and a bright red sash betraying his adventurous nature. A cutlass sharp enough to split a hair hung at his side. His first mate handed him his brass spyglass so that he could better view the horizon as he awaited the sight of the pirate’s vessel. The first mate was fit, trim, and handsome in an outdoorsy manner. He had a short, full beard and long, gnarled tresses visible beneath a red headscarf. His frayed trousers ended at midcalf, displaying his muscular calves and bare feet. 

The captain felt that Edward Teach, commonly called Blackbeard, would surely be entering the protected waters of the sound to avoid the British navy and to do battle with his sworn enemy, Captain Benjamin Triplett, and his crew. The first mate, J. J., was vigilant at his 

post as they scanned the horizon for the pirate whom they knew well from numerous previous encounters.

Captain Benjamin said to his faithful crew, “I know he will come, and when he does, we’ll be ready. I can feel his treachery in my bones, and I can smell the aroma of his evil from here. I know he’s coming.”

First Mate J. J. echoed Captain Benjamin’s words. “He’s mean. I know he’s coming too!”

The captain turned to the first mate. “Be ready for action. Unlike yesterday, this time we will give no quarter, nor will we accept it if offered, for that insane pirate Blackbeard would not be honorable enough to live up to any promise of mercy.” 

The first mate repeated the captain’s message. “No quarters.”

Over the last month, the crew of the Good Ship Bogue Sound had battled the dastardly pirates on a frequent basis, almost daily. They knew that today would be the day they would get the best of the worst pirate of them all.


“Mamma says that supper’s ready, and you’d better get in here and wash your hands better than you did at lunch if you want to eat tonight.” The voice came from Kelsey, the sister of the two jaunty pirate hunters.

The spell was broken, and the Good Ship Bogue Sound instantly morphed into its original form: a discarded, leaky fishing boat that had long ago been beached on the shore of the 

sound by a forgotten storm and was too damaged and leaky for any redeeming use. She would never see open water again. Captain Benjamin’s brass spyglass returned to the paper towel roll it was manufactured to be. His captain’s attire changed into a T-shirt, shorts, and an old Atlanta Braves ball cap. 

The intrepid Captain Benjamin answered his younger sister. “Okay. We’re coming into port right now.” 

Kelsey responded, “And don’t you and J. J. track any sand into the house, or I’ll get blamed.”

Benji was a fourteen-year-old with a vivid imagination and love for the sea and the lore of North Carolina’s Outer Banks. First Mate J. J. was the four-year-old younger brother of Benjamin and Kelsey. He adored his older brother and would follow him anywhere, even to the seven seas if he weren’t only four. His headscarf that the boys had imagined to shelter long locks now covered a GI haircut. Instead of a beard, he had the soft, innocent face of a four-year-old. His uniform was his T-shirt and cutoff blue jeans. 

“Can I get ice cream for supper?” asked J. J.

“We’ll all get macaroni and cheese,” said Kelsey. “But Mr. Bowen brought over a watermelon from his garden. You’ll have to have that for dessert instead of ice cream since it was free.” Kelsey, at seven years old, dreamed of being a ballerina and was still in her dance leotard from her afternoon dance class. The introduction to ballet was paid for by a grant from 

the local YMCA. 

Their mother, Nan, was in the kitchen preparing supper when they all entered the house. “Now you boys get washed up. I know you’ve been in that nasty old boat all afternoon. I don’t know why you boys want to spend your Friday afternoons dreaming about pirates when you could be fishing or getting some real exercise. There’s plenty to do here at the house, and your dad and I could sure use some help.”

The house did need a lot of work. The Triplett family had only recently moved to this isolated barrier island of North Carolina’s Outer Banks. They had not made the move as tourists but rather out of economic necessity. 

The Triplett parents had been employed in the inland piedmont area of North Carolina and had been prospering. The father, James, had a degree in textile engineering and had been running up the corporate ladder when the plant moved its production to China. James had been unable to find another position in the textile industry, the only option his company offered was to move to a different country and train the employee who would eventually take his job for half the salary. Unemployment barely paid the bills, even with the benefit of Nan’s part-time job, So the Triplett family had moved on to plan B. 

The Tripletts had a long history in coastal North Carolina. James’s grandpa had been a commercial fisherman. He was a leather-skinned old salt who knew the toll that the sea took on a man’s health and family, so he had urged his son, James’s father, to make a life inland. James’s father had taken jobs in construction in the booming economy of the fifties in the Raleigh area.

With James’s unemployment benefits coming to an end, the family’s savings were depleted, and their house inland had been on the verge of repossession. 

Plan B was a radical move for the Tripletts. It consisted of a move back to the family’s roots in the eastern North Carolina town of Triplett’s Cove, which had thrived in the nineteenth century as a fishing community. When the commercial fishing began to decline, rich northern duck hunters had discovered the bountiful estuaries of the sounds of the Carolina coast. Grandpa Triplett hadn’t gotten along with the fancy northerners. He harbored continued deep feelings going back to the War of Northern Aggression and disliked the pretentious Yankees. He could have done better economically as a guide, but after becoming a widower, he continued the occupation of a commercial fisherman till the day he died.

His home, not much more than a boarded-up shack, had been vacant for years, but the land was unencumbered by any mortgage or lien.  The house was situated pleasantly on the Bogue Sound with a pier that had been safe to walk on about twenty years previous. The lot was shaded by ancient live oak trees and faced the only road on the island. On the opposite side of the road there was a narrow strip of sea oats and dune fronting the ocean.  Some oceanfront homes were scattered along the beach where the elevation of that narrow ribbon of land allowed building permits.  Some adventurous souls accepted the risk of building a home on the ocean edge of a barrier island.  James and Nan had made the decision to pack up the family’s possessions in a U-Haul and move to the coast. 

Benji had correctly identified their new home when he got his first view. “What a dump! 

Are we really going to live here?”

James had tried to put a good spin on the move. “It’s not too bad. Give the place a little love and some elbow grease, and we’ll be snug as a bug in a rug.”

Benji retorted, “I know what you mean, but if there are any rugs in there, I’m pretty sure they have their own bugs already.”

The family had made the move in August, and Kelsey and Benji were soon registered in school. They were good kids and were able to adapt to almost every situation. But there were concerns about the kids and their new school. Kelsey was quiet regarding her new classmates. That was not a good sign for the usually bubbly seven-year-old. 

Benji said, “They talk funny.” 

James knew what Benji meant. Known as Bankers, generations of residents of the Outer Banks of the Carolinas had been isolated until the roads improved after World War II. In the meantime, they had established their own version of language that had some similarities to Elizabethan English. James said to Benji, “So you think they talk funny. What do they say about the way you talk?”

Benji gave this some thought. “Well, they call me a prissy city boy, and sometimes I can’t even understand them.”

James tried to console the boy. “Benji, give it some time, and you’ll make friends and get along.”

Benji, the oldest and most honest of the kids, no matter how much it might hurt, replied, “I guess I have to get along since we’re here on your plan B, and I don’t think there is a plan C.”

“Benji, do this for me. Make the best of it, and try to get along for the sake of our family. I’ll make it up to you. I promise.”

.  Apparently, word had gotten out that one of the Triplett families was returning home. From the time their U-Haul had turned in the driveway, cousins and neighbors had showed up to 

help make the old Triplett shack habitable. Tripletts, cousins of Tripletts, in-laws of Tripletts, and the whole population of Triplett’s Cove (approximately one hundred) showed up to renovate the house.  

James and Nan were at a loss for words when the entire community showed up to help them make the shack a home. They wondered what would make people do this. They asked several of the community workers why they pitched in. It was so different from living in Raleigh. The answer was always the same: “This is what we do.”   

Within a week the old shack could be termed a cozy cottage. During this time, James met his cousin, Mildred Triplett Cromer. Mildred worked at the local nursing home. She was very open and honest, as most Bankers (Banker referred to a resident of the outer banks barrier islands rather than someone associated with a financial institution) were. “I heard you lost your job in Raleigh. Are you workin’ yet?”

“No, ma’am, but I’m open to anything I can do. I’ll take about any job offered.”

“If you’re anything like your pappy and your grandpa, you can do about anything you want. Do you want a job?”

“Yep, I could use a job. What do you have in mind?”

Mildred responded, “At Sailor’s Rest, we need a good facilities manager who can be an all-around fix-it man.”

“Well, my degree is in textiles, but I learned a lot from my dad. He could fix nearly anything. I would like to try.”

“Come by tomorrow, and meet our administrator. I think Sailor’s Rest could use another Triplett.”

One week later, James was donning a uniform of coveralls and doing maintenance at Sailor’s Rest. He brought home manuals for the multiple systems to learn at night, and one evening, while looking over a book of nursing home regulations that was larger than the Raleigh phone book, a curious thing happened. He realized he was beginning to like his job. It had detail-oriented manuals and machines that were not terribly different from some of the systems in a textile mill. He would never move up the management ladder. He was the entire department.

Sailor’s Rest, just a short drive from James’s cottage, had a long history in Triplett’s Cove, North Carolina. The long-term care facility had begun as a retirement home for merchant marines. Being financially well endowed, Sailor’s Rest offered rooms that were spacious and comfortable. The halls and common areas exhibited an array of expensive antiques and paintings with nautical themes that were the courtesy of a generous endowment. 

The buildings had been regularly upgraded and replaced as needed over the years. James enjoyed the work of caring for the buildings and the physical plant with such a history. He enjoyed the odd moments he spent talking with the residents. They never lacked for stories to tell. Their only limitation was that they had very few people who would listen. 


Dinner at the Triplett household was a regular family gathering. Even though the fare was not extravagant, it was substantial, and there was frequently seafood from neighbors and relatives, since the seas offered a variety of tasty additions for their meals.

Nan tried to keep the conversation going at the evening meal. In Raleigh they could call it dinner. In Triplett’s Cove, they called the evening meal supper.  They knew how difficult a transition to a new home and new friends could be. 

Tonight’s supper consisted of macaroni and cheese and fresh broiled bluefish donated by a neighbor, and it would be followed by fresh watermelon, sliced in the backyard and eaten on the back porch, with the family engaging in a seed-spitting contest that Benji would win.

James asked Benji about school.

Between gulps Benji answered in his usual teenage manner. “School’s okay. It’s kind of boring. These kids just talk about fishing and their own sports. I guess I don’t belong here.”

James knew how difficult it could be for a teenager to be uprooted, so he wouldn’t make a judgment on Benji’s attitude, at least not now. “What about the fundraiser you had that flyer for? What’s going on with that?”

Benji answered between bites. “Cans. They want us to collect cans to be sold for scrap metal to fund school projects. I’ve been collecting ours, but we don’t have many since you and Mom don’t let us drink soda. I’m going to go up and down the road tomorrow and get some from the roadside and from the neighbors. They’ll probably be happy to have me take out their trash and pick out the tin cans.”

James said, “These days I imagine that most of the cans are aluminum rather than tin, but I don’t think the scrapyard cares. Didn’t the flyer say that the cans had to be in by Monday? Do you want me to help you go around to the neighbors’ tomorrow afternoon? I’ll get home from Sailor’s Rest early tomorrow afternoon since it’s the weekend.”

“Nope. I’ll clean out the roadsides, and I’ll bet I get some big ol’ bags of cans tomorrow, and maybe you can take me over to the school. They have a trailer they want to get full and take to the scrapyard.”

“That sounds like a plan.” James would have liked to talk to Benji more, but he felt lucky he could get that many words out of his moody teenager. 

He turned back to his seven-year-old daughter, Kelsey. She was all bubbly and excited about a sleep-over night away from home. This would be her first night away from the new house.

J. J., the four-year-old, was a child who always seemed happy. James felt he needed to get in some conversation with J. J. just to keep him from feeling neglected, though he seemed content to enjoy his favorite meal. “What did you do today, Mr. J. J.?”

“I helped Ma till Benji and Kelsey got home. Then we went after that mean ol’ black man.”

“You mean you went after Blackbeard the pirate?”

“Captain Benjamin and me, we’re goin’ to get that mean ol’ Blackbeard.”

James teased his four-year-old.  “You’re taking to sea in that ol’ leaky boat to chase the infamous pirate? Blackbeard did sail these waters. I hear that the local folks let him be as long as he behaved himself around here, but I guess you guys are not as charitable.”

J. J. repeated words he had heard from Captain Benjamin: “He’s a bad dude.”

James could see that J. J. was keeping himself occupied, and his afternoons with Benji were giving Nan a chance to get some uninterrupted housework done. Things at their new home seemed to be going well.

James turned his attention back to Benji.  “Tomorrows Saturday and I’ll be home by noon.  Collect those cans in the morning and we can drop them off and perhaps we can do some fishing.

J. J. piped up.  “Maybe we can catch a big ol’ whale.”

James responded to him, “Well, maybe we can catch a blue fish that will look as big as a whale.  It may big as big as J. J.”  James had some satisfaction at how well his family was adapting, but at the same time he still felt that they were poised for a new and very different life.

September 11, 2020 19:28

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1 comment

Sam Newsome
19:46 Sep 19, 2020

The global economy uproots a family from the security of city life and plunges them back to their ancestral home on the coastal Carolina outer banks they had left two generations ago. Now the family undergoes culture shock and adapts a new value system and lifestyle while they embrace Coastal values. This is one chapter of my novel "Boy in the Treetops."


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