Cheeseburger Brown CHEESEBURGER BROWN: Novelist & Story-wallah
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The Stars are Wonder
A short story from Chester Burton 'Cheeseburger' Brown
CHAPTERS 1|2|3|4|5|6|7|8|9|10|11
The Stars are Wonder, a short story by Cheeseburger Brown, illustration by Matthew Hemming

Yo Ho Ho

The sea heaves and so do I.

It is much clearer to me now than it was three weeks ago why the life of the ocean-going man is shrouded in such a thick funk of romance. It is also clearer to me now how this reward is meant to punish me, and how I really lost what battles I had believed I won.

I'm a fool.

Let me tell you how I dreamed: proud tallships with billowing sails cared after by sturdy men adventure-bent, overseen by a shrewd and fearless captain-king surrounded by curvaceous mathematicians with flaxen hair and heaving bosoms.

(Back to the heaving...excuse me while I yell something horrible into the wind, punctuated with bile.)

I dreamed that being sent to sea on a mission of noble exploration was an expression of the prince's forgiveness for the entire nasty business between his cousin and me. The prince had assured me that it was all water under the bridge when he saw me to the wharf. I was so excited. He too seemed keen.

I spotted Captain Stay as I strode up the gangway and he was every bit the picture of a noble commander until I came close enough to appreciate the smell. It would be the first in a series of sobering discoveries about the true nature of life at sea.

It can be summarized thus: hard black bread in the company of the worst kinds of people who are all in an ill-temper and soaked and miserable from the rain or the spray or the dew, the tedium broken for me only by thirst and cramps and the urge to vomit or die.

The mathematicians are not curvaceous. They are half-starved waifs on chains. They steal furtive glances at the menfolk as they comfort each other and rock or hum over their figures, plotting our place within the world.

At night they give each other maidenlove, and I admit that overhearing this gives me wood.

Go Forward

CHEESEBURGER BROWN: Novelist & Story-wallah Cheeseburger Brown
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