A short story in e-book form
Reviews of Sam, the Strawb Part:
“Bury has written one of those stories that can be read by children but enjoyed by adults, thanks to its liberal doses of absurdist humor.” — author Richard Sanders on Goodreads
“Sam, the Strawb Part is a quick, fun read. I caught myself smiling numerous times throughout the light-hearted tale, because the storyline is one of those silly, upbeat ideas that will make any reader smile. I really love the protagonist, Sam, who – though he had little time to do so – gave off this humorous, fulfilling vibe that caused me to gravitate towards him. He is a loveable, funny and perplexing character who is perfect for a children’s story like this.” — Book reviewer John Hansen
“This was a beautifully written children’s book. Loved the story and can really see the children getting into it. Their imaginations are fantastic and I am sure there will be a lot of children pretending to be Sam, the Strawb Part.” — Katie Turner, Kindle Book Review
“Five stars!” — Kate Spencer, author and blogger
“Super cute and imaginative story that put a smile on my face. Kids and grownups alike would certainly appreciate it. And all proceeds go to a good charity.” — Allie Dickson, reader and reviewer
ONCE UPON A TIME, THERE WAS A VERY TALL BOY named Sam who was a strawberry pirate. Sam had a habit of talking very quickly and slurring his words without enunciating,so he described himself as “a strawb part. Aarrr.”
“Aarrr” was the only word he enunciated properly.
Sam became a strawberry pirate because he loved strawberries, or “strawbs.” One day, he he decided to hijack as many of them as he could. First, he made an eye-patch, even though he did not need one, and armed himself with a plastic cutlass. He put on a fluffy white shirt, a vest, and a belt over one shoulder and tied a bandana around his head.
For transportation, he decided on a bicycle. The trouble was, Sam was very hard on bicycles. He kept breaking them.
He looked in his garage: the bicycle that was in the best shape had two flat tires and only three working gears. Fortunately, they were the three fastest gears. He took one good tire from another bicycle (whose frame had snapped in two when he had ridden it down a bumpy, rocky, tree-strewn slope the previous summer), another tire from a child’s bicycle whose front forks and handlebars were twisted and unusable, and put them onto the best frame. He found the remains of a bicycle carrier-rack that wasn’t in horrible shape and managed to unbend it. Then he reinforced the weakest parts of the frame with coat hangers and wound duct tape wherever the resulting contraption looked weak— which was everywhere.
Finally, he duct-taped a bamboo beanpole to the carrier rack and used it to fly a skull-and-crossbones flag. He looked over his creation with pride. “I’m going to call you The Duct-Tape Pearl,” he said. “Aarrr.” Now, he was ready.
All that summer, he would hide outside grocery stores, waiting until he saw a housewife leave with a big load of fresh, juicy red strawberries. Just as she would be ready to leave, while her hatch-back was still open, he would swoop down with his rickety bicycle, clattering to a shaking halt in front of her minivan. He would lift his plastic cutlass menacingly and shout “D’sup!”
“Oh, dear!” the housewife would say, looking confused as she would take in Sam’s fluffy white shirt, vest, belt slanting across his chest, eye-patch and bits of bandana that stuck out from under his bicycle helmet.
“Yer strawbs er y’loife,” he would demand. “Aarrr.”
“My—my what?” the housewife would invariably stammer. “What are ‘strawbs’?”
“Don’t test me patience!” Sam would bark. “Strawbs! All of them! Now!” He would brandish the cutlass and say “Aarrr” again.
“Who are you?” the housewives would always ask.
“Oim th’Strawb Part!” Sam would growl. “Aarrr.”
At this point, something happened to every housewife that Sam strawberryjacked: her maternal instincts swelled until the only thing she could think of was how thin the pirate looked. Any mother who looked at Sam would see not a pirate who was robbing her of produce intended for her family, but a thin young boy who obviously needed food more than she did. Sam the Strawberry Pirate did not provoke fear: he provoked confusion and an overwhelming desire tofeed him.
Every housewife would place the baskets of strawberries on Sam’s bicycle rack and watch in confusion and pity as he clattered into the sunset, pirate flag flapping in the breeze. Occasionally they would call after him, “Would you like some whipped cream with them?”
IN A LONG, LOW AND REMARKABLY UGLY brick building in the heart of Montreal’s food district, the Directors of the East Canada Fruit Company gathered to discuss the problem of the Strawberry Pirate of Ottawa.
“Three grocery stores have cancelled their orders this month. They’re buying their strawberries and other fruit from local suppliers. It’s affecting our plans to take over the entire world supply of fruit,” said the Junior Director, a thin young man who already looked old, with thinning hair stretched over a high forehead and worried looking eyes. He wore a dark blue suit and the rose he had pinned to his lapel had died already, its once red petals now a horrible grey. His voice sounded like a flute at the bottom of a wet sewer: distant, thin and disgusting. “Not only that, he’s making our company look foolish. The newspapers love him and are calling us the ‘East Canada Fool Company.’”
“He is becoming a major problem,” said the North Middle Director, a man who so loved strawberries that he wore nothing but red: a red shirt and a red tie in a bright red suit. He did not pin a rose to his lapel, but rather a branch from a strawberry plant, which had also died and turned the same horrible shade of grey as the Junior Director’s rose.
The Senior Director was the most obese man on the planet. He wore a dark grey suit and a white shirt that bulged at all the buttons. There was not a tie in the world that could go around his neck, so he wore an open collar. He sat on three reinforced chairs at the head of the boardroom table with sweat pouring down his bloated face. Occasionally, he would pick up a piglet in his bloated hand, dip it into a vat of liquid chocolate that always stood beside him, and then pop the whole piglet into his mouth. He said nothing as he listened to his subordinates argue about the Strawberry Pirate of Ottawa. He just ate chocolate-covered piglet after chocolate-covered piglet while he sweated, even though the air conditioning was on so strong in the boardroom that all the other directors were shivering in their three-piece suits.
“I have developed a plan to eliminate the pirate,” said the South Middle Director. He wore the most beautiful, pearl-grey silk suit in the world, and he was so short that he sat on four telephone directories just to see the top of the table. On his finger was a gold ring with a very tasteful blue diamond; with his other hand, he sipped the most expensive tea in the world. He held his tiny pinkie finger up as he sipped and did not make a sound as he did so. He put the teacup down on its matching china saucer, dabbed his mouth delicately with a silk handkerchief and cleared his throat. All the while, he knew the others were waiting anxiously for him to tell them his plan. He loved to make them wait. He knew how their hearts pounded and their mouths got dry just thinking about how much smarter he was than the rest of them put together.
“Well?” demanded the Senior Director after he swallowed a piglet.
“I have found the world’s foremost pirate-killer,” the South Middle Director answered after draining his tea. “He is a former Commodore of the Royal Navy, and is renowned for clearing the Caribbean Sea of pirates.”
“I thought the pirates of the Caribbean were wiped out in the seventeen-hundreds,” whined the Junior Director.
“Yes. Commodore Swinkill was the one who not only developed the plan to eliminate them, he also killed the Pirate King. Now that he has retired, he does freelance work.”
“You’re saying you hired the same man?” burbled the North Middle Director, his face flushing as brightly as his suit.
“Yes. Commodore Swinkill is over five hundred years old.”
“Hire him,” said the Senior Director. “Then order me some waffles.”
COMMODORE SWINKILL DID NOT LOOK his full five hundred thirty-seven years; the ladies said he didn’t look a day over four hundred. The Junior Director, who was also in charge of accounting for the East Canada Fruit Company, thought they were being generous.
The Commodore was the tallest and the thinnest man that the Junior Director had ever seen. He was more than seven feet tall and weighed, the Junior Director guessed, about forty pounds. The Junior Director could see the bones in the sailor’s face, every bump in his trachea and the precise contours of his knuckles under his paper skin. He had exactly four hairs, long and grey and evenly spaced around his head and hanging down to his belt. His legs were long and skinny enough to be used as a belt. He had one tooth left in his mouth, and it was a deep yellow and chipped. But he wore a perfect Royal Navy uniform: a blue jacket with brass buttons and so many stripes on the sleeves, they went all the way up to his shoulders. His white pants had a crease so sharp it whistled with every step he took.
“I am told you can catch the Strawberry Pirate of Kanata,” whined the Junior Director.
“Aye,” replied the Commodore in a voice so raspy that the dead rose fell off the Junior Director’s lapel. “All I need is a boat. A sailboat, mind ye. I don’t hold with these new-fangled motor-boats with their oil and their screws. Give me wind! Give me the open seas!” He wheezed between sentences.
“But the Strawberry Pirate—” the Junior Director protested.
“Sail!” barked the Commodore. “Sail, I tells ye! Wind!” He started coughing, doubling over and spraying spit all over the Junior Director’s pants.
“Very well!” said the Junior Director, trying desperately to mop up his pants with a tissue. “Here’s a cheque to hire a sailboat!”
“A cheque!” wheezed the Commodore. “None of yer funny paper money! I wants gold coin of the realm!”
The Junior Director tried to explain that no one used gold coins anymore, and then he tried to promise to hire the sailboat himself, but the Commodore alternated between coughing and threatening the Junior Director all day long. Finally, the Junior Director managed to use his cell phone to get one of his assistants to find an antiques dealer who could sell them some gold coins (in exchange for a cheque). During one of the Commodore’s coughing fits, the assistant rushed into the Junior Director’s office with a bag of gold coins, then ran out again. The Commodore finally left with the gold coins, heading for the harbour to rent a sailboat.
Once he was alone again in his office, the Junior Director slumped in his thickly padded leather chair and heaved a sigh as deep as the upholstery. Then he picked up the phone and arranged for a truck and trailer to transport the Commodore’s boat to Ottawa.
“Sam, the Strawb Part” is available in full from Smashwords, Amazon and iBooks/iTunes for just $1.99. All proceeds will be donated to Children at Risk, a registered charity that supports families of children with autism-spectrum disorders.