Black-beard in the springtime crushed roses in his teeth for hard luck on enemies through the year. His memoir indicated this idea came from vagrants on the way to Mendocino from coastal B.C. in the 1970s, whose profession—wild leather—had brought them around. The pair were too open about distinctly confused Indic beliefs and a warlike approach to their craft. This clashed with locals, and did not lead to success. The cows were safe but in time some things drug into the stocky and greyed man’s brain. Black-beard’s disposition lent him little during purchases of cattle supplies in town, every time arriving darkened at feed shops, let alone the big annual market offing, his reputation starting unpopular and continuing unshaken from its pit 25 years later. In summer 1988 he burned his entire farm down claiming betrayal by a vague mistress, stole an acquaintance’s boat and launched off the Eureka coastline as a pirate. He felt unusual and troubled in town and this did not pass on the water. Like dry business piracy is difficult to undertake crewless.

Modern cargo shipping has natural crime resistance outside the dangerous areas of the world with the impermeable shells of its massive freighters, and seabound sightings of crown luxury appropriate for looting are uncommon on the northern Pacific coast even today. Small-time yachtsmen generally do not carry precious assets on short day trips out of local yacht clubs, except maybe a few rare bottles of spirits or sparkling wine.

Black-beard’s rule was arbitrary. Intuition only gets people so far and should often fail. He dredged old destinations from stories and days past to chart his new life. Sometimes picking up much younger people, unsure if they were mates or passengers, receiving their suspicions toward his way of being with cracks in his disciplined performance, he started to fade. They looked at him chewing something at the stern.

Less and less was heard about the local legend, maybe more an anecdote, until one day young people at the shore encountered a small beached craft broken opposite large rocks, carrying a peaceful, sunken seafaring man smiling at the low sky. His hand closed around wiry saltgrass like a bouquet and he passed from life satisfied. A group of local Californians gathered for Black-beard’s wake. Some even drove from areas of Oregon to attend. No one arrived from as far north as Portland, but Black-beard the saved sea criminal had apparently held a small sway in agricultural pocket suburbs up the coast in the later 20th century.

Flaunt magazine