Typewriter in the Sky
FICTION / Fantasy / Historical
It's not easy living in someone else's world, trapped in a reality over which you have no control. But that is the story of Mike de Wolf's life … literally.
The whole thing started at his friend Horace's Greenwich Village apartment. Horace is a writer and he's decided to model one of his villains after Mike. Sounds crazy … until Mike reaches to turn on a light and gets the shock of his life.
Knocked unconscious, Mike wakes up to find himself tossing in a violent ocean surf and getting slammed against the rocks. That wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for the bullets flying over his head, followed by the swordfight, certain to end in death … if not for the wild, beautiful woman on horseback who comes to his rescue.
This isn't the West Village anymore. Apparently it's the West Indies, some three hundred years ago, and Mike de Wolf is now Miguel Saint Raoul de Lobo, pursued across the Spanish Main by pirates, Englishman, and worse.
He doesn't know how he got here or why, but he does know he has to get out fast. Two problems: first off, the bad guys in Horace's stories never get out alive, and second, Mike's not all that sure he wants to leave after all. Seems he's fallen for that wild woman on horseback… What's a guy to do?
The answer's written in the sky—in a wildly original, wickedly amusing novel in which, if you're not careful, you might just find yourself getting lost.
"An adventure story written in the great style adventures should be written in." —Clive Cussler
Typewriter in the Sky Glossary
Alto!: (Spanish) Stop!
ambuscade: the act of concealing yourself and lying in wait to attack by surprise.
Anthony Adverse: a historical adventure novel written by American author Hervey Allen (1889–1949) and first published in 1933. The story follows the globe-trotting adventures of the title character, the illegitimate son of a nobleman’s wife, and how his character is forged by adversity.
Armada: Spanish Armada; the fleet sent against England by Philip II of Spain in 1588. It was defeated by the English navy and later dispersed and wrecked by storms.
auto-da-fé: the public declaration of judgments passed on persons tried in the courts of the Spanish Inquisition, followed by execution by civil authorities of the sentences imposed, especially the burning of condemned heretics at the stake. From Portuguese, literally “act of the faith.”
basilisk: a very heavy bronze cannon employed during the Middle Ages. The barrel could weigh up to 4,000 pounds (1,800 kg) and have a caliber of up to 5 inches (13 cm).
bastinado: a stick or cudgel.
blackguard: a low, contemptible person; scoundrel.
bowsprit: a spar projecting from the upper end of the bow of a sailing vessel, for holding and supporting a sail.
bravo: a daring villain; a bandit; one who sets law at defiance; a professional assassin or murderer.
Brethren of the Coast: a loose coalition of pirates or privateers, commonly known as buccaneers, who were active in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico. Based primarily on the island of Tortuga off the coast of Haiti, the Brethren were governed by codes of conduct that favored legislative decision-making, hierarchical command authority, individual rights and equitable division of revenues.
breeching: a strong rope fastened to a ship’s side for securing a gun or checking its recoil.
brigand: one who lives by plunder; a bandit.
Brimstone Hill: fortress constructed intermittently between the 1690s and 1790s, it was designed by British engineers and is situated on thirty-eight acres of land on the upper slopes of an 800-foot mountain. In its heyday, the fort was known as “The Gibraltar of the West Indies,” in reference to its imposing height and seeming invulnerability.
brindle: a coat coloring in animals, particularly dogs, cats, cattle and rarely horses. It is sometimes described as “tiger striped,” though more subtle than that of a tiger’s coat. The streaks of color are often gray or brown and are usually darker than the base coat and can be a pattern or a patchy coloring.
broadside: all the guns that can be fired from one side of a warship.
buccaneer: from the French word “boucanier.” Boucaniers originally were French hunters in the Caribbean who were poaching cattle and pigs and would smoke the meat on wooden frames called “boucans” so that it could be saved for a later time. Conflict with Spanish forces drove them off the islands and forced them into piracy against the Spanish. The term “buccaneer” was adapted by English settlers, meaning rebel pirates sailing in the Caribbean ports and seas.
Buck’n’h’m: George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham (1592–1628), was the favorite of King James I of England and one of the most rewarded royal courtiers in all history. In 1623 he went to Spain with Prince Charles to negotiate the wedding between the prince and the Infanta Maria of Spain. There his arrogance contributed to the final breakdown of the long-deadlocked marriage negotiations. His behavior so offended the Spanish that the Spanish ambassador asked Parliament to have Buckingham executed; however, upon his return to England Buckingham gained popularity by calling for war with Spain.
buckler: a small round shield, nine to eighteen inches in diameter, usually held in a fist grip and used to deflect or punch at blows and thrusts. The edge could also be used to strike or block.
bucko: a person who is domineering and bullying.
cacique: an Indian chief, especially in the Spanish West Indies and other parts of Latin America during colonial and postcolonial times.
cannon royal: largest class of cannon, typically 12 feet in length, weighing 8,000 pounds and capable of firing a 63-pound shot a distance of 1,850 paces.
Caribs: members of an American Indian people of northeastern South America, the eastern coast of Central America and the group of islands in the southeastern West Indies. The Caribs were skilled in boatbuilding and sailing, as well as in the art of war. Instances of cannibalism were noted as a feature of religious war rituals, and the English word cannibal originated from the Carib word karibna which means “person.”
carriage: a wheeled support or frame for carrying a heavy object, such as a cannon.
Cartagena: a seaport in northern Colombia.
Castile and León: the territory of the ancient kingdom of León and the northern half of the old kingdom of Castile. Known formally as the Autonomous Community of Castile and León, it is one of the seventeen autonomous communities of Spain, and the largest. Castile and León is divided into nine provinces.
cat: cat-o’-nine-tails; a whip, usually having nine knotted lines or cords fastened to a handle, used for flogging.
chain shot: cannon shot consisting of two balls or half balls connected by a short chain, formerly used in naval artillery to destroy the masts and sails of enemy ships.
CIO: Congress of Industrial Organizations, a federation of affiliated industrial labor unions, founded in 1935 within the American Federation of Labor but independent of it from 1938–1955.
Drake: Sir Francis Drake (1545–1596); British admiral, explorer and privateer. He was the first Englishman to circumnavigate the globe. A naval war hero, his legendary defeat of the Spanish Armada off the southern coast of England in 1588 was the turning point for England’s rise to naval power. The Spanish referred to Drake as a pirate and nicknamed him The Dragon.
Erin: ancient name of Ireland.
flambeau: a flaming torch.
fo’c’s’le: forecastle; the upper deck of a sailing ship, forward of the foremast.
forsooth: in truth; in fact; indeed.
fowling piece: shotgun or scatter-gun; useful primarily for hunting birds and other small game.
Gog: replacement for the word God when swearing.
gunwale: the upper edge of the side of a boat. Originally a gunwale was a platform where guns were mounted, and was designed to accommodate the additional stresses imposed by the artillery being used.
Iron Maiden: a medieval instrument of torture fashioned as a box in the shape of a woman, large enough to hold a human being, and studded with sharp spikes on the inside.
Isthmus: Isthmus of Panama; a narrow strip of land that lies between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, linking North and South America.
Knight of the Golden Fleece: a military order or knighthood, instituted in 1429. It took its name from a representation of the golden fleece on the collar of the order. The king of Spain is Grand Master.
lanthorns: lanterns, as lanterns formerly had sides made of translucent sheets of horn.
la puerta: (Spanish) the door.
lateen: a triangular fore-and-aft sail used especially in the Mediterranean.
Leeward Islands: the northern islands of the Lesser Antilles chain of islands, part of the West Indies. They are situated where the Caribbean Sea meets the western Atlantic Ocean.
linstock: a stick about three feet (one meter) long with a point on one end to stick into the ground, and a forked head on the other end to hold a lighted match, formerly used to fire cannons.
luffing: term used to describe the flapping of a sail in the wind. Luffing generally occurs if a sail is too far out relative to the wind. If a sail is too far out, it will wave like a flag and is said to be “luffing.” Luffing your sails will slow the ship’s speed as it increases drag and decreases the performance of the sails. If the sail is trimmed properly, it will not flutter at all.
luff to leech: on a triangular or trapezoidal sail, the luff is that vertical portion of the sail that is nearest the mast, and the leech is the vertical portion farthest away from the mast. The full width of the sail would be from luff to leech.
Maroons: runaway slaves in the West Indies in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
merchant prince: an extremely wealthy, powerful and prestigious merchant.
mill: a typewriter.
Mona Passage: a strait between Puerto Rico and Hispaniola, connecting the northern Atlantic Ocean with the Caribbean Sea. The eighty-mile stretch between the two islands is one of the most difficult passages encountered in the Caribbean. It is fraught with tidal currents of strange twists and turns that are created by those two big islands on both sides of it, and by sand banks that extend out for many miles from both coasts.
Nombre de Dios: a city on the Caribbean Sea coast of Panama, approximately sixty miles (ninety-seven kilometers) north of Panama City. It was founded as a Spanish colony in 1510 and was one of the first European settlements on the Isthmus of Panama. The name means “Name of God” in Spanish.
Nubian: a native of Nubia, a desert region and ancient kingdom (2000 BC–1400 AD) in the Nile River valley of southern Egypt and northern Sudan.
oddsbodikins: a euphemistic form of “God’s body,” used as a mild oath.
pannier: a large wicker basket, especially one of a pair of baskets carried on the shoulders of a person or on either side of a pack animal.
pinnace: a small seventeenth-century ship having two or three masts and a flat stern, used as a warship, merchant ship or an auxiliary ship employed to attend one or more other ships, as for supplying provisions.
plate fleet: Spanish treasure fleet; along with gold, silver, gems and other trade goods, the ships were filled with rare Chinese porcelain tableware, hence the name “plate fleet.”
Plot Genie: a device formulated by Wycliffe A. Hill and published in 1931 to formulate a plot in minutes. According to Hill, the system “is the result of sixteen years of effort to perfect a formula, and a means of its application which would enable student writers to inject plots into their stories.” The system consisted of a cardboard wheel sandwiched between two cardboard sheets. By turning the wheel and looking through a slit, the writer would get random selections for the locale, main character, love interest, a problem, obstacle to love, complication, predicament, the crisis and the climax, with which to formulate the framework for the plot within five minutes.
point: a point is 11.25 degrees on a compass.
quoin: a wedge-shaped piece of wood, stone or other material, used for any of various purposes.
raise ole Harry: to raise the devil; to make trouble. From Ole (Old) Harry, meaning “the devil.”
round ship: a merchant ship, built for cargo capacity rather than for speed. Round ships were wide, high-sided vessels that were rigged with sails and depended mainly on wind for its propulsion.
Saint George, cross of: red cross on a white field used on the flag of Great Britain.
scupper: an opening in the side of a ship at deck level which allows water to run off.
serpentine: a cannon having any of various bore sizes, used from the fifteenth to the seventeenth century.
siphon: siphon bottle; soda siphon. Bottle for holding soda water, which is driven out through a bent tube in the neck by the gas within the bottle when a valve in the tube is opened.
Spanish Main: the mainland coast of the Spanish Empire around the Caribbean. It included Mexico, Central America and the northwest coast of South America. From the sixteenth to the eighteenth century, the Spanish Main was the point of departure for enormous wealth in the form of gold, silver, gems, spices, hardwoods, hides and other riches which made it a haunt of pirates and privateers and gave the name a notorious and romantic allure.
spars: strong poles, especially those used as masts to hold the sails on ships.
Steenie: nickname given to George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham (1592–1628) by King James I of England. The name comes from the first martyr, Stephen, whose face at martyrdom was described in the New Testament as “the face of an angel.”
Steinway: Steinway & Sons, a piano maker, founded in 1853 in New York City. It is known as one the world’s premier manufacturers of high-quality pianos.
Stetson: as the most popular broad-brimmed hat in the West, it became the generic name for “hat”; John B. Stetson was a master hatmaker and founder of the company which has been making Stetsons since 1865.
t’ps’ls: topsail; the second sail in ascending order from the deck. Sometimes this sail was divided in two, a lower and upper topsail. Initially small, the topsail gradually increased in size and importance and by the middle of the seventeenth century, they were the principal and largest sails on the ship and were the first to be set and the last to be taken in.
tatterdemalion: a person in tattered clothing; a shabby person.
Tortuga: a Caribbean island that forms part of Haiti, off the northwest coast of Hispaniola. The island was discovered in 1493 during the first voyage of Christopher Columbus into the New World. Columbus’ sailors called it Tortuga because its humped shape resembled a turtle. Both French and English pirates colonized Tortuga and though they were allied together against Spain, there were constant conflicts and dissension on the island between themselves. In 1635, the Spanish took advantage of the situation and attacked the island. In the battle that ensued, the Spaniards killed most of the men and converted the women into slaves.
’twixt: betwixt; between.
Van Dyck: Sir Anthony Van Dyck (1599–1641), Flemish painter whose numerous portraits, including many of the English court, are remarkable for their dignity and gentle emotion.
varlet: a deceitful and unreliable scoundrel.
Warner, Sir Thomas: (1580–1649), British explorer and captain. He is famous for settling on Saint Kitts, the first British island in the Caribbean in 1624. He was made Governor of Saint Kitts, Nevis, Barbardos and Montserrat in 1625 and died on the Island of Saint Kitts in 1649.
wear ship: to turn the ship away from the wind. All the rigging turns and rubs during this maneuver, causing the gear to wear.
wench: young woman or girl; at times it was used chiefly as a term of endearment in addressing a daughter, wife or sweetheart.
wind aquarter: wind blowing on the quarter (general area from the middle of a vessel to the extreme stern) which was a favorable wind for sailing.
yardhaul: a form of naval punishment in which the culprit was hoisted to the yardarm (either end of a long, slender beam or pole that supports a sail), suddenly dropped, and hauled up again from one to seven times.
yellow jack: yellow fever; an infectious tropical disease transmitted by mosquitoes and characterized by high fever, jaundice and often intestinal bleeding.