He sat quietly along the aft rail of the mighty ship – he was scared – his mind racing as he sized up his dire situation.  The pirates that had raided his village were busy loading the last of their loot on the ship.  Soon, they would hoist their sails and he would be condemned to a life of servitude to this unsavory bunch of thieves.

Most of the villagers had grabbed what they could carry and had escaped to the woods when they realized that the men coming ashore in the rowboats were not going to be welcomed guests.  His mom had gathered a few meager items, too.  In no time, they were heading out with the others to hide until the danger passed.  Just as he got to the edge of the woods, he remembered his dad’s gold watch.  It was all he had left to remember him – he could not let it fall into the hands of the devil’s children.  He told his mom to go on, he would be right with her and raced back to their house.

It only took him a minute to get the watch, shove it in his pocket, and head for the door. But it was too late.  The biggest man he had ever seen was blocking the door and grabbed him.  The beast dragged him outside and was about to kill him when the voice sounded.

“Don’t kill the boy.  I need a cabin servant.  Take him back to the ship.”

It was the pirate captain.  With obvious displeasure, the monster obeyed the command. So, here he was – trying desperately to find a way to get off this ship before they were too far out to sea.

He watched each of the men as they moved – how they gloated over the silver and gold items they had taken from the abandon homes.  The evil that filled their faces when they talked about a poor soul who had not escaped in time and was killed without a second thought.  This was not going to be his fate – he would rather die than live this life.

Then he heard the command from the captain to set sails and slowly, the mighty fortress was turned to face the open waters.  Now, he would make his move.  He reached into his pocket, stood up, and yelled, “Fools, you did not search me.  So, who wants my gold watch?”

He threw his father’s watch as high as he could.  Every eye followed the shiny gold orb as it reached the apex of its arch and began to descend to a gaggle of greedy hands extended wildly into the air.  No one noticed the young boy as he dove over the rail and began to swim toward shore.  He was grateful that his father had left him two treasures – the watch that allowed him to escape and the ability to swim with great strength.

He was exhausted as he was about to stagger ashore.  He had done it – he was safe – now he needed to find his mom.  Just then he heard a familiar voice.

“Timmy – time for lunch!  Leave your boat in the wading pool and come wash up.”


Len Bernat
Len Bernat
LEN is a leader groomed by 20 years of molding and shaping by some of the finest leaders in the United States Marine Corps. Their guidance helped Len realize his full potential as he moved from an enlisted Marine to becoming an Officer of Marines. Len became known for being the leader who could turn any lackluster organization into a strong, functional unit. Upon his retirement, Len worked in several positions before finally starting a second career in governmental procurement. His experience and leadership skills enabled him to be recognized as the 2011 Governmental Procurement Officer of the Year for the Governmental Procurement Association of Georgia and opened doors for him to teach at many of the association’s conferences. Len was also called to the ministry and was ordained at Ashford Memorial Methodist Church in November of 1999. Today, Len is the Pastor of Maxeys Christian Church in Maxeys, Georgia. Len has been married to his wife, Hazel, for 36 years and they have three daughters, three grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. Grab your copy of Len's new Book – Leadership Matters | Advice From A Career USMC Officer. Using his life experiences as examples, Len takes the eleven principles of leadership and the fourteen traits every leader should possess—which he learned during twenty years in the Marine Corps—and teaches the reader how he was molded and shaped by some of the best leaders the Corps had to offer.

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  1. Here you go again, the Master Story-teller, in your inimitable style; Thank you, Len Sir! The emotional roller-coaster that created anxiety about the fate of the subject, the respect he displays for his father’s gifts, the options that demanded quick-wit, and of course, the decision to barter away the treasured possession for the sake of dear life, WoW! The best part came in the form of a twist. It is always a pleasure reading your mesmerizing stories that bring the reader into live action. In my mind, you, Dear Len Sir, are a living proof of Excellence in life and blood.

    Thanks once again, With Warm Regards, and A Prayer For All

    • Bharat – Thank you for you kind words of encouragement. This is one of my favorite stories that came out of Larry’s Engage Cafe story telling Tuesdays. I hope you are well and that your family has stayed healthy.