The Ghost Pirate is a true ghost story about an island off the coast of Louisiana that is said to be haunted by the ghost of a pirate. It is based on a supposedly true story that was collected in the book, “Gumbo Ya-Ya: A Collection of Louisiana Folktales”. A version of this tale appeared as “The Dripping Cutlass” in the book Ask The Bones. Another version appeared in “Chilling Ghost Stories” by Bernhardt J. Hurwood.
Gombi Island lies just off the coast of Louisiana, near the mouth of Bayou Caillou. People say it is haunted by a vicious and barbarous pirate who buried his treasure there. According to the legend, every night, after dark, the pirate’s ghost returns to protect his gold.
Many years ago, there was a young fisherman named Louis who had heard the legend and wondered if it was true. He didn’t believe in ghosts or spooks, but he often dreamed of becoming rich by finding the spot where the pirate buried his treasure on L’Isle de Gombi.
Late one night, Louis left his house and went down to the bayou where his small boat was moored. He rowed out to the tiny island and dragged the boat up on the beach. Looking around, he found two trees that were entwined. It looked as if it might be a likely spot for pirates to bury their treasure, so he took his shovel out of the boat and, by the light of the moon, he began to dig.
All of a sudden he heard a noise and when he turned around, he saw his boat floating away. He ran after it, dragged it back onto the shore and tied it to a tree. Then he returned to his digging.
He had barely dug two or three feet down when he heard another noise. When he looked over his shoulder, he saw a sight that almost scared him out of his wits.
Standing behind him, there were three pirates. They were soaking wet and covered in seaweed. Their faces were twisted in anger and each one was clutching a long knife, dripping with blood.
Louis was shaking with fear. He dropped his shovel, fell to his knees and began praying for his life to be spared. Then, to his surprise, as he finished the prayer, the ghosts suddenly vanished before his eyes. Louis breathed a sigh of relief and ran for his boat. He pushed it into the water and began rowing for his life.
However, he was not safe yet. When he glanced back, he saw a huge pirate sitting in his boat. The pirate had a wide belt over his coat and long earrings what shone in the moonlight like balls of fire. He was dripping wet, with seaweed tangled in his hair and shrimps crawling all over his long black beard. In one big hairy hand, he held a pistol and in the other, he was clutching a bloody cutlass.
That ghost pirate stared at Louis and Louis stared back at him. His eyes were wide, his teeth were chattering and he was shaking with fear. Louis rowed and rowed as fast as he could.
At last, when they were far from the island, the pirate stood up, let out a hideous laugh and slid over the side of the boat. Louis watched as the pirate sank beneath the surface of the water like a corpse. He went straight down and no bubbles came up after him.
When Louis got home, it was almost dawn and his wife was waiting up for him. She took one look at Louis and let out a horrified scream. She almost didn’t recognize him because his hair was snow white. Louis looked in the mirror. He hardly recognized himself.