Jack reflects on the only real lie in his life. One-shot.
I mumble, I stagger, I have those dark circles around my eyes that make me look as if I've been into a strumpet's makeup box. I am perfectly aware of all of this. I know my coordination- or lack thereof- makes it look as if I'd drunk half my ship's stores myself. I haven't, actually, but it's a better excuse than the truth. I find that people don't believe me when I tell the truth anyway. I can never decide if it's because I'm a pirate or because it sounds so far-fetched. This is one instance where I'm happy to let people draw their own conclusions. It isn't a lie. Not really. They don't ask, I don't volunteer. It's better all around if they just think I'm drunk. If I come off as a rum-soaked fool, so much the better. The looks on their faces are that much more priceless. Only one person's ever managed to take advantage of me and for that, I salute him. He has no idea, he only thinks he can best me again, and I intend to keep it that way.
Quite a few people know the truth of my miserable secret. I think maybe three actually believe it. Two are part of my crew, the other is a blacksmith. Even out of those three, I'm only certain that one really takes the story for honest truth and not just legend. It's just as well really. Can't have people knowing how bad a fencer I really am, or that I have trouble putting walking and talking together some days. That'd leave me short indeed. I don't mind being mistakenly thought a fool. Being honestly branded a cripple, would not be endurable. I didn't try to get sunstroke, but there you have it. I haven't got any reflexes, really, so my first thought is usually how to get out of whatever unfortunate situation I may have gotten myself into without drawing sword. That's where we differ; Norrington, Barbosa and I. Their first instinct is to draw steel, to ready canons. It's such a messy tactic, really. You may call me a weasel, a manipulator, a yarn-spinner, I prefer to think of it as simply being clever. If you bother to listen, you'll find I'm not even lying. The truth is far more interesting anyway.
Maybe that's why I had so much trouble biting my tongue early on. There was no reflex except the urge to insist "I'm not drunk" with every funny look I got. I've learned to let it go, but I can't say it doesn't still bother me sometimes. It's just a matter of reminding myself before I let my tongue slip. Keeping your mouth shut can be the hardest reflex to learn, but it can be done. After a while, once you learn something well enough, it becomes a reflex too. It's the only kind I've got.
*Ataxia - Greek for "disconnected" or "uncoordinated". It's no longer a long-term medical condition. Basically, it's a fancy word for becoming dizzy and unable to walk a straight line or get your extremities to obey. It's a side-effect of sensory impairment that today is most commonly caused by either drugs or alcohol. However, it can also be caused by dehydration and heatstroke. If the heatstroke is severe enough, brain damage can occur, thereby permanently affecting the victim's coordination. Another mark of severe sunburn is permanently blackened skin- particularly the delicate tissue around the eyes.