Go back to previous chapter
The morning after the games night, everybody decided to have a lie-in. Things had been so chaotic the night before that Ransey and Bardin had forgotten to do their usual routine of making sure the outside hatches were bolted. As such, Beatrix got in. She had turned up early in the morning to collect some eggs from the galleon chickens, which Adam had rashly promised her she could have anytime.
“You’re normally such an early riser”, she complained, on finding below-deck swathed in slumber-tossed gloom.
“Yeah but it was Games Night last night”, said Joby “So we were having a lie-in. I’ll go and find Adam”.
Kieran flitted into the dubious sanctuary of the heads. Beatrix was left hovering at the foot of the steps to the main deck, outside Kieran and Joby’s cabin door. She peered in at what had once been her temporary quarters. Clothing was strewn over the floor, from where they had discarded it the night before, there was a bottle of whisky on the wash-stand, and a formidable wooden paddle hanging on the wall. Beatrix was sufficiently embarrassed by it all that at least she didn’t hang around.
“But surely she knows what we’re like by now?” said Kieran.
“Yeah, but I don’t think she’s seen it in all its glory before”, said Joby “We always behaved ourselves as much as we could when they were living with us. Blimey, it’s not as if last night we were particularly debauched either! Not compared to some of the things we’ve got up to!”
After breakfast, Adam had unearthed Bardin, who was wrapped in a blanket on the sofa in his cabin, and had told him off about his neglect of the hatches.
“But it’s Ransey’s job!” Bardin protested.
“A good leader doesn’t blame somebody else for his mistakes”, said Adam.
Bardin pulled the blanket back over his head.
“Don’t be silly”, said Adam, pulling it back off “Anyway, no real harm done. And somehow I don’t think Bea will be dropping in quite so much from now on”.
“So why am I getting told off then?” said Bardin.
“Because I enjoy it”, said Adam.
“You’re not serious?” said Wesley, during their morning-break at the boatyard “You’re jacking it in? Your job?”
“Not completely”, said Hillyard “I’ve said I’ll come and help out when they’re short-staffed or got a big job on. Just I won’t be here all the time. Ransey’s keeping his job on, but he only works one day a week, so it won’t make much difference”.
“But why?” said Wesley, in dismay.
“We’re moving the galleon a bit”, said Hillyard “Not far, just a little bit further along the coast. We’ll still be popping into town quite often, but I suppose you could say we’re going more into seclusion”.
“Is this because of Beatrix turning up out of the blue?” said Wesley “I told her not to go”.
“No, we were going to sometime anyway”, said Hillyard “It’s not her doing”.
“How will you manage for money?” said Wesley.
“We’ll still have a bit coming in”, said Hillyard “Anyway, we managed for years with no income whatsoever”.
“True, stupid of me”, said Wesley, despondently “We did as well. Crazy how you soon forget things like that. You get sucked back into civilisation and all its ways”.
“Cheer up, you’ll still be putting up with us”, said Hillyard “Just you won’t be seeing my happy, smiling face here everyday”.
“When I tell you to shell the peas, you shall shell the peas”, said Adam, punctuating each word with a hard smack on Joby’s behind “Do I make myself clear?”
“Ow!” said Joby “You old bugger!”
Adam smacked him again.
“Now this is what I’ve been missing whilst I’ve been going out to work”, said Hillyard, appearing in the galley doorway.
“Have you finished at the boat-yard now?” said Adam, pausing and resting his hand.
“For regular work, yeah. Here”, Hillyard handed Adam a small brown envelope “My last lot of wages. Make the most of it. You’ll only be getting what Ransey brings home from now on, or odd jobs I get asked in for”.
“What a shame I’m not wearing a bra”, said Adam, stuffing it down the bib of his pinny “I could hide it in there!”
“Is Kieran around?” said Hillyard.
“Down in the hold”, said Joby “Doing the horses”.
“I’ll go and find him”, said Hillyard “I’ve got some interesting news. Well you’ll all find out soon enough. Carry on, as you were. Old Jobe needs keeping in his place”.
“I wonder what all the cloak and dagger stuff was about”, said Adam, when Hillyard had gone.
“Summat to do with a truck I expect”, said Joby “I’ll bet you any money you like, it’s a sodding truck!”
It was. The boatyard-owner had an “old rust bucket” of a vehicle which was taking up valuable room in a corner of the yard.
“And he’s just going to give it to you?” said Kieran.
“Desperate to get rid of it”, said Hillyard “Nowhere to dispose of old trucks round here, short of towing ‘em into the countryside and abandoning ‘em there”.
“Which sort of suggests it’s not really useful for anything”, said Kieran.
“I’ll get it going again, just you watch me”, said Hillyard “Anyway, it’ll work enough to get us the couple of miles home tomorrow”.
“Us?” said Kieran.
“Yeah, I thought I’d give you and Joby an outing”, said Hillyard “You can come to the yard with me tomorrow and pick it up”.
“You want Joby there?” said Kieran “He’ll complain endlessly about it, Hillyard, you must know that”.
“Which will make it even more satisfying when I’ve got it in tip-top working order”, said Hillyard “Anyway, he can’t rile me. I’ve just seen him having his bum smacked by Adam!”
“You might want to remember that image when he’s winding you up tomorrow”, said Kieran.
Hillyard whipped off the oil stained tarpaulin with a flourish, to reveal the rust-ridden decayed wreck that had been discreetly hidden underneath.
“Ta da!” he said.
Joby folded his arms imposingly, as though about to give a speech of Gettsyburg Address proportions. Kieran tried to be more tactful.
“Well at least you didn’t pay much for it”, he said.
“I didn’t pay anything for it”, said Hillyard.
“You was robbed”, Joby growled.
Hillyard gave an exasperated gesture with his hands, as if to say “would you credit this guy!” Instead he said “Right, I’ll get it going, and then drive it to outside the yard gates”.
“Is that how far it’ll go then?” said Joby.
“No!” Hillyard exclaimed “Just I’m taking you and Kieran out to lunch, though if you complain anymore you can sit outside, and we’ll pass you some scraps!”
“Hillyard, be fair now”, said Kieran “You were warned what he was going to be like”.
“Someone’s gotta be a skeptic round here”, Joby protested.
“Why?” said Hillyard.
“Because otherwise you fantasists would get carried away with any old rubbish”, said Joby.
“I would rather get carried away …” Hillyard began.
“Let’s get the truck moved shall we?” said Kieran “Otherwise we’ll still be standing here arguing come nightfall”.
“Shame we couldn’t get the windowseat”, said Hillyard, gancing over to the table in the window, which was filled with delivery boxes.
“I think that’s permanently reserved for Bardin”, said Kieran.
They clinked together three pints of local cider.
“I don’t like the look of the sky out there”, said Joby “Looks like we might get a storm later”.
“Then you’d better behave yourself”, said Hillyard “Or I might not give you a lift home!”
“Look Hillyard, someone’s gotta pull you back down to earth”, said Joby “You always carry on like such a big girl sometimes”.
“Ach now Joby, where’s the harm?” said Kieran “The truck’s cost us nothing, and Hillyard will enjoy doing it up”.
“You can be very annoying sometimes”, said Joby.
“So I’ve often been told”, said Kieran.
“Hey!” Jarvis the landlord appeared, beaming, in the doorway “I’ve got a present for you lads”.
He disappeared again.
“They like their presents round here”, said Joby.
Jarvis reappeared bearing a huge leg of lambs, which he promptly slapped down in Kieran’s arms. Kieran, the vegetarian, looked almost pop-eyed with horror. This was an awkward moment. There was no doubting the gift was well-intentioned, and to suddenly take it off Kieran might cause A Diplomatic Incident. Joby saved the day.
“Good cut of meat that”, he said, tactfully rescuing the joint from Kieran’s arms, as if he was about to inspect it, like a jeweller examining a rare gemstone “Very nice cut of meat”.
Jarvis looked dead chuffed.
“I knew you’d like it”, he nudged Kieran “You get some of that inside you. Get some meat on your bones. There’s nothing to you!”
Kieran couldn’t strangulate a reply to this.
“I’ll wrap it up in some paper for you”, said Jarvis, retrieving the joint from Joby.
“Are you alright?” Joby asked Kieran, when Jarvis had flitted off again.
“I think I’ll resist the offer to get some meat on my bones”, said Kieran, huskily.
“That joint probably weighed more than you!” said Hillyard.
“I don’t think we’d get much of a Sunday roast out of Kieran somehow!” said Joby.
“I suppose Adam will be pleased with it”, said Kieran, fishing out his hanky and wiping his arms and hands.
“You’re a bleedin’ marvel, Kiel”, said Joby “All the grisly things you’ve seen and done in your time and you get lairy over a joint of meat!”
“Tis just the way I am”, said Kieran.
“Here we are”, said Jarvis, reappearing with the leg of lamb now wrapped in paper.
Hillyard jumped up to take it off him, in case he plonked it on Kieran again.
“You’ll enjoy that”, said Jarvis “And next time we have a wild boar hunt I’ll let you know”.
“Yeah I’ll join in with that”, said Hillyard “I expect Mieps would be interested too”.
“It’ll be a laugh”, said Jarvis, nudging Kieran.
“I won’t be there!” Kieran barked.
“Oh well”, said Jarvis, looking at Kieran as if he was stubbornly depriving himself of a great pleasure “I’d better get back to the other customers”.
“You could’ve hurt his feelings then”, said Joby, his mouth twitching with laughter.
“What about mine?!” said Kieran “I’ve had a dead animal thrust into my arms, and then almost press ganged into going out and slaughtering some more!”
“Never mind all that”, said Hillyard “Let’s drink to me finishing work. I’ll tell you something, old Wesley’s going to miss me”.
“Yeah he’ll be devastated”, said Joby, sarcastically “Probably bawling his eyes out as we speak!”
“I wouldn’t be surprised”, said Hillyard.
“He’ll probably chuck himself off the quayside in despair”, said Joby.
“I’ll chuck you off if you’re not careful!” said Hillyard.
To Joby’s utter bafflement (and Hillyard’s satisfaction) the truck got them home, though accompanied by various disconcerting loud noises. It meant at least that Joby could present the leg of lamb to Adam with a flourish.
“How wonderful”, said Adam “We can do lamb rosemary”.
“You should have heard the fuss Kieran made about it!” said Joby.
“Please bear in mind I am the only vegetarian in the family”, said Kieran.
“Now listen here”, said Joby “I’ve seen you do decapitating and burnings in my time, let alone bite Angel’s ear off, and there you are, getting squeamish over a leg of lamb!”
“Tis the way I am”, said Kieran.
“Yeah”, said Joby “Weird”.
“Aren’t we all”, said Adam.
“Now the truck is here and loaded on”, Bardin announced from the doorway “We can move further up the coast a bit”.
“Why did we have to wait for the truck to do that?” said Joby.
“Less further for it to go”, said Bardin “You can’t argue with that one surely?”
“No, not really”, said Joby.
They anchored again a few miles out of town, at the remains of an old stone jetty. The town had originally started at this end, but the villagers had moved further along the coast, leaving the broken remains of their original settlement behind.
On a hot, drowsy, Midsummer day a party of the Indigo-ites went ashore and explored their new area. A rusty gate, hanging off its hinges, led into a wild, overgrown meadow. In the midst of it was the shell of an old farmhouse, with a church tower attached. The tower part was still reasonably intact, apart from some gaping holes further up, from which birds flew in and out with a loud rustling of wings.
“Now this is it”, said Hillyard, in approval, surveying the ground-floor of the tower “This is perfect for what I need”.
“The truck gonna live in here is it?” said Joby.
“No! Smart-Arse!” said Hillyard “Me and Ranz are gong into the homebrew game”.
“I thought you wanted a still?” said Joby.
“Beer”, said Hillyard “That’s the new game. Our own beer. If we can pull this off, we could enter into a little business arrangement with Jarvis, who knows?”
“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, Hillyard”, said Ransey “That’s a long way down the road yet”.
“I know, I know”, said Hillyard “But this is the place for it. Ideal. We won’t be getting in the way on the ship, and yet we’re conveniently close by. You couldn’t ask for anything better”.
“You do realise this is probably a holy place don’t you?” said Kieran.
“Oh Kieran, don’t start all that”, said Hillyard “Anyway, it might’ve been once, but it hasn’t been used in that way for years”.
“Monks in the old days made their own beer”, said Joby, suddenly coming round to the idea “You can’t argue with that, Kiel. We’d really look the part then. Might even have to start wearing our habits again”.
Hillyard gave a wolf-whistle.
“We’ll have to try and get this up at some point”, said Ransey, standing over a trapdoor, which was bolted and rusted into place in the floor “See what’s down there”.
“Easy enough”, said Joby “Get Lonts over here with plenty of strong rope”.
The four of them strolled back outside.
“Here”, said Hillyard, walking ahead with Joby “Kieran won’t give us too much trouble with all that ‘holy place’ lark will he?”
“Course he won’t”, said Joby, fanning himself with his hat “He’ll do as he’s told. Don’t worry, we’ll keep the little squirt in his place”.
“It’s just this place has a lot of potential, see?” said Hillyard “This is what we’ve been looking for, to set up our base. You could even get your garden going here”.
“That’s what I’m planning to do”, said Joby.
“Glad you’ve seen sense, old mate”, said Hillyard, slapping Joby on the shoulder.
Go forward to next chapter
Return to Sarah Hapgood's Strange Tales and Strange Places web site