Chapter 2 – A Bank Line Tale

A fictional story, by John Wale & Alan Rawlinson

Cocky decided that a club may be a good idea as there was bound to be other people about. Anything to get out of this awful limousine.

The girls were delighted and told the driver to head for the Cave. He flicked through a number of cards in a rubber band on the dashboard.

‘Ah yes, I think I know where it is, lots of hippies and pop music.

Fifteen minutes later they arrived, disembarked and entered descending the stairs to the basement.

The music was deafening but the onlookers were riveted as act after act took to the stage.

His escorts seemed confused at first but soon got caught up in the mood so Cocky even found himself quite impressed by what he heard.

During an interval of sorts, Corky excused himself for the loo. 

He was hoping to find a fire escape or window where he could make a quick exit.

He engaged his neighbour in a casual chat.

‘Not really like a Cave is it?’

‘Well it’s not, our kid, or should I say Jock. I suppose a cave is not far removed from the actual name of the Cavern!’

‘Oh , sorry I got the name a bit wrong, but the music’s not bad. What is the name of that last group?’

‘Your obviously not from round here. Everyone knows the Beatles.’

They returned to the auditorium. Cigarette smoke filled the air and the two men joined a group nearer the stairs.

Cocky saw an opportunity as the girls hadn’t seen his return. He waited until three people were leaving and tagged along without being noticed.

Out back on street level he continued to mingle with his unknown companions until he rounded the corner where he took off at a run. Hailing a black cab he settled back with relief and told the driver to head for the docks.

Hamish and the third apprentice had finished dinner and asked the watchman if he had seen Cocky.

‘Acha sahib,’ the watchman replied, ‘he caught a cab about a couple of hours ago, he didn’t say where he was going.’

‘Let me know the minute he gets back.’

The two apprentices adjourned to the smoke room for a game of scrabble and were halfway through when the watchman came in and announced that he had seen Cockygetting out of a cab. They found him in his cabin.

‘Where have you been?’ Hamish asked in a demanding tone.

‘Just with a couple of local girls,’ Cocky replied nonchalantly.

‘Went clubbing and saw a really good group called the Beetles.’‘Yeh. Yeh,’ Yeh, “    Hamish replied with unconscious irony.

‘Tomorrow first first thing, you can get yourself down below and move those tea-chests out of the locker. You can use your vivid imagination to figure out how to open them. Knowing you, you’ll claim they are full of contraband or something. As it’s Saturday we are both going to explore.’ He said looking at the third apprentice.

‘ Maybe we’ll take a look at this club of yours!’

In the morning, all hell broke loose.    Before long, there were police everywhere and all before breakfast!  Charlie had listened with incredulity to the yarn that Cocky had unfolded the night before.   They were sharing a cabin and a bond was forming between them despite their vastly different backgrounds.  Charlie liked Cocky’s outward confidence and tried to overlook or ignore the accent.  He didn’t believe the story about the Cavern, but put it down to his shipmates wild imagination.

The cause of the early morning rumpus was the discovery of raw heroin in plastic bags scattered around the tweendecks.  It looked like bags of useless tar, but it was later explained that each bag was worth thousands, and even more in the wrong hands.   It had been consigned to the hospitals. During the homeward voyage, the locker in the tweendecks had been broken into but not discovered due to the copra cargo filling most spaces, and the fact that the locks and clasps securing the doors had been carefully put back to look intact from a distance.  Inside, beneath the dunnage the cases showed clearly where the breakin had occurred.  Now, the young apprentices were set to, combing the decks and collecting all the bags, placing them in a pile in the ship’s hospital, guarded by an armed policeman.   Charlie thought he looked a bit gormless with his shiny leather holster and a blank stare.  He was also hungry, very hungry.  He wandered hopefully past the bhundarries preparing delicious smelling fare for the crew, also out searching the ship.  His efforts secured him a still warm chapatti, enough to satisfy the immediate needs, and he made a mental note of this potential new source of goodies.

At the head of the gangway, a chalk board was displayed announcing a sailing time of 0600 for the following day, and up in the Captain’s cabin, the Chief Steward was grovelling as he explained that due to an error in ordering, he only had enough meat for a week in the deep freezer.  “ Well, there’s not enough time to order more now”, grunted Macdonald.   He had his own problems to deal with. Back home, his wife of 10 years was threatening to leave home unless he quit sailing on those blasted long Bank Line voyages.  

He thought she meant it this time!  

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