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Hart of Darkness Part 10



Up at the crack of Dawn. (Ha! ha! reminds me of Dawn, the buxom singer in our church folk group. Hah! what a throat she had!……….but, ahem……that's another story). Gotta get my ducks in a row. Slip outside the Rose and the boys are already there snoring noisily in the back of the President. Man's gotta protect his investment and it's payday for Beemo. Silently, I strip a match and wedge it in the valve of the back tyre, just a pinch, put my ear to it and hear the satisfyingly soft hiss of a slow airbleed. Slip back inside and snag the samsonite. Back outside, reach in and give the horn a good long blast!

“Wake up lads! Hands off cocks, hands on socks!!” I shout into the back seat.

Fun nearly puts his head through the roof. Beemo burps belches breaks wind and starts painfully rubbing the sleep from his eyes.

“C'mon boys gotta get the first boat. Important appointment with His Grace, the Archbishop of Singapore and all that! No time to waste! Chop chop!”

We beetle outa town with my two amigos grumbling in the front seats.

Arrive at the Ferry Terminal carpark. Already the sun is high and its 38c in the shade. I jump out first and in one fluid movement kick the shim from the valve with my black patent leather brogue. Stand at the trunk to get the samsonite. Fun grabs it and starts to head blearily for the departure hall. I stand staring at the now almost fully deflated back tyre. Fun turns back. Drops the samsonite. Lets out a high-pitched yelp and starts kicking the crippled conveyance. Every curse and obscenity known to Allah is bellowed at the black beast. All to no avail. That inner tube ain't gonna re-inflate itself, Sport. All that blaspheming ain't gonna help while you're sweating it out, putting on the spare, either, Old Cock. Fun wearily opens the trunk, pulls out three years worth of assorted junk and finally, the spare. "Gotta be a thirty minute job", I muse. One down, one to go.

Beemo snags my weighty samsonite, lopsidedly. I grab his other sticky paw reassuringly, and we tramp off towards the departure hall looking for all the world like Basil Fawlty and Manuel confidently ready to welcome our new guests.

Inside I tell Beemo I just wanna nip upstairs, grab a coffee, make a quick confidential call to His Grace and, most importantly, withdraw his salary from the ATM.

“No, you stay here Beemo. Look, I'll be in the coffee shop at that table by the window. You'll be able to see me all the time. Are you doubting the word of a man of God?” I ask insouciantly.

Beemo reluctantly agrees. I take a seat by the window, every so often smiling down at Beemo and giving the thumbs up. Seven minutes later I'm back downstairs. I reach into my pocket and come up empty. Looking convincingly panicked and flustered, I tell Beemo I think I left my wallet in the toilet upstairs. There must be at least four of them as my earlier recce confirmed.

“Beemo, could you please be a good chap and fetch it? There's a good fellow.”

The mercenary mini-macaque is out of the blocks faster than Ben Johnson on industrial strength steroids.

Not many shipmates at this time of day. I slip through customs and imm unnoticed. Straight onto the boat and settle low in one of the aircraft-style front seats. Pick up a discarded copy of the Straits Times and camouflage myself until I hear and feel the low familiar rumble of the powerful Mitsubishi twin diesels, which, mercifully, isn't long. We're underway!

I get up, breast the bar and order a foaming frosty king-size can of Tiger sweat. Saunter out to the back of the boat.

There on the dock are my two amigos, livid with rage, gesticulating furiously, Beemo waving aloft one of my old , empty, plastic crocodile skin wallets and Fun foaming at the mouth and pointing at me with one hand while drawing the other across his throat with blood curdling realism.

Our course safely set for Singapore and sanctuary, I cheerfully bless the happy campers with the sign of the cross, chug down the dregs of the Tiger sweat, and toss the empty into the wandering wash.