Alex Deleuse
Up top, above squatting Crispin Carindale, the reliable sound of dull morning footsteps.  It was the galley. Thick white metal separated the floors of the ship, and rivets with twenty layers of paint paced themselves evenly and pushed out.  Three hundred and fifty two symmetrical bulges sealed up the swirling aroma upstairs, but Crispin sent the local spices into the air of his tiny washroom, and covered up his own smell in this way. 

For a day now the Jean Bart had been docked in Tangier, consumed by the exotic swaying.  This endless movement had lulled Crispin into an evening sleep the night before, and now he was awake earlier than usual, early with the cooks and the mopmen. He was thinking about the two top shelves of the pantry up there, weighing down a warped white plank with seventy or eighty kilos of bottles.  Crispin knew it would be impossible to find booze in this town once he went overboard.  He went overboard in a regular way that day.  The night before, in his near-sleep, he had strung together something different:  "…I'll pass by twelve men on either side of the deck, with tilted-rifles I'll pass them to the tip of the Bart.  Twenty-four of them will be in morning drills and I'll pass them with my sure feet and grin a bit, they wont take notice, if one does, there wouldn't be time enough for him to catch up to me, and nobody would break form in a drill anyhow.  I'll pace myself at first, until I close in on the great lip of the Bart, then I'll quicken my pace and jump right over.  I'll float well, with two bottles stuffed into the thighs of my long pants.  But how'll I keep my smokes from getting wet?  I could leave them.  I'll leave them.  I hope Cooperage doesn't see them, he knows I never leave the room without my smokes.  I could hide them.  I'll hide them.  I'll hide my smokes and carry nothing but a few bills in my mouth, and the bottles, I'll need those when I hit land.  When I hit the water I'll close my mouth as tight as a teen's twat and my bills will be saved.  How will I grin?  I'll look like a fool grinning with a mouthful of green.  Oh what does it matter to these Frenchmen anyway? They'll see me and laugh, like they've been laughing for thirty days; a month of toothy-French-laughter-toothy toothy, a Frenchman loves his coochie…"

He could feel his electricity shooting up in him.  This made him nervous and tight, but he practiced on the bunk his uncle's breathing techniques.  Once in big for the chicken and the pig.  Hold it deep for the snails and sheep.  Once out for the salmon and trout.  Crispin was a great improviser but preparations were not his strong suit.  Then back and forth, from bathroom to bunk with firm, looked at steps.  The ceiling fan shot a jaundice shadow up above it, while everything else was left uncolored by plain steel.  Dust on each blade averaged twenty thousand so to yellow it up.  "Where you off to?"  It was Cooperage, filling up the threshold with his grey flesh and a pair of issued short pants.  Tips of his hair, even wet, were grazing the top dowel as he rocked back and forth, blocking the exit, the pantry, the deck, the morning-plans. Carindale had also been running through bad forecasts of his bunkmate's many opportunities for tyranny.

Something like this scene had threatened him for thirty-days.  His face flushed face paint red and did not return to its cool pale blue.  He silently called Cooperage The Big Hog.  More than a few times now The Big Hog had sent Carindale into such states of fear that he had used the bunk-shade to protect his body and hide his face.

Three nights before this Carindale pushed his back tight against the wall and grabbed the sheets hard so they turned in on his hands.  The few hues survived on the Bart were sent in by the sun and filtered through a green stained oval window, but it was dark, dark black with his big body shutting up that light.

"Listen up Carindale.  I'm gonna' come back to the Bart in a couple hours and I'm not gonna' be comin' back alone.  And when I do, you better be sleeping, with your head tucked real deep into those covers.  You see what im gettin' at?  Ha, of course you don't.  You wouldn't know nothing about bein' inside no woman would you?  You wouldn't know a damn thing about what that feels like.  Well I'll tell you what, if your good, and you keep your little runt mouth shut, I might just let you peek your head out a bit and see what we're doin up here.  You can peek just a little bit, but don't scare her or nothin'.  No, just a little bit and see what we're gonna' be doin' up here.  Would you like that Carindale?  Yeah I bet you would.  I bet you never seen anything like it before, up here.  You better not scare the girl, if you get yourself noticed I'll goddamn throw you overboard. You got that?  I've been savin' pennies for tonight Carindale.  Well, hoo, if you would believe me, I've been pinching a little each day from Remy, you ain't gonna tell nobody bout that though, ha, nope.  You know what Carindale?  I do like you, maybe because we're the only ones on this damn boat who ain't titty-fied Frenchies.  But I think I like you Carindale, I think I like you because I peeked at your Z-card a few days ago, when I was fixin' up this place.  God damn you leave your belongins everywhere Carindale, and you need to clean up after your goddamn self, because I'm about sick of doing it.  I took a peek at your Z-card and I almost shit myself Carindale.  You and I were neighbors back home! You lived in Columbus right.  Yeah!  We'll I grew up there, lived there all my life, till' this goddamn stink. Ha, we might've been playin' with each other as kids even, wouldn't that be something?  I doubt it though, I think I would remember a little runt like you.  You must have been god damn tiny when you were a kid huh?  We're about the same age too, you and I.  Cept' we've got nothin' else in common, you know that don't you? Nothin'.  That's OK Carindale, I like you enough.  I sure do.  But god damnit you to start pickin' up your shit around here, this place is small as it is, and with your shit lying on the floor nobody'll be able to move around.  I sure as hell aint' gonna bring no lady up here till you get this place clean.  I was gonna do it myself but now that we're talkin', you know, I'll tell you that you better have this place clean by the time I get back here.  If you do, we can be real nice to each other, just like friends, and when I get to doin' what I'm gonna be doin' up there, hoo, I'll let you a little peek like I said."

It was just when Cooperage was finishing up that a great stink filled the room.  It came up fast and both of them lifted their heads up so they could rise above it.  It was the galley, and some stink was shooting down through the vents and right into their shared room.  They held like this for a few moments and Sinclair rushed past their door.

"Yep!  God damned Sinclair's managed to get some cabbage on board.  We're all goin up top to spray the flats.  Carindale, get some fresh air in you!  We're all goin up top now, get some air in you!"