Boatman's dream 10
By Parson Thru
When the murmuring had died down, it was Ronnie who spoke up first.
“Merlin, are you really expecting us to believe this bullshit?”
Merlin shrugged. “You wanted me to talk to Arthur. I’m telling you what he told me and what the police have on statement from Kev. Both separate accounts. It’s up to you. I don’t have anything to gain.”
“It sounds like some kind of kids’ story.” Taff chipped in.
Voices rose again.
“Lads.” Dennis spoke up. “My old dad used to talk about some strange things that happened during the war. He was on corvettes during the Battle of the Atlantic.”
“Bloody rough job, that.” said Ronnie, almost thinking aloud. “Got the sea and the fucking U-Boats against you.”
“Worse still for the merchantmen.” Taff weighed-in. “Poor buggers couldn’t even fight back. Our town lost a lot of good men.”
“What did your old man say, Den?” Eddie asked.
“He talked about things they couldn’t explain. Attacks by U-Boats that suddenly just broke off. Getting cover from storms that blew-up out of nowhere – nothing in the Met or barometer readings. They couldn’t understand it. Kept it to themselves, mostly. My dad said they were getting help from somewhere. Just keeping going was a miracle in itself.”
I looked at Dennis. “Do you believe me then about the battleship?”
“Who knows? If what you say’s right, it would probably have been a destroyer. They accompanied the convoys.”
“Alright,” said Ronnie, “so Arthur gets taken off some bloody ghost ship by Kev here. What for? Why come to Weston? Why now?”
“What’s he say, Merlin?”
“He said we called him.”
“What? Who?” Taff shouted, incredulously. “It wasn’t me. I didn’t call him.”
“Not us.” said Merlin, “Not here. He says Britons everywhere were lamenting that the Realm was under attack – under imminent threat.”
“I didn’t hear any bugger crying for help.” said Ronnie, flatly.
Merlin ignored him. “He said he came as quickly as he could. A ship brought him close to Avalon.”
“When was all this?” Eddie asked. “All this gnashing and wailing?”
“Last year. He was hoping he wouldn’t be too late. And now he’s here, he can’t see where the fight is. Death and destruction were everywhere in the place he’s just been. The Saxons were destroying cities from the air – sinking all our shipping.”
“He’s talking about the War.” Dennis muttered to himself.
Arthur spoke again.
Merlin translated. “He says he’s confused.”
Ronnie looked at Eddie and started to laugh. Eddie was grinning from ear to ear.
“Are you thinking what I’m thinking, Ed?”
“Yep. I reckon I might be. Them bloody Germans and French.”
“I reckon Arthur’s come to ‘Take Back Control!’”
Gradually, each of us caught on, one-by-one dissolving into hysterical laughter.
Only Arthur stood at solemnly at the end of the bar.
The door opened and Tim came in, stamping the sand off his shoes.