It all started as a bit of a joke. Eddie was toying with his cheesecake and having a smoke. His ginger hair had begun to retreat from his forehead and he’d shaved it off exposing jug ears. His blue overalls were super large, but he’d squeezed into them and had a bit of a belly now that he was hitting thirty. Wee Badger was chain-smoking before he had to go up on deck and back to work. They were slumped low on their bolted-down seats, stretching out their tea break. Their table filled with half-eaten food on Bakelite trays. Eddie was a picker. Four chickens, he’d take three kinds, asked for boiled rice, when it was fried and fried potatoes when there was boiled and mashed. Then went back for the forth chicken on the menu, and left it uneaten.
Eddie stubbed out his fag on a piece of uneaten chocolate cake. ‘Food in here’s shite.’
Wee Badger sighed. He’d heard it all before. Third week on the rig. Men got antsy. They could almost taste freedom. But gale-force winds and snow and the choppers couldn’t fly. It was background noise. ‘Listen mate, my maw couldnae cook fuck all. If we got a potato, it came in a plastic bag and you had to add water. Helen’s no that much better. The boys dae some job here. Food fit for a king.’
‘Nah, it’s shite. When I was on the Claymore they’d a real Indian chef. This guy didnae burn his fingers boil water and adding curry powder. Everything tastes the same.’
Wee Badger muttered, ‘That’s only because you eat fucking everything. I don’t even think you chew it.’
‘Whit, are you my Ma?’
Eddie looked up as on the roustabouts made a beeline towards their table. He was scowling at him. He did his room, which was clean enough. The usual kind of gaff with nude pictures dotting the wall, big tits and fannies flaunted. Wank rag tissues on the floor. Bit of a gym bunny, when he wasn’t working or wanking, he left lots of towels lying about. Always asking for more towels. Eddie used them to clean the sink and mirror, before flinging them in the washing cart.
‘Here mate,’ said the gym bunny. ‘I asked you to leave me a Record and not The Sun. I fuckin hate The Sun.’
‘No my problem,’ Eddie stared back at him and smirked. ‘We can only gee you whit we’ve got.’
‘Well, the boy next door. One of them Geordie maggots, he wants a Sun and you gee him a Record. Whit’s your fuckin problem?’
Eddie toyed with his fag packet and lit a fag, blowing smoke in the gym bunnies direction. ‘As I said, it’s a logistical problem. We can only get whit we’re given.’
‘Last week I never got any papers. And then I got the fuckin News of the World. Who reads that shite?’
Eddie shrugged. ‘You I suppose.’
One of the gym bunnies workmates shouted over to him, ‘You coming or whit?’
‘Gee me a fuckin minute,’ he turned back towards Eddie. ‘I should take you outside and gie you a good fuckin hammering. You dae nothing but women’s work, cleaning up after daftie cunts.’
The guys from the other tables turned their head to watch them and settled back in their chairs, chewing slowly, waiting to see what would happen. A chef and porter came to the hatch to have a look.
Eddie used the armrest on his chair to lever himself up and stand eye to eye with the gym bunny. ‘If you took me outside, you’d be in the North Sea, yah stupid looking cunt. I’ll gee you women’s work. All you dae is hang about all day, avoiding yer gaffer and pulling your plonker.’
Wee Badger shot up out of his seat, waving his arms at the gym bunny. ‘Richie, innnit?’ the gym bunny’s eyes flickered in acknowledgement.
Wee Badger kept talking, a pleading note in his voice, but he was talking to Eddie now. ‘He’s a season-ticket holder at Parkhead.’
Eddie’s face softened and he turned to look at Wee Beaver and back to Richie. ‘So you’re a season-ticket holder then?’
Eddie smiled. ‘You’ll no get many games in wae this three weeks on and one week aff.’
‘As long as I get the Old Firm games, I don’t care. I let my brother use it.’
‘Fuck,’ Eddie said. ‘How did you know say, you were a Celtic man?’
Richie scratched at the back of his head. ‘You never asked.’
Eddie grabbed his hand and shook it. ‘You’ll get your Record nae bother mate. I’ll gie you ten of them. Anything else you want, just let me know.’
Wee Beaver slid down into his seat, shaking his head.
‘You couldnae get me a woman, could yeh? My balls are bustin.’
‘I’ll see whit, I can dae,’ Eddie replied, and they were both laughing.
The next trip Eddie made a brief detour before he clocked in at Dyce airport for his flight out. He prayed he wasn’t one of the sorry lot picked and asked to strip and get more that their luggage picked apart. It happened to him a few times. Twice running, one trip after another, he’d been taking into a cubicle.
‘That’s not on,’ he’d said to the security guy.
He was middle-aged, with swarthy skin and the glazed eyes of the bored. He spoke with the Aberdeen twang. ‘Just doing my job, Sir.’
His younger colleague looked on.
‘I know that mate, and I don’t really gie a fuck if you’re a sheep shagger. That’s the kind of shite Himmler used to spout. And John Greig, before he broke your leg. If you want to see my dick, just ask.’
Eddie stepped out of his pants and shook his cock at them. ‘But tell me this, it’s always us, innit? The stewards and cooks and porters or the roustabouts that get searched. You never search the pilots of cabin crew or the high-heid yins.’
He bent over. ‘If you want to look up my arsehole that’s fine. I’m sorry there’s skid marks on my pants, but it was a heavy night. You know with the wine, women and song?...And I never had much sleep, you know whit I mean? Well, with your sour puss maybe no.’
The young security guy laughed.
‘The thing is all these high-heid yins could be flying out wae crates full of whisky and enough cocaine to fly without a helicopter, and dae you search them?’ He started to get dressed. ‘Dae you fuck.’
After that outburst he hadn’t been tagged to be searched again. Even he would have found it hard to explain how he’d had Fatty Patty in his kitbag. £36 well spent. He’d looked at other sex dolls. The joke ones used for girlie hen nights was only a score, but it would most likely float away. Beanz and Smiley were serious kit, but a Japanese girlfriend was hundreds of pounds with accessories.
‘Look,’ he’d said to the mannish woman in the shop. ‘It’s whit every man needs, a replicate of a 42 stone porn star that doesn’t weigh 42 stone and can fit in a suitcase. Fatty Patty is the girl for me. Only thing is wae my track record I’ll probably end up getting her pregnant as soon as I touch her plastic fanny.’
The mannish woman didn’t smile. ‘She’s not plastic.’
‘That’s all right hen, stick her in a black bag, tie her up so she doesnae feel homesick. I’m gonnae call her Sooz, anyways, after my first wife.’