Fatty Patty got quite a reputation on the rig, and Eddie got the nickname Fast Eddie because he had to play detective. Track her down, pronto. Hose her down for the next customer—mornings, noon and night. He was upfront about the hire costs but not about the cash he was taking in. Other stewards had a bit of a laugh and helped him find out where she was stashed, making kidnapping attempts relatively easy to deal with. But when a kitchen porter threatened to skewer Fatty Patty, unless he got the doll for another night, Eddie had to appeal to Si for help.
‘Just fuckin stick the nut on him,’ was Si’s advice, and he got worked up about it. ‘He’s fuckin useless. I shared a cabin with him once on The Bravo and his feet were beyond minging. It made me gag. I shat in her wellies and he never noticed. Put them on, and did the full shift. He never showers. Only washes when he’s washing dishes. In fact, you want me to dae it?’
‘Aye, go ahead,’ replied Eddie. He dipped into his pocket and pulled out two tenners. Waving them in front of the hatch.
Si’s face closed down and his hazel-coloured eyes squinted out at him. ‘Whit’s that for?’
‘For you—for yer trouble.’
‘Away and shite, he’s a lazy bastard.’ He straightened up., Eddie could no longer see his head, just hear his voice, rising. ‘He’ll no be back on this rig, I’ll tell you that—or I’m aff.’
‘Right,’ Eddie nodded in agreement, although Si couldn’t see him.
‘In fact, I’m gonnae tell ‘im, noo...ARCHIE,’ he shouted the kitchen porter’s name.
A shuffle of feet and a scrunched-up face appeared, wearing a hairnet. ‘Whit?’ Archie asked.
Si flicked a finger and pointed through the hatch in Eddie’s direction. ‘You threaten to stab my mate’s bird?’
Archie was shorter than Eddie remembered. He’d a puffy white face and the hair that stuck out of the net made him seem greasy, although his overalls weren’t as dirty as Si painted them to be. He leaned back and ducked down to get a better look at Eddie. ‘Nah,’ he said, ‘I don’t even know ‘im.’
Si’s voice went up two notches. ‘You’re a fuckin liar.’
‘No, am no.’
‘Aye, you ur.’
Si stuck the head on him. Archie squealed as he clutched his broken nose.
Men on their work break, smoking and drinking coffee, listened in. A few of them left their orange bucket seat and came over to have a look and stared through the hatch as if they were watching telly.
‘Whit did I tell you?’ Si stooped down to talk to Eddie. ‘He’s got blood all o’er the floor.’
He shoved Archie against the wall and kicked him in the top of the leg, aiming for his balls. ‘You’ll clean that up, yeh dirty bastard.’
‘I’ll need to get another mop, from the storeroom,’ Archie said through his bloodied fingers. ‘You didnae gee me a chance to explain.’
Men at Eddie’s back drifted away towards the coffee and cheesecake. ‘Explain, whit? Eddie asked.
Archie wiped at his chin and brushed blood splatter off on his overalls ‘I wiz only gonnae stab her because she was being used for fornication. And the Bible says “thou shall not allow a harlot to live!”’
‘She’s no a harlot, yah stupid cunt.’ Eddie said. ‘She’s made of poor quality PVC.’
‘Same thing,’ Archie huffed blood into his hand to clear his nostrils and it hung web-like from his fingers.’
Si slapped him on the side of the hairnet. ‘Don’t get that blood on my floor or worktops or I’ll fucking kill yeh.’
Archie wiped the blood on his hand on the leg of his overalls. ‘I’m no gonnae dae fuck all damage noo. I tried tae toss it over the side, and into the North Sea. But it was gale-force winds and I couldnae dae it. And her rubbing her bazookas against me, got me hard. And the devil got into me and made me fall for her and make passionate love tae her.’
Si slapped him again. ‘Watch your fuckin language. That’s my mate’s bird, you’re talking about.’
Eddie sighed. Held his hand up to placate both of them. He wandered away and came back with a hot cup of coffee and sipped at it. ‘Let’s get a couple of things straight here.’ He made smacking noises as he took another drink. ‘The Bible doesnay say, you shall not allow a harlot to live, or we’d all be fucked. The Good Book says “thou shall not allow a witch to live”. ’
Archie stopped and wiped more blood on the leg of his overall. His nose had mostly stopped bleeding, and he swallowed as he spoke. ‘I didn’t know you knew yer Bible, mate, or I would never have done it.’
Eddie wandered away and came back with a slice of pineapple cake. ‘I don’t mate. I seen it on The Simpsons.’ He chewed as he spoke. ‘Marge turns into a witch, but that’s no the point. You kept Fatty Patty longer than we’d arranged. And you never washed out the orifice for her mouth, her fanny, or her ass. I had to dae that. And that costs extra. Another £25 to be totally honest.’
Si guffawed. ‘Told yeh he was a clatty bastard. The Bible says you should wash your girlfriend’s mate’s fanny out, doesn’t? it And I knew you were a bender, shagging her arse.’
Eddie tapped the splashback on the window to get Si’s attention. ‘Listen, I appreciate everything you’ve done for me.’ He held a finger up. ‘One wee thing, Fatty Patty isnae my bird. I’ve got a wife at hame.’
‘Aye, we’ve aw got wife’s at hame. But you know whit I mean?’
‘Suppose, but that other thing, wae cleaning out Fatty Patty’s mucky orifices, you didnae dae it either and you shagged her arse too.’
‘Hi,’ Si’s head ducked through the hatch. ‘You calling me a bender?’
‘No, I’m just sayin.’
‘Och, nothing! We all make mistakes. It was dark and we all get easily confused. One hole looks much like the other.’
Redfaced, Si scrambled backwards out of the hatch. He wipes sweat from his forehead with the back of his hand. ‘Aye, that’s about it. Easy done.’ He turned his head to see if Archie was eyeing him, but he’d scuttled away. ‘I can gee you extra cash, if you want?’
‘No, no, it’s aw right, just pay me in cheesecake. Swarfega cleans it, good as new. Makes her all virginal for the next paying punter.’ He shrugged, ‘Pity I’m goin onshore noo, cause I was making a fortune.’
Si poked his head through the hatch again. A note of desperation in his voice, ‘But that doesnae mean yer takin Fatty Patty away wae yeh?’
Men that were leaving the catering block turned their head, chattering about their new cars and what was on telly fell silent and squinted at him.
‘Of course I’m taking Fatty Patty away wae me.’ Eddie kept his tone light and jocular. ‘I mean, it’s only a daft doll.’
Si picked up a carving knife, and Archie appeared at his back. Blood woven in the fabric of his overalls smeared in an X.
‘Aye, but you could leave it wae us,’ said Archie. ‘Couldn’t yeh, as a wee favour? We all like a wee bit of female company. It makes us more human. I mean I wouldn’t want tae accidentally stab yeh. After all, we’re mates.’
A booming voice behind Eddie suggested, ‘It would be an awful shame if a thirty ton pallet worked its way loose and fell on tap of yeh. Just one of those things, I suppose’.
‘I was actually thinking of leaving Fatty Patty here,’ said Eddie.
‘Oh, that’s good,’ said Si. ‘Very reasonable.’
Men began to shuffle out of the block and go back to outside work.