PART THREE ~ The Flying Fox
When they arrived at Boneshakers the car park was full of motorcycles with probably a dozen cars and a couple of big rigs. All of them were covered in a thick layer of snow that made telling who’s they were nearly impossible, except for the two big rig trucks of course, they undoubtedly belonged to Davie T and Billy the Baptist.
“This is going to be some party,” Dazzle thought.
They were hardly through the door before Moonshine jumped out of Dazzle’s arms and raced with his tail in the air towards the fire. Shadow, Bunny and Dazzle’s white chocolate pointed Himalayan Doll Face cat was already curled up on the rug. Moonshine purred and licked Shadows face in greeting before flopping down and rolling over onto his back. He had been waiting for this moment all day. Dazzle made his way to the bar, nodding greetings and shaking hands on the way while introducing Ron to the locals. No sooner had he reached the bar before he felt the grip of loving arms squeezing him hard from behind. It was Bunny.
“What time do you call this?” She asked.
“You know me babe, fashionably late.” Dazzle replied.
“Who’s your mate then?” Bunny asked.
“Ah, sorry. Ron, this is my wife Bunny. Babe this is Ron, he really helped me out back there on the road and I would still be hauled up at a poxy service station if it weren’t for him.” Dazzle patted Ron on the back.
“Ah, it were nothing,” replied Ron modestly.
“Well thanks for getting my husband home to me safely, now let me get you a drink” requested Bunny.
“Two pints of Best please babe,” asked Dazzle as Bunny disappeared behind the bar.
Drinks in hand Dazzle introduced Ron to the locals. First up was Spud the Punk and Glammy George then Miserable Margo and Deadman Dennis, the overstated Goths, Lunatic Lenny was chatting up Randy Redhead and Cockney Carl was sharing a laugh with Busty Bonnie. Pete Beat and Slick Stu were fascinated with Ron’s snow-bike conversion, Pete admired the engineering, Stu probably sensed a profit.
Sober Sal wondered if the snow-bike idea would work with his taxi, while Mayor Busby thought it would solve the winter refuse collection problem in Pistonhead. When they eventually arrived at The Captain’s table, a long solid wooden feast table to the side of the bar, Captain Coldicott had amassed an entourage consisting of Spyder, Bobby Broad, Davie T, Billy the Baptist, Dog the Bounty Counter and Neil the Nomad. Captain was telling one of his notorious motorcycling tales about his younger days as an army dispatch rider, and they were hanging on to every word. Ron’s ears pricked up.
“Captain? Not the Captain?” Ron sounded excited “Not Captain Humphrey Gordon Coldicott, the Flying Fox?”
Captain’s face looked older than time. His face had more creases than a sun-dried prune and hair so white it made the snow outside look grey. But Ron’s words seemed to knock a hundred years off his weathered face. He hadn’t heard the name ‘The Flying Fox’ for what must be the best part of half a century now! He was speechless.
“Captain, you ok?” Dazzle asked.
Captain paused for a minute before striking an inquisitive glance as he turned to Ron;
“My, my, now there’s a name I haven’t heard in a very long time. You know I can’t even remember the last time someone called me by that name. How did you come by this name dear chap?” Captain spoke like an old British flying ace, but with the texture of his voice distorting like an old gramophone record that crackled with age.
“Sonny Cyclone Sinclair versus The Flying Fox,” Ron declared and the words took the worried look off Captains face as once again the years were rolled back. Captain signalled for Ron to continue. “It were the greatest rivalry in dee-spatch rider ‘istory. Some even say it were the greatest motorcycle race in history, riding half way around the world no less…”
“What’s this then Captain, a story we haven’t heard before?” Dazzle joked.
“My, my. I can’t believe I’ve never told this one before” Captain declared, “Please Ron, continue with the story.”
“Oh, no Captain please. I couldn’t pass an opportunity to hear this tale from the Fox’s mouth as it were.” Ron pleaded.
“Very well lad, but first I’ll need some lubrication,” Captain was handed a fresh pint of Boney’s Best and took a long swig of the nectar; “ah, that’s better. Now, where to start…”
Captain’s tales could go on for hours, indeed the story of his rivalry with Sonny Cyclone Sinclair could fill a whole novel, but Captain cut straight to the chase;
“The Cyclone was a no-good, womanizing, bourbon-drinking Yankee Doodle Dandy…” Captain paused while he composed himself. “…I mean Sonny Sinclair and I were great rivals. He was a dashing blonde Yank with a thick moustache, Stetson hat and more swagger than John Wayne. I was a handsome young officer in the Royal Signals motorcycle dispatch branch. The whole damn rival thing was all over a girl, Doris Delight, a Go-Go dancer from France. Anyway we both tried to win her affections before she came to her untimely death…” Captain glanced at his audience checking they were paying attention before continuing, “…but that’s another story and one worth saving for another time”. He took another sip of his ale and continued;
“Sonny was a scallywag and rascal if ever I saw one, and could charm the knickers off a nun, but Doris didn’t fall for it. Well not at first anyway. You see Doris and I had a bit of a thing with each other. She was a beautiful Go-Go dancer and I was the fastest military dispatch rider in the land. We would flirt for hours at Crusty Joes Tavern, she would drink Margaritas and I would sip G&T. I was getting close to asking her out to the pictures, you see that’s what we did in my day, but then Sonny showed up on the scene. I remember on the first night we met he bowled in to Crusty Joes shouting “YEEHAA” and “YAHOO” at the top of his voice. Well, that caught Doris’ attention. He waltzed straight up to us while we was sharing a smile and laid his pompous butt on the chair between us”.
“I’d ‘ave smacked ‘im one there and then cap’in,” piped up Spud.
“Well young Spud, that wouldn’t have been the gentlemanly thing to do now would it?” Replied Captain.
“Nah, maybe so but it would of made you feel better,” added Lunatic Lenny.
“Well, in this instance Lenny I thought restraint was the better part of valour. So I repressed my urges to clobber the fool and chose instead to introduce myself with a handshake.” Captain paused and took another swig of ale. “You see… SLURP …I have always believed in being the better man, and the better man I was, but that was my downfall you see. As much as Doris was charmed by my honourable intentions she was also dazzled by Sonny’s brashness and bravado. His tales of delivering important documents and secret messages during the Korean War had Doris in a fluster, but while I had equally exciting stories of my own I was never one to brag…”
“What changed?” Spyder joked and gave Captain a cheeky wink, typical of an Irish tinker. There was a quiet round of chuckles as Captain rolled his eyes.
“Well, maybe some of Sonny’s exuberance rubbed off on me over time”. Captain replied and added “Now I may continue uninterrupted so that I may finish this story before we all sober up!”
“Sorry Captain, won’t happen again will it guys?” Dazzle looked glance from left to right looking for acknowledgment from the captivated audience.
“No Dazzle,” came the reply in chorus.
“Very good. Captain if you please…” begged Dazzle.
Captain knew he was losing the audience of half-cut bikers, rockers, truckers and revellers, so he finished his pint, slammed it down on the table and took things up a notch;
“Well I’ll cut to the chase, quite literally if you will. Over the course of a few months Sonny and I had developed a rivalry that made the Mods and Rockers look like a playground tiff. So when the Ministry called us both up for a top-secret mission we decided to put an end to our rivalry once and for all. We were each given one half of a secret dossier and instructed to courier it by motorcycle to Shanghai. Well Sonny and I had a wager; whoever arrived at the British Embassy in Shanghai first would have a clear shot at Doris”. Captain stopped and looked down at his empty pint glass;
“Top up?” Bunny asked. Captain nodded with a smile;
“So the gauntlet was set. We had to ride through some pretty unfriendly territory to deliver the secret papers half way around the world. Why the Hell they didn’t send it by air I’ll never know. At the starting line was Sonny ‘The Cyclone’ Sinclair, the all-American hero on his all-American Indian motorcycle, and there was I, Captain ‘The Flying Fox’ Coldicott on ‘Prince’ my trusty Vincent Black Knight, the very motorcycle you will find parked outside this very evening in fact. Did I ever mention an interesting fact about my motorcycle? Well I’ve had it from new and it’s completely original…”
“Captain, focus!” Dazzle demanded. Captain often drifted off on wild tangents, especially when talking about his beloved motorcycle and regularly needed to someone to bring him back on track.
“Quite right Dazzle,” Captain apologised. “Now, where was I? Oh yes. So Sonny and I sped towards Europe with little more than a cat’s whisker between us. We both reached the ferry at the same time and Sonny was even civil enough to share a drink from his hipflask. Well I should have smelled a rat because when I woke up Sonny was half the way through France while I was on my way back to England! Well, they say what goes around comes around and that old devil’s motorcycle broke down as he was travelling through the Swiss Alps. As fate would have it I passed him as he was trying to hitchhike into the nearest town. However my luck would be short-lived; as I rested at an Italian Inn some rascals siphoned the fuel from my petrol tank. The owner of the Inn was a true gent and took me to the nearest fuel stop on the back of his pick-up, but as I was unloading Prince I heard the distinctive sound of an American V-Twin as Sonny rumbled into view. Catching my eye he gave me the two finger salute as he sped passed by and that was the last time I saw him until I reached Istanbul”.
Bunny returned with a fresh pint of Boney’s Best and Captain took a long swig;
“Ah thank you my dear. You have a charming wife there Dazzle,” Captain remarked. “Now Istanbul…”
…to be continued
[Part One] ~ [Part Two] ~ [Part Four]