PART FOUR ~ Homeward Bound
Captain continued with tales of mechanical breakdowns, Sonny’s deceptions and near fatal accidents as the epic journey rolled through Istanbul to Baghdad, Tehran to New Delhi, through Nepal, Bangladesh, Burma, Laos and Vietnam. Finally after a brief stop in Hong Kong to fix up the bikes they were both on the road to Shanghai.
“The road to Shanghai was full of Chinamen on bicycles and tricycles with mules and donkeys there to make up the numbers. The roads were topped with clay and were riddled with pot holes and puddles, because we were now smack bang in the middle of the rainy season. Eventually I caught up with Sonny at ‘The House of the Rising Sun’, a guest house about a hundred miles from Shanghai. Up until then I had played a fair game and despite Sonny’s foul plays I never descended to his level…” Captain shook his head, gulped his ale and continued with in a dramatic voice “…until that night in the House of the Rising Sun”.
Boneshakers Bar and Grill lay silent. It’s entire population hanging on to every one of Captains words, even if he was beginning to slur from the copious amounts of Boney’s Best he’d been shoving down his hatch. Capturing the moment Captain leapt from his chair and stood on the long wooden table and struck a dramatic pose. Waving his finger in the air like a deranged preacher and with a sense of urgency in his voice he proceeded with the final chapter of his epic tale;
“Bruised and battered, tired and drained we caught each other’s glare from opposing sides of the bar. He sent me a cheeky wink but all I managed was a snarl. We were a hundred miles from our destination but neither of us had the capacity to ride any further that day. It would be down to who could rise the earliest and ride the hardest the following day. Over a steaming cup of shoujiu I pondered my move before I was distracted by a pair of beautiful concubines who had been sent my way from the scheming Sinclair.
Knowing something was amiss I nevertheless retired with the concubines to my room where I spoke in their native tongue and told them the tale of my mission and what was at stake. Moved by my story they explained they had been hired by Sonny to ‘show me love then drug me with sleeping pills’ before the final leg of the journey began the following day. Being the only westerner they had met who had taken the time to learn their native tongue they took pity on me and helped me to hatch a plan so devious it would make up for all the little tricks Sonny had played through the course of our journey. That evening I had the best nights’ rest since leaving England.”
“The following morning I was roused at sunrise feeling fully refreshed. My two concubines brought me breakfast in bed before I took a leisurely hot bath. By the time the sun had risen too far in the sky I was outside warming up Prince ready for a hundred mile dash to the finish line. As I was taking in the glory of the morning Sonny staggered across the yard, half dressed and walking like a proper cowboy with saddle rash. No words were spoken as I waited for him to mount his motorcycle and start the engine. I gestured for him to lead the way, but he was already gone, his cold motorcycle spluttering in the morning dew. In my own time I took off after him keeping him in my sights but never overtaking. For ninety nine miles we sped along a pothole-ridden road, Sonny flinched and groaned at every yard. Finally as we were entering the city limits Sonny pulled over clutching his bottom. Pulling up beside him I asked him what the matter was but all I got back was a face full of profanities, so I twisted the throttle and headed into the city.”
“I arrived at the British Embassy and handed my half of the top secret files to the British Ambassador. Five hours later Sonny arrived, but he wasn’t riding his motorcycle, that was still stood somewhere along the road to Shanghai, Sonny was lying on a bed of straw atop of a horse-drawn cart. In agony he climbed down and walked like a chimp towards the Ambassador who asked him why he was walking like a deranged monkey. Sonny tried to reply but collapsed at the Ambassador’s feet, yelping like an injured dog. You see knowing Sonny was a party animal I sent two concubines of my own to Sonny’s room, but these weren’t ordinary concubines, they were… how do you put it?” Captain struggled to find the correct words before finishing, “let me put it this way. Did you ever hear that song ‘Lola’?”
There was a dead silence that lasted a good two seconds before the room exploded with laughter. Drinks were raised as the drunken crowd sung the chorus to the Kinks’ song;
“Lola, L-o-l-a Lola lo-lo-lo-lo Lola” Cheered the entire congregation. Somewhere a Champaign bottle popped and the cork whizzed past Moonshine’s ear who responded by letting out a loud ‘meep’ and darted under a chair, closely followed by Shadow. There was no need for Captain to say anymore, for his audience that was the punch line and now it was time to party. Yet amongst the crowd a shadowy figure made his way towards the table.
“Bravo, bravo.” Ali Stone cheered clapping his hands with enthusiastic applause. He had entered the bar quietly just as Captain had started his story and had been enthralled with excitement. Ali Stone was an oil-rich Arab who had sold his land back home and bought Cobblestone Castle upon discovering he was the direct descendant of Henry ‘The Homing Pigeon’ Cobblestone, who had disappeared during the Crusades in the Holy Land. A slight man with a big personality that more than made up for his diminutive figure, Ali was always the romantic. He loved a good story and Captains was one hell of a tale.
“Ah Ali! How are you doing? Let me get you a drink,” asked Dazzle as he walked over to greet him.
“Hold on Dazzle, don’t we have some business to conclude? Say a very expensive bottle of whisky?” Ali could turn from party animal to businessman in a manner of seconds, but Dazzle had been so engrossed in Captains story he had completely forgotten about his own ordeal with the whisky.
“Oh buggery!” Said Ron overhearing the conversation as the party atmosphere faded as others got wind of the conversation. If the people of Cobblestone had one fault it was they had an appetite for other people’s business.
“Right about the whisky,” began Dazzle “I had one or two problems there. We’ve already had a story of epic proportions tonight and as I’m not very good at telling them anyway I won’t bother telling you how many backstreet shops, dodgy dealers and unsavoury characters I had to contend with acquiring this whisky. Not to mention the ordeal I had getting it back. If it hadn’t been for Ron here I wouldn’t have got back at all tonight.”
“Er, Dazzle, ain’t you forgetting something?” Ron asked.
“What’s that then Ron?” Dazzle replied.
“Er, well, that nasty copper has the whisky, remember?” Ron looked at Ali and shrugged “I was there and there wasn’t anything else Dazzle could do honest.”
“Oh yeah, sorry Ali, I completely forgot about that. On our way here Ron and me bumped into Sgt MacDonald and his idiot sidekick PC Sloth. The bastard wanted to bang me up like a hardened criminal. He said if I didn’t hand him the bottle he saw in my luggage he’d screw me for every mister meaner under the sun. You know I thought at one point he’d even reach for his latex gloves and Vaseline!”
“Ah Dazzle I’m disappointed. Captain, I am sorry I come to your party bearing no gifts please forgive me,” Ali pleaded.
“Hold your horses,” interrupted Dazzle as he plunged his hand into his rucksack “I never said MacDonald got the whisky!”
With that Dazzle pulled an ancient looking green bottle from his rucksack and handed it to Ali. The label shined with gold leaf lettering in the light, ‘Lochness Dew’. The crowd gasped. Ron was speechless.
“Many thanks to you Dazzle,” said Ali “and for you Captain, many happy returns.” Ali passed the bottle to Captain who thanked Ali with an embrace and raised the bottle in the air. There was another cheer that signalled the party was on again.
“If that’s the expensive whisky,” asked Ron “what was that you handed Sgt MacDonald?”
“Well Ron,” replied Dazzle “I always carry a spare bottle with me on long journeys.”
“Right, but what do you fill it with?” Ron asked in reply.
At Cobblestone Police House Sgt MacDonald was just sitting down in front of the TV with a green bottle in his hand and a whisky glass in the other.
“Sloth,” shouted MacDonald “I’m told this stuff here is the most expensive whisky in the world. I’m going to enjoy this.”
“Can I have a glass?” PC Sloth asked.
“No you can’t. You wouldn’t appreciate it, this stuff is for connoisseurs.” MacDonald snapped back.
MacDonald opened the bottle and poured the golden liquid into his whisky glass;
“Bit thick isn’t it?” Sloth remarked.
“Er, yeah it is a bit… …SHUT UP… of course it’s thick it’s been in the bottle for over a hundred years, but that’s the way us connoisseurs of fine things like it.” MacDonald swirled the glass like a professional, placed his nose on the edge and took a sniff, not that he could smell anything with the stinking cold he had. “Mmm, this is quality stuff, I can tell. I’m going to enjoy this.”
MacDonald took a swig and swished the liquid around his mouth. His face contorted as he swallowed hard.
“Not nice then?” Sloth asked.
“No, no it’s not.” MacDonald replied. He paused in thought then added “if I didn’t know any better I’d say this wasn’t whisky at all… in fact… it tastes a little bit like… motor oil!”
Back at Boneshakers Bar and Grill the party was roaring and Captain had generously shared his Lochness Dew whisky with those who had made his day special and to him that meant everyone in the bar. However an extra large measure was given to Dazzle for being the whisky mule and going through hell to get it. Another large measure was handed to Ron, whose wonderful invention allowed Dazzle to make it home.
Ali raised a glass;
“To The Flying Fox! Many happy returns,” Ali’s words were met with an ensemble of cheers as glasses were raised to the ceiling. When the applause died down Captain, the Old Flying Fox countered;
“To good friends old and new.” Another chorus of cheer filled the bar but the last toast of the night would be Dazzle’s.
“To the mother of invention” The cheers raised the roof but were cut short with looks of confusion. Dazzle nodded at Ron then met Bunny’s eye and winked, Moonshine meowed and Shadow purred.
Outside the wind howled like a Banshee beckoning the dead as Old Man Winter blasted the land with another torrent of white snow. But inside the party rumbled on, another lock-in at Boneshakers Bar and Grill.
[Part One] ~ [Part Two] ~ [Part Three]