In Lerwick Archie MacDuff stood looking out of his kitchen window. The horizon was empty, only the grey clouds moving past proved that he was not looking at a painting.
Once the horizon had been full of boats. Lerwick harbour had always been packed, so much so that the MacDuffs had learned to get up earlier than most people went to bed to ensure that they could get a space at the quay for their catch. Archie had learned to be prepared, and his fishing boat still carried the harpoon gun he had bought of an old whaling ship, which had used to get inconvenient interlopers out of his way.
Archie used to sail with a crew of 5, but now sailed alone, save for the ships cat, Mr Crippen. The others had moved on, leaving the island for more lucrative jobs on the mainland. His former first mate was now a lion tamer with the Chinese State Circus, a job he had wangled by lying about his height. The cabin boy, Little Jim, now worked in a factory in Inverness, making leather rosary beads for Catholic S&M fetishists.
Archie knew the old stories. His father Hamish had once completed a 38 day fishing trip alone, after his whole crew had been arrested by Icelandic fishery protection officers at the height of the Cod War. Hamish had escaped arrest by disguising himself as a mackerel.
Archie’s grandfather Muriel (it’s a long story, but it had something to do with his mothers Tourettes Syndrome, which caused her to shout out girls names at inappropriate moments) had sailed alone throughout World War 2 after his crew had been pressed ganged into the navy. He had missed being called up as his various medical complications meant that he was technically dead. This hadn’t stopped him from landing more fish than anyone else in Lerwick, or from shooting down a German bomber, or from capturing Adolf Hitler as he tried to escape to South America at the end of the war. He had been lauded in the newspapers for his exploits, although the Hitler story strangely didn’t get a lot of press.
Life was hard for the MacDuff’s, but they were hard men, capable of seeing anything through, no matter how much thay had to do alone.
Meanwhile in the Surrey Hills Dave Caswell sat on his mountian bike. He remembered a time when a blond haried fool and a bespectacled baffon had used to cycle with him, but now they were little more than distant memories. One question sprang to his mind “Where are they now?”
I’ll let you draw you own conclusions!