Aft, cabined behind the smear of glass, Ffooks attended the engine. The Hungry Gull awoke. He keyed her, she shuddered. She spluttered. He coughed and, putting his face across his shoulder, let loose a splendid purse of spat into the oily harbour water.
Now Knott, sat on what appeared to him to be a dubious and dirtied pile of tarps crumpled on the deck, shuddered also. He watched, in the distance, a dawn figure, a blur dog and possibly a stick, puttering about on the wet Monmouth low tide sand. The little dog, back and forth, back and forth, like a fishing fly, barking with joy. He watched the bristling yachts conspire behind the lee wall. Rigging tang carried on the breeze, crossing the harbour, belled his ears. Screaming in great circles, seagulls strafed the returning night trawlers and actually he began to feel himself quite settled already on this dirty boat that smelt of fish and diesel and damp. He sat back against the clinker, and even tugged here and there at the rag around him, drawing it with some inefficiency over a denim shin, an area near his left hip, both shoes. He sank his hands into the folds. Yes, almost cosy. There was, he noticed, someone sat on a stool, on the west wall of the harbour, painting, their back curved in front of an easel.
Sam was clearly still a shivering six a.m. drunk, so he crouched above the boat on the quay among the pots, the floats, the nets: things he knew nothing of. “Jesus,” he said. And, more to himself or someone unseen, added, “How did it come to this? A fucking boat at five in the morning!” He fussed at loosing some rope from a black bollard, laughed loudly once and, after sometime, bowled the tangle awkwardly toward the deck. The bowline, dripping dewy diamonds, came to rest in a mess on the Hungry Gull’s boards.
He rose, stood at the lip, leaned, shadowed himself in the cape, bit his lip and launched himself toward the boat, borne – just for a blink – he was some dreadful oily-black bird. Knott winced. But, somehow, Sam landed on the nest of rope he had just sent down. And, falling to his knees like some spastic Columbus, he intoned Jesus’ name again.
So, the Hungry Gull spluttered. Knott shuddered. Sam shivered. Ffooks? Ffooks coughed. He eased the old Hungry Gull from the quayside wall with encouraging jabs of a long boat hook. Free of the harbour wall, he returned to the shabby glass cabin and put the boat into reverse. She swung her slow tub arse out into the harbour. He flew the wheel starboard, she settled, he palmed her into neutral and her bow came round. He engaged her again. She paused, suspended for a moment on the water and then, with a lowering of her arse and a raising of her head, she lurched forward across the mirrored harbour toward the mouth and the sign that read DEAD SLOW, Ffooks, all the time coaxing her with thick and lovingly grunted come-ons.
Knott watched the bay and the buttered dawn open before them as, sequestered in a yellow bucket beneath the dubious and dirtied duvet of tarpaulin – with claws duct taped and antennae learning new atmospheres, new textures – the glorious lobster scrabbled and tapped in a sort of slow motion at the plastic in six inches of water.