The Hungry Gull.


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.


18 thoughts on “The Hungry Gull.

    1. Oh, excellent news – re the fishing boat – sometimes it’s easy to bamboozle oneself into believing that something easily understandable has been written – only to realise later that it may only really be so to one’s own eyes and that any other reader will just be shaking their head, palms upward, saying, “What the hell is this nonsense!” 🙂 x

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Wonderful! Merely to echo the other comments. I was also there on the boat, holding my breath while Sam made that leap, grateful that Ffooks’ purse of spat wasn’t carried by the wind in an unwelcome direction. (This boat is getting pretty crowded!).

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      1. Here’s an interesting thought (although, clearly, it isn’t up to me to decide whether or not my thoughts are interesting).
        Despite the brevity of the three characters’ descriptions, I’ve a pretty good idea of their personality profiles. Why is that? This story keeps returning to me and, unaccountably, extending its boundaries.


      2. Ah! Now I understand your reservations. ‘Is this a good thing?’
        Yes, it is a good thing. I think it’s because the writing is so vivid that the empty spaces demand to be given equal attention. My mind refuses to accept the absence of information.
        Quite simply – I want to know what happened before, and what happens next. And, if the author cruelly withholds this information, I’ve no option but to have a go at fleshing it out myself.
        But now, mercifully, the author has partially satiated this hunger. And also (confound the man!) supplied me with more questions which need to be answered.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Ha! Hmm, so, in theory, if we write fewer words & leave more spaces…?

        I like this very much, Bill. Eventually we wouldn’t need to write barely anything & just get on with our lives! 🙂

        Thanks, as always, for your considered & wise thoughts & encouragement.

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      4. Now there’s a thought! If John Cage can claim authorship of 4′ 33” of silence, then why not write an empty book? As a matter of fact, I’ve just written it:
        “40,000 words (not to mention the preface)”
        Job done!

        Liked by 1 person

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