“Don’t you like Norwood? Didn’t think
you two’d met.”
“Not met, nor want to meet, and that’s flat.
I don’t like the looks of this, super, and I’ll tell
you why: you know what your Mister Cooper
asked me, last night?”
Moran rested on his oars. “Do tell.”
“He wanted to know where I’d stand, if a few
friends of his came aboard and took the ship.”
Moran whistled. “As bad as that?”
“As bad, and worse. Now here’s you telling
me Cooper’s cousin’s shipping with us, and I
bet you cash on the barrel that, before we leave
St George’s, Mister Cooper will dig up an-
other friend or two, fine sailors, who can take
ship with us. Then where will we be, one dark
night, after we’ve left harbor? It’s a long way
to New York, and a long swim back – always
saying they’d let us swim, which I doubt.”
Moran remembered the look on the Skip-
per’s face, talking to the Swedes. Sick with
fear the Swedes had been, but the Skipper was
worse. It was why he’d left them, when they
got back to Bermuda. One thing to face a gale,
or dodge the Coast Guard with a hold full of
rum. Something else again to go down in the
cold, unforgiving ocean, perhaps with a knife
in you, and no way out again.
“Well then, here’s the play. You give me till
three in the afternoon, while I go make my
preparations, and then you go back to the
Swan and tell Cooper I’ve got his dog, Bingo.
Tell him Bingo’s hurt, lame or something like,
and I’ll meet him at that place on One Gun
Alley, Nancy’s. You follow?”
“Sure. But what will you do?”
“Me? I’m going to see a man about a dog.”
Bingo whined, but Moran kept his hand firm
on the dog’s collar. “Good fellow. Sit, boy.”
It was a hot day out there. Moran had been
in Nancy’s for about an hour, lazily sipping at
a beer, not so much tasting it as going through
the motions. He’d found what he wanted to
find, after a bit of looking, and by stroke of
luck also came across Bingo sitting on the
wharf, waiting for his master to come ashore.
It hadn’t taken much to persuade Bingo to
come along to Nancy’s with him.
By now, Cooper should be on his way.
A big man blocked the light as he stood in
the doorway. Cousin Norwood had arrived,
something Moran hadn’t been expecting.
Norwood looked over the bar, spotted Moran,
and made his way to Moran’s table.
“How’s you?” he said, conversationally, as
he settled into a chair.
Big, thought Moran, big and ready for
anything. He wondered if it had been a boxing
mill that broke Norwood’s nose, or if it had
been something else again.
“All’s well. Glad we caught up, in fact; I
wanted to tell you that there’s no place on the
Swan for you.”
Norwood grinned, the least pleasant thing
Moran had seen in weeks. “Is that a fact?”
“Yes, it is.”
Cooper chose that moment to arrive, and
Bingo leapt joyfully towards his master. Nor-
wood turned his head. “Guess what?”
Cooper ruffled Bingo’s ears. “What?”
“Skinny boy says there’s no room for me.”
Cooper looked at Moran. “Is that a fact.”
“It is,” said Moran, “Nor is there room for
you either, Mister Cooper. You can come by in
the morning and be paid off.”
“My, my.” Cooper slowly looked about the
bar. “Nobody else drinking today? Place seems
“Maybe, since it’s so quiet, we should have a
talk with skinny boy.” Norwood’s grin widened.
“Oh, I wouldn’t,” said Moran. “It’s going to
get busy in a minute.”
“How so?” Norwood wanted to know,
but Cooper had already seen them, as they
trooped through the door. Norwood plainly
didn’t recognize any of them, but Cooper
knew all three: Bingo’s former owners.
Moran got to his feet. “Dear me,” he said, as
one of Bingo’s masters stepped forward. The
man, a stone mason with ten long years’ lime-
stone cutting in his thick arms, was already
measuring up Cooper’s face for a fist. “Perhaps
I should fetch a constable.”
He did. It took a while, since he went the
long way round. By the time he returned
to Nancy’s, Cooper was on the floor, after
apparently being used as a shoe scraper.
Norwood was still standing, as were two
of Bingo’s masters; the third was sitting in a
chair, contemplating life and trying not to
breathe too often, his face badly marked
and his belly heaving. Bingo was nowhere
to be seen.
“Come by tomorrow,” Moran told Cooper
as the constable lifted him off the floor, “And
get paid off. We’ll say no more about it.”
Moran left Nancy’s whistling Timour the
Tartar, slightly more artistically than the rum-
runner’s fiddler had managed.
Short Story & Poetry Contest