posted on Apr, 26 2007 @ 06:23 PM
The rest of the customers clapped and welcomed us to their place. We relaxed and
pumped hands enthusiastically, the men seemed to want to greet Ripley more than
the rest of us.
Beers were pushed into our fists and though the noise was loud, I saw that Vasili was
still stood in the corner with a fearful look on his face, I went to him.
"What's wrong?" I shouted above the din, his eyes seemed fixed on the far wall.
I followed his gaze and there daubed on the flaking plaster wall was a badly painted
I peered over at Bruce, he was stood next to Ripley and he was eyeing a youngster
who seemed enchanted with our female companion. Then a huge man with large
side-burns and a huge stomach shouted at him "Skinner, I want you dressed at all
times, eh? Or it's my boot up your arse!".
The youngster's face fell and he rebuttoned his shirt and disappeared into the crowd.
Bruce smiled and looked to me to see if I'd seen the folly, then his eyes changed as
he realised something was wrong.
I looked over at Ramius and he was saying to a Brian Glover look-a-like, "... that I
know. And Nigel has done a grand job reminding me. But... with each past exploit I've
lost friends, And I'm not the man I once was.
I've had women along on past exploits, and found them to be, at best, a distraction".
His face lifted to the ceiling in a private laugh and I think it was then that his eyes
caught the garish drawing on the wall.
The scene changed, people were joyfully talking to each other and then everyone
went quiet as they realised that we'd found their secret.
"Wha.... what's that" I said in hushered tones, placing my beer on the bar. Vasili picked
it up and finished it.
"It's a sign" Ripley said and and looked at Bruce. He whispered "yeah, it's a sign we're
going out of business" and made his way towards his back-pack.
Brian Glover jammed his hands into his jacket pockets and said " It's the beast lads,
beware of the moon" his eyes on the floor in embarrasment.
Then his mood changed and he he beamed up at Ramius and said "did I ever tell you
the joke about the United Nations?", the latter said with reverence.
Distracted, Ramius grunted and indicated a negative with his head.
"All right, then!
There was this aeroplane..over the Atlantic on its way to New York,
and it was full of men from the United Nations.
So halfway over the ocean the engines run low on petrol".
Bruce changed nozzles as the joke began, Vasili had moved off towards the
"So they have to lighten the plane, So they heave out all the baggage, but it's
still too heavy".
Bruce cranked the handle to generate the pressure, Vasili leaned over the pool table
and eyed the line of the white to the black ball.
"So they chuck out all the seats, but it's still too heavy.
Finally, this Frog, he steps up, shouts
"Vive la France", and leaps out.
Ripley zips her body-warmer and watches Bruce for any tell-tale sign.
"Then an Englishman, he steps up, shouts God save the Queen", and he leaps out.
But the plane is still too heavy".
I realise where this may be going and reach for my empty glass, a possible cudgel.
"So the Yank delegate" pointing at Bruce, "... from Texas, he steps up, shouts: "Remember the Alamo and chucks out the Mexican!"
Vasili got joke, but due to the fact he had the black pool ball in his mouth, it was
a gasping spitting sound he made to say he enjoyed it.
The crowd also erupted with mirth and I saw Ramius glance at Bruce, nod and step backwards.
Something was gonna happen.