The Boy from Castlebay Down

by Westcliff Writer

Chapter 7

Boat Yard Beginnings

I shot up to the sound of my alarm, fearing for some reason I was going to be late on my first day. I was hopeless at getting out of bed but wanted to make a good impression for Jerry seeing he had been so nice offering me a job.

Leah stirred and opened her eyes. "Hey, want me to make you some breakfast?"

"Nah, you go back to sleep, I'll just grab a bowl of cereal. Gonna have a shower first anyway," I whispered, switching on my lamp. It was 6am and grey outside.

I tossed my legs out of bed and walked over to my closet pulling out my white robe and shivering as the air in the room was cold. Stepping out into the hallway I tip-toed into the bathroom and closed the door before clicking the light on.

I turned on the shower and while waiting for the water to come through hot I went and sat on the toilet and started to think about the day ahead.


Downstairs I had just finished eating my breakfast when Zoe walked into the kitchen. "Good morning dear sibling, are you ready for your first day as Quartermaster?"

I gave her an over the glasses look. "Zoe, please, it's a boat yard and I'll probably be sweeping up wood shavings."

"Hmm, I thought perhaps you would be out battling the elements on a grand seafaring vessel of some kind, catching aquatic creatures that will later be feasted on by middle income families."

"Not likely, and that is not my idea of fun!"

Zoe plonked herself down on the chair opposite and placed her chin on her hands looking at me.

"What?"

"My mind!" she replied.

"What about it?"

"It churns with longing… I long to sail the high seas with Troy. I see him as my master and commander, looking through his eye piece as we are pulled through the water by the wind. Huge white sails flap above and masts creak. He's at the large oak wheel keeping a steady hand while I ponder the horizon in a flowing white dress."

"When the reality is a 20ft beat up trawling vessel that stinks to high heaven of fish. Sis, I kinda get the feeling that's the only vessel you'll ever see Troy in."

She sighed. "Oh what a dream you have shattered dear brother of the realm. So tell me, what delightful piece are you going to offer the gentleman who has requisitioned you a job?"

"Ahh, well I thought about this late last night and I chose the Lady Grey."

"Zoe lightly clapped her hands. "A wonderful and well thought out choice, I adore that one."

"Yeah, and its oil."

"A charming object to present him with your grace, now I must go and wake mother up, she will be assisting me in getting my Prince re-shoed today."

"Has Diamond worn through them already?" I asked, surprised.

"It has been 2 months."

"Oh ok, well I better go anyway, have a good day yeah?"

"Oh I will, it is always a delight when Diamond walks proudly in his shiny new shoes. Oh Corbin, please tell Troy I am thinking of him."

"You know for a boy you've met once you are starting to have an unhealthy addiction to him," I remarked, starting to giggle.

"It is amazing how much the mind can move a relationship forward from just a mere picture in your thoughts. I will never forget those eyes… that face that just invites you to another place. A place where he would be waiting… waiting with a look of innocence… innocence that portrayed a sincerity about his character."

"Zoe, when you saw him? It was dark!"

"Go brother, I must channel this image to a secure location in my mind so I may store it for future dreams."

I rolled my eyes and walked into the hall, taking my coat from the hook and picking up my chosen picture. I gave Zoe a gentle wave as she came towards me heading for the stairs. "Anyway, remember what I said, he's too old for you."

She stopped halfway up, looked back and smiled. "And I fear my mind is too old for him."

I chuckled. "Bye Zoe!"

I quietly opened up the front door and stepped into the rather depressing elements.


Walking down the cobbled street a blustery wind buffeted my face and every few seconds a mist of water would spray me as the waves lashed up against the sea wall. I crossed over to get a look through an opening in it seeing the sea was quite rough below. A few seconds passed before I stepped back and began a quickened pace towards the boatyard. I'd looked up into the sky at that moment and was convinced it was going to hammer down with rain any moment.

As I got closer I could see the flood lights were on outside the building complete with half a dozen men standing near the closed entrance. Clouds hung low this morning and they looked evil so I stuffed my picture under my coat and ended up taking a gentle jog for the remaining journey until I reached the rusty metal fence that was part of the yard.

"Hey guys," I said greeting the men waiting by the sliding gate.

"Morning… uh?"

"Corbin."

"Morning Corbin," completed one of the men. The other's then greeted me now remembering my name. "Looking forward to your first day?"

"Yeah, so how comes we can't get in?"

"Jerry has the keys, he's normally here by now," Another man I remembered as Tony answered, looking at his watch.

Moments later a car pulled up and another 3 men got out leaving it parked on the side of the narrow road. Everyone said hello to each other as the now seven of us stood waiting in the cold.

"Here he comes," Tony said, "I can see him… oh and there's Troy too,"

"Pfft, he'll be lucky to get out for a trawl today looking at this weather," one of the workers commented.

I stepped out onto the road to see for myself that Jerry and Troy were indeed nearing the yard. I felt relieved as the wind was really starting to bite now and I longed for a break from it. I put my hand up to Troy trying to catch his eye and gave a greeting wave. He didn't seem to respond and looked kind of miserable. Saying that, Jerry didn't look too made up himself.

They both greeted us before Jerry put a large key in a padlock and unchained the gate. He slid it open letting the men in and we all walked up to the main doors of the workshop with most now lightly shivering.

I got up alongside Troy.

"Morning, you ok, you seem a little down?"

"Jasper has had to go in for an operation and the vet told us it might be cancer."

We all walked inside the building.

"Oh shit, your dog, awww, I'm sorry. But hey, they can do great things now, maybe he'll be ok."

"I hope so, he's getting old but up until a few days ago he was still running around like a puppy."

I squeezed his shoulder and he looked at my hand on it and then my face before giving me a gentle smile. He then walked off and I wondered if that was his polite way of saying 'don't fucking touch me!' Meh, maybe I was a little forward there.

"Corbin, wanna come through to the office?" Jerry called across the workshop.

"Coming," I replied, my walk across showing eagerness. I walked into the small room and nodded at my new boss.

"Come in take a seat," he said closing the door. Jerry then sat down at his desk and I took a seat on a swivel chair on the other side. "You can come closer you know, I'm not an axe murderer."

"Sure, sorry," I replied, dragging my chair on wheels over to where he was sitting.

"So, welcome back, glad you could be here."

"Thanks, I'm really made up you offered me a job."

"I notice you didn't bring a picture, did you get cold feet?"

"Oh, damn… no sorry it's under my coat here, I thought It was gonna rain."

I undid my jacket and took out the picture handing it to him.

"This one of your favourites?" he asked, leaning back in his leather chair, appearing to study my work.

"It is, I call it Lady Grey. I found a picture of this old woman ion the internet one day and thought, 'I gotta paint that!' So I did and sort of gave it my own style."

"You have talent," Jerry said, nodding.

"Oh, well, uh… I don't really use oil that often, it was just an experiment really. I mean sure, it's one of my favourites but not one of my best ones."

"Modest too," he stated, smiling.

"Can I ask a question Jerry?"

"Is it going to be the question where you ask why I wanted to see one of your paintings?"

I scoffed. "Yeah it did have me wondering."

Jerry placed my picture down and looked at me deeply. "My wife was a painter, very talented. And I loved her art almost as much as her."

"Troy said she passed away, I'm sorry."

"Nature takes the best people back to the earth young Corbin, but yeah, loosing her fucked me up, if you pardon my French. But, her art lives on. You were at my house Troy said, yes?"

"Yeah that's right, I was having a bad day," I replied, chuckling. "Still trying to settle in."

"Did you see the artwork on the walls?"

"In your lounge yeah, very powerful and masculine… and loud!"

"And all painted by my wife."

"Really?" I asked, wearing a shocked expression. "I thought they were painted by a man… I mean, fuck that sounded really wrong, I didn't mean…"

"Corbin, it's fine… I didn't take any offense, I know what you meant."

"That's good," I sniggered.

"So did you like them?"

"As a portrait painter my main likes are portraits, naturally, but what I saw on your walls hit me, and make me stare. I happen to think that it's not what you like that's important it's whether it can move you."

Jerry shook his head. "I like you already kid! My wife thought the same. If you had just said you liked them because you thought it was what I wanted to hear then I would have had less respect for you."

"When it comes to art, I always try and be honest. But it's ok to be honest I think because no matter what an artist says, they paint for themselves and no one else."

"That's good, and very true!" Jerry replied. "Corbin, as a businessman I hire people who have the skills to make my business run and make money. All the men you see out there have a skill."

"Okay," I said, wondering what was coming.

"But a man must have a hobby, my wife taught me that. And hobbies say a lot about a person's character. Corbin, everyone I have hired has gone through the same test as you before I offered them a job here. You were a little different because you told me you were a painter before I'd even asked what your hobby was, but I always ask."

"What if I'd said I didn't have a hobby?"

"Then you would not be sitting here today."

"Oh, Well I'm glad I paint then!"

Jerry laughed. "So am I, I love your work. Through my wife I met many other painters and they all had the same thing in common. They were all passionate about something and that's important."

"I guess," I said.

"My boy out there, Troy? I instilled the same in him.

"Troy has a hobby?" I asked, wondering what it could be… was he a painter too?

"Sure does."

"What is it?"

"Wanna hazard a guess? He's short, light on his feet, broad shouldered and quick."

"A horse jockey?"

Jerry burst out laughing. "I'll have to recommend that now you mention it… No, he boxes; he's a boxer and a good one."

"A boxer?"

"Yep."

"Hmm, I never had him down for that."

"Neither did he until I reminded him of his attributes. So anyway, you're probably wondering what I am gonna have you do here, am I right?"

"Yeah it had crossed my mind."

"Well A painter should be put to good use. With that said some of our clients have expressed an interest in having artwork on their boats. Greg currently does that when the request comes through but It's not very often at the moment. Plus when Greg does the paintwork on the boats I lose him for day or weeks sometimes."

"What does Greg actually do," I asked, curious.

"He's a sprayer and lacquerer… still paint but well, you know."

"So I guess while he's doing fancy artwork the boats aren't getting sprayed lacquered?"

"Exactly, and an unsprayed boat is an unfinished boat. Hence why I thought of you after you told me what you did as a hobby."

"Makes sense," I replied.

Jerry clapped his hands together. "So, I was thinking, if you could show me what you can do I might expand that service."

"Hmm, I could try, but it's very different to what I usually do."

"I get that, but with your skill you would be great at it I'm sure."

"OK, so do you have any drawings yet I need to copy on to the boats?"

"Whoa, slow down, like I said, it's not very often we get asked to do it, that we can build on though."

"So what do I do in the meantime? Do you want me to be the clean-up guy?"

"Do you aspire to be the clean-up guy?" Jerry asked, grinning. "Or, do you want something a little more taxing?"

"I'm just happy to be earning a little money. I'll do whatever you want."

"The main reason I offered you this job was the boat painting, but I realised I couldn't have you sitting around doing nothing while waiting for that to come in. So I was thinking and thinking about what I could give you to do in between. Then it came to me!"

"Oh?"

"I spoke to Troy last night and he said you and him have kind of become friends, would that be right?"

"Yeah, I guess we have. He's a nice guy."

"Well, I have three boats out on the water. The smaller trawler is usually manned by Troy and Billy Saunders, but he suddenly left my company 3 weeks ago and I haven't replaced him yet. This has meant that Troy has been going out with the other guys which has meant leaving Troy's boat un manned and idle. And what do idle boats make?"

I shugged. "Dunno."

"Fuck all money!" Jerry said, smirking. "I know troy likes to be out on his own boat so I thought about maybe the two of you pairing up and going out for a catch?"

I immediately felt a sinking feeling in my body.

"Gee, uh, well I don't know anything about trawling and I'm not sure it would be… uh…"

"You learned how to paint didn't you?"

"Yeah, I guess."

"So learn how to trawl. Troy will teach you, he knows just about everything there is now and an intelligent guy like you? Well, I'm positive you will pick it up fast."

I was hesitant and actually disappointed as I stood there listening to Jerry try to sell me his chosen job for me. I thought I was going to be in the workshop with the guys, doing something useful and now It hit home that I was gonna be out in the freezing cold catching smelly fish.

I took on a sheepish look. "Uh listen Jerry, I'm not sure that job is for me, I think I sort of had an expectation I'd be in the workshop with you and the guys. You must really think I'm ungrateful now." I said, nervous that he thought I was.

He sat back in his chair and folded his arms. "I don't think you're ungrateful Corbin, I didn't tell you up front what you would be doing and that's on me, not you. But are you really gonna bail before you've even tried it?"

I blew air through my lips. "It's just…"

"Are you scared of water, is that it?"

I looked up at him. "Oh no, it's not that, I just think I would be any good at it."

Jerry smirked. "It's not rocket science Corbin, Look, why don't you give it a try, I'll do my best to have you back in the workshop as much as I can, it's just right now? I need to get that 3rd boat out and I don't have anything for you to do in here at the moment. I'll pay you decent money, so why don't you have a couple of runs out with Troy, get to know each other. I know he's keen to get to know you."

"Well…"

"It's just temporary until we can advertise more for the art stuff."

"Ok, I'll give it a go, thank you," I said, feeling like a spoilt brat, resenting the fact I'd had to say thanks for a job I now didn't want.

"Excellent, and Corbin, you'll do fine. Now why don't you go and see Troy and give him the good news, I'm sure he'll want to set out a patch and schedule now he has a new ship mate to take out."

"Cool," I said, trying with every once to look pleased. My face struggled to show it though and as I walked out of the office I marched straight past everyone, including Troy and stood by the gate trying to calm my building anger.

I was angrier at myself for not asking enough questions at the start. I also felt angry that I had got all excited about a job in a warm workshop that was now turning into a freezing nightmare. I should have just had the guts to tell him to leave it and look for something else but then I felt guilty, which in turn made me feel even angrier because I was so stupid and soft!

I hit the metal fence with the palm of my hand in frustration just at the unfortunate moment Troy walked out and witnessed me doing it.

"Everything ok? Did my dad upset you or something?"

"No, I upset myself, its fine!" I replied, my tone firm.

"What happened?"

I looked up at the sky and sighed. "It's like you said yesterday, maybe I'm just reading things wrong, I'll get over it."

"Do you wanna talk about it?" He asked, coming over to me, this time squeezing MY shoulder.

I shook it off. "Can you not do that please, acting as if we are best friends… we hardly know each other!"

"Sorry, I just… I mean my dad very rarely has differences with anyone and I wondered if-"

"I just said, it wasn't your dad, it was me. But you could have told me yesterday you know!" I said, turning around to face him.

He looked suddenly concerned. "Well I didn't think it was the right time, I mean we have only just met and I don't normally tell people just like that."

I looked at him confused with his response. "But you and he must have discussed it, no?"

"Well, yeah we have lots of times, does it bother you then?"

"Huh?"

"Well he's obviously told you I'm assuming."

"Yeah he has, that's why I asking why you didn't tell me when I was round your house yesterday then I could have taken some time to think about it instead of feeling like I now have to accept it."

"Like I said, I didn't think it was the right time."

"I get that troy but this does affect me, and you had plenty of opportunity to run it by me."

"So I have to run my preferences by you now… wasn't it you who just said we've only just met?"

"Hmm, well it's done now, I guess I'll have to see how it goes and try and make the most of it. So do you wanna take me somewhere to try me out?"

"Huh?" Troy asked, his eyes wide, taking a step backwards from me.

"What's up with you?"

"I had no idea, I mean you have a girlfriend, right?"

"Troy, what are you talking about?" I asked, frowning and feeling totally lost now.

Troy's jaw suddenly dropped open. "Hang on what are YOU talking about? You said my dad told you right?"

I rolled my eyes wondering why we were back to square one! "Yes Troy, we did that part, he told me about the job, and how he mentioned he'd mentioned something to you and that's why I asked if you had discussed it with him.

"Ooooh, the joooob… ooooh, right, oh my God! Ok, wow, erm… hmm!"

I drew my chin inwards. "Well what did you think I was talking about?" I asked, perplexed by his reaction all of a sudden.

"Erm, nothing, I just got confused that's all, everything is cool, I understand now." He said, laughing nervously. It did cause me to laugh too at his sudden goofiness and I guess that did play a part in calming my anger somewhat.

"So like I said, do you need to take me somewhere, like a boat?"

"Trawling, yes right… uh… can you just give me a sec here, I feel a little light headed."

"You ok?"

"Yeah I'll be fine. So you asked if my dad talked to me about the job he was gonna offer you, and yeah he briefly mentioned it. So I gather you aren't wrapped about it then?"

"I'll be fine; I'm more concerned about why you freaked out on me just then."

"Ahh, it doesn't matter, probably just haven't woken up properly yet."

"Cool, listen I'm sorry I blasted you for being friendly again. I was just frustrated with myself, but your dad is right, I should give this a go. I think it's just the fact I have tried to spell out to my mum that should my dad ever ask me to go trawling with him I would be saying a flat no because I hate fish, the sea and boat trips, but…"

"But?" troy repeated, tilting his head.

"But maybe that's just an excuse I was trying to sell myself. Maybe it's more to do with my dad and being in his company than the act of trawling itself. I think I could handle you," I remarked, beginning to smile.

Troy cleared his throat. "Pleased to hear it! And uh, don't sweat it, we'll have fun, right?"

"We can only try, so, where do you want me?"

Troy looked up at me suddenly and smirked with the reason why being lost on me.

He was in a damn strange mood this morning, weirdo!

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