“ Have ye clapped eyes on McWhirr, mate?”
The weazy drawl came from a wall-eyed galloot who followed me. The starboard list in his walk, the hollow stare and grog-blossoms that festooned his weathered mug showed him to be a waister on a leaky bum-boat.
“He has a scowl like a North Sea line squall that would strike fear into the black heart of Beelzebub himself.”
He sent a brown spew of tobacco juice onto the dock as if he spat out the last vestige of the accursed name.
“They say, long ago, the crew of the old Uranus found him off Cape Horn-a mere babe afloat in a Quaker cradle.”
This was laying it on a bit thick.
I’d signed articles the day before-and, here I am, traipsing innocently down the wharf toward my next berth and this guy starts yammerin’ like some hop-head bit-player in a mid-20th Century movie.
He pointed a boney finger at the dismal sky as his voice rose.
“They say he’s Zoroastrian ‘er some such heretical blasphemy that, as sure as I’m standin’ here, will lead the impious reprobates into eternal hellfire!”
This was prelude to my first encounter with Saturnius McWhirr…
Point no Point lies off the port beam at sundown. By the time we make Foulweather Bluff darkness has fallen, and the Kinney Point light is veiled behind a scrim of fog.
His gaunt profile lit green by the radar, McWhirr says:
“What’s all this about Aeneas? The Roman?”
“And what has he to do with this voyage?”
“I don’t know sir.”
“Then I suggest you focus on navigating the here and now, son.”
It’s McWhirr’s watch. Sometimes he gets on my nerves. Zero imagination. Mention free association to him and he grabs a cutlass. He thinks it’s a Commie group…