Call Me Smitty: Dirty Little Secrets

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I want her to disappear. Right now. She looked at the door again, beyond him. She sighed, her head in her hand. I want to tell him right away. Elvira had suffered through a long, tiresome shift, gone home, taken a nap, and headed down to the pub for a drink, only to face the same conversation there as she had in the diner all day. She caught up on all the gossip in just ten minutes from Tom Mulpepper, who was holding court as he usually did at this time of night on a weekday.

She shook her head over her usual Irish Coffee at her usual table right corner, beneath the stained glass window of St. Not much transpired in the middle of Cliffwood without someone from the diner, smack dab in the center of town, being among the first to notice. Usually, she liked her silent one-up game with Mulpepper. Saw that. Knew that. And if she heard someone else mutter over Petula Mathers, she was liable to scream. Barry, Tom and Jessie Clemmons all looked up at her, startled by the way she threw her chair back against the table and tossed on her coat.

They glared at each other. She was halfway out the door before she really knew what she was doing. Elvira was in such a riled up state that when she stepped back and caught sight of the girl, she did a double-take. She cleared her throat. The girl slid her eyes behind her to the pub and for a moment, Elvira wondered if she was even old enough to drink. On the street, alone, she looked younger than she had all day. And I need a drink. Excuse me. I was there at the diner all day, I saw the look on your face when you were talking to Sylvia. There it was, that flash of steel again. Petula narrowed her own eyes.

Death of a Young Lieutenant

Waitress, was it? She was younger, smaller and her hair was not red but plain Jane brown. She knew the moment Elvira called just who was waiting for her at the din- erm, restaurant. She dusted her slacks and grimaced at the grime now gracing her fingertips.

And uh, we need kibble for Mr. And toys for Mr. And, you know, other things that cats enjoy. Aggie narrowed her eyes and said nothing. So Aggie gave her an exaggerated bow which made Sylvia roll her eyes, as intended and stayed back. As soon as she was inside, Aggie tiptoed up to the door and peered through the little window. Her palms started to warm. She blinked the mixture of tears and sweat from her eyes.

My Dirty Little Secret: Deep in the Woods (True Crime) - Crime Documentary - Reel Truth Crime

He wanted to help her outside but Aggie refused. She wanted to stay where she was, at the window, her daughter, long believed lost forever, on the other side. There was a moment when Aggie thought she might be spotted, seen, by the girl in the booth. Fear grasping at her with both hands, she ducked down and away from the door, reeling. She caused quite a scene as she stumbled off the sidewalk. She did not think of Sylvia or her duties. She walked, dazed, down the street and into the town park.

She sat on a bench and sat there, staring into the cove of willow trees, for what felt like forever. The woman she now worked for. There were many places in Cliffwood and the surrounding towns where Sylvia Mathers was known to make a spectacle of herself. It took Aggie only minutes to retrieve the temporary car from Mulpepper and minutes more before she arrived on the edge of town. She found Sylvia in the far corner of The Waffle House. She had a silk scarf wrapped over her head and her largest sunglasses, covering nearly half her face, and was tucked in a booth, facing a table full of waffles, all of them stacked high and the nearest to her was drowning in butter and blueberry syrup.

But then people in town would know that when Sylvia Mathers was feeling guilty, or blue, she liked to drown her sorrows in enough crispy carbohydrates to feed a small nation. The thin hand that grasped the fork shook slightly and clattered against the plate. She was feeling oddly calm. Her own hands, worn from more work than age, clasped together lightly on the formica tabletop.

The gaze she fixed on the woman across from her was steady too. She wiped the drifts of powdered sugar off her trembling hands and faced her maid across the table. Aggie, who was ten years her junior and had been with her family since she was a girl of fifteen. Who had been her own personal maid for almost twenty-two years.

Aggie had learned quite a few things about Sylvia and her family during that time but she kept them all to herself. She was a vault of information, of lies and terrible secrets and humiliating slights. And she had few requirements of her mistress. The truth was one of them. Sylvia wondered briefly what she would do without Aggie. Then, she met her eyes across the table, removed her sunglasses from her face and set them down. And to cause no shortage of trouble. I needed to be sure that it was her.

She was unreadable. You kept me away. Sylvia felt something inside her harden. I did. Aggie slammed her hand down on the table, her expression no longer stone but red with fury. You have said and done enough. I want to see her right now. When Sylvia informed Aggie at the Waffle House that she had no idea where the girl was, it was the truth. It was exactly where her feckless father had said it would be, on the ledge of the third window, above the pogonias.

Pet let herself in, amused to see that though it was dark, every light in the house was on. The Mathers were not known for their conservation efforts. She dropped her bag by the door and kicked off her flats, a part of her pleased to see that she had trailed in a fair amount of dirt.

She caught a glimpse of red hair but was relieved to see it was only an ornate mirror in the hall. It faced an enormous portrait of Aunt Sylvia, the largest oil painting Pet had ever seen outside a museum. She rolled her eyes at the figure in the painting, reclined on a loveseat and draped in furs. As always. Her stomach spoke up too as she wandered the halls and she found her way to the silver and steel kitchen before pitching a yawn. It was late. Perhaps a bite to eat before bed, she thought, as surely her aunt would be home shortly and Petula was far too tired for another scene. She moved quickly through the kitchen.

A jar of olives went into her pocket. A sleeve of water crackers, half-filled. The pantries were pathetic. But the fridge was a glory. She grabbed the tray closest to her and used her free hand to grab the handle of a champagne bottle almost full! Or glasses, she decided giddily. It took only a few more moments to find an empty room on the third floor. Pet deposited her wares on the antique dresser and shut the door behind her. She collapsed into the overstuffed arm chair in the corner and coughed as the motion kicked up dust. Her stomach was full and she was halfway through the bottle when her phone begin to purr in her pocket.

Pet growled at the sight of the number and the pleasant buzz was gone in an instant. But before she could demand why he was calling her, now, after all this time, after everything had finally been set into motion, she heard the front door being thrown open downstairs. Petula pulled herself out of her chair, the phone oddly silent at her ear, and crept to the side of the bedroom door.

She heard the breathing on the phone but it did not register that she should worry or wonder about it in the least; she was caught of guard by the ominous feeling that had swept over her as the footsteps out on the stairs, and then in the hall, grew louder and louder and louder still. She dropped the phone on the carpet. Fear gripped her whole body as the door to her room was thrown open.

How had she known to be afraid? How did she guess that the footsteps in the hall did not belong to her aunt at all? It was as if she had known, from the instant the front door opened below, that the person who now faced her in the doorway would be holding a pistol aimed right for her heart. The champagne made her dizzy. It was only when the glass slipped from her hand and fell noiselessly to the floor did she realize it was because her hands were shaking.

Across from her, the gun shook too. Like looking in a mirror. In more ways than one. Petula stared at the red-haired woman who matched her in every physical way. Same pert nose. Same light blue eyes. Her twin stood over her, the gun now steady in one hand. Petula pushed past the champagne haze and ordered herself to focus, to take in the details and to keep her eyes glassy and blank, just as she was taught. Her sister wore dark jeans and boots and a sweatshirt.

She studied Petula with disdain. All of this was typical. What was not typical was the gun she carried. It was smaller and had a pearled handle, almost delicate. There was a deep scratch on the barrel. It was the kind of gun you wiped clean and tossed down a drain. Petula knew it because she had one just like it. Several, in fact. She made her voice tremble even as she turned to steel on the inside. Not like this. She moved fast and clocked her sister on the head with the butt of the gun.

Petula slumped out of the chair and onto the floor, the world suddenly a much darker place. He sat out on the back patio with a cigar and stared out at the trees. Stupid old house. Stupid one horse town. Literally, there was one horse in it! He took two long drags from the cigar and put it out. Just for good measure, Frank mashed the cigar into the ashtray. Behind him in the parlor, there was a sound like a chandelier breaking.

Frank cringed at the sound and sunk down further into the chair. She was insufferable on a good day and wedding planning had sent the staff scattering at the sight of her. He shut his eyes, dreaming of Paris and Prague. In his mind, he packed his bag and threw it over his shoulder. It felt so good to step out the front door, even if it was just in his head.

Frank scowled and wished he had a drink. There was a noise to his right, someone clearing his throat. Frank sighed but when he opened one eye, he saw it was a girl. The new maid. A gift from Bo, her fiance, who was the type of person who gave people as gifts.

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She was small and slight and thin with dark hair, her features in that place between pretty and plain. She was studying him with cautious eyes. Frank frowned. Or something? The girl hesitated but then, when she spoke, she surprised him with a clear, confident voice. She said she smelled cigar smoke out here and asked me to politely request that you put it out.

She looked at him the same way Colleen did, patient and bemused. He decided to be kind to her. Frank stood at the bar and swirled the drink in his glass. Aggie took the drink from his hand and set it on the bar. Together, they watched the scene unfold as Sylvia called through the room for Jasper and the crowds parted. Frank felt a stirring of sympathy for his tyrannical sister. She loved a party but even she seemed to be having trouble with this one. He saw his father move toward the pair in the corner.

No one but Aggie noticed Frank shrink back towards the bar at the sight of his father, tall and in his best suit, walking smoothly over to his only daughter. He took her firmly by the elbow, so firmly that she winced. He watched Sylvia steady herself. She filled her own glass, with the good stuff, Frank noted, and clinked his glass with her own. No more. No more toasting. Frank tightened his grip on her arm and raised his glass.

And her loving husband Jasper. Frank frowned and stumbled sideways. Frank felt his stomach tighten at the voice. How small it was. He looked too long and the floor swung up to meet him. Frank shoved the brim of the hat up off his head and tried to get his balance as Francis Mathers Sr.

In fact, she stood shock still and seemed to regard Frank Sr. Once this morning in the kitchen, in fact. And to imbibe my alcohol. What shall it be? Will you go quietly or shall I have you forcibly removed from my sight? Aggie took a step forward and put her hands behind her back. She was a foot shorter than the man but to Frank she looked like a sentinel in the dark.

She smiled thinly. Since she hired me. And since she made it clear, from the very first day, that my salary comes from her directly. And not from you. Sylvia liked the rambling estate best at night. She favored the last few minutes of a great party, when a few guests were still about, laughing and sipping champagne, and the rest of the house fell quiet into sleep. But having the place to herself was a close second. It was almost three in the morning when she made her way downstairs for a bite to eat, not in the imperios dining room but the kitchen.

She sat down with a plate of ripe, sliced tomatoes, a hunk of bread and the remnants of a cheese tray. She opted for a glass of water instead of wine, rare for her but she did have a big day approaching. She sat in the quiet and contemplated the wedding that approached. She heard a sound behind her and felt her stomach clench in response but it was just Agatha, the new maid. Sylvia sighed. She took the seat across from her and pressed her hand to her forehead. Syvlia snorted and pushed the glass of water toward her.

I gave that up years ago. She raised an eyebrow at that and smiled behind a bite of cheese. You tell him what I told you to say? They sat silently for a while. Sylvia ate and Aggie stared out into the dark, at the full moon. Aggie studied her for a long moment. You hired me. You need me. Just say the word. No one had ever put her before her duty, what was expected of her.

She did not flee in the night. She finished what was on her plate, left Agatha to tidy up the kitchen, and retreated to her room. And the next day, when she was awoken by her day maid, she rose and got ready for her wedding in silence. It was while she was having her hair done and the damned woman stuck her in the neck with a diamond-encrusted hairpin. Sylvia had rounded on the woman and unleashed a seething tirade against her, leaving her nearly in tears. Sylvia felt the rage retreat within her and saw Agatha watching her from the edge of her bed, where she was readying the dress.

But there was a knock at the door, a signal from the wedding coordinator that it was almost time. Sylvia forgot about everyone else in the room. She made it, somehow, into her dress, a slip of white satin from Paris that fit her like a dream. She put on her shoes and took the bouquet of flowers that rested on her vanity. She walked down the hall to the top of the curved stairs. She wished her mother could be there.

She wished very badly that someone who loved her could be there. It was that thought that ruined her. She grabbed the banister and looked down at the sea of people gathered below, so finely attired, all peering up at her as the orchestra began to play.

She saw one woman smirk at her from behind her hand. She saw men whispering, discussing business in the corner by the makeshift bar. She saw her brother, weaving at the edge of her proposed path, beside Jasper, who looked hungover and bit back a yawn. Sylvia gripped the banister. But she heard nothing behind her, no one. There was no one there. She started to take a step and stopped.

Another type of RO water???

Her legs trembled. Sylvia shook all over. Her father, Jasper. All those people. She walked down the stairs, the music swelling, louder and louder, her heart thrumming in her ears. She walked down the stairs and right out the door, leaving the murmurs of the crowds behind her. It was fear that drove them first. For the first five hundred miles or so, neither of them said a word.

Aggie drove and kept a death grip on the wheel. Sylvia sat in the seat beside her, still in her wedding dress, and every so often, she gave in to the urge to look behind her to see if they were being followed. They stopped at a crossroads just over the state line and Sylvia Mathers, daughter and heiress to the Mathers fortune, gathered up the folds of her custom-made wedding dress to change clothes in the bathroom of a greasy spoon. She put on a pair of linen pants, a polka dot blouse and stuffed the dress into her suitcase. She stepped out and used the tissues in her sleeve to swipe at the rouge on her cheeks and the color on her eyes.

Down came the pins that kept her tidal wave of red hair. She took her time combing it and pinned the top half of it back over her ears. Not a single tear. Francis Mathers Sr. His anger was for closed doors and his family. Sylvia thought of her brother and for a fleeting moment, she prayed and prayed hard that he would read the writing on the wall and leave. Sylvia swallowed hard and met her own eyes in the mirror.

She would never be able to go home, she realized, her chest tightening. It would not be possible. Not while her father lived. The thought echoed through her as she made her way out of the narrow bathroom and to a counter stool beside Aggie, who had taken a road map with her from the car and unfolded it so she could study the routes over her cup of coffee.

Sylvia sat down in silence and nodded with thanks when the waitress came over and poured her a cup of coffee. The two women sat in silence, Aggie staring at the map and Sylvia looking somewhere beyond it. After two refills of good, strong coffee, Aggie looked up at Sylvia. Sylvia wrenched open the door to the backseat and climbed into the back. She peeled out of the parking lot. In fact, when she saw the familiar dip in the road at Fallswell Rd, she aimed for it.

The mansion was silent and dark and behind its eaves, the moon had risen, swollen with light. In the backseat of the car, Sylvia moaned. Her suspicions were confirmed when they spotted the old sedan parked behind a cluster of trees at the far end of the curved drive. But when they walked into the house, it was dark. Aggie moved fast and turned on lights but only Sylvia used her voice.


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Are you here? They followed a trail of crumbs, a champagne cork and a fallen napkin upstairs. Aggie opened the door to the room on the third floor and stared at the mess that had been left there. A chair was overturned, a plate was on the floor. She reached down and picked up the champagne bottle that was half full and dripped onto the Persian rug. She screeched, in fact, and Aggie dropped the bottle, her heart in her throat because Sylvia sounded afraid and she was never really ever afraid.

She followed the sound down the stairs and to the corner of the house, the part of the house that they never, ever used, the one that had once held the study of Frank Mathers Sr. Aggie followed the light into the former study and there, she saw Sylvia, her hands clenched, and with her stood the son of the house, Frank Mathers Jr. Frank Mathers Jr. At sixty-two, he was gray at the temples and had the same charming smile.

Sylvia had clasped a hand over her chest and gripped the doorway for balance. Aggie was irritated at first at what she assumed was a typical overreaction but then saw that she was white as a sheet. Frank ignored the question and continued to study the room. And it looks completely unchanged. Except for the desk, of course. Where is the desk? At least her color had returned, Aggie thought. It was the only item in the house that was missing. No one knows where it went. Her color was back all right, as well as her voice. It rang out in the room. He actually looked nervous, Aggie thought.

She wondered if the night could get any more strange. She made quite an entrance today, Petula. She saw the corner of his mouth twitch, just once, and she pounced. This calculated misdirection allowed Freddy free reign to do as he wished, since what he wished for most often was to be out of the house after midnight. Out the front door and to the side of the house without a sound… He grabbed his bike and moved it cautiously through the dark and picked it up right where he knew the sensors to be for the porch light.

Down the street, he hopped on and started pedaling. Cliffwood at three in the morning seemed to stay perfectly still, even the trees. It slumbered so deeply that Freddy felt like the last boy on earth. Around the corner, first one right and then a left. He avoided Main Street, just in case some stragglers hung out in front of the closed bar where his father worked, and surveyed the town in silence from his bike.

He came upon them by accident. And nothing like destiny at all. Her arms were tired. Her brain was tired. Moving a limp body from place to place was exhausting; how did the perps find the energy, frankly? She took a deep breath in the cool night air, turned around and came face-to-face with a boy. The boy almost came up to her shoulder and was as thin as a wire, his hair dark. There was a streak of color in it. Rose frowned. Drug addict? She studied him for a quick second and did a mental shake of her head.

In Cliffwood? Not possible. The boy studied her for a moment and then tried to peer around her, into the car. Just riding around. Rose moved to block the backseat window and, beyond it, the sight of her sister sprawled out on the seat, unconscious. She glanced at the bike beside him.

And go away. Go home. She wore her cop face, she knew she did. And she felt every bit as menacing as she knew she looked. An old mentor had told her that was the key to intimidation. He took a step back, instinct, and when he did, his eyes flickered up to hers. There, in the dim light, Rose was treated to a memory. It was faint, like a glimmer. Did she know this boy? Was that possible? She felt the flesh prickle on her arms as the memory receded, out of her grasp.

Everything in Cliffwood seemed to nip at her heels the same way. I hate it and all its corners. The boy went white. He looked from her to the woman in the car, back to Rose, and then he dropped his bike and walked to the curb to sit down.

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Before Rose could say a word, he dropped his head between his knees and breathed. In the yellow haze of the street light, Rose noticed the streak of color in his hair was actually blue. Rose felt the shame rip through her. Dammit, dammit, dammit, she thought. What was wrong with her?

What had she done? It was one thing to lash out at Pet, to drop a bomb, but she forgot what would happen when that bomb actually left her hands. Forgot there would be a boy there, swept up in the blast. A boy who, she was sure, would not easily let her leave. Not now. He looked surprised. When he looked up at her, he looked lost.

Petula woke up with her mouth pressed against a dusty leather seat. She opened one eye and winced as the pain shot through her head. The blow to the temple had done nothing to her memory; it all came back in an instant and Petula knew immediately where she was and why. It was the same when she awoke with a hangover, no disorientation. Her own strange, useless superpower. She went perfectly still and ignored her fallen hair. Petula did what she was told and listened. The car door was open, she realized. She could feel the draft on her legs. No car sounds, a quiet street.

It was late, she remembered, very late. She listened harder- where was Rose? Where was she? She heard the voices then. A male voice. She listened harder; a voice that broke, ever so slightly. What the hell was Rose doing out there with a kid? She opened her eyes now, her ears trained on their voices. They were not far away but no close enough to see her open her eyes.

Pet moved her head slightly and peered between the two front seats to the steering wheel and, dangling from the dashboard, the car keys. Her lips twitched. Oh, Rose. She would have to move fast, she realized. She could not slink up to the wheel; there was not enough time and the car would move too much. But not to the steering wheel, she thought. Petula listened for the voices and her muscles tensed in anticipation. She went over the plan one more time and counted the steps between the backseat to the car door to the lock mechanism to the front seat.

When she felt ready, she planted her hands beneath her and moved her body up slightly, into almost a push-up. It was misty with rain outside. She had no idea that after school, he walked out of school, took the 10 bus across town and walked into the hospital.

She had no idea that her grandson was being born or that he had even been conceived. It was the first name that popped into his mind. It was just one of the reasons why Lily Newell would cry at the end of that long, hard, wonderful day, the one that started out so normal, so nondescript. The other reasons why she would cry, in her bed, later that night… the way her son had looked in the hallway when she arrived at the hospital, the way his body shook and trembled.

It had always just been the two of them. She cried afresh when she thought of it later, when she was alone. Now there would be three of them. She cried tears of both joy and pain, for herself and for her son who, in just one day, was no longer a boy. And the girl… the girl with the funny name. Later, after she had cuddled baby Freddy and let the shock wash over her fully, Lily walked into her room quietly and saw the mother laying in the narrow bed, on her side, facing the window.

Her red hair was limp and fell over her shoulder. She was rail thin, despite having just given birth. Lily felt a stab of pity as she walked into the room alone. Please leave. Lily laid in her bed, remembering the moment; how she knew, in that instant, that the girl would leave them both, Mike and the child. She knew it with every fiber of her being. Right or wrong, she would not cry, not for the girl.

Never again. Her sister did not make an appearance, nor did her Aunt Sylvia. Petula had just awoken from a nap and opened her eyes to see the woman standing in the doorway, staring at her. Petula closed her eyes and willed her to leave. It worked. When Pet opened her eyes, the woman was gone. A small bouquet of flowers rested on the table beside her, though. Her favorite. Mike did not dare enter. It was better that way, she thought, as she flitted in and out of sleep. They had already agreed, after all, that the baby would stay with him, belong to him.

S MITTY — his manner slightly contemptuous I don't think there's much danger of meeting any of their submarines, not until we get into the War Zone, at any rate. S MITTY — conciliatingly Oh, I wasn't doubting your word, Davis; but you know they're not pasting up bulletins to let the crew know when the zone is reached — especially on ammunition ships like this. He and Davis both glance at Smitty, who is deep in thought and is not listening to the conversation.

I VAN — drinking the last of his coffee and slamming his fist on the bench explosively I tell you dis rotten coffee give me bellyache, yes! They all look at him in amused disgust. J ACK — Eight bells, fellers. J ACK — No, and yuh won't hear any ring, yuh boob — lowering his voice unconsciously now we're in the war zone. J ACK — Sure; we can lower 'em in a second. J ACK — They ain't goin' to hit us, see?

That's my dope. Whose wheel is it? J ACK — And whose lookout? J ACK — scornfully A hell of a lot of use keepin' a lookout! We couldn't run away or fight if we wanted to. Scotty goes to the doorway and turns to wait for Smitty, who is still in the same position, head on hands, seemingly unconscious of everything.

Jack slaps him roughly on the shoulder and he comes to with a start. Aft and report, Duke! What's the matter with yuh — in a dope dream? Smitty goes out after Scotty without answering. Jack looks after him with a frown. He's a queer guy. I can't figger him out. J ACK — suspiciously What d'yuh mean?

The Brits do Barbecue

They are interrupted by the entrance of Driscoll and Cocky. Ye'd be blown to smithereens b'fore ye cud say your name. He sits down, overturning as he does so the untouched cup of coffee which Smitty had forgotten and left on the bench. They all jump nervously as the tin cup hits the floor with a bang.

Driscoll flies into an unreasonable rage. Who's the dirty scut left this cup where a man 'ud sit on ut? If he does I'm the bye'll beat that noshun out av his head. S'posin' he did ferget his cup — what's the diff? He picks up the cup and puts it away — with a grin This war zone stuff's got yer goat, Drisc — and yours too, Cocky — and I ain't cheerin' much fur it myself, neither. The divil take their twenty-foive percent bonus — and be drowned like a rat in a trap in the bargain, mavbe. I'm sick wid thinkin' and jumpin' at iviry bit av a noise. There is a pause during which they all stare gloomily at the floor.

I want to wait an' see if he's comin' back. He adds with an air of satisfaction An' you won't be feelin' no safer, neither. They all look at him with puzzled glances full of a vague apprehension. Like day. And I've somethin' myself to tell aboot his Lordship. You 'member when I went to git the coffee, Jack? He was standin' in the middle of the fo'c's'tle there pointing lookin' around sneakin' — like at Ivan and Swanson and the rest 's if he wants to make certain they're asleep. He pauses significantly, looking from one to the other of his listeners. Scotty is nervously dividing his attention between Smitty on the hatch outside and Davis's story, fairly bursting to break in with his own revelations.

He was standin' right there — pointing again in his stockin' feet — no shoes on, mind, so he wouldn't make no noise! D AVIS — not heeding the interruption I seen right away somethin' on the queer was up so I slides back into the alleyway where I kin see him but he can't see me.

After he makes sure they're all asleep he goes in under the bunks there — bein' careful not to raise a noise, mind! By this time everyone, Jack included, is listening breathlessly to his story. Then he fishes in his pocket an' takes out a bunch o' keys an' kneels down beside the bag an' opens it. D AVIS — surprised, and a bit nettled to have to share his story with anyone Oh, you seen him, too, eh? D AVIS — He bends down and reaches out his hand sort o' scared — like, like it was somethin' dang'rous he was after, an' feels round in under his duds — hidden in under his duds an' wrapped up in 'em, it was — an' he brings out a black iron box!

Sneaks to his bunk an' slips the black box in under his mattress — in under his mattress, mind! Jack starts toward Smitty's bunk. Driscoll grabs him by the arm. J ACK — You needn't worry. I ain't goin' to touch it. He pulls up Smitty's mattress and looks down. The others stare at him, holding their breaths. He turns to them, trying hard to assume a careless tone. It's there, aw right. J ACK — in a voice meant to be reassuring Aw, hell! I'll bet it ain't nothin' but some coin he's saved he's got locked up in there.

How'd it come to git open, tell me that? I know'd well Paul never opened it. Ain't he grumblin' about bein' cold all the time? J ACK — sourly What porthole? What're yuh talkin' about? C OCKY — firmly convinced now An' wots 'e doin' aht alone on the 'atch — keepin' 'isself clear of us like 'e was afraid? How d'we know he's English? Cos he talks it? That ain't no proof. Ain't you read in the papers how all them German spies they been catchin' in England has been livin' there for ten, often as not twenty years, an' talks English as good's anyone?

An' look here, ain't you noticed he don't talk natural? He talks it too damn good, that's what I mean. He don't talk exactly like a toff, does he, Cocky? An' he don't look English.


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An' what d'we know about him when you come to look at it? He ain't ever said where he comes from or why. All we knows is he ships on here in London 'bout a year b'fore the war starts, as an A. Ain't that queer in itself? An' was he ever open with us like a good shipmate? No; he's always had that sly air about him 's if he was hidin' somethin'.

J ACK — evidently fighting against his own conviction Aw, say, you guys give me a pain! What'd they want puttin' a spy on this old tub for? Here he comes! Scotty hurries over to a bench and sits down. A thick silence settles over the forecastle. The men look from one to another with uneasy glances. Smitty enters and sits down beside his bunk.

He is seemingly unaware of the dark glances of suspicion directed at him from all sides. He slides his band back stealthily over his mattress and his fingers move, evidently feeling to make sure the box is still there. The others follow this movement carefully with quick looks out of the corners of their eyes.

Their attitudes grow tense as if they were about to spring at him. Satisfied the box is safe, Smitty draws his hand away slowly and utters a sigh of relief.