He looked over at Arkie and she smiled at him. “Do you come here often? Down south?”
“I live down here now,” she purred. His chest thumped. He could feel Andrew’s flat, fuck off eyes.
“Did yer have a good night, last night, bro?” He grinned sideways at his brother before sliding his eyes to the cockpit again. “I saw you had company.”
“You musta been sitting up drinking again, Gordy. How many weeks has it been now?”
“Ahh, you get that on the big jobs.”
Andrew didn’t really love Trappey’s wife. Trappey knew what it was all about. He’d sat for two years now, ruminating in his little house that clattered with wifely knick knacks. He’d had enough time. He knew.
One night, he stalked the hallways in a restless rage, thinking, what is the wound, where does it hurt most for him? How can I hurt him? When did I see him hurt bad and how to do it again?
Just gotta ask the right question. His mind went straight to that sunny day on the wharf when the two brothers sat by the bow of a massive container ship and fished for herring and squid. Gordon was thirteen, Andrew eleven. (He thought. He’d spent so long not thinking about it, he couldn’t remember what year or even how old they were.) It could have been any day of hundreds. They spent their summer holidays crawling under the wharf, sitting on the dank iron walkways where water lapped against the jarrah piles and pigeons gently resented their intrusion. There was always a bit of action about the place; sailors painting their national flags on the wharf, someone hooking a stingray.
It was one of the Panama registered ships, rather dodgy looking with its rust holes and peeling paint. An Asian man knelt beside them and said, “You come up for whiskey?” Of course the boys were up the gangplank and into the creep’s cabin without even thinking of ‘stranger danger’. They each had an enamel mug of foul tasting stuff, rice whiskey Trappey later realised, and they sat on the man’s bed. Gordy began to feel strange, a combination of the drink and some kind of expectation, a sweat of alarm building in his body. The man’s walls were covered in girlie pictures - but he was looking at them. He gave them each a can of Coke to mix with the whiskey. The can had writing in another language on it and it buckled easily, aluminium. Gordy had never seen an aluminium can before. The buckling sound made him feel sick. He excused himself and ran through the warren of steel hallways, onto the deck and down the gangplank, where he vomited into the water and lay for a while, watching the oily slick gather around the piles.
Then he remembered his brother and ran back up to the deck, where he found Andrew climbing out of the hold, looking green and bewildered and hurt.
It was the same hurt Trappey had been looking to inflict after the bastard had stolen his wife. But remembering that day on the wharf made Trappey realise why Andrew hated him so much. And he deserved that. Couldn’t even protect his little brother. No wonder Andrew looked at him with that scorn tinged with shame.
Even while checking the cockpit, Trappey felt the blood rush to his face as the day on the wharf came back to him again. So what do you do with that shit? It doesn’t get any better knowing these things. He couldn’t seem to rid himself of it these days; it got bigger and bigger in his stomach like the opposite of starving. Sometimes he felt it had to come out or it will kill him. He did wonder if his wife knew. Maybe Andrew told her and that was why she left. Once, that night at the inlet, she said, “You are carrying something to big. I can’t live with it anymore and not know what it is.” He didn’t know himself back then. He was on permanent autopilot. It took a very dark clique’ of the soul to dredge up a secret like that and another hundred pissy nights to survive it.