“Oh, no!” exclaimed a heavily soiled Ferdy, “what do we do now?”
“Out the way,” growled Zelda, splashing to the fore. She flicked off the safety on her SPAS-15 and fired two rounds from the hip while everyone else waded for cover. Brick chippings and cement dust flew in all directions. There was silence for a moment and then three of the bars toppled outwards with a clang.
“Zelda!” protested Slasher. Yet the geek’s rash action had facilitated their egress.
The tide was out when the gang dropped down from the culvert onto a muddy foreshore strewn with plastic bottles, shopping trolleys and old car tyres. Gathering their bearings they turned up stream and trudged along the stinking beach until they reached the ladder at the back of Bozzys Den. As they entered through the French windows the back room cleared, its nip-addled clientele rushing the door.
“Oh phew!” Sam left off playing Got My Mojo Working. “Hot baths all round by the looks. D’you want those clothes burned or do you expect some poor sod to wash them?”
“I’ll make my own arrangements,” said Slasher, departing by the front door. “See you all in the morning.” Dark Flo rang Beryl.
Scrubbed up and luxuriating in fresh clean clothes the gang met up again at their table in the bay window. Flo descended the stairs, pristine in a slinky black satin gown, raven hair combed over her left eye, marched over to the Amplion 4 M Carbon Spring Microphone that stood alongside Sam’s piano and launched into The Moon and I, pitched low to match her sultry voice. At the end of the number, rewarded with a subdued ripple of applause and a couple of wolf whistles, she brought a bottle of Absinth over to the table. “Beryl will be down first thing with the DoX. I’ve just rung the Local Friends in Salmon Lane for a Chinese takeaway. It will be here shortly.”
Next morning saw them sitting at the same window table. The den was all but deserted. A few of the girls, who had no homes to go to, slumbered on chaises longues, Flo was washing up behind the bar. Boz piled up the breakfast plates and put them on a neighbouring table as Slasher walked in. The masked cat sat and Zelda produced the chart that she had brought out of the nubble universe. A curving dotted line from Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia to an area of sea just north of Le Havre showed the carrier’s great circle track. A series of red dots with hour and date indicated the ships estimated location at given times.
“What’s the other bit of paper?” asked Phoebles.
“It’s the centre spread from a recent Eagle comic,” said Zelda unfolding a full colour cutaway illustration of their target. It was titled Ro8 Supercarrier and showed the interior layout in considerable detail.
“Handy,” said Slasher.
“And what are those?” asked Boz, pointing to several grey pods labelled (2).
Zelda read the blurb, “Phalanx Sea-Whiz radar controlled anti-aircraft/missile close-in weapon systems.”
“Bugger,” said Boz.
“No probs. They’re my department,” called Flo, opening the French windows so they all heard the distinctive drone of the Dornier flying boat’s twelve engines. “That’ll be Beryl now.
They gathered on the balcony in time to see the DoX drop anchor and a small launch head for the Den. A startling apparition mounted the ladder. Blonde dreadlocks poked out from under her flying helmet. She was wearing a floral Afghan Kuchi frock under a thin grey cardigan and striped woollen socks with huaraches sandals.
“Beryl?” said Flo, “What’s got into you?”
“Stress not, girl. I’m great. Rotskagg’s crew liberated this amazing stash after the Jersey Zoo debacle. You wouldn’t believe… Try some.”
“Black coffee might be a better idea,” replied Flo.