A little known ‘dirty’ war waged between the government authorities, desperately trying to preserve some of Britain’s last natural resources, and the even more desperate illegal immigrants trying to eke out an existence.
Commander James T. Jerk scratched his wooden leg absentmindedly, and swore loudly as a large splinter buried itself deep under the finger nail of his index finger.
” ‘Chippie’ up on the bridge, now,” he screamed into the intercom, “and bring some sandpaper.”
Pulling the splinter out with his teeth, Jerk thought back to that time seven years ago when he lost his right leg, left arm, right ear, left eyeball, right testicle, left kidney, and his wallet with a winning lottery ticket inside, whilst commanding the H.M.S. Sinkfast during the fierce battle for the Nigerian Delta. The remaining two digits on his right hand, one still bleeding, wandered almost instinctively to the well fingered M.B.A. medal (Missing Bits in Action,) that he wore with pride over his collapsed left breast. Shifting uncomfortably on his chair, the absent right buttock made sitting up straight difficult, he spoke to his second in command.
“Bring her about 41 degrees of port and tell me when she has drunk enough to let me in her bed, Number 1, and any sign of the enemy yet?”
First officer Simon Simpleton lowered the binoculars from his exhausted bloodshot eyes. The party last night had been an incredible lesson in over indulgence, and he made a silent pledge never again to mix Red Bull and cheap Vodka 50/50, as he replied to his commanding officer.
“All I see are waves and they doubled. I don’t feel very well and is it alright to go below for a bit of kip, sir?”
Jerk sighed. Simpleton had been the only survivor besides himself when the H.M.S. Sinkfast had spectacularly self exploded after he had made the decision to scuttle the ship rather than let the enemy in 5 dug out canoes enter the delta and sabotage the oil refinery. Simpleton rarely spoke about that moment of truth, when the man had desperately struggled with his conscience to either shoot him and let terrorists destroy Britain’s desperately need fuel for the latest models of four wheel drives, or sacrifice the ship and crew, thus sending a message around the world, (Help, the Captain is mad!,) still clutched in the hundreds of hands that went up with the ship.
“Go ahead, Number One, I’ll keep an eye on things, take King Kong’s bint with you, she also looks worse for wear” Signalling with his good arm to the slumped figure of Jane Noname, rescued along with himself and Simpleton from a malarial infested mangrove swamp where they had landed after the ship blew up, she spoke no English besides, “More Port”, and walked on all fours.
‘Chippie’ turned up from where he had been engrossed in filing his teeth into sharp triangles.
A gruff, but gentle kid, he was intent to prove that his bight could be worse than his bark.
“Give us ya leg Captain, I’ll sand the bugger good this time, got to keep ya on your toes if we gonna catch them sneaky slitzzies.”
Jerk hated ‘Chippie’ talking like this, the uncouth ASBO collector was only 17, but he came along with the new ship now under his command, the H.M.S. Dump, a 22 foot, wood rot riddled pontoon grounded permanently in the middle of the Mawddach estuary in North Wales.
“They are illegal Chinese cockle poachers, ‘Chippie’, and please refrain from such racial inferences, otherwise it is my right to have you keel hauled if we ever get afloat.”
As ‘Chippie’ got to work on the splitting parts of his prosthesis, Jerk mentally went over once more the recent intelligence that had been passed to him in the ‘Last Inn’ pub the night before. According to a reliable source, that he had carefully nurtured for the last seven years with free beers paid out of his disability pension, today the Cockle thieves would sneak up the estuary unnoticed, disguised as tourists in black wet suits on rented Jet Skis, plunder one of Britain’s last cockle beds and sell them duty free to Chinese restaurants in Beijing.
“Not whilst there is breath in my right lung still in me left,” thought Jerk, as he watched ‘Chippie’ create a small pile of sawdust below his extended leg. He had worked on the plan to stop the raiders for over four years and now he was ready. 26 giant bottles of household cooking gas were stored below; connected together they were only stopped from expelling their deadly fumes by the handle mounted on the commander’s chair.
The navy had refused to give him a 22 inch battery gun, quoting local Gwynedd council health and safety regulations, but the hero of the Nigerian Delta had not been put off. That experience seven years ago could be put to good effect.
“There coming,” Jerk whispered conspiratorially to ‘Chippie’, his good ear tuned to the sounds of the approaching roars of the Jet Skis. “Get Jane and Simpleton, prepare the escape dingy, and stand by for action; RED ALERT!” With that, Jerk pulled the bright red lever to ‘Open’ and the gas started to flood into the pontoon. Timing was critical. Unlike the Delta incident, when the spectacular self destruction of H.M.S. Sinkfast had managed to destroy several hundred acres of rain forest, along with 5 dugout canoes and the oil refinery it had been sent to protect, his new command had limited fire power.
As his crew gathered, the hiss of the expelling gas drowned out by the noise of the approaching smugglers, Commander James T. Jerk, took 4 Cuban cigars out his top right breast pocket. Handing them out, he winked, tugged his shirt down, smoothing out the wrinkles and as the stench of gas reached his nostrils said to his motley crew,
“Don’t light them till the fat lady sings huh, we done it ship mates. Britain will once more be safe from terrorists”
‘Chippie’ sniffed appreciatively at the cigar in his hand,
“Didn’t they say that in some movie?” he commented, as he flicked the wheel on his newly stolen Zippo lighter.