A Wing and a Prayer

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Chapter 18

When Beverley and Iain got to the ferry, Jake was still there, along with about four uniformed officers, leaning in to the vehicle windows and talking to the drivers of the cars and vans for a second or two. Iain parked his van in the road before the entrance to the harbour terminal and went on foot to see if Beverley got aboard alright. He ran over to the sea wall and watched from the other side as Beverley drove up to the ramp and was stopped by one of the officers. Jake was otherwise occupied with another car and Iain watched nervously as the officer seemed to spend more time with Beverley than anyone else. He never looked into the van, though, and seemed more concerned in the conversation with her, than his actual job! By the time a real sense of panic started to creep in for Iain, the officer smiled and waived her aboard, without even a glance at the inside of the van. Menzies smiled broadly to himself and ran back to his van, safe in the knowledge that if he were stopped now, it would just make Jake look even more paranoid than he already was! In a way, he was even looking forward to it! The money was safe, and that was all that mattered. He started up the van, crunched into gear, and headed off to the ferry. When he arrived, Jake, who was in the middle of a conversation with another driver, stopped in mid-speech and waived the driver on. He almost had a smile on his face as he immediately marched over to Iain’s van, bringing another officer with him. Iain couldn’t help but grin as he wound down the window and shouted out, mockingly,

“Afternoon, Jake! Looks serious – what’s going on? More bloodshed and gang fights at the St Mary’s Chapel tearooms!”

Jake glared at Iain, his contempt at the thought of being made a fool of by the likes of Menzies and the rest of his cronies on the island, already festering away within him.

“We’re just looking for contraband. General, criminal goings-on. Not that you would know anything about that, Menzies, would you?”

Iain smugly leant his arm on the door frame of the van and said,

“Absolutely not, Jake. You’ve got me all wrong you have!”

“Aye, well, we’ll see, one of these days. What’s in the van today? Been to the ‘bank’, today? More railings, or wooden pallets for a deposit?” Jake replied, sarcastically.

“It’s empty,” replied Iain,

“Let’s have a look, then!” said Jake, going around to the back of the van, while Iain just sat where he was, watching them in the rear view mirror.

He watched the doors at the back get wrenched open as if Jake was trying the element of surprise with anything, or anyone, that might be in there and oblivious to the conversation beforehand! Jake looked into the empty van and sneered again, clenching his teeth knowing he had been proved wrong yet again. Iain watched in the mirror and smiled, laughing inside at the foolishness of Jake as the doors slammed closed and they both came around to the side again.

“I’m sure you’re up to something Iain Menzies! On your way!” Jake said, almost snarling.

Iain simply shrugged his shoulders and edged the van on to the slipway and on to the ferry as the loading ramp raised up behind him and the ferry prepared to move off. He got out the van and went over to where Beverley was parked and couldn’t resist a look back to see the Jake storming back towards the other officers, who were all standing around, looking extremely bored! The other Police officers, clearly did not share the same enthusiasm for the task that Jake had!

“You made it then?” Beverley said.

“Aye! I’m more glad that you did, though!” Iain replied.

“Why is Jake MacFarlane so interested in searching you and having half the Ayrshire constabulary involved in it?” Beverley asked.

“Oh, that’s just Jake, though isn’t it? I’m sure he thinks we’re pinching stuff and selling it on the mainland. You know what

he’s like. There must be a promotion, or the opportunity to become a real Policeman, coming up or something.”

Beverley thought for a minute and then said,

“You don’t think they are looking for that Nazi pilot, do you?”

Iain was surprised that Beverley might be referring to Klein and, replied, taking a look around to make sure that no-one could hear them,

“What pilot? What are you talking about?”

Beverley laughed and said,

“The Gerry that landed over here! Oh, come on, I know all about him. We saw the ’plane come down and actually saw Andy in his tractor later with a piles of wreckage in it and a strange helper! Mags eventually told me later.”

Iain sighed with relief and said,

“Aye, it’s a bit scary having him here, I have to admit!”

“I’m guessing that this ‘scrap metal’ of yours is the poor bastard’s ’plane?”

Iain looked down and shuffled his feet on the deck,

“Well, it was too good an opportunity to miss, really.”

Beverley laughed and shook her head as she looked out towards the sea again.

“We saw him come down, too. George and I watched him get lower and lower and we guessed that if he hadn’t ditched in the sea, then he must have come down near, or on Andy’s land, somewhere. Came down on a wing and a prayer, no doubt.” Beverley said.

“McCulloch even thought that he had crashed, and that Andy had either buried the body, or even worse, actually killed the poor bastard and buried him!” Iain, laughed recalling the way McCulloch described his first encounter at seeing the crashed ’plane before being introduced to Klein.

Iain then thought about the Police on the dock and said,

“They can’t be looking for him. I’m sure there would have been most of the Special Branch crawling over the island if they thought that. They wouldn’t entrust an arsehole like Jake with the hunt for a Gerry pilot.”

Beverley replied,

“There is talk on the mainland that they found the pilot’s body, anyway, or at least some of the stuff he was wearing. Can’t imagine you’d last long out there without a lifejacket, at least.”

Beverley turned to Iain and added,

“George and I just kept quiet until we found out if you lot had anything to do with it, and sure enough . . .” she tailed off the sentence with a laugh and a shake of her head.

Iain added,

“We should steer clear of getting involved in any conversation with anyone about this, though. You never know who might be listening – remember ’Loose talk costs lives”, Iain quoted from one of the many posters in public places to remind people about spies and indulging in careless talk. The ramifications being much closer to home on this occasion.

Beverley, being very forthright and with a penchant for getting straight to the point, then added,

“Aye, you’re probably right. How is everyone going to explain away their sudden accumulation of wealth, though?”

Iain looked thoughtful for a second or two and replied,

“I haven’t thought about that, yet,” Iain replied,

“I’m just thankful to have it!”

When the ferry docked in Brodick harbour, Iain followed Beverley in the van all the way back to Whiting Bay and up to the Post Office, where an anxious gathering was awaiting them. They all went to meet them as Beverley got out and started handing everyone the boxes and parcels from her trip.

“Did you get it ,alright?” Andy said, almost with panic in his voice as Beverley dumped a large cardboard box on his arms.

“And ‘hello’ to you too, Mr MacLaren – I’m fine, thanks!” she said, sarcastically.

“Aye, she did that!” exclaimed Iain.

“Never even got searched, although, as we suspected, I bloody well did!”

“Was Jake there?” asked McCulloch.

“Aye, him and about half a dozen others. They were just poking around, but I would have been caught with the money, for sure, if it hadn’t been for Bev.” Iain said, pointing at the van.

McCulloch, still looking concerned at the police presence at the harbour, said,

“I can’t see them wasting that kind of time and resource just to hassle us when they have absolutely no evidence. There must be something else going down. We’ll need to be really careful from now on. Everyone be on their guard.”

Beverley closed the van doors and took the last parcel from the van, which was stuffed between the sidewall and the spare wheel. She gave it to Iain, who said,

“Right! Let’s get this split up! It’s pay day!”

They all went into the house and sat around the table in the room where the telephone exchange was. No-one else picked McCulloch up on his concerns about the Police in Ardrossan harbour as they were all too pre-occupied with the rough parcel sitting prominently on it’s own on the middle of the table. Iain took a penknife from his pocket and opened it. Handing it to Klein, he said,

“Here you are, son. It was your ’plane. You can share out the money.”

Klein smiled, took the knife and began cutting away the brown paper and the tape holding the package together. Everyone looked on incredulously as the paper was peeled away and blocks of notes were revealed in Ten Shilling, £1, £5 and even £10 denominations, all bundled up in neat blocks. Klein began to count out and distribute the money to everyone in bundles of roughly £4000, and as each recipient got their share, they studied it and handled it as though they had never seen money before. They had never seen so much cash in the one place before, that was for sure!

“What is the first thing you are going to buy with it, son?” asked Clark as he watched Klein gently fingering the bundle of money.

Klein looked around at all the happy faces around him and revelled in the kindness and humanity that he had found here in the last few weeks and said,

“I will buy Andy and Mags something for all their kindness since I’ve been here.”

Mags looked slightly embarrassed and Andy said,

“No, no, you don’t. You’ll need that money for when you get home. Set you up a treat that will. Buy your parents something when you get back!”

Andy then warned everyone about the trouble they could find themselves in, if any of this money ever came to light.

“Can I just suggest that everyone be extra careful, now,” he said,

“For the sake of the lad, here, if nothing else. We have to make sure that we can get him home, eventually, and for that to happen, we need to be sensible.”

McCulloch then added,

“Aye, we don’t know what the hell Jake and his pals are looking for, but it may just be wise to keep the spending sensible – no new cars or anything!”

“Chance would be a fine thing! A new tractor, maybe,” added Mags.

“You know what I mean, though,” replied McCulloch.

“If we keep sensible, then we can enjoy this good fortune for the rest of our lives. If we go mad, then we’ll all end up in the slammer and he’ll end up on the Russian front!” McCulloch added, referring to Klein, the meaning of the ‘slammer’ being lost on him, but the phrase ‘Russian front’ being well recognised whatever the dialect.

McCulloch, then suggested the evenings programme of events,

“And on a different note, I suggest we all have a few in the pub tonight to celebrate!”

Everyone heartily agreed!

“Right, then,” McCulloch said,

“It’s time I wasn’t here!”

He then turned to Iain, Clark and Sandy and said,

“Can you drop us all off on the way to the pub, Iain?”

“Aye, no bother – come on.”

They all headed out of the Post Office, each one with a brown paper bag containing their personal war spoils! Iain piled them all into the back of his van and headed for their houses on

the way to the final destination for the evening - McCulloch’s bar. Andy, Mags and Klein walked home to the farm, telling George and Beverley that they would pick them up in a short while.

That night there was a celebration, the likes of which hadn’t been seen in Whiting Bay since last New Year’s Eve, or even Armistice Day. Gordon and Anne McCulloch proved excellent hosts as the ‘B17’s’, the home made wine and some regular brands were consumed in quantity as they celebrated their good fortune.

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