Francis Meyrick

A Blip on the Radar (23B) “Eggs and Psychopaths “

Posted on May 9, 2010

A Blip on the Radar

Part 23B: “Eggs and Psychopaths “

“Come into my parlor,
said the Spider to the Fly;
the place is very comfy,
the ceiling nice and high.
Your wings could do with leisure,
they look quite beat to me
come in and fill your measure
of jam and toast for tea. “

“Thank you kindly, Spider,
the simple Fly replied,
(the empty tum inside ‘er,
helping her decide)
“I’d love some jammy munchies
it’s been a long hard day
and have you any crunchies,
to go with my entree?

The Spider smiled all nectarine,
and promised goo galore
“As much as you have ever seen,
you’ll never wish for more. “

The Spider kept his promise,
the Fly could only wail
“Oh why did I so misconstrue
the meaning of your tale?
I should have guessed quite easily,
the menu of the day;
but here I land so queesily,
smack in the old puree.

Which only goes to show anew
that smiles are mostly thin
and if a Spider welcomes you
you should never trust his grin…

Francis Meyrick

The Chief Engineer on that ship was an older gentleman, in his sixties, and an absolute sweetheart.
I don’t think I ever saw him shout, or even raise his voice. He was excellent at his job, and the engine room ran like clockwork. I’ve seen the reverse on other boats, believe me.
Well, he enjoyed the frequent hilarity, and one night at the table, he decided he wanted to learn English.
He made the solemn announcement, I missed what he said, and the Radio Operator kindly translated.
“Oh! ” I said, “What English word would he like to learn first? “
The gentleman thought for a while, and then made his choice. He wanted to learn the English word for, guess what….?

“Sentinpjin “.

Okay, I said. That would be “Psychopath “. But I warned it was kind of a very difficult word for a first word.
I pronounced it carefully for him, and his face fell. Nonetheless, determined, he frowned in concentration, pursed his lips, and tried his first English word:

“Saiko-Puttthhhhh “.

Not bad, I said. But it’s “Psycho-path “. Not “Saiko-Puttthhhh “.
He concentrated furiously. And tried again. The whole table breathlessly followed his efforts, and then looked to me for my correction. Like a tennis match.
Over the next few days, whenever he met me walking down the hallway, he would stop in front of me, moisten his lips, and a serious concentration would pass over his features. Then he would raise a finger, as if to command silence, and carefully have another go at mouthing his first English word:

“Saiko-Puttthhhh “.

And I would reply with whatever new Chinese word I was testing out. Then we would nod to each other, him with a serious, intent expression, and me with a straight face, enjoying the entertainment.
Needless to say, one day…

But before I go there, I should recount the egg affair.
The most important step -if you’re a spider- is to carefully study your target. I had decided I was going to set up my observer, who could be a moody sod. When he was good, he was fine. When he was moody, he tended to yell and get excited.
In short, a perrrrrrfect target.
It all revolved around the hard boiled eggs. The cook had bought a whole stack in port, and he would prepare them in different ways. But every so often, he would just hard boil them in a large pot, and then there would be hard boiled eggs in small bowls all along the table. Cool.
With that observation complete, the next thing was to slowly, slowly, lure the prey into the trap.

“Come into my parlor,
said the Spider to the Fly;
the place is very comfy,
the ceiling nice and high.
Your wings could do with leisure,
they look quite beat to me
come in and fill your measure
of jam and toast for tea. “

That took several days too. Rather than just breaking the shell by tapping the egg on the table, I took to making a sport out of it. Juggling the egg. One hand to the other. The Observer, would follow this childishness with bored eyes. Then I would break the hard-boiled egg by tapping it off my forehead.
Then I would raise my eyes at him questioningly, and imply he should do the same. He ignored me for a few times, but I quietly persisted. Then one day, just to humor his crazy Irish pilot, he followed suit.
He wouldn’t do the little juggle, but he would break it off his forehead. Just to get me off his back. I would beam in pleasure. Bored, he’d probably be thinking:
Crazy Irish pilot…
But he didn’t know what I was thinking…
It took a few weeks, but we had the little ritual going reliably enough. If he was in a good mood, because we had been flying and spotted fish, then he was more likely to play the ritual, and bounce the hard boiled egg off his forehead. And I would reply, mock solemnly.
Maybe, I reasoned, it was becoming a good luck ritual. I knew the Chinese were superstitious. That was fine by me. As long as he would reliably, as and when the hard boiled eggs turned up, do the old break-egg-off-forehead trick.

Then, one day…
Hard boiled eggs in little bowls again. He hadn’t arrived for tsuh-wann yet, and it was the perfect opportunity. Furtively, I made a slight, technical adjustment. I hoped nobody would notice, but a young sailor across the room just caught the movement. He couldn’t figure it out. But he nudged his companion, and he looked across as well. I stared them both down, with a quizzical, raised eyebrow. They looked down.
In comes Happy Face. Sits down. And I do the old egg juggle trick. Culminating with the breaks-hardboiled egg off my forehead trick. Then I stare at him, questioningly.
Just to humor me, his crazy Irish pilot, with a weary Yeah-yeah-yeah attitude, he reciprocates, and picks up an egg from the little bowl.

Fresh egg pouring all down his face…

A while later, we were in Rabaul, in Papua new Guinea, and there were several other boats there. As usual, we ended up in a bar, swopping stories. There was much hilarity, and the tales of the fun and games on my boat quickly spread. Yet another tuna boat turned up, a friend of mine, and soon a net boat was working its way across the water towards our ship. My mate climbed up the ladder, grinning and shaking his head.

“Moggy, I’m hearing endless stories about you and this boat…. What have you been up to now? “

As we made our way to my cabin, we were suddenly confronted by an elderly Chinese, with a very serious expression. He barred our way, his face reflecting the weight of his mission. He pointed a finger at me, as if to command my total attention, moistened his lips, and enunciated clearly:


I replied in Chinese, we nodded seriously at each other, and I walked on.
Followed quickly by my buddy, who was looking over his shoulder, aghast, whispering:

“Moggy! What the f#&k! was that all about…? “

“Oh! “, I replied. “Don’t worry about it. He’s just learning English… “

Francis Meyrick

Last edited by Francis Meyrick on April 12, 2014, 7:32 pm

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2 responses to “A Blip on the Radar (23B) “Eggs and Psychopaths “”

  1. This is hilarious.  So precariously planned.  And the timing and placement of events in your story, how you’ve written it, are equally carefully portrayed.  It creates just the perfect atmosphere of humor.

    The poem at the beginning was an interesting decision.  I wasn’t sure the tone was quite right for the story, but it may be funnier than I think.  I have this horrible association with spiders, so, while the poem’s tone may be humorous like the story, it makes me cringe a bit too much.  But that’s just me.

    I also found myself trying to read the story to the rhythm of the poem…just at first.  I guess I got caught up in the meter.  That’s probably a good thing for a poem that has so much in common with some of the (creepier, in my opinion) nursery rhymes…

    Those are just my thoughts.   I truly enjoyed it.  Very funny.

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