Wednesday 10 July 2013

Paint Job

Roger Noons

Paint Job

Carlos Uno Cognac, a Spanish measure.

It was just after nine hundred hours when I arrived in the Port. Pep was seated outside El Pirata, a glass of cognac by his right elbow.

    ‘Bon dia,’ I shouted cheerily.

    He nodded.

    ‘Where’s Toni?’

    He took his time deciding whether to answer. I found I was deserving of the honour.

    ‘He is touching up Emma Marshall’s bottom.’ He raised his glass and took a drink.

    ‘Emma …?’

    ‘Emma Marshall, from Salcombe, in your country,’ he concluded, in totally unaccented English.

    ‘Ah, a boat,’ I smiled.

    ‘Of course Senor, what did you think?’

    ‘Thanks Pep,’ I said, as he began to shake his head.

I made my way around the harbour, past the area reserved for the Fishermen’s Craft. I heard him before I found him; a falsetto ‘Bésame Mucho’ at high volume.

    ‘Hey, Antonio … que tal?’

    He screwed up his eyes, removed the mask from over his mouth, and then grinned his recognition.

    ‘Amigo!’ He carefully placed the brush across the opened paint pot, and stood to shake my hand. His left hand he used to clasp my shoulder. ‘Good to see you my friend.’

    ‘How soon will you be free of this lady’s bottom?’

    ‘One hora, perhaps two or even three, El Senor pay by the hour.’

    ‘I need you in town,’ I said. ‘We have a job to do.’


    ‘A thousand euros.’ I looked around, and then added, ‘a man needs to be taught a lesson.’

    ‘Come my friend,’ he said seriously, ‘Emma’s bottom will still be here when I return.’

    Ten minutes later we were aboard the Harley, heading for the main road to the capital.

 The journey took just over half an hour; I had been told where to find the guy who was not settling his bills. I directed Toni and we parked a couple of streets away from the bar which was run by his current squeeze. As we turned the corner I halted my partner.

    ‘That’s him, sitting under the Yucca.’

    ‘Oh!’ His reaction was dramatic. ‘No, sorry amigo I cannot … not that man … it is impossible.’ He turned and began walking briskly in the direction from which we had come.

    ‘Toni, hang on, what’s the problem?’

    When we arrived back at the bike, he turned and faced me. ‘He is the owner of the boat …’

    ‘Boat, what boat?’

    ‘Emma Marshall, the lady who’s …’

    ‘Oh, I see,’ and I burst out laughing.

    ‘So you see, I cannot …’

    ‘Of course not, no way. Let’s have a coffee and we’ll return to Soller.’


    Before we parted, I gave Toni a hundred euros.

    He frowned, ‘Que …’

    ‘For your time and trouble, and the fuel for your bike … and for telling me what happens to Miss Marshall after you have completed your task.’

    He looked down at his scuffed trainers. ‘The hoist is booked for tomorrow at ten, she …’

    ‘Thank you my friend.’ I touched his forearm and quickly turned and walked away. As I unlocked the door of the Seat, I saw that he was still staring in my direction.


    ‘Senor Maynard?’

      ‘Yeah, this is Eric Maynard, who’re you?’

    ‘I understand you own a boat, the Emma Marshall, used to be moored in the marina at Puerto de Soller?’

    ‘Yeah I … what you mean, used to be?’

    ‘If you visit the Port, Senor, you will find that the lady has vanished.’

    ‘Who is this? Who d’yer you think you’re talking to? You the guy I asked to paint …’

    ‘Senor Maynard,’ I interrupted. ‘You owe money, you borrowed …’

    ‘Okay, so I borrowed thirty grand from …’

    ‘It needs to be repaid, if you wish to see your Emma again, the one with the newly-painted bottom I mean, not the blonde lady who owns La Cantina on the Portals Nous road. Oh and of course with interest and expenses, it is now fifty thousand. You have forty-eight hours.’

    ‘Who d’yer think you’re talking to …’

    ‘Forty-eight hours Senor, from six o’ clock this evening.’

    ‘Just you …’


Maynard was not to know that I was just twenty-five metres from where he was sitting when I made that call. I was able to sip my San Miguel and watch him jump up and down and throw his mobile phone on to the ground. When he realised that it was broken, he screamed obscenities. The blonde Miss Marshall appeared, highly perturbed by his behaviour.


I rang my boss to advise him of the situation.

    ‘Will he pay up?’ he growled between wheezes.

    ‘I guess so, but if he doesn’t, I have a buyer for the boat. After a name change, she should still fetch three hundred thousand …’

    ‘We would be better off if he did not pay.’

    ‘Seems that way Don Alberto.’


As it happened, Eric Maynard did not get an opportunity to pay his debt. On his way to Don Alberto’s office, he was killed in an accident, when his car was in collision with a truck, on the main road between Palma and the airport. A Guardia Civil Patrol investigated the incident, and found that Senor Maynard was at least three times over the drink/drive limit. When the Cabo Primero checked Maynard’s brief case, he found it contained over fifty thousand euros in used bank notes. There was no obvious reason why he should have been carrying such a sum, the officer deduced, unless he was engaged in an illegal activity, so the details did not feature in the officer’s report.


When I next visited Puerto de Soller, I found Pep and Toni, sitting together drinking at El Pirata. After exchanging pleasantries, I asked Toni if he was free to do a small paint job for me.

    ‘Just a name change,’ I explained.

About the Author

Having spent the best part of thirty-five years writing reports on such subjects as ‘Provision of Caravan Sites for Travellers’ and ’Aspects of Pest Control in the Urban Environment’, Roger Noons began even more creative writing in 2006, when he completed a screenplay for a friend who is an amateur film maker. After the film was made, he wrote further scripts and having become addicted, began to pen short stories and poems. He occasionally produces memoirs and other non-fiction. He has begun to perform his poems, and has just published ’An A to Z by RLN’, an anthology of 26 short stories. He intends by the end of the year to have followed that up with a novella.
He is a member of two Writers Groups and tries his hardest to write something every day. As well as CaféLit, he has had credits in West Midlands newspapers, The Daily Telegraph, Paragraph Planet, Raw Edge and a number of Anthologies.

Roger is a regular contributor to the CaféLit site and a couple of his stories have been selected for theBest of CaféLit 2012.

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