Julie woke to a hand on her breast, kneading it roughly.
“Seven bells, Bobby.” Reggie Wilson sprayed spittle in Julie’s face and she reacted with a punch that drove him back a pace.
“Keep your hands to yourself.” She added a description that may have maligned his parents unjustly.
Bobby came awake with uncharacteristic swiftness and added his own suggestion to Reggie’s rapid departure with a bare-footed kick that propelled the man out of the cabin without dignity. “She wouldn’t piss on you if you were on fire, arsehole,” he swore. The picture drew an involuntary giggle from Julie that was more embarrassment than humor. “I’ll tear the bastard’s head of if he does that again,” Bobby promised her.
Julie found it impossible to sleep after that, lying facing the cabin door in case Reggie decided to come back. She was still awake when Bobby called Bill for day work duties and went in to see him. “Bill, we may have a problem.”
He listened as she explained what happened at three-thirty and shook his head. “The man’s an idiot. Les will blow his top when he hears. Just relax and we’ll keep an eye on him. The Deucer will turn him out for overtime at nine and I’ll lean on him as well.”
Partially mollified, Julie nodded her acceptance. “I hurt my hand punching him in the face,” she said. “I hope it hurt him more.”
“Never bother with the face,” Bill advised pragmatically.“There’s too many bones and teeth to damage your hand. Knee him in the balls instead...or grab something heavy to do the job.”
* * * *
The weather was still good. The Kooyonga rolled gently to a moderate swell on the port bow. She’d rounded Cape Otway and now steamed due west towards Cape Leeuwin, fourteen hundred nautical miles away. Terri was in the mess room, eating a late breakfast while Julie took advantage of both men being down in the engine room to shower and wash her hair. She’d worked the shampoo into her hair and had her eyes closed when the bathroom door opened and the shower curtain wafted aside.
“Just a moment, Terri,” she said. “I’ll rinse this off,” and lifted her head into the stream of water from the shower rose.
“Take yer time, girlie,” Reggie Wilson advised. “I’m still not interested, but I will piss on you.”
Julie’s eyes snapped open and she saw the yellow stream of urine reach out towards her leg. “You sick bastard,” she screamed in rage, shielding herself with the shower curtain.
Reggie cackled with glee and tried to direct the stream of urine past the curtain.
Julie was never sure afterwards how she grabbed the solid wooden toilet brush with its stiff bristles, but a roundhouse sweep sent Reggie reeling backwards. She followed him, screaming abuse as she beat his face and body with the brush. They were out in the passageway before she realized it. The subject of the interested gaze of three men: Les Frame, the mess room Peggy,and the ship’s electrician.
“I think he’s got the idea,” Les Frame took the brush from her hand and held her against his chest. “I’ll deal with him now. Get yourself back in the cabin.” He pushed her firmly towards the curtained doorway. “I’ll send Terri back to you.”
Suddenly aware of the others, Julie fled.
“I think she gave him the brush off quite thoroughly,” she heard one of the men say.
“Flushed him out of the place, you mean,” was the reply,followed by laughter.