The Dawn Malcolm
The sun inched its way upwards, and Wayne knew that at any moment it would be high noon. Or maybe high noon had already passed? He glanced toward the closest ship at port. No, its shadow was still shrinking, ever so perceptibly. Maybe after work he could make some sort of crude sundial to-
"Wayne! We gots cust'mers! Quit yer day-dreamin' an' gimme a hand over'ere!"
Wayne blinked quickly, still in a daze, but he was getting used to being cut off mid-thought, however much he was loathe to admit it. He retied his apron with deft hands and scuttled from the balcony back into the small pub. Two at a time, he swept down the stairs to find... Customers? There were a grand total of five. Two at a table, two at a booth near the corner, and Willie. Well, Willie didn't count. There was never a time when he wasn't at the bar that Wayne could remember. So four. However, boss was right. About four times as many tables were variously scattered with plates of half-eaten meals and food scraps of various sizes, textures, and colors that weren't particularly inviting to the touch nor to the appetite.
With a sigh Wayne picked up his bin and wiping cloth from behind the bar and mindlessly started to clear the soiled tables. His thoughts flitted from subject to subject, never dwelling too long on one or the other (a busboy never picked up more than just enough information from travelers to whet an appetite for more) until he found himself clearing the booth in front of the corner pair of customers. They had eaten about half of their meals, but the meat had dried enough to belie its age. They had apparently been whispering to one another for quite some time. After a few unusual phrasings broke his subconscious, Wayne found himself focusing on what he could make out of their speech.
"... so we's got th' parch-thin', an' cap'n spends a loooong time lookin' o'er it. Af'er 'bout un hour er two, out 'e comes an' orders us ta come 'ere an' make port fer a couple o' days. Guessin' he wantin' someone ta find ye er somethin'. With all ar scufflin' all o'er the world, we dun get much shore leave. Where was I? Right, well with all th' bad luck in searchin' b'fore, cap'n is all 'fraid uh ole Blacky, so he says ta us, 'if ye find 'im, tell 'im,' an' this is th' 'ard part, 'tell 'im "Isla Achihuran," 'e'll know what it means.' I figger its somethin' 'bout th' next Chart, but ye know-"
Later Wayne cursed himself for not hearing more, but he really didn't have that option, because after the word Chart had sunk in, Wayne's vision tunneled and a plate managed to find its way out of his hands and onto the floor with a loud, wooden THUNK. The two patrons immediately turned, now aware of their spy's presence. The shorter, stockier of the two (the speaker, and the one of obviously less intelligence) hesitated, his brow furrowed in an apparent attempt to grasp a situation faster than his mind could process, but once he realized what he had said, he brashly made his way towards Wayne.
As the hulk approached, Wayne snapped back into reality, and his reflexives brought him into a sprint in the exact opposite direction from his pursuer. The downside of this reaction was that someone had inconveniently placed a table covered in dirty dishes in the middle of this path, but Wayne, still acting purely on reflexes, managed to land a foot upon the seat of a chair next to this table. His momentum brought the chair down, but not before he leapt from there onto the table with his other foot, knocking it behind him and into the aggressor's path while giving him a temporary boost of speed. Wayne banked a turn around another table and headed for the front exit. The companion, by this time, had already calculated Wayne's escape plan and had cut corners to put himself on equal footing with Wayne by the time they both reached the door. He reached out a long arm and grasped Wayne's full length apron, but with a pull, a duck, and a spin, Wayne was out of it in a fluid rhythm and among bustle of the midday docks.
Wayne knew the layout of the docks like the back of his hand, and an unusually large crowd today only added to his advantage, but for some reason he was unable to shake the eye of the taller pursuer. Immediately a row of crates was giving him modest cover, but the two were quickly making their way towards him. They were still between him and the pub, so they would surely spot him if he tried to run past. Wayne glanced at his surroundings, hoping to find something - anything - that could come to his aid. There was only a single, rather large galleon on this pier, which meant only its bit of cargo could provide him cover. Unusual for such a busy day with so many other ships in port. It was currently being loaded with several extremely large barrels by one of the crewmen. However, no one else on the galleon was immediately in sight, meaning neither was Wayne.
Raised voices behind him. He whipped his head around and peeked over the crates. The smaller one had run into an unhappy, stout old woman who was now instructing him on the virtues of watching where he was going, not intent on letting the stranger go unpunished. The tall man finally broke his gaze on Wayne and interrupted, attempting to get the woman to leave them alone. Now was his chance.
He hopped up from behind the crates and made a break for the galleon. A loud crash came from an other pier, where sailors of another, smaller ship had apparently dropped a crate of salted meats, spilling its contents all around themselves. What luck! Wayne slipped to the side of the barrel-rolling man just as the clamor distracted him. Presently a slew of new problems presented themselves.
The upper deck of the galleon was, in fact, bursting with activity. Either the crew was large for a ship of this class or all of it was on deck. Either way, so many people helped Wayne slip aboard unnoticed.