I’m usually more careful than that.

I could sense the sickly smell of blood.  My hand was in a wet pool.  Too soon to open the eyes.

A small panel beater was hammering out the dents on the inside of my eyeballs and my mouth felt like a camel train had camped there overnight.

Whatever was out there on the other side of my eyelids was going to have to wait until the hammering eased up a little.

But the headache was not the main problem.  Beyond the headache, the right cheek of my arse was screaming louder than my head.  I decided to feel it.  Mistake.  It was wet.  It was wet with my blood.

I had taken one in the backside for the good guys.

But there was no wound.  There was a welt though.  I could feel that well enough.  I crawled across the threadbare Axminster into the bathroom and prepared for the worst.  Opening my right eye, I caught a glimpse in the mirror of my naked backside.  Curious.  There was no blood.  But it was wet alright.  And swimming in a fresh coat of straw coloured plasma, was a tattoo.  A zodiac tattoo.  It was one half of the sign of Gemini.  It was one half of a pair of twins.

Wash hands.  Two aspirin from the medicine cupboard behind the mirror.  And the taste of ironed water from rusty pipes.  No, wait.  It was the same colour as scotch.  An understandable mistake.  Two asprin and a shot of Johnny Walker Red.  Or branch water – from a lazy anabranch. Open the other eye.  Swimming into long focus in the room behind me was a figure.  A man lying still on the bed, facing the wall.  He was the kind of still not associated with hooch; he was pegged out more like the repose of the deceased.   His problem was clearly more serious than my smarting arse.

The bald patch was familiar.  The pale blue shirt was familiar. The tattoo on the left buttock was fresh and also familiar.  Dave Gerard O’Hoo was a latter day detective with the Met.  He was my drinking partner years ago, on an exchange case with the Inner West dicks of 21 Division.  He was famous for busting the Hells Angles for growing and selling Marrickville gold hedge.  In  the carpark.  From the boot of an old blue Zephyr.

O’Hoo was on the case because he looked like a cross between a leprechaun and a crime boss.  I had my suspicions that he looked like a crime boss because he had more skeletons in his closet than a Greek mausoleum at Rookwood.  And the word was that some were home made and not exactly related.  It was just an escaped word, but the word’s life was clearly at risk and this old upstairs pub room was something far from what could be called a safe house.

This was going to be a tough one to explain.  It required another thoughtful of hip flask, so I sat next to O’Hoo previous on my intact left cheek and fingered my chin a bit.