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By Big M

Foodge woke with a start. It was still early, eleven, or eleven thirty, by the way the light slanted through the aluminium Venetian blinds, illuminating dust motes, which seemed to have lives of their own. The groans emanating from the mound of bedclothes on the other side of the bed were a dead give away that he wasn’t alone. ‘Mmm.’ He thought to himself. ‘Must’ve got lucky.’ The mound of blankets started to move, and a blond head emerged. “Hello, big boy.” Foodge sat up in bed, grinning away. He remembered buying Victoria a bottle of ‘champagne’ at the Pigs Arms, and then everything else was a blank.

Victoria sat up. “Lovely room, did you decorate it yourself, dear?”

“Well, no, it, err, kinda decorated itself.”

“Coffee’s the first order of the day.” Victoria stood up, deftly wrapping the sheet around her tall body. She wasn’t beautiful, or even pretty, thought Foodge, but she sure was handsome. She wandered out to the kitchen, where she promptly started opening and closing cupboards. “Where’s the percolator, dear?”

“No percolator, just Blend Forty Three in the cupboard above the kettle.”  Foodge dressed quickly. An experienced PI like himself was never off duty, so, there was no room for a woman in his life. He was going to have to break it to her gently. He went through to the kitchen. “Look, Victoria, I didn’t mean to give you the wrong impression…err… um… didn’t mean it to be a one night stand.”

Victoria laughed. “Stand. One night stand?  There was no stand, dear. There’s a serious lack of ‘stand’, and I suspect the brewer has something to do with your droop!”

Foodge wasn’t used to the cryptic talk of women. “It might be better if you just left.”

Victoria turned on her bare heel and flounced through to the bedroom. “That’s alright, dear, I have a back-waxing appointment, anyway. She dressed quickly then marched out the front door. “Blend Forty Three, indeed!”

‘Gosh, she’s tall in heels.’ Thought Foodge. ‘Women’.

The main bar at the Pigs was open. Foodge thought it wise to walk down and pick up the Zephyr from the parking lot. Merv was drenched in sweat from his morning workout. A glass canoe found its way across the bar. Wes stuck his head around the door. “Uncle Merv, what will I do with these out-of-date cartons of cigarettes?”

“ ‘Ow many?”

“Hundreds.”

“Oh, shit.” Merv had forgotten that he’d allowed Lenny the Lurch use the shed, just before he went to Long Bay, for a long stretch. “Leave ‘em there, use the other shed.” Wes was trying to find a space to lock up his Charlie.

Foodge looked around. The pub was back to normal after Granny’s brews had come back on tap. The place actually looked a lot cleaner. “Had a spring clean, Merv?”

“Nah, Wes’s not paying any board, so he’s doing a bit of bouncing, bit of cleaning, even taps the odd keg if Granny’s busy. Plus, Janet’s been poorly, you know, the doc told ‘er to rest, you know, with twins, ‘an all.”

“How far along?” Foodge had no idea why he asked, as he had no idea about how ‘far along’ a pregnancy should be.

“Eight months, although it feels like eighteen.” Merv smiled at his little joke. “Doc reckons ‘e might need to seduce ‘er closer to the time.”

Foodge nodded knowingly, not entirely sure why a doctor would ‘seduce’ a pregnant lady. He stared into his glass and was about to say something about getting lucky when Wes stuck his head around the door again. “What about that female impersonator, Victoria, pity the bloke he took home!” Wes laughed.

“Oh…ah…female impersonators.” Foodge blushed, inwardly thankful for the brewer who’d induced his droop.

“You looked pretty friendly with her.” Wes gave a knowing wink.

“Oh…err…yes, Victoria’s an old friend…err…aquaintance.used her as a snout.

“They never get the walk right, do they?”

Foodge thought that Wes was being as cryptic as Victoria, earlier this morning. “Err…no. You doing anything tonight, it is New Years Eve?”

“No, I’ll help Uncle Merv and Granny. Big party here, you know, Angles, Bowling Ladies, Male Nurses Union, you know, usual crowd. Oh, shit, get out of that, you bloody useless creature!!” Granny’s goat was chowing down on the high tension lead of Wes’s Charlie.

‘It wasn’t the usual crowd.’ Thought Foodge. JL was MIA, hopefully not in gaol, Manne was supposed to be overseas with Neville, but Neville denied any knowledge, Gez and the Mysterious H were busy in their new place, as were ‘shoe and Asty. Winnie was till in Japan, but, thanks to modern technology, was able to send a telegram now and then. The famous Greek playwright and his missus never turned up. To top it all off, O’Hoo was doing a cricket tour with, soon to be, Superintendent Rouge.  ‘Well. ‘ Thought Foodge. ‘Happy New Years Eve to ‘em all, whether at home, or away!’