Story by Big M
Merv was out of sorts all day. He had to wait for the lunch time crowd to disperse, then, of course the Bowling Ladies lingered on for a ‘spin round the bar’ with ‘Our Mr Merv’, which Merv usually didn’t mind, but he was anxious to get over to see Rosie, at her tattoo emporium and house of pain. He was so distracted that he managed to step on Beryl’s right foot, twice. The first time he mumbled an apology. The second he felt compelled to compensate her with a glass of ‘South Sea Island’ gin and Aldo’s tonic.
He finally bid farewell to the Bowling Ladies, packed up the old urn and Blend Forty-three, then headed over to Rosie’s. He was surprised to find the waiting room empty, but the strangest noises emanated from beyond the beaded curtain that concealed the view of the inner sanctum. Merv sat and busied himself with the puzzles in ‘That’s Life’. The sounds stopped, then a red faced, and rather well known Local Member emerged, ducking his head and mumbling something about the union credit card.
Rosie herself came out to greet him, clad in a very short silk robe, black silk stockings (you know, the one’s I like with the seam at the back, and the butterfly on the ankle) and stilettos. “Missa Merv, Losie been expecting you!” She beckoned him with her right index finger.
Merv was transfixed. He dropped his pencil, and magazine. Merv had never shared this with anyone, but he had quite a penchant for petite women, particularly Asians, and, more particularly, Rosie. “Err…um…ah…Rosie…I …”
“Losie know all about bad dream!” Rosie walked over and picked up Merv’s drooping jaw that was about to leave a stain on her carpet. “Losie know all about babies that cry at night.” Rosie spoke perfect English at home, but liked to bung on an accent for the punters. “Losie rike to help Missa Merv.” Rosie took Merv by the hand, and guided him into the inner sanctum, which was in fact, her tattoo studio (of Foodge’s tattooed arse fame). “Sit, and tell Losie all about dleam!”
Merv sat uncomfortably in the tattoo chair, which was like a dentists chair, but had more levels of adjustment, and an array of armrests, and so on. He looked at the range of inks, and the disposable needles. ‘A hell of a lot different to when I got me tattoo’, he thought. Merv also remembered having to get a Hepatitis B injection after his first, and, hence, only tattoo! Rosie had placed her stilettoed foot on the low coffee table between them, revealing a little more thigh than Merv felt comfortable seeing.
“Come on, Merv, let’s cut the bullshit.” Rosie suddenly dropped the accent. “What the hell’s going on?
Merv was flabbergasted. “Pfft…what…err?
“OK Joe’ I go back to funny Chinee accent” Rosie stood, with her hands on her hips, letting them sway ever so slightly. “I’ll tell you an old Chinese story about man who work twenty hours a day, lun business, rook after famirry, up all hours of the night…then, one day…he have heart attack…die a painful death…you wan that, Missa Merv?”
“Um…err…you can go back to ordinary English…um, but, who else is goin’ to do all a the things that I do?”
“You have a wife, get her to look after the twins.” Rosie had sat down on a stool, and, had decided to drop the ‘Chinee’ accent.
“But, she never ‘ears ‘em cry.” Merv implored, with both hands outstretched.
“She needs new hearing aids, or, needs to leave them turned on!”
“What bloody ‘earin’ aids?” Merv was flabbergasted, again!
“You mean she doesn’t know she’s deaf?” It was Rosie’s turn to be flabbergasted. Everybody knew that Janet was deaf. “Take her to see my cousin, he’s an audiologist. I just happen to have one of his cards. You say ‘Losie’ sent you, he’ll give you discount.”
Merv was astounded. This could be the answer. He thanked Rosie, and hurried out, insistent that he didn’t need a special massage, or a wax, or even an eyebrow tint. He got back behind the bar in the Main Lounge in time for the evening rush. Granny was already sick of pouring pints, tore off her apron, mumbling something about pressure lines in the cellar, then disappeared.
Foodge was back in his usual spot, only slightly worse for wear with his tie half mast, his Fedora tilted back at a ridiculous angle, and his old packet of camels in his hand. “So, how did you get on with our fair Rosie?” He asked, rather too loudly for Merv’s comfort.
“Orright, mate, settle down, ‘ave another pint.” Merv pushed another canoe across the ancient bar. He was interrupted by an insistent screech.
“Merv…you down there?” Janet was in fine form.
“Yes, my love.” He yelled back.
“Yes, of course I am, my angel!” Merv was getting quite loud.
Janet’s red face suddenly emerged from the gloom of the staircase that went up to their private rooms. “Merv, you’ve been here all along…why didn’t you answer me?”
The entire bar put down their drinks in unison, and retorted. “He bloody did!!”
Merv was also red faced, and had a small tear in his eye, as he took Janet aside. “Janet, my love, this just confirms something that I’ve been suspecting…you’re going deaf.”
Janet must have been losing her hearing for a while, because she subconsciously lip-read, and understood. “I can’t be going deaf, not at forty four!” Yes, she was young to be a new mum. It was her turn to tear up.
Merv suddenly caught something out of the side of his eye. The Mexican hat, Hawaiian shirt, Bermuda shorts, and dense moustache couldn’t disguise the features of a man old before his time. “O’Hoo”. He shouted. “What the bloody hell are you doin’ ‘ere?” As he dropped Janet’s hands, and grabbed O’Hoo in a bear hug.
O’Hoo looked around furtively. The only danger was Foodge stumbling towards him with a canoe that was about to capsize all over O’Hoo’s Hawaiian shirt. “Um…under cover…need to know basis…Oh, Christ, can you hide me Merv??”
Quick as a flash Merv grabbed hold of Janet, O’Hoo and Foodge, quickly righting the aforementioned canoe. “Upstairs, the lot of yuz, we’ve all got things to sort out.” As he dragged them up to the Nathan Tinkler Memorial Sitting Room.
To be continued.