Story by Emmjay

Foodge sat at his desk.  There was no assignment on his plate.  This was not unusual but this time seemed to trouble half a dozen loosely-connected cells in the front of his brain.  They spoke to some of their friends in the facial muscles area who arranged to successfully organise a glum look.

“To successfully organise”.  Foodge resolved to have a word with Emmjay about splitting infinitives, but the resolution was narrowly defeated along party lines.  The caucus supported Emmjay’s contention that it is OK to split an infinitive along the lines of common usage and making it a more effective approach to aid reading.

Foodge had a deepening sense of ennui.  This was a recent development.  It was a new ennui.  The news was empty of anything that was actually new.  As usual, The UN was debating and resolving without making any tangible difference.  But Foodge felt that it was a more productive waste of money than war, for example.

News from the wars was bad.  Not surprising because all war news is bad for somebody, if not for everybody.  Foodge resolved to stop worrying about the wars and focus on his own priorities, which were, um, ah, oh yes, becoming gainfully employed. Or even ungainfully employed if there was at least a bowl of wedges and a glass canoe of Trotter’s Ale on the counter at the end of the day.

Being the kind of proactive sleuth that he sincerely believe he was, Foodge resolved to reopen the case of the morning paper and begin his research on the latest exploits of the Leichhardt Wanderers as they tilted towards another wooden spoon.  Granny said that they had more fuckin wooden spoons that that fuckin TV chef who always swears all the fuckin time.

Foodge remembered that he was supposed to be hunting for work and turned to the police courts reports.  The press was full of the great dry ice heist, but the case didn’t interest Foodge.  It left him cold.  Cold was his normal state and Foodge was determined to spend his next cheque on buying that fourth wall that his office was crying out for.  And maybe a door with his name etched in the frosted glass.  He wondered where etched glass came from and promised himself that he would find out one day but his eyes glazed over and he returned to the police reports.

A quick perusal of the police reports would reveal whose posterior was up against the wall, who the likely brief was going to be and if there was the whiff of police stitch-up, where the services of a master private eye would be most in demand.  Or even a private dick of modest proportions not unlike Foodge himself.

Foodge read that Detective Inspector Vinh Rouge had finally nailed Hedgie for over enthusiastic herb providoring in the car park of the Pig’s Arms and that she had been promoted to Inspector on the strength that the Commissioner had the smell of toasted narc czar in his nostrils.  Foodge new that Hedgie was just a humble bushie at the rough end of the long lawn running up to the Calabrian mansion of Caesar Nopportunity.  He was the target, but Foodge knew that Noppo had his friends in high places and that nobody, least of all Rouge was going to fang the black moriah up that crushed marble driveway and say “You’re nicked”.

Foodge was tired from concentrating for several consecutive minutes.  A thought crept into his mind, turned around three times, lay down and started to lick its wedding tackle.  Foodge sat back in his chair and waited to see what might happen next.

The thought got up and walked out into the street.  Foodge decided to follow.  After all, this was grist for the mill for a private dick.

Lacking a fourth wall to his office, Foodge didn’t have to worry about locking the door that he also didn’t have.

The thought was heading towards the Pig’s Arms.  Another thought joined it.  Foodge recognized the glass canoe full of foamy amber delight.  Foodge named this thought Trotter’s Ale.  Foodge always tried to stay with the play and drew the keys of his Zephyr from his pocket.  He was determined to get ahead of himself and be waiting there when his first thought wandered in.

Merv’s amnesia worked to Foodge’s advantage and he poured Foodge a schooner of Trotters without remembering that Foodge’s tab was close to the gross domestic product of Tasmania.  And the prospect of Foodge ever paying it off was as slim as America’s chance of clearing her mortgage to China.

“What’s on your mind?” asked Merv.

“I’ll know in a minute” said Foodge, anticipating the arrival of his earlier contemplation. Several glass canoes floated by and the prospects of the first thought ever returning to its owner cuddled up to Merv’s misplaced debt recovery aspirations.

Foodge’s staring into the middle distance was starting to unnerve Merv and so the publican turned on the pub’s new 800” flat screen TV – that was just a tad too large for the pub wall and several contestants on “So you want to be a Millionaire? were sitting in the Pig’s Arms Car park.  The giant screen successfully captured Foodge’s attention and he was fascinated with the possibility of massive wealth coming to some goose through the picking of a 1:4 short-priced favourite answer for a question so obscure that Barry Jones would be scratching his head – after a series of questions so inane that another Jones would find them personally challenging but an affront to all right thinking Australians.

“We are sorry to interrupt this program” said the faceless voice, “However, local Police are deeply concerned over the disappearance of Inspector Vinh Rouge, who failed to turn up to work today.  Police visited her home this morning and found the contents in disarray and a police spokesperson said that there was unmistakeable evidence of violence and they are deeply concerned over her welfare.  Viewers with any information were encouraged to contact Crimestoppers.”

Foodge wondered whether there was any connection between Vinh Rouge’s disappearance and that of his missing (and presumed lost) thought, and he ordered another Trotter’s Ale on the strength of his own concerns.