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Story by Emmjay

O’Hoo looked phased. It was a single phase, not drawing much current. He was unshaven, gaunt. Not exactly fully gaunt; it wasn’t that bad. He was more gauntlet than gaunt.

“You look …” paused Merv.

O’Hoo frowned.

“Drawn” Merv said. “Not exactly ‘drawn’, more ‘sketchy’ than ‘drawn’” he said, pouring the detective a glass canoe of Trotter’s Old, named after Hung’s horse. It was a former pacer (the horse not the beer) and had successfully adapted to Hung’s milieu of fast women and slow ponies.

“Have you seen Foodge ?” O’Hoo asked to no-one in particular, but if he was more particular, he would have admitted he was talking to Merv, particularly since the bar was empty save for the two of them.

“He’s been adopting a low profile. Well, not exactly ‘adopting’…” said Merv, “more like fostering”. He paused. “Not the beer, O’Hoo, you know the thing where you mind other people’s kids for a while so the parents can get stoned more and the kids can nick your stuff and pawn it to buy the parents more drugs”.

“The Dickens” said O’Hoo. “Like Fagin in Oliver Twist ?”

“I’d say he was being more like a nancy boy, O’Hoo” said Merv.

“More pork or chalk a lager yaya” said O’Hoo, inadvertently joining in with Labelle’s ‘Lady Marmalade’ – playing on the Wurlitzer.

Merv ordered up a schnitzel and poured O’Hoo another beer – a Trotter’s Ale this time.

“Wise Foodge laying low ? said O’Hoo.

“Yeah he is” said Merv.

“No, it was a question” said O’Hoo.

“Well how come Emmjay wrote ‘wise’ ?” asked Merv.

“I think he’s doing the chemical enhancement thing,” said O’Hoo. “That or he’s off on a pun spree again”.

“How did you know it was a question ?” asked Merv.

“Are you reading the script right ?” said O’Hoo.

“Are we working off a script ?” asked Merv. “Unusual for Emmjay”.

“True” said O’Hoo. “Now where was I ?”

“You were asking me some pointless thing about Foodge” said Merv.

“Oh yeah. I was wondering why he’s lying low” said O’Hoo.

“Who ?” asked Merv.

“Foodge, said “O’Hoo.

“Oh, Foodge !” said Merv. “Is he lying low”?

“YOU TOLD ME HE’S LYING LOW” said an unusually phased O’Hoo.

“Oh, yeah, I did, ” said Merv. “Why is he lying low ?”

“Yeah”, said O’Hoo.

“Dunno,” said Merv.

O’Hoo’s schnitzel arrived with a generous pile of Granny’s wedges, sour cream and sweet chilli sauce. O’Hoo warmed to the prospect of savouring the wedgie goodness.

“Hmmm” said O’Hoo.

“Hmmm” said Merv, ordering himself a chaser.

“Hmmm” said Foodge.

“Shit !” said Merv and O’Hoo in two part harmony. “Where the fuck did you come from ?”

“I’ve been laying low” said Foodge.

“We’re past that bit,” said O’Hoo. “Merv cocked it up on the last page”

“Are we working off a script ?” said Foodge.

“We’re past that bit too” said Merv.

“What’s my line then ?” asked Foodge.

“I think we’re up to the bit where you tell us why you’ve been laying low” said O’Hoo.

“Oh, righto” said Foodge. “Ready ?”

“Yeah, we’re ready” said Merv.

“Roger” said Foodge.



“Well ?” said Merv.

“It’s complicated” said Foodge.

It was looking like a long afternoon coming, so Merv poured another round and drew up a chair. Not satisfied with the comfort, he rubbed out the first attempt and drew one with more padding.

“We have all day” said O’Hoo.

“Really ?” said Foodge.

“No, not really” said O’Hoo who, visibly, was losing the will to live.

“Her name is Paris” said Foodge.

“Aha ! Cherchez la femme !” said Emmjay who had dropped in to see how things were going with the script.

“Is this really credible ?” O’Hoo wanted to know.

“What Foodge going to ground over Paris ?” said Emmjay.

“No, the whole script !” said O’Hoo.

“What script ?” said Merv, who clearly wasn’t on the same page – which was not surprising since the script had taken on a life of its own and was pouring itself a glass canoe of Trotters, waiting for Merv to find his place behind the bar.

“I think it works… in a fashion” said Emmjay.

“I’m a work in progress” said the script, downing the last of his Trotter’s Ale.

“Well, fucking do it yourself” said O’Hoo to the script.

Emmjay took out an eraser and deleted O’Hoo from the remainder of the scene and scribbled “Directions Off” in the margin.

This was not the first time Emmjay had marginalised O’Hoo and something told O’Hoo that it probably wouldn’t be the last. The script looked at the fresh wound on its abdomen, sighed and poured another drink.

“Paris, France ?” asked Merv, suddenly lurching into real time.

“No, Paris Brown” said Foodge.

“You mean the lady of dubious repute working at Rosie’s Tattoo Emporium and House of Pain ?” said Merv.

“Yeah” said Foodge, “The one who was Eddie O’Bad’s favourite”.

“You’ve been seeing Paris Brown ?” said Merv with a mixture of incredulity and admiration for Foodge’s hidden talent. “In a professional capacity, Foodge ?”

“Kind of” said Foodge.

“Your profession or hers?” said Merv.

“It’s complex” said Foodge.