Story by Sandshoe

“Talk. Otherwise we play hop squash,” Foodge demanded.

Merv was persuaded out of the pub’s linen closet where Foodge had hidden him. Not much worse for wear on the outside. Keeping his head down after the you know.

“Uncle Merv,” his nephew insisted. Foodge added “please.”

Earnest as ever Foodge was getting things sorted. If it took him to remember his manners, well and good. His only priority for days was to get things cleared up since the debacle landed Gordon O’Donnell in gaol almost for indecent exposure followed a close second by Gordon’s good friend the bish, dead or alive makes no difference. The waters were muddy.

“Come on then,” his uncle complained.

Foodge led the way outside.

“Where’d it go,” He looked around the carpark.

Merv could be ungracious with his crook knees, but if denial is a river Merv is the captain of a pleasure cruiser on it, never but never just a land bound disabled parking permit holder.

“Where we play hop squash, you mean? Foodge, the old one wore off years ago when you went to University and forgot Merv. Draw it.”

Merv shook a piece of chalk at Foodge. He had a piece in his pocket.  Foodge drew three perfect circles one following the next so they each were joined to the next on only a point on each. He followed those with two joined rectangles that lay across the third circle and in succession a lone perfect circle and another two joined rectangles.

You guessed it. Hopscotch.

“I will always remember when you taught me to draw them in session,” Foodge said to Merv. “but I have grown up, Uncle Merv. I will never forget you. Now though you have to depend on me same way I could always depend on you once. No getting round it. I have to hop for you.” Foodge hopped through the course of circles and rectangles he thought was called hop squash.  He was puffed and leaned against the rickety door of the outside pub dunny.

“You have to talk to me, Uncle Merv. I’m the only lawyer you can afford, Uncle Merv. If someone follows another thread in the story and I’m stuck into a judge’s wig, I will likely be called to the bar, the bench for your trial, and I am truly sorry. I have to say this. I’m the only judge you can afford to bribe. We might even have to pretend we don’t know each other.” Foodge was leaving nothing to the imagination.

Merv hugged Foodge. “It’s called ‘jumping’ and how high for someone, Foodge. It’s not ‘hop’, but I see what you mean. I understand.”

Some patrons du porc think the barman babied Foodge and Foodge is a baby.

Of COURSE he did. Of COURSE he is. Who is there to baby if you can’t baby the baby, stuck poor Foodge as he is in a limbo in a virtual pub.

Of COURSE any purloined character that has become the mainstay in a story like this one has to be babied leave alone insured. Sadly, no insurance.

“I’m not going to be insured,”Foodge had said that day and his face crestfallen. “I’m not just a character. I’ve got feelings like everybody else.”

“Of course, you have,” Emmjay had said, a little too hasty for some. The insurance saleswoman finally walked out the pub door back onto the street from whence she came, not a backward glance. Everybody could hear the deluge of tears and the loud wailing of Foodge like nobody could believe in the bar. The nurses rushed to console Foodge, a day less far away for them and less cynical than some they celebrated at their table they usually pulled right into the middle of the Sports Bar where they were allowed, the medical professional card, souls bared, no holds barred in the Sports Bar see what I implied there if not a legal defence, easy.

‘Good Foodge,” Emmjay had said awkwardly as he often did. He ran off out the door into the car park. Seemed to him insuring Foodge was the best original idea he had in a while even if it wasn’t his. Imagine the extra business in the Sports Bar. Nobody gets anybody to write for them unless they take on a winner.

Foodge was not an average winner either. Foodge was a high maintenance risk.

“Imagine the premiums,” Foodge had wallowed as well as wailed in his gloriousness. ‘If youse think money’s tight since Granny’s brew was taken off tap that time word got out it wasn’t Granny’s brew we were serving and everybody got the runs worse than ever, how do youse think you’ll pay for an insurance cover for me.”


Merv looked at the lines Foodge had drawn in chalk on the surface of the carpark. The carpark needed a new surface poured on it. He did suddenly understand.

“It was an accident, Foodge. My knees gave out on me.”

“Where’s the bish’s tote bag, Uncle Merv? If I’m going to represent you, you have to tell me. If I’m the judge you can’t bribe me either to find in your favour. Not unless you’re innocent”

One only tiny trace of a tear trickled down Merv’s face. You can have too much weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth in a pub melodrama.

“I don’t know where it is, Foodge. I did have it in my hand. I lost it.”