The last know image of Merv

The Redoubtable Big M walks into a bar….

Big M had reached a heightened, or perhaps, lowered meditative state that can only be achieved by feeding garden waste through a mulcher. He hated enjoyed this simple mindless task because it suited his intellect, as well as his vast horticultural skills. A nagging thought repeatedly interrupted his meditation. It was something he had read some months back. He had paid all of the bills, emptied the recycling basket, and watered the baby lettuce. Oh, shit, what was it? Must be some fuckin’ trick question, or somethin’ Mrs M wanted. He ruminated. Something about the Pigs Arms….Ah, Mr Merv retirin’. “Oh shit.” He yelled.

“What’s wrong, Dear?” Mrs M yelled back. “Did you cut your finger off, again, or see a snake, or get the cord on your shorts caught in the mulcher, or fall off a ladder….?”

“No, it’s Merv. Get me best suit, and brogues, and that new Fedora….Oh, wait, I’m not Foodge. Can you book me a fourth class ticket on the Flyer?” Yelled M over the sound of the mulcher.

“Probably not!” Mrs M had already lost interest.

“Why?” Yelled M, as he dragged the mulcher back into the garage.

“It’s not 1937, and there is no Flyer, and you can use your Opal Card.”  Mrs M knew exactly what was happening, so was already getting her handbag and car keys, knowing that the next question would be something about being driven to the train station.

Twenty minutes later Big M found himself firmly ensconced in an oxymoronically named ‘quiet car’ heading towards Sydney at speeds of up to seventy kilometres per hour. Not three hours later he found himself in the Gentlemen’s Bar at the Window Dressers’ Arms, Pig and Whistle. “Barkeep, a pint of your best.”

Merv was about to turn around and face the arrogant sod when he suddenly recognised the voice. He turned around anyway. “I’m not yer fuckin’ barkeep!” Then grinned. “Gib W, I mean Big M, I’d forgotten who was writing this episode. How the hell are you?” He crushed Big M’s soft nurse’s hand in a vice like grip. A glass canoe quickly followed.

“I’m already enjoying my retirement.” Mumbled M through a foamy, hoppy moustache. “Always thirsty work, commuting.” As he pushed the empty canoe across to Merv who picked up on the hint and proffered another foamy treat. “Anyway, I’m not here to talk about me, I’m here to discuss this rumour about YOUR retirement!”

“Ah, well, that’s difficult.” Merv looked around furtively. “It’s not me that I’m tryin’ to get retired, it’s Granny.  I thought that if I sold my share of the pub she might retire.”

“Granny, why Granny? I mean, she’ll work until she drops.” Big M was already looking at the bottom of his empty glass.

“Therein lies the problem.” Merv was pretty pleased with himself for getting in one of those high faluting words, like heretofore, and such. “She’s bloody exhausted!” A third canoe was paddling across the heavily stained timber bar.

“I know the feelin’.” M was as unsteady with his words as his legs, but eagerly skulled another half pint.

“I’ll bet you don’t. It’s bloody Foodge. He’s at her all of the time. Like a boy of fifteen. Early morning, mid-morning, lunchtime, afternoon delight….that’s just a warm-up for the evening!”

“I always thought that our dear Private Dick was pretty backward in the use of the wedding flute. Especially after Granny gave him those anabolic steroids that turned out to be oestrogen.” Big M noticed that the bar had become relatively quiet and quite attentive, relatively.

Granny had appeared at he bottom of the stairs. “What mischief are you causin’?” As she pointed a bony finger at M.

“Ah, oo, um, er. No mischief. Um….this new Pale Ale is good, I mean really good….ah, great.” Big M stared into the bottom of his glass and started to tremble. He couldn’t help himself as he started to laugh uncontrollably. “Pftt…..Foodge….a demon in the sack!”

Soon everybody, including Merv was laughing.

“All right you lot…SHUT THE FUCK UP!” Granny was livid. “How dare you laugh at one of the finest Private Dicks in the country?”

The mere mention of ‘Private Dick’ fed the laughter like trying to put out a fire with petrol. Even the Bowling Ladies were tittering from the Ladies bar.

Granny turned on her heel and marched straight back up the Errol Flynn Memorial Staircase. 

“Oh fuck, now we’ve done it!” Muttered Merv. Fuck, what will we do now?”

“The best thing we could do is try to work out what’s going on.” Came a quiet voice from the end of the bar. Manne had crept in with a big basket of eggs, having recently taken over the care of Granny’s chooks because she was too busy. “I mean, Foodge might have some hormonal problem.”

“Yes, yes, of course!” Big M picked up on it straight away. “Yes, too much testosterone, or some other androgen. Did Foodge go to an endocrinologist after the oestrogen overdose?”

“Yeah, but he said there was nothing to be done, ‘cept for a powerful placebo.” Mumbled Merv as he wiped over the taps with a dirty rag.”

“Have you ever seen Granny wait? She’s hardly very patient” M mused over a forth pint. “Would she buy steroids?”

“Nah, not after the oestrogen business.” Merv pulled a tray of steaming glasses from the washer, setting them on the bar to cool.

“Has he been to another doctor?” Big M was scratching his head, struggling to finish the episode. 

“No, he hates the doctor.” Reckons they’re charlatans, unlike the legal profession.” Merv winked.

“No one else has become horny?”

“Well I can’t speak for anyone else, but there haven’t been many opportunities.” Merv blushed.

Manne shook his head. “Not since Granny caught me with nudies on me phone.”

“We need more help. Where’s Emmjay?”

“Queensland.” Merv was placing the glasses into the bottom of the refrigerator.

“Algy?”

“Thailand.”

“Mark?”

“Summer Bay.”

“The Oosterfolk”

“Costco, no at home.”

“Viv?”

“At ‘ome with ‘er recuperatin’ ‘usband.” Merv grunted as he realised that the IPA keg was empty.

“The rest?”

“Well they’re dispersed across the country as per usual.” Merv was trying to get Manne to pick up on some non-verbal cue about the empty keg. Manne was busily trying to balance an egg on its apex.

“Fuck, we’re on our own?” M slumped over the bar.

“Couldn’t you just measure Foodge’s testicle level?” Manne had given up on his egg-balancing act.

“Of course, great idea. How would we do it? Total urinary steroids. No, too much pissing about. We probably need some blood. How would we get, say, ten mls of blood from Foodge?”

“I could punch him in the nose, then save all of the tissues.” Manne said in earnest.

“I think we need something subtle.” Big M mused. “More subtle than a punch in the nose.”

“You remember Foodge thought he was about to be knighted last Liz’s Birthdee?” Merv’s brow was crumpled in concentration.

“Yep, but what’s that got to do with the price of mullet?” Big M was getting exasperated.

“Well, we tell him that we was doin’ ‘is family tree, and the Royal Family want a blood sample because they think he is a distant member of the royal family, like Liz’s third cousin, four times removed, or summit!” Merv’s brow finally relaxed.

“Yes, yes. I’ll get some needles, syringes, blood tubes, et cetera and away we go!” Big M seemed to sober up at the thought.

To be continued…….