Story by Big M

Big M was surprised to find O’Hoo out the front putting a lick of paint on the old cast iron down pipes. “Didn’t you repaint those last year when you renovated the front of the place?” Big M thought himself quite observant.

Vivienne had asked for a third part. Big M assumed she meant Part Three of the story about Merv’s non-retirement and Foodge’s testosterone levels. Oh, and the fact that he and Manne had venesected Foodge under the pretence of the Royal family wanting to check his DNA. It seemed that the best thing to do was to get down to the pub and find out what had transpired. Now, traditionally Big M’s stories allude to the fact that modern electric trains travel at about half the speed of old steam trains, such as the 3800 series hauling the Newcastle Flyer. We won’t go there, we’ll just assume that Big M finds his way to the Pub.

“Yeah, but the Western sun in the arvo’s plays havoc with metal paint, plus the atmospheric pollutants….” 

 Big M quickly tired of O’Hoo’s overly long explanation so pushed through the main door into the Gentlemen’s Bar.  He was surprised to find the place empty. Unusual for mid-morning. He was considering pulling himself a Trotter’s Ale when the ugliest, most contorted face popped up from behind the bar. “Hello Merv, how’s it hanging?”

“It’s hangin’ to the left, which means I dress to the right. Why are you askin’ about me trouser seams ‘n’ dangly bits?” Merv unconsciously adjusted his meat and two veg.

“It’s just a saying. How are you?” Big M had settled onto a stool after dusting the seat with his hand.

“Oh, me? Full o’ the joy, you know.” Merv was already pushing a canoe across the battered bar. “Try that, it’s a new Double IPA, or IIPA as Granny likes to call it.”

“Interesting taste, bitter and sweet at the same time.” Big M was swirling the ale and sniffing it, then taking small swigs and inhaling through his mouth at the same time. “Galaxy and Mosaic hops….plus something else?”

“You’re a pretentious prick, aren’t you?” Merv pulled no punches. “I don’t know what fucking hops are in it.”

“I take it you’re not in a good mood?” Big M was pretty sensitive to emotions, being a male nurse, and all that.

“Well, Foodge is upset so Granny’s angry, so I’m angry!” Merv pushed another IIPA across the bar, in spite of his emotions. Publican’s reflex, perhaps.

“Why all of the upset?” Big M downed half the glass. 

“Two things, one, those bloody blood tests went straight to Foodge’s specialist, and, two, Foodge spent thousands on, what he calls, ‘regal apparel’.

“Who would have thought that such a clever plan could go so wrong?”  Big M pondered.

“Yes, well, us three are in the shit! It turns out that Foodge went and ordered three pairs of shoes from the cordwainer, two sets of tails from his tailor and matching top hats from the only hatter in Sydney. He’s up for tens of thousands.”

“Buy surely he can just take the stuff back?” Big M was quite ignorant in these matters.

“Take ‘em back, they’re all bespoke!” Merv gave the beer taps a wipe with a dirty rag.

“Bespoke?” Big M was clearly struggling with the core concept. “So, something to do with bicycles?”

Merv slammed his huge hand down on the bar. “Bespoke means custom made, no fucking returns, you dunce!” Merv wanted to call him a dumb cunt, but didn’t like that sort of swearing. “Foodge can explain the rest.” Merv nodded to a figure, bent over, shuffling along in an old dressing gown.

“I’ll just start with a Trotters best thanks Merv.” Foodge plonked himself on the stool next to Big M. “I’m glad you’re here, Big M, we need to chat. Merv, can you get Manne, too?”

The four men settled into the lounges in front of the fireplace. “I think we need to clear the air.” Foodge started. “Granny and I are very hurt, on a number of levels. One is that people are discussing our sex lives.” Foodge levelled his gaze at Merv who squirmed in his seat. “The second is that certain people have made assumptions about my health.” It was Big M’s turn to squirm. “The third is to exploit my Royalist tendencies. I know it is a weakness of mine, but my father, and grand father were Knights of the Realm.” This time Manne was on the receiving end of a searing gaze. “Granny and I have discussed this at length, and we feel that we can forgive if apologies are forthcoming.”

The three all blustered words of apology at the same time. Foodge quietly nodded at each of them. “Are you all sure?  Mr Merv?”

“Absolutely, not another word, I mean, I won’t even notice any, er…um, noises.” Merv spluttered.

“Big M?”

“Well, no, of course, only operating on information received, er, um.” Big M’s face reddened noticeably.

“Are you sure? No more salacious stories published at whatever website you use?” Foodge stared at Big M with his best cross examining look.

“No, of course, no stories, um, nothing.” Big M wished he was on the Flyer.

“Manne, no more grand schemes around my proclivities?”

Manne had no idea about ‘proclivities’, but quickly nodded. “No, sir, I mean your Honour, sir.”

“Well then a toast, Granny.”

Granny was already bringing a bottle of South Sea Islands Champagne with five glasses. Foodge expertly opened the bottle and decanted the flat yellow liquid into the dusty glasses. “Here’s to honesty.”

“To honesty!” They repeated.

Big M quietly steered Foodge away from the group. “Are you willing to share what happened with the blood tests?”

“Well, you may remember that I was on a high strength placebo?” Foodge took a second to finish his glass. “Well, it turns out that I was on testosterone patches, and that your subterfuge alerted my endocrinologist to that fact!”

“So, you’re OK?” Big M mumbled.

“Yes, just a matter of weaning down the dose and hoping Granny doesn’t get worn out.” Foodge winked.

Later, as Big M departed for the arduous journey back to Newcastle, Granny eye’s followed him up the road. She shook her head, laughing. “Christ he’s a dumb count!”