Written by Big M
Merv wandered into the back of the Pigs Arms still shaking his head. He’d gone on a long run, in lieu of his usual boxing workout. He had been happily running down a side street when a woman slowed her car, wound the passenger window down and yelled. “Where’s yer mask?”
“There’s no mask mandate here!” Merv retorted.
“Well there bloody well should be for blokes with faces like yours!” As she roared off, leaving Merv with no right of reply.
As Merv stepped into the rear hallway he caught sight of a shadowy figure in, what appeared to be, an old Boys Scout’s uniform. “Can I help you there, Mr Baden Powell?” Merv chuckled to himself.
“What, no, I can’t even play the guitar.” Laughed Foodge.
“Not Baden Powell the Brazilian guitarist, Baden Powell the founder of the Boy Scouts.”
“Oh, um, I see.” Foodge didn’t see at all, but went along with it.
“What are you dressed up as?”
“Oh, well, obviously a boy scout. I’m hoping to try out as a Boy Scout Master.”
“Have you thought this through?”
“Well, no, but I don’t usually think things through.” Foodge wrinkled his nostrils against the stench emanating from Merv’s armpits.
“For one, it’s no longer the Boy Scouts, its just Scouts, so that uniform must be about fifty years old. I’m surprised it still exists.”
“An old bloke gave it to me. Something about it being no use in prison.” Foodge nervously adjusted his woggle.
“That leads to the second problem…the optics. It doesn’t look good for an old bloke like you who isn’t married and doesn’t have any kids to suddenly join the scouts. You know, kiddy fiddlers and all that!”
“Well, I was married and I do have a child, if that helps.” Foodge had given up on the recalcitrant woggle and too short scarf.
“What? Who? When?” Merv’s face nearly exploded.
“Well actually, it’s not really anyone’s business.”
“Yer shacked up with Granny and living under my roof, so I reckon it is someone’s business.”
“How about we move into the Gentlemen’s Bar and I’ll tell you over a few drinks?”
Merv looked at his watch. “It is after eight so I could go a couple of frothy chops for breakfast.”
Foodge was onto his third pint of bitter before he launched into his story. “Mr Merv, you may not believe this, but there was a time when I wasn’t the squeaky clean, sophisticated lawyer you see before you. I was a different man, desperate to make his mark in the world, and more desperate to become rich, not only rich, but powerful. I became a criminal barrister, on the side of criminals who, not only paid me well to keep them out of jail, but heeded my advice. I oversaw property acquisitions, take-overs of clubs, bars, casinos and even brothels.”
“Go on.” Nodded Merv eagerly as he pushed another glass canoe across the bar.
“That’s how I met her. She was a pole dancer in a strip club I was purchasing for the mob. She was beautiful and, as they say, it was love at first sight. We eloped within weeks of our first kiss. We honeymooned in Dapto, just a stones throw from Lake Illawarra, the Venice of Australia. They were beautiful times, Mr Merv.” Foodge had a little tear in his eye as he reminisced.
Merv was getting emotional so decided they needed something stronger. He poured a couple of glasses of South Sea Islands Scotch. “Where is she now?”
“Things went swimmingly, for a while. We moved into an apartment in Darlinghurst. She stopped working, well, she had to, she got pregnant on the honeymoon and we had a son who we named Foodge Junior, of course. Anyhoo, she became more and more unhappy with my life of crime. She tried to get me to leave the mob, but I wouldn’t. I was addicted to money and power. She eventually joined a cult and tried to persuade me to join, but they were complete nutters.”
“Don’t tell me she drank the Kool-Aid?” Merv refreshed their glasses.
“No, why Kool-Aid?” Foodge can be quite obtuse! “No, I came home one evening to find a note saying that they, and other cult members, were going on a great trip and that I’d never see her or the baby ever again. I raced down to the old cinema where they held their meetings but it was boarded up. I contacted the police but they just added their names to a long list of people who had suddenly disappeared. I retained a private eye for a couple of years but there wasn’t a single clue to chase down. Eventually I gave up, but not until I left the mob and went straight.”
“You know what we should do!” Merv was now slurring his words. “We should look for ‘em.”
“How, I mean, after all these years?”
“Well it doesn’t sound like the cops took much interest and yer PI sounds a bit incompetent. Now we’ve got the Internet and some pleece owe me some favours.”
To be continued.