Foodge had been along every aisle in Buntings. Eventually he found his way to the help desk. Foodge couldn’t help thinking how Buntings rhymed with something, never mind. The assistant suggested he went to the toilet as he was so fidgety as he hadn’t had any alcohol or cigarettes. “Yes I can see them young lady but I have Korsakoff psychosis and am really difficult to manage” replied Foodge.
He had quite a long list, so handed it to the assistant who smiled and handed it to her off sider. “I think you’ll struggle a bit here mate. Skyhook? Do you really need two? We had one in stock but an acrobat bought it this morning.
Five Fallopian tubes. We don’t stock them ‘ere, but ‘arrison’s Prosthetics may have some sort of substitute but I reckon they sell ‘em in pairs.
Left ‘anded ‘ammers have gone outta style, what with carpenters gradually adapting to the more traditional right-handed tool.
Blinker fluid…don’t stock it anymore, try Repco, it will be one aisle over from the Elbow Grease.
As for the Heavy Duty Clutch Belt, that’s not normally a DIY job unless you have your own Heavy Duty Clutch Belt Buckle, but they’re bloody dangerous.
Repco should stock sparks for spark plugs. We used to stock boxes of Inertia, but never seemed to shift ‘em.
Make Up Air sounds like a specialist air conditioning item, or perhaps a beauty aid.” The assistant grinned.
“We can’t sell a new Hydraulic Automatic Nanode valve, but we can recondition an old one, if you can bring it in, undamaged.”
“I suppose I need a special Hydraulic Automatic Nanode Valve Puller or Extractor?” Foodge was exasperated.
“Of course, they’ll have a couple under the counter in Tool Hire. Just ask them for a HANd Job.”
Foodge considered a HANd job but he thought she said a MANdjob and now that she was a born again O’Donnellist he thought that may be a bit rude even though it gave him a chubby. The more things change the more they stay the same.
“I think you better leave Sir. There is something bulging in your pants”
“That’s just my pant bulger, I brought it from here” cries Foodge
“511 to security, we have a problem…”
Poor old Foodge, didn’t even get a sausage from the sausage sizzle…
Foodge’s nightmares continued unabated. Every night, between three and four Granny would be woken by his thrashing and groaning. It was always the same dream; Foodge’s disembodied head in a box. Every time Granny gleaned little bits of additional information before Foodge slipped back to a slumber punctuated by snores, coughs, obstructive episodes and loud farts. Sometimes Foodge replied in Spanish. Occasionally he’d stand up and try to micturate behind the tall boy. One time he was as randy as all hell, but every time he had no memory the next morning. Granny spent the hours between Foodge’s dream and dawn pondering the meaning of these dreams.
Foodge has experienced a reasonable day, that is, until Father O’Way arrived in a pretty summer dress with his hair tumbling over his shoulders and his old navy tattoos on display for all to see. “Call me Mother O’Way!” He gushed.
“Mother O’Way!” Merv erupted. “Mother Fucking O’Way…how about Get Outta the Fucking Way?”
“When did this change occur?” Ventured Foodge.
“Yesterday’s episode.” O’Way was coquettishly twirling his longish grey hair between her fingers.
“Christ, talk about one dimensional characters, what about Mrs O’Way?” Merv quickly poured a second glass of Crème de Menthe.
“It’s over, she’s an extreme heterosexual, a homophobe of the highest degree!”
“So she’s available?” Merv rubbed his hands together.
“I don’t care what happens to her.” O’Way sounded quite melodramatic.
“What is the Church’s position on all of this?” Foodge had managed to pry his eyes away from the train wreck known as Mother O’Way, and pour himself a South Seas Island rum.
“The Bishop is way cool with this.” O’Way had located a compact in his purse and was busily caking powder on her nose. “He thinks this turn of events to be rather modern.
“What about Gordon O’Donnell?”
“What about Gordon O’Donnell?” Everyone turned to behold Gordon’s wonderful visage (actually he looked like an old derro).
“Oh, well, your majesty, ah, I mean your honour, um, what are your thoughts on Father O’Way becoming Mother O’Way?’ Foodge stammered.
“I’m the sort of chap who wouldn’t care one way or another, but, when he’s got such a beautiful looking sheila, and, bear in mind, that it took me months to get this pair together, and, the fact that he’s only doing this for dramatic effect…I don’t approve!”
O’Way was crestfallen. “What do I do now?”
Gordon put a comforting arm around the Father’s broad shoulders. “The missus hasn’t seen you like this?”
O’Way shook his head.
“Let’s keep it our little secret. Perhaps you can frock up when she’s on a weekend away?” Gordon looked around the bar. “It is our little secret! Know what I mean.”
Merv and Foodge nodded enthusiastically, not wanting a bolt of lightning through their skulls.
“I’ll have a word with the Bishop, if he’ll listen to me.” Gordon had a twinkle in his eye.
Hung. “I thought you were writing another episode?”
Big. “Err, yep, suppose so.”
Hung. “ You know, you mentioned Foodge’s head in a box.”
Big. “Yeah, I did mention that.”
Hung. “Well, get going!”
Foodge was at his usual place behind the coffee machine busily bringing her up to a full head of steam in readiness for the anticipated influx of customers.
Hung. “Hang on. You’ve started nearly every episode in the last few months with Foodge at the coffee machine.”
Big. “Well, so what, it makes the writing easier.”
Hung. “You know that I’ve been in strife with the Fictional Union of Characters!”
Big. “Wasn’t that the Union of Fictional Characters?”
Hung. “Yes, but they renamed themselves to get a better acronym.”
Big. “Well, FUC certainly has a ring to it.”
Hung. “There are regulations around the use of two dimensional characters in stories. You’re running a risk of only using a two dimensional character in a one-dimensional plot thereby undermining said character’s dimensions. In effect they can simply disappear.”
Big. “I’ll try again.”
Granny was woken in the middle of the night by Foodge’s groans and flailing limbs.
Hung. “That’s better already.”
“Come on, darling, you’re having a nightmare.” Granny soothed.
Foodge managed to pull the pillow from his face. “I dreamed that my head was stuck inside a box.”
“What, like a disembodied head kept alive by a mad scientist, as in the movie, The Brain That Wouldn’t Die, or like someone had smashed your head into a box?”
“Dunno, I could still feel my limbs.”
“That could be phantom sensations.” Granny pondered.
“Does it matter now?” Foodge turned over to try to get back to sleep.
“It sort of does. Could you hear anything?”
“Yes, there was a humming sound behind my head, you know, pumps and so forth.” Foodge pulled up the duvet, even though it wasn’t particularly cool.
“Yes, umm, those two fellows that pop in occasionally, um, Hung and Big M.”
“What did they say?’ Granny was becoming anxious.
“Something about two dimensional characters and one dimensional plot lines.” Foodge suddenly started snoring loudly.
Granny didn’t get back to sleep, but sat up wondering what all this meant.
Foodge was back at his usual station behind the bar. Merv slipped a middy along the bar. “Get that into you, it’ll put lead in yer pencil.”
“Love a stout, especially first thing in the morning.” Foodge skulled the dark liquid.
“It’s Granny’s new Porter.”
“What’s a Porter?”
“It’s essentially a type of stout.”
“Right.” Foodge pushed the empty glass along the bar, which Merv quickly refilled (the glass, not the bar).
Foodge raised the glass to his lips but his eyes were transfixed by the most beautiful face he’d seen in his life. She really was a long cool woman in a black dress (as the song goes). She was tall, slender, slightly athletic, with black hair, emerald eyes and pale, almost alabaster skin. “Morning!” He blustered, with the glass still in front of his face.
Merv was just as enchanted, but somehow, maintained some composure. “Good morning, madam, can I be of assistance?”
“What a darling man.” She enthused. “I’m hoping that you can help me.”
“Yes, yes.” Foodge and Merv leaned forward.
“I’ve lost my husband.”
A flicker of hope flared in Merv’s heart. “I’m so sorry for your loss.”
“No, he’s not dead, he really is lost. I haven’t seen my Alexander for months. He said he was coming to the Pig’s Arms to help out for a week or so and hasn’t been back.”
Merv was slightly crestfallen. “Alexander you reckon? Never ‘eard of him.”
“You may know of him as Sandy?”
“Doesn’t ring a bell.” Both Foodge and Merv shook their heads.
“He sometimes dresses as a priest and claims to be from the Generic Brand Church.”
“Oh, of course, Father O’Way, or FOW as we sometimes call him.” Foodge motioned to the coffee machine.
“Thank goodness, no, I won’t have a coffee, I wouldn’t mind something stronger…perhaps from the top shelf.”
Merv picked up on the hint and decanted from the South Sea Islands Blue Label.
“You know that he’s not really a priest, he just dresses that way to avoid the risk of becoming a one dimensional character. The problem is that we all run that risk in the Fictional Character Industry.”
Foodge nodded carefully, as it took his brain a little while to catch up. “You don’t think we’re all characters in some sort of fiction?”
“That’s like Descartes’ Brain in a vat idea, where some evil demon has placed a brain in a vat of nutrients and connected the nerves to various inputs to make the person think they are still alive.” Merv postulated while pouring Mrs O’Way a second drink.
“Yes, I was dreaming about this only last night, that I was a brain in a box.” Foodge motioned for a third Porter. Merv quickly obliged.
“We can’t be just fictional characters, because we’re here all of the time, talking, moving, eating and drinking. I can’t see how someone could make all of that up?” Merv wrinkled an already much troubled brow.
“Do you ever have people who seem to wander in for what seems to be minutes? They often have outlandish descriptions of themselves or their experiences.” Mrs O’Way sounded like she was on to something.
“Yes, we do.” Foodge looked slightly comical with a beery moustache. “Big M and Hung would be the primary candidates. Hung seems to appear and disappear at will while Big M always claims to have travelled by steam train.”
“That’s exactly the sort of character I’m talking about. Almost like ghosts trying to manipulate the living.” Mrs O’Way was interrupted by a tall man, who planted a kiss on her cheek.
“I hope you aren’t telling tales out of school, darling!” Grinned O’Way.
Foodge’s deep slumber was interrupted by an urgent need to micturate (no, not through the railing). He was interrupted mid-stream by a tap at the window. He struggled to ignore it but came a second and a third tap. He gave his local member a good shake and opened the window, just in time for the fourth tap, actually a small stone, to hit him in the forehead.
Foodge looked down at the Pigs Arms car park, which was barely lit by a single incandescent bulb. It was sufficient to illuminate a tall figure, obviously male, clad only in a ‘too small’ white hospital gown with no ties and, unfortunately, no underwear. “Mr Merv, watcha doin’ out there?”
“What am I doin’? I’m escaping”” Merv replied sotto voce. “You know what they wanted to do?”
“D’you know what that is?” Merv was squirming.
“They wanted to chop me nuts off.”
“Well that doesn’t sound right.” Foodge turned to go back to bed.
“Can you let me in?”
“Oh, of course.”
It seemed like an eternity to Merv, but Foodge eventually appeared at the car park exit. “Come on in, old chap.”
Merv nervously looked around then darted through the door. “Quick, turn that light off, I think the cops are already onto me.”
“Why would the Pleece be after you? You weren’t admitted under an order, you were a voluntary patient.” Foodge did seem to know something about the law.
“Why was I manacled to the bed then?” Merv thought he’d won the argument.
“I think that Nurse Mervette may be responsible for that.”
Merv started crying again. “Don’t mention that name.”
“Come on Mr Merv, I’ll make you a cup of chino.”
“Let’s get something stronger.” Merv was already behind the bar pouring two Double IPAs.
Of course, all of this activity had woken the household. Granny, Manne and O’Hoo suddenly appeared. “Yay, Mr Merv’s home, yelled O’Hoo. Let’s have a party!”
“I’ll put the wedges on.” Yelled Manne.
“Where’s the good Scotch?” Granny was ebullient.
“Sit down Mr Merv, I’ll take over.”
“No you won’t, O’Hoo, you’d be the worst bar tender in Australia.” Granny pushed Merv out of the way and started pouring.
“Come on you lot, the cops will take me liquor licence if we get caught.” Merv remonstrated.
“Actually, Mr Merv, you are entitled, under the Liquor Act of 2007 to have a private party.” Foodge was just showing off, now.
“Oh, yeah, of course, I used to go to a lot of ‘private parties’ in my youth.” Merv finished his beer and reached out for a second.
“There is one thing for which Pleece do take a particularly dim view.”
“What’s that, mate?”
Foodge looked down at the gap between the hem of the gown and Merv’s Private Region. “Wedding tackle on display, with, or without orchids!”
Foodge had tried his best. He’d contacted Janet with the offer of acting as mediator between her and Merv. She seemed fixated on the word ‘mediate’. “Mediate, mediate, you couldn’t mediate at a piss up.” Foodge had absolutely no idea what this meant. He was under the gun, coffee wise, so went back to brewing.
FOW had been listening in between pouring glass canoes and operating the EFTPOS. “Sounds like it’s over, but she may be happy to speak to a man of the cloth.”
“What cloth?” Foodge was as sharp as a bowling ball.
“You know, a minister, such as myself.” FOW pushed the bottle of South Sea Islands Irish whiskey along the bar for Foodge’s Famous Irish Coffee, which had become popular amongst the Night Duty Nurses.
“Oh, I don’t know, I think she’s a Callithumpian.”
“You know there’s no such religion as Callithumpian?” They were interrupted by Big M asking for a tray for the Irish Coffees.
“Youz aren’t Callithumpian, are you? We’ve had no end of trouble with back home.” Big M interjected.
“No, mate, just chatting.” FOW replied, as he replaced the whiskey bottle on the top shelf.
Foodge grinned. “See there is such a thing!”
“Whatever.” This wasn’t a battle worth fighting over. “Are you going to take Granny to see Merv?” Granny had responded to her favourite nostrum and was in fine form brewing a batch of Granny’s Pale Ale.
“Yes, indeed. I was hoping to give Merv some good news regarding Janet, but I think I’ll be hooking him up with a Family Solicitor.”
“Can’t you handle stuff like that?” FOW was wiping and stacking a bunch of trays.
“I’ve never handled a divorce, all criminal law, me!” Foodge hasn’t appeared in a court for three years, which may be more of a reason. “Oh, here’s the lady herself. How’s the brewing going , Granny?”
“The wort has been boiled, cooled and pumped into a fermentation tank. It just needs to cool down by a cuppla degrees then I’ll toss in some yeast. I heard youz talkin’ ‘bout Merv and Janet. Any hope?” Granny nodded to FOW who slid a canoe across the bar.
“Well, she doesn’t want to talk to me. Father wants to talk to her, but I don’t think it will help.”
“No, them Callithumpians keep to themselves. Very intolerant of other faiths.. I wouldn’t bother.” Granny skulled her drink and nodded for a second, which followed the first one quick smart.” I’m going upstairs for a shower, are you still happy to take me to see Merv?”
“Yes, O’Hoo will take over while I’m gone.”
The hospital visit went as hospital visits usually go. Twenty minutes of driving around looking for an overpriced parking spot. Then ten minutes of trying to find the ward. At least that gave one time to try to acclimatise to the smell of disinfectant, which failed to disguise the smell of urine. Eventually they found the ward where they were pleased to see that Merv was no longer manacled to the bed.
Merv had assumed that MRI-Brain was some sort of brain biopsy so had been getting worked up over the idea of a big needle, or blade, going into his brain. The nurse had allayed his fears by telling him that it was a brain scan using big magnets and shit. The scan, according to a verbal report, was unremarkable, which is medical speak for normal. He’d eagerly conveyed all of this to his visitors.
“So, what’s the next step, son?” Granny was stoic, but in reality was pretty worried.
“Well, they’re considering an orchidectomy, which seems odd, because we don’t grow any flowers!” Merv exclaimed.
“No, well that sounds good, love, we’ll push off, I’ve still got wort that needs my attention.”
As they wandered through the maze of hallways and tunnels Foodge whispered to Granny. “Why do they want Merv’s orchids?”
“I suspect it’s just some medical thing.” Granny replied, nodding knowingly.
The Pigs Arms was relatively quiet. Foodge still manned the coffee machine, FOW the bar, with O’Hoo acting as cellarman and Manne the cook. Everyone doubled as ‘Bar Useful’, picking up plates and glasses, wiping tables and putting glassware and plates through the appropriate washing machine. It was Foodge’s turn to start the episode. “It’s quiet.” He observed.
“Yep.” Replied FOW, absent-mindedly.
“D’you think Merv will ever get out of the lunatic asylum?” Foodge was completely deadpan, drained by the week’s activities.
“Mental Health Unit.” FOW was pretty deadpan, too.
“Oh, that’s right, he’s not a lunatic, just mental.”
“Yep, just mental.” FOW was polishing the good wine glasses with a fetid rag.
“D’you think he’ll ever get out?”
“Well he will, one way or another.” FOW mused.
“D’you think Granny will ever get out of bed?”
“Well, Florence Nightingale took to her bed for decades, but I doubt Granny will do that.”
“D’you think we’ll ever see Mervette again?” Foodge screwed up his pale, pallid face.
“I doubt we’ve seen the back of her.”
“I’ve seen too much of the front, let alone the back.” Foodge pushed a macchiato across to FOW.
“D’you think we should ring him?”
“Who?” FOW was still pondering the significance of Bishop Bishop’s recent visit.
“Merv, of course.” Foodge had his phone out. “Can’t find the number for Callan Park.”
“He’s not in Callan Park, it was sold thirty years ago. He’s in the Mental Health Unit of the Inner Western Cyberian General Hospital.”
Foodge was soon onto the MHU, as they like to call it.
“Can I speak to Mr Merv?” Foodge sounded a little too desperate.
“Who’s Mr Merv, a patient or staff?”
“Well, I don’t think he’s got the smarts to be staff, although he’s passed a Numeracy and Literacy Course, so I guess he’s a patient.” It’s easy to see why Foodge is one of the most sought after private dicks in Inner Western Cyberia.
“Oh, yeah, he’s the bloke who fuc..I mean, had relations with his twin sister. I’ll put you through.”
“It seemed like an eternity until Merv’s voice came on the line. “Hello Janet, is that you? Forgive me darling, I’ll do anything.”
“It’s me, Foodge.”
“Oh shit, I mean, hello Foodge. How are things?”
“Well, you’re not here, but I suppose you realised that, Bishop Bishop’s been and Granny’s taken to her bed. How are you?”
“Aside from being strapped down to a bed and being injected with major tranquillisers, pretty good. What’s wrong with Granny?”
“Can’t get her out of bed.”
“She does this now and then. I supposed you’ve never encountered it. We used to give her a couple of Bex and she’d be up like an unwanted priapism. When they stopped making Bex we used to grind up a couple of Aspirin in a little folded paper packet. Give it a go.”
“Thanks, we’ll try it. Is there any hope for an early discharge?” Foodge failed to notice the double entendre.
“They reckon they need a semen sample, then I should be right to go.”
“Who said that?” Even Foodge thought it an odd pathology test for a mental health unit.
“The nurse. You know what. She’s real tall, shoulders like boulders, traps like an ox’s hind leg, looks vaguely familiar….oh, hang on, she’s been at me again!! Merv started to cry uncontrollably.
Foodge hung up and rang the Pleece. They confirmed that Mervette was still at large, whereabouts unknown.
“I’ll tell you whereabout she is. She’s at the Inner Western Cyberia Mental Health Unit. If you pull your truncheons out of your collective bottoms you might catch her!” Foodge angrily slammed the phone down, smashing the glass. “Oh shit!”
Foodge was stood at his station behind the coffee machine. He was in a pensive mood (No he wasn’t, he was just plain embarrassed). Sorry, (Thanks Mark) he was just plain embarrassed after having to piss in the sluice behind the bar. Of course, Foodge’s idea if micturating in the sluice involved piss going everywhere, especially with an over-distended bladder. “Thanks, Father O’Way, for cleaning up yesterday.”
“No worries, I suppose you mentally lapsed back to those days of micturating through the ship’s railing.” FOW, as he liked to be called, was struggling with a leaking tap. It seemed like a cellarman’s job. “O’Hoo, are you there?”
“Yeah.” Came a muffled voice from the cellar.
“Leaking tap on Bitter, can you have a look?”
“Yep.” O’Hoo was trying to keep a low profile in view of the mad rooting in the store room incident.
“What ship?” Foodge had some vague idea about being on a ship but somehow his brain was stopping him from remembering. “Not the Wasted Seamen?”
“Where did you hear that name?” It was FOW’s turn to be pensive, or was it wary?
“It went down last week with three passengers missing, three Australian blokes.”
FOW realised that he had said too much. “Perhaps I heard it on the news. How about a pint?” FOW pushed a canoe in Foodge’s direction.
Merv realised that he had slept in. He tried to get up but his balls ached and his arm seemed to be trapped. He was spooning the most delightful creature he’d ever seen. Like a fitness model she had delts like boulders, traps like the hind leg of an ox and muscular striations that Mr Schwarzenegger would die for. He gently nuzzled her ear. “Mon Cheri.”
Foodge heard the back door slam. Looking around he was face to face with Merv’s ex, Janet. Where is he?” She spluttered.
“Who would that be?” Foodge answered.
“Who dya think!”
FOW stepped in. “Now there’s no need to get excited dear.” In his most ministerial voice.
“Shuddup Padre. Where is he?”
FOW and O’Hoo avoided looking at her. Foodge couldn’t help himself and nervously glanced up at the ceiling.
“Still in bed, the lazy great oaf.” Janet sprinted up the Memorial Kristina Kennealy staircase.
Foodge tried to ring Merv, suddenly realising that Merv didn’t own a mobile. It was too late; the sound of thumping on Merv’s bedroom door resonated through the building.
Janet burst through the door. “Get up you lazy…what, I’ve been gone five days and you’re already playing hide the salami…whoozat?”
Mervette awkwardly tried to cover all of her bits. “Merv, you told me you were well and truly divorced. Five days? Separated five days. That’s barely a holiday!”
“So, who’s this, Merv, yer twin sister?” Janet was shaking with anger.
“No, wait…why…we’re nothing alike.” Now Merv was discombobulated.
“She looks like you with a sex change.” Granny, Foodge, FOW and O’Hoo all nodded in agreement. Gordon only knows what they were all doing in there.
Mervette spoke up. “I think I can explain it. Merv, did you ever donate tissue for cloning experiments?”
“Well, Advanced Hair paid me a thousand bucks for some hair follicles to clone for baldy headed blokes, but that was over thirty years ago.”
“What do you think happened to that tissue?”
“I assumed they made hair out of it!”
“Well, they did, but they also made me.”
“Hang on, if they made a human, why didn’t they publish, or sell the technology to make human organs and medical treatments.” Big M interjected. He’d been sleeping in the bar since the last episode.
“Shut up, Big M.” Yelled Mark. How he got into the story, no one knows. “Let ‘em tell the story.
“You’re female, you can’t be a clone!” Merv’s head hurt.
“They developed a technique to convert the cells into female cells by substituting X for Y, because women are less likely to become bald. They left some cells dividing and they became me. I am your female clone!”
“So you’ve been having an affair with yourself. I’ve heard of dedicated Onanists, but you absolutely take the cake” Janet seemed to make sense. “I’ll tell you what, why don’t you go and fuck yourself?”
It had been a busy morning, what with the Night Nurses enjoying their first post lock down get together. It all went swimmingly until Big M knocked over a bottle of Shiraz, which managed to contaminate everybody’s uniforms. He had no excuse for the sudden lack of balance; he was only five pints in. Mark managed to steer him towards the door. “It’s orright, I’m ketchin’ the 3801” Big M slurred.
“That’s right, buddy, just wait for that big steam engine to pull up, then you’ll be on yer way.” Mark soothed as he dumped Big M onto the bus stop seat.
Foodge had been at the coffee machine all morning. He was desperate for a piss, I mean, micturition, so turned to ask Merv or Mervette to man the coffees. He suddenly realised he was alone, with a group of thirsty concreters bearing down on the bar. “Manne, Granny, O’Hoo, anybody??”
“O’Hoo popped his head around the corner. “What’s all of the yelling about?”
“Mate, I’ve been abandoned with a phalanx of thirsty tradesmen bearing down on me.”
“Well, you know that I can’t pull a pint!” O’Hoo tried to stand his ground but the concreters had made it to the bar. “Oh, fuck.” O’Hoo started pulling Trotters Best, all half beer and half foam.
“We aint payin’ for this shit.”
“All on the house.” Mumbled O’Hoo.
Thankfully Granny arrived on the scene. “What in the name of Gordon O’Donnell are you doing?”
“Tryin’ to help.” Muttered O’Hoo as he passed another half arsed pint across the bar.
Granny slipped behind the bar to expertly pour a couple of pints. “Okay youz blokes, happy hour is over so there’s no more free piss.” She quickly checked each tap. “O’Hoo, IPA and Stout need to be replaced, oh, and by the way, thanks for stepping in.”
O’Hoo raced to the cellar, where he was most at home. Foodge tugged on Granny’s sleave. “I’m desperate for a wee wee.”
“Hold onto yer water works for a minute. Where the bloody hell is that barmaid I’m payin’”
“Well, um, you can probably hear her.” Foodge was either going to have to hold onto his knob or micturated in the sluice.”
From the back of the pub. “Merv!”
Granny located the source of the noise and tore open the storeroom door. She was horrified by the sight of a shaved, four legged, gorilla. She suddenly realised it was Merv and Mervette butt naked enjoying a conjugal visit. She was so angry she could barely speak. “Pull yer fuckin’ pants up and get outta my sight!”
Granny wandered back to the bar. “Are you still desperate for a Jimmy Riddle, Darling?” The sight of her lover had calmed her somewhat.
“Not now.” Foodge answered guiltily.
“Oh, Gordon O’Donnell help me.” Pleaded Granny.
“What can I do, dear?” Gordon appeared in the doorway of the Gents, busily trying to pull up his fly.
Granny’s eyes misted over as she tried to put her arms around Gordon, but finding nothing but air. “Now, Granny, you know that us supernatural beings don’t like to be touched. I’m aware of the problem and I’ve summoned my best man for the job.
Father O’Way suddenly appeared. “Where shall I start Granny, oh, perhaps I should deal with the smell of piss behind the bar?”
Foodge had spent the morning trying to make four leaf clovers and love hearts in cappuccino froth. He’s progressively become more discombobulated as the morning progressed. Mervette was suddenly at his side vigorously wiping over beer taps and flushing stale beer through the overflow trays. “Mate, you’ve got a face like a dropped pie!”
“Yeah, yes.” Mumbled Foodge. “I feel like I’m missing time, I mean, there’s a huge gap in my diary…nothing for three weeks, then there was a news story this morning, about MI5 catching paedophiles. The thing is, I feel like I’ve met the agent in charge, and the street looked familiar, even though I’ve never been to England.”
“Ah, yes, it’s just Deja Vu, you know, the brain detects vaguely familiar patterns and makes sense of them by creating some sort of story.” Mervette pulled out a middy glass. “You wanna a swift half for morning tea?”
“Well, why not, it might settle down the over active brain.” Foodge thought he saw a fleeting shadow out of the corner of his eye. Was it Gordon O’Donnell?
“You know those coffee patterns are easier to do in a real cup of coffee. That way your skewer drags some coffee up into the froth forming a darker line.”
“Oh, yes, thanks.” Foodge drank his beer in silence. He was suddenly alerted to a news flash on the telly. “A container ship, the Wasted Seamen, has sunk in the Indian Ocean. Three middle aged, male passengers are feared drowned as they are unaccounted for.” Foodge crumpled his brow trying to remember where he’d seen Wasted Seamen before.
Suddenly a familiar face loomed large. “Gidday, Foodge, you’ve got a face like a slapped arse. What’s wrong?” Merv enquired.
“Well it’s all to do with MI5, paedophiles and Wasted Seamen.”
“Why, what have you heard?” Merv looked worried.
“Just the news.”
“Oh, so no one’s said anything?” Merv looked pensive.
“Why would they?”
Their exchange was interrupted by Mervette. “Where have you been all my life?” As she pushed a glass canoe across the bar.
“Right here, sweet heart.” Merv skulled his pint, hoping for a second helping. “That’s something you don’t see every day in Inner Western Cyberia.”
“A beautiful lookin’ sheila.” Merv drank the second pint a little more slowly.
“Another silver tongued bastard.” Mervette gave Merv one of her come hither looks. “How about you sit yerself down and we’ll organise some breakfast?”
“I’m not that hungry, I suppose I could put away some scrambled eggs, bacon, chipolatas, tomato, mushrooms, Cumberland sausages, maybe a bit of leftover steak.” The words were barely out of Merv’s mouth when Granny appeared with her famous Pigs Arms Big Breakfast with customary wedges.
Both women fussed over him while Foodge stood behind the coffee machine. He reached over and pulled another beer. “I suppose he deserves all that fuss, but no one’s recognised my existential crisis.” He muttered to himself. “I could have been abducted by aliens for all I know.”
Granny rushed off to attend some wort that she had left on the boil. Mervette placed her hands either side of Merv’s neck. “You’re full of tension, Merv, you really need a massage.” As she worked on a particularly knotty trapezoid. “This might be better performed lying down.”
It was Merv’s turn to feel a stirring in the nether regions.
Merv was pleased to be reversing the old EH Special into the Pigs Arms garage, but was still bloody cranky with Janet. The usual story, they’d blued, she cried, called him a bastard, he told her to fuck right off, which she did with the kids. Now she’s staying out at Buttfuck West with ’Her People’. He’d done the right thing, driven up, bought real good flowers from the servo and a bottle of Porphyry Pearl from the grog shop. I won’t record the anatomical locations Janet had instructed Merv to relocate his well thought out gifts. Anyhoo, Merv was well buggered after a long drive.
“Welcome back Mr Merv, didja buy yerself a Mickey Mouse shirt when you were out West?” O’Hoo took a break from pressure cleaning the cement path.
“It’s not Mickey Mouse, it’s just Man Boob Sweat and dirt. Thanks fer askin’.”
“When’s the rest of the family coming home, I thought you’d gone to pick ‘em up?”
Merv burst into tears. “She’s gone, mate, gone and not comin’ back” Merv took a second to blow his nose on his T-shirt.
“Come on mate.” O’Hoo switched off the pressure cleaner and put a comforting arm around Merv’s shoulder. “I’ll carry yer bag.”
Granny was waiting at the back door, having heard the exchange. She reached up and kissed him on the cheek. “Come on son.” The pair helped Merv navigate upstairs to his apartment. “You jump in the shower and I’ll round up some grub and a refreshment.” Granny was almost out the door when she turned. “I’ll take them filthy clothes and toss them in the laundry.” O’Hoo conveyed the offending items from the en suite. “Blowin’ yer nose on yer shirt…” Muttered Granny.
Half an hour later Merv was feeling a hundred, no, maybe eighty percent, especially as he was back in his favourite gold boxing shorts and pink Pigs Arms singlet. He wandered down to the bar where Granny had his favourite pulled pork burger and hot wedges. He reached across the bar and pulled himself a pint of Best. Crikey, he thought to himself, if anyone needs to recover from emotional turmoil, this was the place to be. “I’d better get back into it!” He announced to no one in particular.
“No you bloody won’t!” Granny pointed a gnarled finger at him. “We’ve got help in, plus the fellers have stepped up.”
With that a rubbery face appeared from behind the bar. “Another canoe, Mr Merv?”
“Oh, shit, go ahead then Foodge.” Seconds later a fairly well pulled pint slid across the bar. “I’ll take me words back, cheers Foodge.”
“I heard that you probably need legal representation.” Enthused Foodge. “I mean, I’m sorry to hear about you and Janet.”
“I think I need a Family Law expert, not a high profile Criminal Barrister like yerself. Hey, where’s this help Granny was talkin’ about?”
“Day off, she’ll be back tomorrow.”
“She?” Merv motioned towards his empty glass. “I’ll be lookin’ forward to meetin’ her. I’ll bet she’s bloody gorgeous!”
Foodge pushed another pint towards Merv. “Oh, you don’t know the half of it.”