“I’ve had enough of this shit” roars Mrs O’Way, whose first name is Belinda by the way. Belinda is the the little sister of Glenda from Glenda’s Pain and Torture Clinic, just down the road and around the corner from the Pigs Arms. “The Fictional Characters Union has just amalgamated with the Characters Fictional Union to become the FUCU(Fictional Union of Characters United) and we’ve become the laughing stock as now everyone is referring to us as fuck you.”
“Merv, pour me a double South Sea Island Blue Label and are you fictional or real?” she demands.
“I think I’m real, no hang on a minute, that’s right I’m fictional but a union member of FUCU” replies Merv.
“So fuck you” says Mrs O’Way.
“ Hello, look author here. I’m not into this swearing stuff so please close your eyes when you are reading some rude words. Anyway kiddies may be watching.” says Mark from the commentary box.
“So hands up, who here is real?” demands Mrs O’Way. A limp response is recorded. “What about fictional?” same sort of reply.
“Are there any cats here we can shoot?” asks Algernon.
“Hope so” replies Big M. “Anyone seen Mother O’Way?”
“STFU Big, do you want Gordon to zap our brains out?” cries Algernon.
“What brains would that be?” Big M replies. Good point thinks Algernon.
“Look I used to be real till I came across the Pigs Arms” says Sister Yvonne.
#Metoo say the girls, oh boy, I can see a movement happening.
“Now, now, lets just all keep this in Perspex” says janowrite out of left field.
“Drinks on the house” says Merv trying to avoid a disaster, “did you mean perspective jano?”
“Probably but a South Seas Blue Label will do me” janowrite struggles at this point to attempt to see what’s happening in this story but you are in it now, bad stinking luck, just ask Sister Yvonne.
“Where’s my Sandy” cries Mrs O’Way, oops I mean Belinda.
“Well sorry love but he’s down at the dress shop”
“You’re not allowed to say that Merv otherwise Gordon will zap our brains out, hey there’s a cat” says Algernon in a timely fashion as only he can do.
Big M and Algernon open fire with their shotguns and unfortunately after open heart surgery the cat dies. Snigger, snigger. Oh well, that’s how it goes, snigger, snigger.
Mrs O’Way, oops, sorry, Belinda, belts the boys around the head with an umbrella.
“Where did that come from Belinda?”
“Out of the props section, they have lots of things in there, even dildos”
“Yeah I can see a #catkiller movement starting as well, lucky I’m smart” says someone unnamed form the FUCU. Is that you Hung?
“Not me, I’d never say something rude or smart, I’m a nurse you know and us nurses never are rude or swear or are smart aren’t we.”
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.
FOW* is mopping the porch. No-one pays him attention. Nobody there.
“I’ll say it anyway.”
Nobody knows what it was. A raucous noise of a band in the Pig’s Arms Sylvia Plath Memorial ballroom sets up. It disappears like a wisp of a fanfare of a concerto.
On the other side of the car park, Merv walking through the Sports Bar is himself in explication with himself.
“She’s not here.”
Where ‘she’ isn’t or wasn’t depends on where in time you want to go with this, let me interrupt and explicate. I’ll do that sometimes. It’s knowing everything that causes everything. Merv was in the cellar of this infamous address, destination of drinkers and jokers all, place of the people, the Window Dresser’s Arms, Pig and Whistle. He’s risen up the cellar stairs to walk through the Sports Bar. FOW is mopping the floor of the entrance hall of the Manse, but not out of mind. Out of frame.
“I know perfectly well she’s not here.”
Merv is confident. Granny had left the building. Merv had watched Granny’s curvaceous arse gyrate and manipulate its way around and between the Sports Bar tables and chairs and it exit.
Emmjay is calling down into the stair well. It’s his pub. He does as he chooses. Merv careens out of reverie.
“Yes? What do you want, Emm?” Merv calls back from the Sports Bar.
“Merv, did you tell the Flamin’ Crows they could practice in the Ballroom this morning?”
“Don’t know anything about that.”
Of course he doesn’t. He didn’t know I was going to write them in. Viewpoint is everything. The soundscape is deafening. The crescendo is only bettered by the rate of debris falling from the rafters. Chook waste. Dried chook excreta. Chook feathers.
Merv and Emmjay step out into the car park for a breath of morning air unadulterated with reminder the rafters were never mucked out after the last chook was despatched to the WDAPW** Sports Bar counter menu. The sun is risen in a blaze of glory. FOW is at the gate of the Manse directly opposite. A Cyberverse taxi driver is at the Manse gate emptying luggage out of the boot of a Cyberverse taxi. The Bish is back in town.
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.
Written by Shoe – Direction and Photography by Mark.
“Granny can’t be all that deaf,” Mark was remarking.
“I’m not going as Death,” Granny hollered. The cellar’s a long way. From is even longer by the time Granny climbs the stairs after a few quiet ones.
“Fancy dress,” Algy explained to Big M, “They’re holding an Allusion to celebrate we’re all in a better place.
“There’s a row of them in a big wooden box,” Foodge heard Granny screech as he walked in.
“I’m all done in, Uncle Merv.”
Merv set down a steaming cup of milo on the bar. Foodge expelled the breath of a man of all reason. Foodge was a season of reason. No-one dared ask. Foodge was likely to recount. He might recount his entire latest judgement. Foodge never came away from any trial without a good 40-minute obiter.
“Come to think of it,” Shoe said aloud. She thought she was only thinking it. “Foodge comes away from every trial like a man glued to postal mail.”
She wrote it down. Benj, new proprietor of the bookshop suggested, “Like a George the Fifth?”
So unnecessary. Overstatement of an adhesive. Strictly speaking, it had been used before.
“If we could make them a little less corny.”
Mark was remarking.
“Not again,” Yvonne groaned. Yvonne could barely breathe for fear if she stopped holding her breath in anticipation, Shoe would say nothing more, write nothing, least of all think.
Mark had it in hand. He placed the bar bill down on the, well, bar.
“I can’t read all these zeroes,” Shoe animated. “You can’t expect me to pay this as penalty. Three quadrillion billion five thousand and thirty two million…”
“That’s a heart starter,” sibilanted Big M. Big sibilanted in the face of all emergencies. He knew where to toss a vowel in for good effect when needed.
“Here’s a how-de-do,” Veronica Lake said. Ms Lake is new to that beer-soaked chook-squirt-stained establisment. Everyone remembers the Mexican chooks imported from, well, close to the truth.
“This is what comes of putting drinks on tick in an ever-expanding consciousness series sense,” Foodge interrupted, “I’ll take the case.”
I think I better go to the pub. That’s where Father O’Way is and that’s how I, Bishop Bishop, come into the story. If you don’t know the story about me then look through the archives under the Church of St. Generic Brand or something like that. I’m really famous, or so I think.
So anyway I digress, which is the only thing that I’m good at. I’m called the Bish for some reason that escapes me but I’ll drop into the Window Dressers Arms Pig and Whistle. Boy Big M, does that increase the word count or wot.
I ask some questions “Where is Father O’Way? Why am I doing this? Is Valium really that bad? Can I have a pint of best with a whiskey chaser? So many questions so little time.”
Merv pours a beer and some whiskey for me but he doesn’t speak so he doesn’t have to include inverted commas and the he says she said bit in the next part of this dialogue. Thank Gordon for spelling correctors. It also cuts down on paragraphs.
Sister’s Yvonne and Barbara levitated onto their stools. “Pink drinks all round ” said Sister Yvonne who hadn’t learn the lesson from the above paragraph where it’s better not to say much so there’s a lot less typing. Get the picture.
“Is your stool satisfactory Sister Barbara?”
“Yes, more than satisfactory I would say Sister Yvonne” helping get the word count up.
Meanwhile Algernon and Big M sat on their usual stools with their shotguns loaded just in case a cat happened to come through the door. One can only hope.
I says to Merv “You look rah,rah,rah, um stuffed” ignoring my own advice on inverted commas.
Didn’t you read Meet Mervette thinks Merv, oh good boy, he knows the rules.
Where’s Sandy I think.
Well he can go home now seeing I’m back behind the bar thinks Merv.
Gee, isn’t it good when you think things through. Gordon will be pleased.
Merv thinks I need another beer and whiskey chaser. This is getting better by the minute.
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.