A Suitcase and a Fan.

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It’s not much to go on.

No name and no crime to speak of, but Sam had the sinking feeling that usually preceded a particularly messy case.

It started out as a routine ‘find this bloke and tell me where he lives’. Not glamorous, but then again neither was a ham sandwich, and if Sam’s fortunes didn’t change very soon he was going to be eating them on a regular basis, without mustard, and on stale bread to boot.

The ‘bloke’s’ abode was easy enough to find but said ‘bloke’ was long gone, and all that was left was a fan and a mostly empty suitcase. The place had been cleaned to within an inch of its life and Sam wondered why it didn’t fall down now that all the accumulated grime had been scrapped away. Most little houses in this suburb would have fallen over years ago except that the junk stored inside them held them up in one last act of defiance. A final ‘fuck you’ to the urban planning gods who had decided that this particular suburb should no longer be in favour. A hundred years ago maybe, but not now.

The fan was old enough to be almost valuable and the suitcase had once been a very fashionable one.

It’s not easy to trace the former owners of an antique Westinghouse fan, but Sam did it. Sam knew a lot of people and some of them had strange hobbies and for ‘a case of this’, or ‘a bottle of that’, they could be persuaded to part with their knowledge.

The entire history of the fan was asking a bit much, but its recent history revealed itself through a police report of stolen goods from a house in Toorak. The heist took place about two months ago and the perpetrators were well known and both of them were in custody on an unrelated matter, but neither of them could shed much light on the life of the fan after they sold it to a local ‘fence’. The light-fingered gentlemen were more than a bit peeved to find out that both items were ‘collectable’. They had parted with them along with a whole bunch of other stuff that was probably worth a lot more than they got for it. These blokes were not very bright, but they were friendly enough. Sam gave them the name of a good barrister. It was his way of saying thank you. His mentor told him never to underestimate anyone and never to leave a trail of angry or disappointed people in your wake. You never knew when you might need a favour. Your life might depend on some lowlife who has the exact piece of information you need. “Being tough is not the same as being an arsehole”.

Nelly Touraville was a wise and good friend and Sam missed him every day.

Being the good citizen that he was, Sam handed over the fan and the suitcase to the police. They then proceeded to lift fingerprints which linked the bloke that Sam was sent to find to a particularly nasty murder.

The ‘bloke’ in question had called in a firm of cleaners, ‘Maids on the Run’, who specialise in ‘squeaky clean’ makeovers for dubious crime scenes. The missing bloke was a bit forgetful and left the fan and the small suitcase sitting where he had put them during his final preparations to ‘disappear like smoke up a chimney’, as he so eloquently put it to his mates at the pub on the corner.

He knew he was a bit forgetful so he made lists, just like his dad taught him when he was a little tacker. Unfortunately, the list was titled ‘Preparations for moving permanently to Wollongong to escape being caught for the murder of William Fisk.’

It was also unfortunate that this ‘missing bloke’ chose to leave the list with its illuminating title inside the small suitcase, which he forgot to take with him.

Just to add a little icing to the story, the police didn’t know that William Fisk had been murdered. They didn’t think he was even missing. Mrs Fisk had not said a word, but she did manage to cash his unemployment checks.

As with most things in life, this case looked straightforward enough but it ended up with a few twists and a smile. The blokes at the corner pub thought it was typical of their friend and they decided not to attend his trial; unless he pleaded guilty, which would not eat into their drinking time.

Sam eventually got paid, but he had to ask three times because his client didn’t feel as though he got value for money. Sam pointed out that he was hired to find the ‘missing bloke’, which he did, and tell his client where he was, which he did. It wasn’t Sam’s fault if the ‘missing bloke’ was in jail where Sam’s client couldn’t get at him.

His fee kept Sam in Ham sandwiches for many a week, and not long after, business improved enough so that Sam did not have to accept ‘find this bloke’ assignments. But, it did make an interesting chapter in Sam’s second crime novel.

Between The Pages.

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My grandfather loved books and I think he loved me almost as much.

I know I loved him.

I can still remember the feeling of squashing down next to him in that comfortable ancient armchair.

No one sat in that chair except my grandfather. It wasn’t because we were scared of him or anything like that, it was just that it was his chair and to sit there without him in it, didn’t seem right.

I was working overseas when my grandparents died; one after the other with only days between them.

It wasn’t the kind of job that I could up and leave, so by the time I was back in the country there wasn’t a physical sign that they had ever been here on this Earth. Their ashes had been scattered and their house emptied and sold.

Indecent haste was how I phrased it.

“Where the fuck were you while all the work was being done?” was their reply. I guess I pissed my father off because he wouldn’t tell me what had happened to my grandparents furniture. It was the armchair that I was really interested in, but I guess it was landfill or in some op-shop warehouse somewhere. I hoped that it had been purchased by a house full of uni students. I could see a nineteen-year-old female English Literature student curled up with a tattered old copy of something by Somerset Maugham. Possibly, ‘The Razor’s Edge’. Yes, that would be good.

My grandfather introduced me to the delights of Enid Blyton and Robert Louis Stephenson in equal measure. He didn’t treat me like a little girl, he saw only a curious, young person who had fallen in love with the worlds that existed between the pages of a book.

He had the most wonderful husky voice, and sitting close to him was like sitting in an old dusty closet. He was warm even in winter and I got the feeling that it was because of some kind of internal glow caused by his love of books.

He always read me books that were a bit above my understanding and I think that was on purpose. He would smile when I asked him what a particular word meant and he would sometimes get me to run my finger over the word as he explained its meaning.

I collect bookmarks because he did.

I give books as presents because he said it was a wise thing to do.

His heroes were authors and mine are too.

He thought that reading was as important as writing and so do I.

We will meet again someday but for now I have to be the person he wanted me to be, and I need to find a comfortable old armchair so I can sit and read and remember.

Not Much Else To Do.

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It’s not that easy to lose a secretary, but Dr Doug managed it.

Now, he expected me to find her.

I won’t bore you with all the details but I reluctantly took the case and with the help of a little old lady I gained entry to the missing secretaries’ apartment and had a look around.

The little old lady noticed it first; an advertisement in the local newspaper. ‘Antique board-game for sale. Intact. Very rare.’

Someone had circled the advertisement with red ink.

Red ink; always dramatic.

The game is said to have predated ‘Cluedo’ by about thirty years, but the little printing company that made it could not compete.

The game worked best if there were at least eight participants, and even better if there were more.

Basically, you were supposed to slip various clues into the pockets of the other players. The clues would ultimately reveal the murderer.

I’m not sure how people got on when they played this game at a cocktail party. Where did the women hide their clues? My imagination dwelled on this point for a few moments.

“She seemed very eager to have a complete game. She told us that her game had a lot of clues missing. We told her who had purchased the game and gave her his address. We never heard from her again. We are sorry to hear that something has happened to her.”

“I don’t know that it has. She’s just missing at this stage, but thank you for all your help.” The couple selling the game seemed harmless enough.

They’d inherited it from an uncle who, as family legend had it, spent time in prison. His incarceration had something to do with the game. Someone died. They couldn’t pin the murder on him, but they got him for perjury, which in my experience is very unusual. The cops often threaten people with perjury but they rarely ever follow through.

Someone really hated this bloke.

While he was in gaol his house was broken in to. There was damage but nothing appeared to have been taken.

The uncle died in a hit-and-run accident not long after getting out of prison and the nephew got the job of winding up his estate.

Most of the uncle’s stuff went to charity.

“They were not very grateful either. They acted like it was a nuisance. They left a lot of stuff behind. ‘Too much trouble for us’. Even charities are lazy these days.”

The nephew kept the ‘Who Dunnit’ game and a few bits and pieces.

“I almost missed the game when I was cleaning out the house. There were a few loose floor boards in my uncles bedroom, and I didn’t notice them until we moved the bed. The game was wrapped in waterproof paper and stored under the floorboards. We thought it must be valuable, so we decided to sell it. I put a ridiculous price on it and I had a series of phone calls not long after the paper came out. I should have asked for more I guess.”

“Never mind dear, you weren’t to know.” This blokes wife was quiet, still attractive, and probably cooked excellent scones, but I didn’t have time to find out.

I was tired, so I headed for home. The hunt for the missing secretary could wait until tomorrow.

Scarlett had dinner in the oven when I got home and I told her about my adventure. She’s difficult to impress, but even she was intrigued by the mystery of the missing secretary.

I had a couple of calls to make the next morning but once they were taken care of I drove over to the address I had been given.

The place was deserted.

Little cream brick houses are bad enough when people are living in them but they are positively depressing when they are deserted.

This one hadn’t been deserted for long.

“A bloody great truck turned up yesterday afternoon, and couple of bozos filled it up and they were gone by dinner time. Made it bloody near impossible for me to get in and out of my driveway. I asked them to move and they told me to get stuffed. I considered getting in a little golf practice with my nine iron, but I’m getting on a bit and there were three of them.”

“Probably a wise decision.”

This whole thing was getting weirder by the minute.

“Did you know the bloke who lived there?” I asked.

“I knew the people who owned it before he moved in. They retired somewhere up north and had the house rented out. The bloke you’re interested in was quiet, always wore a brown suit and never had any visitors, at least not that I noticed. He also had a lot of stuff delivered to his house. He asked me to sign for stuff from time to time. Mowed my lawn occasionally by way of thanks. He had a cat too, if I remember rightly.”

“You didn’t miss much.”

“When you get old there isn’t much to do except spy on your neighbours.”

I drank the old blokes cup of tea and I ate his biscuits but eventually I had to go.

“Don’t you want to know where the truck was going?” He was stalling, but he had a point.

“How do you know where it was going?” This old bloke was full of surprises.

“I’m a nosey old bastard, but you’ve probably figured that out by now.”

“The thought had crossed my mind.” I smiled and he smiled back.

“I looked in the truck’s cabin and the clipboard had the load’s destination typed on it.”

“And you remember it?”

“Like I said, not much else to do when you get old.”

The address the old bloke had gotten from the truck took me to the outer suburbs. Which was a break in itself because I had a horrible feeling that this bloke had gone interstate, and that would have made things very difficult.

The address was easy enough to find but all it turned up was a house full of furniture, none of which had been unpacked. His stuff was here but he was somewhere else, probably selling the game to a well-healed collector. But, he had to come home at some stage, so I made plans to sit on this address until he showed up.

Experience told me that this bloke knew where Dr Doug’s missing secretary was, and now there was nothing to do but wait.

Recent Visitor.

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I didn’t encourage him, I guess he was curious.

We had that in common.

My world had been reduced to these four wall about four months ago. I listened to the medical mumbo-jumbo. “Stay quiet, take it easy or meet your maker.” He didn’t actually say the last bit, but it is what he meant. I was sick and tired of living, but I was still curious, so I did what they said.

Naturally, the family came to visit, at least for the first few weeks. Then, they slowly drifted away. I didn’t help much; they get on my nerves, and I guess I don’t hide it well.

The little bird turned up about a week ago.

The weather has been improving so I’m allowed to have the window open.

My grandson said he thought that my window was like a big TV screen.

Him, I like.

He’s funny and he doesn’t set out to be. He doesn’t expect anything from me, he just likes to hang out and tell me stuff. He’s more like a dog than a kid. I guess his mother told him not to wear me out and this is him dialled down to one. He must be something when he dials it up to ten.

The little bird came when he was here and I was sure that he would frighten it away, but he just sat quietly and watched the bird. The bird watched him also. “It’s a little bird, granddad,” he said in the tiniest of whispers. “We have to be very quiet, or he will fly away.” Where did this kid get all that wisdom? He sure didn’t get it from my side of the family, most of my decedents are jerks.

My grandson has taken to smuggling in a crust of bread when he comes to visit. I’m not sure if it is me or the bird that keeps him coming back, but I don’t care, I like both of them.

“If I leave the crust on the window sill, the birdy will have a reason to come back.”

“If you leave the crust there, your mum will know that you did it because I can’t get out of bed.” I wanted him to know that his kindness might get him into trouble. I was curious to see what he would do.

“She might sound a bit mad, but she won’t be, not really.”

This kid’s got spunk.

Maybe I will get better.

I’m curious to see how this kid turns out.

Lost and Found.

photo-by-henry-clarke-1955-model-in-patou-coat-and-dress-with-mercedes-conde-nastNot something you see too often; a handbag separated from its owner.

Tram stop number eighteen on 112 route. Bright sunny day and I’m on my way home.

My head was in the clouds as I sat in the tram shelter next to the black handbag. It took a few minutes before I noticed it, and when I did I looked around to see if its owner was nearby. It was early enough in the afternoon for it to belong to a classy office worker, but in reality most office workers would be back at their desks by that time.

That tram stop has a good view, for many metres, in all directions and as far as I could see there were no females in sight. I stared at it for a few moments before I picked it up and the thought occurred to me that I was getting my fingerprints all over it; I watch way too much television for my own good.

The bag felt good in my hands and I knew enough about fine leather to know that this bag was well made. The clasp was gold. Despite its obvious quality, it was an older bag which had been well-loved. The leather had recently been treated. I could smell the cream that had been used to preserve the leather. I use the same cream on my old leather jacket.

Bags are designed to hold stuff, so maybe some of that stuff would give a hint as to where I could find its owner.

The gold clasp clicked open with a satisfying sound.

On first glance, the bag contained all the things that you would expect. Keys, linen handkerchief and a compact with initials embossed on the lid. I couldn’t find a purse, but there were loose items in the bottom of the bag. Eucalyptus lollies; maybe she’d caught a cold recently, or maybe she liked lollies. There was a short length of red string, a single blue button and a pebble. All fascinating items but none of them were getting me any closer to the identity of the owner.

The bag had two zipped internal pockets, one on each side. The zips were also gold-plated and I opened the one on the right and found a letter. From the look of the envelope, it had been read many times. The letter was from someone named Tony and it started off quite informally but before too long it became obvious that this Tony was writing a ‘Dear John’ letter, or should that be a ‘Dear Jane’ letter. I didn’t like the man who wrote that letter, but I would say that the bag’s owner had once loved this bloke. Why else would you keep a letter that was written so long ago? Reading the letter left me with the feeling that I had been peering through someone’s bedroom window. I felt vaguely guilty as I refolded the letter and put it back in its place. The other zippered pocket held a  telegram, neatly folded and still in its original envelope. It occurred to me that Australia Post had stopped sending telegrams a number of years ago. These days, wedding receptions have to put up with emails or fake telegrams, and the best man reads them badly and fluffs up all the punch lines; somethings never change. 

I unfolded the telegram and a chill went up my spine because I noticed the black corner on the envelope. During both World Wars, the Post Office would send out death notices in black-edged envelopes. 

The telegram was dated late in 1942; I checked, just to be sure and it was today’s date, different year of course, but the same date. It informed the reader that an Australian soldier had died in action in New Guinea; on the Kokoda Trail. The telegram offered its condolences. It was addressed to a female with the same name as the dead soldier; sister or wife? 

I needed a moment after reading that.

I sat and looked at the unnamed fountain in the small park, Gordon Reserve, across the road. I was remembering back to the last long drought where all the fountains in Melbourne were turned off for several years. We take so much in life for granted, like water coming out of a fountain. 

I was now more determined than ever to find the bag’s owner. 

Another rummage around inside it returned a couple of bills with a name and an address. When I got home that night, I packaged up the bag as carefully as I could and I posted it off on my way to work the next day. 

Life went on and I forgot all about my adventure with the exception of telling my mates the story of me on the tram with a black leather handbag and no girlfriend to be seen. It got a laugh ever time I told it, and even though it brought my masculinity into question, I enjoyed being able to tell a story that consistently raised laughter. 

About a year later, I received a letter. Not an email but an actual letter; handwritten address.

I loved getting letters when I was a kid, but these days all I get through the mail are bills, so I opened it with a small tinge of excitement.

The letter was handwritten on expensive paper…………. “Dear Mr. Williams, Please accept my apology for taking so long to write, but life got in the way, as it tends to do. I received your package containing my mother’s handbag. Thank you for taking the trouble to post it back to us. We were very surprised when it arrived, and pleasantly so. The bag had been missing for so long that none of us ever expected to see it again. I had heard stories, of course, we all had. Mum left that bag at a tram stop near the Windsor Hotel the day she received that telegram. She was distraught, so it was not unusual that she would be forgetful.

I have to ask, where did you find the bag? It was lost so long ago. We are amazed that it is in such good condition. Mum died a number of years ago, but I know that if she was here now she would be very pleased, especially considering how important the contents was to her. Her husband, my dad, was awarded the DCM for saving the lives of his mates. I know it sounds terrible, but I wish he had not been so brave.

I have included the cost of the postage and I hope you accept it with all our thanks.

Yours sincerely,

Mrs Caroline Wilson [Nee McKenzie]”

There was a couple of five dollar notes included with the letter, way more than was necessary.

I thought long and hard about writing back to this kind lady, but I didn’t have any answers for her. I have no idea how that handbag came to be at the same tram stop where it was lost all those years ago and on the same date.

It strikes me that there are some things that we are not supposed to know. Somethings are best left alone.

The owner of the bag and the subject of the telegram are reunited once more and what happens down here is probably only of passing interest to them.

I travel past that tram stop twice a day and I think about those two and wonder what other stories that old tram stop has yet to tell.

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An AK47 and a Banana.

 

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A bloody fingerprint on my credit card made the store clerk hesitate for a moment, but I guess he wanted to finish his shift with a minimum of fuss because he put through the transaction, handed back my card and wished me a good day, all without a single change in facial expression.

My facial expression, on the other hand, could be described as one of grimace. Not the bloke in the McDonald’s commercials, but the one where you are in a lot of pain and it has to show somewhere, even though you don’t want it to.

There was a chance that a bloody fingerprint was a part of everyday life for this bloke. Maybe, he even kept a chart of how many he encountered in a shift.

There it goes again; my mind.

Probably a side effect of losing so much blood.

It’s difficult to think clearly. Fortunately, a lot of thinking is not required. All I have to do is slow down the bleeding enough so that I am still alive at this time tomorrow. The meeting isn’t far from here and no one takes any notice of a slightly disreputable character in this part of the city. 

Melbourne is good that way; ‘big money’ and ‘down and outs’ mix freely, as long as they don’t get in each other’s way.

The bandages and gauze were enough to cover the wound, but at some stage I was going to have to find the courage to stitch it; was not looking forward to that.

It was Sunday and the tourists were out in force.

Lots of kids, and mums and dads.

Cameras and carry bags, giggling teenage girls and puffed up teenage boys, none of them interested in me.

Twenty-four hours is not a long time in most people’s lives, but it was to me, especially since I acquired that hole in my side.

Once it was over, if I was still standing, I was going sort out the bloke who perforated me, but till then I needed a quite place to sit.

I turned down one of the myriads of laneways that criss-cross Melbourne and I come across a sign that said the Conan Doyle Society was meeting for an afternoon of mediumship. The sign gave a start time, but I had no idea what time it was because my wristwatch was lying in pieces not far from where the fight started.

There seemed to be a bit of activity so I entered.

The building was very old and I passed through an open doorway that was crafted about hundred and fifty years ago.

The walls were brick and there was a faint smell of dust in the air.

“Don’t worry about the dusty smell. It will dissipate in a little while. The building only gets used on Sundays. Ghosts play here during the week.” The lady who told me this, was about sixty years old with a smile that suggested that she had left a trail of broken hearts in her wake in her younger days, and now, for all I knew.

The windows of the building were vaulted and filled with clear leadlight. The floors were Baltic Pine and the plethora of humanity that had trodden on them had sculptured them into hills and valleys around the tight knots in the wood.

Very old padded chairs were being laid out in rows by helpers who looked as old as the building itself.

A tiny lady, who was not much bigger than the chair she was carrying, said to me, “Sit here young fellow. You’ll get a good view. You look like you could use a good ‘sit down’. You sit here and I’ll get you a cup of tea.”

“You haven’t got something stronger than tea, have you lady?”

“No, but I know how you feel. I could go a good snort myself.”

I laughed and my side hurt.

The cup of tea had milk and about four sugars in it. I didn’t mind.

The chairs continued to come out through a small door, the same door that the cup of tea had come through and I wondered how many more rooms there were to this place.

Within a little while, the hall filled up with people and soon, none of the forty-odd chairs were empty.

Before the cup of tea and the kilo of sugar, I had been feeling quite sleepy, but now I was wide awake.

The lady running the show stepped to the microphone, which I had not noticed and welcomed us all.

She gave a particular welcome to all the ‘newcomers’ and looked directly at me. She introduced the two people who were seated behind her and gave their names, but I was not taking much notice.

She mentioned that this group had been meeting for about one hundred and twenty years, under various names, and that its current name dated from a visit by the renown author at the turn of the previous century.

A few people nodded and the tiny lady who had supplied my cup of tea, said something out loud and the woman at the microphone agreed with her.

This was getting interesting.

The lady sitting next to me didn’t seem to mind that I looked like I’d been in a fight; which I had.

The speaker introduced one of the people behind her, a Trevor someone, and he spoke to the assembled crowd.

He walked across to one side of the hall and asked a woman if she would like a reading. She said yes, and the fun began.

Trevor described a man in fine detail and asked the woman if she recognised this person. She promptly burst into tears and a box of tissues appeared out of nowhere. Trevor gave her a moment to compose herself and then he went on with a bit more description and ended with a message. “The gentleman wants you to know that it is okay with him if you want to get married again, and could you please make sure that the rose bushes get pruned.”

This went on for more than an hour and the two people on the platform took it in turns to read for various members of the audience.

I was enjoying myself, but the ‘over the counter’ painkillers were beginning to wear off and I had a monster headache.

I was feeling sorry for myself when I realised that this Trevor character was speaking to me. “May I come to you sir? Yes, you, the gentleman with the coat and the upturned collar.”

“Yeah, I guess so.”

“Can you speak up sir, so the audience can hear you, also I’m a bit hard of hearing.”

YES, I GUESS SO. Knock yourself out.”

“Thank you, sir. May I have your name?”

“It’s Sam.”

“Thank you, Sam. I have a woman with me, she’s presenting in her late sixties wearing men’s work clothes, and she has grey hair. Can you place such a person?”

“Not at the moment, but I had a girlfriend who looked like that a few years back.” I enjoyed the laughter from the audience but Trevor only smiled.

“She’s carrying an AK47 in one hand and a banana in the other. Can you place that?”

A cold shiver went down my back.

“Yes, I think I can.” I was in shock.

“She’s wearing Army boots and one of them is laced with string. She says that she always carried a banana because she never knew how long it would be between meals. She wants you to know that the wound in your side will result in your death if you don’t have it seen to today.”

Trevor stopped talking and every eye in the hall was turned in my direction.

Trevor continued. “This lady is telling me that killing people is not the way. Even though she was defending her country against invasion, nothing good came of killing the soldiers that came under her sights. She says that she has met up with them, ‘over there’ and they have made their peace. The soldier who killed her has done the same. She wants you to know that love is the only way. If you try to hold out, without treatment, to make that meeting tomorrow, you will die from your injuries. Oh, and she said that you should eat more bananas and ring your dad once in a while. Can I leave that with you Sam?”

“Yes, you can, and thank you.”

I’m not sure why I thanked him; it just seemed like the right thing to do.

The meeting broke up and food appeared out of nowhere and conversation broke out in several places.

The chairs disappeared as fast as they had arrived and we all stood around eating cake and drinking tea.

I was probably half dead by this stage but I have to say that those were the best scones and jam and cream I have ever tasted.

I found Trevor and told him about my ancestor who had valiantly and vainly fought off the Soviet invasion of her country in 1956. I wasn’t born yet but family legend had her name up in lights. My ancestors were mostly ordinary people living ordinary lives, except for the convicts who started our line here in Australia; and then there was Maria, the freedom fighter.

Sixty-three years of age.

She could field strip and reassemble an AK47 in the dark.

The AK47 was, and still is, the weapon of choice of the freedom fighter, but for all its virtues, it is not very accurate at range, but somehow Maria became the best sniper in her group.

Sadly for Maria, the Resistance was not able to hold out for very long. It was all over in a couple of days, and at the end of it all there were only broken dreams and a family legend.

Things got a bit fuzzy after that, but I do remember waking up in the emergency ward at the Alfred Hospital.

I had become quite a celebrity.

Apparently, a very small older lady had carried me in on her back, saying that I needed attention for a knife wound.

She disappeared not long after, but not before she rearranged the chairs in the waiting room.

“You’ll get more people in if you spread them out like that.”

The Triage Nurse was okay with the new arrangement and she didn’t think that any of it was particularly strange.

I guess nurses get to see some pretty strange shit in the course of a day.

I was laid up for a while and I had to spin an interesting tale to get the cops off my back, but eventually they said I could go home.

The following Sunday I went looking for that laneway but the doors were closed and there was no one about.

I’m not discouraged though; I’ll go back next week and see what happens.

I get the feeling that I’ll never look at a banana or an AK47 in quite the same way, ever again.   

 

  

Tea or Coffee?

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I switched from tea to coffee and it still didn’t help.

I started using the fine silver teapot, but he didn’t notice.

I had my hair done in the latest style, and he didn’t notice.

A pretty dress and nice shoes went unnoticed.

Conversation was nonexistent.

I tried shocking him into noticing me. “Would you like me to fellate you before you go to work dear?” He hesitated for quite a while, which wasn’t the reaction I expected, but finally he said, “That’s okay dear, I’ll get a sandwich at work.”

I’ve tried everything and I’m about to give up.

It’s time I took action.

The chap who fixes our radio is coming around early in the afternoon, maybe he can help.

I’m sure, if I ask him nicely, he will be able to suggest a course of action.

Such a fine young man. 

Sam Bennett Case Files: Antonio.

araneus1:

Who would have thought that fruit could get you into trouble……..

Originally posted on The Long Weekendd:

market-2-vegetables

Sam’s life took a strange turn whenever he ate watermelon.

Other people were affected by the phases of the moon or by stepping into an unexpected puddle, but for Sam it always seemed to be watermelon.

No one had pointed this out, Sam had worked it out, all by himself.

Sam’s watermelon dealer had a stall at the Queen Victoria Market.

Many nefarious characters could be found at the Queen Vic’, and information was there for the asking. Watermelon and information went hand in hand with Sam, as did an espresso and a cold beer.

Unfortunately watermelon is a seasonal fruit so its delights were only available during the warmer months. Melbourne summers were famous for melting the skin off your neck and a cool slice helped to ease the discomfort.

Sam had noticed Antonio at the Market and wondered why he was wandering around on school days. Having skipped…

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The Adventures of Rufus: A Mouse not quite in the House.

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If anyone finds out, I’m in deep shit.

My job is to protect my mistress, but everyone knows that terriers are really good at catching, and killing mice.

My problem is that one of my best friends is a mouse.

It’s a long story so maybe I should start at the beginning.

When I was in the litter, and not much older than a bottle of milk, my mum taught me that we all have a job in life and that is why our human feeds us; because we are of service. She said that some of us would be pets and it would be our job to bark a lot whenever strangers got too close to the house. She also said that we came from a long line of mousers. I didn’t really understand what that meant, but I tried to make it look like I knew what she was talking about.

I asked one of the older pups what ‘mouser’ meant and he explained that because we are very patient and very fast, we are good at catching and killing mice.

I’d never seen a ‘mice’ so I was curious to find out what they looked like. I hoped that they were not as big as the horse that lived on our farm because I wasn’t sure I could catch and kill one of those. As it turned out, mice are small and furry and they dart about quite quickly so they are hard to catch.

One sunny autumn afternoon I was in the barn looking for a mouse to chase; just for practice.

I climbed up the tall ladder because I thought that maybe mice liked to be up high. I was a good climber for a young dog, but I found that being up high made me feel funny. Everything started to spin around and I found it difficult to stand up. I staggered around a bit and got my back leg caught up in a length of rope. I got a bit scared and toppled off the landing and found myself hanging in mid air suspended by the rope attached to my back leg. It hurt and I felt sick. Hanging upside down is only fun for a short while, then it gets scary.

To make it worse, I hadn’t seen any mice. My whole day was a complete failure and heaven only knew how long it would be before someone found me. I could starve, or die of thirst, or my leg could fall off. I was in real trouble.

“Do you need any help?” The voice was tiny and I could not hear where it was coming from.

“Well, do you?”

“Yes, I’m stuck. Can you get me down?” I said to whoever it was who was offering assistance.

“I could chew thru the rope, but you would be hurt when you hit the ground, so I had better move some straw under you.”

“Makes sense to me.” At this stage, any help was welcome. I could hear something rustling around in the straw and it was tiny. Whatever it was, it was going to take a long time for it to move enough straw to break my fall.

I must have passed out, or fallen asleep, because when I awoke there was a small pile of straw on the floor directly under me. It wasn’t very thick, and it occurred to me that my landing was still going to hurt.

Someone was nibbling on the rope above me and before too long I heard a small voice say, “Brace yourself, I’m nearly through the rope.”

“Okay, I’m ready,” I said.

“You won’t eat me once you get free will you?”

“Of course not, why would I?”

“I’m a mouse, and terriers catch mice.”

“Don’t worry little mouse. You are saving me so I’ll make sure that the other dogs leave you alone.” At this point, I wasn’t sure how I was going to achieve this promise, but I would worry about that when I was free again.

The mouse finished his job and I hit the floor hard. One of my back legs hurt a lot, but I could walk.

I was in a lot of pain, but I did say thank you to the invisible mouse before I limped off back to my pack.

My mum said I was very foolish and she licked me all over, twice!

My leg hurt for a couple of days but it soon came good and there were no long lasting ill-effects.

I went back to the barn a few times, but I didn’t find the mouse who helped me. I wasn’t sure how I would recognise him, even if I did run into him.

It was getting close to the time that I would have to go out into the world and work with my own human. Two of my brothers had already gone to their new homes. My mum was sad each time it happened, but she always said that that it is the way of the world, children grow up and leave home and make a life for themselves. It all seemed a bit scary to me, but I tried not to show it. Terriers are tough and I didn’t want anyone thinking I was weak. Mum told me to make a fuss of the strange humans who came to look at the litter, but I didn’t need telling, I like humans. Naturally, I’ve heard some bad stories, but so far I’ve only come across kind humans.

It seemed like I would be leaving any day when I made a final visit to the barn. A couple of older dogs were barking at something behind a hay bale. I could hear the mouse squeaking and I knew it was trapped. I recognised his voice and I boldly jumped into the middle of the action and barked at the older dogs.

For a second, they stopped and then they growled at me. I think they thought I was trying to steal the mouse for myself. I had to do some pretty fancy talking to get them to believe my story. They called me a bunch of bad names, but they let the mouse go free. I had kept my promise, but I was not sure what would happen the next time because I would not be around to save him.

The mouse and I talked it over and decided that he had better come with me when I get collected. This was going to be a lot harder than it sounded.

I had worked out that the humans usually brought a box with them when they came to collect one of my brothers or sisters, and the mouse would have to be smart enough and quick enough to get into that box without being seen. I could create a small diversion, but it would not give him very much time. If they saw him, they would surely kill him. People don’t like mice. He was indeed, taking his life into his hands, but I guess he knew that this hair-brained scheme was better than being cornered in the barn the second I left.

The mouse stayed close to me for the next couple of days. He hid out under a broken plant pot not far from the front door of the big house. He only came out at night and only long enough to eat and drink.

On the third day, some strange humans came to where our litter was and the big one picked me up and looked right at me. He said something to the other human and put me down on the ground and attached a lead to my collar. I’d only been wearing the collar for a few days and I didn’t like it much, but every dog seemed to have one so I put up with it.

As they led me towards their car there was a box on the ground close by. I saw the mouse start to run in its direction and I began to bark as loud as I could, which wasn’t very loud, but it did the trick. Everyone looked at me, which gave the mouse time to climb into the box and hide under the blanket.

I wasn’t too happy that the humans laughed at me for barking. They were supposed to be frightened, but I guessed that my bark would get louder as I got older, so I didn’t worry about it too much.

Getting the mouse out of the box was easier than getting him into it and he has been living with us ever since. It’s only me and my mistress these days, she got rid of the male human, apparently he was, “a no good, good for nothing, waste of space.” I guessed that this meant that he wasn’t pulling his weight, and doing his job, whatever that was.

I like the way things are now. I don’t get lonely. I have lots of adventures and I have my mistress and the mouse to talk to, but I have to keep them apart.

She really doesn’t like mice.

For such a small pleasant creature, they sure do stir up some bad feeling. I’ve talked to the mouse about it and he doesn’t understand it either. That’s life I guess.

As far as I know, I’m the only terrier who has a mouse as a friend, but then again, maybe there are others, and maybe, just like me, they don’t want anyone to know.

I have to go now.

Mouse is expecting me.

We are going to walk down to the creek and sit on a log and talk about life.

The Missing Man In A Room With A Window.

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“………….. most nights he could recall

oceans in the city

the myth of floods the

missing man in the room with a window

his eyes closed only in sleep…………”

From ‘Lineage 1’ by lost ironies

Are you truly missing if no one misses you?

Don’t bother to answer, I know the answer; I got myself into this.

The room is about the size of a shipping container, and not one of those super-sized ones either, just a regular one. If this room were a shipping container it would be painted a faded red with letters stencilled on it that only a dock worker would understand.

I don’t mind that this is a small room; I don’t take up much space. Mostly, I sit in this corner and stare at the sky though my only window. If it was positioned a little lower on the wall I could probably see the people in the street, but then again, that would mean that they could see me; don’t want that.

A thicker cushion would be nice, but the one I’m sitting on works well enough, as long as I fluff it up from time to time.

Speaking of time; it passes very slowly in this room.

When you are ‘missing’ and it wasn’t up to you, time is mixed with terror of the unknown. When you are missing and it was your choice, time is mixed with fear and regret.

I don’t want to get all ‘Zen’ on your arse; just saying.

If you ask most people [as long as you catch them at a good moment], they will tell you that all you need is a roof over your head, a bite to eat and someone to love. At the moment, I have two of those things, but I used to have all three.

My food comes from Mrs Wang’s Chinese kitchen on the corner of State and Wilson streets.

I knew Mrs Wang, back in the day, and she knows how to keep her mouth shut. Mind you, a closed mouth costs money and mine is rapidly running out. Mrs Wang leaves my food outside the door, that way she can say that she hasn’t seen me if anyone asks.

Mrs Wang could equivocate with the best of them.

The Spanish Inquisition would not have had a chance with Mrs Wang.

I prefer my own company, but one of the downsides of being on your own is that you begin to lose track of the passage of time. Not in a ‘twenty-four hour’ sense but in a ‘days of the week’, ‘weeks in the month’ kind of way. It doesn’t really matter either way; I have to stay ‘lost’ for as long as possible and when the money runs out we will find out.

For all I know everyone I ever knew is dead. For all I know I may already be dead. How do you know when you are dead? They certainly didn’t teach me that at Catholic school.

I wonder if it is like getting an overdue notice for your electricity bill. “Dear sir, we regret to inform you that you are no longer alive. We are sorry if this causes you any inconvenience. Could you please have your soul polished as soon as possible and don’t forget to report for a debrief on your most recent life. Please note that if you were foolish enough to choose Earth for your most recent incarnation you are entitled to an additional weeks leave before having to report in. We understand that Rigal 5 is particularly good at this time of the universe. There are always spots open in the choir and tennis lessons are free for new arrivals.”

Maybe not, but being dead can’t be as bad as not knowing. I could ask Mrs Wang, but that would cost me. For the moment, being the missing man in a room with a window is my safest option, and besides, tomorrow it’s egg rolls as well as beef and black bean sauce.