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Death in the Australian Outback

Death in the Australian Outback

A Bigfoot Littlefoot & West

Madcap Whodunit

by Anthony E Thorogood

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Copyright Anthony E Thorogood 2014

Published at Shakespir

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Thank you for downloading my ebook. Please note that this book took a lot of time and trouble to create and is subject to copyright restrictions and must not be redistributed.

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Death in the Australian Outback

Contents:

One: Sugar Sweet

Two: Onions Always Make Me Cry

Three: The Body in the Tomatoes

Four: Little Miss Tangle Foot

Five: Here We Go West

Anthony E Thorogood

Who the Hell am I

What the Hell do I Write

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One: Sugar Sweet

He was dreadfully overweight, his arms were covered in tattoos, he wore ripped jeans, a much worn green T shirt and bikie boots, his hair was long in a ponytail, he had straggly facial hair and the part of his face not covered by hair looked like a lunar landscape with lines and crevasses. He lay on the floor of the lounge room of a very average suburban house. The room consisted of a burnt orange lounge suite with mission brown woodwork on the arms and legs, definitely 1970’s retro or perhaps an original. There was a retro coffee table, glass with stainless steel legs, and the window onto the street was shattered. Another interesting point to note was the fact that the man had a bullet hole in his forehead. He was stone dead. So why should I be interested in a man with a bullet hole in his head? The reason is that I am Constable Elizabeth West of the Northern Territory Police, but I am hoping to become Sergeant Elizabeth West of the Australian Police Executive Service (APES), Tactical Urgent Response Detection Squad (TURDS).

My current posting is in Alice, Alice Springs, a nice town fairly close to Uluru, or Ayers Rock as it used to be known, the biggest rock in the world. That is our claim to fame but the whole place should be famous, it’s beautiful, with waterholes in the McDonald Ranges, palm trees growing out in the desert in the Fink River and there is Kings Canyon which has come under a bit of stick of late from the tourists. All in all a pretty spectacular part of the world but with beauty comes danger and death, which is why I headed north from Adelaide to work. My mother and father didn’t approve, they wanted me to be a marine biologist but I chose law and order. I also came out into the bush as I like kangaroos, koalas, wombats, echidnas, emus and all those wild cuddly things, and they are in abundance up here.

Of course nothing in life is simple, and to become a member of TURDS I had to have an interview at Police HQ in Alice. I hate interviews. Detective Chief Superintendent Bigfoot was my chief interviewer. He was a big man, very tall and his feet are huge, about the size of an Australian rules football, probably bigger, you certainly wouldn’t want to trip over them in the night. He obviously eats just a soupcon too much as he couldn’t quite manage to do up all the buttons on his jacket. All the same he’s not bad looking, in a rugged sort of a way, and he has a brusque sort of a charm. Apparently he says outrageous things at times but manages to say them somehow with his tongue in his cheek and he has perfect timing when telling a joke. He’s the sort of man who can tell a dirty joke to a nun and make her laugh. Bigfoot’s greatest quality seems to be that he is a cool dude and can keep his head when all around are losing theirs, that’s a bad translation of Rudyard Kipling. Bigfoot also possesses a gut feeling, I think his gut feeling could be mostly stomach ache from over eating but, I have been told it works for him. Also, in spite of all he says and does, which can be outrageous, he is a fair minded person and he looks after his own. I know all this because I do my homework. I may hate interviews but I go in prepared and find out as much as I can about the job and also about the interviewers. Gathering information on Detective Chief Superintendent Bigfoot had been interesting, he didn’t look the way he was described, if I got the job it would be good to find out more about him.

Detective Superintendent Chief Littlefoot however, my second interviewer, was more transparent. He was short and had the small man’s syndrome of always wanting to prove himself and fight anyone bigger than himself. I was told that as Bigfoot is much bigger than him, Littlefoot is always sparring for a fight and Bigfoot doesn’t help by taking great pleasure from goading him along. Littlefoot is a bit of an intellectual, or so he thinks, he also thinks that he is a wine aficionado, but he is beyond doubt a health food fanatic and a fitness fanatic. He eats non-toxic, cold pressed, organically grown cabbage juice and whole food, high energy, low fat, ethically grown, health bars and he jogs and works out but no matter what he does, what he reads or what he eats, or how much he works out, he is still Littlefoot with one big inferiority complex. Most people I spoke to agreed that if he could just chill out he would be a great guy, I’d done my homework on Littlefoot as well.

Unfortunately the interview wasn’t going well. I was hoping that by the end of it I would be Police Sergeant West but it wasn’t looking good. Bigfoot had been sitting behind a small prefabricated desk, with his big feet up on it, eating a hamburger and Littlefoot was standing by a small dirty window doing stretching exercises when I entered the room. Bigfoot looked me up and down, I could have sworn he was undressing me. Men have one track minds but I was determined to derail this particular man’s locomotive.

‘Next!’ he shouted.

There was no next, I had been the only one in the waiting room. Bigfoot and Littlefoot had flown in to interview me and, it would appear, me alone.

‘I have my résumé, certificates, references…’

‘Can I call you West?’ said Bigfoot.

‘I prefer Constable Elizabeth West.’

‘Okay, West it is. Look I’ll be straight with you, we are going to be straight with her aren’t we Littleprick?’

‘Yes absolutely, carry out this interview by the book.’

‘What does the book say?’

‘I don’t know.’

‘Right West, we don’t know what the book says but we will do this interview by the book anyway. I’m not allowed to say that this is no job for a woman, so I won’t say it, you’ll get a fair go here, equal rights and all that, but this job is tough, this job is dangerous, people try to kill us, sometimes we have to get rough. When the going gets tough the tough get going, are you tough West?’

‘Yes.’

‘Look, your results are first class, your marksmanship is…well suffice it to say I wouldn’t want to be in a shootout with you at OK Corral.’

‘They called me Annie Oakley at cadet school,’ I said.

‘You volunteer with the Territory ambulance, you work as a volunteer with the country fire service, you put your hand up to go with the United Nations peace keepers to Timor and you came back covered in accolades, you are a top cop but you are, and I am not allowed to say this so I won’t, you are a girl. Problem is, we look out for each other and it’s dangerous out there, so what I am saying here is we would be spending all our time making sure that you were safe, and West, we have a job to do, do you think you could mix it with the best of them? Look, say if we were in the desert and some loony starts shooting at us, have you got what it takes to come through one hundred per cent? If I had been shot and left for dead would you go to pieces and crack up?’

‘I’m as tough as any man.’

‘Ah West,’ said Bigfoot, ‘you’re not making this easy for me. My boss said I had to interview you, right. Now I am telling you straight, this must go no further, and if you let the cat out of the bag I will deny that I ever said this, alright here’s the truth, we want a man, a rough, tough, smart man. Now I shouldn’t be telling you this, so do me the courtesy of keeping it under your hat, the big boss, well the Minister in charge of APES, the Australian Police Executive Service, of which we are a sub division, well he has a nephew and tomorrow we have to fly to Canberra and interview him and give him the job. God did I say that Littlefoot?’

‘I never heard anything Bigfoot and I’ve been scribbling down the interview word for word.’

‘And what have you written down that I said?’ I asked.

‘I wrote that you said you could see that we needed someone very tough and perhaps you were better suited to a more community support role.’

‘Bullshit.’

‘Language West!’

‘I’m grateful for your frankness, give the Minister’s nephew in Canberra the job if you want to, but I want my words written down exactly as I say them. I won’t disclose what you said to me in confidence but I will challenge the appointment of the Minister’s nephew.’

‘Ah West.’

‘I’m ambitious.’

‘Money isn’t everything.’

‘I’m not after money, I’m after an interesting job that is a challenge, I want to extend myself.’

‘What about knitting,’ said Littlefoot.

‘Sewing,’ said Bigfoot.

‘Cooking.’

‘Cleaning.’

‘Office work is good.’

‘Truth is women are better office managers than men.’

‘I want this job and I am going to fight for it,’ I said.

I thought I probably should soften my stance but when you’re out there fighting for your rights in a man’s world you have to kick ass, not that I have actually ever kicked any.

‘West you are terrific, truth is you would be terrific on any team but I don’t want to spend my life worrying to death that you are okay, okay?’ said Bigfoot and he picked up my application and tore it in half.

‘What are you doing later, care to join us for a few drinks?’ said Littlefoot.

‘Shut up Littlefoot,’ said Bigfoot. ‘Stop thinking with your digit, it isn’t big enough to fit any brain matter in there anyway.’

‘And you can shut up, I may be small but I’m as big as you.’

‘Big in bullshit but small where it counts.’

‘I dare you to compare the size of your…’

‘Gentlemen!’ I said.

‘There are ladies present Littlefoot so watch your mouth. Look West I can’t work with you, truth is I’d always be wanting to… well…you know what I mean, I couldn’t concentrate on my job.’

‘A pair of ageing lotharios, whose egos are bigger than their body weight ratio, with dreams of their digits being bigger than the Empire State Building in New York, hold no fancy for me,’ I said.

‘Well that has put us in our place,’ said Bigfoot. ‘I would really enjoy working with you West but I’m still not going to give you the job.’

‘And my digit is bigger than yours any day,’ said Littlefoot.

‘Your digit’s a full stop and has been for years.’

‘What about that blonde in Sydney?’

‘She was a transvestite.’

‘She was not, she was a nice girl.’

‘She was a nice boy.’

‘She was a goer.’

‘Yes she went for you with an axe.’

‘A misunderstanding.’

‘There was no misunderstanding, she thought you were an undercover policeman with no digit to count on and you were a digitless undercover policeman.’

‘Stop saying that, I haven’t got a digit, I’m well-endowed in the numbers game.’

‘Minus one.’

‘Stop saying that, I have been called a hunk.’

‘A hunk of nothing, sexually you draw a zero, nothing, naught, not anything, your sperm count…’

‘Shut up, shut up, I’ll kill you,’ said Littlefoot and he pulled out his gun.

‘What a little gun you have got there Littlefoot, I wouldn’t use that to take a pot shot at a butterfly.’

‘I’ll kill you.’

‘Do you know how to use it or is it like your other digit, unemployed?’

Men and the size of their digits, there is more to life…but obviously not for these two.

Littlefoot held his gun to Bigfoot’s head and his face wore a menacing smile, I moved quickly and disarmed him.

‘You’re a great little mover West,’ said Bigfoot, ‘are you sure you don’t want to come out later for a few drinks?’

‘You have got to be kidding,’ I said.

I handed Littlefoot his gun back.

‘The interview is over, you can go now,’ said Bigfoot.

I was heart-broken but I held my head high. What else could I do with it? I didn’t want to show them I was beaten.

As I turned to leave Bigfoot got a phone call from Canberra and was told that the three of us were to proceed to the edge of town and investigate a murder, this was my patch but Bigfoot and Littlefoot were Federal Police so, if required to do so, they could take charge. Their involvement, it turned out, was a political favour that the minister was doing for the local head honcho, sort out a bikie related killing, the local head honcho was getting a lot of mileage out of fighting bikie gangs and cleaning up the streets. Law and order I think the pollies call it. I went along for the ride. I’ve learnt to grab opportunities whenever and wherever they occur, you don’t often get a second chance at a crack at the big one in this life.

The back of the house, where we had found our tattooed, long haired bikie stone dead, was a drugs laboratory. Sitting in pride of place in the garage was a brand new Harley-Davidson motor bike. We also found a Thompson sub machine gun, an antique yes, but in full working order, there was a Russian automatic rifle, Littlefoot said it was an AK47, there was a homemade pistol, several lethal looking hunting knives, a crossbow, a sling shot and an antitank missile launcher.

‘Nice little collection of toys for boys,’ said Bigfoot.

‘I’ve got a nice collection of antique guns myself, all disarmed of course,’ said Littlefoot.

‘None of your guns have got firing pins,’ said Bigfoot.

‘What are you implying?’

‘Nothing, just meant to say that your firing mechanism isn’t up to the expectation of the ladies.’

‘The ladies love my firing pin.’

‘Gives them a laugh.’

‘Can we get on with this investigation?’ I said.

‘Did you hear something Littlefoot?’

‘No, did you hear something Bigfoot?’

‘His name was Rory the Red,’ I said going through his wallet. ‘All the usual credit cards, Medicare card, driving licence. He was known to the police…’

‘How do you know that?’

‘I looked him up on the police computer when you two were arguing about…’

‘…the viability of Littlefoot’s mechanism.’

‘My mechanism is very viable thank you very much!’

These two were driving me mad. I like to get on with the job but I wasn’t going to say that or Bigfoot would have flung innuendos around about getting on with the job and, quite frankly, I’d had just about enough of Bigfoot’s innuendos.

‘He had a raft of former convictions,’ I said, ‘is known to associate with an outlawed bikie gang, was married but divorced, no kids, no job, his driving licence had been revoked…’

‘My mechanism is in full working order, you leave it alone.’

‘I’m not going to touch your mechanism.’

‘There is more,’ I said.

‘We don’t need to know more,’ said Bigfoot. ‘He was a menace to society, he was shot in the head by another menace to society, good riddance to bad rubbish.’

‘I second that,’ said Littlefoot.

‘It just happens to be our job to uphold the law of the land, it is the same law for Rory the Red as it is for me and for you. This is a democracy not a dictatorship,’ I said.

‘Wow where did that come from?’

‘I just think…’

‘Alright already, we will look into it.’

‘I also found this,’ I said handing Bigfoot a small locked box and a set of keys that I had found on Rory the Red’s person.

‘Knock knock,’ said Bigfoot.

‘Who’s there,’ said Littlefoot.

‘Mikie.’

‘Mikie who?’

‘Mikie doesn’t fit into the keyhole.’

We went next door to question the neighbours, there was no fence, we just walked across the yard, another ordinary suburban house, the door was open, it had been forced. We didn’t knock, Littlefoot took out his revolver,

‘That’s a little one you have got there,’ whispered Bigfoot and he took out his own gun. ‘Now this is a revolver.’

‘I hate you fuckwit,’ said Littlefoot.

Littlefoot pushed the door open and crouched down pointing his gun inside and Bigfoot, with surprising agility and as quiet as a mouse, moved into the room. Littlefoot moved in and I brought up the rear. Inside was a fat middle aged man in a purple singlet, bright green shorts and shocking pink thongs, the colours clashed dreadfully but he was a man so what could you expect. It didn’t really matter anyway, he was lying on the floor dead. What was interesting was the boy, there was a boy, sixteen, maybe seventeen, in steel cap boots, overalls and a check cotton shirt, he stood pointing a twenty two calibre rifle at the body and he didn’t move, he had frozen.

‘Drop the rifle,’ said Littlefoot, ‘or I’ll shoot.’

The boy did nothing.

‘Drop it, I’ll count to ten and then I will open fire.’

The boy did nothing.

‘One…two…three…four…five…six…seven…eight…nine…’

‘Ten!’ said Bigfoot.

‘This is your last chance,’ said Littlefoot.

I walked up to the boy, took the gun out of his hands and he collapsed into my arms and started sobbing.

‘Is it safe to come out?’ a high pitched female voice rang out. From the voice I pictured bright pink hot pants, a low cut singlet, perhaps purple in colour with a bit of brocade, stiletto heeled shoes, peroxide blonde hair, red lipstick, one of those ghastly highly scented perfumes that you buy in cheap and cheerful junk stores, and yes, long false fingernails with bright red nail varnish.

‘Come on out it’s safe in here, we will guarantee your safety,’ said Bigfoot.

I wasn’t sure that any woman was safe with Bigfoot around.

The woman entered, she was dressed exactly as I had pictured her. The boy stopped crying.

‘Ooh you’re a couple of big hunky men,’ the woman said to Bigfoot.

‘I’m Detective Superintendent Chief Littlefoot, can I ask you your name?’

‘Doll, it’s Baby Doll.’

‘What exactly happened here?’

‘He…’ said Baby Doll, pointing to the dead man, I knelt down and felt his pulse just to be on the safe side, he didn’t have one, ‘…he was going to give me a hiding, he was drunk, he gave me a hiding once before, we were living together, shacked up, he got me up the duff, he was going to give me a hiding, he…’ and she pointed to the boy, ‘…he stood in his way with his pop gun.’

I was holding the boy in my arms, Bigfoot and Littlefoot had scared him half to death.

‘The boy’s relationship to you?’ I said.

‘Well he’s my son isn’t he. He said Mum I’ll protect you, he said that mother fucker is not going to hit you again, he got his gun, he didn’t mean to shoot, it’s only a pop gun, he uses it to shoot rabbits, he…‘she said pointing to the body.

‘Does he have a name?’ I said.

‘Saurus, Saurus the Drunk we call him, on his birth certificate it says Saurus Sargosimopropolis, sounds Greek, it’s not, he’s as Australian as you or me, or was. He was a hand on a cattle station but he got sacked for fighting, he hasn’t been too happy lately, he beat me up three times and then when I got in the family way he got nasty, blubber head, the boy, I call him blubber head…’

‘What’s his real name?’

‘GI Joe, I named him after a doll, his friends call him GI.’

‘So what happened?’

‘I’m home watching telly, eating a pizza and drinking Tia Maria on the rocks and GI is in his room, reading dirty magazines, and Saurus comes in and starts shouting that he is going to give me the hiding of my life, I run to my room and lock the door and then all the rest I heard but couldn’t see.’

‘What did you hear?’ I said.

‘Shouting. Saurus was shouting that he is going to give me the hiding of my life and GI is shouting for him to go or he will shoot him. Then Saurus was shouting some more, swearing a lot, and he said that he was going to teach that punk kid a lesson and then there was a pop, not a bang just a pop, then it was quiet, I stayed in my room until I heard you lot.’

‘West we need a social worker here, can you call up and get one sent, the boy needs to be taken care of,’ said Bigfoot. ‘We need a statement from the mother and one from the boy.’

‘The boy will have to be held in custody and we will have to charge him,’ I said.

‘Yes but we’ll try to go easy on him.’

‘It’s not my fault, it’s not my bloody fault,’ said the mother, ‘I just wanted to have a good time.’

That was murder number two.

We crossed the yard again and went to the neighbours on the other side to see if we could get information on the bikie drive by shooting, again an ordinary suburban house, but thankfully, this time, no suspicious circumstances.

We knocked on the door, no one responded.

‘Knock knock,’ said Bigfoot.

‘Who’s there?’

‘Doris.’

‘Doris who?’

‘Doris locked we had better open it up.’

Littlefoot tried the door handle, it wasn’t locked. He pulled out his six shooter.

‘Is that necessary?’ I said.

‘A man has to know that his gun is loaded,’ said Littlefoot.

Littlefoot pointed his gun and entered the lounge room, Bigfoot took out his gun and followed. The room was empty, empty if you don’t count the fact that all the walls were covered in shelves and all the shelves were full of bone china teapots, all sorts of teapots, thousands of teapots. I spotted some Royal Albert teapots, a Wedgewood or two and a Spode, plus all the funny ones, a teapot covered in pictures of frogs, a teapot covered in pictures of cows, a teapot in the shape of a thatched cottage, a teapot in the shape of a sports car, in the shape of a cow, in the shape of an ocean liner and so on. The room, as I said, was empty apart from the teapots and also a couple of classical French chairs, small classical French coffee tables and two people, one of whom was dead.

The woman was old, perhaps in her eighties or nineties, she was sitting up in one of the classical French chairs and she had a multi coloured crocheted rug over her legs. On the table next to her was a teapot, Royal Doulton, I think, a cup and saucer, a milk jug and a sugar bowl as well as a cake stand full of tidgy widgy fairy cakes. Opposite her was a plump bald headed man, he was sitting in another classical French chair, he looked to be a round man, his body was round, his head was round and his arms and legs, like little digits, hung limply out of his body, beside him on a classical French coffee table lay a revolver.

‘I shot her,’ he said.

‘Why?’ I said.

The room had the aura of tragedy, the tragedy of life. I was getting too heavy here, maybe I should chill out like Bigfoot and take nothing seriously, then again maybe not.

I recovered the gun and placed it in a plastic bag, we carry special plastic bags just for that purpose, and of course to pick up dog poo if we take the police dogs out.

‘I shot her.’

‘Why?’

‘She nagged him,’ said Bigfoot.

‘A woman can drive a man to murder,’ said Littlefoot.’

‘Probably refused to make his breakfast.’

‘It’s self-defence then,’ said Littlefoot.

‘If my wife refused to make me breakfast I’d shoot her, make my breakfast. No? What! Bang.’

‘You can’t blame a man for murder if the wife won’t make him breakfast,’ said Littlefoot.

‘Why did you shoot her?’ I said.

‘She made me promise, she made me promise. She didn’t want to suffer anymore, she was in so much pain, she asked the doctor he refused to help, she made me promise that I would shoot her and then shoot myself. She didn’t want me to get into trouble, I didn’t want to shoot her, she made me promise, she was in so much pain. I made afternoon tea yesterday, I made little fairy cakes, I was a baker before I retired, I got out the best china, we had a little tea party and then I shot her…’

‘I see.’

‘I couldn’t shoot myself, I’ve been sitting here since yesterday with the gun but I can’t shoot myself.’

‘It would be hard.’

‘Would you like a cup of tea, I can make a fresh pot?’ he said.

‘No thank you,’ I said.

‘Bloody hell West,’ said Bigfoot, ‘it looks like we need your social worker again.’

‘The doctor wouldn’t help us, we just wanted something to put in our tea, she didn’t suffer, she is free of pain now, I couldn’t shoot myself.’

That was murder number three, we were wondering if anyone would be left alive in Alice Springs.

‘Should old people be allowed to terminate their existence,’ said Bigfoot.

‘I think not,’ I said, ‘it’s against the law.’

‘Should a young boy be allowed to protect his mum?’

‘Being a policeperson can get very difficult,’ I said.

‘Yes it would be easier if everything was cut and dry and the bad people wore black but it doesn’t happen that way,’ said Bigfoot.

‘You need a degree from university to be a policeman nowadays,’ said Littlefoot, ‘and I have applied to do an open university degree in law and order specialising in Freudian analysis and Quantum Mechanics, I’m writing a paper on Schrödinger’s cat.’

‘Take no notice of Littlepossum,’ said Bigfoot, ‘mostly he is harmless.’

‘Don’t call me that, I have killed men for less,’ said Littlefoot.

Bigfoot grabbed Littlefoot and gave him a smacking great kiss on the ear.

‘Er yuk,’ said Littlefoot.

After all the death and carnage in the neighbourhood we went back to look at the body of the dead bikie to cheer ourselves up. We had only just got into the house when there was a terrific noise outside and three Harley-Davidsons turned up along with a black BMW motorcar. A girl got out of the car and came up the driveway, she was small, petite and wore a very pretty dress, I think it was silk, and she wore pretty little shoes too. She was blonde but it was real. Beside her were three very sturdy and dangerous looking hunks of meat, bikies, all carrying sawn off shotguns, there was also a man in an Australian fine merino wool Italian made suit, he wore crocodile skin winkle picker shoes, with the long turned up toes, he had been in the car with the girl and he carried an automatic pistol. Littlefoot hid behind the bedroom door and had his gun ready, Bigfoot pushed me back into the kitchen and took up position behind the lounge chair.

‘Get behind the fridge West and stay there,’ he said.

I did no such thing, I walked back out into the lounge, in full view of the window and let my police uniform be seen, I refused to overreact. That’s when the shooting started.

One of the bikies rolled over on the lawn, outside the window, and fired off his shotgun, the other two knelt down and fired, the man in the Italian suit let off a string of bullets and I stood there as bullets bounced all around me. Bigfoot winged the man in the suit, one bikie got it in the leg from Littlefoot, and the other two were on their Harleys and gone. The girl stood on the lawn and freaked out. She was stamping her feet and throwing her arms about and screaming, I went outside, slapped her face and she calmed down. The man in the Italian suit jumped into the car but Bigfoot shot the tyres out. I bandaged the wounded, Littlefoot alerted the highway patrol to bring in the two fleeing bikies, Bigfoot was free and easy with his handcuffs, then we escorted everybody inside and sat them down.

‘You were cool under fire West, very cool,’ said Bigfoot.

‘Cool’s my middle name,’ I said.

‘You handled yourself well.’

It was good to be complimented even if it was done by a stand-up comedian.

‘Frescobaldi Jalopy,’ said the man in the Italian suit, he was handcuffed and he awkwardly took out his wallet and got out his ID, ‘I’m with NTWITS.’

He was part of the Drug Squad, the Northern Territory Working Information Team Syndicate, which meant that TURDS and the Territory Drug Authority had just had a shootout in the back streets of Alice Springs.

‘We are from TURDS, the Tactical Urgent Response Detection Squad, a wing of APES,’ said Bigfoot as he undid Frescobaldi’s handcuffs.

‘This is Tim one of my men,’ said Frescobaldi.

‘Pleased to meet you,’ said Bigfoot releasing Tim from his handcuffs and then shaking his hand.

‘We are in the poo now,’ said Littlefoot.

‘We are in the shit so deep that we will need a snorkel to breath,’ said Bigfoot.

‘We are up shit creek in a barbed wire canoe with no paddle.’

‘Yes, we are in a tight spot,’ said Frescobaldi.

‘The shit will hit the fan when this gets out.’

‘Why so much about effluence?’ I said.

‘Effluence, have you ever seen shit fly?’ said Bigfoot.

‘No.’

‘Well you are about to. Duck or you will get a great big juicy dog turd smack in the face. We are supposed to shoot at the bad guys, not at each other.’

Littlefoot gave Frescobaldi and Tim their guns back, Frescobaldi reloaded. All this time the girl had looked sullen, she did nothing, she just stood and sulked.

‘We got a tip off about a drug manufacturing laboratory here, we picked up this one on the way, Sugar Sweet’s her name, we have been casing this place out for days.’

‘Unfortunate mix up,’ said Littlefoot.

‘Unfortunate in many ways,’ said Frescobaldi.

‘He’s lying, he’s a crook,’ said Sugar Sweet.

‘Shut up,’ said Frescobaldi and slapped her across the face.

I went for my gun but Tim grabbed my hand and Frescobaldi had us all covered with his pistol. Tim disarmed us.

‘There is masking tape in the car, tape them up Tim,’ said Frescobaldi and Tim hobbled out to the car.

‘You won’t get away with this,’ said Bigfoot. ‘If there’s one thing I hate more than a crook it’s a crooked copper. I’ll get you.’

‘Sorry to disappoint you but I’m afraid I’m going to have to kill you all,’ said Frescobaldi.

‘Thank you for giving us due warning,’ said Littlefoot.

‘Not at all, my pleasure.’

‘The way I see it,’ said Bigfoot, ‘Tim is out in the car getting masking tape, there are three of us and just one of you, you may shoot one of us but the other two will be able to use your guts for garters. I’ve a good mind to rip your head off with my bare hands and feed it back into your face through your mouth.’

‘Shut up,’ said Frescobaldi and he hit Bigfoot across the face.

Bigfoot didn’t even blink. I had to give credit to Bigfoot, he was no push over, even when he had a gun pointing in his face. I admired him, not that I would ever admit it.

‘You are just a little shit,’ said Bigfoot, ‘just a little dog turd, not even that, a small fart, a little smell, a bad smell yes but only a little smell.’

‘Shut up!’ shouted Frescobaldi.

Tim came back into the room and caught Frescobaldi’s eye and in that split second Bigfoot somehow had the retro glass coffee table, it was quite a nice piece, up in the air, it came crashing down on Frescobaldi’s head. Frescobaldi fired his gun but the bullets went all over the place, Littlefoot dived for Tim’s legs and Tim crashed down on top off him, Tim collected one of Frescobaldi’s bullets, he was shot through the heart. Sugar Sweet ran out of the door and was running down the street.

‘Get her West,’ said Bigfoot as he handcuffed Frescobaldi and pulled Tim off Littlefoot.

Later that same day we were sitting at an outdoor Italian café on the main drag in Alice, it was the trendy place to be, Bigfoot was drinking the local beer, Littlefoot was drinking a Barossa red and I had ordered a mineral water. Then the pizzas came, Littlefoot had a healthy pizza with organic bacon, broccoli, kelp and low fat cheese, mine was tomato and a little bit of fetta with a side salad, and Bigfoot had a giant pizza with the lot plus extra cheese and a bowl of chips, he said he was on a diet! He sculled his beer, ordered another and skulled that.

The size of digits and how many beers you could skull were obviously a proof of manhood.

‘Two more beers,’ he said to the waiter as he crammed his mouth full of pizza.

‘Wow,’ said Littlefoot as he sipped his wine. ’2009 from the back block Peter Parrotti’s vineyard, late picked Shiraz, French oak maturation, I think there could be five per cent Cabernet Sauvignon grapes in there as well, gives a full taste on the pallet, fills out the mouth and enhances the rich chocolaty berry fruit aromas.’

‘Just drink it and shut up,’ said Bigfoot.

‘I’m a connoisseur of fine wines,’ said Littlefoot.

Bigfoot grabbed Littlefoot’s glass and swallowed the contents in one great gulp.

‘A boozy, plonky, red coloured piss with wet overtones and chunderous possibilities.’

‘It’s an expensive drop,’ said Littlefoot looking insulted.

‘You try some West,’ said Bigfoot pouring me a glass.

I tried it.

‘A cheeky little number with pretensions to greatness,’ I said trying to sound a little bit sophisticated.

‘There you are, West liked it!’ said Littlefoot.

‘So why did you arrest Sugar Sweet?’ I said to Bigfoot.

‘Basically West, I arrested her because she was so pretty I wanted to incarcerate her and have my wicked way with her.’

‘Only in your dreams,’ I said.

‘No, you’re right, I arrested her because she shot Rory the Red.’

‘She couldn’t, she is the innocent victim. I know she was living with Rory but she felt protective of him, it is a thing women do, well some women, it comes from our, that is, some women’s maternal instinct, she met him at a bar and wanted to look after him, she told me that when I interrogated her.’

‘And she didn’t know a thing about the drug manufacturing laboratory?’ said Bigfoot.

‘When Frescobaldi took her there that was the first she knew about it,’ I said, ‘she told you so.’

‘In this job, and in life generally West, never believe what people tell you.’

‘But I don’t believe she was lying, if she is a liar she is a damn good liar, I couldn’t lie and keep a straight face like she did. They taught us, in police cadet school, how to spot a liar, they won’t look you in the eye, their hand goes up in front of their mouth, they fidget, they sweat, they are evasive.’

‘Sounds like Littlefoot,’ said Bigfoot.

‘No seriously.’

‘I’ll tell you what happened, Rory the Red and his other mates set up the drug laboratory, right?’

‘Right.’

‘Then Rory met Sugar Sweet in a bar,’ said Littlefoot.

‘She was a plant,’ said Bigfoot.

‘She was working for NTWITS the local Drug Squad,’ said Littlefoot.

‘But so was Frescobaldi Jalopy!’ I said.

‘Yes,’ said Littlefoot.

‘Frescobaldi and Sugar Sweet were an item,’ said Bigfoot.

‘They were lovers.’

‘They planned for Sugar Sweet to get in with Rory the Red and then Frescobaldi was to do a drugs bust but keep the drugs for himself.’

‘Split fifty fifty with Sugar Sweet.’

‘So what went wrong?’ I said.

‘Sugar Sweet is not so sweet and innocent, she double crossed everybody, Rory the Red found out, confronted her and she shot him.’

‘How do you know all this?’ I said to Bigfoot.

Bigfoot put his hand on his great fat stomach and rubbed it.

‘I had a gut feeling,’ he said.

He then pushed another slab of pizza into his mouth and sent half a bottle of the local brew after it.

‘You will have to do something about your overeating,’ I said to Bigfoot but he ignored me.

‘You handled yourself very well today West, very well indeed. You would bring something to the team that we don’t have.’

‘Compassion?’ said Littlefoot.

‘A brain,’ said Bigfoot.

‘So I get the job?’

‘I’m afraid not,’ said Bigfoot. ‘You see the Minister has already given it to his nephew.’

***

Two: Onions Always Make Me Cry

It was the evening of the day that we had cracked the case of the murder of Rory the Red and we were celebrating. We were sitting in an Italian Restaurant in the main street of Alice, drinking beer and eating pizza. Bigfoot received a telephone call, it was from his immediate superior. They spoke for a while, hung up and then Bigfoot turned to me.

I knew something was coming, some request for assistance, but I wasn’t interested, if I was so valuable they could damn well give me the job!.

‘How about standing in for the fella, give you a bit of experience?’

‘Which fella?’

‘The one that’s got the job.’

‘No way,’ I said.

‘Ah West.’

‘It is not going to happen.’

‘Ah West.’

‘You can go to the ends of the world tracking down murderers but you can do it without me,’ I said.

I had my pride.

Bigfoot looked at me with big cow like eyes but he didn’t fool me, I knew I was being used.

‘We are to be stationed in Sydney for a couple of months, it’s a national crime clamp down, we have to round up terrorists, drug smugglers, money launderers, native animal smugglers, illegal immigrants, tax evaders, jay walkers, people watering their gardens when they shouldn’t, the lot. We are going to have a busy time, we need you West.’

‘Nope,’ I said.

Bigfoot had a jug of beer on the table, he stood up and skulled the lot, it was truly an amazing feat, then he ordered a second jug of the old familiar juice and knocked that back as well. He wiped his mouth with the sleeve of his shirt.

‘I needed that,’ he said.

‘This wine has a distinctive lavender and burnt leather bouquet with a spritzy mouth feel,’ said Littlefoot as he swished a local wine around inside his mouth, swallowed and smiled, his teeth were stained a horrible red.

‘You see the shit I have to work with,’ said Bigfoot waving a hand in Littlefoot’s general direction, he then grabbed Littlefoot’s wine bottle and downed the contents.

‘That was my wine, chicken liver licker,’ said Littlefoot.

‘Frog face fancier,’ said Bigfoot.

‘Fruit cake fingerer.’

‘Doggy doodle dangler,’

By now the two of them were standing up and pushing and shoving each other, they were well and truly under the influence.

‘Don’t push me skunk head sucker.’

‘I’ll push you if I want, toilet water drinker. He dresses in women’s clothes, did you know that West?’

‘Don’t bring me into this,’ I said.

‘I do not.’

‘He once went out with a transvestite,’ said Bigfoot pointing a finger at Littlefoot.

‘I did not.’

‘She was tall and blonde with great big… feet and hairy legs and her name was Bryan.’

‘It was Bryana and her legs were not hairy and her feet were delicate.’

‘She was taller than you.’

‘She was not,’ said Littlefoot.

They now started swinging punches at each other. At this point several waiters arrived and started making a fuss, Bigfoot and Littlefoot stopped fighting and they fell into each other’s arms.

‘I love you Littlefoot,’ said Bigfoot giving Littlefoot a kiss on the ear.

‘I love you too Bigfoot.’

‘I love you like a brother Littlefoot.’

‘I love you like a sister Bigfoot.’

‘I love you like a…’

‘That’s enough loving,’ I said.

‘Let’s go back to the hotel and have a beer,’ said Bigfoot.

‘Good idea, we can crack open a big red.’

‘By the way,’ said Bigfoot, ‘where is our hotel?’

‘I don’t know. Here hotel, here hotel, where are you hotel come here?’ said Littlefoot as he crawled about the restaurant looking under tables for the hotel.

‘Have you seen my hotel?’ said Bigfoot to the waiter, ‘I had it a couple of hours ago but I seem to have misplaced it.’

‘What’s it called?’ said the waiter.

‘I don’t know, what’s it called Littlefoot?’

‘I don’t know but I think it’s got the word hotel in there somewhere.’

‘Can you describe it?’ said the waiter.

‘Yes we can describe it,’ said Littlefoot. ‘It’s got lots of rooms…’

‘…with beds…’

‘…and a little man sits out the front…’

‘…behind a desk…

‘…and there’s a lift…’

‘…and the rooms are all numbered…’

‘Have you got your room key, that will probably have the name of the hotel on it?’ I said.

‘Knock knock,’ said Bigfoot.

‘Not again,’ I said.

‘Knock knock,’ said Bigfoot.

‘Who’s there?’ said Littlefoot.

‘Mikie.’

‘Mikie who?’

‘Mikie won’t open the door.’

‘Look I have to deliver this pizza,’ said the waiter.

‘Oh I don’t mind if I do,’ said Bigfoot.

He grabbed a large lump of the pizza, folded it in half and squeezed it into his mouth.

‘Th…an…k…y…oo,’ he said as he masticated his pizza.

‘I’ll get you to your hotel,’ I said.

‘Thank you West, you’re beautiful.’

I gave the waiter twenty dollars for the pizza and Bigfoot rolled, well nearly rolled, down the main street of Alice as I directed them to their hotel. Littlefoot skipped along at his side but then he fell over, I tried to pick him up and Bigfoot came over to help and fell over me. A policeman on his beat came by and moved us on, luckily I was not in uniform. I got them to their hotel, then the problem was to get them to their rooms. They found the gym and Bigfoot stumbled into a rowing machine and started rowing and singing Row row row your boat gently down the stream, Littlefoot tried running on a treadmill but as it was going at full speed he fell off. Bigfoot then moved on to lifting incredibly heavy weights, or that was the impression he gave, however the bar had no weights on it. I dragged them both out of the gym and Bigfoot took his shoes off, he’d seen the pool and he dived in. Littlefoot wasn’t far behind. Once in they couldn’t get out as they had jumped in the deep end, they were splashing about and looked as if they might sink, I wondered if it wouldn’t be more merciful to leave them to drown. Against my better judgement, I passed them one of those rod and net things used to clean pools and they grabbed it and I hauled them out.

‘Thank you West you are a true gentleman,’ said Bigfoot in a drunken slur. ‘You saved my life.’

He then tried to kiss me so I pushed him back in to the pool.

I found their rooms and Bigfoot tried to open the door, he failed dismally.

‘Knock knock.’

‘Not again,’ I said.

‘Knock knock,’ said Bigfoot.

‘Who’s there?’ I said.

‘Mikie.’

‘Mikie who?’

‘Mikie won’t open the door.’

‘I think that’s at least the third time you have cracked that particular joke,’ I said.

I couldn’t stand much more of this so I got hold of the key, opened the door and pushed Bigfoot in and onto a bed, then I went back outside, found Littlefoot and pushed him into his room and found a bed for him.

‘You two disgust me,’ I said standing in the corridor. ‘I am truly glad that I am not going to work with you. You are a pair of inept, male chauvinist, drunken, depraved, disorganised, disagreeable…’

‘We love you too West,’ said Bigfoot. ‘Come here and give me a kiss.’

I walked over to Bigfoot, picked up a jug of flowers, took out the flowers and threw the water over him. He looked up at me and smiled.

‘I bet you enjoyed that,’ he said.

‘As a matter of fact I did.’

It was something disgusting like five o’clock in the morning when my phone went off.

‘Yes?’

‘West?’

‘You.’

‘Yes.’

I hung up.

The phone rang again.

‘Yes?’

‘West.’

‘Get lost.’

I hung up.

The phone rang.

I picked it up.

‘Let’s get it over with, what do you want?’ I said.

‘Knock knock.’

‘Look I am going to hang up.’

‘No West don’t do that, don’t.’

‘What is it then?’

‘They found a body, sort of.’

‘Who found a body?’

‘The local boys.’

‘So?’

‘Don’t be like that West.’

‘Like what?’

‘Look we need you, your well your… you. You have your own approach, we have been placed in charge of this job, I am ordering you to come along.’

‘You are not my boss.’

‘Ah West.’

‘No.’

‘Look, if I ask you nicely and say please.’

‘No.’

‘Pretty please.’

‘No.’

‘Pretty please with sugar on it.’

‘No!’

The body, or lack of body, was found, well actually it wasn’t found, in a fairly ordinary house in Widgeridoodlewongawongaway, a tourist town noted for a collection of rocks that stick out of the ground and look like giant marbles, it is situated to the south of Widgerywongadongawinga, near Alice Springs in Central Australia. A woman had been missing for a week, blood had been found on the carpet in her bedroom, her car had been found in the McDonald Ranges a few kilometres away, burnt out, her handbag had been found in a street bin in Alice Springs with purse, driver’s licence, credit cards, Medicare card all left untouched and even a pair of her shoes had been found beside the road near the burnt out car, but no body was found. We had a murder weapon found in the scrub, it was a hunting knife, it had the missing woman’s blood on it, this was established through DNA analysis. We also had three suspects, a lover, an ex-husband and a son. Her sister had reported her as missing. So what was our job? Bigfoot’s gut, or at least his gut feeling, had established a bit of a reputation nationally and the local boys wanted Bigfoot to interview the suspects and Bigfoot felt that I could help with his gut feeling. I was not very pleased to be told to help with Bigfoot’s gut feeling and I told him exactly where I stood on that matter.

‘No, no way, not ever, no, I will not get involved in this investigation full stop.’

The first suspect was led into the room by Littlefoot, he was a tall, soft looking boy. Bigfoot had planned a three pronged attack with me asking intelligent questions, Bigfoot coming the heavy and Littlefoot bringing up the rear with the nice guy act. This was Bigfoot’s general strategy and he said it worked well. I wasn’t so sure

‘I am Constable West of the Northern Territory Police,’ I said, ‘this is Detective Chief Superintendent Bigfoot and Detective Superintendent Chief Littlefoot, our interview here today is being recorded, you are allowed a solicitor but at this stage that is not necessary as we are only establishing the facts, no one has been charged with anything, is that all clear?’

The soft looking boy looked up at me and waved his head meaning yes I presumed. He wore a very nice Ralph Lauren polo shirt, linen slacks and what looked like a very expensive pair of shoes, his hair was short and blonde, his eyes were blue and he had an intensely moody expression on his face.

‘I would like to ask you about your movements last Saturday,’ I said.

He didn’t look up.

‘Did you see your mother?’

Silence.

‘Did you meet up with any friends?’

Silence.

‘What did you do all day, go out, stay at home, watch television, surf the net, text anybody, play with your phone, download music, play a computer game?’

Silence once again.

We were getting nowhere fast I began to doubt my ability. I was not having a good hair day.

Bigfoot stood up in quite a menacing sort of towering way.

‘You think you’re very smart sonny but I tell you that you’re not. You are shit, do you hear me? If you don’t co-operate, I am personally going to take you down to the local effluence ponds and push your head so far into the shit that you will have to breathe through your backside,’ said Bigfoot into the boy’s face.

The boy jumped up and started hitting Bigfoot on the chest as hard as he could, Bigfoot let him and when the boy had worked off some anger Bigfoot guided him back into his chair.

‘I didn’t do anything, I was studying and then I went to the footy.’

‘Do you live with your mother or your father?’ I said.

‘Mum.’

‘Do you get along well with your mother?’

Silence.

‘Do you get along well with your father?’

Silence.

‘Did you know your mother had a lover?’

Silence.

‘Listen laddie,’ said Littlefoot, ‘we want to help you. Bigfoot thinks you did it, he wants to throw the book at you, I think that you are innocent but if you don’t help me I can’t help you.’

Silence.

‘I’m on your side. I want to help you.’

Silence.

‘I have a son just like you, same age, we get on well, download music together, surf the net.’

Silence.

‘Listen punk,’ said Bigfoot. ‘Your life is finished, I am going to throw the book at you. You were seen near the burnt out car, your fingerprints are on your mother’s shoes and handbag, you are a cold sadistic murderer and I just wish that we could bring back capital punishment, I’d like to see you hang by the neck until dead.’

‘I rang my Aunty Shirley and told her Mum was missing and she called the police. I was in the house on Saturday studying, I want to be an accountant like Dad. I didn’t kill her.’

‘Remand him in custody for now Littlefoot, he may be telling the truth but if we can’t find anybody else to pin this murder on…what’s your name?’

‘Thomas.’

‘If we can’t find anyone else to blame we will blame you Thomas, do you hear me, loud and clear young Thomas?’

‘I didn’t do anything.’

‘You’re it you hear me, you’re the person we are going to throw the book at, so think very carefully, I want either a full confession or some help here and if you don’t help or confess I’m gonna make up a confession for you to sign and if you won’t sign it I will beat you black and blue till you do.’

‘The wonders of modern police techniques,’ I said.

‘Shut up West,’ said Bigfoot.

‘Don’t tell me to shut up,’ I said when Littlefoot had escorted the boy from the room.

‘Sorry West,’ said Bigfoot, ‘don’t take it personally.’

We sat around for a while not knowing what to say, we were having a post interrogation conference. It was hot, we drank cold water, Bigfoot complained, he said that he would prefer a cold beer. Someone brought us a small fan and turned it on. On the wall was a painting of a kangaroo and a gum tree, a gecko climbed up onto one of the desks. Bigfoot took a handkerchief from his pocket and wiped the perspiration off his forehead.

‘I’m stumped, I’m sure the boy knows something.’

‘I think it’s the lover,’ said Littlefoot.

‘Well that means the lover is innocent,’ said Bigfoot.

‘How can you say that?’ said Littlefoot.

‘Well, I open my mouth and words come out.’

‘Isn’t there a saying about empty vessels making the most noise?’

‘And there’s one about a squeaking hinge gets greased, if you don’t watch out I’ll grease you,’ said Bigfoot.

‘Can we get on with the interviews?’ I said.

‘Bring in the next victim,’ said Bigfoot.

Littlefoot went out and came back with a very well dressed young man, he wore those stylish winkle picker shoes, a casual shirt that seemed to hang from his shoulders with utter style, a pair of beautifully cut slacks, his hair was well groomed and on his fingers were one or two gold rings. I think he may have had some European blood in his ancestry, not that I wish to imply any value judgement of any sort whatsoever.

‘Your name?’ I said.

‘Lothario,’ said the man.

‘I have to warn you that anything you say will be taken down and can be used…’

‘Don’t worry about that shit West,’ said Bigfoot.

‘It’s my duty.’

‘Duty suty luty cuty. Let’s get on, we know he did it.’

‘May I just say here…’ said Lothario.

‘You can say nothing unless I ask you,’ said Bigfoot.

‘Well…’ said Lothario.

‘Shut up.’

‘Sir!’ I said.

‘You can shut up too.’

‘I will not.’

‘Chill out West.’

‘Don’t tell me to shut up.’

‘I say, I say, I say, my wife’s gone to Italy,’ said Bigfoot.

‘Genoa?’ said Littlefoot.

‘I should think so, we have been married twenty years.’

‘I do not understand what this has to do with me,’ said Lothario.

‘Just breaking the ice,’ said Bigfoot. ‘You know the missing woman, Honeysuckle?’

‘Yes.’

‘You were on intimate terms?’

‘Yes Honeysuckle and I are… we are intimate as you say.’

‘You were having a bloody good time,’ said Bigfoot.

‘Yes.’

‘How did you meet?’

‘I met her in a bar at the casino.’

‘You hang about there and prey on women?’

‘Yes I go there and meet lonely women.’

‘You pick them up?’

‘I meet women and bring happiness to their lives.’

‘Only the rich ones?’

‘I find them more interesting.’

‘And you and Honeysuckle were having a gay old time.’

‘We enjoy each other’s company.’

‘And there are others?’

‘I do not restrict myself to one woman.’

All men were as bad as each.

‘A girl named Nerine,’ said Bigfoot.

‘She is a waitress at the casino,’ said Lothario.

‘She is hardly seventeen.’

‘She is of age.’

‘You only went with Honeysuckle for her money?’

‘I like Honeysuckle, yes she has money, she is fun as well.’

‘You don’t get on with her son though?’

‘Her son is very serious, he does not bother me and I do not bother him.’

‘And when the money runs out you planned to throw Honeysuckle on the scrap heap?’

‘When the money runs out I would have to reconsider my relationship with Honeysuckle. What I do is not illegal, I’m good looking, I dress well, I take care of myself, I work out at the gym, I stay slim and I practise saying interesting things, entertaining women is my way of making a living.’

‘A gigolo?’

‘You can call me a gigolo if you wish, there are worse jobs. I like women and women like me, why should I not make money from my looks and my charming personality.’

‘And now Honeysuckle is missing presumed murdered!’

‘I may not be a saint but I am also not a murderer.’

‘I’m not so sure.’

‘I have nothing to gain from killing Honeysuckle, she is nice, she has plenty of money but she is leaving it all to her son in her will, there is nothing to gain for me in her death. She pays my rent, she pays the repayments on my sports car and all I have to do is escort her to restaurants and make love to her and I enjoy making love to her. Her death will be an inconvenience to me.’

‘You make me sick.’

‘That is not my problem.’

‘I’m going to keep you here all night and all tomorrow and all the next day until you start telling the truth.’

‘You can question me as much as you wish but I cannot tell you anymore than I know.’

‘When did you last see Honeysuckle?’ I said.

‘Let me see, I last saw her a week ago, Friday night, she said that she was going to Adelaide for a week with her sister to shop and for me not to come around until the day after tomorrow. She gave me money to go out to eat and I said thank you and left, we are not married.’

‘Nerine is in on it with you.’

‘Nerine is a young and innocent girl.’

‘You both planned to kill Honeysuckle and take her money,’ said Bigfoot.

‘Nerine is not very rich, she is a working girl, but I like her. She is also a vegetarian and a Buddhist, I don’t think she could kill a flea.’

‘Can you tell us your movements for this week?’ I said.

‘Monday I was in bed with Nerine all day and in the evening Nerine went to work. I was at her flat and watched television until she came home about midnight. Tuesday, Nerine and I went out for lunch then we went to her place and made love then she went to work. Wednesday was much the same, I went to a hairdresser and picked up a suit from the dry cleaners. Thursday Nerine wanted to go for a walk in the McDonald Ranges so we went to Standley Chasm, very beautiful there, and had a picnic then we went back to her place and made love and she went to work. Friday Nerine had to work all day and late into the night, I went to the casino and met a small group of senior ladies…’

‘Widowers?’

‘That is right and I went back to the hotel of a senior female named Lady Wickson. We made love and I left at four in the morning and was home in time for Nerine, she arrives home at about five in the morning, on weekends. She works very late. Lady Wickson gave me five hundred dollars, I told her that I had a speeding fine that I could not pay, I will be meeting Lady Wickson at the casino later today, she is to buy me dinner.’

‘You’re making all this up?’ said Bigfoot.

‘You can check it all out, as I said, I have no reason to kill Honeysuckle, I do not get involved with my clients.’

‘You wanted to get rid of Honeysuckle and set up with Nerine, it’s only natural, I’d do the same,’ said Littlefoot.

‘No, Nerine and I have been building up a nest egg in the bank and we aim one day to retire and buy a nice house and grow tomatoes, that’s my dream, but I do not need to murder anybody to get it.’

‘You can go,’ said Bigfoot. ‘Don’t leave the state and leave your address with the man at the reception desk.’

‘I am happy to have been of assistance,’ said Lothario and he strutted out.

Bigfoot and Littlefoot looked at each other and grimaced.

‘He sickens me,’ said Bigfoot.

‘He just uses women,’ said Littlefoot.

‘All he thinks about is his dick.’

‘I don’t know how women can go for a man like that.’

‘Women are so shallow if they can’t see through him.’

‘They must all be sex mad.’

‘Depraved.’

‘When there are genuine…’

‘…nice…’

‘…new age guys…’

‘…with personality…’

‘…looks…’

‘…charm…’

‘…sophistication…’

‘…like me and you Littlefoot.’

‘You men,’ I said, ‘you all think you are Casanova.’

‘I’m not bad looking,’ said Bigfoot.

‘What about my physique?’ said Littlefoot striking up a pose.

‘You both look about as appetising as a pig’s dinner. The average woman, and I can say this as I am one, would prefer a bucket of pig swill to either of you.’

‘West you hurt my feelings.’

‘It’s about time somebody did, you are delusional,’ I said.

‘But I’m okay West?’ said Littlefoot.

‘You know that he goes around winking at girls,’ said Bigfoot.

‘I do not.’

‘He’s an old winker from way back.’

‘Shut up,’

‘He got a girl once, she was ninety two.’

‘What are you talking about?’

‘That old bird.’

‘She was three years older than me.’

‘And the rest.’

‘I’ll fight you.’

‘Come on then, tiny tot.’

‘Lard head.’

‘Little tiny toy.’

‘Bugger you,’ said Littlefoot.

He started punching Bigfoot in the chest, Bigfoot picked him up by the collar and then grabbed his legs and held him upside down.

‘I’ll kill you, I’ll kill you with my bare hands, I’ll murder you, I’ll eat you alive,’ shouted an upside down Littlefoot.

I’d had enough, I went to the cafeteria and ordered a herbal tea.

It was late afternoon now and really quite hot, the fan was going full force, the building was air conditioned but that had broken down. I fanned myself with an official report, Bigfoot wiped his handkerchief over his forehead and Littlefoot was in the process of telling us that if you are fit and slim the heat doesn’t affect you, when his eyes started to goggle and he fell over, we sat him down and Bigfoot threw a cup of water over his face.

‘What was that?’ said Littlefoot.

‘Bring in the third suspect,’ said Bigfoot.

Littlefoot led in a dwarf, well a very short man, dressed as Crocodile Dundee, a real outback rough tough Australian. Bigfoot turned to Littlefoot.

‘He’s the one,’ said Bigfoot.

Littlefoot turned to me.

‘He’s the one,’ he said.

Although I don’t like to jump to conclusions, I did feel that here in Honeysuckle’s husband, we had a definite contender for her murderer.

‘Your name?’ I said.

‘Attila Caesar Siegfried Napoleon van Boot.’

‘You are the ex-husband of Honeysuckle van Boot?’

‘That is correct.’

‘Your movements this week?’

‘Mostly I was at work.’

‘You work at?’

‘I’m a financial consultant, I work with all the high flyers.’

‘Are you self-employed or…’

‘I work for the Central Bank of the Northern Territory, in the head office here in Alice. I have a large office and a big desk.’

‘I bet you have,’ said Bigfoot. ‘Did you hear the one about the office manager, his secretary said to him – Do you use a dictaphone, and he said – No I use my…’

‘Where were you last weekend Mr van Boot?’ I said cutting in on Bigfoot.

‘I took my son to watch the footy, Port Adelaide were playing, that was Saturday, afterwards we went for a hamburger then I dropped him home. Sunday I took out a woman, her name is Sesame, we met online dating but we didn’t hit it off. She thought I was younger, taller and better looking, and I thought…well I’ll say no more about what I thought, we won’t be seeing each other again.’

‘How was your relationship with your ex-wife?’

‘At first I was very very angry, I threatened to kill her, I threatened to beat her up, I threatened all sorts but then I realised it did me no good to be angry, I needed to move on, I needed to get a life.’

‘Sesame is a very handy alibi,’ said Bigfoot.

‘Yes true, but the truth is always a good alibi.’

‘I put it to you that you were still very angry with your wife and that you murdered her out of jealousy.’

‘That’s not true, the last time I saw my wife I told her that I was sorry it hadn’t worked out. I told her I was sorry for the things I had said. I told her that I was sorry for being angry. Now I am just glad that I was able to say those things to her. I still love her, I’ll always love her,’ said Attila and he began to cry, I found him some paper handkerchiefs.

‘She made you angry, I can understand that,’ said Littlefoot. ‘You didn’t mean to kill her.’

‘I would never hurt her,’ said Attila.

I didn’t know whether to believe him or not. When a man speaks with conviction I have a tendency to believe what he’s saying but the truth is, with most men, half the time they are lying and for the other half they are making it up.

We were back in the main drag in Alice Springs, Bigfoot was eating a small pizza and drinking low alcohol beer, he was on a diet.

‘I’m stumped,’ said Bigfoot.

He then ordered another small pizza and two more low alcohol beers, he was still on a diet, but he was a bit peckish.

‘The boy is a bit of a mystery,’ I said.

‘The boy probably killed her out of jealousy, I read about it,’ said Littlefoot. ‘The Oedipus complex, Freud talks about it in his book The Ego and the Id and…’

‘Enough highfalutin nonsense,’ said Bigfoot, ‘you never read a book.’

‘I read books all the time.’

‘Playboy.’

‘Can we get back to the subject,’ I said.

‘Did you hear something Littlefoot?’

‘No did you hear something Bigfoot?’

‘We have a job to do,’ I said.

‘What did you say Littlefoot?’

‘I didn’t say anything Bigfoot.’

‘I don’t believe it was the boy, his mother was a meal ticket, why mess your own nest?’ said Bigfoot.

‘But Freud wrote that…’

‘Lothario, now he’s exactly the same, why would he want to kill a meal ticket?’

‘I’m not so sure, Freud has a section on…’

‘I don’t like him much, his brains are in his prick.’

‘Like most men,’ I said.

‘Now West please there are ladies present.’

‘I am that lady.’

‘You and Littlefoot.’

‘Watch it,’ said Littlefoot. ‘Freud has something to say about you as well…’

‘Yes true, I have a big Id,’

‘It doesn’t mean that.’

‘The ladies have always loved my big Id.’

‘Freud would have a field day, now it says here…’

‘Oh look Littlefoot’s reading a book and it’s not playboy,’ said Bigfoot grabbing the book.

‘Can I have my book back please!’

‘And it’s not Bambi.’

‘I’ll kill you.’

‘I’m scared Littleone.’

‘Outside mate!’

‘You two!’ I said.

Just as the confrontation was starting to heat up the extra pizza arrived, Bigfoot took one of the beers off the tray and skulled it.

‘Two more beers please and can I get some bread?’

‘Bigfoot’s pregnant,’ said Littlefoot, ‘he’s eating for two.’

‘I think he must be having sextuplets,’ I said, ‘and eating for six.’

‘Got to keep my strength up,’ said Bigfoot.

‘So Lothario is ruled out?’ I said.

‘He just uses women,’ said Bigfoot.

‘He doesn’t have any personality he just lives for sex,’ said Littlefoot.

‘He thinks of women in terms of what he wants.’

‘His brains are in a bulge in his pants.’

‘He makes me sick.’

‘You are both jealous,’ I said.

‘No way.’

‘That’s not true West.’

‘Then there is the ex-husband,’ I said, ‘in my opinion it could have easily been the ex-husband. He is short and in my experience short men are always jealous.’

‘I’m not jealous,’ said Littlefoot.

‘There are always exceptions to the rule,’ I said.

‘So you think it was the green eyed monster West?’

‘Yes,’ I said. ‘He had plenty of opportunity, he was seen around the house on the weekend when Honeysuckle went missing.’

‘He picked up his son and took him to the footy for Christ’s sake,’ said Bigfoot.

‘And for a burger, that’s innocent enough,’ said Littlefoot.

‘He could easily have fitted in a clandestine murder and it is a fact that most murders are committed by a member of the family or a supposed close friend. I think we need to raid his flat and track down this woman he is supposed to have dated. I think we need to take his DNA, fingerprints, thoroughly check his car for traces of blood, check his flat for the same and check the neighbours in his street, we can’t just let him get away with it.’

‘You’re right West, quite right, and we will do all that but I think the boy knows something that he’s not telling us. What do you say to doing everything you said and then questioning the boy again. We’ll wait until you have gathered all your evidence together on the father. I’m glad we have got you on the team West, at least temporarily, a new fresh approach, an open and critical mind, an analytical mind, I wish I could welcome you aboard permanently.’

‘I’m just happy to be able to contribute,’ I lied

We pulled the ex-husband in and gave him a full going over, Bigfoot didn’t pull any punches but the ex-husband gave nothing away. Then we went over his flat, his car and questioned all his neighbours and came up with exactly nothing, we drew a blank. So we brought in the boy again. Bigfoot came up with another plan, it was the same old plan, I would be the thorough detective, Littlefoot would be the nice guy and Bigfoot would be a bully and we would give the boy a going over. He would crack, crack open so hard that he would think we had dropped a nuclear bomb on his head, Bigfoot’s words, not mine.

The boy came in and as before he sat down and said nothing,

‘We are sorry to have to bring you in again,’ I said.

Silence.

‘We just need to clarify a few points.’

Silence.

‘When you went to the footy with your dad, did he go off and leave you for any time at all, no matter how short?’

Nothing.

‘We really need to put together a picture of what happened that weekend when you went to the footy.’

‘Do you normally see your dad on weekends?’ said Littlefoot. ‘I see my son on weekends.’

Just for the record Littlefoot doesn’t have a son.

Silence.

Bigfoot grabbed the boy by the scruff of his neck and hurled him up out of the chair.

‘Listen punk, open up and start talking or I will twist your head off and shove it up your backside!’

‘He went for a pee and yes I do see him on weekends but you should be talking to Aunty Shirley, Mum’s sister. Mum had a yellow Argyle diamond ring, Dad bought it for her as an engagement ring, Aunty Shirley wants it to remember Mum by, Aunty Shirley said that Mum wasn’t wearing it the Saturday they went out for coffee.’

‘Thanks son you can go home now,’ said Bigfoot. ‘Littlefoot, West, bring her in,’ he said.

‘Her?’

‘Aunty Shirley, she has been looking us in the face for a week and we have completely ignored her. Call ourselves detectives!’

‘I knew all along that there was something strange about Aunty Shirley,’ said Littlefoot.

We were across the Todd River in Alice Springs, we had gone to an Italian vegetarian restaurant as a treat for me and also as a thank you, as it was my last day as a stand in TURD. We sat out Al Fresco and drank fresh fruit juice drinks, I ordered raw food salad and a raw food vegetarian burger, Littlefoot ordered tofu on a bed of cuscus and even Bigfoot joined in and ordered a three onion pizza.

‘It goes against my better judgment but there is no proper shit on the menu,’ he said.

It had been a hectic two weeks and in a way I had proven myself but Bigfoot and Littlefoot would be joined by the Minister’s nephew who had been given the job that I had been doing. We were all a bit sad, Littlefoot grabbed me and gave me a hug and I looked at Bigfoot and he had tears in his eyes.

‘Onions always make me cry,’ he said.

As we were chatting Attila, Honeysuckle’s ex, walked into the restaurant, he was arm in arm with his son, Thomas, they were laughing and joking. They didn’t notice us, they didn’t notice anybody, they sat down at a table near ours and they both looked supremely happy. They started talking and they talked as if they owned the world, then suddenly Lothario entered the restaurant, he saw Attila and Thomas, turned around and left but not before they had seen him, Attila ran to the door and called out:

‘You will get yours too!’

‘West we may have some work for you,’ said Bigfoot.

‘You can sort this one out,’ I said.

Attila and Thomas said something to each other and then Attila turned around and saw the three of us sitting there, his face had an angry menacing glare.

Uluru is the biggest rock in the world, I decided to drive there and book in at the best hotel for two nights. The room was lovely, it was at ground level and sunk back into a low hill, the front was all glass overlooking a lawn and a swimming pool. I intended buying myself a fancy three course dinner, all in the name of lifting my spirits, I hadn’t got the job with TURDS but I was going to enjoy myself. I went out to the famous rock, at sunset, to photograph it on my mobile phone, it turned a beautiful red, it was stunning. The place was crawling with German tourists getting photographs with lavish equipment, I felt a bit of an amateur photographer. I wandered off into the bush to get away from the noise, a flock of budgerigars flashed by and they looked wonderful.

‘Hello,’ said a smooth and charming voice that I remembered from somewhere.

‘Oh you!’

‘I saw you enter the bush.’

‘Yes, I wanted to get away from the tourists.’

‘And then you didn’t come back.’

‘I’m having a bad hair day.’

‘Your hair looks very nice.’

‘I’m sure you say that to all the ladies.’

‘I do and sometimes I mean it.’

‘And this time?’

‘You look very lovely.’

‘Thank you, but flattery will get you nowhere.’

‘You should be a model not a policewoman.’

‘I like my job.’

‘And I am thinking that you are very good at it.’

‘I like to think so.’

‘Shall we go back?’

‘There’s no point in being nice to me, I haven’t got any money,’ I said.

‘You do not need money, you are just beautiful to look at.’

‘As I said flattery…’

‘I want to buy you dinner.’

‘I don’t have money.’

‘You said that.’

‘Shouldn’t you be spending your time chatting up a rich American widow?’

‘I think time spent in your company is time rewarded.’

‘What about Nerine?’

‘She is working.’

‘You never let a chance slip.’

‘I would be honoured if you would have dinner with me.’

‘You’re a crook.’

‘I am not a crook, call me a gigolo if you must, but it is not illegal.’

‘No.’

‘Tonight I am off duty,’ said Lothario, ‘as are you, I will devote myself to your pleasure, if you will permit, and first it is dinner at the best restaurant. You will do me the honour of accepting please?’

‘Why not?’

‘Exactly, why not?’

So Lothario and I had dinner. Why not? He was paying and he was charming. He had lovely deep brown eyes, he was hunky, in a slim athletic way, he had dark curly hair and looked like a cross between an Arab and a southern Italian. He looked as if God had gathered the best of the looks from both cultures and assembled them in one man. For dinner I had an entree of asparagus, lightly grilled, on a bed of cuscus and covered with melted Camembert, my main course was a vegetarian soufflé filled with sweet corn, soft cheese and leeks, it was beautiful, and for dessert I had taramasalata. Lothario had caviar, Beijing duck and for dessert, affogato, an ice creamy thing with coffee and alcohol, it looked delicious and he fed it to me spoonful by spoonful, we both enjoyed it thoroughly. Lothario ordered French champagne, I think it was Kruge, it came in a tight leather package, it looked like something a prostitute might order, but it tasted really rather nice. He was going to order coffee but I said:

‘I don’t want you to get any ideas but I can make coffee in my room. I have a proper percolator and they supply very good coffee and even some high class bickies.’

‘I would never get ideas with you. Your name is Elizabeth is it not?’

‘Yes.’

‘May I call you Elizabeth?’

‘Everyone calls me West.’

‘Elizabeth is such a lovely name, I would prefer to call you Elizabeth, if you would permit me?’

‘Of course.’

‘Yes Elizabeth, I would love to have coffee in your room and do not worry, when you say the word I will leave, I am not a…well I was going to say I am not a gigolo but I am, in your case however I am simply an admirer, an admirer of a beautiful woman.’

‘Thank you.’

He was a sleazebag but every now and again the company of sleazebag can be good for a girl.

Lothario brewed the coffee, brewing coffee is not my forte, and then he found the expensive biscuits, they were melt in your mouth and heavenly, he even found some lovely high class chocolate things.

‘You brew a mean coffee,’ I said.

‘All the ladies compliment me on my technique with the coffee beans.’

‘I’m sure they do compliment your technique.’

‘I pride myself…’

‘I’m sure that you do.’

‘You make innuendo, no?’

‘Don’t you get sick of your life?’

‘For me it is a job, a job I enjoy, but one day I had planned to retire with Nerine and grow tomatoes.’

‘You say, had planned?’

‘Yes that is true.’

‘What changed?’

‘I met you.’

‘Don’t start giving me the come on.’

‘No, not at all dear lady, it is just that, have you ever seen a beautiful sunset?’

‘Yes.’

‘It can be so beautiful that it extinguishes all that went before it.’

‘So what are you saying?’

‘I do not wish to be forward but…’

‘But?’

‘You are like a revelation to me, I can say that I have never met a woman like you.’

‘You must have been practising for years.’

‘What do you mean?’

‘You have got the patter down so well.’

‘You do me an injustice.’

‘You are a typical Italian lover from a comic opera.’

‘I…you insult me…I apologise for being…I was trying to be nice. I was saying what I felt, I was talking from the heart. You are a beautiful woman Elizabeth and you think that I want to stay the night and make love with you, that is not so. All I want to do is sit with you, share a nice dinner with you, talk with you and have coffee, I like to share food with a beautiful woman, that is civilisation, I am a civilised man. Yes I like to make love this is true but with you just sitting is enough.’

I moved closer to Lothario, he took me in his arms and kissed me gently, softly, sensuously, Tina Turner was singing in the background – I’m Your Private Dancer, I pulled myself together and pulled away from him, I didn’t want to get carried away.

Lothario and I went for a walk in the moonlight, then he escorted me to my room and then I got rid of him, had a shower and turned on the television, I had selected a Miss Marple detective movie, I planned to stay up late watching movies. Lothario was very sweet and I was feeling quite lonely and disappointed but I didn’t want to be taken for a sucker. We had arranged to eat breakfast together and to watch the sun rise over the rock early the next morning.

There was a fuss outside my room, I opened the door to investigate and a man and a woman were standing there. The man was dressed in a cream sports jacket with giant checks, he wore a blue imitation silk shirt and a cream bow tie with big round brown dots, on his head was a trilby and on his arm was a woman and what a woman, she was a giant of a woman, she had a mass of curly hair, thick red lipstick and big droopy earrings. She wore a glistening long silvery dress and silver shoes.

‘Hi,’ said the man.

I took a closer look at him.

‘What on earth are you doing here Littlefoot?’ I said.

‘West!’ I heard Bigfoot whisper. ‘West!’

‘Where are you Bigfoot?’ I said.

‘West!’

‘I don’t see you.’ I said.

I looked around and then did a double take at Littlefoot’s lady friend.

‘Bigfoot?’

‘Yes it’s me.’

‘What are you doing?’

‘Listen…’

‘The pair of you look like a couple of deros on the make.’

‘Yes listen…’

‘I hate to think where you have got your gun stashed.’

‘West listen…’

‘Don’t get your knickers in a knot.’

‘Will you please listen!’

‘I can’t take you seriously.’

‘West!’

‘You’ll have all the boys after you.’

‘He has reached his potential,’ said Littlefoot, ‘as a woman he has had more offers from men than he ever had from women when he was a man, he’s thinking of having a sex change.’

‘Quiet Littleprick. I’m the first girl you’ve gone out with in years.’

‘Rubbish what about that blonde?’

‘She was about as feminine as I am.’

‘She was a nice girl.’

‘If anyone blinks at you Littleman, girl, boy or undefined four legged creature, you think you are in there with a chance.’

‘I’ll fight you.’

‘Gentlemen do not fight ladies!’ said Bigfoot.

‘You are no lady.’

‘Oh Littlebit you have blighted my reputation.’

‘Well I hope you are both having a good time,’ I said.

‘I’ve already had three offers,’ said Bigfoot.

‘One from a dero, one from a dag and one from a ninety year old blind man,’ said Littlefoot. ‘The ninety year old blind man was a millionaire. He checked Bigfoot out by brail.’

‘But what’s with the fancy dress?’ I said.

‘It’s Attila van Boot.’

‘You didn’t let him get away?’

‘No!’

‘What then?’

‘Well, he got away.’

‘We think he’s skedaddled but we can’t be sure, so we are working undercover here at Uluru. Hence the disguise, pretty good eh?’

‘Only if you want people to notice you,’ I said.

‘The son’s gone as well, we think Attila may have grabbed him.’

‘And Lothario has evaporated,’ said Littlefoot.

‘Oh he’s not a problem, he’s here in the hotel,’ I said. ‘I’ve been keeping an eye on him.’

‘Now West,’ said Bigfoot, ‘I don’t want you playing fast and loose with these Italian men.’

‘You would prefer me to be playing fast and loose with the local brew whose idea of haute cuisine is a meat pie and whose idea of a good time is half an hour in the back seat of a car.’

‘West, I didn’t mean that, as I told you in the interview, in TURDS we are protective of our own.’

‘I hate to spoil the illusion but you told me yourself that I am not good enough to be a TURD.’

‘Look West…’

‘Interview over sweetie,’ I said.

I tickled Bigfoot under the chin, turned tail, went back into my room and slammed the door.

I was woken up at about five thirty in the morning, there was a lot of noise outside my room. To my horror I noticed that I had fallen asleep in my clothes, I rubbed my eyes and walked over to the door and opened it, I was still half asleep. A strong, muscled arm reached in, grabbed my arm so hard that it hurt and then pulled me out of the room.

‘Bigfoot get a life,’ I said.

I fell down and hit my head. I tried to stand up but someone grabbed my legs, I kicked out at him instinctively and smashed my upturned right hand into his jaw then someone grabbed my hands, it was Attila van Boot. Attila held my arms behind my back and Thomas quickly taped my mouth, it tasted horrible. Then they taped my legs together and my hands, I was in the poo good and proper but all I could think was – I haven’t had a chance to brush my hair. I was dragged out to the street where I saw a group of Japanese tourists boarding a four wheel drive tourist bus, Attila was dragging me onto the bus but the driver tried to stop him so Attila pulled out a gun and shot the driver, the Japanese tourists ran in all directions. Thomas was manhandling a second person and dragging him onto the bus and I saw that it was Lothario, he was also bound and gagged.

‘Two birds with one stone,’ said Attila. ‘I am going to teach you, I am going to teach you good.’

He hit Lothario on the head with a handgun he was holding. Silly as it seems I was still thinking – if only I could brush my hair.

‘How ya doin?’ a familiar voice rang out.

Attila grabbed his hunting knife and thrust it under my throat. I caught a glimpse of Bigfoot standing at the door of the bus, he was unarmed and wearing a Hawaiian shirt, the colour was just a bit too garish. He attempted to board the bus, he had a broad smirk across his face.

‘Get back,’ shouted Attila.

‘Lovely day.’

‘I’ll cut her throat.’

‘Going for a drive?’

‘I’ll kill her.’

‘Nice day for a drive.’

‘I’ll kill him too,’ said Attila pointing at Lothario.

‘Be nice, a picnic in the bush.’

‘The only picnic we will be having is with these two.’

‘Can I come along, I feel like a day out? I’ve been working hard lately, never get five minutes to myself, the stress, the strain, you know how it is. I thought if I came along we could have some laughs, chill out a bit, relax and just enjoy the moment,’ said Bigfoot.

‘I’ll shoot you.’

‘I don’t mean to be a party pooper but you can’t shoot me and cut the girl’s throat at the same time so let’s compromise, you just shot your driver that’s a problem for you, I can drive this big old bus so I’ll come along for the drive.’

‘Get out of here.’

‘Well it’s like this,’ said Bigfoot, ‘the Territorial Police have the place surrounded, they’ve got sharp shooters everywhere and they are keen to get some practise in and there are Aboriginal trackers just waiting around the corner, so if you run into the bush they will get you, your only way out of here is if I drive.’

‘Dad we need a driver.’

‘No way.’

‘Why did you shoot the driver Dad?’

‘Don’t start on me.’

‘That was stupid.’

‘Don’t question me,’ said Attila, ‘I can still give you a thrashing as big as you are.’

‘We have to get out of here Dad, can you drive this thing?’

‘Okay you,’ he said to Bigfoot, ‘on the bus and get in the driver’s seat, any funny business, any funny business at all, and this little lady hasn’t got a throat anymore, you hear me?’

‘Roger over and out,’ said Bigfoot.

He climbed on board the bus, started the engine and then Attila started hitting Lothario over and over again, Bigfoot turned off the bus’s engine.

‘Now you can cut that out,’ said Bigfoot.

Attila moved up to where Bigfoot sat and hit him across the face. Bigfoot didn’t move.

‘If you are going to beat Lothario to a pulp I am not driving.’

‘Then I’ll kill you.’

‘I’ll take my chances.’

‘I’ll kill the girl.’

‘Shoot her then, see what happens, as soon as you fire one shot you will be shot so full of holes that you wouldn’t be any good as a kitchen colander.’

‘Please stop hitting him Dad,’ said Thomas.

Attila walked away.

‘Oh West I’ve got some good news,’ said Bigfoot. ‘There has been a bit of controversy in Canberra, questions asked about a certain Minister’s nephew, he’s not getting the job anymore, you have been appointed as the new TURD. Is that good news or what?’

‘Shut up and drive.’

‘We can have a drink later to celebrate, I wanted you to be the first to know, I haven’t even told Littlefoot yet, this is a happy day what?’

Attila moved over to Bigfoot and hit him.

‘Start the bus,’ he said.

‘I’m counting every time you do that, I plan to pay you back later,’ said Bigfoot.

‘Start the bus.’

‘Where are we going?’

‘Adelaide.’

‘That’s a day and a half down the road.’

‘Start the bus or I start shooting.’

‘Don’t get your knickers in a knot mate, chill out, we are going to have some laughs.’

‘Start the bus or heads will roll.’

‘Alright already I’m starting the bus.’

The bus roared in to life. Bigfoot drove us all out of the resort, passed Uluru, the giant rock, and passed a mob of kangaroos. We were on the thirty or so kilometre trek to the road junction that would take us to Adelaide several hundred kilometres away. I was sitting up in a chair with Attila behind me holding a knife to my throat, in spite of the knife, I shuffled around to get more comfortable.

There was a bit of a mountain on the right hand side and lots of sand dunes with that central Australian lovely red sand, even the trees, the Dessert Oaks, were looking quite lovely. I was determined to keep my head, I wasn’t going to let Attila get away, I had been promoted, I was now a Sergeant with the TURDS, I was over the moon to be a TURD. Now I could buy a flat and a small car but the first thing I would do was buy new shoes. I spent most of the drive to the road junction, the intersection of the road to Uluru and the Stuart Highway, thinking about what shoes I would buy. Bigfoot was getting bored and wanted to put on some music but the only thing he could find to listen to was Bye Bye Baby by the Bay City Rollers which quickly lost its appeal.

Attila sat next to me and leered, I hate men who leer.

‘I’m going to kill you,’ Attila kept saying to me, ‘I’m going to kill you and then I am going to beat this bastard to death.’

He referred here to Lothario.

‘I say, I say, I say,’ said Bigfoot, ‘my dog’s got no nose.’

‘Shut up!’ screamed Attila.

‘How does it smell you may ask?’

‘I’ll kill you,’ said Attila.

‘It smells awful,’ said Bigfoot.

‘Let’s just take off into the bush Dad, you’re a bush man, you know how to find water,’ said Thomas.

‘Why did the nurse tiptoe past the medicine cabinet?’ said Bigfoot as the bus sped along, ‘so she wouldn’t wake the sleeping tablets.’

Attila walked down to the front of the bus and hit Bigfoot on the back of the head.

‘If you don’t shut up, I will shoot the girl.’

‘What do you call a child born to an English man and a German woman?’

Attila came over to me and held his gun to my head.

‘I’ll shoot!’ he shouted.

‘Pom Fritz,’ said Bigfoot.

Thomas laughed. Attila squeezed the trigger of his gun, it went off next to my ear, the bullet went through the floor. I couldn’t have screamed if I had wanted to, my mouth was taped. Bigfoot drove on.

Straight ahead was a road block. Two police cars were parked across the road at right angles to the flow of traffic and in front of them was Littlefoot waving his gun in the air. Attila raced down to Bigfoot and held a gun to his head.

‘Don’t stop, keep going, just drive straight through, don’t stop or I will shoot you and Thomas will shoot the girl, just crash through do you hear? Stop and you are all dead and we will take out a few cops.’

The road block was only metres away, Littlefoot was waving his gun in the air and then he jumped aside.

‘Don’t stop!’ Attila screamed at Bigfoot.

The bus collided with the road block, the two police cars spun to the side and the bus ploughed on unharmed. I breathed a sigh of relief. I had a plan, it was a very silly plan but it was a plan. Bigfoot could crash the bus and Attila would be thrown forward, hit his head and become unconscious and if I could free myself I could handle Thomas. It was a silly plan but it gave me something to think about. Bigfoot called out from down the front.

‘Okay West, roger over and out!’

What was he talking about, maybe he was telepathic or something.

‘Dad there’s three police cars tailing us, I’ve been watching them and they’re getting closer,’ said Thomas.

‘Hope they get very close, we will give them something to remember,’ said Attila.

He moved down to the back of the bus and rummaged about in a big holdall. First he pulled out a handgun which he threw at Thomas.

‘If he moves shoot him,’ he said pointing to Lothario.

‘I can’t Dad!’

‘Just do it.’

Then he pulled out a rocket launcher.

‘You have got a big one there,’ said Bigfoot.

‘Big enough.’

‘Apparently your wife didn’t think so.’

‘Shut up.’

‘Thought you were not up to scratch where it counts.’

‘Shut up I tell you.’

‘Your member was never big enough to form a parliament.’

‘Shut up or I will shut you up.’

‘Not even big enough to be a member of the opposition.’

‘Thomas,’ said Attila, ‘when I say, kill the girl. Shoot her dead.’

Thomas looked horrified.

‘Thomas is a nice big lad isn’t he? I wonder who his father is. It certainly isn’t a little squirt like you,’ said Bigfoot.

‘She was a whore but I showed her and I’ll show you,’ said Attila.

He came over to me, put his gun on the seat opposite and tore off the tape around my mouth, God that was painful but not nearly as painful as having a gun fired next to my ear, my head was still ringing with the sound of it.

‘Give me a kiss sweetheart?’ said Attila grabbing hold of me.

I spat in his face. Retribution was quick and not too pleasant, his hand slapped across my face.

‘Now!’ yelled Bigfoot.

The bus swerved to one side and crashed forward like a racehorse at full gallop colliding with a cyclone fence. Bigfoot jammed on the breaks, I was thrown forward and I saw Attila thrown along the aisle to the front of the bus.

‘Tom shoot the driver,’ he yelled.

It was now or never I knew that much, I had to do something or die. I looked for Attila’s gun but couldn’t see it but I could see a look of panic in Thomas’s eyes as he held up his own gun and levelled it at Bigfoot. I threw myself at Thomas and bit his hand, Bigfoot had Attila flattened and was hitting him, it was payback time. Thomas pushed me to one side and again aimed at Bigfoot, then there was a shot. Thomas fell to the deck clutching his arm and groaning, Lothario had got hold of Attila’s gun and shot Thomas. Bigfoot released Attila and came back to help us, Attila jumped up, dived through the shattered windscreen and started to run off into the bush. Littlefoot was there, he aimed his gun at Attila and fired. Attila fell to the ground and then Littlefoot shouted:

‘Stop or I’ll shoot.’

***

Three: The Body in the Tomatoes

‘We found the body in the tomatoes, he’d hung himself from the rafters in the tomato house,’ said Bigfoot. ‘I will never forget that sight. I’ve seen it all, I was in the Vietnam War but I nearly threw up when I saw that body. Then I saw the tomatoes, they looked too good to waste, red and ripe and plump and juicy, so I took a bagful home to have with my tea. I fried them up with sausages, bacon and eggs, delicious.’

I was writing a report for Head Office, the report was of an investigation into a murder that happened quite a few years before I joined TURDS, the Tactical Urgent Response Detection Squad a wing of APES, the Australian Police Executive Service. The squad back then consisted of Bigfoot, the head honcho and Littlefoot, who thought he was the head honcho but now they had me, Sergeant Elizabeth West, so all the backlog of reports, going back years, was getting written up.

‘I need the name of the deceased,’ I said

‘Angelonia Messioni.’

‘Italian?’

‘Italian decent.’

‘Age?’

‘Early 40’s.’

‘Can you be more precise?’

‘More or less forty five.’

‘I need to know exactly.’

‘Forty five years, three months and seven days.’

‘Height?’

‘Oh about this high,’ said Bigfoot waving his arm about in the air.

‘Which would be?’

‘Five foot five inches.’

‘Eyes?’

‘Brown or were they blue?’

‘Exactly.’

‘Brownish.’

‘Hair colour?’

‘Brown.’

‘Any distinguishing marks?’

‘He had a mole on his left cheek.’

‘Okay, from the beginning, what happened?’ I said.

‘We were in Adelaide on a secret mission,’ said Littlefoot, ‘tracking down a Russian spy.’

‘We were after a girl who jumped ship, it was a Russian ship and the girl was Russian, she’d asked for political asylum and then gone to earth,’ said Bigfoot.

‘The Russian embassy was stirring up a stink,’ said Littlefoot.

‘She did a photograph session for playboy.’

‘We used that for identification purposes.’

‘She had some lovely distinguishing features.’

‘I don’t want to know,’ I said.

‘We decided that we needed a full frontal visual identification.’

‘The report fellas, on the body in the tomatoes!’ I said.

‘Yes well, we were in Adelaide interviewing Natanya,’ said Bigfoot. ‘I told her that she had an interesting personality.’

‘She liked me from the moment we first walked into the room,’ said Littlefoot.

‘She did not, she thought she could win you over by flashing her eyes at you.’

‘We were mutually attracted,’ said Littlefoot.

‘Anyway she was a looker so we were giving her the first degree.’

‘And enjoying every minute of it no doubt,’ I said.

‘And wouldn’t you just know it…’ said Bigfoot.

‘…the telephone rang,’ said Littlefoot.

‘There was a suspicious suicide in the Riverland.’

‘And they wanted TURDS to look into it.’

‘So Lambkin and I…’

‘Don’t call me that and anyway my name’s soon to be Commander Lambkin…I mean Commander Littlefoot.’

‘In your dreams.’

‘Call me Lambkin and I’ll kill you.’

‘You are cruising for a bruising Littlefella,’ said Bigfoot.

‘I’ll tear out your bloody heart and eat it while it’s still beating,’ shouted Littlefoot jumping up and sparring with the air.’

‘Enough!’ I said, ‘the report.’

‘Right, the telephone rang…’

‘…a suspicious murder in the Riverland…’

‘…in a hot house…’

‘…in the tomato house to be exact.’

‘So we drove north up around the Barossa Valley and off to the Riverland to a market garden on the banks of the Murray River near Waikerie,’ said Bigfoot. ‘I remember when we reached the orange groves we stopped and picked oranges, I ate so many oranges that I started to fart orange.’

‘And what a bloody smell that was,’ said Littlefoot.

‘I don’t need to know about flatulent oranges,’ I said.

‘Just adding local colour,’ said Bigfoot.

‘We drove to an organic tomato farm…’

‘…we pulled in the local boys were already there…’

‘…and we were taken to the tomato house and there we examined the body.’

‘He was about middle height and fairly non-descript and was wearing just farm worker’s clothes.’

‘Forensics went over the body…’

‘…nothing there, just marks around the neck where he had strangled himself, his face looked horrid, ice pick white and stretched as if he was screaming for help,’ said Bigfoot.

‘We found nothing.’

‘Nothing whatsoever.’

‘We thought it was a bit of a wasted trip really, it was obviously suicide we decided.’

‘If someone wants to kill themselves why should we interfere we thought.’

‘He must have been desperate.’

‘Then Littlefoot noticed another hot house off amongst the trees.’

‘We wandered over and it was full of marijuana plants.’

‘God we could have had some party.’

‘And we got another telephone call.’

‘Another fatality.’

‘As well as the bloke, a woman’s body had been found in the toilets of the local pub. She had committed suicide. Shot herself in the head.’

‘She was young, well about twenty five.’

‘Name?’ I said.

‘Bubble.’

‘Bubble?’

‘Short for Bubble Gum,’ said Littlefoot.

‘She was married to Angelonia Messioni.’

‘We suspected foul play what with both of them committing suicide and the hot house full of marijuana.’

‘So we immediately retired to the local hotel,’ said Bigfoot, ‘set up our incident room in the bar and had a beer.’

‘You had the incident room in a bar?’ I said.

‘West, you don’t always have to be in the office. These days you can set up an incident room pretty much anywhere, all you need is a computer, a phone and maybe the odd gadget or two, Littlefoot usually has it all under control.’

‘I’m a very controlled person,’ said Littlefoot.

‘And, of course, it makes it so much easier for ordering a pint or two.’

‘Okay,’ I said. ‘So you are in the ‘incident room’, then what happened?’

‘Well, the toilet, of course, was cordoned off and a policeman stood blocking the door, but there was still a few people in the bar, an old guy having a quiet drink up the back and a couple of good looking young blondes playing pool, I walked over to have a quiet word with them but they knew nothing about the dead girl. Littlefoot tried to chat them up and they told him to get lost and they left.’

‘I did not.’

‘I need to know more about the girl?’ I said.

‘Ah West, this report writing is so boring,’ said Bigfoot.

‘It has to be done.’

‘Well you do it.’

‘I am doing it!’

‘Shall we retire to the pub?’

‘No!’

‘Have it your way.’

‘I will.’

‘Okay, we were in the incident room having a drink when we got a third phone call,’ said Bigfoot.

‘I don’t know how he got our number,’ said Littlefoot.

‘He wasn’t police.’

‘He was a plumber.’

‘Jack the Plumber he called himself, like Jack the Ripper West, but this one was Jack the Plumber.’

‘“I know you are police so I thought I would confess to you, I killed my wife,” said the man over the phone, he sounded old and a bit gravelly,’ said Littlefoot.

‘His voice was deep but not real deep, so we decided that he was a base baritone,’ said Bigfoot.

Apparently Bigfoot had been in a choir when he was a boy so he knew about voices.

‘You see if he was a real murderer we had to take him seriously.’

‘So we listened to what he said and to his intonation and his accent.’

‘Mostly we thought he was Australian but he didn’t have a broad Australian twang.’

‘More a clean cultivated accent.’

‘We thought that his parents were probably European migrants.’

‘Hold on I said to him,’ said Bigfoot, ‘I’ve got to go to the toilet. I wanted time for Littlefoot to get out his equipment and put a trace on the phone call.’

‘I’m usually pretty quick at getting out my equipment,’ said Littlefoot.

‘Yeah but not quick enough this time,’ said Bigfoot, ‘the guy hung up on us.’

‘We didn’t have anything to go on really.’

‘And we had the body in the tomatoes and the girl in the toilets.’

‘We didn’t think that anyone would confess to murder over the phone,’

‘We thought it was a prank phone call.’

‘So we forgot about it.’

‘We had work to do.’

‘So the man on the phone was Jack Plumbing?’ I said.

‘He was a plumber,’ said Littlefoot, ‘and he called himself Jack. I established those facts early on with my superb analytical brain.’

‘Good for bullshit,’ said Bigfoot.

‘I am a deadly advocate of the sport of Karate, you should watch your step,’ said Littlefoot.’

‘Best bullshit artist I have ever met.’

‘After yourself of course.’

‘Yes after myself of course. Anyway we set up the police incident room in the local pub.’ said Bigfoot.

‘We have done that bit,’ I said.

‘And finally they let us in to have a look at the body in the toilets, it was not a pretty sight.’

‘She had blown her brains out, there was blood everywhere, she was in a cubicle, it was locked from inside, poor bastard.’

‘What makes people kill themselves I said?’ said Bigfoot.

‘Fucked if I know, I said,’ said Littlefoot.

‘Life is so good but short and death is forever.’

‘We were having another beer.’

‘Sorting out the troubles of the world.’

‘As you do.’

‘We had organised world peace.’

‘Ended all the wars.’

‘Decided how to feed the world.’

‘And we had fixed up global warming.’

‘And climate change.’

‘Every problem was solved.’

‘Peace was restored and the world was at one.’

‘Paradise on earth had come into being.’

‘Everybody was happy and smiling.’

‘And then the plumber rang back,’ said Littlefoot.

‘“My father was German, my mother was Australian. My father came to Australia because he thought the roads were paved with gold they weren’t,” he said,’ said Bigfoot. ‘I waved to Littlething to get moving with his equipment and I kept the plumber talking. Who are you? I said, can you tell me your name? “I am the murderer,” he said, “You can call me Jack the Plumber.” What’s your real name? I said.’

‘Ask him where he is, I said,’ said Littlefoot.

‘Where are you now? I said but he didn’t answer. Turn yourself in. I said. “I want to see if you can track me down,” he said. So I told him we don’t play games and then I said to Littlefoot, Have you got a tap on him yet?’

‘Working on it, I said,’ said Littlefoot.

‘“Life is one great game,” the plumber said.’

‘Is all this relevant to the body in the tomatoes?’ I asked, after all I was writing the report.

‘Just listen West and take down the story. “You want to lock me up,” the plumber said. No we want to help you, I said.’

‘The tap’s on the phone, I said,’ said Littlefoot.

‘“I might go out and shoot someone,” said the plumber. I told him that wasn’t such a good idea.’

‘Phone tap’s not working, I said,’ said Littlefoot. ‘I couldn’t get the darn thing to work, I also had a position finder and all sorts of other high tech equipment but I got some of the cables in a mess and had them plugged into the wrong thing.’

‘“Why shouldn’t I just go out and shoot somebody?” said the plumber. So I told him it wouldn’t help his case very much if he did but he just laughed.’

‘Then I got the range finder, position finder thing working,’ said Littlefoot.

‘“Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t go out and shoot somebody,”’ said the plumber.’

‘Then the range finder, position finder thing wouldn’t work. I said Bigfoot this thing is cactus,’ said Littlefoot.

‘Get it working, I said,’ said Bigfoot.

‘I’m trying, but it’s a heap of shit, I said.’

‘“I know that you are trying to trace this call”, said the plumber, “I have excellent hearing, I think I’ll go out and shoot somebody after all.” Don’t be like that, I said. We could get together and have a beer and a few laughs.’

‘He knows you’re trying to trace him Littlefoot, Bigfoot said to me.’

‘“I spent so long married to my job that I forget why I got the job in the first place,” said the plumber. Life is shit, I said, I had to say something and it’s difficult thinking up things to say when you have a serial killer on the end of the line. Life is shit comes easy as something to say but it gets a bit déjà vu-ish.’

‘So did you know that he was a serial killer at that stage?’ I said.

I needed to know the exact situation for the report I was writing.

‘No we didn’t, we were in two minds whether he was a prank call, a lunatic or a practical joker,’ said Littlefoot.

‘You had better give me your name, age and a few details, I have to fill in a report, I said,’ said Bigfoot. ‘Then I got Littlefoot to get the computer fired up, so that we could see what we could find out on the internet. “Murder is exciting,” said the plumber. So I told him he was a sadist, I had gone past life is shit by this stage. “No it wasn’t like that, I loved my wife, he said. I said he had a funny way of showing it. “I worked all hours but I should have considered my wife. I got up at 5am went to work, home to dinner 6.30pm, then back to the office to take care of the paper work. I even worked on weekends. My reward was that I loved to travel, I’ve been all over the world I would take four weeks off a year and go.” Did your wife enjoy these trips? I said to him. Then I said to Littlefoot we are looking for a plumber who ran a small company, Eastern States, retired say ten years ago, European origin. “My wife didn’t come, she stayed at home with the kids, she was a home bird, he said. Things got worse, I was so busy, I had no time for her or the kids, I had a business to run, I worked hard 24/7 I put in a lot of hours, they had everything they wanted, the wife and the kids, but it wasn’t enough. Then she went off with another man!” Life can be like that, I said. “Took the kids, took half of everything claimed mental cruelty, claimed I’d been seeing another woman! I didn’t have time for one woman,” he said. I tried to get some more info out of him. Listen mate tell me your name, we can’t just call each other hey you, I said. But he wasn’t falling for that. “You’re not going to get my name out of me that easily,” he said. I tried a different approach, I asked him if he got lonely and he said: “Very, I’m staying in a caravan park now, somewhere in Australia, and no one talks to me, what has happened to this country, fifty years ago everyone was so friendly.” I can be your friend, I said to him, then I told Littlefoot to get registrations on this fella for a caravan and a four wheel drive purchased about ten years ago and to then check caravan parks in the Territory, Western Australia and South Australia over the past month or so.’

‘Bloody hell, talk about a big ask, I said,’ said Littlefoot. ‘Shame we didn’t have you back then West, that’s the sort of thing that you are really good at.’

‘I told him again I could be his friend but he reckoned I only had one objective and that was to get a rope around his neck and see him swing. Look mate, I said, the death penalty went out years ago. “Life is a living death,” he said. You need help, you need people, I told him. “I need nothing and nobody, anybody comes near me they are dead, I have a fantasy to take up position on the top floor of a tall building in Sydney’s CBD and with a sniper rifle to pick people off, just shoot them as they wander by,” he said. Then he said something that made me sit up and listen. “That man in the tomatoes,” he said. You know about the body in the tomatoes? I said. “I know nothing, don’t ask me anymore or I will get mad and when I get mad I do bad things to people but they deserve it,” he said. Are you wanting to make a confession? I asked him. If you are we have people here ready to help. “Don’t make me laugh,” he said. Are you going to confess or not, I said. I was getting fairly cheesed off by this stage, the bar were serving food and it was smelling pretty good and it was a long time since I had had any fodder and Littlefoot was still getting his knickers in a knot with his position finder thing.’

‘I couldn’t get the cables sorted out,’ said Littlefoot.

‘You are just playing with me, I said to the plumber. “Maybe,” he said, “I’m like a cat, I like to play with my victim before I kill him.” Is that a threat? I said. As you know West, I don’t take kindly to threats. Unless they come from Littledigit here. Anyway he said: “Take it any way you like.” So I told him these murder mysteries where the murderer confesses, in the real world you have to beat a confession out of them, I’m quite prepared to beat the shit out of you, I said,’ said Bigfoot. ‘My patience was running out and my blood sugar levels were getting low, I really needed some food. “You can’t beat a confession out of the phone,” he said. He was a smart arse. “She set up house by the sea with her lover,” he said. I asked him who he was talking about and he said his wife of course. He said she went walking on the cliff tops one day, they found her body at the bottom of the cliff. “I met her and tried to make her see sense she wouldn’t. The verdict was accidental death.” Did you kill her? I asked him. “We talked, I was quite rational, she went troppo, I may have been a little forceful, I didn’t mean it to happen,” he said. I advised him to give himself up. “Give myself up,” he said, “you have got to be joking, I’m too clever for your lot.” I can get this phone traced, I told him, and when I get you I will throw the bloody book at you, and it will hit you so hard that you will be knocked half way into next bloody week, I said. I throw in an angry aggressive line now and then, keeps the bad guy on his toes,’ said Bigfoot.

‘But is he a bad guy or really a sad result of our disjointed society?’ I said looking up from my report writing.

‘Ah West,’ said Bigfoot.

‘Don’t ah West me,’ I said. ‘So then what did he say?’

‘He told me about his accountant. He said: “In 1972 I asked my accountant about superannuation. I was forward looking. One day he was found dead. He had his fingers in my super pie,” he said. Come to think of it, I wouldn’t mind getting my fingers in a super pie, I said, an egg and bacon super pie or a steak and kidney super pie? “You’re a funny man,” he said. I have to be I said when dealing with loonies. “I am not a lunatic,” he screamed, “I am a fully rational human being.” I ask you West, would a fully rational human being phone the police and carry on the way he was? Anyway, I steered the conversation back to the body in the tomatoes. “I enjoyed killing that one,” he said. So I asked him why he killed him and he said you’re the detective, you work it out. I asked him if he had killed any other people. “You will find out in due course,” he said. I asked him about the accountant with the pies and he said: “The accountant was found dead in a car park, he had been accidently run down.” This guy was really pissing me off by this stage so I said: Right, just give me all the homicides in one lump, after your wife. “After my wife died I met another woman,” he said. “We married and went around Australia in a caravan but she got tired of caravanning and wanted a divorce, she would get half of everything, I accidently backed the caravan over her.” It had got to the point where I wasn’t surprised by anything he said anymore, but the coroner should have had his head examined. “There was a police inquiry,” he said, “the coroner’s verdict was accidental death.” You could turn yourself in, that would save a lot of trouble, I said and then he told me he had lived an impeccable life. If you don’t count the fact that you are a serial killer, I said. “Apart from the fact that I killed half a dozen people, who all had to die, I am a model citizen, I always give money to charity,” he said. So I told him that as he was on a roll he may as well tell me about all the people he had killed and he said: “When I was a boy at school, one of the teachers would pick on me, when I grew up I became a plumber as you know and one day I got called out to fix a blocked toilet. It was my old teacher, he was found dead in the bathroom, he slipped in the shower.”’

‘This is awful,’ I said. ‘I hope he got his just deserts.’

‘And to make it worse,’ said Littlefoot, ‘I still couldn’t get all my cables sorted out.’

‘Littlefoot’s never been very good at what connects up with what.’

‘Watch it.’

‘It gets worse,’ said Bigfoot. ‘He had a competitor from another plumbing company who would always quote lower prices. The plumber’s competitor went on holiday and was found drowned in the sea and then Jack the plumber won a government contract worth millions but when the job was done he made nothing. Someone had their hand in the till and that someone was found lying dead in the gutter. I tell you West, the guy was a killing machine, I’d never come across anything like it. Finally we got to the man in the tomatoes. You’ll never guess what happened there West.’

‘Quite probably not,’ I said.

‘“I bought tomatoes from him,” he said, “he sold me a bag of tomatoes with bad ones in it, he was trying to rob me, I don’t agree with stealing.”’

‘He killed him because of a few rotten tomatoes?’ I said.

‘Too right, I told him he was a rotten tomato. “I am a perfectly rational human being,” he said, “you might say that I have done society a favour, that I am the caped crusader.” I will track you down, I said. “You amuse me, how can you track me down?” he said. I told him what I knew. I know that you ran a plumbing company on the East Coast, I said. Littlefoot had come up trumps and got a fair amount of info on him’

‘I’m not just a pretty face,’ said Littlefoot.

‘You’re not a pretty face at all,’ said Bigfoot.

‘Are you calling me ugly?’

‘Well look in a mirror mate you got to admit that you are not pretty. Now West here is definitely a pretty face,’ said Bigfoot.

Flattery was all very nice but we had a report to write and the sooner it was over the better.

‘So who else did he kill?’ I said.

‘Well next I asked about the girl in the toilets in the pub where we had our incident room. “She saw me kill the tomato man, he said, she had to die, she tried to get away, I gave chase, I didn’t want to hurt her but she bit me, she shouldn’t have done that, she made me mad.” Then I told him we knew he was of German decent but he said he had already told me that, which was true but then we got into details. I know that you have a four wheel drive vehicle and a caravan, I said, and that they have been registered in your name for the last ten years and I know that you have been hiding out in the Outback. “Yes,” he said, “but that’s a big area, it covers most of Australia.” Then I played my ace. I know that your name is Wolfgang Munch, I said. He was impressed with that one. “Excellent,” he said, “now you are getting somewhere, you are cleverer than you look.” And I told him that he had been recently camping in Wilpena Pound in South Australia. “You are fooling yourself,” he said, “you know nothing, me in South Australia, what a laugh.” But we had contacted a small caravan park in a place called Port Param and they said he had been staying there only two days ago, I told him this and then I also said that Port Param was only half a day’s march in a four wheel drive from where we were. He didn’t like that, he tried to tell me that at that very moment he was looking out on palm trees and a beautiful sunny beach up in Queensland. I know exactly what you look like, I said, I have a computer printout of you, you are not a pretty sight and I will get you and have your guts for garters but only if you throw down your gun! “What are you talking about?” he said.

‘I look in the mirror every day,’ said Littlefoot, ‘and I am not ugly.’

‘Well you must be blind then,’ said Bigfoot.

‘Will you please finish this story,’ I said.

‘Okay,’ said Bigfoot. ‘I know that you are sitting at the other side of the bar and have a gun pointed at my back, I said. I swung around and there he was, sitting at a low table at the back of the bar, he had been hiding behind a newspaper. He was one of those tall athletic German types, ruthlessly efficient, if a little predictable and unimaginative, he held a Luger, a German World War Two handgun. What he didn’t know was that my mate Littlefoot here had secretly called in reinforcements, after finally getting his equipment up and running, and that the SAPS had turned up. Drop your gun and put your hands up in the air where we can see them, I said. “Don’t make me laugh,” he said. I told him he needed help. The guy was obviously a fruitcake.’

‘Bigfoot’s like me, cool under fire,’ said Littlefoot.

‘This isn’t the time for shooting, I said. But all he said was: “Your life is in my hands.” Well there’s not a lot you can say to that when the man is pointing a gun at you, but I advised him that we had him covered from all angles.’

‘Put down your gun or you are dead meat, I said,’ said Littlefoot.

‘I stood up slowly,’ said Bigfoot, ‘I’m not here to pass judgement on you, I said. You will get a fair and proper trial, you need help. “Bang you’re dead,” said Jack the Plumber raising his gun and pointing it at me. The SAPS, who had sharpshooters hidden in various locations throughout the building, shot him dead.

Report written, we decided to adjourn to the pub, we all felt in need of a little lubrication, even if it was only mineral water on my part. Littlefoot produced a banana. Where he got it from I do not know.

‘You’ve got a nice big banana Littlefoot,’ said Bigfoot.

‘You’re not getting any.’

‘I don’t want any, I just didn’t think your banana was that big.’

‘Well it is big, it’s the biggest I’ve seen for a long time.’

‘I like a big banana.’

‘You’re not getting any.’

‘Go on.’

‘No.’

Littlefoot started to peel his big banana very slowly, waving it in the air, as if he was very proud of it.

‘A juicy looking banana,’ said Bigfoot.

‘You’re not getting any.’

‘Nice and firm.’

‘Go away,’ said Littlefoot.

Bigfoot sidled up to him.

‘Give me.’

‘A man’s banana is a man’s banana.’

‘Just a little bite of your big banana.’

‘A man should be left to enjoy his banana in peace.’

‘Go on.’

‘Get out of here.’

‘He’s very protective of his banana,’ Bigfoot said to me. ‘If I had a banana like that I’d want to share it around.’

‘Get lost.’

‘A man can always have a bit of fun with a banana,’ said Bigfoot.

‘Don’t be crude.’

‘Go on, give me a tidgy bit.’

‘Get lost…what…get off…get off…’ said Littlefoot.

Bigfoot made a grab for Littlefoot’s banana and bit the top clean off. Bigfoot munched the banana. Littlefoot almost cried.

‘He bit the end off my banana,’ he said.

Normal service had been resumed.

***

Four: Little Miss Tangle Foot

I had heard Meredith’s name mentioned before. It was Meredith who set up TURDS, the Tactical Urgent Response Detection Squad, a wing of APES, the Australian Police Executive Service. Meredith had the distinction of being the first APE, he was also the first TURD, Bigfoot was the second TURD but one of many APES.

Meredith had been a platoon leader in the Australian Army in Vietnam and had done his tour of duty fighting communism to keep the free world safe. He had volunteered for a second tour of duty and had gone back to Vietnam as a Company Commander. His fighting men, his diggers, had ambushed a Vietcong supply column and blown about twenty something of the local communists to kingdom come. Meredith had inspected the handy work of his mighty warriors and then gone off into the jungle by himself and, according to Bigfoot – he spewed up his guts. Meredith went from being a gung-ho anti-communist redneck, to a mild mannered man who wanted to build bridges and support the local community. The army repatriated him home. It was during Meredith’s second tour of duty in Vietnam that he met Bigfoot, who was just a shit kicker at the time, according to Bigfoot.

I know this is all a bit convoluted but that’s how Bigfoot and Meredith knew each other. On one occasion Bigfoot saved Meredith from a Vietcong hand grenade by grabbing the unexploded bomb and throwing it back into the enemy lines before it blew up. Meredith, in return, saved Bigfoot’s life when Bigfoot was cut off in the jungle and surrounded by Vietcong. Meredith led a squad of men into an intense fire fight that had developed and pulled Bigfoot, kicking and screaming, out of the jungle and physically threw him into a helicopter. Bigfoot didn’t want to be saved, he was in the jungle looking for a mate, his mate’s body was never recovered. So much for war, in my opinion it’s just grown men playing little boys games but with dangerous toys.

Somehow, back in Australia, Meredith was in the right place at the right time and was asked by the Government of the day to set up the Roving Federal Police Squad or the RFPS, which Bigfoot pronounces as the rough piss. RFPS became APES and then APES created TURDS and the rest, as they say, is history. So why am I going into all this detail now? Well we, Bigfoot, Littlefoot and myself, the three incumbent Tasmanian TURDS, were down in Salamanca Place Hobart, eating gourmet pizzas and drinking the local Waterfall Strong Ale and, in my case, mineral water, when Bigfoot started to tell us about TURDS first case. I was intrigued to find out everything I could about the early days of TURDS.

‘At that point there was only two operatives, Meredith and myself,’ said Bigfoot.

‘At that point there were only two operatives,’ I said involuntarily correcting Bigfoot.

He gave me a bored look.

‘But we did have a secretary, Little Miss Tangle Foot.’

‘Was that her real name?’

‘No, we called her that because every Friday night she went out, got drunk, got her feet tangled up and fell over.’

‘Seems a waste of time to me,’ I said.

‘West, you have to learn to chill out. There is more to life than work. People need to enjoy themselves, even you.

‘I do enjoy myself,’ I said.

‘No, I mean having a pint with your mates and being crazy now and then,’ said Bigfoot.

‘I have no intention of being crazy,’ I said. ‘Please continue with Little Miss Tangle Foot.’

‘Ah West, we’ll get you going one of these days.’

‘It would take a better man than you to get me going.’

‘We’ll see, time will tell. Anyway, Little Miss Tangle Foot was a short little thing and one week she would come into work fat and the next week she would go on a starvation diet and she would come into work as thin as a rake. She had a nice smile, long straight brown hair and she was naïve.’

‘That’s how I like them,’ said Littlefoot, ‘the naïve ones are overawed by my sophistication.’

‘You, sophisticated?’

‘They find me debonair and urbane.’

‘The sheilas would find you about as debonair and urbane as a sewage farm and they would find your patter full of the effluence of human kind,’ said Bigfoot.

‘Shall we get back to Meredith,’ I said.

‘Okay, I went into the office one day and there was Tangle Foot. “Good morning Bossman would you like a cup of coffee?” she said. She used to call me Bossman but she called Meredith Commander Meredith.’

‘Was Meredith’s title Commander?’ said Littlefoot. ‘I’m going to be Commander Littlefoot one day.’

‘In your dreams Littlefoot. Meredith was a man amongst men and an intellectual.’

‘I’m intellectual, I am giving a lecture on Schrödinger’s cat to the friends of the Bellringle Library.’

‘Very good Littlefoot, now getting back to reality.’

‘I’m not appreciated, no one realises what an intellectual I am.’

‘Getting back to Meredith?’ I said.

Bigfoot started making funny faces, but he soon tired of that, and when I gave him an impatient look he got back to the narrative.

‘Meredith, funny name really, a girl’s name, but he was a great bloke and a mate. You know, I can picture it all now, just as if it was happening again. I went in to our headquarters at Salamanca Place this day and Little Miss Tangle Foot, our secretary, said to me:’

‘Would you like a cup of coffee?’

‘Has the coffee been security tested? I said. Everything had to be security tested in those days.’

‘Yes Boss, my mum bought it at the supermarket and she made sure that it hadn’t been tampered with by terrorists.’

‘She used to take me very seriously did Little Miss Tangle Foot,’ said Bigfoot

‘Whatever happened to her?’ I said.

‘She got married and had babies.’

‘Are you sure you don’t want to know about Schrödinger’s cat?’ said Littlefoot.

‘So I said to Little Miss Tangle Foot: if your mother says it’s alright then I can give it the okay.’

‘Would you like some chocolate biscuits? she said. My mother says that chocolate biscuits are bad for your indigestion system. All the plumbing gets blocked up and you get constintipation. She says that chocolate biscuits is a terrorist plot to destroy our health in the western world and destabilise the world economic system.’

‘Have no worries Tangle Foot, I said, I used to call her Tangle Foot, my stomach can stand up to the ravages of terrorism, hand me the whole packet, I need a snack to tide me over before morning tea, and I munched my way through the whole packet. Biscuit hand mouth crunch, biscuit hand mouth crunch, biscuit hand mouth crunch and so on till they were all gone and all the time Tangle Foot kept prattling away.’

‘Did I tell you about Walter the Weevil? she said. He’s my latest. He’s not a weevil, that’s just his nickname. Last night we went to a movie. We’ve been going out together for three weeks, three days and twenty five minutes, I’m not sure about the seconds. He wants to go steady. Walter works as some sort of mechanic he says, but it’s top secret, I don’t think if he works as a mechanic it would be top secret Boss do you? Walter says that he could tell me what his job is but then he would have to kill me.’

‘Tangle Foot, I said, do you always have to chatter away like a cricket, I have a lot of high priority work to do and are there any more of those chocolate biscuits?’

‘Yes Boss, I got the chocolate biscuits on special, they were out of date and half price, I got a cupboard full.’

‘I like a secretary who can show initiative, I said, and I helped myself to a couple more packets of chocolate biscuits.’

‘Before we went to the movie, we went to dinner in a real beaut restaurant. Walter had two super burgers. He wore a navy blue sports jacket, pale blue slacks, white socks and, oh Boss, I’m sorry, but I can’t remember the colour of his shoes. I didn’t eat much cause I’m on a diet, I have to count the calories. Walter had a new phone, he showed me!’

‘I’m supposed to be in conference with Commander Meredith, he’s late, that’s not like Meredith where could he be? I said.’

‘Why Boss he’s sitting in his office waiting for you, I’ve been trying to tell you that but you wouldn’t let me get a word in edgeways.’

‘Tangle Foot just tell Meredith I’m here.’

‘Oh I don’t need to tell him, he said for you to go straight in as soon as you got here.’

‘So I went straight in. Now Meredith was a good looking, medium height sort of bloke with a boyish grin and a flourishing crop of blonde hair.’

‘Sit down Bigfoot, he said and I sat down.’

‘What’s the go? I said.’

‘I called you in here to have a talk.’

‘We could do that in the pub.’

‘No I want to get serious.’

‘At the time I’d only just become a TURD, so I did what I was told to do, and listened when people told me to listen, but Meredith was a mate so relations were easy, give and take like.’

‘Would you like a coffee?’

‘Prefer a beer, I said and he went to his bar fridge and pulled out a couple of coldies. We opened up our beers said ‘Cheers’ and had a swig.’

‘I want to get a few things straight, he said.’

‘Go right ahead old son.’

‘I want to talk about Nam, he said.’

‘I prefer to forget the war, I said.’

‘When I first went to Vietnam I was a wet behind the ears lieutenant ready to shoot up anything that moved.’

‘Me too.’

‘I’d been an anti-communist fanatic but Nam changed all that and Nam changed my view of the world.’

‘None of us came home the same, I said.’

‘That’s why I joined the police force.’

‘You’re talking drivel Meredith, you’re not making much bloody sense, I said.’

‘I now believe in, how can I put it, democracy…’

‘Yeah well we all do don’t we?’

‘And the right of the people to come together and decide things.’

‘Sounds like communism old son, I said, any chance of another beer?’

‘Yeah sure, he said and he threw another coldie my way, I took a running dive and caught it, You’re out! I shouted.’

‘I’ve learnt not to brand people as good or bad and that everyone is equal and should get a fair go.’

‘You’re too deep for me, I said knocking back my beer.’

‘No one is better than anybody else and that’s what Nam taught me and that’s what I want TURDS to stand for.’

‘What’s that oh deep one? I said.’

‘I want TURDS to stand for a fair dinkum fair go for everyone.’

‘Right.’

‘Are you with me on this? he said.’

‘Well I understood what he was saying alright but I said: I can’t work out where you are coming from mate.’

‘I’m talking about the fundamentals.’

‘I reckon that you’re turning into an anarchist, what you’re saying’s just a lot of old bull dust.’

‘You’re stirring me up.’

‘Me, stirring you up, would I do that?’

‘Yes you bloody well would.’

‘I just don’t know where you are coming from or going to mate, I said with my tongue in my cheek. Have you ever put your tongue in your cheek, don’t try to eat anything at the same time.’

‘Now getting back to Schrödinger’s cat,’ said Littlefoot.

‘I called him a left wing wimpo,’ said Bigfoot.

‘Unless people like me and you Bigfoot, and I believe you are understanding me loud and clear, unless people like us take part in the affairs of the nation…’

‘Like being police and all that, I said.’

‘Yes like being police and all that, then the rednecks will take over.’

‘You are a bloody piss weak piss head, I said and then I said, any chance of another beer?’

‘You understand what I’ve been saying.’

‘Not one bloody word, I said.’

‘From the way you are criticising me, I know you understand.’

‘I’m just cannon fodder, I said, I just do as I’m told, no opinion whatsoever, I don’t think too hard!’

‘I give you twenty four hours and you’ll start talking like me.’

‘Never, I said and I drank my beer, he gave me another, I drank that, he gave me another, we went out on the town and had a few reds, he liked a red, any sort of red would do, the cheaper and the rougher the better, he said he liked a good honest rough red.’

‘I’m a bit of an aficionado of the fermented grape myself,’ said Littlefoot. ‘At the moment I’m drinking Smelly Sock Shiraz, I got it on special from the supermarket buy one and get twelve bottles free.’

‘So what happened to Meredith?’ I said.

I was anxious to find out about the early days of TURDS before Littlefoot started on about Schrödinger’s cat again. I was interested, they were heady times.

‘Well, we went out, got drunk, picked up a couple of sheilas and took them back to Meredith’s place but we were too drunk to do anything.’

‘Brewers droop,’ said Littlefoot.

‘That’s it.’

‘So we know about Meredith’s philosophy but we don’t know anything else,’ I said.

‘Well,’ said Bigfoot, ‘Meredith and I got blotto, as I said, and twenty four hours later he was dead.’

‘Dead?

‘Yes, D E A D, dead.’

‘What happened?’

‘It was a letter.’

‘A letter.’

‘A bloody letter.’

‘Must have had some strong language in it.’

‘It had a lot more than strong language in it.’

‘Yes?’

‘He opened it.’

‘And?’

‘It was a bomb.’

‘Shit.’

‘It blew his bloody head off.’

‘He’d been following up a bikie gang, they were growing marijuana in the Northern Territory, he led a police raid on their marijuana plantation, reeled in millions and millions of dollars worth of marijuana. He had led raids on drug factories set up in houses in suburban Melbourne, he had led a raid against a bikie fortress in the bush outside Sydney, he had it bulldozed and captured a small arsenal of weaponry, handmade guns, knives, knuckle dusters, automatic rifles, machine guns, an anti-tank rocket launcher and even a hand held anti-aircraft missile. And the big shit in all this, the real bad smell, Black Bob he was called, lived right here in Tasmania. He lived quietly, or so he led everyone to believe, and ran an antique shop and museum just north of Hobart in the quaint old town of Mull. Meredith actually had Black Bob’s file open on his desk the day he died.

‘I went back to HQ after the funeral and the file on Black Bob was sitting on Meredith’s desk, the whole file was untouched by the explosion, it was still perfect, apart from one splash of blood, I took one look at the file and I knew who had done the dirty deed. I knew it was Black Bob.’

‘You had a gut feeling,’ I said.

‘No I didn’t get gut feelings in those days, I used to try and make a logical case and pin all the evidence together.’

‘So what happened?’

‘I took a gun, well two guns, an automatic rifle and an automatic shotgun, and I got on my Harley, I had a Harley-Davidson back then, and I decided to ride out and shoot up Black Bob’s bloody antique shop and fill Black Bob full of bloody holes.’

‘That wasn’t strictly legal Bigfoot, we shouldn’t just take the law into our own hands.’

‘I didn’t care less,’ said Bigfoot.

‘It’s like in those spaghetti westerns with you riding out for a showdown,’ said Littlefoot.

‘That’s about the size of it.’

‘Ooey ooey ooo, eee ooo eee, ooey ooey ooo, eee ooo eee,’ sang Littlefoot.

‘Shut up Littlefoot,’ I said.

‘But it didn’t quite go to plan,’ said Bigfoot.

‘I see. No I don’t see,’ I said. ‘What didn’t go to plan?’

‘Little Miss Tangle Foot was shattered, she had been crying ever since it happened. I sent her home but she insisted on working and when I went out to my Harley she followed me out of the office chattering away chatter, chatter, chatter, you’ve never heard anything like it, not even from Littlefoot, anyway she grabbed a helmet and jumped on the back of my bike. Get off, I said.’

‘No.’

‘Get off.’

‘No.’

‘Get off.’

‘No.’

‘There’s going to be shooting.’

‘I have to come.’

‘I’ll be mixing it with death.’

‘I’m coming.’

‘Please yourself.’

‘I will.’

‘Ooey ooey ooo, eee ooo eee, ooey ooey ooo, eee ooo eee,’ sang Littlefoot.

‘Shut up Littlefoot,’ I said.

‘When we arrived in Mull, I dropped my bike down one end of the main street. Down the other end of town, and smack bang across the street, was Black Bob’s Petrol Bowser Museum and Antique Shop, his museum was chockers with old petrol bowsers, old petrol station signs, old oil bottles, all the stock in trade of old petrol stations and there were even a few antique Harley-Davidsons thrown in for good measure.

‘I stood straddling the main drag with my automatic rifle and I filled Black Bob’s Petrol Bowser Museum sign full of lead. Black Bob came out, he was ropable. Black Bob I’m calling you to account, I shouted, I jettisoned my automatic rifle and just held my repeater shotgun at my side and I took one slow careful step forward.’

‘I’ve been expecting you, he shouted.’

‘He looked me straight in the eye and I’ll say this for him, he was a cool customer, at his side he held a double barrelled sawn off shotgun, he took up a position in the middle of the road at the opposite end to me and took one step forward and then he stopped. We eyed each other off.’

‘Ooey ooey ooo, eee ooo eee, ooey ooey ooo, eee ooo eee,’ sang Littlefoot.

‘Shut up Littlefoot,’ I said.

‘No one appreciates me.’

‘Shut up, go and play with Schrödinger’s cat.’

‘You know why I’m here, I said,’ said Bigfoot.

‘I know why you are here, he said.’

‘I am Meredith’s avenging angel.’

‘You’ve got it all wrong, he said.’

‘Tell that to the judge.’

‘Doesn’t look like there is to be no judge.’

‘I’m the judge and jury, I said.’

‘Looks a bit that way.’

‘I’ve come to blow your bloody head off.’

‘I thought as much.’

‘Any last requests? I said.’

‘I don’t suppose you would believe me if I said that I’m a sad old retiree and had nothing whatsoever to do with it?’

‘You suppose right.’

‘Yeah I knew it would be hopeless to talk to a bloody copper.’

‘Your time’s up.’

‘I can’t complain, I’ve had a good innings.’

‘Well today you will be clean bowled.’

‘I might bowl a googly myself.’

‘Like to see you try.’

‘All in good time, I’m in no hurry.’

‘Nor me, I said.’

‘Pity, I was enjoying retirement.’

‘You’re dead meat fella, I said. I took one slow careful step forward and Black Bob took one slow careful step towards me, neither of us was in a hurry. Sweat started pouring off my forehead and then, bugger me, Little Miss Tangle Foot came and stood next to me. Get out of here, I said.’

‘Hiding behind a woman’s skirt, said Black Bob.’

‘Get the hell out of here, I said through gritted teeth.’

‘You’re a coward, just like every other cop, said Black Bob.’

‘Walter the Weevil, you remember Walter the Weevil Boss, he’s my fella, he’s not a weevil though, that’s just what we call him, said Tangle Foot.’

‘For pity’s sake get out of here, I said still eyeballing Black Bob.’

‘His real name is Wallace Walderman Wendell Wrongfootson, how about that for a name, and he’s only five foot tall. Am I gabbing on too much?’

‘No, I said, I love to hear your voice when I’m in a showdown with a murdering desperado.’

‘Oh good, I like a good listener, she said. Did I tell you about my cat, mum gave it to me. She said we should all have something to love. Its name’s Kitten, it’s not a kitten anymore, though. It’s a tortoise shell and a Tom and I do love it. When I’m going out with a new bloke I have to introduce him to Kitten and if Kitten likes him then it’s good but if they don’t get on with Kitten, well I wash my hands of them. I’m sure you’d love Kitten, he sleeps on my bed. He got sick once and was I ever in a state, I took a sickie and stayed in bed all day. We were both as sick as pigs. Mum called the vet and the doctor. I insisted that the doctor treat Kitten before me and then the vet came and gave me an injection. The only thing that makes me sad is that Kitten has never had kittens, but I don’t suppose he ever could really. I do love weddings don’t you Boss? I want to get married in mum’s old wedding dress. It’s a bit moth eaten but really beautiful, made of the finest silk. I plan to have four children, two boys and two girls. I took Walter the Weevil around to all the baby shops in town on the weekend and he helped me pick out some baby clothes, I’ve been stockpiling disposable nappies, I have twelve packets now and I’ve got babies bibs, they’re white with Mickey Mouse on them.’

‘Tangle Foot!’

‘Yes Boss.’

‘Shut up, I said.’

‘My mum says I’m a romantic but I just like happy endings and I like it when everyone gets on well together and I just think that maybe Black Bob, well maybe, how d’ya know he did it Boss?’

‘I know, now get out of here, I said.’

‘I dare you to come out from behind that dress, shouted Black Bob.’

‘I think you are doing the wrong thing Boss, said Tangle Foot.’

‘Someone could get killed here, I said, go and get behind that tree and if there is shooting run, is that clear?’

‘Walter the Weevil’s in a top security job.’

‘I don’t care a fat rat’s arse.’

‘You all girlies down there? called out Black Bob.’

‘I asked him what he did Boss and he said Tupperware.’

‘Look, there is a ruthless killer a few yards down the road waiting to blow my head off, I am not interested in bloody Tupperware.’

‘But you should be Boss, it keeps salads fresh.’

‘You are killing me girl.’

‘I went to the pub Boss, with Meredith, we just chatted, it didn’t mean nothing, he was lonely Boss, he had nightmares.’

‘What are you trying to tell me Tangle Foot?’

‘I don’t think you should shoot nobody.’

‘Why the hell not?’

‘Well.’

‘Well what?’

‘Well I mean to say.’

‘Say it then!’

‘I can’t put things into words, but did Black Bob do it Boss?’

‘If he didn’t, who did?’

‘Walter the Weevil, he loves me like a volcano, he’s very jealous.’

‘Good for you.’

‘So, I was in a bar with Meredith, just having a drink. Well Boss, Walter the Weevil, he’s my steady, he comes in to the pub and sees us having a drink and Walter is very jealous and he works in Tupperware and what’s Tupperware Boss? It’s plastic.’

‘Oh Christ, what are you trying to tell me girl? I said.’

‘Well, it was a plastic bomb in that letter, and Walter works in top security, he said he works in Tupperware and Tupperware’s plastic Boss and Boss, I don’t know what to think, said Little Miss Tangle Foot and I just sat down in the road and cried,’ said Bigfoot.

‘So now can we get on to Schrödinger’s cat?’ said Littlefoot.

‘Oh shut up,’ I said.

‘No let the Littlefella have his say,’ said Bigfoot.

‘I’ll have you know that I am an intellectual, I am preparing a talk on Schrödinger’s cat for a public lecture,’ said Littlefoot.

‘Schroddingoes what?’ said Bigfoot.

‘Schrödinger’s cat, it’s to do with quantum mechanics.’

‘Littlefoot you are a worry,’ said Bigfoot staring at Littlefoot in disbelief.

‘What do you think you’re looking at?’ said Littlefoot.

‘Don’t know, the label fell off.’

‘Boys let’s not fight,’ I said.

‘Schrödinger’s cat is a paradox,’ said Littlefoot, ‘devised by Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger in 1935. It illustrates what he saw as the problem of the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics applied to everyday objects, resulting in a contradiction with common sense. The scenario presents a cat that may be both alive and dead, depending on an earlier random event.’

‘Littlefoot you are a bloody nutter.’

‘No not at all, I’ve made a study of quantum mechanics.’

‘Why don’t you stick to: the cat sat on the mat?’

‘To further illustrate, Schrödinger describes how one could, in principle, transpose the superposition of an atom to large-scale systems. He proposed a scenario with a cat in a sealed box, wherein the cat’s life or death depended on the state of a subatomic particle. According to Schrödinger, the Copenhagen interpretation implies that the cat remains both alive and dead (to the universe outside the box) until the box is opened. Schrödinger did not wish to promote the idea of dead and alive cats as a serious possibility, on the contrary, the paradox is a classic reduction ad absurdum.’

‘You are the only reduction absurdum around here Littlefoot,’ said Bigfoot.

‘You do not appreciate my finely developed intellect.’

‘So getting back to Meredith and the early days?’ I said.

‘Great West, let’s get back to reality, put our feet firmly on the ground. Well…’

‘The Schrödinger cat thought experiment remains a typical touchstone for limited interpretations of quantum mechanics. Physicists often use the way each interpretation deals with Schrödinger’s cat as a way of illustrating and comparing the particular features, strengths and weaknesses of each interpretation.’

‘Shut up Littlefoot,’ I said.

‘No one ever appreciates what I am trying to do.’

‘What are you trying to do Littlefoot,’ said Bigfoot.

‘Bring a little knowledge and understanding of the world into our daily lives. I am trying to expose you and West, but also the Australian population in general, to higher things.’

‘You expose me and I’ll punch your face in,’ said Bigfoot, ‘unless you expose me to a tall leggy blonde with a big personality.’

‘I’m wasting my bloody time here, I can see that,’ said Littlefoot.

‘Littlefoot, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to be so caustic, I tell you what, I promise not to take the piss out of you anymore.’

‘I’ll believe that when I see it.’

‘Come on Littlefoot we’ll go for a beer and a pizza.’

‘I’m not sure I want to be seen in the company of a potato head.’

‘Listen Littlefoot, this is a good one: What do you give a blonde with everything?’

‘Chocolates?’

‘Penicillin, get it? Penicillin.’

‘I’m afraid I find your jokes puerile and childish.’

‘Okay, okay admitted, you are hurt Littlefella but I love you so I apologise. Here’s a good one: There is this redhead and she tells a blonde that she slept with a Brazilian and the blonde goes wow how many is a brazilian?’

‘Hm,’ said Littlefoot.

‘See, you think that’s funny.’

‘I reluctantly admit…’

‘Littlefoot why doesn’t Schrödinger’s cat like on-line shopping?’

‘Schrödinger’s cat is not a joke, it’s not a laughing matter, it’s a scientific philosophical paradigm.’

‘Because he prefers a cat-alogue, get it? A cat-alogue.’

‘I greet your words with the contempt that they deserve,’ said Littlefoot.

‘Okay, okay, listen Littlepoof: what did Schrödinger’s cat say when he lost all his money?’

‘I give up, I give up, I am surrounded by thickos.’

‘He said: I’m paw.’

‘Bigfoot, Littlefoot’s not interested,’ I said.

‘Chill out Littlefoot, life’s too short for all this bloody serious Schrödinger’s cat rubbish. I have a philosophy for you Littlebit, chill out, laugh and be happy, that’s what I think. So my jokes are bloody silly, so my jokes are puerile, but what else is there? What else? My best mate in Nam, my boss, got his bloody head blown off and it was some little pimply nerd who got jealous for no bloody reason who did it and he never went to prison, he was put into a home for the mentally ill. He wasn’t mentally ill, he was a bloody…he was a…he blew Meredith’s head off for no reason, God if you don’t laugh sometimes Littlenit then what have you got, what can you bloody well do? Just go out and blow your bloody brains out.’

‘Let’s go for a drink,’ said Littlefoot.

We were drinking beer, wine and mineral water in my case. Bigfoot was feeling nostalgic and Littlefoot, with a big Cheshire cat smile on his face, pulled out a manuscript, where he pulled it from I am not sure.

‘What’s that Littlefartface?’ said Bigfoot.

Littlefoot took no notice of Bigfoot’s jibe.

‘My novel,’ said Littlefoot proudly.

‘I didn’t know you were a writer Littlefoot,’ I said.

‘There is a lot people don’t know about me, I’m not just a pretty face.’

‘I’ve told you before, you’re not a pretty face,’ said Bigfoot.

Littlefoot did not take the bait.

‘It’s a murder mystery, police drama, thriller, whodunit, police procedure, romance, action adventure novel.’

‘Something for everyone Littlepip?’ said Bigfoot.

‘Yes, I’m painting a broad canvas.’

‘Is it any good though?’

‘Those in the know say that I am a very good writer.’

‘Let me see Littlefella,’ said Bigfoot.

He grabbed for the manuscript but Littlefoot snatched it back.

‘It’s only for those with a higher sensibility,’ he said.

‘Give it,’ said Bigfoot and he snatched it again.

‘You have to read it with artistic integrity, with sensitivity and…’

‘What?’ said Bigfoot flipping through the manuscript. He stopped at a random page and began to read: ‘“She walked through the door, her hot steaming body perspired desire. I looked deep into her eyes. Our eyes connected and in that second passion desire lust all intertwined. I jumped up and tore off her blouse as she ripped at my jeans and tore them from my body. Our lust was utterly uncontrollable I took her head in my hands and pushed it back and kissed her passionately our tongues intertwined as we collapsed onto the floor and I felt for her…”’

‘Thank you Bigfoot,’ I said, ‘we get the point.’

‘If you read the book properly it is an artistically sensitive and satisfying love scene,’ said Littlefoot.

‘Artistically sensitive love scene my arse,’ said Bigfoot.

He flipped through the manuscript some more. ‘Here’s another bit, this is good,’ he said. ‘“I walked slowly down the main street of the town, my boots raising a slight pall of dust. Down the end of the street Marshall Longshot stepped into the road, his right hand fell limply to his side, in it he casually held an eight shot repeating revolver, he looked at me, I looked at him, he curled up his top lip in a grimace, Marshall Longshot was about as rotten as a lawman could be. He stared, I stared back. He flexed the fingers on his right hand, I flexed mine. Nothing happened for a long time then flash bang and I was rolling in the dirt and flash bang flash bang I fired in reply. He didn’t move, time very slowly moved on, and then he collapsed into the dust.”’

‘Well?’ said Littlefoot.

‘Well what?’ said Bigfoot.

‘Do you like it?’

‘How can I put this?’

‘Well how would you describe it?’

‘Heap of crap.’

‘Bastard…I’m misunderstood, I try to improve your mind, I am…my artistic integrity I am trying for a greater literature…I am…’

‘It’s alright Littlepotboiler, I like crap,’ said Bigfoot. ‘I have to be serious at work, when I’m not at work escapist rubbish is my cup of tea.’

‘Escapist, escapist, I am trying for a higher literature?’ said Littlefoot.

‘I like it for God’s sake,’ said Bigfoot. ‘My best mate got his bloody head blown off by a nerd Littlefoot, I think we all need to escape from reality, if we can’t escape sometimes and chill out what’s the point of life.’

‘You do like it.’

‘Course I like it, stops me thinking of all the bad things that have happened in my life. I love it Littleprick, it’s great.’

‘I knew you would, people say that I’m the next Agatha Christie.’

‘I’ve always said that you were a bit of a girlie.’

‘Outside, I’ll fight you!’

***

Five: Here We Go West

Another day, another report to write up. I had thought being a TURD would be action packed but I was turning out to be like most other public servants, sitting at a desk all day writing reports that nobody was ever going to read, and there was one hell of a backlog to get through. The phone rang.

‘Detective Chief Superintendent Bigfoot,’ said Bigfoot. ‘Aha…aha…not a problem.’ He looked straight at me. ‘Here we go West,’ he said.

The three of us, Bigfoot, Littlefoot and I, piled into our squad car, which today was a big four wheel drive, and headed north, we were going to McOodeloo sheep station north of Bothwell in the Tasmanian highlands. It was a cold overcast wintry day, which I was still finding a refreshing change from the hot, dry sun beating relentlessly down in Alice Springs. Overnight it had rained and then rained some more, the dirt roads we had to take were mud, muddy quagmires reminiscent of the trenches in Flanders Fields in World War One. At times the road was more like a shallow lake, even in a four wheel drive it was dangerous going. We passed a lot of wet and bedraggled sheep by the roadside. The native animals were nowhere to be seen, they had more sense. Bigfoot drove and was deadly silent, Littlefoot sat next to him and was doubly deadly silent, they had both been out on the town the night before and were feeling slightly under the weather, so much so that they had sworn off alcohol for ever, I would like to see that eventuate, I sat in the back and kept up the nothingness, I enjoyed the peace and quiet, it was an unusual phenomenon.

We drove past Razor Back Mountain, it looked very impressive, or at least the bits we could see below the clouds did, then we took a right hand turn and splashed down into a creek, the four wheel drive seemed to swim across, and then we drove up the opposite bank. We disturbed a pair of wedge tailed eagles, they flapped their wings angrily and got out of our way.

‘Wedgies,’ said Bigfoot.

The sheep station came into view, it comprised an old school house built out of the local red stone, an old church made from the same stone, a corrugated iron shearing shed, a corrugated iron shearers quarters and a large station owner’s house, more of a mansion really. The station owner’s house was a grand affair with a three meter verandah all round and every room had large doors that accessed the verandah. It was a classic Australian single storey country house.

Today, in addition to the buildings and outhouses, there were also two giant black armoured vehicles, looking like fiendish monsters from hell and behind every building, water tank and gum tree there was a police sniper dressed in black with a black helmet, black bullet proof vest, black boots and an automatic machine gun of the colour black, black was the flavour of the month.

Bigfoot pulled our four wheel drive up beside one of the black monstrous armoured vehicles.

‘Looks like the NEWTS,’ he said.

‘Who are they?’ I asked.

‘The Northern Emergency something-or-other Terrorist Squad.’

‘Are we dealing with a terrorist?’

‘I doubt it. But it looks like we are just in time for the party,’ said Bigfoot.

A NEWTS storm trooper came up to the car door and Bigfoot wound down the window.

‘Sir!,’ said the officer. ‘Siege, man, inside, armed, dangerous, two girls, hostages.’

‘Aha,’ said Bigfoot.

‘Shot, police constable, hospitalised, out of danger.’

‘Aha,’ said Bigfoot.

‘Negotiator needed, hostages a priority.’

‘And if negotiations fail?’ said Bigfoot.

‘Tear gas, go in, shoot him.’

‘Bit drastic,’ said Bigfoot. ‘I don’t want any shooting.’

‘Sir!’ said the NEWTS officer loudly. ‘Body armour, helmet, weapon, get kitted, Sir!’

‘I’m fine as I am,’ said Bigfoot.

‘Sir!’

‘That will be all for the moment.’

‘Sir!’ said the officer.

He went quick march back to the command centre at the back of one of the armoured vehicles.

‘What did he say West?’ said Bigfoot.

‘I’m not sure,’ I said.

‘He is a proactive operative used only to the coalface of world class performality,’ said Littlefoot.

‘Thanks for clearing that one up Littleguy,’ said Bigfoot. ‘For a moment there I thought he was talking gibberish.’

We climbed out of the vehicle avoiding the mud as best we could. A shot rang out, the NEWTS returned fire with their automatic weapons blowing great holes in the homestead. We took cover behind the black armoured monster and one of the NEWTS brought us coffee and doughnuts.

‘This is usually the part I like best,’ said Bigfoot, ‘but I’m really not too sure about the doughnut at the moment, my gut is still suffering from last night,’

The NEWTS officer marching over to Bigfoot.

‘My men are ready, Sir!’ he said.

‘Tell your men not to shoot,’ said Bigfoot.

‘They have been instructed to shoot to kill, Sir!’

‘Well I’m giving new instruction,’ he said. ‘No shooting. What’s his name?’

‘Alexander Spudoolick, aka Spud. Here’s the megaphone, Sir!’

‘You stay here with West Littlefoot,’ said Bigfoot.

He walked away with the officer and left me behind. I wasn’t too happy about that.

An ambulance turned up and a well-endowed blonde bombshell got out, she was wearing the green ambo’s overalls like I had never seen them worn before and Littlefoot’s eyes were on stalks.

‘Why don’t you go help the ambo with her equipment,’ I said to Littlefoot.

‘I came first in my first aid refresher course you know, I might be able to show her a thing or two.’

He disappeared.

Bigfoot walked slowly forwards.

‘Spud, we are not here to hurt you.’

Silence.

‘Let the girls go.’

More silence.

‘The girls have done you no harm.’

There was total silence once again, you could have heard a pin drop, as they say.

‘The policeman who was shot, he’s recovering in hospital, he’s out of danger. Do yourself a favour. We only want what’s best for everybody. I’m coming in.’

A shot rang out. The NEWTS opened fire once again and everyone dived for cover. This was all getting out of hand. I walked over to Bigfoot.

‘Get back under cover West, that’s an order.’

‘I’ve been trained as a negotiator, I can handle this kind of situation.’

‘No way West, this is my responsibility.’

‘Give me the megaphone, I can do this.’

‘No.’

I grabbed the megaphone and gave Bigfoot a gentle shove. I didn’t mean for it to happen but he ended up flat on his back with mud on his face.

‘West!’ he said in disbelief.

I walked out into the open, put the megaphone to my mouth and said:

‘Don’t shoot Alexander, I’m unarmed.’

A shot rang out but it went very wide if it was aimed at me.

‘This isn’t helping Alexander,’ I said. ‘I only want to talk. I spoke to your mother on the phone and she’s worried about you, I told her I would look after you.’

The front door opened slightly.

‘You can come in,’ shouted Alexander, ‘but only you, you hear.’

I walked up to the door and as I reached it it swung wide open.

‘Get out of here,’ said a voice from within the building.

Two girls ran out of the house and were gathered up by the blonde bombshell ably assisted by Littlefoot. I walked inside, a small man was almost cowering in the corner half pointing a .22 hunting rifle at me.

‘You’re not having a good day are you?’ I said. ‘I have those kinds of days myself, bad hair days I call them. Shall we go outside together? There’s an ambulance waiting.’

‘How do I know I can trust you?’

‘You don’t but I’ve never shot anyone and I don’t intend to start with you, I’m not going to let any harm come to you.’

‘They want to hurt me. I didn’t mean to shoot that fucking cop, it was an accident, he hit me and called me a dago wog.’

‘Let’s go outside and sort this out, you haven’t got a hope in hell if you stay here.’

‘No.’

‘I don’t want to go back to your mother and tell her that I didn’t help you, you have to trust me, I’ll do everything I can for you.’

He let out a huge sigh and nodded his head, obviously relieved, and he handed me his gun.

‘Keep your hands out in the open and walk slowly, no quick moves. I’ll go first.’

I walked out onto the verandah.

‘Hold your fire everybody!’ shouted Bigfoot. ‘West is with me, anyone shoots her and I’ll have their balls for breakfast!’

‘It’s okay, he’s coming quietly,’ I said.

I ushered him over to the ambulance and peace and tranquillity were restored to the homestead once more.

‘Don’t ever do that again West,’ said Bigfoot.

‘That’s what I do, that’s what I’ve been trained for.’

‘Do it again, or even think about doing it again, and you’re not a TURD anymore.’

‘Bigfoot!’

‘No, never. I’m your commanding officer and don’t you forget it.’

‘Yes Sir,’ I said.

I turned to walk back to the car.

‘West,’ said Bigfoot.

‘Yes Sir?’

‘Job well done.’

‘Did you hear the one about the blonde who goes to the supermarket?’ said Bigfoot. ‘This good looking blonde goes to the supermarket but she has no idea which toilet paper to buy, so she asks the shop assistant and he says “we have Soft as Silk for two dollars a roll, we have Nice and Comfy for a dollar a roll and we have No Name for fifty cents a roll.” The blonde takes the No Name, she likes it because it’s so cheap but in a week she returns and says to the sales assistant “I’ve got a name for your No Name toilet paper,” and he says, “What’s that?” “Commando,” she says, “because it’s rough and tough and takes no shit from nobody.”’

We were in Salamanca Place, Hobart, having what’s known as a debriefing session, but could easily have been mistaken for a booze up. There were four of us, me, Bigfoot, Littlefoot and the bombshell. Bigfoot and Littlefoot had decided that maybe they should try some alcohol again just to see what it tasted like. The barman gave us the news that in the pub restaurant they were having a Degustation du Vin.

‘What’s that?’ said Bigfoot. ‘French for farting?’

‘They match wines and food,’ said Littlefoot. ‘We should all go and learn something about the culture of the vine. I’d like Ancarra here to learn about degustations.’

‘Love to,’ said Ancarra.

Obviously the name of the blonde bimbo bombshell ambo was Ancarra.

‘What a heap of superannuated dog poo,’ said Bigfoot.

‘Take this wine I’m drinking,’ said Littlefoot.

He had ordered himself a glass of red and was sipping it with a suave, sophisticated air.

‘Plonk,’ said Bigfoot.

‘It is a Follyfoot, Back Fence, Pigs Squeal Shiraz from the Coogee Valley, South Australia,’ he said. ‘I find it has a pleasant burnt chocolate aroma, firm mouth feel, an intense stewed peach and bubble gum palate and a satisfying mouldy cheese aftertaste.’

Bigfoot grabbed the glass from Littlefoot and downed the contents in one almighty gulp.

‘You’re right, this is a very special wine,’ he said. ‘A pig’s trotter infused fullness in the mouth, with yes, an interesting mouth feel, oh no that’s a bit of left over bacon from breakfast, it must have got stuck between my teeth.’

‘It’s a classic wine,’ said Littlefoot.

‘Yes, a rather gulpy sort of plonky pissupy drop.’

‘It takes a sophisticated palate to appreciate a well-made wine,’ said Littlefoot.

‘A man went to his doctor and said, “Whenever I drink coffee I get this stabbing pain in my right eye,” and the doctor said, “Have you tried taking the spoon out of the cup?”’ said Bigfoot.

‘I can order coffee,’ I said, ‘would you like coffee?’

‘I surely would,’ said Bigfoot, ‘I feel like I’ve been thrown out of a two storey window and run over by an army tank.’

The truth was that Bigfoot and Littlefoot had been sipping the old familiar juice steadily since we arrived, their heads were fuzzy, their eyes were blurry and they could hardly stand up without warbling through space.

‘Can’t handle your grog,’ said Littlefoot standing up. ‘I’m going to the degustation with or without you,’ he said.

He collapsed, luckily Ancarra caught him before he hit the floor.

‘Man and woman going out on the town,’ said Bigfoot. ‘Just getting into the taxi when they remember the kitty, so the husband goes back into the house to put the kitten out in the garden. The wife, not wanting the taxi driver to know that the house is empty says, “Won’t be a minute my husband has just gone back in to wish my mother good night.” Eventually the husband comes out, “Sorry about the delay,” he says, “she was hiding under the bed and I had to poke her out with a cricket bat and to stop her messing the bed I threw her out of the window.”’

I laughed I couldn’t help myself.

‘What about the degustation?’ said Littlefoot.

‘Nah, it sounds disgusting,’ said Bigfoot. ‘Let’s just have a drink instead and then maybe get some pizza.’

‘How about four cappuccinos?’ I said.

‘Okay West, you have four cappuccinos and we’ll all have some more grog.’

‘Well whatever we have, can we please have less blonde jokes,’ said Ancarra.

‘Why is that?’ said Bigfoot.

‘Because I’m blonde you old fart.’

‘Oh right. How about this one. It was late Friday afternoon and the Departmental Head was standing near the shredding machine with a piece of paper in his hand. A temporary secretary came up to him, she had black hair, and she said, “Can I be of assistance? I can’t seem to get this machine to work,” he said, “and this is a very important document.” The temp took the document, turned on the machine, she then put the document in and shredded it. “Could you make me two copies please,” said the Departmental Head.’

‘That one is almost funny,’ I said. ‘Come on, it looks like I’m the designated driver again. Let’s get you home.’

‘I’m going to the degustation,’ said Littlefoot.

He stood up, fell over again and Ancarra caught him.

‘I’ll get a taxi and get the little guy home,’ said Ancarra.

‘You can tuck me into bed,’ said Littlefoot.

‘Looking forward to it,’ said Ancarra.

‘I think I love you,’ said Littlefoot.

‘And you can tuck that old fart into bed,’ said Ancarra addressing me and pointing to Bigfoot.

‘Hardly,’ I said.

‘Ah West,’ said Bigfoot.

‘Don’t Ah West me!’ I said. ‘But listen Bigfoot, I’m sorry about pushing you and you ending up on your back with mud all over your face.’

‘Don’t worry about that, I’m always getting egg on my face, mud made a very nice change. You know West, life is hell, and I’m beginning to think there’s only one bloody damn good thing in it.’

‘And what’s that?’ I said.

‘You West, you, and if I was just a quarter of a century younger…’

***

The End

That’s all for now folks but you can read the next book in the series: Murder Mayhem & Madness. Chief inspector Bigfoot wakes up in bed with a naked woman who just happens to be dead.

***

Anthony E Thorogood

Who the hell am I?

I was born in London England in 1953, which makes me a baby boomer I think. On emerging into the big wide world I enjoyed life thoroughly. My two sisters and I played on the Woolwich ferry, forever crossing backwards and forwards over the Thames and then, when we got bored with that, we had races in the foot tunnel under the Thames. It’s amazing what can keep a small boy happy.

Dad ran a market stall in Woolwich’s Beresford Square selling anything and everything. He was a natural Cockney salesman with all the patter that goes with it but when he was told to give it up or die from the cold, we packed up shop and migrated to Australia. Australia was great fun for a small boy from London, with snakes and kangaroos in the paddocks, unlimited sunshine and other boys who talked about nothing but sex!

I went to school like most people do but I was dyslexic and did not do well at all. Then one day, when I was about 15, I taught myself to read and after that I read books, lots of books. I won a scholarship to the University of Adelaide and while I was at University I started writing and staging plays. I found I could write funny lines that made people laugh and I could write good dialogue.

In the late seventies and early eighties, I worked at anything and everything. I got lots and lots of jobs all at once. I worked as an all-night waiter, a painter, junk mail distributor, gardener, builder’s labourer and theatre technician to name a few. I gathered together a bundle of money and went walk about to North Africa, the Middle East, the Mediterranean, Russia, China, India, Thailand, Scandinavia, Scotland, France, Germany, Italy… and the heady heights of the northern English industrial town of Leeds.

While on my travels I worked! I worked picking grapefruit in Israel, oranges in Greece, olives up the mountains in Crete, I was a head barman in a pub in Yorkshire, I worked in a youth hostel in the south of England, I worked all night in a soft drinks factory, I was a storeman for the department store Marks and Spencer, I was a waiter, a kitchen hand, a guinea-pig in a medical experiment and was even in a Bollywood movie in India.

It wasn’t all fun and frolics though, I came close to death’s door three times in England. I was catapulted off my touring bike by a truck in London, a caravan outside Salisbury and a Mini Minor in Stockport. During this time I also wrote my first book: A Foxtrot Through India. I met a girl named Sue from Yorkshire, Sue poor lass now edits my books. I brought Sue back to Australia and we bought one hundred acres in the country and spent a year building our own home from mud bricks, then we planted apple trees and started to make cider and ran a successful business making the best cider in the world, as one customer said.

In my youth I always enjoyed my old Dad’s tales of his adventures in the navy in WWII and of his childhood hop picking in Kent, I think I got my love of storytelling from my Dad. I wrote a book on cider in 2008 after being awarded a Churchill Fellowship to travel around the world and drink and research cider. My book: Cider Drink It, Make It, Cook with It was published later that year and sold out. I followed the success of my cider book by writing a series of madcap comic extravaganzas: Bigfoot Littlefoot & West, published in 2012. I followed Bigfoot Littlefoot and West with the Jack Hamma action adventure series starting with Shakespeare on the Roof and In Bed with Jane Austen. 2015 saw me writing three romantic travel adventures in my Continental Drift series starting with Sex Sardines and Sauerkraut. Having got the travel adventures out of my system it was back to Jack Hamma with Hi Jack, Poirot Packs a Punch, Licenced to Thrill, Blind Man’s Buff and more on the way. I should mention here that I have plans to write a new zany comedy called Rempit Nethis but more on that later.

This is the bit where I now state that I am happily living the good life on our 5 acre property, on the beautiful island of Tasmania, spending my time walking, cycling, planting trees, growing vegetables and writing the odd book, very odd some people say.

I hope you enjoy reading my books as much as I enjoy writing them.

I’d love to hear from you:

Click here to read my blog

Click here to find me on Facebook

Cheers Anthony E Thorogood

What the hell do I write?

Jack Hamma: Action Adventures

Shakespeare on the Roof:

Jack Hamma, an SAS Special Forces Commando, is sent on a top secret mission to assassinate a terrorist leader who is bunkered down on an island in the Indian Ocean. The action has only just begun when Jack and his co-assassin are ambushed by right wing terrorists. Jack is the action hero par excellence but has he met his match in the form of the beautiful Kashmere?

In Bed with Jane Austen:

Jack Hamma receives an emergency phone call to escort a seventeen year old girl home from school but the Russian mafia has other ideas.

Picnic with Picasso:

Jack awakes to find himself incarcerated in a completely blacked out dungeon. Who imprisoned him? Can he get away?

Miss Marple Struts Her Stuff:

Jack Hamma is at it again. This is a relentless and, dare I say it, humorous thriller where every move is a false start and every clue is a red herring.

Hi Jack:

Jack is in trouble, he is chained and cemented and thrown off the side of a boat – I was out cold until I hit the water. It was freezing and I immediately awoke. My senses had no time to figure out what was going on, I was in the sea, it was cold, I was heavy and sinking fast.

Poirot Packs A Punch:

Jack is on Stags Head Moor in the north of England. The hunt is on and he is the hunted – The bullet was so close I could feel the air move as it whizzed past my head. A second bullet came even closer, if it was possible to get even closer without hitting me. Blood was running down my forehead and into my eyes, I had been hit.

Licensed to Thrill:

Jack is in the Australian Bush, it’s pitch black, there’s a thunderstorm and an old tree crashes down, Jack takes shelter from the thunder, lightning and torrential rain and then he hears a scream.

Blind Man’s Buff:

Jack, Kashmere and the manic Manooka are climbing a sheer cliff, two thousand feet high. Kashmere is leading, she moves up the rock face, gets a new hold, Jack looks up and the rock face begins to crumble.

Continental Drift: Romantic Travel Adventures

Sex Sardines & Sauerkraut:

Texas is a feisty beauty from the USA Axel is a good looking novice from Australia. They meet at a border crossing in India, they are stranded, the border guards refuse to let them through. Axel saves the day but Texas isn’t ready to owe him anything not even a thank you. Will love sparkle or will it wilt and die? ‘Not as much sex as I expected but plenty of sauerkraut!’

The Curly Wurley Sex Machine:

Johnathon Marvel had it all. The youngest billionaire in the world according to Time Magazine but Johnathon’s world collapses and his various business ventures go belly up. Jonathon does what any sane person would do in his situation, he makes a run for it.

Love in the Land of Milk and Honey:

Ash didn’t have much of a childhood, his mother left before he was old enough to remember her and his father was a drunken bum, but Ash makes good. There is only one problem, he feels nothing for nobody. Ash takes off on an around the world marathon eventually hanging out with a couple of members of the Irish Republican Army but then he meets Adelaide a girl who knows her own mind and the fireworks begin.

A Foxtrot Through India:

Opposites in every way, Josh and Samantha are kindred spirits from vastly different worlds. Falling deeply and powerfully in love, their attraction to one another defies everything they believe in, they share a passion that is bound to erupt like a volcano and then, who knows?

Bigfoot Littlefoot & West:

A series of madcap comic extravaganzas – the Marx Brothers and Agatha Christie all thrown into one.

Death in the Australian Outback:

In Alice Springs, Constable Elizabeth West of the Territory Police is being interviewed for a promotion, it is an interview like no other. There is a drive by shooting, a double suicide, a shot is fired as a boy tries to protect his mother, West is shot at by a gang of bikies, a woman goes missing and West is abducted by a ruthless killer.

Murder Mayhem and Madness:

Chief inspector Bigfoot wakes up in bed with a naked woman who just happens to be dead.

Murder in the Australian Back Blocks:

Detective Bigfoot and Sergeant Elizabeth West are stalked by a heavily armed gunman in the Australian Outback.

Death in the Sydney Opera House:

A young woman turns up dead on Sydney’s Bonga Bonga Beach. There are a string of murders in the Sydney Opera House…an utterly crazy comic whodunit.

Murder Moves to London:

Our famous trio are on exchange in London England but life isn’t all tourist buses and ice creams. A bank manager is shot dead and Police Sergeant West is stalked by a serial killer.

The Elizabeth West Mysteries:

The precursor to the Death in the Australian Outback Series. Murder most foul comes to northern England and it is up to career woman Police Constable Elizabeth West to sort out the mess. Diabolical, haunting and a darn good read.

Non Fiction and Other Works

Freewheeling Tony’s Bicycle Book:

‘As a cyclist I found it entertaining, challenging and in parts, so funny. Very interesting.’

Sugar Free Cooking in Sue’s Vegetarian Kitchen:

Written in conjunction with Sue Thorogood. The eating of sugar can cause obesity, cancer, diabetes and dementia, that’s the bad news, the good news is that you can create fabulous and tasty food without the little white crystals. Have a look at our cookbook it contains a brilliant collection of vegetarian recipes that even carnivores love to eat.

Cider Drink It Make It Cook with It:

If you like cider and want to know about its history, how to cook with it and how to make it then this is the book for you. Includes a history of cider in Australia

Melting Moments:

A book of comic quips about girlfriends, boyfriends, wives, husbands, working, eating, drinking, sleeping, God, life, death and the universe.

Don’t forget I’d love to hear from you:

Click here to read my blog

Click here to find me on Facebook

Cheers Anthony E Thorogood


Death in the Australian Outback

In Death in the Australian Outback the serious detective thriller is completely blown away. In this modern world of climate change, terrorism and ever increasing regulation on the way we think, we need to lighten up. So sit in a comfortable chair, let your hair down, relax, download the book and have a laugh with Elizabeth West at the very crazy, very zany characters of Detective Chief Superintendent Bigfoot and Detective Superintend Chief Littlefoot. For comedy, like sex, one has to be in the mood and as we get older we forget that one of the most enjoyable things in life is to let go and laugh. So liberate those joy releasing happy hormones, set your inner laughter free and have a read. You will be rewarded by entry into a brilliantly crazy and surreal world of madcap cops trying to solve the problems of a madcap world. Reviews: 'The Australian Outback is the backdrop to this first in the Bigfoot series which sees West angling for a job with TURDS. It's packed with misunderstandings, mishaps, bizarre exchanges and loads of laughs. Along with other books about these three stooges, yarns about this zany trio are rapidly becoming a cult series from an author with a seemingly endless fund of crazy ideas and themes. Strongly recommended if you enjoy a good laugh.' 'Thoroughly enjoyed the book. The character names and departmental names had me giggling away on the train to my dental appointment. I read a lot of crime and thriller books, so it was a nice change to read something that was quite satirical. I would highly recommend this book to anyone that has a wonderfully warped sense of humour like myself.'

  • ISBN: 9781310134432
  • Author: Anthony E Thorogood
  • Published: 2017-04-09 05:05:10
  • Words: 31263
Death in the Australian Outback Death in the Australian Outback