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Death in the australian.., p.1
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       Death in the Australian Outback, p.1

           Anthony E Thorogood
 
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Death in the Australian Outback
Death in the Australian Outback

  by Anthony E Thorogood

  ***

  A Bigfoot Littlefoot & West

  Madcap Whodunit

  ***

  Copyright Anthony E Thorogood 2014

  ***

  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.

  ***

  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

  Click here to read my blog

  Click here to find me on Facebook

  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 k
eeping 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 d
igits 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.'
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