My cousin Frankie, short of being the hero of the hour, was still on hand to buy me some consoling drinks while we nutted out the problem of the aunts. Their house had after all been exploded and for this they’d received the princely sum of a single buck. For the moment I wrapped them up in the worsted cocoons of their old aunt shawls and delivered them like stork bundles to Shitsville Ranch to wait while we trawled the old Melbourne town pubs. Now high up in the hills the rain fell all around like atomic particles, dripped off the palm leaves, sluiced down the monkey puzzle tree, really annoyed the cacti, and cast a weird greenish light in through the bay windows. The aunts had left some knitting needles on my mustard coloured sofa and some glasses of milk, glowing as ominously as the one in Suspicion, beside their be-frilled twin beds, then gone off to search for mushrooms in the foothills or whatever it is that old, old ladies do in the gloaming. When we came in Frankie remarked, with his peculiar lawyer charm, that the Ranch looked like a lot of crime scene photographs he had seen; signs of a struggle, tipped over chairs, and some off-colour stains, but in the time it had taken for the horizontal bodies to be removed, the glasses of beer were still upright on the table and still had heads on them; in another one, a woman had decorated the dinner table with a cloth and vase of flowers and the pretty yellow posies lived on for days after she was murdered. Like most lawyers, Frankie has a way with words albeit misapplied. But it is not my intention to suggest that anything creepy was going on. The point was that in the short space of time they had been there, the aunts had left my glorious abode in a noticeable disarray.
While Frankie was going through my records and chucking the ones he disapproved of against the far wall, the phone rang and it was my father Archie again. He was somewhat the worse for wear; since I had last spoken to him (eight hours before) he had lost all of his money again. “There’s a hole in my pocket,” he said with great originality.
“No, sweet papa,” said I. “There’s a hole in your brain.”
“Your father needs a woman to look after him,” said Frankie with great originality.
“My old aunts need a disgusting mess they can lovingly tend to,” said I, as I pulled ginger snaps from between the cushions in the sofa.
“Whatever will I do?” sobbed sweet papa. “I can’t go on like this.”