‘San Francisco was good to me,’ I said, trying to start small talk.

‘It sure was, how many guest houses did you get ran out of? And how many Lebanese business owners wanted to kill you?’

One as far as I knew and there was the Palestinian shop owner who got me into that strip joint across the road for free.

‘Across what fucking road?’

Listen, it was a long long time ago, and I’ve taken far too many drugs since then to recall exactly what street it was. But it was that O’Farrell’s strip joint, the same place that Hunter Thompson chilled out in the 90s.

‘Get your fucking facts right. Hunter was the night manager in 85, and the joint was called Mitchell Brothers O’Farrell Theatre  and it was on O’Farrell Street in the Tenderlon.’

The wonders of Wikipedia, I mumbled and lit up a cigarette and guzzled some more coffee.

‘You are making this shit up.’

What shit up? I’m entitled to some reflection, aren’t I?

‘If you stick to the facts.’

You fucking Kiwi prude, but now wasn’t the time for compliments.

Have you wondered why I never had cash in the US?

His mouth was motionless, really, it wasn’t moving. He had to think of something funny. I braced myself, the last thing I wanted to do was fall off my chair in fits of laughter.

‘Besides being illegal, you spunked most it of it up at the peep shows.’

Excuse me, I was on a tourist visa. 

They were dirty movies, running off VCR machines, about ten or twenty of them stacked up on top of each other. You just put a quarter in it and enjoyed Debby Doesn’t Do Dallas. I admit, I had a few strippers gyrate on my lap, they were mostly hot  Latin Americans who thought I was a tight wad.

‘Well  you were.’

I was living on limited means, if that’s what you mean.

And what was it like inside?

You mean the stripper joint?

Of course he meant the stripper joint. 

I’m glad he got around to asking that.

Silicon boobs, glow in the dark pink vibrators and an Australian saying, ‘ G’day mate’ and ‘She’ll be right,  Sheila,’ yet still getting diddly squat.

‘Sounds like you had Buckley’s chance of skin contact  without flashing the ‘In God We Trust.’

So true.

Anyway, as I was saying, before you fucking train wrecked my train of thought, that Eddie Dare lived above a noodle shop on the corner of Grant and Market Street in San Francisco .

‘And Jack Shephard lived above a noodle shop in Hong Kong.’

Fuck, I’ll learn not to underestimate these Kiwis.

‘Keep on telling you, we are those unassuming motherfuckers that you  should never estimate.’

Underestimate, I got it. 

Well fuck a duck, he was sounding  more and more like that Archie character in The King of Macau.

‘He’s fucking Australian, they don’t come close to Kiwi wit and intelligence.’

Now you say that to Archie.

‘That fucking cocksucker wannabe spy, seen them all over Asia, who isn’t a fucking spy?’

Calm down, I said, ‘he’s only a fictitious character.’

That’s one thing Bernhard never admitted to, but I did have my suspicions.

‘That I’m a spy?  You’ve been reading too many spy novels. I’m just a hard working miner.’

Deny deny deny, oldest trick in the fucking book.


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