Down these mean streets a mystery homeless man must go like a character made up by someone who heard a rumour who passed it on to someone else in a whisper, who didn't hear it properly because they were a bit deaf and consequently gave a mangled version of things to someone else of dubious merit, who arranged to meet National Party health spokesman Michael Woodhouse in an underground carpark.
It was dark as black water in there. Woodhouse didn't mind admitting he was scared. But he took courage from the sense that he was doing what was the right thing to do: advancing his career.
He saw the red glow of a cigarette and walked towards it. A man with the collar of his trench coat pulled up high was standing in shadows.
"That's close enough," he said.
"You got something to say, say it," said Woodhouse. He was a tough guy, dammit!
"Listen up," said the man. "There's a mystery homeless man who bluffed his way into five-star Auckland hotel The Crowne Plaza currently operating as a quarantine facility for returned New Zealanders, under the guise of being a new arrival completing his 14 days of mandatory isolation."
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Just then a car started up. The man disappeared into the shadows. Woodhouse listened for his footsteps, but the car engine drowned them out. Either that, or the man wasn't wearing any shoes.
"Hey," Woodhouse called out. His voice echoed in the dark silence. He was alone. He felt nervous and excited at the same time.
"Interesting story," said Muller.
"Real interesting," said Woodhouse, with a thin smile.
"Is it credible?"
"You bet it is," said Woodhouse, reaching for a glass.
"It sure sounds like it."
Muller said, "What did you say the name of your source was?"
Woodhouse wiped his mouth, and said, "The Barefoot Man."
"I want to get to the bottom of this business about the mystery homeless man," said Two-Fisted Ardern.
They were standing in an empty classroom in an abandoned school in an out-of-the-way town. A horse clip-clopped past the windows. Crazy Peters was riding it.
"Put me in charge," said Half-Baked Twyford.
Fingernails raked the blackboard. "Now that I got your attention," said Capability Woods, "I'll take over from here."
She looked for the mystery homeless man hard and long. She put in the time and the resources.
"What do you need?" Asked Two-Fisted Ardern.
"A supply of mints to leave on top of the pillow."
She kept the Crowne Plaza hotel under 24-hour surveillance, got a judge to authorise wire taps, and went undercover as a maid practised in the ancient art of the turndown service.
She looked in every room. She looked under every bed. She ate every mint that wasn't claimed.
But a man who doesn't want to be found won't be found if he plays his cards right and keeps his head down and above all, doesn't exist.
"Hey," Woodhouse called out. He had woken up from a nightmare, waving his little hands in front of his face.
He looked at the bedside radio clock. The red numerals glowed in the dark. It was 3:10am.
"That reminds me of that Western movie The 3:10 to Yuma," he thought to himself. He settled back on to his pillow, and closed his eyes. He began to dream of a mysterious cowboy holed up in the Crowne Plaza. He rubbed his bare feet together in his big sleep. They were cold, and he whimpered.