In a blaze that went to four alarms before  Wellington Fire-fighters brought it under control, The Falk Foundation, a lab specializing in the manufacture of transplantable human organs, burned with such ferocity last night its contents all but vaporized.

Authorities have been unable to determine the fire’s cause or point of origin, but flammable materials are presumed to have been involved. Arson is not suspected.

Founder and sole proprietor, Remington Falk, was unavailable for comment...

Dad, scanning the article while slurping his third espresso refill, speculates whys-and-wherefores with flagging curiosity. Sordid seems the affair as viewed from his relieved-of-duty distance, elements patently evil or simply macabre losing their fascination, so self-absorbed is he in alcoholic blues... grays... blacks and whites as blurry as Dad’s recollection of where he went the night before, what he might have done, and who he had offended in the process. He checks the newspaper’s date, then his wristwatch (specifying CALENDAR).

Last night indeed. I must’ve yowled like a tomcat when they declared my gear "off limits" then suggested I was "staggering." I never! I can always set a true course when a wee bit tipsy, with nary a tilt to starboard. Must’ve made a fuss. Must’ve made a fool of myself, as usual—basing said assumptions on years of misbehavior... which ought to give a drunkard pause to pause. Perchance to stop? But even if an Irishmen gives up drink, drink won’t give up an Irishman. We’re bonded, don’t you know, till death do us part.

Sober as a priest before Holy Communion, Dad rolls up the paper, tucks it under his arm, and leaves Espressoholic through downtown streets now bustling with work-a-day-world commuters—en route to make a living, O’Rourke to make amends.




In possession of his possessions, finally, Dad prepares again to leave New Zealand, his passport found in an outside pocket of the bag in which he stashed it (barcode included), his status as a Duxton Hotel guest reinstated (albeit temporarily), ruffled feathers smoothed by generous tips (from him) and gracious apologies (from the management), smiles and obsequious well-wishes expressed all around; his departure, however, is scuttled for a second time.



A holding pattern, his least favorite directive (like being ordered to run in place) is not the best prescription to countermand Dad's ennui—his most debilitating symptom when coming off a binge, crushingly depressed and terminally bored by life’s utter pointlessness. But the job—no longer done i.e. completed—grants the private eye a temporary stay.