Chapter 1

THE huge Irishman wound down his window and squinted. All he could hear was the click-click-clicking of the cooling engine and the chirping of crickets.

'Are you sure this is it?' he lilted.

The long street was illuminated by a row of yellow lights but the building in front of him looked dark and deserted.

The scrawny old taxi driver turned on the light and examined a slip of paper through his thick glasses. 'Yep, Moose, this is where I was told to drop you.' 

lie tiger smallPaddy sighed and unbuckled his seatbelt. 'Just pop the boot, pops.' 

The driver raised his fists like a boxer taking guard. 'I've told you before, don't call me pops!' 

'Well, don't call me Moose. I've never even met you.' 

'Don't think you're fooling anyone by stacking on that pretend accent.'

'I was born in Dublin!'

'Have you forgotten I was the first trainer on the scene when you did your hammy twenty-odd years ago. I don't care how big you are. You don't frighten me, Moose.'

Paddy stared in disbelief. He had spent the whole trip from the airport wondering how anyone could drive that fast when they didn't seem to be able to see over the steering wheel. Now he studied the fella, he guessed his checked blue shirt and brown braces were the only things holding his skin and bone together. The only thing big about him were those magnified eyes. 

Paddy started opening his door. 'I don't want any trouble, mister. If you'll open the boot, I'll get my cases.' 

He had barely slammed the boot when the taxi screeched away, leaving behind a stink of exhaust fumes.

Paddy waved a fist as the taxi disappeared into the yellow murk. 'Happy New Year to you, too.'

His ponytail swished when he looked around. Where was everyone? Would the odd sky rocket be too much to ask? 

He heard footsteps. But when he turned all he saw were two large silhouettes that melted into the dappled shadows on the other side of the road and shuffled away. 

Jaaaaysus. Two people out for a midnight stroll hardly counted as revellers.

* * *

PADDY picked up his suitcases and started crunching across the gravel car park. 

It hadn't been his idea to accept a job as the manager of the Windy Mountain Tasmanian Tiger Museum. He would have preferred to be drinking champagne and watching the fireworks from the Sydney Opera House right now. Instead, here he was in the middle of nowhere wondering if he had even been dropped at the right place. 

How did an old fucker like that even secure a taxi licence anyway? Paddy had no idea what a hammy might be but  knew one thing the old man hadn't known. Twenty years ago he was a thirteen year old with bum-fluff on his chin instead of the full red beard he had now. 

He looked around for a sign to tell him he was in the right place. The dim street light provided some illumination but nothing stood out.

This funny mystery (Windy Mountain #2) is now available for pre-order on Amazon, Kobo, Apple and Barnes and Noble. 

© John Martin