John Bartlett

MELROSE MOUNTJOY & the case of the floating penguins part 2

MELROSE MOUNTJOY & the case of the floating penguins part 2

By on May 1, 2012 in Melrose Mountjoy | 1 comment

Melrose always had difficulty understanding police humour; not dissimilar to that shared by undertakers, ambos and all those other heroes on the frontlines of human tragedy. Compensatory humour he guessed. Melrose was  more of a ‘play on words’ man himself, something a bit a la Pete and Dud and especially Spike Milligan, one of his definite all-time heroes. What would Spike do in a case like this? Run away quickly probably.

Melrose inspected the knife and the angle of penetration. It was definitely a wound inflicted from below as if the attacker had been at a lower level than his victim, defending him or herself perhaps from an initial attack. Melrose was a master of the essential details, the evidence right in front of your face that many cops missed in the rush to collect the scientific stuff, the DNA and all that. He’d never been so good at detecting the peripheral stuff and since, well since what had happened to him had happened, the peripheral had almost disappeared altogether anyway. Melrose was, despite his youthful twenty-eight years, a bit old-fashioned in detective work and that’s why Detective Mussel kept calling on his assistance in cases like these. As a child he’d been a fan of all those old TV shows like ‘Cop Shop’ where the detectives ran around in little pork pie hats, jumped into early model Holdens and used their wits to catch the crooks and didn’t rely just on DNA or science.


Well enough of 70s nostalgia; this little penguin must have a family somewhere waiting for him to come home and as always identification was a first priority for Melrose. As a young recruit he’d often sat on the edge of a sofa in someone’s lounge room watching a senior officer try to explain to someone why their spouse wasn’t coming home ever again. There must be a Mrs or a partner penguin somewhere waiting for this not very pretty penguin to come home. Didn’t penguins always travel in groups anyway? ‘There’s no I.D. Rosy but you might be interested in this.’ One of the rubber men passed a scrunched up piece of paper to Melrose and he flattened out the damp paper on the grass.


 ‘PARDONPenguins Against Random Development Of Nature– Rally Sunday August 21st 10.30 am on Pt. Wallaby beach: Stop the destruction of our coast by greedy developers. All members please wear penguin suits. Contact 021 465 729 for further information.


Not much else to go on unless they could get an identity quickly but a phone number was a place to start. Talking of starting, it’s better to get something clear about Melrose’ name right at the beginning too. As with most parents, his own faced that old quandary of the immigrant. Thirty-eight years ago, there was nothing like gender-identification before birth and so he could possibly have ended up a boy or a girl.

His mother expected a girl and wanted her called Rosaria after her mother whom they’d left back in the ‘old country’. His father of course being of good macho Spanish stock expected a son and wanted him to be called ‘Melbourne’ after the city that had adopted them and given them a new beginning. Being of democratic persuasions (the family had resisted Franco until it was too dangerous to remain in Spain) they’d finally settled on a combination of the two names when the boy was finally born — ‘Melrose’ and thus burdened their son with FNS (funny name syndrome) and then cast him into the world to fend for himself. Sometimes democracy can be well-meaning but have a lot to answer for.

Thrown into the violent unforgiving world of preschool life and then into the hothouse of the Police Academy what else could Melrose be called but ‘Rosy’? His baptism was complete. Luckily for him though he had turned into a ‘Rosy’ brute, a six-foot, one-inch ball of muscle and hence the name ‘Rosy’ turned into a respectful rather than a derisive moniker. Not that Melrose had it in him to punch out peoples’ lights if they called him funny names. It’s a wonder he hadn’t become a doctor or a teacher really as he didn’t have a violent bone in his body. The intimidation conveyed by his body size was a convenient accident of fate. As for the family name ‘Mountjoy’, well it’s obviously an anglicised version of some Spanish equivalent with possible obscene connotations, but more of that later when we get to know each other a little better. Just read on.

    1 Comment

  1. Well, that was a bit short, I’m tuned in again but not a lot of plot uncovered here. Would you consider reading further episodes on your fortnightly appearance on Geelong Pulse radio (online of course for those penguins among us not in your area)?


    May 11, 2012

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